The #ReadICT Challenge: Four Months In

New Year’s Resolutions. You can’t avoid them, can you?

We all make them. Even if we don’t admit it, even if we don’t write them down, or intend to hold ourselves accountable. We start out with great intentions. This year, I’m going to go to the gym every single day and lose 40 pounds! This year, I’m finally going to write that novel! This year, I’m going to learn French/Italian/Latin/Klingon. Whatever they are, we’re excited to get started. We’re ready!

I didn’t make too many resolutions this year. But one I did make was to complete the #ReadICT Challenge. Twelve books. Twelve categories. Twelve months. Here’s my original post:  https://kswriterteacher.wordpress.com/2019/01/01/new-years-resolutions-and-the-2019-ict-reading-challenge/

I’m making progress! Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  1. A book with a face on the cover.
  2. A book from a genre you don’t normally read. 
  3. A book that makes you LOL. I said I’d read the last entry in the Charley Davidson series, and I did. I laughed. I cried. I am anxiously waiting to find out what happens to Osh and Beep in the new series. Come on, Darynda, hurry up !
  4. A book set in the place you were born. Deadly Design, by my good friend Debra Dockter.
  5. A classic, or a retelling of a classic. I read Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay – it was quite good. I reviewed it last month:  https://kswriterteacher.wordpress.com/2019/03/02/hate-romeo-and-juliet-try-juliet-immortal-instead/
  6. A book you have avoided or didn’t finish. I intended to read a totally different book for this one, but back in March, I went through a time when I couldn’t sleep, and I picked up Island of Lost Maps by Miles Harvey. This book looks at the infamous ‘career’ of Gilbert Bland, who stole dozens, perhaps hundreds, of antique and irreplaceable maps from libraries across North America. I’d put it down last year for some reason, and just never picked it back up.
  7. 81jKaejWaNLA translated book. On the recommendation of just about everyone who’s read it, I chose A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman. Oh my God. I literally bawled and laughed all the way through this book. Mostly bawled. If you are one of the few people who hasn’t yet read this book, GO GET IT NOW. You will not regret it, I promise, though you will want the tissues handy.
  8. An award-winner. 
  9. A book recommended by a child or teenager.
  10. A biography, autobiography, or memoir. Does it count if I’m working my way through it? 🙂 I still plan to finish Alexander Hamilton some time this year. It’s hard, though, when it’s so jam-packed with information that I can only read about 3-5 pages at a time before I have to walk away and mull it over. It’s an incredible read, don’t get me wrong, just a very difficult one as well.
  11. A book that features a character different fro you in some way.
  12. A book by an author slated to come to Kansas in 2019. 

I attempted the challenge last year, too, but there were categories that just stumped me. But this year, I feel optimistic that I’ll finish.

If you have any suggestions for any of the categories, feel free to let me know! And, seriously, go get A Man Called Ove. I’m not even remotely joking. Just go get it. Now.

The Courage to be Published

Next Tuesday, Deadly DesignJune 2, is a birthday of sorts. If a book can have a birthday, that is. Let’s say they can.

My friend Debra Dockter is going to see her first book in print. Sitting in bookstores. In hardcover. With a dust jacket. (It’s awesome cover art, by the way). It’s humbling and inspiring to have seen this entire journey.

We joke that Deadly Design is my step-book – I’ve certainly spilled enough ink on it! I’ve read almost every draft that exists. I’ve seen scenes come and scenes get cut. I’ve seen characters get cut. I’ve seen characters come back, only to die in the next round of revisions, and be resurrected later.

Being a beta reader is tough.You have to be supportive and constructive, and not be afraid to tick off the author, and be ready to stand your ground. Hopefully, you’ve phrased your words well enough that no offense is taken, that the author reads your comments and slowly nods and says, oh, yes, of course, why didn’t I think of that, you’re so clever, what would I do without you? Being a beta isn’t about being a rude, brash, sanctimonious SOB. It’s not about destroying someone’s baby; it’s about helping them raise that baby. Every writer should be a beta reader, because it lets you see this entire crazy roller-coaster without having to actually be on the roller coaster.

