Final Thought: “How are you?”
Does this sound familiar? “How are you?” “Good.” “That’s good.” My question to this response is: are you really? Can you really sum up your emotions in one moment with one simple positive word? Or are we trained to say this, trained to not let other people know the truth behind the four letters?
The word good is so ridiculously simple it’s astonishing. It is the flat out most boring answer to anything, whether it be a text or a conversation. So then, why do we all say it? Maybe it’s connected to fear. Fear of being unraveled as a person with actual feelings. Can you honestly can picture a big tall muscular football player saying, “Not very good, a little sad… My hamster died last night, and I cried myself to sleep”? Probably not, due to this person’s fear of seeming vulnerable. Vulnerability is tricky. We don’t want to seem heartless, yet we don’t want to seem sappy. Where is the balance between the two? Does the word good give us this balance?
The simple act of actually asking how someone is, in a way, is proof that someone cares. They could have just walked away, said “Hey man.” or “HAHA!! Did you see that person trip?” But no, they asked you about you. They had the heart and compassion enough to at least be courteous and ask how you are doing. Why not give them the real truth? Show them you care that they care, and ask back. Somehow in all the hype of Facebook and texting, we’ve lost the language of answering a question. Rediscover your own thoughts. Now, ask me how I am doing, I dare you. I promise to give you a real answer.
Author Interview – Rachel Caine
While doing an email interview with author Rachel Caine, I asked her questions about her books, her family, and her life as a writer. She talked about her many series, how writing started as a hobby writer and eventually grew into a serious one, how she got her ideas, and her favorite things about being a writer.
Caine didn’t really know that she wanted to be a writer; she gradually drifted into it. At first music was her focus, but she developed the hobby of writing stories as a kid and kept it up as an adult. She met her editor by accident in 1990 at a writer’s conference. She still never thought of it as a professional job up until last year when she quit her day job.
Her favorite part of writing is getting the feedback from her readers, though she liked the process of writing too. Being her own boss and making a living from something she loves is another good aspect. Her inspiration for her books comes from where she lives, in the Texas desert by a lot of strange isolated towns.
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Caine’s writing quirk is that she needs a soundtrack for each book. She can’t start working on a book until she has at least ten songs in a new playlist, so her first few days are spent auditioning music. Her pet peeve in writing is that she has a habit of word repetition; she is working hard to overcome it.
She also has her own writing schedule throughout the day. It starts with her waking up at 5 am every morning and writing until noon or 1 pm. She devotes her evenings to catching up on emails, doing web updates, business correspondence, and editing. About 10 to 12 hours of her day are devoted to doing something writing related.
She has been interested in reading as long as she can remember. When she’s not writing she likes to spend time with family and friends, run errands, have fun, and participate in community work. She also likes to read, watch movies and TV, and she loves art. Her husband is supportive and as an artist he understands how crazy writing can be.
Most people describe her as crazy, although she describes herself as successful, but driven. She believes her strengths are patience, endurance, and enthusiasm. Her weaknesses are overachieving, overpromising, and being a workaholic.
Caine loves writing because she gets to always keep learning, building on new things, and getting to make her own decisions everyday. Because she writes both young adult and adult novels, she gets to experience the emotional highs and lows of both writing styles. She also gets to make her own schedule, deciding how and where she is going to write, but there is always music involved.
If Rachel Caine wasn’t writing she would almost certainly be teaching music, as she was a professional musician for many years before becoming a writer. If she could spend a day in anyone’s life it would probably be a doctor’s because she would love to help people that directly.
I asked her how hard she believed writing was and she said it was a five because it’s not a job you can just walk away from but it isn’t as hard as “Roofing in the Texas sun.”
When asked if she ever wanted to give up, she said she gives up all the time; generally when something isn’t working. “That means I throw down my computer (gently) and declare I’m never going to write again, and then the next day I’m back to work. I can’t quit it; really isn’t in me.”
When I asked her if she had any suggestions for young writers she responded with, “Absolutely — most young writers have the idea that you sit down, write something (usually in just a few days) and it gets published and you make a lot of money. That’s what I thought when I started out! But that’s really not at all the way the business works, and it’s good for young writers to understand that writing is like any other field of creative endeavor — let’s take sports as an example. If you want to be in the Olympics, you don’t get up one day and decide that you’ll run for a week and then get to the Olympics. You understand that there is a lot of work, sweat, training and science involved, and you have coaches who help you. You take years and years training your body to get there. Well, writing is like that. You have to train yourself in your craft, and learn, and find mentors and coaches and take direction and criticism and get better over time before you’re ready for opening ceremonies.”
