Friday, April 20, 2012

How Do You Shop for Books?

I'd like your input. How do you shop for books? Before you started writing and joined the various online writing communities, how did you discover new authors to try out?

Robert Lee Brewer on his blog My Name is Not Bob has been having a platform building challenge for the month of April. I've been reading his posts everyday. And after arguing over the necessity of SEO, I started wondering how other people shop for books.

I go to the bookstore or the library and browse the shelves. First I check on whether my favorite authors have anything new out. If I don't have enough books in my arms, then I start looking at new to me authors. When a cover or title catches my eye, I pull it off the shelf and read the back blurb. If it sounds interesting, then I buy it or check it out.

I'm more likely to hear some buzz about a new book now, but even before I started hanging out with writers, if a book had buzz then I would check it out. I discovered Harry Potter through a newspaper article in the LA Times way back when.

To effectively market a book, you have to reach readers who are going to buy that book. So I am gathering information on book shopping habits. How do you shop for books? How do your friends and relatives shop for books?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Me, too

Creativity comes from vulnerability is one of the findings of researcher Brene Brown. So before you slink away because the title of this TED talk is "Listening to Shame," I am sharing this with you because I think what she has to say in this twenty minute talk might help you with your creative endeavors.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Where Good Idea Come From

Fascinating: "Where Good Ideas Come From" by Steven Johnson. Take a look.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Skin Color is not Character

A week or so ago, there was a bit of a brouhaha over the race of the characters in the movie Hunger Games. I participated in a discussion of it on the Skull Honey blog.

While I think that there could be more non-white characters in fiction, the truth is that a person is not the color of their skin. Underneath the surface of skin color, eye color, hair color, etc. we're all the same. We all want to be happy. We all have had experiences in our lives that have shaped who we are. You can give two people the same life experience and given the differences in their personalities, they will respond differently and come out of the experience changed or not and in different ways.

So, the character of Rue in The Hunger games has dark brown skin and eyes, and from that description the reader is supposed to leap to the conclusion that Rue is African-American. But there are other ethnic groups in the world who have dark brown skin and eyes: Native Americans, Arabs, Italians, Greeks, Latinos, Polynesian, Indians, etc. If dark brown skin and eyes is all I have to go, I can not determine what ethnic group the character belongs to. I don't have enough information.

Even if I have enough information to determine that Rue is African-American, that does not tell me anything about her character. Expanding that out into any novel, skin color tells me nothing about the person's character. Someone who is African-American could have grown up in the ghetto, but they also could have grown up in a middle class neighborhood or an upper class neighborhood. Most of the African Americans that I have been acquainted with are professionals. They're doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, etc.

Many writers describe a character's eye color, hair color, skin color, and other physical characteristics. Unless it is put into some sort of context, none of those details tell the reader much about who the character is, what they want, what their goals are, what their personal demons might be.

It's something to think about.