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This White Girl Meant No Offense

This White Girl Meant No Offense

First of all – WOW! I haven’t posted to my blog in so long I’m surprised it didn’t send me a Dear John letter.

What brought me back? Putting aside the job loss and maturing children that have given me a few more smidgens of free time. . . . .

Race.

Ethnicity.

And the process of creating characters – especially those of a different color, race, and religion than you.

Let me give you a bit of back story: I currently have 6 full length novels posted on WattPad. My second most popular one, All I Never Wanted, has been up for three years.  It’s garnered a few comments here and there, but recently it’s been one chapter in particular that’s gotten repeat comments – and they’re all about the exact same line in the story.

By repeat comments, I mean four. Of the 5,000+ reads recorded for this chapter, it’s these four that have struck a chord with me.

Why?

Because all of them refer to a moment in the story when I introduce two African-American sisters, whom I named Shasta and Shanikwa. And all four wanted to know why these girls don’t have “normal” names.

First and Foremost, please understand that this white girl meant no offense. However, I’ve struggled with the need to defend myself. I’ve also pondered the wisdom of mentioning it, because the topics of race and racism are so rampant right now. It seems like no matter what “color” you are – someone finds offense with something.

I’ll do my best to keep it simple:
1. I wanted these girls to have unique names and stand out, if only for a brief period of time.

2. The demographic I’m writing about is also the same demographic that I worked with for the past 13 years. When I chose names, I looked to my clients. These characters are named after real people.

3. What defines normal? It depends on your perspective. Let’s be honest – we all know African-Americans of both sexes with names similar to my sisters.  However, that doesn’t mean I think ALL African-Americans are named so uniquely. I know some beautiful black women with the more traditional names of Miriam, Evelyn, Alaina, and Helen. I also know some white people with the unfortunate monikers of Tequila, Chevelle, and T. (Yes – just T.)

4. Take it for what it is – a story. Not a representation of an entire group of people – white, black, or otherwise. The characters are all developed for that story, for that situation, for that place and point in time. I’m not going to change them because I didn’t write them with any kind of prejudice or ill intent in mind.

5. I also recognize that I am white. I grew up in a white family, in a predominantly white town, with white friends. I married a white man and have white kids. While I don’t consider myself to be prejudice or racist in any way, I also understand that I have a skewed perspective. I don’t know what it’s like to be a minority or to constantly be second guessing whether people are judging me, stereotyping me or making fun of me.

Please know that when I named Shasta and Shanikwa I was NOT doing any of those three. I simply wanted two, quirky, black sisters.

What matters most to me is the state of your heart – are you a good person with a kind heart and a positive attitude? I would hope that when someone of a different race looks at me, they don’t stop at the color of my skin. I hope they would look deeper than that before labeling me prejudice or racist or any of those other ugly names flying around right now.

While this white girl sees color, it’s not the only thing she sees.

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Posted by on January 2, 2017 in christian, Reading, writing

 

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Bragging Rights

I think I’ve earned them.

At least that’s what I tell myself.

Even if I haven’t, I’m going to do a little bragging anyway.

I’m not checking this blog often, not because I’m not writing but because I’ve taken a break and slowed things down.  Since that writing conference in October and my realization that my goal is to be read, not necessarily “published”, I’ve been focusing on my WattPad account.  In the year since I first took the layoff and spent six months devoted to writing, I’ve finished four manuscripts.

FOUR!

Granted, all of them had been partially started years ago, but finishing all four of them in one year’s time is a feat I’m proud to brag about.

I’ve got plenty more where they came from, some with potential to become full blown novels.  I’ve also got at least three other stories flying around my brain that need to be started from scratch.  I’m not at a loss for material.

However, it’s been nice to set a slower pace.  I’m working part time, three days a week, at my “real job” and am happy to be back.  I love what I do there and I enjoy my co-workers.  Like any job, it’s got its bad points but overall, I enjoy the days I get out of the house to go to work.

That being said, my brain is still constantly tossing around new characters and plot lines, taking notes on the people around me and filing it away to weave into a future story.  It’s not something I can turn off no matter how far I try to step away from it.  There are days this gift takes control and I forget that I’ve got diapers to change or laundry to fold or a “real” life in general.

