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Showing posts from 2012

Truth in Fiction

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As children, we are taught that nonfiction means a story is true, while fiction means a story was made up by the author.  But is it really that simple?
I don’t think so.
For a moment, I want you to forget what you’ve been taught.  I want to explain why fiction is all about truth. 
It is not one truth, of course, or one person’s truth.  Instead, it is a million truths, pulled from a million lives, all cut up into pieces and pasted together like a mosaic.  It’s a new story now.  It’s fiction, but real enough that when a reader draws close and examines bits of character, plot, motivation and experience, she can say: “That part is me.”
I know many people who dismiss the value fiction.  I’m sure you know them too.  They are the ones who interrupt an anecdote you are telling to ask, “Is this a true story?”  They are the ones who stop listening when you admit that it came from a novel.
Part of me understands.  I’m a truth seeker and a skeptic.  Those online stories friends share on facebook and …

Dreaming of Neverland

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Every once in a while, I wake from a dream and remember the strange place I have been visiting.  It is only familiar in those vaporous moments between sleep and wakefulness.  A peculiar house is there with white peeling paint, a spiral staircase that leads up to a room with walls made of glass, and views of the island in every direction.  I remember in that moment that I have been there before.  I remember Neverland.
If I were still a child, I would know better than to rub the sleep from my eyes.  It breaks the magic of memory.  The only way to return (if only in my dreams) is after a childlike day – perhaps spent at Disneyland, wearing mouse ears and eating cotton candy – or building living room forts with my children.  It absolutely cannot return unless licorice has been consumed and something odd has been worn as a hat. 
But grownups like me forget the important things so easily.  We must, if we are to be respected.  This is why George Darling could never remember.
I wonder, then, ho…

Word of Mouth

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Can you find DREAM OF ME on one of these bookshelves?  
Of course not, and you even know what you are looking for.
As of today, Amazon lists 1,414,078 titles for its Kindle store alone.  That accounts for far more books than you see on these shelves.  It’s no wonder that a novel like DREAM OF ME is invisible to the average reader.
WORD OF MOUTH is still the book reader’s most valuable friend, even in this age of modern communication.  Luckily, word of mouth now includes every social media venue available to us online.
So here’s a check list of things anyone can do to help get the word out about DREAM OF ME -- or any other favorite Indie book.  Most of them cost nothing but a little time. 
I really appreciate everything my friends have already done to support me.  If you choose to do more, that is just frosting on my gluten-free cupcake. :)  Thanks so much!
1.  Post a review: Amazon.comBarnesandNoble.comGoodreads.comBookandreader.com
2.  Discuss DREAM OF ME in a book forum: Kindle forumsB…

My Opinion: Biased, Selfish, Utterly Honest

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Last week, I prepared my third blog post for Autism Awareness Month.  I wrote it, edited it, let it marinate and edited it again.  But I never posted it. I wrote about my frustrations with the way the media handles autism.  My position was that journalists – mostly fed by corporate and not-for-profit press releases – are not properly focused when reporting on the spectrum community.  In part, I wrote:
That’s where the negative perspective is born:  a perfect marriage between two industries mostly concerned with their own survival.  While those writing press releases and newspaper articles try to justify their own existence, the only people putting the child first are those living on the spectrum every day… You can’t avoid the message the media are selling, which has included the following suggestions: Vaccines cause autismNo it’s the environmentKids aren’t being diagnosed early enoughEarly diagnosis isn’t enoughAutism is a growing epidemicNo it’s not, diagnosis is a fad
When reporters get …

