A Little Request

>> Monday, April 30, 2012

I was entered in the Liz Norris Pay It Forward contest (as touted by Janet Reid). Didn't win, but that's cool. I heard I was up against some good stuff so I'm not surprised.

However, as a follow up, I got this message from Janet Reid:

First and foremost, thanks for being part of the Liz Norris Pay It Forward Debut Novel contest.

My intention was to write to thank you for being part of our first contest and solicit suggestions for doing it better next time (next time!!)

Events have conspired to make that the second email you'll get.

Right now, we're in a bit of a pickle. Barnes and Noble has shelved UNRAVELING in the kids section. It belongs in YA. They caught the error and corrected the computers. It's moving the actual books that's more difficult.

That's where we're hoping you come in. IF you're in a BN in the coming days and you see UNRAVELING in the kids section, we'd count it a great favor to us if you'd take all the copies to the info counter or the cashier for reshelving.

These kind of glitches happen and trying to figure out how to fix them is a real challenge.  If you've got any ideas for what else we can do,  I'd love to hear them!  We don't want to wag any public fingers at BN--in this day and age this kind of thing happens a lot.

When I realized there was a whole group of people spread across the country that I could ask for help, it was a HUGE relief. There are some real disadvantages to be so NYC-centric you've never been to a BN in Jersey!

Thank you for any help you can give us. And thanks for entering the contest...but more on that to come!

Yours truly,

Now, why would you bother? I mean you may or may not have entered the contest.

Well, see, this fits in under the category of "something nice you can do without it costing anything" - like a smile to a stranger or a little dose of politeness. I always like to do a little something nice when I can, myself.

However, even if you have no interest in doing the writer any good, or B&N any good, or agents any good, it's still worthwhile because the real person you're helping is the potential reader who can now find a book looking where they should (and not confusing someone who found the book in the inappropriate section).

And let's face it, if it was OUR book, I think we'd all appreciate a little painless good deed by strangers.

Just sayin'.


It Can't Always Be Good News

>> Tuesday, April 10, 2012

First, for those of you sharp-eyed patrons who might have noticed, my header has changed and this is no longer "novelists at large" but just one, me, Stephanie Barr. Although I did write three novels with Lee, with our divorce fresh and still raw and both of us scrambling to find our new equilibrium, there's no telling if there will ever be another one we write together. And it won't be the same.

Still, one must give credit that writing three novels with one's spouse, without any blood drawn, is no small achievement. I'm grateful for the perspective and recipient ear he provided, the insight, and the character traits I loved (all captured quite cunningly in various character put on virtual paper). I enjoyed writing with Lee, except for a handful of short bursts where I hated it, and it was certainly a learning experience.

I will still be writing and talking about writing here, but this was a big change and deserved mention.

Secondly, as predicted, my slow introductive start for Saving Tessa did not impress the ABNA judges and I failed to pass the second round (though my sister, Shakespeare did so feel free to give her your support).

Predicted or not, I was more devastated by this than I had expected. Perhaps, this was bad timing (Motto: Don't try to market books while you're already reeling from personal tragedy) and amplified by unrelated stress. Perhaps, as I haven't really tried marketing anything for a while (and I have a soft spot for Saving Tessa), I was still too close to it. I spent a day questioning why I keep trying to write and wondering if I'm as good as I think I am, or even good at all.

Then, as cursing the darkness only gets one so far, I went looking for a match. The strengths of my stories (or so I believe) are characters and dialog and humor. Humor, I might add, is far too uncommon in novels as a whole, or rather, good humor is. But the humor, which is a big part of this and every book (without making them comedies) was in scarce supply in my beginning. I don't want to jump into my plot in my beginning; didn't then and still think it's wrong for the story.

But, I could change how I introduced my characters and spice things up nicely with far more overt humor, which would not only make the story more interesting in the beginning, where it needs to be to interest agents, publishers and readers, but also offers considerably more opportunities for revealing why I love my characters and revealing the dynamics of their relationship without just describing it.

I haven't put my thoughts and speculations to the test yet, though I've been toying with some possibilities on how to do it, but, I'm excited by the notion, already thinking of ways I can use this new scene to streamline "narration" from others or other aspects that were bogging down the first few chapters.

And, if this brief disappointment I had ends up making this a better book, well, then it's just the tonic I needed.



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