Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Love in Mid Air by Kim Wright Paperback Release

The lovely Kim Wright has received many accolades for her debut novel and now I'm please to announce it's out in paperback.... I invited Kim back to the blog for a guest post... and she wrote an honest eye-opening account of how writers really read....

How Writers Read

Recently someone asked me if the publication of my first novel, Love in Mid Air, changed how I read.  It’s an interesting question.  Because the long process of putting a novel together, taking it apart and putting it together again and again, does tend to make one hyper-aware of how stories are constructed and the many choices an author makes along the way.
In a way this knowledge does spoil – well, I shouldn’t really say that. Knowing how writers put together stories doesn’t exactly spoil your experience of reading, but it changes it.  I ballroom dance as a hobby and recently I was watching a young girl in my studio proudly model her new ballgown, which had been purchased from a taller girl and altered to fit her.  She looked magical as she twirled and glided in a sea of blue chiffon.  But the seamstress, standing beside me and watching too, kept muttering about how a certain seam puckered or wondering if the hem was too deep.  Sometimes when you understand the construction of something too well, you can’t stop seeing that construction and a bit of the magic does get lost.
Like, for example, last year I was at my mom’s beach house and in the back bedroom is a big bookcase crammed with books my mother’s friends have brought to the beach in summers past, read, and then left for future visitors to enjoy.   I grabbed a paperback at random – apparently a favorite, judging by its humidity-swollen pages, broken spine, and sunscreen-smeared cover – and carried it out to the sand with my beach chair. 
It was the lightest of all light reading, but for some reason, the book bugged me.  I felt that I could see every decision the writer made along the way, just as the seamstress could see the faulty stitching on the ballgown.  The foreshadowing was so heavy that when I finally flipped to the predictable ending I was so irritated that I walked to the edge of the ocean and flung the book in.  I still don’t know why I did it.  Ordinarily, I’d have too much respect for both books and marine ecology, but I was just coming off a long stint of revision and it irked me to come across a writer who had – at least in my opinion – taken the easy way out.
 As I turned back to my chair I saw my mother and all of her friends sitting under their beach umbrella, mouths gaping.  All I could think to say was “I REALLY hated the way she ended that book.”
But it can work the other way too, that knowing more about writing can elevate your appreciation for a book that’s been well crafted, and taking my own hits in the publication process has definitely increased my respect for anyone who survives it.   I was never a harsh reviewer, but now I can hardly bring myself to publically critique another writer.  Whether their book was my personal cup of tea or not, I know how hard they worked to write it, and to get it published. 
So what’s the overall change in my reading since I’ve published?  While on one level I enjoy books a little less, I now bow more to the effort each one required from its author.  Which is why, even if a copy is slowly drifting out to sea, I send it off with a little prayer of “God Bless.”

Here's Kim's website:

And a  link to purchase Kim's delightful book

Friday, July 8, 2011

Michele Young-Stone author of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors

 Michele Young-Stone is a writer's writer.  Her debut: The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors has been a top Publishers Weekly pick as well as an emerging author pick at Target. Her characters: beloved, tender, flawed and damaged, the overwhelming sense of place and her gift for language that lifts off the page are trademarks of someone who was born to write. All I can say when I think of this marvelous writer is: More, please. 
Please welcome Michele to the blog -- pick up her book if you haven't already done so -- and, as always, I'll see you in the comments!

Don’t judge me.

It’s gospel: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone…” (John 8:7)

I grew up with a mom who, seriously, cast no judgment on anyone.  If I told her that someone was having sex or using drugs, she’d say, “I feel really bad for her.”  She’d pray for them and hug them even harder the next time she saw them.  Most of the parents I knew would’ve said, “Stay away from her,” or “It’s because her parents are such a mess,” or something along those lines.

I know that we all—to some extent—judge other people, but I really try not to do it.  The cliché about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes is a cliché because it’s true. 

It’s so easy to judge others instead of looking at our own quirks and failings.  And even if you take a good hard look at the things in your own life, and you discover that you’ve done something less than admirable, say, “I’m sorry,” and to quote one of my favorite Disney movies, Meet the Robinsons, “Keep Moving Forward.” 

Life is too short to wallow and be filled with regret. 

And don’t judge your friends.  Hug them even harder the next time you see them.  Say a little prayer for them.  Do something nice!!!  Put some positive vibes out there. 

The characters in my novel have been described as, “endearing losers,” and they are.  Whenever someone tells me about how tough they’ve had it, I say, “I’m right there with you.  Life can be hard.”  Yet another cliché:  “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  Chin up.  Smile.  You’ll feel better.  I promise.

Michele Young-Stone is the author of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, a Target Emerging Author pick and a Publisher’s Weekly top-ten debut.  Her next two books are under contract with Simon and Schuster.  She is currently working on her third novel—The Saints of Los Vientos.

Michele lives in Virginia with her husband and son, a very sweet dog and some ornery fish.