Tag Archives: readers

Ach, the Liebster Award!

Clipart: Emily McRoberts from Clker.com

Thank you to Adam at Write Thoughts for nominating me for the Liebster Award!  It is like a blogging chain letter of sorts that asks of the recipient a bit more than the conventional chain letter. I’ve responded to a similar award back in 2015 that was set up a bit differently from this one. This will be the last time I participate in this sort of thing. If any of my readers receive such a nomination and think of me for their list of nominations, please just skip me! I would like to keep this blog focused on the Perceval novels, writing issues and interests, classical music, and the occasional book or movie review.

The Rules.

Say thank you to the person who has nominated you for the Award.
Answer the 11 questions the person has asked you
Nominate 11 people (comment on their blog to let them know)
Ask the people whom you have nominated 11 questions

Adam’s Questions for his nominees:

1. What is your favorite book, or if you prefer, your favorite author? I really don’t have one favorite book or author. There are certain authors whom I read faithfully because of the high quality of their prose, plotting, character development, story, and dialogue. Those writers are: P. D. James, John le Carre, Daniel Silva, Madison Smartt Bell, Virginia Woolf, Connie Willis. and Ursula Le Guin. I just added Connie Willis to this list, and if you were to ask me this question a week from now, the list might be a little different.
2. Is there a country you have always wanted to visit, if so where? England. I’ve been to the other countries on my list: Russia, Austria, Germany, New Zealand. I’ve been to Northern Ireland and traveled through London on my way to various places, but have not stayed to actually visit England. I’d also like to return to Finland.
3. What do you enjoy about blogging? When I began blogging, I was extremely nervous about putting myself out there on the internet.  Who would read my posts? Would they like my ideas? Would they read my Perceval novels?  The first few months were a bit nerve-wracking. It’s been nearly 10 years now, and I find that I enjoy getting the ideas for posts, thinking about, exploring and researching those ideas in order to write about them, and then seeing if anyone responds. I love hearing from people so it’s been especially fun when readers leave comments and a conversation has ensued.
4. What’s your preferred writing space? I write at my desk in my living room. The desk faces the wall between the kitchen and the hall that leads to the front door. Behind me is the living room and its windows. I see the windows reflected in the large picture that hangs over my desk.  At least as much as I can see between the multitude of colorful post-its that I’ve stuck to the picture with notes to myself.
5. How do you find inspiration? In life.  In people.
6. What do you like to do for fun when you need a break from writing? Since I’m writing all the time even when I’m not at my desk, it’s rare for me to completely separate myself from it. However, I love movies, theater, and classical music concerts, spending time with friends, and walking around the lake that’s a block from where I live.
7. What started you down the road of writing? I honestly do not remember if there was one spark that got me going. I read voraciously all through elementary school, and I wrote plays and short stories starting in sixth grade. I do remember that one story in particular started in my mind when I was doing my lunchtime stint as a safety patrol kid outdoors and noticed the grill on the storm drain that ran along the curb. I’ve written about that here.
8. What’s one story you keep recommending to others? I do not have one story or book that I recommend to others all the time. I usually recommend authors, or sometimes a book I’ve recently read that impressed me.
9. How do you keep yourself motivated? It can be especially tough when life keeps butting in! I think about the characters. They keep me motivated.
10. What superpower would you choose and why? So, is this a trick question? The geopolitical situation right now is in crazy flux. Russia continues to try to reassert itself as a superpower. China is rising into that status but isn’t quite there yet, especially when they have some interesting issues with other countries that don’t bode well for China to become a superpower.  The US is definitely enjoying a decline in influence in the world, especially after last year’s election. However, the US still has the economy, military and weaponry to remain a superpower. The other countries are in an increasingly stronger position to challenge that status. I live in the US, so I suppose I’d choose the US, but honestly, I’ve lived in Europe and almost prefer that way of life.
11. What four people would you invite to a dinner party; contemporary, historical, or fictional? Ludwig van Beethoven, J. S. Bach, John le Carre, and Queen Victoria.

My Nominations:
I hope you all will respond, but from my perspective, it’s not required at all!

My questions are the same as Adam asked me:

1. What is your favorite book, or if you prefer, your favorite author?
2. Is there a country you have always wanted to visit, if so where?
3. What do you enjoy about blogging?
4. What’s your preferred writing space?
5. How do you find inspiration?
6. What do you like to do for fun when you need a break from writing?
7. What started you down the road of writing?
8. What’s one story you keep recommending to others?
9. How do you keep yourself motivated?
10. What superpower would you choose and why?
11. What four people would you invite to a dinner party; contemporary, historical, or fictional?

 

 

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Writers: How do you think of your readers?

Photo: Marina Shemesh

Photo: Marina Shemesh

Writers need readers.  We want to share our stories with other people, and it’s a bonus if those people respond to what they read and let us know what they think.  We already know that our first relationship with a reader occurs on the page, so it’s important to tell the best story we can, written the best we can write it.

Recently, I read a note mystery novelist Hope Clark wrote in her April 8, 2016 newsletter, FundsforWriters. She calls the relationship writers have with readers friendship. I’m not sure I agree with that term exactly despite the give-and-take between people contained within that word. I understand, however, that calling the relationship a friendship acknowledges its special nature. People who are complete strangers read our writing and feel that they make a connection with us on the page.  As Hope wrote:

Whether you write poetry, scripts, freelance features, nonfiction, memoir, or novels, your goal is to touch minds with a reader. And if the stars align, and you write like an angel, you connect with many readers, making them think you are of like souls.

