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What is book-shaming? Book-shaming is the act of making others feel 
embarrassed, intellectually inferior, or just less than you, because of what
they enjoy or do not enjoy reading.

Is it a thing? For people who read a lot, or were/are English majors, or hold
writing degrees, yes! It’s a thing for others too, but this topic really struck
a chord in me, because I have a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing.
With these degrees, people were stunned that I have no true love for poetry, or
classics, or even literary fiction. I love science fiction, fantasy, comic
books, manga, some contemporary literature, and the occasional biography. Also,
I read young adult fiction just as readily and voraciously as I read adult
fiction.

I’ve been told that I don’t read “real” books, or told I might not
like something because it isn’t “teenagery” enough for me, or is too
complicated, because I cannot handle literature with depth. As if the things I
read do not have depth or complex plots, because of their genre. I cannot help
what I don’t find interesting and will not seek it out in my free time. I have
better things to do…and read, than to waste my time with books I don’t care
for to please or impress other people.

The argument is that classic and literary books are supposed to expand your
mind, providing you with thought-provoking prose and rich imagery and
vocabulary. Those who think genre books can’t and don’t do the same, have never
read and truly digested a well-written genre book. Good authors can exercise your
brain on a spaceship or on a boat chasing a white whale. However, I argue, if a
reader is not engaged with the text, meaning they can only tolerate a page a
night, because the wording is so dense—and this does not speak to intellect,
because so called geniuses have said they read a page a night of dense novels—how
much is that reader really taking away from the experience? Are they able to
grasp the overall theme and arc of the book, are they able to catch clever
wording and appreciate it? Some people do, but, for others, if they are bored
and having to reread every other sentence to make sure they understood what was
said, then they are not having a pleasant experience. Their only take-away from
the book is: I read it! Then, they may be deemed smart enough to sit in the
circle of book snobs who would look down their noses at them, if they told the
truth about falling asleep mid-page.

The book-shaming snobbery doesn’t stop with the literary crowd either.
Within people who read genre fiction, there are “standards” and literature
that is considered almost holy. If you do not like these authors and these
books, you are not worthy. I find that many people might lie about what they like
or dislike, or how closely they’ve read one of the “holy” texts for fear
of being excommunicated by their local chapter of nerds. We escaped the literary
snobs who hover outside English 4301 classrooms, reciting poetry, to join our
fellow nerds, only to find that they might present us with their own version of
a papal bull.

I will out myself. I don’t like fantasy books written before the 1990’s
(exceptions: THE MERLIN TRILOGY by Mary Stewart—my favorite books, and THE MISTS
OF AVALON by Marion Zimmer Bradley.) This means that I do not like *gasp* THE
LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY or THE WHEEL OF TIME SERIES. I feel the same way
about certain science fiction as well. It is blasphemy to claim to love science
fiction and fantasy, AND to also write it, and not like Tolkien or have no
interest in Asimov. But, you know what, I’m a proud sinner. While I’m at it,
I’m not crazy about GAME OF THRONES either. It has nothing to do with intellect
or bad taste, and has everything to do with my personal preferences, which I am
allowed to have. Everyone is.

I write this piece to empathize with everyone who has been made to feel
inferior, unworthy, or childish because of what they like or don’t like. Why is
it such a difficult thing to let other people have and be proud of their
reading opinions? If we disagree, why can’t we ask the other why they feel this
way, and honestly and openly, listen to their responses without flavoring the
interpretation of what they have to say with our personal feelings. You may be
surprised at how stupid and shallow that other person is NOT, even when they
are disagreeing with an entire cult following. Yes, many people have a similar
opinion on this book or genre, but that does not make them right. It just means
a lot of people think like them or are lying and conforming so that they won’t
be the odd one out.

With age, comes the ability to not give a flying f-bomb about what anyone
else thinks about anything you do. I’m in my 30’s. I don’t hide the books I
read or don’t read, and if asked, will give an open response about my literary
choices. But, when I was younger, I did hide what I read. I wouldn’t bring comic books out in
public. I conformed with the masses and said I didn’t like things that I did
and allowed myself to feel shame for enjoying HARRY POTTER over the likes of
GAME OF THRONES. I even started to speak badly about books I enjoyed, so that I
wouldn’t be the “stupid” one in the group. It was a horrible feeling
having to hide what I truly found interesting and sitting quietly with nothing
to add in conversations about books that didn’t excite me. When you sit
quietly in such discussions, people think you’re dull anyway. So, you might as
well pipe up and say you didn’t like whatever it is they are talking about, and
if the conversation goes south from there, leave. That last sentence is
something I’d do now, but would not have dared to do then, in my youth, lest be
judged “stupid” AND “mean.” I truly had a problem with people thinking I was intellectually inferior to
them, so I tried so hard to do and say all of the right things, but I still
never seemed to get it correct. Also, none of it made me any happier or made
them think any better of me.

I do not want to be a hypocrite, so I will share that I am guilty of book-shaming others. TWILIGHT, FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY—to me—yuck! But, you know, other people like those books and that’s okay. When
friends tell me they love these series, I need to nod and smile. I should ask
them what they liked about the books, listen, and then move on. There’s no need
to express my opinions on the books unless they ask, and no need to give
those opinions in such a way that it makes others feel like their reading choices
are “guilty pleasures” or vices.

I think we should celebrate any person who picks up a book to read as
recreation. We shouldn’t care what it is. Your brain gets a workout any time
you read, no matter the genre. Our brains are processing by attaching meanings
and emotions to written words. They are providing imagery to what we read, and
helping us build critical thinking skills by making us follow a plot and notice
causal relationships between events. We gain emotional intelligence by analyzing
characters and their interactions.