So, when I have the free time (and no one to neglect, at least too much), I’m still writing.  I’m currently posting the fifth finished novel to WattPad and watching its readers climb before I’ve got it all uploaded!  I LOVE this site and find it a much better outlet for my desire to write and be read.  The feedback is immediate and it’s from the audience that counts – my readers, not an agent or a publisher.

I don’t know if I’ll ever truly pursue traditional publishing.  Maybe someday I’ll self publish, just for the sake of it.  For now, I’m quite happy watching people read my stories online for free.  So happy, in fact, I wanted to brag a little.  😉

My current novels and numbers:

Unbidden – 104 reads  (has only been posted for 2 weeks and isn’t finished yet)

Chasing Amy – 1,045 reads (has been posted for roughly 3 months)

All I Never Wanted – 13,626 reads

Broken Vows – 33,306 reads

Full Circle – 7,156 reads

While I’m not the most popular writer on the site nor do my numbers even come close to some of the people on WattPad, I am extremely proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.

Just so you don’t think I’ve let it all go to my head – I still give credit to God for this gift and the ability to share it with others.  As much as I love writing and creating, my ultimate hope is that He somehow uses my small efforts to make a big impact in someone else’s life.  Otherwise, what’s the point?

In case you’re intrigued enough to check out the stories, here’s the link to my WattPad account:
http://www.wattpad.com/user/AbbyCraig

Happy Reading!

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2014 in Reading, writing

 

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Experience: The Most Brutal of Teachers

For those of you who didn’t know – I went to a Writer’s Conference in October and had the opportunity to sit down with an agent and talk about Broken Vows.  Surprisingly, he was interested enough to ask me to write a proposal and email it with my first three chapters.  Holy Cow!

For those of you who follow me on Facebook – you saw me whining about my anxiety and insecurities enough that I’m sure you wanted to block me from your news feed!  😉  For anyone who didn’t, thanks for being so nice!

If the stress leading up to the conference and my agent appointment wasn’t enough, I found myself completely overwhelmed when he asked me to write a book proposal!  So much so, I ended up with a head cold and fever blister that left me ready to remove my head for a week!

C.S. Lewis once said, “Experience: the most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”

He wasn’t kidding.  When I returned from that conference I spent a week on the web getting a crash course in writing a book proposal.  The agent knew this was my first foray into the professional world of publishing; even so, I didn’t want my proposal to be weak.  I didn’t want to come across as the scared greenhorn that I am!

Not having anything to compare it to, I feel I wrote a pretty darn good book proposal.  He found it compelling enough to move on to the chapters of my book.  Phew!

Alas, that’s where this particular journey ends.  While he felt that my topic and theme are needed and poised to become popular in the Christian Romance market, he didn’t feel my writing was strong enough to pursue at this time.

Thankfully, he was very kind.  He pointed me to some blogs to learn more about my craft and suggested I work on my “platform” to make myself more visible to readers.

Was I disappointed?  Sure.  Surprised? No.  Relieved?  You bet!

I learned way more than how to write a book proposal through this process.  I learned my true goal as a writer and what is needed for me to feel satisfied, as if I’m fulfilling my purpose.  And it isn’t what I always thought it was.

I love to write.  I feel it in my bones.  If I don’t write for too long I start to itch inside, like I’m having withdrawal.  This desire is as much a part of me as the color of my eyes or my addiction to chocolate.  I can’t escape it.  I enjoy it.  Creating characters and other worlds is fun!  Many times it’s also cathartic and allows me to work through some of my own pain and demons or helps me make sense of the insensible of this world.

When I sat down to edit my manuscript and write the book proposal it was the first time that writing ever felt like work.  I learned how to do both, and learned how to do them well, because it’s necessary if you want to get anywhere in the world of professional publishing.  It’s also part of my inherent nerdiness.  When I learn, I learn the right way the first time.  It’s never half-a**ed.

I sent the proposal off with a sigh of relief and sat back to wait.  While I waited I realized that I was now more afraid of him saying yes, more afraid of success than rejection.

Why?

Because if this manuscript went beyond this agent and got selected by a publisher it would mean more work.  Editing, revision, marketing, etc.  I could easily see the joy of writing getting sucked away by the process of publishing.

The day writing becomes work for me is the day I no longer want to write.

