Reading the Classics

This post is sparked by something I recently posted on Facebook.

My daughter, who is a sophomore in high school, has been reading the classics and various assigned reading material. Last year it was “Romeo and Juliet,” “Of Mice and Men,” and “The Outsiders” (not sure I’d call that one a classic) among others. As this year starts, she’s reading “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding.

It made me think back to high school (I had to think really hard) to some of the books we were assigned to read. I still keep in touch with some of my high school friends (we just had our 30th reunion – not sure how that happened), so I asked them what they remember reading. It’s been one of the best responses I’ve ever had to anything I’ve posted before, so, just for fun, I thought I’d bring it to my blogging community.

The list is varied, considering some were in honors classes (now called Advanced Placement), but my classmates clearly have a much better memory than I do. I don’t remember reading half of these!

I thought it would be interesting to see what some of my followers from around the country (and world) remember reading in high school (as assigned reading).

Here’s the list my classmates came up with so far. Please feel free to comment which were your favorites and add to the list in the comments below. I think it would be really interesting to compile an International List (unless there’s one already) and I’ll share it with my high school classmates, who are now scattered all over the world.

1984                                                                                             Animal Farm

Grapes of Wrath                                                                       Moby Dick

Don Quixote                                                                              Handmaid’s Tale

Of Mice and Men                                                                     A Tale of Two Cities

The Great Gatsby                                                                     Les Miserables

The Scarlet Letter                                                                    Catch 22

Hamlet                                                                                       Julius Caesar

Death of a Salesmen                                                               Cather in the Rye

Wuthering Heights                                                                  Sound and the Fury

Huckleberry Finn                                                                    Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man

Canterbury Tales                                                                     Brave New World

Secret Life of Walter Mitty                                                   Black Like Me

Cannery Row                                                                           Siddhartha

 

Also, are there any that you loved and you could read over and over. My favorite was probably “Cannery Row.”

This is just for fun. Hope this brings back some fond memories. By the way, I have to admit that Cliff Notes were my friend during the Shakespeare unit! LOL

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What I Think of Twitter

I’m late to the “Twitter Party,” “TwitterSphereTwitter Craze…oh, whatever you call it, I’m late to it. And I have to say that I joined only as part of my “Platform” and because, if you want to be a published author, it’s what you’re supposed to do as part of “reaching your audience.”

So far, with the exception of a few entertaining people that I follow, including the Property Brothers who never have a bad thing to say about anyone, Twitter is awfully snarky.

I’ve been struggling with humanity lately, and feeling a bit like I want to bury my head in the sand. I won’t, because that isn’t a way to reach out to people. But I’m finding that Twitter isn’t a way to reach people either, at least not the way that I want to reach them.

Twitter is not a conversation and Facebook is not a conversation. A conversation is a meeting between two people to exchange ideas. It isn’t well-placed snipes and targeted jabs, which is a lot of what Twitter seems to be, in my experience.

I don’t follow politically affiliated Twitter posts, but somehow, while perusing through Twitter, I suddenly know that this celebrity hates this political party, or that personality would like to see such and such destroyed.

Twitter is riddled with poor taste and insults, and the fact that you can just keep sharing them over and over is really getting annoying.

The only positive thing I can say, however, is that I’ve never been part of a social platform where people “follow” you just for the sake of “following.” You don’t even have to Tweet and people just show up, not that they are necessarily potential readers or anything, but I guess they’re following, and there’s something to be said for that.

So, what has been your experience? Am I expecting too much?

In my opinion, blogging is so much kinder and gentler. And if I’m going to spend time on the computer, I really don’t want to come away feeling worse about the world. If I want that, I can just watch the news.

Think I’ll go hang out on Pinterest for a while. I don’t need to know your political opinion, to know how to make chocolate dipped wafer cookies.

Social Media Isn’t Fun Anymore

Social media has been slowly losing its appeal to me over the last year or so.

It started with Facebook. Facebook, for me, used to be a place to share events with friends, whether they were big or small, and support one another, or be sarcastic (I have a whole group of friends that relate sarcastically, but we all know it’s out of fun).

