Monday, August 26, 2013


A couple months ago, a woman in Writers Group at the Dietrich mentioned a story-sharing website called Wattpad so I checked it out. It's part social media, part writers-seeking-an-audience. Some confident writers use it to connect with readers and gain a following. Some have seen their stories there read over 200,000 times, garnishing tens of thousands of 'votes.'
New writers often use the site to get feedback from real readers on their work. And it offers something to readers as well. The anonymity provided by the internet might give a reader space to offer constructive feedback instead of a more saccharine "that's a nice story."

That same woman from Writers Group mentioned an acquaintance who posted the first couple chapters of her book a few pages at a time on Wattpad. In a few months, she gained about 7000 'followers' of her story. She self-published it and had thousands of immediate sales. Her audience was ready-made and the initial burst of sales was enough to put her on the best-seller list for a time. Was the story really that good? I couldn't say. But her marketing plan was awesome. She essentially used crowdsourcing not to develop the product but to develop the readership, to create a platform. That's exactly what happens on American Idol, The Voice, and a dozen other reality shows. Why not in stories?

If you want to see some of my stories on Wattpad, I'm jeanne42.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Quotes, pt. 3. Why I write

I write to document my heart. The process begins with curiosity, a tentative 'what if' connection between fact and imagination.
When I learned that people with disabilities were targeted in huge numbers during the Nazi era, I began exploring the literature. Sure enough, an entire pogrom called T4 was devoted to extermination of people in residential facilities for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. My questions took form. 'What if a young Aryan became disabled? Would they have become a target as well?" As I moved along the research journey which dominated my free time for years, a fictional character took shape. She is Sophie Adler, a shy member of the Hitler Youth who is also a skilled photographer. Her story, Risking Exposure, will be published in September.

The story of Sophie is fiction, but the fate of thousands of others like her was not. Their tales have not been well-covered in Holocaust literature. The field is filled with horrific stories of extermination of Jewish citizens, but few titles explore the other targets of Nazi persecution - people with disabilities, people who are deaf, homosexual, Communist, Romani (Gypsy), and Jehovah's Witness. Since I have spent a lifetime working with people with disabilities, I knew my storyteller's heart would create a tale about one of them.

Other writers answer the question of 'Why I write' more succinctly than I.

Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself.... It's a self-exploratory operation that is endless.”―Harper Lee

All that writers can do is keep trying to say what is deepest in their hearts. – Lloyd Alexander

A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought if he had not started to say them.
-William Stafford

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Quotes, pt 2 - why I read

More quotes from my collection, this batch about the value of stories.

A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading. – William Styron
Through a well-told story, I can live vicariously in another era, in another culture, or in an alternate universe. I can inhabit the experiences of a hero or villain, of a frail old man, an anxious teen-age girl, or a struggling single parent. These experiences have increased my empathy toward people whose lives are different from my own.

After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in this world. – Philip Pullman
Maybe that's why, throughout human history, stories were told wherever people gathered. Your Thanksgiving table has hosted a tale or two, I'm sure.

In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but how many can get through to you. -Mortimer J. Adler
Here's what's gotten through to me in hundreds of books - a story would be boring if there were no struggle, no risk-taking, no effort needed to reach success. Who wants to read about someone who has it easy all the time?
I've learned that the same holds true with life. It's the problems we face and the fact that we overcome them that gives us hope and forces us to grow and eventually succeed.

So here's the last word on the subject.
Let us read and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.

Monday, August 5, 2013


In all the 'stuff' that comes into my life, I differentiate between stuff I accumulate - dust bunnies, unfiled paperwork, and toys that need repair, and stuff I collect - recipes, vinyl record albums, photographs, and quotes. The quotes are saved on my computer in an ever-growing 60+ page Word file, and I've got a Pinterest board with a bunch more. I'll share some this week. This particular batch is faith-based.

"The older I get, the surer I am that I'm not running the show."
There's both complexity and order within our immense universe and within the microscopic world. It's completely illogical to think that happened by chance. It's designed that way by a Creator much grander than I can imagine.

"I believe in the sun even when it's not shining.
I believe in love even when I am alone.
I believe in God even when he is silent."
The origin of this quote is vague, although many sources say it was found written on a cellar wall in Cologne, Germany after WWII. These sources assume it was written by hidden Jews. Holding onto faith in such incredible circumstances is amazing.

"The number of 'followers' you have doesn't mean you have a better idea. Hitler had millions. Jesus had twelve."
No comment needed.

"Come to the edge."
"We can't. We're afraid."
"Come to the edge."
"We can't. We will fall!"
"Come to the edge."
And they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.

Faith and trust are intertwined; my thesaurus uses them as synonyms. Flight requires trust in our forward momentum to overcome gravity, trust in the air currents to provide lift, and faith that your wings will work. When it all goes as it should, it's somehow both wondrous and completely expected.