That epiphany made me really look at why I write and what I want to achieve.  Beyond writing for my own enjoyment I only have two goals – for my work to be read and for my story to connect with my readers.

I’ve already accomplished both of those goals.  Sure, there are no books in a book store or on anyone’s Kindle.  I’m not making a cent when someone chooses to read my stories. However, the prestige and the money are not the things that flame this desire.

I feel content and satisfied to have my works posted on Watt Pad and watch the stats climb as new readers add me to their reading lists or vote for my stories.  I have plenty of friends and family who have read my stuff and are excited to pass it on via word of mouth.

So even though my first foray into the world of agents and publishing has hit a dead end (at least for now), I don’t care.  I may choose to pursue it again in the future.

Right now, I’m happy to take a break from writing and focus on the rest of my life. I have two small kids who need my time and attention plus a “real” job that I happen to enjoy, once you get past all the political red-tape.

Above all else, writing remains something that I enjoy.  It remains fun.

I’ve got enough work in my life.  I don’t want writing to be a part of it.

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2013 in christian, Indie Writers, Reading, writing

 

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Second Place Ribbon

So. . . I am MUCHO excited to share with you that I won a second place ribbon in a writing challenge!

My FaithWriters website hosts weekly writing challenges, throwing out a one word topic and letting us run with it.  I’ve submitted two other articles in the past and while I got positive feedback from them, I never placed anywhere near the top three.

However, last week I made a last-minute decision to write an article concerning “Exam”.  And by last minute, I mean I was seven minutes away from not making the deadline!  Nothing like a little pressure to bring out the best in a person.

The results were posted yesterday and I logged on to find I had taken second place in my level.  I even got a little blue ribbon posted at the top of my article!  Woohoo!

It doesn’t really mean anything. . .I don’t get a prize for this, it doesn’t get published anywhere other than the website.  But it made me feel good!  Of all the entries submitted for that level, I came in second.  I was so excited I had to call my Mommy!   😉

If you would like to read the article I would be more than happy to let you.  You can follow this link:

http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article-level2-previous.php?id=46792

I’ve also been keeping tabs on the three novels I have posted at WattPad.  I recently finished the third story, All I Never Wanted, and have been watching excitedly as it climbs in reads.  I’m only 10 reads away from hitting the 1,000 mark!  It’s attracted readers much faster than my other two, though I have a feeling it’s the success of Broken Vows that has led people to find it.

Broken Vows sits at 20,985 reads. . .it’s still ranked high on the What’s Hot list, though it has dropped to page three.   :-p

Full Circle is slowly picking up readers as well, again I feel because of the success of Broken Vows.  It’s at 5,353 reads and counting.

I’m so excited to watch the numbers and get positive comments and helpful feedback from my readers.  Even if I never land a paper novel onto the best seller’s list, I still feel accomplished.  I’ve finished three books and I’ve got people reading them!  Awesome!

I returned to my “real” job this past week so the two days I used to devote to writing are once again filled by nutrition counseling.  I’m glad to be back, I really do love the people I work with.  And surprisingly, they seem to like me too.  😉   At least, I’m assuming they do seeing as how I had a Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Muffin waiting for me on my desk Thursday morning with a welcome back note.   🙂

That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing, it just means my time is limited.  I’ve been looking over some of the unfinished manuscripts I have, trying to decide if I want to return to one of them or if I want to run with a brand new idea I’ve been stewing over.  Right now, I’m enjoying the break from writing and letting my mind wander until it settles on the next great idea!

Thanks for all your support and please, keep checking in!

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in christian, Indie Writers, Reading, writing

 

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Updates in Nutshells

Thanks for stopping by!   😀

I only had one day to write, read, etc last week as my Thursday was consumed by cleaning and preparing for visitors over the weekend.  One of my college roommates came to visit with her family and our daughters shared a fun day at the amusement park on Saturday.

But this week, I get two whole days to devote to myself and my writing again.   Aaaaah.  (That’s a sigh of contentment, by the way.)

