Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bookaholics Anonymous

I just bought 19 books. Admittedly, I had good reason. I'm a student. They're on my required class reading list for the fall. Really.

I didn't relapse (I would have had to unlapse first).
I don't need intervention.

Moving on...

So, for my BA session this week, I'd like to know:


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mystery: What is it and Why Does it Matter?

Mystery, according to Albert Einstein, is the awareness of beings, entities, universes beyond our capacity for understanding, the realization that there are things we can neither explain nor even begin to understand.

The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the power of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms -- this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong to the rank of devoutly religious men.

Although the mystery genre does not always pertain to the unexplainable, unfathomable in nature, it does at times evoke a sense that, no matter how many puzzles we unravel, there is always something bigger, something more elemental, perhaps, hanging over our heads, asking us Why, daring us to compose any sort of answer at all.

Truth is, we can't answer....not usually. Why do bad things happen? Why are we here? How can we carry on when we see evidence every day of the brokenness, the depravity, the hate, the coldness of the world? How can one person help? Will it ever end?

Almost every time another mystery is written, another aspect of human shortcoming is brought to public attention. But then again, nearly every mystery also showcases human successes, human beings loving one another, caring, working together, making the effort to understand another little bit of this crazy world.

As Oscar Wilde notes, "the true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible."

~Just a few thoughts on this lazy Sunday morning.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bookaholics Unite

Having run out of clever Bookaholic topics for the time being, I decided to post this spotlight on a bookstore/charity that recently caught my attention: Better World Books.

Better World Books is an organization that turns our bookaholicism (Hey, I'm an English major. I wrote it, it's a word) into something positive: funding for worldwide literacy programs. Not only do the people at BWB provide thousands of book lovers with a doubly beneficial way to buy books, they also work with students, libraries, and ordinary people to collect discarded/unwanted books for charity!

Go to their website,, and see what they have to offer!

If my little bookaholic anonymous session had a Best Bookaholic Binge prize, it would go to these guys.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Making it Work: Flexibility

It's funny how the little things in life can affect you. One moment you're going along, writing your book(s), happy as can be, and the next moment you're in bed sleeping off powerful pain killers that you're taking because you had to have a tooth ripped out of your jaw.

As writers, such vulnerability can be a huge impediment to our already uncertain writing schedules. We already have day jobs, demanding family and friends, every once in a while we even have a semblance of a social life, and every single one of those things contends for top priority with our writing.

So how do we keep the words flowing? How do we keep ourselves constructively working on our writing when any little thing can throw our hard-bought schedules and progress to the wayside?

Well, there are a couple of options, really.

Going postal is a great way to show your friends and family what is most important--go ahead, tie them up in chairs, duct-tape their mouths, and sigh in pleasure at the lack of interruption you will face. Of course, this option does have its little (read HUGE) drawbacks. Not only will you lose your biggest fans/support team, you will also be sentencing yourself to life as a fugitive of the law. A lonely fugitive, at that.

The other option (to most, the only option), emerges from the echelons of Chaos, a place many organized writers hate. It is, simply, flexibility. You can't realistically control your environment. You can't control how you'll feel after having a wisdom tooth pulled. You can't control how crazy your life will be once your professors start throwing homework assignments your way. You can't control your boss or the weather or the economy or the political sphere.

As much as we'd like to think so, this condition is not unique to writers, either. All of humanity has struggled with the need to adapt since the days of Adam and Eve. Thankfully, we were created with that ability. From the fig-leaf-clothing of our earliest ancestors to the legends of early nation-states and the morality plays of Medieval England, the ability to adapt to environment, political sphere, society, economics, and just life in general are examples of people's ongoing need (and ability) to be flexible.

The key to success then, hinges on our ability to adapt. We need flexibility, plasticity, adaptability. Successful beings (whether they be people, plants, animals, etc) must adapt to their environment if they want to live to reproduce--or be published. As with all growth, writing growth occurs when we realize that WE cannot control our surroundings, we can only do our best to work with what we've got.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's Time

Welcome back to my weekly BA session. Since I'm having trouble focusing due to my increasing dread of having wisdom teeth pulled, I'm keeping it simple today.

What is your all time favorite book/series EVER? It can be any genre, any time period, anything. Make sure to tell me WHY it's your favorite, too. Unless you are part of the crazed mass of people who are obsessed with sparkly, emo vampires. In that case, I'd rather not know why.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Now introducing the BookWOW!