I honestly don’t know how Deb did it. I don’t know how any of us do it. Her perseverance and dedication are phenomenal.

I remember the book that Kyle originally appeared in, sort of:  a medical mystery she’d drafted. The character I liked most was this smart-ass twelve-year old. Sometimes, characters demand their own books. I knew even then that Kyle was too big for this one – he couldn’t be a secondary character. And Deb knew it, too.

But that roller coaster. My God. How many drafts? How many red pens? I remember one year for Christmas, Deb gave me red pens. 🙂 How many queries to how many agents? She’d send out queries, and the cars would slowly start to inch their way up. There was no telling how long it would take for them to reach the top – sometimes, not more than a day or two, other times, a month or two. One memorable agent responded more than a year later with “Hey, sorry! Send me the first chapters!”

And I remember sitting in my favorite coffee house one afternoon and getting an email. Penguin’s interested. They’ve made an offer. What do I do? I sat there for a minute, and then typed back, Let’s sit here for a moment and appreciate how surreal this moment is, okay?

We talk about how brave it is to finish a book — and it is, definitely, that takes work and patience and dedication and time away from things you’d also love to be doing — but I think the real work begins when you start querying. When you start putting your baby out there into the world to be either rejected or accepted. Over and over and over and over and over. That takes a special kind of courage. A kind I’m not sure I have. Courage to open the emails and see the rejections. Courage to keep trying. Courage to sign on the bottom line, wondering if this is really the right agent, or should I hold out, or what do I do? Courage to remain patient as your agent shops your book to editors. Courage to either accept or reject the first offer.

And the courage to face the re-writes! Because there will be rewrites. My God, will there be rewrites.

So when you see a book – any book, but hopefully Deadly Design – on the shelves at your local bookstore next week or the week after, remember that. I don’t think being published is about fame and glory and money; I don’t even think it’s about sharing your creation with the world, as noble as that sounds. (Dr. Frankenstein wanted to share his creation with the world, too, remember!)

I think it’s about courage.

So, Deb and all the other published authors out there — I’m raising my cinnamon dolce latte in salute to you.

Book Signing – Debra Dockter, Deadly Design

So excited to announce that Debra Dockter (my friend, beta reader, and debut author of Deadly Design) has her first book signing in June – Inkwood Books in Tampa, FL! Here’s the information:

http://www.inkwoodbooks.com/event/debra-dockter-here-deadly-design

Goodreads Profile: YA Author Debra Dockter

Things got hectic this weekend, so instead of me going on and on, please enjoy this selection from YA author Debra Dockter. 🙂

debra dockter

Just answered questions from Goodreads members about books and the writing process. Check it out on my Goodreads author page and as always, happy reading and happy writing!

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It’s a Book!

Debra Dockter is finally giving us her thoughts on having that new book – that FIRST book – in her hands!

debra dockter

I remember being told that once you hold your baby in your arms, you forget about all the pain and the hours of labor it took to get to that moment. And it’s so true!

This week I got to hold my book for the first time. I opened the door to take the dog out, and there they were, the ARC copies of Deadly Design, my debut young adult novel. Like many writers, I’d fantasized about that moment, about what it would be like to hold my book in my hands. Was it everything i thought it would be? Yes, and more. Not because I’m so proud of my baby, but because I’m so humbled by the work that went into it, not just my work, but the work of all the people who made it possible.

Not to sound like an Oscar acceptance speech — those things are…

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Announcing . . . the cover for Deadly Design!!!

Have to share!

Today is the cover reveal for Debra Dockter’s YA thriller Deadly Design, and here it is, on the Bittersweet Enchantment blog:

http://www.bittersweet-enchantment.com/2014/10/cover-reveal-deadly-design-by-debra.html#comment-form

Plus, there are ARC giveaways! So head on over — it’s an amazing cover, and an even more amazing book (I should know; I’ve read it already!).

As always, you can follow Deb on Twitter:  @DebraDockterYA, or on her blog at debradockter.com.

Yes, once I get published, I expect the same shameless publicity from her, too. 🙂