16
Apr

Guest Author Blog: Traci Sanders

I'm pleased to hand over my blog today to my friend Traci Sanders, award-winning author and creator of the Readers Review Room, an on-line review site for authors, which provides fantastic indie books for lovers of reading.  Traci is a multi-genre, multi-award-winning author of ten published titles, with contributions to three anthologies. An avid blogger and supporter of Indie authors, she writes parenting, children's, romance, and nonfiction guides.


Her ultimate goal is to provide great stories and quality content for dedicated readers, whether through her own writing or editing works by other authors.  Here, she provides one of her writing tips from her newest release, "Living the Write Life".  Without further ado, here is Traci's Tip:

 

The following tip can be found in Living The Write Life, now available in digital and paperback format.

https://www.amazon.com/Living-Write-Life-making-writing-ebook/dp/B01MUXVIAK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490634364&sr=8-1&keywords=living+the+write+life

 

Have any of you who are authors noticed that your circle of friends grew smaller once you published your book(s)? I’m not only talking about the friends who still haven’t reviewed, much less read, your books. I’m referring to the ones who seemed to have disappeared once you began even talking about your books.

 

Don’t feel alone. It happens to many authors.

 

In fact, it happens to many people in general, for several reasons:

  • Some people feel threatened when their friends aren’t on the same “level” (socially, financially, or career-wise) as they are.
  • Some people back off because they are afraid you will ask them to read/review your book and they are afraid of being honest with you if they end up not liking it. In other words, they don’t want to be put in an awkward position.
  • Some people feel threatened by anyone who has goals.
  • Some people are selfish and only want their friends to be happy if they are happy. (It’s the same with the friends who only want you to be single when they are single.)
  • Some people aren’t interested in anything to do with reading or writing. Yes. They do exist. (Breathe. Breathe.)

 

Many authors enjoy talking about all things related to books and writing. However, their friends and family do not.

 

Sure, they may be supportive and buy—and if the planets align, maybe even review—our books. But this doesn’t mean that they will ever be as invested in the process as we authors are. It’s not their passion. They don’t lose sleep over a certain line of a story. They aren’t tormented by the fate of characters. Even if they are avid readers, it doesn’t mean they care about the writing process as much as authors do.

 

So how do we deal with the ones we love, who don’t love what we do?

  • Don’t bring up the subject of your writing or anything related to writing unless asked. And even then, learn to gauge if the person asking is truly interested in learning about it, or if he/she is simply being polite.
  • If you do mention your writing, be sure to talk about other topics as well.
  • Ask your friends/loved ones about their lives. Remember, whatever is going on in their lives is just as important to them as your writing is to you.
  • Don’t ask your friends/loved ones to read or review your books. If they offer, great. Otherwise, leave that to avid readers who will appreciate your work.
  • Don’t try to coerce your friends/loved ones into reading your book by giving them free copies, thinking you are doing them a favor. If they are truly interested, they will ask you how to buy a copy to support you.
  • Don’t hold it against them if they don’t want to read or even talk about your books. Keep in mind that they knew you before you began publishing, and that person is who they built a relationship with, not the author you became. Don’t take it personally if they don’t want to talk about things in your life that don’t involve them.
  • Remember to balance your time between your writing and your friends/loved ones. It’s hard. As authors, we get an idea in our heads and want to run with it, damned the rest of the world when we’re in the writing zone. But as humans, we can’t do that too often or we will burn some bridges we don’t want to burn. Make time for your spouse, other than getting him/her to read your latest synopsis. Make time for your children. Yes, it’s great for them to see you going for your dreams and goals, but don’t make them feel as if they aren’t as special or important to you as your writing. No matter what book I publish, writing award I win, or celebrity status I ever reach, my ultimate achievement in life is being a great mom to my children, and wife to my husband. They will always come first.
  • Don’t correct your friends/loved ones’ grammar on social media or in person, unless you have that kind of relationship with him or her. No one likes a know-it-all. Whether they are being lazy or simply naive, it’s not your place to judge them or correct them.
  • Don’t forget to thank your closest family and friends who do support your writing journey, whether it’s your spouse who cares for the kids so you can write, your best friend who reads your worst crap before you rewrite it, or your children who learn to wait “just a few more minutes” to eat dinner because you are trying to wrap up a chapter. Just because they don’t materially participate in your writing, doesn’t mean they don’t play a huge role in your process. Thank them in your books, and in person.
  • Don’t buy books for your friends/loved ones who you know don’t enjoy reading, thinking you will convince them how great it is. Or worse, buy them books you know they won’t enjoy so they will give the books to you. That’s just wrong. (smile)

 

It’s hard for us authors to remember sometimes that there are people in this vast world who don’t enjoy and appreciate the written word as much as we do. When I hear someone say, “I simply don’t enjoy reading,” I want to claw my eyes out. But it’s not my place to force it on them or judge them for their lack of interest.

