(This post is much longer than my normal ones. It’s an honest view of how one author unknowingly helped me through the darkest times in my life. With one of my parents no longer alive to read this and the other much deserving of my honesty [although I still love her dearly], I decided that I could finally live with the consequences of this post reaching the hands of people I know. This post is minimally edited, since it’s difficult to objectively critique something so personal, so please forgive any grammar mistakes.) – yes, there are some spoilers for her old books
Anne Rice will always be my author idol…
Discovery — Interview with a Vampire series
A long time ago, I read Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice.
Back then, my book purchases could be no more than 10 cents a books. My father haggled sales like a man with only two quarters to his name. We purchased our dining room table for ten dollars. It was an orange monstrosity(looked like it came straight out of Hardees) that he painted blue and for the next ten years spent countless hours yelling at the kids for peeling off the thick blue paint with their fingernails. Our bikes were bought for a couple dollars each. I can’t remember how much he paid for that 1970s yellow canoe that my best friend and I spent hours paddling across the shoreline of the bay during the summer, but it was surely less than its value.
I came upon her book by accident. It was a well-loved book with a crinkled cover that someone decided to throw into the yard sale pile. My parents didn’t care what kind of books I salvaged from the yard sales, only that I got them for a decent price aka nearly free. When I showed my dad this book by Anne Rice along with a handful of other books that were more age appropriate for a ten-year-old, I don’t think he understood how graphic the words were within its pages. Anne Rice didn’t write about vampires. She wrote about tormented souls, who felt cursed by their own existence.
I discovered Anne Rice’s vampire series at a perfect time in my life. My parents fought terribly. I grew up beneath the strict Catholic moral code and felt smothered by it. I felt like no one understood the internal battle raging inside me…until I read her books. Although the books were paranormal, the connection I felt was on a spiritual level. I felt like Louis, when my religion felt false around me. I felt like Lestat, searching endlessly to discover what my purpose was in life. I felt like Claudia, having to parent my parents sometimes (especially though the alcoholism)…when I was still too young on the outside for the world to listen to my voice.
Exploration – under the pen name Anne Rampling
A bitter divorce left me with a non-existent relationship with my dad and a turbulent one with my mother.
My mother always had a love for writing, but the stories she shared with me were uplifting and fake. It wasn’t until I tried to mimic the dark emotions that Anne Rice whispered to me, that I felt an outlet for my own. While other girls wasted their teenage years on silly crushes and frivolous get-togethers, I stayed inside my house with only my books and writing to let me explore the world around me. It was only though books that I felt safe enough to act my age and let the harden defenses fall.
Only while reading did I not have to worry about whether the ‘adult’ of the house would remember to bring me home dinner. That the five dollars I stole from my mom’s wallet wouldn’t be missed – while I ate the bag of potato chips and downed the two-liter of Pepsi that the stolen five dollars purchased. That I wouldn’t have to spent another chilly night sleeping in the car because my mom kicked me out of the house for hiding her car keys or alcohol. That I could ignore the piles of garbage and filth inside the house so thick that my sister and I had to create pathways from one room to another. That I could forget wearing second hand clothes stained by iron-infested water, because my mom was too embarrassed to have a plumber fix our water.
The only time that I felt a connection with my mother was on our trips to the bookstore. She’d let me slip into the horror section. My first choice was always Anne Rice. My problems seemed trivial compared to the boy with the beautiful voice whose balls were chopped off so he’d never hit puberty (Cry to Heaven). Or the island where people went voluntarily to be sex slaves (Exit to Eden). Or the forbidden romance between man and girl (Belinda). The stories were so dark and forbidden in themselves that I never felt tempted to make anything less than a logical decision when it came to my life. After all, my life could have been much worse.
So, I explored the marshy backyards instead of hanging out with friends that would ask too many questions about my life. I said goodbye to romance when I left the school bus. Except for my neighbor/best friend, no one knew what I came home to every night. No one knew that school was the only highlight of my life and if I missed the bus, I’d sneak into my mother’s car (not announce my presence until after she left the driveway) and plead with her to take me to school. No one knew of the times that my best friend and I used to knock on our drunken neighbor’s door and ask a 40-year-old single man to drive us to school when everyone else said no.
