March 29, 2013
I'm sorry for the blog silence this month. I have (FORTUNATELY) been working on other writing projects, one of which involved reading upcoming books. Of course, I was honored and thrilled to be given this assignment, and ecstatic when the first box of books arrived at my house. I tore right into the box, pulled out the advance reader copies and uncorrected proofs. I inhaled the smell of the printouts which would one day be bound into picture books. I pored over middle grade books with pages that said, "Art to come."
Then another box arrived. And another. And a large manilla envelope with just a couple of books in it. And another box arrived. Uh oh. You see where I am going with this, right? How was I going to read all of these books in two weeks? What had I gotten myself into?
Well, I took a pile of books with me to all of my children's activities, and tried to read at practices and while waiting for games to start. Throughout my life, I never liked quitting reading a book that I had started. To me, it was like breaking a promise to myself. However, in this case, I quickly found that if I wasn't in love with the book by chapter 3, I had to put it aside, and move on. I involved my children in the process, by reading the books out loud to them. If they didn't love the books, we moved on. As my deadline approached, I became merciless in my judgment of the books. If the book didn't hook me right away, I put it on the "discard" pile.
So, which books had me at "Hello," and made it into my final piece?... You'll have to wait a few months and buy the magazine when it comes out.
More importantly, what made a book a definite "NO" for me? That will have to be the topic of a future blog post, because as I read so many books so quickly, I noticed certain patterns emerging. I noticed several authors doing the same things that turned me off as a reader. As a writer, I'm taking this exhausting experience and using it to look over my own work, and make sure I am not making those same mistakes.