Thursday, January 31, 2013

Video Games and the Library?!?!

Recently I came upon a news story on Facebook asking people their thoughts on a local New Jersey library banning violent video games being played on their computers. Children were apparently logging onto the internet at the library and playing games like Call of Duty. When I began to read the comments I realized that most of them were people angry at how the library would think that video games are the cause for violence in children. I could not believe the reaction from these people, many of them parents and I'm sure some of them teens or young adults.

Let me start by saying, I myself enjoy video games. When I play action games, which tend to be violent, I enjoy the stress relief of beating the hell out of digital creations. But, I am far from a violent person. I've played video games my entire life and I've never once cause physical harm to another or even considered it.

But the violence of the games is not where my issue lies in this. What angers me is the knowledge that libraries allow people to play any games at all, other than those that may be educational. When I was growing up the library was where you went to find books that would take you to another land OR to research a project for school. When we used the computers it was either to look through the digital card catalog (though when I was much younger there was no such thing) or to do online research for projects. I don't remember there even being a way to play games on their computers.

When did the library stop becoming a place for education and enrichment? Library is defined as "a place set apart to contain books, periodicals, and other material for reading, viewing, listening, study, or reference, as a room, set of rooms, or building where books may be read or borrowed." Where in there does it say: to play video games? I don't care if you're playing Call of Duty or Toejam and Earl (yes, we're going way back now!), the library is not the place to be playing them. Isn't that what arcades are for? I bring my child to the library to take out books and it excites her to get 5 or 6 (or 10) more to take home and enjoy each night before bed.

It's no wonder so many kids of today don't understand what a good book can do for you. It's no wonder they consider it boring to read for fun. Our lives are ever changing with the constant introduction of new technology, but does that really mean we have to stray from what was once so amazing and wonderful? I myself will allow my child to play video games (nonviolent, she's only a preschooler) BUT she will learn the value of a good book.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Treatment of Books

There's only one thing I hate more than getting back a dirty, scratched DVD after lending it to someone...dirty library books. I know this sounds strange, but it's something I've noticed more and more as a mother who brings her 4 year old to the library frequently. People just don't respect books, especially when they're property of the library.

When I take my daughter to the library we peruse the shelves and pick out the most interesting books authored by some of our favorites (always at least one of the Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems). We normally leave with 6-8 books for her and one or two for myself that I quickly choose after looking through the new books section. (The adult books are upstairs, and when you have a child with you there's not much time for quality book searching.) I don't normally leaf through the pages before we check out and head home, but I'm starting to wonder if I should.

On many occasions, as we're settling down to read one of our finds on the couch or before nap time, we open the pages of a brand new world of discovery to find food/drink stains or smelly pages. When my daughter asks what's wrong, I remind her that some people just don't respect books as much as we do in our home. We get past it and read ourselves into a story that has her imagining a new world with these amazing characters, though in the back of my mind I can't help but be annoyed.

Why is it okay to damage the property of others? When you're part of a public library you have a world of books at your fingertips, ready to borrow for approximately three weeks and enjoy. But during that three weeks, that book is not actually yours. Someone else will take it out to read and have to deal with your soda spill, pancake syrup, etc.

Some may reply to this post and say, "It's a kids book. Kids are messy." Yes, children are messy and sticky and always snacking. But I have a child. And even at the age of 4 she knows there's no eating or drinking while looking at her books; it doesn't matter if we own them or they're from the library. You treat a book the way it should be treated so you or someone else can enjoy it time and time again.

For all the fines there are for returning a book late or not picking up reserved materials, how about leafing through the books when they're returned and fining for damage?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Getting Better Every Day...

After not writing for a long period of time, I can attest to the fact that it's not east to get back in the saddle. In fact, it's down right hard. We all have tiers of importance, the most important things we must take care of on a daily basis to the less important. My most important is first and foremost my family, starting with my daughter of course and then my husband. My husband is currently in school online completing his B.S. in Anthropology. So once our little girl goes down to bed you'll usually find us both on our laptops, him working on an assignment and me trying to pound out part of my newest writing venture. It's good that we both have something we're working on. The television off, we set off typing, the clickety-clack of the keys our musical entertainment for the evening.

