Words, Books, and Other Magic

Word of Mouth

I just finished rereading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. Sigh. I have never reached the tipping point with any of my novels.

At some point you have to believe that it’s you and not just luck. Even though my writing has won awards and contests –heck, I’m up for the New England Reader’s Choice award with Mystic (two weeks from now)–I can’t seem to break out. And it doesn’t help that I see an acquaintance get excited about her first book. It has reached number four on some YA list. I’m am truly thrilled for her. Really. I am also wondering what the heck she did or didn’t do to get such word of mouth about her first book. I can’t get such reception on book fourteen!

Am I whinging? Perhaps. But as I said above, at some point you have to believe it’s your writing. You’d think that if you were truly good, people would have discovered you by now. I just don’t seem to generate word of mouth.

When I read a book I love I talk about it–to friends, on social media, in lists. I’ve talked about Ready Player One and Theft of Swords. I’ve loaned out my copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society until a friend spilled coffee on it and had to replace it for me. I’ve taught Dandelion Wine and bought From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler for my kids and will buy it again for my grandkids should I ever have any. I have recommended Jennifer Crusie and Julia Quinn when people claim romance is mindless.  You want a scare? And Then There Were None.

I don’t claim literary genius, a case I can make for the above books. However, I don’t even seem to touch or reach the mavens (see The Tipping Point). MysticCover

Do your favorite authors, or even the ones you just enjoyed,  a favor. Become a mini maven. Leave a review at Amazon, B&N, or Goodreads, or wherever. Or tell a friend or twenty. Or tweet about it. Or whatever. Or send the author a note. That can make an author’s day.  But word of mouth helps. It’s still the best way to build readership, and no one really knows how to create word of mouth except to write the best book you can.

Hope this wasn’t too self-centered and self-pitying.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

The Tippping Point by Malcom Gladwell

Trial and Error by Jack Woodford

 

If You Think…

I love language and languages. I especially love when I learn something new about it. Like the saying “getting his just deserts.” One “S”. Because it not about that sweet thing you eat after a meal and getting one that fits what you’ve done, although that makes sense and it’s what most people think, but because deserts is a noun form from the verb deserve, so it means getting what one deserves. (Oversimplified, but, hey, you get what I mean.)

Just desserts (One of my favorite Hungarian cakes)

Stuff like that probably makes me a pedant, but I wear that badge proudly. I like knowing things. It’s because I like learning things. I make mistakes. I know for a fact that at least one of my early books makes the mistake between loathe and loath. The copy editor didn’t catch it, so it’s in print that way forever. I know the difference now (loathe is the verb meaning to hate, and loath is the adjective meaning reluctant).

So back to the title of this post. You know the saying, “If you think …, then you have another…” and there I pause. We learn language by making errors. Little children will say things like, “I goed,” or “He drinked.” They have internalized adding -ed to make the past tense, but haven’t learned that irregular verbs have different forms. We internalize language and don’t think about grammar when we speak. We just speak.

So when someone makes an error on purpose, it’s hard not to try to correct it in our minds. The saying actually is, “If you think you’re right, you have another think coming.” Think about it (there’s that word again). It’s grammatically incorrect on purpose. It sounds strange to our ears to use a verb, think, as a noun, but doesn’t think make a whole lot more sense than thing? What does “You have another thing coming” even mean? Oh, we’ve tried to make sense of it, like the dessert vs desert thing (there’s that word again). Before I knew the true form, I always thought the saying meant you should get a punishment of some sort. But, really, how harsh is that for thinking something (Oooo, think and thing in the same sentence)? Thing is so vague, so meaningless. Yet look how often we use it, even in this post. Think makes more sense, when you analyze it. (I almost wrote “when you think about it,” but that would be excessive, don’t you think?)

But language is nothing if not fluid, and most people will tell you that the saying is “If you think you’re right, then you have another thing coming.” That’s our internalized grammar editor trying to correct an error made on purpose. We know English, and you can’t use the verb think as a noun. So using thing has become acceptable. You will hear thing used on TV or see it in books, but now you know better.

Perhaps it will drive you as nuts as it does me. >twisting my evil villain mustache< Bwhahahaha. Wait until I point out the difference between fewer and less.

–Gabi

Books I am reading now:

The Unseducible Earl by Sheri Humphreys

Sonnet Coupled by Roxanne D Howard

 

 

My Favorite Pieces of Art

There are two. One is  “Youki desse de la neige” in the Petit Palais in Geneva. I saw this painting when I was 20 and it stuck with me. I thought she was beautiful.

This is a picture of the postcard I bought of the painting. It’s now in the album I made during my year abroad.

The other is “El Rio de Luz” by Frederic Edwin Church. There’s something about this painting, the yellows and browns and greens  with that tiny burst of red on the bird at the almost center. I could stare at it for hours. I always make sure I view it when I get to the National Gallery of Art in DC (so far about four times).

https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.50299.html

(I didn’t want to break copyright laws by posting a picture, but definitely click on the link. ) The canvas is enormous so no picture does it justice.