When my high school days finally came to an end and I resorted to rooming with an asshole co-worker because I had spent the past week living out of my car, there were still more books to look forward to. I finally read The Witching Hour, which spoke of a legacy of witches haunted by a ghost and restricted by the rules of their inheritance. The heir had a bittersweet end, when she was able to keep her lover but lost her child.
My own sex life was carefully monitored. I purposely waited until after my eighteenth birthday to end my virginity, since I wanted neither parent of mine to ever have influence over any child of mine. The only foolproof way to ensure this was abstinence. After I turned 18 and knew that I would have 100% control, I was willing to have sex using condoms or birth control. I also felt like I was corrupt. I thought that it wasn’t possible for me to ever have a child and NOT continue the cycle of abuse (which in my case was at least never physical). So, I made sure as best I could to practice the safest sex possible. If pregnancy happened, I was fully prepared to either adopt or abort. In my own way, I mourned the fact that I thought I’d grow old without ever having a family of my own. But, I just couldn’t risk the chance of sentencing a child to the same misery I experienced.
Betrayal — Christ The Lord series
When Anne Rice lost her husband and subsequently wrote Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, I felt betrayed. That imaginary kinship I had with her over the years was shattered. There was a void between us now. It was the same with my best friend, whose teenage pregnancy I couldn’t handle and I left her instead of helping her with diapers and baby daddy drama.
I never once outright said that I didn’t believe in God. I always did, but I felt like He was never on my side. I only felt the judgmental rules and saw His hypocritical followers. I knew that I wanted Heaven, but I wasn’t willing to follow blindly. I’d rather sacrifice my own morality than condemn someone else’s. And it hurt that after years of having Anne Rice be an ex-Catholic with me, she decided to sort out her spiritual side with a handful of books about Jesus.
I stopped buying her books, yet I could never fill the void she left in my book obsessed self. The horror shelves had sadly disappeared from bookstores. I dove into high fantasy instead, but it wasn’t the same. The villains were bad and the heroes were good. From my own life, I had trouble relating. I knew many people who did bad things to me, yet weren’t evil people. I only knew of one or two people that acted like Saints regardless of the occasion. The heroes in the books were nothing like them.
I eventually drifted away from books. I ventured into video games, always playing the bad side. It reminded me of the times I played Barbies with my little sister. I always played the bad guy, since she wanted to be the good one. But although we called it “good” vs “evil”, in my mind, the bad guys weren’t that bad at all. They craved power and let their emotions overshadow logic. They made mistakes and my sister’s good Barbies always won. Though, I felt like I won because I got her to play with Barbies far past the “cool” age to play them.
Playing the bad guys in video games, it always felt liberating. I didn’t have a moral code restricting my decisions. I could be bad or not and the game didn’t care. People expected the worst and were often surprised when I did the decent thing instead. It was nice to feel that appreciation when the rest of my life had still not recovered from my teenage years.
And it didn’t for several years. Not until I decided on a whim to get away from every negative person in my life. I hopped on a plane and visited a guy I knew only by his online screen name. I fell in love with freedom and with him.
Reunited — The Wolf Gift series
Anne Rice didn’t re-enter my life until she came out with The Wolf Gift in 2012. It was her grand return into the paranormal. I was hesitant. So hesitant that I didn’t buy the book – I borrowed it from the library. In this book, I fell in love with her writing all over again and yet her main character, Ruben, was someone I didn’t recognize. He felt calm, comfortable in his own skin. It wasn’t the hyper-active, bad-boy Lestat that I remembered. I nearly gave up on her again.
But then, I looked at my own life.
I finally had a family of my own. I didn’t have to worry about where I’d find my next meal or worry that if I pissed off my housemate that I’d end up back in the street. Although I have pissed off my husband (especially during PMS), we’re both on the lease…so technically neither one can kick the other out. Thanks to my younger sister, who raised two kids on her own for several years (until she met an awesome guy), I no longer felt like I was cursed to become a bad parent and decided to have a child of my own.
Though The Wolf Gift wasn’t as compelling to read as some of her other work, it felt like Anne Rice had finally made peace with herself. She’s religious yet an activist for gay rights. She’s managed to find a perfect balance between what religion tells us we should do and what our heart tells us to do.