Ten Words

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Words are powerful.  They hurt or heal.  They tear down or build up. As part of Autism Awareness Month, I want to focus on ten words that are not about what you say, but about what you can do to make awareness personal and meaningful in the life of a child. If you know a child or teenager with Autism, you CAN do more than simply be aware.  You can put into practice these ten words: 1.Wait.  It may take longer than you like for someone with autism to answer a question, tie a shoe lace, complete a chore.  By waiting patiently, you tell that child that they can trust you:  that you will not rush them, make impatient noises or expect them to do what they cannot. 2.Listen.If someone with Autism has something to say, listen.  Hang on every word.  You can’t even imagine how difficult it is for her to process her thoughts into speech.  By listening patiently, you make her efforts worthwhile.  You encourage her to keep communicating. 3.Try.  If you don’t understand, try.  Expand your heart and your…

World Autism Awareness Day

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Today is World Autism Awareness Day.  It’s a special day.  It’s like every other day. Paradox, contradictory truths, counterparts.  There are many in my life.  I bet you could say the same.  Consider this: ·Autism is something to worry about.  Autism is something to celebrate. ·People with autism often see the world in “black and white.”  People with autism often see a spectrum of complexity in the world that we who are neuro-typical miss. ·People on the spectrum need to be taught how to engage with society.  Society needs to be taught how to engage with people on the spectrum. ·My child with autism needs attention that my typical child does not.  My typical child needs attention that my child with autism does not. ·My son will always need me to advocate for him.  My son needs me to back off so he can advocate for himself. I can’t help thinking of paradox when I consider autism.  And as I celebrate World Autism Awareness today, for the rest of the month and, in truth, for the rest of my life…

Readers Rule at the Box Office

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Did you see Jimmy Kimmel’s Book Club/Fight Club skit with Oprah Winfrey?  It aired after the Oscars on February 29.  It was funny, I’ll admit.  But when Jimmy said “reading is BORING,” I couldn’t help cringing.
It feels like I hear this sentiment a lot, but it’s hard to quantify.  How many people read for pleasure anymore?  How many actually find it boring?  I tried to find some relevant statistics, but the results were highly suspect.  Some were incomplete, others were contradictory.  It depends on how the question is asked.  Some focused on books purchased, but not read -- or whether books were started, but not finished.  Some focused on how many people visit book stores.  Recent studies take in the growth of e-books and how that has influenced reading, but it’s too early for real analysis in that arena.  I’ve included some of these statistics at the bottom of this post, if you are truly interested.  But even if statistics were reliable, we don’t feel one way or another about reading …

Ten Stereotypes in Fiction that I Love to Hate ...or Hate to Admit I Love

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I know you. You hate stereotypes in fiction.
That’s what I say too. Usually, it’s the truth.

The skinny heroine, the leading man who owns a mansion. The overbearing mother-in-law, the drunken stepfather. The husband who sleeps with his secretary, the strung-out rock star.

But I’ve come to realize that sometimes I find comfort in the stereotype. Some characters are not meant to stand out, but to fit in. Sometimes a character needs to say what is expected, do what is cliché. Every once in a while, vanilla is the right flavor.

And even though real people are as unique as their thumbprints, we don’t know them all well enough to see where they differ from “the norm.” We don’t know the quirks of everyone among our acquaintance, much less all those we have marginal contact with – and I’m pretty sure we don’t want to! (I think this is why complexity in every character can make a story feel just as contrived as those without any.)

So when do we use stereotype and when do we avoid it? To answer that…

Little Known, Well Loved

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What do you love that no one’s ever heard about?  I’m sure there’s something.

I have my own list. There’s a talented guitarist named Doug Smith.  You would recognize one or two of his songs; they use them in TV and radio commercials.  But very few of you are likely to have heard his name.  How about George Winston, the pianist?  He’s great too, but if you know him, it’s not through major media outlets.

I love a line of Japanese skincare products sold by a company called DHC.  They are fantastic, but few of my friends even knew they existed before I badgered them into knowledge.

How about Elizabeth Gaskell – have you heard of her?  If you’re a reader, you may have.  She was a contemporary (and friend) of Charlotte Brontë who wrote some wonderful pieces of literature like North and South and Wives and Daughters.  But I didn’t hear about her during all my years of school.  I only discovered her as an adult when my love for literature sent me searching.

But what’s at the top of my little-know…