Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Give Books

My blog has been lacking as of late. That's mostly because I work for a Christmas ornament company, and we get pretty busy during 4th quarter like, tear-my-hair-out-and-scream busy. But it gets me thinking about the holidays sooner than most so I get my shopping done early. I always buy a lot of books. A book isn't just pages full or words and or pictures, it's an idea, an adventure, a laugh or a cry. What better gift to give? Some of my favorite giftable books are below:

This is a great gift for anyone with a sense of humor, especially someone who works in interior design or lived through the seventies. It contains the best of the worst disco-era home decor with hysterical commentary on each photo.

Oh Crap, I'm Having a Baby! by Anna McAllister & Mike Strassburger

I love to give this book to my expecting friends, especially the ones who impart on me all of the glorious aspects of pregnancy and ask when I'm planning to have a baby. Not intended for a woman who can't take a joke, this book lays out all of the ugly truths about pregnancy, delivery and child rearing such as baby poop, never sleeping again, and losing all of your friends.

Once those friends have their babies, I get them Pat the Bunny. I remember this being one of my favorite books because of the soft bunny fluff inside. I'm sure there are more touch and feel books out there now, but Pat is a classic.

This is a great gift for anyone in business, escpecially someone who works in consumer marketing, and I would say, writers. It delves into the psychology of why we buy things. For instance, toothbrushes are kept at eye level because they sell better there. It also shares tricks to improve customer satisfaction and what color to paint your business to evoke certain moods.

Need I say more? I think this is a great gift to give to the friend or family member who doesn't like to read. I can't imagine anyone not being completely absorbed with the trials of Katniss Everdeen as she tries to survive the reality driven death show.

Another great gift for someone who isn't a big reader because Scott Pilgrim is a graphic novel with a hilarious story about a sub-par musician who has to fight his girlfriend's seven evil exes. The conversation is witty and fun and the drawings, albeit somewhat crude, remind me of comics I used to make in high school.

I have a couple of History buffs in my family, and Forever is the perfect gift for them. It's about a man who lives forever, trapped in New York. Through him the reader sees the changing landscape of the city over the years, following Cormac on his quest for love and revenge.

I would give this book to anyone in a creative field, but especially, my writer friends. Pressfield talks about overcoming Resistance in order to channel your creativity and gain success. Mant times when I felt the frustration of writing, I picked this book up and read one short chapter. It gave me the boost to pick up my pen and keep on going.

What about you? What are some of your favorite books to give and share?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Readers

Before I consider a work sub-ready, I pass it around to friends and colleagues. I've used my focus group a few times now and have lovingly given them titles by how they further my writing.

The Plotter:
I have two of these readers in my circle and they are the first eyes on a new work. They tend to point out places where my world is lacking in details, or if a character is underdeveloped. They have no problem telling me a scene sucks, that a line of dialogue sucks, or will scrawl "BORING!" or "REALLY?!" in the margins in bright red pen.

The Ego-Booster:
After my Plotters have devastated all of my bestseller dreams, I go through a period of "This is awful. I should trash it and write something new." But before I drag the paper shredder out of the closet, I give the Ego-Booster a copy.

She is the critique partner everyone says you shouldn't have. When I give her thoughtful questions like, "What pulled you onto the second page?" She replies with, "Everything. I love the characters! I love the idea! I love it all!" I know she's not going to give me any helpful insight, but what she does give me is a renewed love for my manuscript and the strength to pull it out of the trash and go back and work on the Plotters' comments.

The Spell Checker:
Round 3. I've pulled my book apart and put it back together. I can't even look at it anymore. This is when I send it to the Spell Checker, who does so much more than fix the typos Word missed. He's a stickler for details. He points out where I used the wrong name for someone, or put "he" insead of "she". He can spot where I'm missing a comma or a quotation mark is backwards. He doesn't have a lot to add in the way of story, but he keeps me from looking like an idiot.

The Not-My-Types:
I write YA. These are the people who don't write YA, read YA, or even walk through the aisle in the bookstore. They write and read Christian fiction, romance, mystery, crime, women's fiction, short stories and poetry. They would never pay money for one of my books so why in the world am I giving it to them? For an outside perspective.

I don't always agree with what they have to say, but often, they offer plot suggestions that I never would have thought of. They're good, and they're different from YA because they're inspired by another genre.

After the rounds, a vacation in the drawer and one last look, I consider my manuscript ready to submit.

What about you? Who are your readers? Any I should consider adding to my list?