I have not written every night since getting back to things. I know if I do that I will burn out. So some nights I write (the other night 700+ words, a few nights before that over 1,000), other nights I read, and some I just relax on the couch and watch television. I could swear off the idiot box more and throw myself more into reading and writing, but we all need a break. For 40 hours a week I stare at a computer screen or read someones write-ups. Then I get to do something I love, be with my daughter having fun. And then it's making dinner, straightening up, getting my daughter ready for bed, and any other chores that may need to be done. And there are some nights, where I'm just mentally done. I don't want to stare at a computer screen or more words. I want to relax my brain and eyes into a sea of other people's made up worlds as they flash across the screen.

BUT, I'm getting there. I've written more this month than I have in the last five years since graduating from Seton Hill. Story ideas are flowing back into my brain. They come from nowhere and sometimes everywhere. That's something else I haven't felt for a while...the sudden glimpse of an idea or character that comes from something as simple and mundane as driving to work on the NJ Parkway (though if you're from NJ you're sure to think I'm crazy for saying driving on the Parkway is simple).

I feel a flow again and it's wonderful. The YA story I'm working on is definitely something I can take down many roads. But where to go first. My character Lindsey thinks she knows everything, but in reality she's lost within the fears of the past and the future. And I've taken on a critique partner who I hope will keep me in line and pushing toward deadlines. Knowing someone is looking to receive part of my work on a certain date pushes me ahead more.

If you're having trouble getting back into the swing of anything, really all you have to do is take your time getting back on that horse. Work it however is most suitable for your life.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Can't Concentrate...

I'm on my lunch break at work trying to figure out why I can't seem to get back on track with my writing. And as I look back at writing my first novel for my M.A. degree, I realize there was something there that I never have had before with my work. Deadlines.

Deadlines suck. I mean it. I used to hate my monthly impending deadline to get a few more chapters to my mentor at Seton Hill. But you know what? I got it done. Those evil set time frames forced me to pound out another two or three chapters (or more) every single month without fail. I didn't whine about writers block (well maybe a few times), I didn't go home from work and constantly stare at the televsion at yet another tv drama series. I went home and I wrote. And what I wrote was good.

So as I sit here on my lunch break writing this short blog entry, I wonder, why am I not writing a few new pages of my book right now? Why am I writing a blog that most people don't even look at and checking Facebook to see what everyone else is doing? Procrastination is a bitch!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Writing...It's Never Easy

I haven't posted in approximately 6 months. In that time I've put aside the novel I was reworking (Night Light) because it became a difficult project. I found myself going back and forth and not being able to make the right decisions for the book. So, taking the advice of others, I've stepped away from Night Light for the time being to begin working on a new project.

My new untitled project is a YA horror/thriller (not sure which it will lean more towards as of yet). It will be a cross somewhere between the Nancy Drew novels I grew up on and Dean Koontz (with a bit of Stephen King mixed in). I want it to be a novel that both young adults and adults can really delve into.

My main character is Lindsey Price. Her father decided to move her to a suburban town where she can live a normal life and focus on school instead of moving her from city to city as he'd done since her mother ran out on them years before. But the town of Blackwood is far from normal. Lindsey finds strange forces are controlling most of the residents, and eventually her own father. She's forced to figure out what evil is working in Blackwood before she is lost to it as well. Like being a teenager isn't hard enough!

So again begins my journey into writing. It's going slow, but I am trying more than I have in a long time. Even if it's just a paragraph at a time, I know I must write each day in order to bring this story to life and take it somewhere. And maybe once it unfolds I can take a look back at Night Light once again.

Monday, August 8, 2011

An Interview with Meg Mims

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing award winning author Meg Mims, writer of both historical mysteries and romantic suspense. Her newest novel, Double Crossing will be released on Tuesday, August 9. Please find links at the end of the interview for Meg and her writing.