Writers are also readers. Voracious, and hopefully eclectic readers who experience another writer’s work through a slightly different lens than a reader who isn’t a writer. I know that when I read, I notice style, voice, syntax, word choice, pacing, as well as structure, character development, plot, and dialogue. How a writer uses language to tell a story, that fascinates me. But I know that many people read only to enjoy a good story, to be entertained, to have their emotions aroused, or the mind stimulated in some way. I read for those reasons, too.  In support of her idea of friendship between writer and reader, Hope Clark wrote:

Think of yourself as a reader, and remember that special book that touched you once upon a time. The author reached across the void with characters, storytelling, and voice, and made you believe they understood you as a human being. The author deemed you credible, and you felt the same in return.

This is where I part company with Hope Clark: when I’m reading, I’m not thinking that the writer has understood me personally as a human being.  I think that the writer was successful (or not) in illuminating some universal truth of the human condition. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, but I don’t think the writer of the book, short story, or article I’m reading is writing to me specifically.  I know when I write, I’m writing for myself in actuality, to satisfy the need to express myself and share the stories my imagination gives me.

Now, from a marketing and promotion perspective, it’s great to foster friendship with readers, to make them feel special in some way. We as writers want people to read our stories, to buy our books, and to continue to read what we write over the years.  Hope Clark puts it this way:

But friendship with your readers means more these days. Once your writing passes muster, you are expected to be readily available online. You are also expected to respect the reader, because they invested time into the reading of your words. Not only do you want to feed them the words they want to hear, but you want to let them know you appreciate them for giving you attention in return

CCY_PercevalsSecretCvr_FNL-960x1280.131107The internet has given writers a tool with which to connect even more easily with their readers.  It gives us a way to value our readers, appreciate them, communicate with them, and learn from them, in addition to meeting readers face-to-face during book tours.  The internet also gives readers a place to meet and talk about books, e.g. Goodreads.  I love hearing from my readers!  I wish more people were reading Perceval’s Secret and using the internet to communicate their reaction to it, whether directly to me via e-mail or at this blog, or in reviews posted at Amazon, B&N, or Goodreads (or elsewhere).

Hope Clark cautions in her note that writers write not for sales or Facebook likes, but for that “intimate” relationship with our readers.  I would add that I write to experience my intimate relationship with myself and my imagination, and to explore human behavior.

Why do you write? How do you think of your readers?

Being an Author: Readers

Photo: Marina Shemesh

Photo: Marina Shemesh

Now that Perceval’s Secret has been on sale at Amazon, B&N and Kobo for seven months, i.e. published, I am finally feeling that I have published a novel. Last April, I even thought that I was still working on the publication process and had to remind myself that it was done.  It’s a strange feeling, actually. Writing a blog has helped me deal with the feeling of exposure that sending a piece of writing into the world can create.  I’ve been doing that for seven years now and I’m acclimated to a certain extent.  I also write for Classical MPR online, and that has added to my feeling of exposure but thankfully in a good way.

Being an author can mean different things to different people, I guess.  To me, it means that I’ve written a work of fiction that’s published. It’s now available for people to buy and read.  Often people who are complete strangers.  A few have written reviews at Amazon for the novel, and I am ecstatic to hear what they think of the book and that they enjoyed it.  I think it’s important for authors to hear from readers — a meeting of minds over a work of fiction.

But what about when readers don’t respond in some way?  It’s understandable to me that readers who don’t know the author might remain silent, which is the reason I’m thrilled when a stranger writes a review.  What has been a surprise is my reaction to the silence of readers I know, people I know have bought the book — they’ve told me — but then say nothing after they’ve read it.  Did they hate it that much?

My insecurities come gushing out.  Why hasn’t so-and-so told me what she thought?  Why hasn’t this relative responded or written a review?  Why haven’t other relatives bought and read the book?  I need to take a deep breath, let it out, take another deep breath, and let it out.  Breathing is an amazing defense against the ego’s chaotic sensitivities.

Credit: Deepak Nanda/Wikipedia.org

Credit: Deepak Nanda/Wikipedia.org

I remind myself that I know not everyone will like Evan’s story. Some people won’t like being immersed in the classical music world, or read about PTSD and its effects on a person’s life when it’s untreated, or like Evan’s dilemma and his way of dealing with it. Maybe some people just won’t like my writing. It’s impossible to please everyone, but I would hope that people will try the book before making any kind of judgement or forming an opinion.

Then I remind myself that no one is required to communicate with an author with a response to the author’s book.  Even the people I know personally.

The best way to move away from all this ego chaos is to write. I write in a journal daily. I write my blogs. I write e-mails.  I write promotional materials for the book.  Slowly, I write my way back to fiction. My current projects are short form: a short story entitled The Negligee that is finished and only needs some tweaking, and a short story that I’ve begun writing. Eventually, once I’ve completed shorter writing projects, I’ll begin work on Perceval’s Shadow, the second book in the series. Its first draft is done, but needs a lot of work.

No matter what anyone thinks about me or my writing, I shall write.  Once I have this mantra back into my mind, I’m fine.  The ego quiets down so I can give it something else to preoccupy it while my imagination comes out to play. So, as much as I’d love to hear from readers and what they think of Perceval’s Secret, it is not essential to my writing life.

CCY_PercevalsSecretCvr_FNL-960x1280.131107

Perceval’s Secret is still on sale at Amazon, B&N, and Kobo for $2.99.  Now would be a good time to buy your copy if you haven’t already.  I’ll be raising the price on January 1. Or take a shot at guessing the mystery element in the book’s cover design to win a free book! (See details under the “Free Book!” tab)  And if you’d like to write a review to let other readers know what you thought about the novel, that would be grand, and I thank you for it….