Having taken a cue from Billy Mays, I decided my best bet for marketing is to yell at everyone at the top of my lungs. Ready?

MY BOOK IS AMAZING! YOU CAN GET IT FREE IF YOU CALL IN THE NEXT TEN SECONDS with the exception of shipping and handling which comes to 22.95 plus tax to ship anywhere in the continental united states but not canada, europe, or anywhere else in the world. CALL IN THE NEXT TEN SECONDS TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS EXTRAORDINARY OPPORTUNITY TO PREORDER THE NEXT NATIONAL BESTSELLER!

Kidding, kidding!

Marketing is hard. It starts before you even finish the book. Okay, so maybe you actually should finish a draft of the book before you begin marketing it, but as an author your real merchandise is YOUR NAME. Sorry. Yelling again. Drat that Billy Mays.

My point is, even if you don't start marketing your book before you finish it, if you want increase your chances at publication, marketing your self, creating a ready-made following that a publishing house can work with, makes sense. Lots and lots of sense.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bookaholics Anonymous (BA)

Hello again everyone! Ready for this week's BA session? No? Great! Good! Let's get going.

Last week, I introduced this topic. Today, I will define it. Like its well known, potentially more useful sister, AA, BA is a 12 step program.

This 12 step program, unlike other, similar programs, is not intended to cure you of your bookaholic habits--it is merely an attempt to help control and/or focus them. With this in mind, continue reading for my suggestions.

12 Steps for Bookaholics:

1. Evaluate your monstrous book collection with the following questions in mind: what books are important to you? What books have you/ will you read multiple times? What If you could only take five of your books on an island, which ones would you take? If you had to sacrifice a book to save your mother's life, which book would it be?

2. Once you have established what books are the MOST important to you, attempt to rank your other books in order of importance by repeating step one.

3. Root out any books that you have had for 3 or more years but have never--and never will--read. Look for self-help books, that Christmas gift from Aunt Janie entitled "12 Sweaters for every Personality", old school textbooks that are irrelevant to your field of study (Like that Algebra 101 book)...

4. Do you have a bajillion duplicates? I'm betting some of those should be rooted out too.

5. Out-dated writing manuals (except the REALLY helpful ones)can be removed from the shelves.

6. Set aside all of those books you've separated from your general collection. Your shelves now look almost bare. Okay, not have way too many books for that, but you feel the empty spots in your heart. Take a break from this painful task and celebrate, you are halfway to your goal!

7. Put your freshly separated books into boxes. You may have "empty spots" now, but encourage yourself with the thought that you may have made room for a book you will need/love.

8. Go through your collection again, keeping steps 1-5 in mind. Also, check for cookbooks you will never use, auto-repair manuals for the vehicles you no longer own, 50 year old encyclopedias, etc...

9. Remove any books that managed to slip by your watchful (slightly delusional) eyes during the first round.

10. Put said books in boxes with the earlier de-shelved books. Take a deep breath. You are almost done! Promise yourself chocolate, coffee, steak, whatever it takes to keep going. (Hey, I never set out to help with ALL substance abuse--only the kind that can give you paper cuts).

11. Get rid of all of the precious boxed books. Fine, go through them to make sure you didn't inadvertently toss out Aunt Irma's memoir first, but DO NOT keep anything else! Give them to needy, bookless people. Leave them at a Goodwill. Donate them

12. Remember this painful process the next time you see a bookstore, booksale, garage sale with alot of books. You get the picture. You will still buy too many books, so, repeat the process every so often!

I know, many of my steps are not actually just one step. I'm an English major, not a math major!

Saturday, July 3, 2010


How do you keep going when the inspiration leaves?

The above question is very important because, let's face it, you're not much of a writer if you just quit every time muse takes off running. All that would do is create piles of unfinished stories--fabulous beginnings, well intentioned middles. Nothings. Failures. All of those poor little guys would need psychiatric treatment.

A great way to motivate is finding dedicated readers for your story. People who will read and give you feedback at early, middle, and semi-complete stages.

I assume another great way to motivate is to contract a publishing deadline. Sign the contract. Get an agent to represent it. I, however, am not at that stage yet, so we'll move on...

I get very motivated when I look at new books. Books I could have written. Books I could have published. Debuting authors motivate me very very well--I find my mixture of momentary jealousy and subsequent confidence extremely inspiring.

P.S. : this post is a stand in for tomorrow's scheduled post because I will be celebrating my freedom :)