She also gave me a hint on her upcoming books, in the next Morganville Vampires book is BITE CLUB (May 2011), in which Shane gets tangled up with a deadly new martial arts instructor who gets him involved in a fighting-for-profit ring, and it’s up to his friends to try to break him free.
The next Outcast Season book, UNSEEN (February 2011), sees Cassiel fighting to keep her adopted child, Ibby, out of the hands of those who want to train her for either the defense of the Weather Wardens, or for more evil purposes, but Ibby has ideas of her own.
And in August 2011, she’ll start a new series called The Revivalist, and the first book of that, WORKING STIFF, introduces us to Bryn, a young woman fresh out of school who takes a job as a funeral director and discovers that her bosses are reviving the dead for profit in the basement.
I asked her, “How do books get published?”
She answered with “Ohhhh, BIG question, but I’ll try to simplify. First, obviously, a writer must finish a book — and for beginning writers, this is completely required, you must FINISH the book before trying to sell it. Then a writer submits to a publisher (generally one at a time!) who will review the work to see if they want to publish it. That process requires many hours of work from the editor in reviewing and then recommending, fighting for the book at meetings, etc. Once the publisher decides to buy it, the editor makes an offer, the negotiation process begins, and finally, a contract is prepared and signed. (All that can take months.) After the contract is signed and the book turned into the publisher, the editor edits, the writer rewrites, then the book goes to a copyedit phase, where another editor (or two) reviews it for grammar, spelling, etc., and the writer corrects again. Finally, it goes to typeset, where a designer will lay out the interior pages of the book. (A cover designer has been working on the cover since the book was purchased, and marketing has already begun work talking to bookstore chains about stocking it.) The writer reviews the page proofs and signs off on them, making any last-minute adjustments, and then the book goes to print, both in digital and hard copy formats. This usually takes place one to two months before the book is one sale. Finally, the book ships to stores and gets submitted to digital download services, and the stores take receipt and stock it on shelves. THEN, there is a critical period during the first month where the book needs to sell well so that the store and publisher see a future for the writer!”
Caine talked about the process of writing and publishing.
“It’s a fascinating and complicated process, from every angle. The writing is very creative, but once you finish the first draft and start the editorial period, it’s very much a business … you have to be able to take criticism and deal with making changes well. Publishing is a collaboration, and you have to admit as a writer that once your book is in the publisher’s hands for printing and distribution, it’s largely out of your hands … you won’t control a lot of those aspects, and agonizing about them just makes you crazy. The important thing is to understand where as a writer you can add value, and mainly that is in building your brand, reaching your readers, and promoting your work in a constructive way.”
Reflections from my Reaview Mirror - The value of truth and honesty
In the world we live in it is sometimes hard to decipher the truth from the lies. We may question our friends, our boyfriend or girlfriend, our superiors, parents, and even the government. With all the stories we hear from people, we don’t know what to take seriously or to write off as lies and deceit. When we get caught up trying to understand this we develop our own ideas—which isn’t bad… until we lie. Lying can become addictive, like a drug. It’s easy to lie once and think, “Oh man, I hope nobody finds out,” but once nobody does find out, it gets easier to lie again and again.
First, we might lie to ourselves. The next step is lying to friends or a boyfriend or girlfriend, which might be where high school students lie the most. We may tell our friends lies about what we said, meant, or think about them. When we eventually lie to those we love and keep close to us, then we are going into a dangerous territory. We need to beware that lying to others means risking the trust they place in us, and lying to them may put us in the position of losing them. If we really care about them, even after they refuse to trust us or leave us, we can attempt to be honest and tell everything in a hopeful shot that we may just earn them back.
The print article in the December Talon ends here
A step even further into lies is lying to authority figures and parents, or even the government. While almost everyone has told small lies to parents at one time or another, too much lying to one of these seems potentially crazy. Now I know, in theory, we cannot lie to our government. But I’m pretty sure they occasionally lie to us, which maybe, just maybe, is where it all starts. It’s sad that some of the most powerful people in the world could lie to us about their intentions. It upsets me to see us fight and war over accusations we make against each other. But there may be hope…
For one day, is it possible that we can just be honest to everyone? No real result may come of this, but do you think we, one school, could start a social change? I believe that we could. So I ask one favor: anybody that you have lied to in the last month, if you can remember it, go up to him or her, say sorry, and tell the truth—the full, honest, cross your heart and hope to die truth. It’s worth it. In fact, I will start it off the very moment I read this article. Let’s start a revolution!