Monthly Archives: February 2018

Ghosts from Our Past

Deb Shapiro, the publicist for Page Street, arranged to offer a giveaway on  KidsBuzz/Shelf Awareness for my newly released novel, IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU. She decided to have the entries sent directly to me, presumably so that I could begin building an email list of readers who were interested in my work.             This seemed like a great idea—until the entries started pouring in! On the one hand, it was lovely to hear from all of these folks who were enthusiastic about the premise of the novel and wanted to win a signed copy. On the other hand, I lamented having only ten copies from the publisher to give out. Readers wrote such lovely notes—I wanted to give all of them copies! It was almost painful to have to write the non-winners that they hadn’t lucked into a copy.             It wasn’t that I’d never done a giveaway. I’d offered one for my first novel, WHILE I DANCED.  But in that case, I’d done the giveaway through Goodreads, and they’d handled the selection. My job was simply to send books to the winners, which I happily did. In this latest giveaway, however, I actually had to be the one to notify folks that they hadn’t won.             I’ve thought about why this was so hard for me, and I realized that it wasn’t just that I wanted to share my book with all of these readers who’d made the effort to enter the contest. My reaction was also about [...]

By |2018-02-26T09:24:46-05:00February 26th, 2018|The Writing Life|0 Comments

Empathy: Essential for Writing… and Life

My professional writing skills students had to pretend to be a swim club manager who was writing a “bad news” letter to a long time member. The recently widowed member was distraught over the loss (probably theft) of her diamond engagement ring while she was swimming. She wanted the club to reimburse her, even though the contract she’d signed made it clear the club was not responsible for the theft or loss of any personal items (thus, the “bad news”). I asked my students to start their letters with what’s called a “nod”—a statement that both the writer and recipient are likely to agree with that will build rapport. Many students did fine on this. They talked about how upsetting it is to lose something of great sentimental and financial value.  I felt they were able to put themselves in the member’s shoes and imagine what she must be going through. They intuitively understood she needed to have her feelings acknowledged.   Others, however, started their letters with statements such as how healthy and beneficial swimming was as exercise. Under other circumstances, this might well be something the widow would agree with. But after someone had most likely snatched her treasured ring shortly after she’d lost her spouse? I don’t think so. I’m not suggesting these students, who are lovely people, lack empathy. They’re in a hurry to get this assignment done, probably late at night after a long shift at work. I asked them to start with a statement [...]

By |2018-02-18T09:56:26-05:00February 18th, 2018|Empathy|0 Comments

Wrestling Coach Wisdom

  My 8th grade grandson and his dad The other night, I attended a ceremony honoring a neighboring city’s eighth grade student wrestlers, including my grandson. The veteran high school coach was the guest speaker and made a big pitch to the students to enroll in the local high school and continue wrestling. He trotted out seniors from his team who’d excelled not only in wrestling but in the classroom. Their team, he said, was number two academically in the state and had won a number of regional and state wrestling competitions as well. He was a passionate guy and ended his talk by stating, “I may not be the greatest coach in the world, but nobody will care about your kids as much as I do.” In fact, I’m pretty sure he must be a really good coach. And an important part of what makes him so effective is how much he invests in building strong relationships with students. In my own teaching life, I’ve certainly found this to be true. How do I know? Students actually tell me it makes a difference. One wrote about my teaching this fall: “I’ve never met another professor who cares so strongly for all of the students in a class…  Without her positive attitude and approach to her critiques of papers, I don’t think I would be writing as well as I could.” Interestingly, now that I’m doing research for a keynote presentation on the significance of STR (Student-Teacher Relationships) [...]

By |2018-02-11T18:11:46-05:00February 11th, 2018|The Teaching Life|0 Comments

I Love Being Wrong: Book Signing Bliss With Scott, already a really good writer!             Most authors can tell you stories about their less than successful efforts at doing book signings. In fact, a Sisters in Crime friend from our local chapter, Derby Rotten Scoundrels, shared this hysterical YouTube posting by Parnell Hall about his experiences.             So, when Deb Shapiro, the terrific publicist hired by Page Street, set up a signing for IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU at my local Barnes and Noble, I was more than a little anxious. What if no one came? I’d have to sit there at that little desk piled with my books trying to smile while folks walked past me to pick up the latest James Patterson. Molly, Jenna, and I at signing             Needless to say, I was thrilled when folks of all ages came to the signing. In fact, shock of shocks, we ran out of books!             I realize it won’t always be like this. After all, this is my hometown, and many who came were friends and other writers. Still, it felt wonderful to have people express their excitement about the novel, and I’m so grateful to all the folks who came to my signing. Sisters in Crime mystery writers and friends, Elaine and Natalie             It turned out that my fears about the signing simply didn’t materialize. In fact, I’ve found that the things I’ve stressed the most over usually don’t come to pass. It’s the stuff it [...]

By |2018-02-05T09:37:13-05:00February 5th, 2018|The Writing Life|0 Comments