The Truth about Writing Books

We have a pretty interesting writers’ group at the library, with participants who are just starting their writing journey, to those who have written and published books already. It’s a group who like to commiserate over the lows (endless revision and rejections), and praise the highs (seeing your book in print for the first time and finally making it through a chapter), but most of all, they understand that process is tough. People who have never considered writing a book, however, often don’t understand the toll it takes, thinking only that it must be glamorous and cash-filled.

Recently, I came across a great post by Middle Grade author Caroline Donofrio (who writes under the pen name Caroline Cala), about her first book, BEST BABYSITTERS EVER. She explains the myths (authors earn big money and go on lavish book tours), and also the joys (she named an arcade in one of her books after a friend’s cat), and how long it really takes for books to become real, physical objects.

Take a few minutes to read through “10 Surprising Things I Learned While Writing a Book”, and you’ll understand why those big names get the big tours, and why most of the writing world has no say in what their book covers will look like. It’s a short read–but informative!

CP Writers Required!

We’re going to start up an informal and supportive writing group in November at the Carleton Place Public library! These aren’t workshops or sessions where you’ll have to take notes, but rather, fun meetings that are open to everyone, whether you’re a professional/paid author, or you’re just beginning your writing journey.

Each meeting will be guided along, but it’s all about sharing information, sharing work, and being a good listener. We want to cheer others on, not do hard critiques, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for a group that might be more demanding.

No registration is required. Come to the afternoon meetings, or the evening sessions–or come to all of them! We’re excited to add on to the group that is already established here, meet new people, and expand our horizons, so to speak.

You can contact Heidi at the library for more information about the sessions, or just drop by and take part. We hope to see you here!

Toronto Writes a Book

Toronto Public Library is doing something fun this summer…writing a book one line at a time on Twitter! They started a story, and then encourage people to contribute a suggested next line on Twitter, using the hashtag #TorontoWritesABook. Each day, they’ll pick two competing lines, and people can vote on their favourite to advance the story. Sounds like a lot of fun, right?

If you want to read what they’ve got–or participate–drop by their site to find out more. This should be interesting!

Young Writers

This fall, we ran another of our popular Young Writers programs. For four weeks, young authors from our community attended sessions where we learned all about writing short stories. While many of our attendees had written longer stories, the idea of a complete story only a page or so long, was a little daunting. But they settled in and wrote.

We covered the basics of what made a good story (beginning, middle, end, more than one character, and a plot), and they went home with a plan to write a story about something that had really happened to them, but to change it so that it happened to someone else.

They wrote stories about shrinking girls, a crazy cat, a less than reputable doctor, a secret map, Halloween costumes gone wrong, and much more. And we laughed and cheered as each writer read out their first draft. There was plenty of great work to go on!

Over the next few weeks, they learned about revision and making their stories better. We worked on using exciting vocabulary, writing an opening that makes people want to read more, and finishing a story. It was hard work, and they came back with lots of changes, but the end result was great.

This week, we have all of the stories on display at the library for Ontario Public Library Week. Drop in to read each one, or read them here. We have such talent in our community!

Karen’s Funny Day 

The Boxy Halloween

Manhunt Mayhem

18″ Tall World

Domestic Pirates

Toby, the Karate Two Year Old

The Hilly Experience

Crazy Cat

The Good Problem

#OPLW

Manipulative Purchases?

A just released YA debut novel by Lani Sarem called HANDBOOK FOR MORTALS has thrown up some red flags around the publishing world and bestseller lists. Until its release on August 15, 2017, there hadn’t been much press related to the book or the author. It’s the first book published by GeekNation, and it hit #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list in the first week of sales.  And while reviews on Goodreads, Twitter followers, and Facebook likes reached a fever, it started to be a little suspicious when each social media site had the same number of followers…all people without previous book reviews or posts.

So, how exactly does an unknown author, published by an unknown publisher, with very little prior advertising, rise to the top spot on the NYT list overnight? No one could quite comprehend it…until they started doing some background checks.

It seems that there were many large pre-orders and first week sales placed for the book at companies like Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. But none of the orders were large enough to raise any suspicions from the booksellers. In fact, it only made them consider ordering more copies for their stores in order to cover the possible demand for the book. Once the book reached number one, however, the New York Times had to stop and look into allegations that something was up.

As it turns out, it was something called “manipulative purchasing”. Geek Nation was behind the mass-purchasing, the reviews, and the social media frenzy. They knew just how many books to order so as not to arouse too much suspicion, and claimed they were only trying to drum up excitement for a book that was actually written as a result of a film already in development, not the other way around. While it is normal for an author to purchase large orders of their own book in preparation for an upcoming book tour or conference, Sarem’s claim that she needed the books for a ComicCon event seemed slightly defensive.

The New York Times eventually pulled the book from its Bestseller list, saying it “did not meet their criterion for inclusion”. After the somewhat devious promotion, the book actually increased in sales, which may eventually make it eligible once again for ranking on the list, but now with a slightly tarnished cap.

Would the book have reached such success on its own? We’ll never know, and it’s sad that the author didn’t really get the chance to try. Here is a summary of the book:

Zade Holder has always been a free-spirited young woman, from a long dynasty of tarot-card readers, fortunetellers, and practitioners of magick. Growing up in a small town and never quite fitting in, Zade is determined to forge her own path. She leaves her home in Tennessee to break free from her overprotective mother Dela, the local resident spellcaster and fortuneteller. Zade travels to Las Vegas and uses supernatural powers to become part of a premiere magic show led by the infamous magician Charles Spellman. Zade fits right in with his troupe of artists and misfits. After all, when everyone is slightly eccentric, appearing “normal” is much less important. Behind the scenes of this multimillion-dollar production, Zade finds herself caught in a love triangle with Mac, the show’s good-looking but rough-around-the-edges technical director and Jackson, the tall, dark, handsome and charming bandleader.

Hopefully fans of YA fantasy will draw their own conclusions.

Hey, Young Writers!

If you have a young writer at home aged 7-11, we’re running a series of four writing workshops this fall. We’ll discuss what makes a good story, how to make a story better, and work on fun aspects of writing overall.

This workshops requires registration, and the participants are expected to attend all four, from beginning to end. (Sorry, once we start, we can’t add participants.) We’re meeting Tuesdays from 6-7pm, September 12 – October 3rd. At the end of the series, we’ll be posting the stories on our writing blog, and in the library! It’s going to be exciting!