Sunday, October 17, 2010

1980 Gold Medalist in Reading Olymics! Honest!

I've always been a voracious reader.

For instance, as the title suggests, I entered the Reading Olympics along with my sister and a friend. The goal was to read twenty books in a month for the Gold medal; fifteen for the Silver; and ten for the Bronze.

My sister read ten.

K managed sixteen.

I read forty-five.

We had to have a parent's signature, and at first, my mother made me give her a brief summary of the book I had listed before she would sign off on it. But by the third book, she realized I was retaining the plot, characters, etc, and told me to just bring my sheet at the end of each day; she believed me.

I learned to read in Kindergarten. My favorite book was Spaghetti Eddie from the school library. I also loved my Disney Read-Al0ud books, with the record and 'Turn the page when Tinkerbell waves her little wand like this...(sound of tinkling bells)".

By the second grade, I was devouring biographies. My mother had given me her Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mary Mapes Dodge, Sagajawea, and Julia Ward Howe. I took one of them to school one day, and my teacher realized I was reading above my level. She took me to the 'big' library and let me check out more biographies on her card. I fell in love with the First Ladies, Virginia Dare, and Jane Addams.

Third grade, my teacher restricted me back to the 'baby' library. Thankfully, my mom was our Brownie Scout snack lady, so once a week while she was conferring with our Scout leader, I slipped down to the 'big' library and read to my heart's content.

I was introduced to Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames by the 5th grade; Vicki Barr and the Dana Girls by the 6th grade, and Mom let me read The Flame and the Flower by the end of my 6th grade year (I had my first boyfriend, and I decided I was 'grown up enough' to read Mom's romance books).

Judy Blume was rising in popularity, so I also devoured Are You There God, It's Me Margaret; Deenie; Blubber; Then Again Maybe I Won't, and First Love. I also haunted the jr. high library for new fiction and fell in love with books such as 'I Was A Teenage Alcoholic/Drug Addict/Teenage Mom'. I also read Dunesbury Comic books.

By high school, I was into the teenage 'First Love' from Silhouette Books, and other teenage romances. A friend introduced me to VC Andrews. And while on vacation, I ran out of reading material and purchased 'Dakota' by Dana Fuller Ross, beginning a twenty-year love-fest with Wagon's West. I also read Gone With The Wind, and was thrilled when I was finally allowed to watch the movie on TV.

I think the Thornbirds came out while I was in college; it might have been my senior year of high school. Dad also got me interested in John Jakes, and I read North and South before it bacame a mini-series. I had also eagerly watched 'Centennial', and while I didn't read the book all the way through until the 1990's, I did enjoy reading certain scenes I'd seen on TV. I didn't even watch every episode until TNT aired it in the early '90's. Somewhere, I have the last episode on tape.

Danielle Steele and Wagon's West was a staple in college; after I married, my mother introduced me to Nora Roberts and Catherine Coulter. Other friends introduced me to Lavyrle Spencer and W.E.B. Griffin. James Patterson. Michael Palmer. The list goes on.

In 2003, I read my first e-book and erotic romance, Water Lust by Mary Winter. It was an experiment to see if I was comfortable reading books on the computer. Surprise; I loved it! And in 2007, when I started communicating with several authors, I started purchasing their e-books. Finally last year, my hubby bought me a Sony Pocket E-reader, and it stays in my purse. I try to purchase anywhere from three to twelve books a month, and read anywhere I have to wait.

Some friends recently opened a new/used book store, and while my funds are limited for the e-book-buying, I have a pile of print ones on loan to me from the bookstore. I get paid in reading material, so I usually have four or five books tucked away. And I have several books on the shelves earmarked for 'next to be read'.

On my Recommend shelf, I've listed Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones (teen romance I loved!); Life Goes On (Christian Fiction); The First Patient (Medical Thriller by Michael Palmer); The Runaway Jury (Thriller by John Grisham); and The Dutchess (my favorite Jude Deveraux romance).

So yes, the genres have changed, and the amount of free time to read, plus the method has changed. But my love of the printed word will always remain the same.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"I Don't Have An Eating Disorder. Honest!"

Somewhere out there, an eating disorder counselor is still not entirely convinced the caller on the other end of the phone is not in denial. It literally took me five minutes of stating the call was for research purposes; I enjoyed food waaaayyy too much to ever starve myself, much less regurgitate it willingly, to ever have an eating disorder. She finally sighed and agreed to answer my questions.

I'm not fully convinced she knew all the facts; I had spoken to several teens about the subject, who informed me there was a hybrid disorder at their school: Some days their friends wouldn't eat anything; three days later they were binging and purging. When I brought this up, the counselor insisted that would never happen. An anorexic would never binge; a bulimic would never go for days without eating.

So we came to a gray area where we silently agreed to disagree.

I have also had to convince a lawyer I was not being sexually harassed; a building inspector I was not having issues with anyone; and a restaurant hostess I HAD been a patron in the past decade, not a rival looking to blatantly rip off the place.

But right now, hubby thinks the strangest research I've done to date concerns two storylines fighting for attention in my brain. One involves about 10 hours of the Discovery Channel on the DVR; the other involves six hours of last year's Winter Olympic Figure Skating (Ice Dancing to be precise) on the DVR. I'll get to it eventually; but right now with my schedule, most of my shows are now being DVR'd and not being watched 'in a timely manner', and the SU pouts when he has to delete any episodes of Stargate. He threw the same mild hissy fit when I was on the Law and Order kick last year. But then again, we had two TV's and two DVR's. Being downsized to one is just sooo much of an annoyance....(insert hubby whine; dramatic sigh, whatever).

But as long as I'm able to type/write in longhand/dictate story ideas, I'm sure some sort of strange research will be needed. But such is the life of a writer!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Things I Wish I'd Known....

Correct Point of View: Omniscient POV is no longer acceptable. Quit using 80's authors as models.

Promotion 101: It takes an average of 10 mentions of your name/title for people to go (head slap) You wrote that? I've got to get it! Know your pitch; keep it brief; and get out there and sell yourself!

Read Submission Guidelines Thoroughly: Yes, there are publishers out there who will automatically reject you if your subb is sent in the wrong format/you didn't use 12pt font/you sent it to the wrong editor/called editor 'Editor' (or wrong gender)/simply wrote 'Here's my submission...' If a friend sends you a head's up call, READ the guidelines, even if they are spelled out in the email? She may not have included everything.

Know When (or Where) It's Okay To Post Excerpts of Current WIP: Especially if it's uncontracted. Some publishers consider posts 'already published'. (I'm still figuring this one out.)

Know When To Shut Up About Your Work (directed at my alter-ego): Not everyone will be interested in hearing about ALL your books. Know when to recognize the signs you're boring your audience.