Friday Five: Stuff-I-Learned-About-My-(Author)-Self-in-2011 Edition

1. I like to make the same jokes over and over.

In fact, if I’m forced to edit out something funny (usually for space reasons), the joke will usually make it back into the manuscript somewhere. Which, I suppose, completely cancels out the point of cutting it in the first place. Hmm.

Even worse: They make me giggle. Yes, my own jokes.

Thank gumdrops for my agent and editor, who catch all the super unfunny ones and line edit them out for me. Clearly, I can’t contain myself. 😉

2. I write long books. For example, the first draft of Ever Afters #2 is 150,000 words long.

(This may also explain why it took me so long to write the darn thing.)

Backstory is my downfall. I want to give every single character a history. My MC’s best friends. My major villain, and my minor villains. The grown-up allies my MC meets and befriends. Even the girlfriend of the MC’s father. Seriously, everyone. The tough part is distinguishing what I personally need to know to tell a good story and what the reader actually needs to know to enjoy that aforementioned story.

*ponders*

NOTE: The draft I sent to Jo was in the 135K realm, and we’re planning to cut it even shorter than this. So, don’t worry – it won’t be so long when it reaches the world. 🙂

3. I can keep a large-ish middle school-aged audience entertained for at least fifteen minutes.

I did two school visits earlier this winter, and I have to say: I was totally terrified. I mean, first off, public speaking isn’t my favorite thing in the world. I remember yawning through a ton of presentations when I was that age, and I didn’t think I could handle watching kids get restless as I bored them to death.

So, I overprepared: I wrote outlines. I practiced. I brought props.

And readers, when I presented, I…made them laugh! More than once! (Sometimes, they laughed when I wasn’t trying to be funny, but hey, I’ll take it. :-P)

This was something I didn’t know I could do. (I won’t lie: I’m wondering if I’ve just jinxed myself at this moment. O.o) I don’t know if every presentation will go that way, but I’m very grateful the first two went so well. Yaaaay for confidence boosters!

4. I don’t know how to handle a compliment, especially one about my books.

I mean, it certainly makes me grin and go all warm and fuzzy on the inside. But the brain inside my head goes completely blank. I never ever know what to say. Sometimes, “Thank you” slips out. If I’ve had an extra lot of caffeine, I might even stammer, “I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

But usually, my brain empties itself completely.

This is what you find if you google “an empty brain.”

I plan to work on this in 2012. (Not that I expect a whole bunch of compliments in the future. I still chew my nails at the thought of reviews!) And you know what has helped a lot? Phoebe North’s great post on the same subject over at YA Highway. Go check it out!

So, if you ever say something nice to me about my books, please know: It’s not you. My brain has just short-circuited. 🙂

5. I read a lot of books.

You may be shocked by this. I did just blog about how I kept missing deadlines this, after all. But like I mentioned in this post, it’s easier for me to keep my brain screwed on straight if I’m reading something else.

The Stats (As of Today)

TOTAL BOOKS READ THIS YEAR: 123.

Only 34% of those books were intended for grown-ups. I obviously love myself some kid’s books.

(And only 15 books were nonfiction. We know which genre is not my favorite.)

Unsurprisingly, I read slightly more MG books (51) than YA books (30), and I reread more books this year than last year.

Check back here after tomorrow, and I’ll let you know which of those were my favorite reads.