And though, I will probably never again receive Communion…I think that I too have found peace. I believe, but not at the expense of others. If that means that I won’t get that magic ticket into Heaven, then that’s okay. At least I made the Earth a slightly better place.
Last month I was finally given the opportunity to meet Anne Rice. After a two and a half hour wait in line, unfortunately, whatever brilliant speech I had planned to tell her came out in some nonsense babble instead. I wish I could have told her how much she helped me get through the most difficult times in my life. I wish that I could tell her that even though I might not like her new books all that much, I still have the upmost respect for her and her writing. She’s taught me that I can write about anything. She’s taught me to bend the boundaries of what to expect in a genre. She’s taught me that it’s okay to rebel and take chances (like what she did when she decided to write religious books instead of paranormal/horror). And she’s taught me that the most important thing is to discover what will make me at peace with my life.
For that, she will always be my author idol.Read More
Today marks the beginning of week two for NaNoWriMo. It was extremely difficult for me to stay on track due to my hectic work schedule. In fact, I gained a 2000 word lead and wasted it on an extra couple hours of sleep the next night. I wish that I had time to write more. My problem has not been a lack of direction for the novel in progress, but a lack of time to write. I have just two hours a night to hit the 1,667 word goal. Why does Nano have to be in November of all months?
I’m looking forward to the weekend and some well-needed time to write. And, if I’m lucky, I’ll find some times to sleep. Feel free to add me as a writing buddy if you’re also participating this year.
Anyway, here’s this week’s excerpt for the Nano Excerpt Blog Chain 2013.
Background: The main character is in someone else’s body experiencing someone else’s memories. She’s torn between finding out exactly who or what she was before and living the life she has as this other person.
A reddish sky greets me as I enter my bedroom. Though not the most favorable view of the house, since the windows catches half the mountainside in its vision, the view showed dozens of my neighbors’ homes arranged in a stepping stone down the hill. Beyond that, there is desert and sky. The towel wrap around my body feels like a shell. I want to shed it and fly out my window.
I’m not scared of falling.
I’m scared that I’m grounded for eternity. I rub my shoulders and imagine feathers sprouting. I crave the wings of an angel.
With palms on the glass, I stand at the glass while the sun peeks over the horizon. A buzzing in my left ear increases in volume until I’m deaf to the world around me. Memories leak into my consciousness without pattern.
An elephant walks around in a circle, tracking up a whirlwind of dust as a little girl tugs on a man’s shirt. She wants to go for a ride. She asks the man because her mother has said no. As usual, the man caves to the wishes of her mother. The girl can’t help but feel hate blossom as the other children are plopped on the back of this giant gray creature.
On foot on the scooter, another on the ground. The girl waits beneath a stop sign. Across the street from her is a playground. Metal bars and plastic slides. Vanilla sand cushions the landing of the children playing. The girl lays her scooter on the ground and then she dips her hand into her purple backpack and pulls out a plastic bag of green grapes. She bites a grape in half. Her eyes never leave the playground.
“S-stop,” I slur. I squeeze my hands against my head. An hammer pounds against my face. Tears leak out. I collapse into a fetal position. The rising sun has become my enemy. It enhances the ache in my head until I’m blinded from pain.
A numbness passes through my fingertips and travels down my veins until my arms are no longer felt. Nausea slices my insides. I vomit. My hands are moving me. I’m crawling. Limbs reacting to a power not my own. As sight begins to fail, I focus on the other senses. The roughness of carpet against my knees. The smell of dust and the slight breeze tickling hairs into my face. The heaviness of my breath.
I succumb to a shallow sleep. I wake with a pen in hand. It’s still in motion, yet the strikes against the paper are losing purpose.Read More
I’ve toyed with the concept of this post for six months. All my previous attempts I deleted, because they seemed too preachy for me. So, here’s my try number #122412 on…
10 Things that the Organizers of Book Tours Should Do
– to make life easier on your tour hosts
1) Personalize your blog tour invites.
Hi, my name is Lizzy. Lizzy likes to feel special. Tour invites addressed to Lizzy makes her feel like the tours were specifically tailored to her book interests. This makes Lizzy want to hit the sign up button.
