Friday, August 13, 2010

To Live the First Time Again

In our teen years, a lot of firsts come into our lives. Our first kiss, the first time we drive, a lot of times the first time we move away from family, first major peer pressure, the first real job and usually the first broken heart. These things aren't easy to go through, and at times felt as if my world was crashing down. I started to remininse about all of these things I lived through as a teen the other day. It made me realize as an adult we don't have very many firsts in our lives. It's hard to keep things fresh and that much easier to get into a rut.

What does this have to do with writing or reading? After I had fun walking down memory lane, I thought of the amazing feeling I get when I read a really good book for the first time. There's nothing like discovering new characters and counting the minutes until you can pick it up again to complete their journey. It's always heartbreaking getting to the last page, especially in a long series that you've invested so much time with, you feel as if the characters are your friends. You could always go back and read the book(s) again, yet it's not the same as the first time you read them.

If you could go back and read any book(s) again for the first time, what would they be? It can be a book you love, or one that changed you for some reason.

Here's my list:

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger- I've professed my love of this book a few times here on the blog, and I'm going to do it again. Catcher in the Rye was the first, if not the only book I LOVED that was assigned reading for school. I usually dreaded said assignments, but once I cracked open Catcher for the first time and met Holden Caulfield, I couldn't put it down. I finished it well before I was supposed to at school and thought about it for weeks if not months afterward. It made me trust some of the great classics out there that I wouldn't have read otherwise. I read (and blogged) about this book recently, but it didn't have the same magic as the first time. Not because I didn't like it as much, but I knew what to expect. It was like visiting with an old friend instead of discovering someone knew you have a ton in common with.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling- I can't explain my love for these books. It goes beyond words, but I'm going to try and explain it a little here. I wasn't one of the first HP adopters (sadly), but I was early enough in the series to get into it before the HP market completely exploded. When I first picked up HPatSS, book 3 was about to come out. The hype was big, but it wasn't in your face. I was curious to understand what people were talking about. The cover intrigued me. I wasn't a huge fan of fantasy back then, so I'll admit i had a little trepidation when I started. After reading the first few pages of book 1, I was hooked. I couldn't put it down and knew that I would be a Harry Potter fan for life. I blazed through the first three books and waited anxiously for the 4th to come out. I saw each movie opening night (well, except for the 5th movie. I was in the hospital with pneumonia), went to midnight releases for the final three books and own quite a bit of HP merchandise. Despite being a little older (I was 21, about to turn 22 when book 3 came out), I couldn't get enough and at 30 yrs old, almost 31 my love for HP is as strong as it was almost 10 years ago. I wish I could rewind time and go back to the days I just discovered the Harry Potter cast of characters. Heck, I wish I could go back a few years to feel the excitement of being handed HP7 shortly after midnight and staying up to read the beginning. I don't think I have (or ever will) feel such excitement for a book as I have when holding a new HP book and wondering what is inside.

Looking for Alaska by John Green- I loved Looking for Alaska, but it really isn't so much the book to me as what it means. I remember browsing the mystery section (I used to read any mystery/thriller I could get my hands on...Harlan Coben FTW) and remembering a book I saw everyone talking about on the internet. The cover stuck in my mind, the smoke billowing from a blown out candle against a dark background. At this point in my life, I hadn't read many YA/Teen books (except when I was a teen), but for some reason, Looking for Alaska spoke to me from the shelves. I went in search for it and found it on the end cap of the teen aisle (at that point, the YA/Teen aisle in my local B&N wasn't very big. Now it's the biggest section in the whole store, minus the general Fiction area). I didn't really know what to expect. I had read a little bit about John Green, including his blog and I must say, he intrigued me. He was around my age, so I was curious to see what the book was about. I started writing around that time (you guessed it, I wrote mysteries and thrillers) and let me tell you, I was NOT very good. I got home and instantly started reading LfA and half way through, I knew I needed to write teen fiction. So, I guess you can say, I can thank LfA and John Green for my life today. I may not be a published YA author (yet), but my life is immersed in the teen fiction world every day. It's what I write, who I am and what I spend my time reading. To feel that light bulb go off again, knowing I had to write YA fiction, I would give anything.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Write On Con

While writing is a solitary task, it doesn’t always have to be. Along the way authors find loyal critique partners, beta readers, and other author who act as mentors or ones to mentee (is that a word?). However, being from a small town, my (almost daily) interactions with these fabulous people (like our own, Tami) are ”virtual”. We live in different countries, but we work together online….if you told me I’d be collaborating with authors like this, say 10 years ago, I’d have asked if you were feeling alright.

Thankfully, we have the Internet. It’s difficult for me to get to conferences, writer retreats and professional development opportunities – but with the Net, it’s getting easier. This week, for example, I’m at a children’s writers conference. Yup, me and my cup of coffee and my jammies and slippers. I can even sneak in a nap in the afternoon if my brain gets overloaded – because the conference is completely online.

The first (of many, I hope) Write On Con (WOC) is now playing at a URL near you: Founded by seven children’s authors, WOC is brilliantly put together. Bestselling and debut authors, agents and editors alike share writing and industry tips in both print and vlog formats. There’s a whole community of publishing types on the WOC Forums, offering query, 1st pages and 1st 250 word critiques, as well as informal chats and general publishing discussions.

Wowza, that’s all I can say. If you have time, check it out, it’s well worth the few seconds it takes to register. That’s right – the conference is FREE.