I continue to make forward progress.  A few small updates:

  • I’m still waiting for my Critique Partner to read and offer feedback for Broken Vows.  However, my hairdresser recently offered to read and critique my manuscript.  She’s already gotten through the first two chapters while working two jobs and raising three kids.  Kudos to you Kristy!  Thanking God for your willingness to give.  🙂
  • Broken Vows continues to climb in readership on Watt Pad.  The last time I posted it sat at 16,600 reads.  Today it has increased to 18,197 – and gains more everyday.  Awesome!
  • Full Circle is slowly gaining numbers as well.  It’s currently at 4,830 reads and periodically gets added to reading lists.  Woohoo!
  • I’m mostly maintaining my status as a Talent Spotter on Authonomy – hovering in the low 100s.  I do my best to respond to requests and offer feedback.  Broken Vows, however, took a hit and slid from its 3000 ranking back to 5000.  But, good news!  In the past week two new people found the book and not only read it, but backed it by putting it on their bookshelf.  Yay!  It’s now back to number 3,809.

I haven’t begun any editing myself for Broken Vows.  I’m waiting to get a bit of feedback to mull over before I dive back in.  Instead, I’m still enjoying my new story, All I Never Wanted, and molding that plot and characters.

I’ve also entered the world of e-books – it only took me a few years.  😉  We bought a Kindle, mostly so my daughter could play games.  But I did download two e-books recently and will soon be ready to read.  It’s about time I entered the 21st century!

Thanks again for checking in and offering your continued support.  You’re always appreciated.  🙂

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2013 in christian, Indie Writers, Reading

 

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A Smattering of Thoughts

Isn’t that just a fun word – smattering?  I think so, but then I’m also a Nerd for Words, so you’ll have to forgive me.  There are just some words that I think are fun to say, like plethora or cacophony.  Anyway. . . .

What’s been going on since I last checked in?  Small bits of things, but nothing all that noteworthy.

Thank you to any and all of you who took the time to remember and/or pray for my Mom.  Her first round of preliminary testing came back on a positive note – no obvious signs of cancer!  She recently underwent a PET scan for a more in-depth look and she’s scheduled for a bone marrow biopsy as well.  BUT – the doctor said he doesn’t expect to find anything and that when she walked out of his door he was promptly going to forget about her because she wasn’t sick enough to remember!  Works for me!

My Critique Partner has yet to critique my manuscript – which is very frustrating but I’m trying to be patient and give her some leeway.  She’s a teacher and once the year was over she found herself on an unanticipated extended vacation, in which she didn’t read or write.  So she hasn’t had time to work on or send me her manuscript either.  She has thus far promised to start reading after some big shindig this weekend.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

That being said. . . .if any of you are readers out there (and if you’re following this blog it’s a good bet you are!) I would LOVE to have you volunteer as a critique person too!  I need all the extra eyes and feedback I can get.  If you read books, you’re qualified.  You know what it takes to keep your attention – good characters, believable events, good flow, etc.  I would even give you a list of guided questions/points to look for as you read.  PLEASE?  Leave me a comment or email me (penname_abbycraig@hotmail.com) or hey, you can even. . . .

Follow me on Twitter!  It’s sounds ridiculous – like I’m way more important than is actually true.  However, my critique partner uses Twitter often to communicate with her book group and suggested I join.  So I have.  I’ve registered under my real name, not my pen name.  If you’re a Twit (   😉   ) and want to drop me a tweet or simply follow me for random humor and book updates – feel free.  @AGOODFETZER

I’m still checking in at Authonomy, reading other people’s work and critiquing in the hopes they’ll do the same for me.  My status as a Talent Spotter is on the rise – #107.  Hopefully that will garner interest in my own work if people see I’m looking at and supporting other authors.  However, Broken Vows hasn’t had as much luck.  At one time it had climbed into the 3000 (or so) position, but recently has slid back down to #5882.  So, I keep plugging away.

If you’re feeling very generous I invite you to log on to Authonomy, create a profile and go rank and critique Broken Vows.  Even if you aren’t posting anything yourself, your feedback for me would be SO helpful!

While I take a break from Broken Vows and put some distance between myself and those characters (which I need to do to gain some objectivity before editing) I continue to work on other stories.  I’m still posting at Watt Pad and have been keeping tabs on Broken Vows and Full Circle.  Both of them are continuing to climb in readership which is awesome.