Do you have any favorites?

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake

Valentine’s Day Blog Hop

Welcome to this stop of the Safari Heat Valentine’s Day Blog Hop. Grand Prize is a Kindle Fire HD 7”. All the rules and how the hop works are listed on the Safari Heat site. Follow the link:

http://safariheatbooktoursandauthorservices.blogspot.com

 

So Valentine’s Day—the day the world is forced to consider romance and love. Go nuts, if that’s your thing. But, contrarian that I am, think a little bit differently.

 

Some people consider the building of the Taj Mahal as one of the world’s grandest romantic gestures. The Mughal emperor had it built for his wife. Okay, it’s beautiful, but the empress never saw it because it was her tomb.

 

Personally, I want my romantic gestures to be something I can enjoy. Just the other day, I had one of my most romantic experiences with my husband. Before you think I’m going this post will have TMI, let me start by saying we went to the zoo.

Greeters at the zoo.

We took my youngest and her boyfriend (both special needs young adults) on a date, but I think Robot Guy (that’s my nickname for my husband because of his nearly thirty years in robotics) and I had just as much fun. We talked, laughed, and learned as we walked. We admired the beautiful creatures we saw and gave respect to the toxic ones behind glass walls or separated from us with moats and high cement walls.

 

Romance isn’t the chocolates, jewelry, dinners out, or flowers, although those can be great, right? It’s always nice when someone thinks about you. It also isn’t sex, although that’s a lot of fun too. It’s the sharing of little moments. It’s the laughing at the dumb jokes he tells (because I never tell dumb jokes >clears throat<) holding hands, sharing information we hope the other finds interesting, and spending time together even in silence. Sometimes, it’s crying together.

 

In my novel MYSTIC,

MysticCover

there isn’t a lot of time for big romantic gestures (Okay, so there’s one at the very end, but that’s to be expected in a novel). The hero and heroine are on the run, but they learn they can rely on each other, and come to admire each other. They find themselves understanding each other and sometimes even taking on the other’s quirks. That happens in relationships. In spite of the magic in the story, I strove for realism. And humor. Because I believe laughing is one of the world’s great ways of sharing one’s soul.

 

Hope you enjoyed your visit here with me. There are four ways to get extra entries into the prize giveaways:

Leaving a comment

Leaving your email (so we can contact you if you win)

Follow my blog

Following me on FB and Twitter

 

You don’t have to do all four, but you must at least leave your name and email.

Here is an example:

Name: Carey Abbott

Email: careydoucet@yahoo.com

Comment: Great Post

Twitter: Followed

FaceBook: Followed

Blog: Followed

 

There are daily prizes from the Safari Heat site, but for those of you who comment here, I will assign a number (only one) at the end of the hop to you in the order of your response and select one randomly to receive a copy of MYSTIC, a tote, and a little stuffed cat. (Yes, the cat is in the book—not a stuffed one). Please let me know if you don’t want to be added to my newsletter. And although the Blog Hop prizes can only be won by US or Canadian readers (except ebooks—those can go world wide), I’m willing to send my prize anywhere.

 

Each day the coordinator will choose a different blog to visit to give away prizes to those readers. At the end of the hop, the coordinator will collect all names with the required info and give award grand prize.

 

To keep hopping, don’t forget to follow this link:

http://safariheatbooktoursandauthorservices.blogspot.com

 

–Gabi

Books I’m Reading Now:

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

As a Service to Other Writers…

Here are some handy websites:

Need to name a color?  http://mentalfloss.com/article/75713/name-every-shade-rainbow-color-thesaurus

Need to have a grammar question? https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/1/5/

Need words to describe emotions? http://www.creativindie.com/wheel-of-emotions-poster-for-writers/

More to come when I have time.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington

It’s Here!

My latest novel is out and available. MYSTIC is the story of skeptical novelist who has to help a psychic find sanctuary. Although it has romance, MYSTIC is more of an urban fantasy with lots of action. I’d love it if you read it. And, yes, the cat on the cover is relevant.

MysticCover

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

THe Secret, Book, and Scone Society by Ellery Adams

Five Reasons I Will NOT Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

We’ve all done it—played the mental game “Will I survive the Zombie Apocalypse?” or other variations of that game (What if I had to go on the run? Would I survive the Nazis? What if Armageddon happened today? What if the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupts? What if Aliens destroy the world? And so many more). I do have rudimentary survival skills—fire building, camping, trapping, etc.; they’re rusty, but I’m sure they would come back—but that’s not the reason I wouldn’t survive. Here are five reasons I would be among the first to go.

 

  1. I need to floss my teeth.

I just read a sentence somewhere that said, “We’ve all fallen asleep without brushing our teeth.” Nope. I can’t. Not only that, I have to floss. Have to. I’d be a month into survival, when the floss would run out, and I’d hang it up. It’s over.