Have you ever read the same book as someone else and discovered they interpreted
certain scenes and dialogue differently than you did? Everyone’s reading
experience is unique, and people take, learn, and grow from various aspects.
Another reader might find Easter eggs you may not have noticed, or you found
some that they didn’t. These eggs can be uncovered in all forms of
literature, whether it be classics, poetry, literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy,
young adult, middle grade, comic books, etc. If the book is something that you
want to read, and enjoy reading, you will gain from it.

We all learn from positive experiences. So, let’s keep our reading outside of
class positive. Some of the saddest confessions I hear are from adults saying
that after finishing school, they never read another book. They say it with
pride, because they associate reading with boredom. I bet they are people who
were told “this” is what you should read, so you can be smart like
us, and who simply chose not to read anymore because “this” was never
their cup of tea. Parents, please stop snatching away books your children or
teens like to read and making them read “classics” they don’t enjoy
in their free time. A lot of them become the book-hating adults I referenced.

I don’t know if this is a blog entry or a rant. I guess it can be both.
Book-shaming is not cool. Today is the day I stop, and so should you. All
reading should be seen as higher-level activity, no matter the title or genre.

Let’s cancel book-shaming.

bookplatesI know a lot of people say that brick and mortar bookstores are a dying breed, but those same people also say that about libraries. I think so long as people thirst for knowledge, stay book junkies, and seek a little socialization with others whose needs are the same, brick, mortar and libraries are safe. That being said, I’ve been invited to be on a YA and Children’s Literature Panel at a Barnes and Noble Bookstore in San Jose inside of Eastridge Mall. There will be a book fair in the store featuring books from all of the panelists.

My song and dance: (even though you can’t hear and see it, which actually might not be too bad for you 😉 ) The Fourth Piece is gonna be in Barnes and Noble! La, la, la!

Some authors might not care too much about this. When it comes to sales, some say they do better through Amazon and don’t make much from bookstore sales, but you know what? I’m one of those authors who want to see my books on a bookstore shelf, a library shelf, a personal bookshelf. Two down… the bookstore left to go, and it’s happening! 😀

What am I going to do on this panel? Well, I heard in the past, the authors all did a book talk about their books and genre. This year the panel is going to be more focused on individual authors talking up the books they’ve brought to sell. We’ll each get our own little table/booth to decorate and swag-up and we’ll be set up near the food 😀 (Stroke of genius!) In previous years, they’d set up near the children’s section, but because the YA section and Children’s section of this B&N are not close, it’s not advantageous to all. Also, they determined that areas closer to the food get more foot traffic. (I’m a believer in this. No matter what books I search out, I always drift over to Starbucks in the end.)

So, now, I’m focusing on my elevator pitches, and what I’m going to bring to swag-out my table. I ordered more bookmarks, I’ve got my fancy new bookplates, I’m bringing my big The Fourth Piece book cover poster, and several smaller posters of the awesome promo images my publisher made for me. I don’t know how big my table will be, so I might have to prop some posters on the floor, but I want my booth to be eye candy. Hmm…candy. Free candy is always good to put out too.

The event is going to be on Saturday, December 10, 2016 from 2-3:30 pm, at Barnes and Noble Eastridge in San Jose, California. If you live nearby, please come in and say “hey!” If you come up and tell me you’re there because of my blog, I might have a free treat for you! ;).

I’ll end this with a question. If you go to B&N or any bookstore and an author is there at a booth, selling books, and talking… what would entice you to come over and see what’s going on, aside from the book being your genre?

Thanks to everybody out there listening, reading, you know what I mean. Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate the holiday and, as I always, take care!

Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MIAIt has been a little while since I blogged last. But come on, even you have to admit I’m not as bad as I used to be :P.

So much is going on. Work has been so crazy busy. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. I know why some people say you can’t be a professional writer and hold down a full-time job. Writing has to be your job–or rather, promoting is your job if you’re truly serious about not working, because you have to sell books to pay bills. I do not have any plans to quit my job and thus lose a steady pay check, so I’m gonna keep putting on my big girl pants and get it done.

I have been doing online promotions, author interviews, radio shows, TV shows (okay, yes, one radio show and one TV show, lol), doing readings, running a critique group, planning launch parties, doing author take-over events online, PLUS maintaining my fabulous front of being a teen librarian by day…and sometimes by night. I also dare to go out from time to time, lol.

I think things are going well. I’m pleased with the reviews I’ve been getting and the welcoming responses from the community I live in. (Monterey is awesome!) My co-workers are really putting themselves out getting things ready for my launch party at the Library. (September 10 from 2-4 for anyone in North Cali.) There will be henna. A high school senior will be doing interpretations of Order’s Mark on willing guests. There will be make-overs. My friend’s lovely daughter is an amazing artist who is practicing designs to make brave guests ready to blend in with the other Visitors. 😀 Also, I will have door prizes! I ordered mugs and a travel cup with character images and quotes on them. The food is going to look very sci-fi (but it will be safe I swear.) I’m going to read, show some books trailers and teasers, do some Q&A, sell and sign some books, and take a lot of pictures.

I’m excited. This is my first book launch party. My second will be a few days later in San Francisco. Check my event calendar for more details. That one I’m not so sure about what will go on. It is being thrown by a group called Left Coast Writers. They’re sweet! They are the ones who got me the radio spot. The party will be held at Book Passage, a large independent book store.

Okay, now I bet you want to know why I’m rambling, because I am rambling. I do have something I want to show you. I want to debut my new professional book trailer for The Fourth Piece and let you guys see a “do-over” trailer that I felt one of my characters deserved.

I’m going to end this with the trailers. I hope you all are doing well, I want you to take care, and next time you hear from me I’ll have PARTY PICTURES!