Thursday, November 5, 2009
It seems like the more books I write, the more I ponder this. And discuss it. And read books of writing theory, “How To” tomes, and volumes about “voice”. I worry about three act structure, point of view, and scene-sequel placement until it keeps me up at night. I want to get it right.
But the other day, I watched my wonderful seven year old granddaughter uncurl herself from my couch with a giant sigh. She’s an amazing reader.
“Oh,” she sighed with a stretch. She closed her book. “That was a great book. I hate that it’s done. I wish I had another one right here to start right now.”
My writer’s ears perked up. “What are you reading?”
She was reading a mystery from the Boxcar Children series. Remember that one? Not exactly high concept. Not exactly dark and gritty, as so many editors and agents acclaim. Yes, I know she’s only seven, but still…
“So what was so good about it?” I asked. “What makes it a good book?”
She dreamily sighed. “Well, it’s about these kids, and I really like them. I mean, I feel like I know them. It’s like they are really real.”
“And then, instead of having a regular day, they get stuck in some kind of problem, and they have to solve it, and they have to be brave and do things they might be scared of doing. And I feel like I am there with them. It’s exciting.”
I nod again.
“And then, just when you think they will never fix things, something happens, and all of a sudden it all makes sense, and then everybody gets really happy. You know, happily ever after. I like that.”
I nodded once more. I get it. I put down the latest “miracle” book that I wanted to use to tell me what makes a good book. I know what makes a good book. And so does my granddaughter.
I decide to write instead. But first, I take my granddaughter to the library for her next Boxcar Children book.
Kids say the darnedest things!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
We’ve all found our writing voice, but what about the voice that shouts to the world – “I want to tell you about my book.” Recently I received an email from the director of a local adult education program inviting me to speak at one of their Meet the Authors sessions.
I always have to stop and remind myself - I am an author and qualified to speak on a range of topics related to writing.
Last year I was part of a panel at a local community college. I spoke about my personal writing experience. The director of that program suggested me to the director of the adult education program. I read the email and had to stop and think ... who me?
So, I’ll pack up my confidence, my books, and an outline (which I’ll try to stick to). I will offer my insight on the struggles of moving from rejected to published. I assume most of the audience will be aspiring authors. They may find it impressive that my third book, Chocolate Magic is scheduled for April 2010. I’m personally still in shock.
I’ll put on my best professional face and use the stages from The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogel to show the progression of my writing career. Like our heroes we take that first step out of our ordinary world in order to pass into the world of a writer. Don’t we all stop occasionally to question the journey? We meet mentors and villains and have a few black moments before we get the letter that makes the journey worth the effort.
I find that I have a lot to say, once I start speaking. Don’t we all. We have struggled and succeeded. Sharing our experiences with others who aspire to do what we have done isn’t so bad.
Do you accept speaking requests? What do you speak about?
visit my website www.zeldabenjamin.com I'm also on facebook
Sunday, November 1, 2009
I am a wife, mother, writer, and librarian who's fortunate to have a wonderful family, great friends, and the opportunity to do what she loves.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? What was the biggest influence on this decision?
I can't remember not writing. This might sound weird, but I need to write. I'm driven.
Q: Tell us about the first thing you ever wrote.
The first thing I remember writing was when I was six and I wrote a story for my cousin. The first time I was published was when I was seven in the Boys and Girls Republic.
Q: Tell us about the genre in which you write and why?
I write romantic comedies (Talk about Love; It's in His Kiss; My Favorite Flavor; One Starry Night; Marriage 101) for the sheer joy of it. I write non-fiction books (Romance Today: An A-Z Guide to Contemporary American Romance Writers; The Suffragists in Literature for Youth: The Fight for the Vote: Crash Course in Library Supervision; The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List) to exercise my mind and share information. I write for What Do I Read Next? and Novelist and review for Booklist and Library Journal to help get the word out about great books. I write articles when I have time. And I write limericks (more than 600 so far) just because it's fun.
Q: Tell us about your latest book. Is it with Avalon or another publisher? What is your most recent or next Avalon Book?
My latest book, Marriage 101, is an Avalon book. I wrote it with my friend, Deborah Mazoyer--we write as Deborah Shelley. Here's a little bit about it:
Danny Riccuci thinks divorce is hereditary. After all, his family could be the poster child for failed marriages. The only exception is his sister, Maria. And she’s married to the church. Danny’s so sure he carries this divorce gene that he’s never bothered to challenge the family curse. Rachel Levin’s a teacher of human relationships. She knows all the scientific reasons for mutual attraction. She knows the basis of the human needs that drive people into relationships. She knows the statistics of almost every aspect of her field. In fact, Rachel knows everything about human relationships—except what it’s actually like to be in one. Together, Danny and Rachel learn there’s a lot more to love than what’s in a textbook, and that sometimes, genetics are highly over-rated.
Q: What do you like to do besides write?
I love to do things with my family--we took a road trip this summer that lasted almost a month and covered 5,000 miles. I enjoy hanging out with my friends. I like to read and go to the movies. Traveling to new places and trying new foods are high on my list of favorites. I like chilling with my cats, Ada and Chewie. I love to listen to music--all kinds--and sing along. What I don't like is doing anything domestic, including cooking and cleaning!
Q: What would you like us to know about you or your writing above anything else?
I worry about the poverty and hunger in America. There are foreclosures all over my neighborhood. I know so many people who have been laid off. We all need to do something to end this!
www.deborahshelley.com. I'm also on MySpace and Facebook.