 

So, keep your relationships with those you love by remembering what brought you together in life in the first place. Focus on that and let them know you cherish their presence in your life … even if they don’t enjoy all the same things you do.

 

 

Traci Sanders

Award-winning author of parenting, children's, and romance titles
         
12
Apr

Why Read?

     If you haven't yet heard my speech on the importance of reading, it's time. I am a BIG proponent of making sure students are reading to improve their skills and comprehensionincrease their vocabularymake life connections, and enjoy the pleasures of getting lost in an adventure or traveling to another place or time without ever leaving their seat!  Reading is a skill that will benefit us in any job market and any profession.  And, reading makes us better writers! You wouldn't try to play a sport without watching it a few times to see what the game looks like, right? Well, when we read, we are training our brain to see what good writing looks like.  And, reading for pleasure is a hobby we'll enjoy for the rest of our lives.
     Reading also builds a student's "background knowledge", or schema. This is important so that students can connect concepts to experiences, words and events that are already part of their "mental filing cabinet".  A large part of reading comprehension is due to a student being able to relate to, or understand a concept by digging into that filing cabinet. Students with limited background information to draw on may struggle with making the connections needed to fully comprehend a passage they've read. The quickest way to build that background knowledge is not by experiencing it, but by reading about it.
     What many people may not realize is that reading fiction (novels, children's books, classic literature) teaches empathy. According to Keith Oatley, Cognitive Psychologist at the University of Toronto, engaging with stories about people "can improve empathy." He says when we read about other people, we begin to "imagine ourselves in their position (what the kids in school call "making connections"), which enables us to better understand people." How does this happen? "It is because readers are experiencing a lot of situations in a short amount of time as they read, far more than if we spent our lives waiting for those situations to come to us." So, bottom line is that reading is good for more than just academics.
     According to the Global Language Monitor, the English language has over one million wordsBut a typical adult will have a usable vocabulary of only 10,000 to 20,000 words. That leaves a lot of words in our language that aren't being used.   Exposing young children to new words helps them to not only learn the word, but to see the word in action, specifically how the word is used. That's a great thing, especially as our students will be exposed to "higher level" words through standardized testing.
     Remember that reading and reading comprehension spans all subjects - even math!  Imagine struggling to read through a math word problem and not understanding what math calculations need to be done to solve it.  Many students struggle with the literacy of math, understanding the meaning of the vocabulary associated with it. These domain-specific words should continue to be used daily so that they become a part of the student's vernacular.
An easy way to look at vocabulary taught in school is to bucket it into the groupings outlined in the Common Core curriculum:
  • Tier 1 words are basic words that commonly appear in spoken language. These would be common words in our vocabulary. Students are already familiar with these words. For example, "house", "they", and "equal".
  • Tier 2 words are high frequency words used by mature language users across several content areas. These would be words such as "establish" , "obtain",and "verify". As you can tell, these words would be extemely useful for students to be able to use and understand, as they woud be used in many different subject areas ("cross-curricular").
  • Tier 3 words are low-frequency words that are domain-specific.These would be words associated with a particular content area, such as medical terms, music terms, or words associated with a particular occupation.  For example, "mitosis" in science, "civil" in social studies, "personification" in language arts.
 
     In the classroom, the focus on vocabulary in the middle grades and middle school will be on the Tier 2 and Tier 3 words, to help the students expand their understanding of these higher-level words. One way is through repetition. Using the word when speaking will help the student begin to associate the word with it's domain and usage. At home, a way to help students is to review these Tier 2 and Tier 3 words and use them in discussions.  Using the words in conversation will help students understand both meaning and usage. An easy way to see the words in action is by reading different types of material. Both fiction and non-fiction will expose the students to many Tier 2 and Tier 3 words.
 I truly believe that reading is the answer to succeeding in school and in life!