2) Don’t host authors with sucky books.
Simply put, read something the author has written. In order to attract veteran book bloggers who will have the most promotional reach for the authors, you need to have a reputation of offering books that the bloggers will think are amazing. Two bad books from a tour company and they lose all credibility for me. I don’t want to be put in the situation of having to write a promotional piece for an author I don’t enjoy. I don’t want to suffer through books that are horribly edited.
3) Never, ever give two hosts the same guest post.
It’s like showing up to a party and seeing someone in the same outfit. Totally, not cool!
One company I was with in my early months used to give an option of 3 guest posts for the tour hosts to pick from. They were short, crappy, and everyone seemed to pick the same guest post.
I felt completely embarrassed to post something that had been posted before and I only did so because I felt compelled to honor my commitment. I didn’t sign up for any more guest posts from that company after that experience.
3) Send everything in one email.
The more emails you send me, the more likely I am to lose some part of the tour information. And when I’m writing up my post 3 hours before my scheduled date, I hate shifting between multiple emails just to find everything I’m looking for. If you absolutely must send information in separate emails. please resend everything.
4) Don’t make hosts hunt for information.
Please give us all the links, covers, author information, blurb, and publishing details. If you don’t take the time to make sure that we get all the information, then the information that ends up on our post may be missing or wrong.
5) Remind hosts 24 or 28 hours before scheduled tour date.
Sometimes, we forget. Optimally, if I see a reminder email, I always check to make sure that my scheduled post is set for the right date. Realistically, I’ll frantically search my email for my review copy and 12 hours later write up my review post for the tour. But, it is better for this frantic occurrence to happen before the scheduled date and not afterwards.
Because if I miss a my date, then I’ll spend the next 12 hours hunting for an alibi and you’ll have to explain to the author why you have deadbeat tour hosts.
7) Let hosts know if the author is expected to comment on tour stops.
I like to know if I should expect the author to comment on my post. I’ll make sure to comment back within a couple hours. If you don’t tell me, then there’s a chance that the author would stop by when I’m not home (aka at my computer) and that’s just an awkward feeling for both me and the author.
8) Expect and forgive last minute problems.
Things happen. Sick kids. Sick us. Lost email. Computer failures. Limbs falling off. Emotional breakdowns. Alien abductions. Et cetera.
We’re volunteers. Your blog tour is not our first priority in life. If you want priority, then you either need to pay us or offer free chocolate with blog tours. I am definitely motivated by free chocolate.
9) Understand that we promote what we like.
This might be about money for you, but this is about passion for us.
My promotional effort with each author is directly related to how much I love the author’s books. If it’s a ‘meh’, then don’t expect much more than a standardized tweet and Facebook post on my schedule date. If it’s great, then I’ll notify all my friends about it. If it’s amazing, then I’ll probably buy a copy to share with people. If it’s the greatest book ever written, then I’ll write the main character’s name on my next kid’s birth certificate.
10) Don’t beg for hosts.
If no one responds to your first email, there’s a damn good reason. It is one of three issues:
- The cover sucks.
- The description sucks.
- The author has a negative reputation. Either the author has a reputation for putting out sub-par books or the author has not been nice to reviewers in the past.
If you beg, then you’ll make me feel guilty. If you make me feel guilty, then I’ll either sign up for the tour with a book that I probably won’t enjoy and then I’ll unsubscribe from your mailing list. Or, I’ll skip the tour sign up and just unsubscribe. I have a hectic enough schedule without 5 emails in one week about a tour that no one wants to participate in.
Next time, make sure the book is good before you take the money. Quality over quantity. Passion over purse.
EDIT: I also wanted to add that a three star review is NOT a negative review. It often means that the ‘book was good but not for me’. This type of review still sells books. I refuse (on principle) to sign up for tours that do not allow three star reviews. I have dropped out of tours if I’m informed that a three star review isn’t good enough for the author.Read More
When the facts are wrong
In light of my most recent mistake with my review of Heroes by Peter Cline, I wanted to address a proper way to address mistakes in reviews.
First, what classifies as a mistake in a review?
