Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What Readers Want....

It is the perennial question for authors, editors, agents, booksellers and librarians. What do readers want? What are the elements of a satisfying read?

I am a lucky member of a middle school book club. I joined this book club with my son when he was in fifth grade, and he has since decided being in a book club is not something that interests him anymore. (Killing me softly, these boys of mine who don’t read enough.)

Lucky for me, there are eager readers in this bunch who allow me to stay without my child in tow. As an author for the young adult and middle grade audiences, I feel privileged to hear what they have to say about what they are reading.

Tonight, I heard these young readers appreciate neat storylines that tie up at the end of a book. Quiet stories “where nobody dies” are sought out by some. Surprising news is that these particular young readers do not like character growth in minor characters. In one case, the mother in the story gives up her obsession with horoscopes, realizing she cannot predict her life from those words on a page. The young reader told me she didn’t like it when the mother gave up her horoscopes, because that was something that made her love the character.

The idea that not all characters need to change is new to me, and I appreciate this input from readers. Most of the advice I hear is from professionals ensconced in the business or writers who broke in or hope to break in. I enjoy the fresh look of a reader looking at the genre for the first time.

I can’t wait for this group to get to YA novels. I hope they don’t kick me out before we get to Cinder. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Author Photo Outtake

I got in front of the camera in my latest attempt to get some decent author photos. (Thank you, Michael Sabina for doing such a great job while trying to beat sundown).

I am not very comfortable in front of the camera. When I am uncomfortable, I talk a lot.

Sometimes I talk with my hands.....

.....or to my hand....

.....and sometimes I don't know what my hand is doing.

I won't be using that photo on the back of my books, but it was too funny not to share.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Hello, Chicago

The last weekend of summer, before I put away the white shorts and drag out the backpacks, we took a trip to Chicago.

My family is lucky enough to live where Chicago is an easy train ride away. Once we get there, nothing is easy. This small town girl was overwhelmed by the crowds and impatient with the traffic. Glad I didn’t have to drive in it!

We met a Forrest Gump impersonator at Bubba Gump’s. He only comes twice a year, and although he has the accent and costume down, he is no Tom Hanks.

Still, my kids were absolutely star stricken to meet this impersonator of a fictional character. They looked at him with wonder lighting their eyes. It reminded me of what we, as storytellers, give to the world if we are good at our jobs. We give them a world so believable, that people are honored to meet other people who look and act like the characters we created. It is an enormous task, yet a privilege to do this. It is, essentially, what built Disneyland and Disney Worlds. People go to these massive theme parks and come home with star struck children and cameras filled with pictures of awestruck offspring with Disney characters.

We all can’t be Walt Disney, but sometimes even Forrest Gump will do.