1. When did you first realize your love for writing?
Probably when I was a teen, and realized how amazing books could let you escape into a fresh new world. I also realized some plots were better than others, and experimented with changing things up (on paper, of course—fan fiction before the internet?) My older sister advised me to create my own characters and stories. Good advice, but I stopped writing and dove into books like Tolkien, Michener, Pearl S. Buck, Taylor Caldwell, whatever I could find in the library. That gave me a perspective of how to create a “world” close to reality. I didn’t resume my experiments with fiction writing again until after my daughter was born. It’s okay if life gets in the way. Fallow periods are never a waste.

2. Which books gave you the inspiration to write your own works early on?
Definitely J.R.R.Tolkien. The moment I read “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit,” I was hooked and knew I wanted to write. Seriously write.

3. Can you describe your first experience getting published?
Oddly enough, I sent out twelve different things for the children’s market—puzzles, stories and poems. One caught the editor’s eye at Children’s Better Health Institute, so he published it in Jack & Jill magazine. I was shocked to see the acceptance letter after so many other rejections. But receiving a small check and contributor copies was wonderful! I had over a dozen other puzzles, poems and illustrations, either monetary or copies only payment, published in the children’s market until 9/11 closed submissions down. And life got in the way again.

4. What are some hobbies you enjoy outside of writing?
I’m a watercolor artist, which is relaxing and wonderful—but I’m not an everyday painter like my mother was. I chose writing as a career, knowing it was not a hobby. I love flower gardening, although my perennials are mad at me for neglecting them lately. Crafts are fun, but I haven’t had much time for that either. I’ve done pretty much anything—show me a picture and I can figure out how to make it. I had several friends help me make “book earrings” as giveaways!


5. What are your thoughts on traditional publishing versus self-publishing through ebooks?

A year ago, I was totally against e-books, self-publishing, etc. But times change, and I had waited long enough for the “big six” publishers—and been rejected. Even after earning my M.A. degree in Writing Popular Fiction, and knowing my manuscripts were marketable, I was shocked to get an offer from Astraea Press less than a week after submission. AP is small, but I believe it has tremendous potential in the “clean fiction” market—no erotica, no swearing, no graphic violence, but not in the “preach to the choir” market either. So Double Crossing, being a blend of historical western romantic suspense, with more suspense than romance and yet with inspirational elements, found a home. I know that several friends have had great success with self-publishing. Technology is a tool. I say use it to your advantage!

6. What methods of self-publicizing have you used (ie. social networking, blogs, etc.)?
Promotion is key. I am a member of Savvy Authors, who offer several marketing and promotion workshops—where I learned about an author platform and social networking. It takes time, effort and money when you’re a small fish in a huge school of other ocean fish. But there are ways and means to stand out. I’m on Twitter, I maintain a blog and a book website, several pages on Facebook, learned how to do my own book trailers, and joined Coffee Time Romance, Romance Junkies and the Independent Author Network. Authors helping other authors promote is a win-win. I’ve also contracted with Goddess Fish Promotions to host my book launch on their party pavilion. The more exposure, the better!

7. What advice can you give to aspiring authors in your genre?
Perseverance is the key. The best advice I ever heard was “You’ll never publish if you quit.” Take stock of your writing, be completely honest with yourself—I had to do that before applying to Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program. I knew I was close to getting my foot in the door, but could not put my finger on why my manuscripts kept getting rejected. In one term, I discovered my writing lacked the right balance of character emotion—and I worked hard during the rest of the terms to “straighten the ship.” Another key—the writing life “ain’t for sissies” (with a nod to Bette Davis). Stop whining. Stay positive. Write something completely fresh and new. Learn your strengths and weaknesses by whatever means possible (critiques, contests, rejections.) And never give up.