But then it started to turn. It started with the grammar police, but those comments are usually funny to me, so long as it’s intended that way.

Then it moved on to friends who felt the need to “educate” each other, even when it wasn’t necessary. Sometimes, I just want to comment on something that just happened or annoyed me. I don’t need your “helpful” advice as to why said event happened. Chances are I’m probably already aware of the why, I just wanted to blow off a little steam. For example, I spent the better part of the morning arguing with the bank over a mistaken transaction that was cleared up. I posted on Facebook that I had spent a frustrating morning arguing with the bank over something that was a technicality. I didn’t need a long, lost acquaintance to advise me that “it was bank policy…blah blah blah…” Don’t you think I probably already knew that?! I had just been arguing with the bank, remember? But hey, thanks for the education. Now we all know how “smart” you are.

And when Facebook turned political…dear God, don’t get me started!

Now even blogging, which used to feel like a “safe” place, is changing. When I first started blogging, about 5 years ago (I know, I was late to the party), the “blogosphere” was full of people sharing common interests and common ideas. To tell the truth, I started blogging because, as an unpublished writer, I was told I needed a platform, and blogging was the best way to do it, at that time. And I realized that I actually liked sharing ideas and making blogging friends.

But that, too, has changed. More and more bate and click blogs are showing up, and it doesn’t feel as genuine anymore. Especially when the trolls started showing up. And there are metrics and tricks to get more followers. It seems more and more like smoke and mirrors rather than genuine appreciation.

I just joined Twitter, and haven’t done much with it yet. Though I’ve noticed that people will follow you whether you “tweet” or not. Again, it seems like people are just trying to get followers. Why would you follow someone who never tweets? It’s flattering, but unexplainable.

It’s odd to me that while the internet is expanding, our social circles are shrinking. Something is wrong with that dynamic. We need people and conversation. No matter how you package it, Social Media is not really a conversation. Social Media is a vacuum of ideas that just get recirculated and never really discussed or solved.

In the long run, it hasn’t gotten me a platform, and quite frankly, I feel guilty making “friends” with bloggers and then asking them to buy my book. (By the way, I’m not published yet, so you have nothing to worry about.)

All of this is enough to make me want to close-up shop, and start making phone calls to friends, and writing letters. Remember those?

Has anyone else noticed the shift in Social Media? What’s been your experience? Are you in it for the long haul?

Words on the page

I would express my opinion

But someone would be offended.

So, I keep my mouth shut and try to love on people,

But that offends you too

Because I’m not doing enough.

There is no winning

There is only losing.

We are a symptom of being self-absorbed.

We’ve been reduced to our most animal instincts

Of survival – get them before they get you.

But the problem is we aren’t animals

We are humans…meant to love.

But no one wants to hear that,

For fear that there’s an agenda behind it.

So, we sit in a room, not talking, not sharing, not discussing

Because there is no answer that we can agree on.

Many of us won’t speak out

For fear of backlash.

Many of us retreat

Because we’re tired of conflict.

Many of us will shut you out

Because all the yelling is making us sick.

Many of us will be accused of standing idly by

No matter what we do.

Many of us know that this has happened before

And yet we’ve survived

Whether we deserved to or not.

Many of us are praying, quietly,

because we can’t see anything else to do.

What Scares You About Being Published?

 

What’s your biggest fear about being published?

My biggest fear about being published, if it ever happens, is being in the public eye.

I’m a social person, but I don’t like criticism, and I have to admit, I’m a bit of a control freak. Turning my novel loose on the public opens me up to all kinds of opinions, all kinds of scrutiny. And that terrifies me.

It also opens me up to books signings and public appearances. And that’s where the real insecurity rears its ugly head. What if I’m lame, or boring, or…and this is the worst…what if nobody shows up?! #writerfears

I would probably write under a pseudonym, but in the information age, I’m not so sure a pseudonym protects your privacy. In the old days, you know, pre-internet days, a pseudonym probably was fairly effective. But not so much anymore.