  1. I need to wash my hands.

I can hear you saying, “What’s so bad about that? It’s hygienic.” Nope. I can’t stand the feeling of having dirt or other things on my hands. It’s why I don’t garden. I can’t have the dirt on my hands for any length of time. And don’t tell me to wear gloves. The sweat and lint from the glove is just as bad. I have to wash my hands after I pet my dogs, after I touch dough or vegetables or meat (Cooking is a nightmare and please don’t make me decorate cookies), after filling the gas tank, after loading the washing machine and after doing dishes.

  1. I need to sleep.

I love to sleep. I don’t do it well, but I do like my 8.5-9 hours in bed. After a couple of days without that much sleep, you’d want to shoot me yourself.

  1. I am not in the best shape.

Yes, I play a mean game of volleyball. For my age, I am an outstanding player and even strike fear into the hearts of many younger players. But even though I play well and often, I’m not in great shape. Yes, I’m not a slug, but I couldn’t imagine being on the run for several days in a row. Or even running. I can do the quick bursts of speed needed to play VB, but I don’t run. My knees are shot after forty plus years of volleyball. I can ignore it on the court, but you should see me get up in the morning.

  1. I don’t play well with others.

There’s a reason I write books. I create them, I set the plot, I can do it alone. As soon as I disagreed with the group, I’d want to set off alone, and I’m smart enough to know that’s dumb. I don’t take orders well. You won’t catch me doing the wave at a stadium. No one can tell me what to do. When I do play with others, as in games, I play to win. I love games, but I’m not a nice player. I’m ruthless. Heck, I never even let my kids win at Candyland when they were little. If they won, it was on their own merit.

 

My novel MYSTIC (coming soon, real soon) is about a cross-country chase where my protagonists had to leave their lives behind and survive. They don’t floss.

 

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

 

Networking, or the Things of Nightmares

I am shy. There you have it. I am shy. Put me at a party where I don’t know people, and I’m in my living nightmare (happened just recently to me–I barely kept it together). Trying to initiate conversation with someone I don’t know is absolutely excruciating.

But that’s not the whole story. When I tell my friends (and volleyball teammates) that I am shy, they don’t believe me. That’s because I don’t have any issues with speaking one on one, or telling anecdotes to a group of friends, or even giving talks in front of people. I can give a talk to room full of strangers and feel fine. Put those strangers in a party setting, and I won’t say a word. I was in a situation where I stood beside a good friend (a well-known author) and soon we were in a circle of other authors I didn’t know. I said nothing. A few minutes later, George RR Martin (name-dropping here) joined the circle for a little bit (a couple of his best friends were in the circle). I literally froze inside (Yes, literally. I was cold, I didn’t move, I was barely breathing). The worst part is that I’m tall, and I stuck out. So I remained nameless and voiceless for the entire time. I am way too self-conscious for my own good.

See? I’m not so mean looking.

Here’s what I’m trying to get at. As an author, we’re supposed to get out there and network. I die a little inside when I have to introduce myself to someone. Conversely, if a stranger initiates the conversation with me, then I have no problem speaking to them. So I’m begging you, if you ever see me, or have the opportunity to talk to me, or you want to write to me, by all means, stop me and talk to me. I DO love to meet new people, but I can’t do it myself, and I enjoy the opportunity to meet new people. Drop me an email (or tweet or facebook me). I’m trying to overcome my paralyzing irrational fear of initiating contacts, but it’s not an easy task.

You’re not human if you’re not filled with contradictions.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

Bring on the Cheese

Do you remember how you felt the first time you saw Star Wars (we’re talking original series here)? The elation at the end of the first movie, the agony at the end of the second (don’t get me started on cliffhanger endings), and the satisfaction at the end of the third? The cheesiness never mattered. I loved the experience of it (except the cliffhanger ending, don’t get me started). The same thing happened at the end of Indiana Jones (the first, and while I liked the second and third ones, they weren’t the first. I’ll just ignore number four.), and Jurassic Park, and Shawshank Redemption, and Notting Hill. Movies that left me optimistic about mankind, that justice will prevail, that love triumphs (hey, there are all kinds of love: romantic love, the love between friends, the love of a T-Rex for its dinner) . It’s that feeling that I crave and search for in my entertainment, and that I seek to create in my books.

That type of ending is harder to find in books. Harry Potter did it. So did Ready Player One. So did the Ryria Revelations. Some books have absolutely the ending they deserve and need to have to make the story work. The Mistborn series had a brilliant ending. Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom ended just as they should have. I enjoyed those books too, but they don’t leave me with that ebullient sensation I got from the other works mentioned. I can even recommend those books and analyze them and point out their strengths and show how deep and complex they are. They are satisfying in their own way. And therein lies the rub for me. They are satisfying in their own way. I loved the ending of Rogue One. That’s how that story needed to finish. But I adore the cheese.

I know there are people out there who didn’t like Star Wars (my mother being one of them), and that’s fine. Their opinions are valid. But for me, leave me the cheering for the good guy. Let the bad guys be defeated, let justice prevail, let love triumph, let the heroes win and survive. Those are the endings I seek. They are all too few in the real world. Let me embrace and escape into the fantasy. Just for a little while.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

Age of Swords by Michael J Sullivan