Sunday, June 30, 2013

Where Do You Buy Your Books?

My husband and I shop at a mass market retailer store on days when we're looking for a one-stop option to buy our baby and kid stuff, toys and gifts, household supplies, personal care products, and random seasonal items. At this place, one thing I try to avoid buying are books because such businesses don't rely primarily on book sales to be successful.

I respect everyone's book buying choices, and if you buy your books at mass market retailer locations or grocery stores, that's really perfectly fine with me because hey, you're supporting authors, and that's a good thing. And if I ever get published, and my book gets the privilege of being carried at one of these places, by all means, feel free to buy a copy.

Though I've bought books at mass market retail locations on rare occasions, I may wonder if, after I make my purchase, an angel nobly guarding over an indie bookstore will get one of its wings amputated with rusty gardening shears. 

So I buy from indie bookstores and Barnes & Noble as often as I can; these are my top choices for book purchases.

But here's this...I've also bought books from Amazon, currently the biggest online mass market retailer. Just by sharing this, maybe I'm conjuring up imagery of screaming, de-winged angels weeping tears of blood. And before I get called out for contradicting my earlier claim that I avoid buying books from mass market retailers, I want to say that Amazon isn't usually my first choice for where I shop for books. (Although I love using Amazon for buying a bunch of other stuff.) For example, I might buy from them when a bookseller doesn't carry the book I'm looking for and I don't have the time to call around to other places to see if they carry the book. That's where Amazon comes in very handy. And maybe someday, a novel of mine can be found on Amazon too. 

So I do what I can to support bookstores because booksellers ROCK. They totally do. I just don't buy from them 100% of the time. 

Where do you buy your books? 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Being Empathetic Towards Icky People

Earlier this year, I wrote a post titled Characters with Unlikeable Characteristics where I defended characters who have reasonable flaws, especially in the beginning of a story. I argued that it's necessary for a character to have some weaknesses so they can have room to experience growth during a story. 

Now it's one thing for me to be receptive to a fictional character who has unlikable characteristics.  It's completely another thing for me to encounter a real person who has unlikable characteristics. In this case, I'm not alluding to one who has a harmless but less-than-positive quality, such as stinginess. I'm referring to someone who is just plain icky in their behavior. Anyone who has ever been stuck in circumstances with a truly icky individual would understand that real life doesn't always allow you to simply slam the book shut on someone who scratches your chalkboard. 

For the record, I don't come across uber icky people super often. KNOCK ON WOOD! But when I do, sometimes I might try to quietly figure them out, but from a healthy distance.

Winking elephants in the room can shed light on a person's unappealing behavior, and it can come together like 1+1=2.  And at other times, I just have to spot out clues to help piece together a rough puzzle of someone's psyche. For example, I might learn that someone who is ruthlessly competitive might have once struggled with being constantly in second place. Once something clicks, I might consider what it could be like to be in that other person's shoes. I can be empathetic to someone exuding ickiness without condoning who they are and their behavior; that's why this post is about empathy and not sympathy. 

Knowing why someone behaves a certain way can help me to better understand people, in general, and then the ripple effect from that would be that I can use this knowledge to be a more thoughtful person as well as a better writer when I think about my own characters, especially my antagonists.

Have you ever felt like you were stuck in circumstances with an icky person? 

Have you ever tried to empathize with someone you found icky?

Update 6/21/13 5 PM : First, thank you, my readers, for commenting! From the thoughtful comments I've gotten so far, I am back to officially define my idea of what an icky person is, which I should've done when I first posted this. My bad! A few comments might've addressed people who have an undesirable or frustrating quality; I believe everyone have these things, and that wasn't what I had in mind when I was referring to icky people here. For me, an icky person is someone who is mean, nasty, abusive, dishonest, basically someone who actively seeks out opportunities to hurt others around them. And while I can practice empathy by putting myself in that person's shoes to understand why they might behave that way, experience has taught me that I shouldn't have to excuse their behavior.  So there it is! Have a great weekend. =)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Coming Soon: WriteOnCon 2013

WriteOnCon is a free kidlit themed online conference where writers and aspiring authors can rub virtual elbows with agents, editors, and authors. You can ask industry professionals the questions you want to ask, have them look at your queries, see how they critique others' work, and you can do all that from the comfort of your own office chair. I've participated in WriteOnCon for the last two years, and I've learned so much about writing and the publishing industry by participating in this. 

This year's WriteOnCon is on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 13 and August 14. I already marked my calendar!  You know how some people keep checking back at conference web sites to see updates on schedules or speakers? I'm sooo that person!

For any of you who can't make it out to a kidlit writing conference, but want some of the benefits of being at one, I recommend you give WriteOnCon a try.

Have you participated in WriteOnCon before?

For WriteOnCon newbies, online chats with industry professionals occur throughout the conference. Which kidlit authors, agents, or editors would you like to do an online chat with? For me, I would love to do online chats with J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and Amanda Hocking, just to name a few peeps.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

IWSG: Ray Bradbury on Rejecting Acceptance

First, I just wanted to thank my readers for the thoughtful comments they left for me over the weekend when I shared about some stuff that was making me feel uncertain about where I was as a writer. You guys are really AWESOME! 

Today is Insecure Writer Support Group day. Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for hosting.

A year ago from today, Ray Bradbury passed away. He is still missed. His writing has always pushed me to think about topics that many people prefer to overlook- xenophobia and the suppression of free speech, for example. Here's one quote of Mr. Bradbury that I reach for on days when I remind myself why it's important for me to stand by my values:
“You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.”
Many of us are taught that rejection is a part of life (especially if you're a writer!) and that we should accept rejection with grace. The idea of knowing when and how to reject acceptance is less common. But this is a very important awareness to have, especially when winning the approval of someone or something comes with a price tag or an unspoken agreement that you must leave part of who you are at the door when you walk into the Mansion of Conditional Acceptance. 

Please take my word for it when I say that at the Mansion of Conditional Acceptance, the wine sucks. And it's okay to spit out bad wine, and walk out. 

(That's just one example of how Mr. Bradbury's words have encouraged me to think.) 

Have you ever rejected acceptance? 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Kidlit Authors Support Oklahoma Disaster Relief

My friend Kim lives in Oklahoma. Her hometown is Moore, where an EF5 tornado recently struck. Things have been very tough and stressful for Kim and her loved ones these past few weeks.  Recently, I found some really wonderful kidlit authors who banded together to host Red Cross fundraisers in support of the Oklahoma disaster relief efforts.  

Here are two fundraisers I've come across:

Hosted by The Lucky 13s, Friday the Thirteeners, and The Enchanted Inkpot, Kidlit Authors for Oklahoma offers donors a chance to win giveaway prizes for each $10 donation that is made. 

Kate Messner, an author who hosted an auction after Hurricane Sandy hit, is currently putting together a giveaway called Kidlit Cares for Oklahoma Book Giveaway where a minimum donation of $10 is required. 

While it'd be nice to support other kidlit authors' efforts to fundraise, of course, we can also donate to the Red Cross without participating in these fundraisers at all. 

If you hear about other fundraising efforts to support the Oklahoma disaster relief, feel free to mention it in the comments section.

If you live in Oklahoma, or you have friends or family living in Oklahoma, and you just want to express your thoughts about what's going on, feel free to leave a comment here.