This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Eileen will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to five randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Lesson One: Write from your heart.
Not every book can be the Book of Your Heart, but every book can come from a real and authentic place inside you. That will show through in your writing, just as much as not writing from an authentic place will.
Lesson Two: Be a student of your work.
Writing is a craft. You can constantly improve. There’s always something more to learn. I’m currently enrolled in an MFA program in Creative Writing. It’s challenging and lots of work, but it’s also crazy fun. I still love reading craft books. I still love attending workshops. It’s rare that I don’t learn something. One of the abiding pleasures of being a writer is that there’s always something more to learn, always room to grow. I hope I’m still doing this when I’m eighty.
Lessons Three: Patience is a virtue.
The road to publication is long and arduous and fraught with heartbreak. If you don’t have the legs for it, you’re going to have a hard time finishing the race.
Lesson Four: Find your voice.
This is unbelievably important and unbelievably satisfying and it’s a matter of trial and error. It’s a little like pornography. You’ll know it when you see it on the page.
Lesson Five: Stay focused on your work, not your dreams.
I originally heard this one from Pat Warren. I know it sounds completely different from what everyone tells you. Dream big! Set goals! Aim high! I’ve met too many people who can talk all day about how they’re going to write a book and how it’s going to be great and then never set a word on paper. Don’t just dream about it, do it.
Lesson Six: Put yourself in a bubble and zip it up.
This one is from Roxanne St. Claire who told me she got it from Linda Lael Miller. No matter where you are on the ladder there will be people above you and people below you. Some of the people above would just as soon stamp on your fingers, but some of them will be reaching down a hand to help pull you up. Some of the people below wouldn’t think twice about leaving stiletto marks on your back as they walk over you, some will want to help buoy you up. No matter what, there are expectations and fears and people constantly sizing you up. You can’t let it get to you. People will say things to you and some of those things will be hurtful. I firmly believe that most of the people mean no harm. It’s important to self-protect anyway. So zip up that bubble.
This is important in another way, too. You need to do this with your writing as well. You will never please everyone. You need to write your story the way you want to write it (remember finding your voice?).
Lesson Seven: Never believe your own press.
This career is a roller coaster ride. You will have ups and downs. If you let yourself believe everything that’s said or written about you, you will lose your ever-loving mind. It’s incredibly difficult to avoid. In fact, it’s impossible, but you have to do it as much as possible.
Lesson Eight: Friends help you move. Good friends help you move your plot.
Surrounding yourself with other writers is a huge favor you can do yourself. They understand your weird twisted mind in ways that non-writers never will. They can help you when you’re stuck. They can inspire you when you’re down. They are sounding boards and reminders that you are not alone.
Lesson Nine: Don’t be too damn gentle with yourself.
I love the Desiderata. A copy of it hangs in my bedroom. It’s full of great life lessons, including: Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
Well, don’t take that one too far. Don’t be afraid to criticize yourself constructively. I don’t mean to beat yourself up, but don’t be afraid to push yourself in new directions and to notice your failures and learn from them.
Lesson Ten: Enjoy the moment.
I have spent the majority of my career worried about the next step. I had to cut bangs in my hair because my forehead had wrinkled from constantly being creased. I’ve learned I have very little control over a lot of things. Worrying about what might go wrong doesn’t change anything.
When a Muslim high school student is accused of a crime she didn’t commit, her school counselor gets involved to clear her record in this ripped-from-the-headlines novel.
When Lily Simon finds cops in the lobby of the high school where she’s a guidance counselor, she’s not surprised: cops and adolescents go together like sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. But when the cops take Jamila, a Muslim student, into custody for a crime she didn’t commit, Lily’s high school becomes a powder keg.
Police think Jamila is responsible for a hit and run, and since she’s not talking, they have no choice but to keep her as the main suspect. And since the victim—a young soldier recently returned from Afghanistan—is lying unconscious in the hospital, the whole town is taking sides on whether or not Jamila’s arrest is religious persecution. Determined to find the truth, Lily teams up with a reporter to uncover what really happened the night of the hit and run.
Enjoy an excerpt:
Lily read Daniel Richardson’s article with a horrible sinking sensation in the pit of her stomach. She brought up Facebook on her computer and started searching.
She found the “Jamila Is a Terrorist” Facebook page by following a fairly long line of comments among other students. Despite being incredibly computer savvy, it surprised Lily to see how few kids had much regard to their privacy online. Even the ones who had made their profiles private didn’t seem to realize that if they commented on a page that wasn’t private, someone could have limited access to their information.
She felt physically ill when she found the page. Scrolling through it made her feel even worse.
“Cast your vote! Which one of these Darby High students is the most likely to bomb the place to the ground?”
Lily’s stomach dropped when she saw the poll. At this moment, Lily wasn’t sure what horrified her the most. Was it the fact that someone had created a poll like that on Facebook? Or that so many of the kids at school had already voted on who they thought was most likely to commit an act of terrorism against the school. Two hundred and seventy-nine votes had already been cast.
Four of the five choices were Muslim students. Jamila, of course. Then Hakim Massoud, Abdul El-Sayed, and Fareed Bahri. The fifth choice was SpongeBob SquarePants.
SpongeBob was trailing by quite a few votes.
About the Author:
Eileen Carr was born in Dayton, Ohio. She moved when she was four and only remembers that she was born across the street from Baskin-Robbins. Eileen remembers anything that has to do with ice cream. Or chocolate. Or champagne.
Eileen’s alter ego, Eileen Rendahl, is the award-winning author of four Chick Lit novels and the Messenger series.
Buy the book at the publisher.