Double Crossing
Web site
YouTube Trailer

Meg Mims
Twitter: @megmims

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

An Interview with Dana Marton

This week I was given the amazing opportunity to interview romantic suspense author Dana Marton. An amazing writer, Dana has published 25 novels with under Harlequin Intrigue. Read her interview below to learn how she began writing, her thoughts on epublishing, and so much more!

1. When did you first realize your love for writing?
I started to write poetry as soon as I learned my letters. Haven't learned about punctuation yet, so it was somewhat of a rambling mess about the starry sky. I wrote it on the way home from school. Showed it to my mom. She thought I copied it and when I insisted that I wrote it myself, she grounded me for lying. That didn't put me off writing, though!!! LOL I can be stubborn, I suppose. Finally, my first poem was published when I was in fifth grade, in the largest regional paper--and I got paid for it. I just couldn't believe when the money came in the mail! :-)

2. Which books gave you the inspiration to write your own works early on?
I'm not sure if it was any one book, but definitely romance novels. I love the adventure, the amazing heroes who had principles and true character, the feisty heroines who could more than hold up their own end. I read these books one after the other, and soon new stories were springing to life in my head, which I had to write down. Not that anyone got too excited about it! Selling my first book took 13 years and many, many rejections from editors and agents.

3. Can you describe your first experience getting published?
Getting the call from the editor is not something a writer ever forgets. I picked up the kitchen phone and nearly fainted when an editor from New York introduced herself and told me she wanted to buy my book. My knees were shaking. She was giving me a ton of information about dates and contracts. I had no pen or paper handy, but was too scared to ask her to hold. I was standing by the kitchen counter, dying to sit down, but the chairs were across the kitchen. I was trying to hyperventilate as quietly as I possibly could. After I hung up, I realized that I was on the cordless phone, so I could have gotten a chair and pen and paper. LOL. But I was so frazzled, my brain just stopped working. Then I
danced around the house and called my husband and screamed unintelligibly into the phone. I'm sure he thought the house was on fire.

4. What are some hobbies you enjoy outside of writing amazing romantic suspense novels?
I love painting. I have some of my art work up on my web site. I'm a complete amateur, I know I'll never make a penny off this, and I'm not sure I want to. I love how relaxing painting is. It's the perfect antidote to a day of writing about an armed confrontation with terrorists. :-)

5. What are your thoughts on traditional publishing versus self-publishing through ebooks?
I love both. The more books out there, the better. I've been very happy with my publisher, Harlequin Intrigue, and have published 25 books with them. I can honestly say that my editor's guidance made every one of those books better. They have great distribution that helped me reach readers I might never have reached on my own. I also love the new opportunities that are opening up to authors in self-publishing. My last romantic suspense release, GUARDIAN AGENT, was a direct release, in fact. It has done amazingly well and is climbing the Amazon romantic suspense bestseller list every day. I'm grateful to my wonderful readers beyond words.

6. What methods of self-publicizing have you used (ie. social networking, blogs, etc)?
I post on Facebook and Twitter regularly. I update my web site with new contests and new releases. I recently organized a Kindle giveaway with a few author friends, and created If you already have an e-reader, you can choose a $100 e-book gift certificate. I try to give back to my readers as much as I possibly can. Have I mentioned yet how amazing they are? :-)

7. What advice can you give to aspiring authors in your genre?
#1: Romantic suspense must be fast-paced. Start with action. Start with bullets flying.

#2: The hero must be larger than life. A romantic suspense hero does not only have to be able to win the heroine's heart, but he also has to be able to disarm a nuclear bomb and save the world!

#3: Do your research. Romantic suspense readers are super intelligent and know their stuff. I frequently get letters from military personnel who would definitely take me to task if I fudged any details on weapons or commando tactics.

Dana’s books can be found in book stores and online. Her latest book, GUARDIAN AGENT, is available online with the following sellers:

Amazon (Kindle version)
Barnes & Noble (Nook version)
Smashwords (Ebook)

You can find most of her novels on her Amazon author page by clicking here.

Thank you so much to Dana for contributing to my blog. We all look very forward to seeing what you’ll have for readers next!