A mistake is a factual error. You are able to open up your book to page 33, line 13 and provide concrete evidence why it is not correct.
Error – I don’t understand how Bobby J is able to skip rope if Fred is not. They are both from planet BOING.
Correction: Bobby J is actually from planet PEACE. Aliens from planet BOING (like Fred) are allergic to rope, so they can’t skip it. Both Bobby J and Fred’s home planets are mentioned in Chapter two.
Opinion – I think Bobby J is stupid for wanting to spend so much time skipping rope when his friend, Fred, cannot.
This is okay. Opinions are never wrong.
You should never ask the reviewer to change an opinion. Opinions tend to include the words “I think” or “I believe”. You might not agree with the opinions of the reviewer, but that’s his/her interpretation of your book. This isn’t English class. There are multiple ways to interpret a book.
There are three times that others have pointed out factual errors in reviews and I’ve corrected my review; however, I did not adjust the rating.
Sleep Stalkers – mistook a nickname for a typo
Wash – mixed up Indians with Indiana
Heroes – thought vaccine was implemented, but it was still in development.
I can understand why these type of factual errors in reviews can upset an author. But please, if you want it to be fixed, address it with caution. These steps are not failproof. There are some reviewers that will blacklist you if you contact them. There are others that will ignore you, but feel weird that you contacted them at all. And then there are reviewers that will fix the errors without delay.
It’s up to you to decide whether the “errors” are influential enough in the review to warrant the risk of coming in contact with some of the less tolerable reviewers. Also, if a reviewer complains about grammar or formatting issues, then I don’t see anything wrong with notifying them of an updated version. That is, if the issues are definitely fixed by the update. Again, proceed with caution.
5 steps to correct a reviewer:
1) Between you and me: Message the reviewer in private (Email/Goodreads message). One time and one time only. Any more than that and the reviewer will feel harassed.
2) Show appreciation: Start your message by thanking the reviewer for the time spent reading/reviewing your book. Be sincere.
3) Detail the issues: Point out the errors and support your claim with page numbers/quotes in the book.
4) Don’t get pushy: Don’t ask for the rating to be changed. Don’t even address the rating. It shouldn’t matter to you if it is a one star or a five star review. Your purpose in this email is to address errors that might influence potential buyers. The reviewer’s opinion is subjective and people who read reviews understand that.
5) Three’s a crowd: Keep this between you and the blogger. No tweeting about how dumb the reviewer is for making a silly error. No Facebook messages to your fans about the proper way to write a review. No emails to coworkers exchanging stories about the worst review you’ve ever gotten. And definitely do not reply to the review on any public site. If you embarrass the blogger, then she/he won’t corporate.
Questions for other reviewers:
Have you ever had a mistake pointed out in a review? Would you be okay if an author contacted you about it?Read More
It’s not too late to join in! Sign up and participate at Good Books and Good Wine.
Why do you blog about books?
I have two conflicting answers to this question and I don’t know which one is more important.
Love of Reading
I love to read and I love talking about books. Blogging about books motivates me to read more books. It also helps me discover authors and books that I wouldn’t normally. I’ve loved reading ever since I was a child and it’s good have someplace to go that I can express my love of it.
Love of Writing
I also want to become an author myself. I’m on draft three of a book I’ve been working (on and off) for the past two years. At this point, I think I would rate it a 2 or 3 stars. I’m not happy with writing an okay book, I want to write a great book, and there’s still a long to go.
I’ve been told that there are two ways to improve your writing. Read and write.
Blogging and reviewing books forces my mind to break down the elements in a story and figure out what works and what doesn’t. I’ve had it in my mind to write a dark fantasy, but after reading Witch World, I realized that I didn’t have nearly enough supernatural elements in the beginning and middle of the book to justify how the book ends.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been working in a third POV of a non-human to show what the other two POVs can’t. And right now I’m kind of stumped because I can’t figure out what this new POV does in the middle of the book.
I think that the writer part of me wants to analyse books and the reader part of me wants to read as many books as I possibly can. I think my selfish reasons to tearing apart the story does help me distance myself from the person who wrote the book so I don’t try to sugarcoat what I think.
So what’s your reason for blogging?Read More