Friday, December 05, 2008

I'm a Debutante!

Okay, not in real life. I grew up in Seattle, and yeah, there was a small Debutante ball, but it really wasn't much of a big deal out in the land of the crunchy granola-fied Pacific Northwest. But this weekend, I'm finally getting to have my coming out party!

Well, okay, not really. But sort of! I'm going to be featured as tomorrow's guest blogger on the Debutante Ball. If you're not familiar with the Debs, it's a grog of authors, all of whom make their debuts this year. The grog started a few years ago, and I was actually part of the initial class of Debutantes, but just couldn't swing the additional work load, so I turned my slot over to the wonderful Anna David. (Thus making me a Debutante drop-out? Ooh, that's sad!) But it's just a great place that's chock full of camaraderie, support and be sure to add it to your blogs to check out.

In the mean time, I'm not up until tomorrow, when I'll be talking about a book that changed my life (some of you long-term readers might already know what it is, but tune in anyway!), but head over there now to see what the fuss is about!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Books As Gifts

As long as I can remember, I've loved to read. Way before I discovered that I had a knack for writing, in fact, I was a bookworm. My mother was a teacher who really fostered our love for reading, and even today, my brother and I are among the more voracious readers we know, and I'm trying to impart my love of books to my own children, who, fortunately, seem to be taking to it.

As many of you know, I'm sure, the publishing industry is taking some real hits these days. Of course, the entire country is taking some real hits these days, but the publishing industry has been on a slippery downward slide in the past few years because, unlike when I was growing up, there are so many other things to be doing besides reading: video games, the internet, TIVO (which I'm admittedly guilty of not being able to live without!). But this holiday season, there is no better way to give a present that will provide endless joy AND help out our industry.

The publishing houses have thus launched a campaign called "Books As Gifts," and when you think about it, it's so simple, it's hard to believe that they actually had to come up with a marketing scheme to go about this! But check out the below video. Pick out a book for a loved one this year, and you'll be in good company. In fact, my family and I aren't big gift-givers. On birthdays, we're more likely to get a phone call wishing us happy birthday than a box with a bow on it, but this season, I'm going to my local bookstore and am totally stocking up on books for everyone. I hope you'll do the same!

Check out the video here: (I tried to embed it, but blogger won't let me.) And for a long list of book-giving ideas, check out this link:

What books are on your gift list this season?

Monday, December 01, 2008

How Do You Set Your Goals?

So I recently interviewed a well-known actress, and when I asked her if she had a designated plan for her career, she said that, "no, she didn't, but that she always had goals. " What she meant by this was that she couldn't chart every single step in advance, but as she worked her way up, she always recalculated what her next aspiration was. I thought this seemed like really smart advice, especially because I tend to view my career steps similarly. When I first started out, my aspiration was to see my byline in a national magazine. Then, it became for editors to assign me articles rather than have me pitch them. Then it became a financial goal. From there, once I shifted into fiction, it became finishing my novel, then publication...and well, you get the idea. In other words, when I first started out, my goal wasn't to hit the Times list or to have my book adapted into a movie. It was these smaller steps that accelerated and led me to the big steps.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I've started thinking about what my goals are for the next step of my career. It seems like apt timing as I'm just about to start book #3, and I've been thinking a lot about what I hope to accomplish with it. The truth is that I do feel some pressure with it: I've never sold a book on a pitch, and while it's thrilling, it also means that I have no choice but to deliver with a capital D. So while I feel a tiny bit paralyzed by this pressure, I've decided that my only goal with this book has to be to make it better (in my mind and my satisfaction level) than my last one. That's all I can do. I can't make my goal to hit the Times list because so much of that is out of my control. I can't fervently wish that it gets adapted to a movie because that, too, has little to do with me. I can only put my head down and craft a book that I'm incredibly proud to have written. So that is my goal right now.

I'm also toying with the idea of attempting to adapt the screenplay (if and when it sells) because that truly will stretch me as a writer, and it seems like a great goal, in terms of continuing to learn what I'm capable of. So if it sells, that's a reasonable and good goal for me to keep in mind. But we'll see. Right now, the above feels like enough.

So tell me, what are your goals for the coming year? Big or small, they still count.