Get In The Club–No, This Kind Of Club

I lived in Dallas—shout-out to all my Texas writers! I miss Texas.

My writing life flourished there because my support team kept me focused and motivated. I even attended a weekly critique group. I’m still building that writerly support where I live now. It takes time. I’ve only been in DC for a little over a year.

But I’ve found a group, one that helps my writing more than they know.

How I joined was a bit of a coincidence, a friend of a friend sort of invitation. Honestly I didn’t know what to expect. Sure, I read books like most people watch TV, keeping up with several novels at a time, but sitting around talking about them in a casual sense…um, well… I was the blank slate when it came to this sort of thing.

I’m talking about joining a book club. A writer in a book club—how perfect?!

Each time we meet and dissect discuss a book, I get an education. Mostly on how the novel failed miserably or why it’s loved. I mean unable-to-put-novel-down kind of love.

For a writer it’s all pretty enlightening. Especially since their perspective is fresh, unbiased, simple-honest. None of them are writers—just readers. Hungry readers.

download.gifcatreading

And I love hungry readers.

Their advice is so helpful as I apply it to my writing. So here it is: Book Club Happiness and Helpful Tips for Writers.

  1. Question. Readers like books that keep them turning the pages. Sounds like a no-brainer, but this is the true art. How does one write to keep them reading? I noted all the books that we finished quickly. Each book had a big, intriguing question. The author would write around this topic, not really answering the question until way later. And the question has to be compelling enough that you cannot leave the story alone until it’s answered.
  1. Friends. Books are enjoyed best with friends. Obviously books have become just, if not, more social than the authors that wrote them. I can’t count the number of books I’ve read because they had a following. I only read the Hunger Games because all of my campus students were going completely nuts about it. I just wanted to see what had them so excited.Often times it’s the reader’s curiosity and wanting to belong, that makes them pick up a book. In this book club, word-of-mouth is the number one way we select books. Usually it’s a visit to Goodreads, selecting what’s popular (I’m the exception, I always select books by indie authors that none of them have heard of). So, new authors have to find the right group to build their audience. There’s an audience for every book, but finding them–that’s the real work.
  1. Escapism. I’m not sure if it’s the constant drama in the (bad) news, but we are constantly looking for an escape. Something to keep our mind off the world. Our world at times. So it’s not a surprise that we get excited about summer blockbusters, television shows, and book releases. All present opportunities to escape. Even if it’s just for a few hours, from our to-do-list, homework, or life’s problems, these breaks are so necessary. Readers want to get lost in your novel, to completely forget that they were cooking dinner or waiting for the bus. This goes along with knowing your audience and what’s an ‘escape’ for them. Personally, I’ve known too many friends crushed by cancer that reading, The Fault In Our Stars, is a no-go. I have no doubt it’s amazing but it wouldn’t be much of an escape for me. Thank you—but no thanks, John Green. 😉

If you’re working on a novel or enjoying writing, I highly recommend joining a book club. Remember, everything we do as writers is useful research–yep, even a Book Club. Happy Friday!! 🙂

 

Gif Credit: http://cheezburger.com/5206018048

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What Everyone Should Know About College Life

College campuses are constantly changing. Nowadays, they can look more like a vacation resort than a place to get an education. So, here are some of my thoughts on college life and things I’ve noticed. These are great points to keep in mind if you write about college students or choose to use a campus setting in your novel.

1)   College is Weird and Stress Inducing.

Let me begin with a quote from a  student:

“college is so weird like you give people a bunch of money to provide a service that just stresses you out and makes you poor so that hopefully one day they give you a piece of paper that says you’re qualified to earn all of that money back this is too much i need a drink” –Brandon

Stressed and under pressure–that’s everyone, especially college students. Even before the semester begins it’s not uncommon to find students studying, preparing so they can get ahead.  So when you’re on campus and students walk in front of your car like it’s invisible, give them a break.  They are overworked and not getting paid at all.

“College kids literally don’t care about walking in the way of cars at school because we’re like “hit me i don’t care pay my tuition.” – Christina  

2)   The Best Food in Town.

Virginia Tech Dining

Virginia Tech Dining

Seriously, it’s no mystery college kids gain weight. Restaurants love being close to campus, it’s guaranteed business. Some the best places I’ve eaten have been these little hole-in-the-wall diners near my school. Also, the food on campus is not too shabby. At Virginia Tech, you can pick out your own Lobster and order filet mignon.  They even have their own campus ice cream shop and bakery. And the quality is pretty five-star!

3)   Neutral Living Space

Live with Opposite Sex

Live with the Opposite Sex

Co-ed rooms –yep, guys are girls can share a room. Heck, they can share the same bed if they want, all by choice, of course.  Many schools are providing gender neutral housing assignments. I image parents to have the biggest issue with this one. 🙂

4)   Free stuff

Free is Neat

Free is Neat

It never fails.  Each time I’m meeting with a student on campus free stuff is available, they are just handing it out as you walk by. Anything from pens, cups, t-shirts, hats, food, even computer software. Surprisingly many students don’t care. So much free stuff and so little space to put them, I guess. And there’s a such thing as having too many t-shirts. Believe me, I know!

5)   Puppies and Babies Pretty Much Get The Same Reaction From Students

puppy and baby

It’s one of the best things to witness, seeing the stressed out faces soften anytime a baby or puppy is around.  It’s as if babies and puppies help remind students that there is life outside of the institutional bubble. I had my baby while I was still living/working on campus and everywhere I took my son, everyone wanted to see him or hold him. Bring him to various campus events completely changed the atmosphere. I heard less profanity, saw more smiles, got more attention from strangers.  Very similar reaction my co-worker got when she’d bring her puppy. 🙂

6)   Entertainment Weekly

Dave Matthews Band

Dave Matthews Band

Since I’m originally from Charlottesville, I had to find a way to include Dave Matthews. He performed at UVA all the time and generously donated money to the school. But most colleges have concerts, plays and other forms of entertainment. And they are not just for the students. Many of these performances and events are open to the public. Universities are a big businesses– everyone is a potential customer, so inviting the community on campus actually helps revenue. Date-night on campus isn’t so bad with great food and concerts at a reasonable cost!

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Photo Source:

http://knightnews.com

http://bostinno.streetwise.co

http://social.virginia.edu

http://www.babble.com