About 10 years ago, I wrote a Letter to the Editor of our local paper. It got printed, and much to my terror, a woman looked me up, and called me at home! Fortunately, it was to tell me that she completely supported my position, but it was still unsettling. What if she felt differently?

You see where I’m going. Of course, if I ever do get published…I could probably get over it. LOL

So what scares you about being published? Do you think it holds you back?

If you are already published, what surprised you the most?

Starting Your Query before Your Novel is Completed?

I’m a Panster, (or is it Pantster?) which means that my characters tell me their story, not the other way around. It’s unconventional, from what I’ve been told, but it works for me. Outlines are painful, arduous, and too confining for me.

My first novel, I had no idea what I was doing. I just wrote it: no outline. I was naïve, and just had a bunch of notes for a story that I’d been sitting on for 20 years (no kidding…20 years), and finally had the time and determination to write it down. It felt great to complete it! Even if nobody else read it, at least I finished it.

While writing my second novel, I happened across an article in a writer’s magazine that showed step-by-step how to outline a novel. So, I followed their example, and I plotted, and outlined, and then tried to write according to that outline.

I hated it! It felt as if I was writing in a foreign language and trying to force feed the words to fit the outline. I scrapped the outline and wrote the book my own naïve way. And, again, I finished it.

Several novels later, and I’m in the midst of querying. While I sift through rejection letters and wait for the golden ticket, I’ve started another novel.

I struggled to get this one going on the right track, until I realized I was over-thinking. So I tried something different, but not on purpose.

One night, as I was trying to fall asleep, I was writing the query in my head. But that’s crazy! I was only 4,000 words into the story. I shouldn’t even be thinking about a query, right?

But I couldn’t get it out of my head. Maybe it was because I had been querying for that other novel that my brain kept thinking in that direction. So instead, I wrote what would be on the back of the book jacket, or part of the query. It worked! It helped me focus where the story was going, but without the constraints of an outline. It brought my novel to back to life for me, and made it more compelling.

Since then, I’ve updated it several times and keep adding to it. I guess you could call it an outline, but it’s more entertaining than that. I see an outline as a dry, step-by-step summary of what’s coming. #panstertroubles The back of the book jacket is the ad that causes the reader to buy the book. And isn’t that what we, as writers, are trying to do? Get people to buy our books?

Writing the book jacket keeps me focused on the goal of what I want my story to tell, and who I want my story to reach.

I don’t know if it will work, but it’s kind of fun. The way I look at it is whatever gets you focused and writing is best for you: whether it be an outline, scribble in a notebook, or a query. That’s just my two cents. Happy writing!

Women’s Fiction POV Opinions Wanted

Hi, fellow women’s fiction readers and writers. It’s opinion time.

First, a brief background. When I say I write women’s fiction, it’s not to be confused with romance. My stories are about relationships between women, usually friends, often unlikely friends. There is no romantic leading man involved.

I write in third person POV 100% of the time, until this latest manuscript.

To switch things up, I started it in First Person POV. But after reading several blogs by well-respected writers, I reconsidered my initial decision.

One opinion that I read brought up an interesting point, and I’m paraphrasing here. One drawback to writing in First Person POV is that if the reader can’t identify with, or straight up dislikes the protagonist, then it can possibly ruin the book for them.

So, I went back and changed the 15,000 words or so that I had already written in First Person to Third Person POV. (I don’t recommend doing this…it’s a pain in the a**)

But every once in a while, as I’m writing, I find myself using “me” or “I said” accidentally, and wonder if I should go back to First Person. Which is odd, because the story isn’t biographical, and as I said, I don’t usually write in First Person.

I think most women’s fiction is written in Third Person, though it isn’t unheard of to find a book in First Person POV.

My question to you, the readers and writers of Women’s Fiction, is which do you prefer?

Do you think there’s merit to that opinion about risking the reader not being able to identify with the protagonist?

I’d love to know what you think. I’m now 20,000 words in and if I decide to change it again, I have to commit to it. I couldn’t imagine getting to the end of a novel and going back and change the ENTIRE 80,000+ words to a different POV. #womensfictionPOV