My newest book is All I Never Wanted.  I had started it years ago and then either hit writer’s block or didn’t have time to keep going.  Probably both.  But I’ve picked it up again and am thoroughly enjoying the process of creating new characters.  This one isn’t a faith-based book, just a college romance between former childhood friends.  It has been fun and lighthearted and takes me back to my own college days – which were 12 years ago!  GASP!  Am I really that old?  Unfortunately, yes.  I recently had a birthday to prove it!  😉

If you’re interested in reading, please check me out on Watt Pad.  It hasn’t had a large amount of reads so far, but I’m just getting started.  I’ve got two followers who have voted for every chapter, so I’d say it has promise!http://www.wattpad.com/story/6375536-all-i-never-wanted

I’ve also been taking the time to read more – I LOVE the Harry Potter FanFic on Watt Pad and recently went back to re-read a Draco/Hermione story that had been a favorite.

I finally had the chance to watch The Hunger Games – which has me hungry (HA!) for the next movie which is set to come out in November.  YAY!  I dug out my books and am currently re-reading those so I’m armed and ready in November.  Team Peeta all the way!

I’m also looking forward to the release of the first Mortal Instruments movie in August.  I’m not fond of the guy they cast as Jace, but I’m hoping once I see him on screen he’ll grow on me.

AND. . .the anticipation for Allegiant (Veronica Roth, Divergent Trilogy) and the Divergent Movie are killing me!  Augh!  Why do these authors and directors do this to me?  Don’t they know how much my life revolves around these fictional characters?  😉  The book is set to release in October, the movie not until March of 2014.

If any of you are Sy/Fy, Fantasy, Dystopian fans I would highly recommend all three of these series if you haven’t currently read them.  Good stuff!  And if any of you have recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them!

Thanks again for taking the time to support me and check in on my ramblings!  Hopefully someday I’ll have a dedication or thank you page in a book where I can mention all of you!

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in christian, Indie Writers, Reading

 

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Climbing Rungs and Spitting Pennies

I’m proud to say I’ve made some progress!  The last time I posted about my status at Authonomy Broken Vows was sitting at number 5,875.  Basically, the bottom of the barrel.

Today, I’ve made my way to number 3,758.  Woohoo!    😀

That’s a move of 2,117 spaces in the right direction.

It’s still a slow process but I have picked up a few more reads and comments as people discover my book.  Posting a “Shameless Plug” every now and then doesn’t hurt either.  😛

This past week I received my first real critical feedback.  It’s what I’ve been looking for but when you first read anything negative it tends to leave a bad taste in your mouth – sort of like sucking on pennies.  (And no, I’ve never really done that!)

This person was kind and positive though amidst his suggestions for improvement.  And as I started working on a manuscript I previously began and put on hold, I was able to see he was right.  I was able to edit as I typed, realizing just how much I committed the fault he pointed out.

It was something simple that I had learned long ago in an English class in Junior High.  One of the first rules of writing – “Show, don’t tell.”  (Where’s Miss Shultz when I need her?  I wonder if she’s open to a private editing opportunity?)  But once you’re not in school and have no one combing your work with a red pen, it’s easy to slip back into bad habits and not even notice.

So, thank you to my critic – you helped me see what I couldn’t no matter how much I didn’t want to admit it.

Though I really don’t want to suck on anymore pennies, I am hoping that I continue to get readers like this gentleman who offer positive comments while pointing out the negative.

Only through fresh eyes can my manuscript be properly edited and refined so that it puts its best foot forward when meeting an agent.

I continue to get new readers, likes and votes on Watt Pad every day.  Broken Vows has over 16,600 reads now which is just awesome.  And because of all the traffic from Broken Vows, my other novel Full Circle has been picking up more reads as well.  It’s a win-win!

I’m currently going through old manuscripts and looking for those that I feel are worthy enough to pick up and finish.  Even if some of them don’t get any further than Watt Pad, I enjoy writing them and hopefully someone will enjoy reading them.

I’ve also downloaded two free courses from my Faith Writers site so I can continue to learn (or remember, as the case may be) the mechanics of this craft.  After 18 years of school I was really hoping my brain could rest, say, forever?  But alas, if I want to be good at this, I must continue learning.

Thanks to all for you support – whether you’re just following the blog, offering words and prayers of encouragement, or actually reading my manuscripts – I appreciate all of it!

XOXO   Abby   🙂

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2013 in christian, Indie Writers, Reading, romance

 

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