Tuesday, November 26, 2013

If You Can't Say Something Nice...

There’s this epidemic going around. When it comes to the internet, somehow etiquette, politeness, and the Golden Rule have all gone out the window. It’s as if it has become okay for people to become rudely, brutally, and unnecessarily mean just because they aren’t actually saying it to your face.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve fallen victim to this. In a rage-filled PMS moment, I sent a very tersely worded e-mail to some poor soul whose only fault was working for some company that ticked me off. Why would I do that? In what situation would Miss Manners herself, ever deem this behavior acceptable?  The answer is: she wouldn’t. 

Is this to say that we shouldn’t be honest? That we should never say how we feel? No, of course not. There are ways to say things, however, that can get your point across in a nicer, kinder way.

As a published author I have had my share of comments said toward me via the internet, which were rude, inconsiderate, and rather cruel. I know. Woe is me. I could tell you that I have thick skin and that I just let those mean-people-comments roll off my back, but it’s not true. Unfortunately I mull over them and have even shed a tear or two (or three).

I’m in good company, though. No author is free from these critiques. Even the most famous ones have been ripped a new one via the internet. E.L. James (50 Shades of Grey) had a one star review that said “if crap had an a**hole, this is what would be coming out if it.” So basically if crap could crap, this is what it would be. I know, I laughed too. But it was a cruel comment, and intentionally so.

Obviously, there is not one book that everyone loves. Even the classics haven’t been left out. I found this gem from Pride and Prejudice:  “I would rather endure a daily root canal than read this book again.”

We all have different tastes and likes. It’s what sets us apart from each other. It’s what makes us unique. It’s okay to not like something, and it’s okay to say it. But it should be done in a kind, considerate, and thought-out way. It should be as if you were saying it to the person directly, because you pretty much are.

I think with the internet, as a rule of thumb, we should just go back to what dear ol’ mom taught us: “If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it at all.” It’s a good way to think when you are making comments, leaving reviews, sending emails. I pledge to follow this rule and never let a bout of PMS guide my interactions ever again. Join me. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Chick-lit: It’s Predictable

Every once in a while I get a review of my book that says it was predictable. Um… yah. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t all chick-lit predictable?

Essentially, there’s a formula for chick-lit. It varies from book to book and writer to writer, but it basically stays the same. There’s the heroine/hero, there’s the love interest, there’s the drama, and then there’s the happily ever after.

I wonder in their remarks that it was predictable, were they looking for something unpredictable? Maybe a not-so-happily-ever-after? Let me tell you what would happen if I wrote a book with a not-so-happy ending. Ten percent of my readers would think “huh, that’s different”, and the other ninety percent would throw the book across the room (unless it was on their kindle, and then they would very gently, but sternly, delete it from their files, never to be seen or read again).

I also wonder, if by unpredictable, are they looking for something more realistic? Now, I don’t know about you, but when I read, I’m not looking for “real”. I have enough “real” in my everyday life. When I read, I’m looking for an escape - a way to go on vacation, without actually having to go on vacation. So for me, I like the predictable. I look forward to it. I know that when I open Sophie Kinsella’s newest novel there will be a happy ending and that makes me want to read it.

After all, isn’t the joy in the journey? How will they get from A to B? How will the love blossom? How will they work through whatever drama will be thrown their way?

So is chick-lit predictable? Yes. And I would like to keep it that way, thank you very much. If you are looking for something less predictable, might I suggest a mystery, or a biography. Perhaps a dystopian novel would do the trick (I’ve thrown a few of those across the room). But let’s keep chick-lit the way it was meant to be: predictably lovely. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Why Writing While Raising a Toddler Stinks

I have a two year old. And she is evil. Not evil as in spawn-of-the-devil-type-evil (although, there have been times when I wonder), she is just… well… evil. She has two older siblings and they never acted the way she does. Well, perhaps they did and I repressed it. But, I digress.

In a perfect world, ideas and thoughts for writing would come to me only during naptime or when she goes to bed at night. But unfortunately, for me, ideas tend to form during awake time and/or tantrum time. Which for my two-year-old is pretty much the same thing (awake time = tantrum time).

This makes it difficult for me to write like I want to, which is all the time. I would love to write all of the time. But I am a full-time mommy, and so I must share my time with my love for writing and my three babies.  In truth, the raising of my kids is my most important role, and I work every day at making this my most important role… even when I sometimes would rather get in my car and drive far, far away.

This means that the bulk of my writing has to be done at night. When everyone is asleep. Namely, evil toddler. The only problem with this is now I have to ignore my husband because nighttime is our time together. Lately though, our time has been spent with him on the couch doing something work-related on his laptop, and me ten feet away writing in the office. Our conversations consist of yelling things back and forth to each other. It’s very romantic.

I sometimes dream about having a clone of myself who could spend time with my family, while I write. But then the real me would miss out on all of those wonderful things that happen while my babies are growing up. Things I can never get back. Like today when my evil toddler stripped down completely naked and went streaking through our back yard. That kind of stuff.

So for now, I will be a mommy during the day, a writer at night, and somewhere in there I will find time to be a wife too. I’ll continue to be haggard from the kids and sleep-deprived from the writing. It’s my life, after all. And it’s a great one. Even with the evil toddler.