Tag: best-selling author

Am I a “real” Author yet?

Author at work

I’m coming up on two years as a full-time writer. I have spent hours writing words, days editing them and months submitting the resulting stories to appropriate markets. And still I wonder: at what point does a person feel like an author?

When the first acceptance letter comes? I’ve got two, and I still feel like I’m pretending to be an author most days.

When the first paycheck comes? Okay, I can’t really consider that minuscule royalty check a “paycheck.”

When someone asks for an autograph? I’ve signed a couple – for family and friends.

When they get an advance with their sold  manuscript?

When they see their book on a best-seller list?

When they must start a Facebook fan page because they have reached the maximum number of friends on their profile?

When they have 5,000 or more followers on Twitter?

When they say their name and someone standing nearby asks, “Are you the Sharon Hughson who wrote this book?”

I keep waiting for a magical moment. I always imagined there would be one. Doesn’t there have to be one?

I’ve dreamed of writing stories that people want to read for most of my life. I’ve been writing stories since I was nine years old (before then, I just told oral tales to my stuffed animals).

I imagined that I would spend my days at a handsome desk. Sunlight would pour over me from a nearby window. Words would spill from my fingers onto the page.

It's a beauty! Those Hughson boys can assemble a desk, I tell you.
It’s a beauty! Those Hughson boys can assemble a desk, I tell you.

I am living that vision.

The one where a bookcase behind me is filled with titles I wrote? Not yet. It’s only been two years. I do have the proof copy of my sole independently published title on my office bookshelf.

Why do I keep waiting to “feel” like an author?

I can’t imagine Brandon Sanderson waking up in the morning and wondering if he is really an author.

What makes a person reach a point where they consider themselves an author? Please, help me figure this out.

John Green’s Award-winning Paper Towns

Surely it comes as no surprise that I’m a member of a book group called “Adults Reading Kids’ Stuff.” A school librarian founded it, so none of us are shocked that she’s always recommending award-winning literature.

At her urging, I accepted a library copy of Paper Towns by John Green. I’ve read some other Edgar Award winners (which this book is) and have been duly unimpressed. You can read about my take on a not-so-worthy Pulitzer Prize winner here.

Our book group, ARKS, met on Friday morning for a brunch and book talk. Pairing breakfast casserole, fresh-baked cinnamon rolls and succulent watermelon with books is a no-lose proposition.

Most people recognize John Green’s name. I heard him mentioned often at the Willamette Writer’s Conference in August. He shot from nowhere to best-seller. One of his best-selling books, The Fault in our Stars, wowed Time Magazine into name it best fiction book of the year and Hollywood into bringing it alive on the big screen.

I love titles with double entendre. You know, simple titles like The Help that really explain something significant about the book – with a double edge. So, Paper Towns jumped out at me as a title that might prove to be such.

The Story

The blurb:

“Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life–dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge–he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues–and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.”

The Edgar Award it won was for mystery, which the book includes. Even with the first person narration, Green offers up clues and hints for the diligent and observant reader.

There was a point in the book when I actually stopped and said aloud (to no one since I was alone) “If she is dead, I’m going to throw this book.” I don’t recommend throwing books. Especially not library books. But perhaps you see how wrapped in the plot I had become.

This story is as much about Quentin’s search for understanding himself as finding the girl he loves. It even gives a teenage attempt at explaining love. It is this “coming of age” aspect of the story that makes it accessible for a wider audience than the young adults it was written for.

My Take

Amidst all the quirky dialogue and friendly banter that felt too much like being a fly on the wall in my sons’ bedrooms, Green writes some memorable lines.

For example: “”They’d given me a minivan. They could have picked any car, and they picked a minivan. A minivan. O God of Vehicular Justice, why dost thou mock me? Minivan, you albatross around my neck! You mark of Cain! You wretched beast of high ceilings and few horsepower.”

Within that single paragraph, Green alludes to two separate works of literature while staying true to his character’s voice. I smiled when I read it, and then reread it, once aloud, just to appreciate the poetry of the prose and the power of the metaphors.

All was not bliss for me in this reading. For example, I found the character of Q’s affection, Margo, to be highly inconsistent. Her reactions in several scenes later in the book didn’t ring true for me. In fact, for a few moments I almost wished the author had offed her. I know, not my typical reaction at all.

Even in this, Green shows his control over the elements of an effective story. He was able to bring the story to a satisfactory resolution, one I wouldn’t have normally embraced. Because of Margo’s outlandish behavior, I happily accepted the not-so-happily-ever-after wrap up.

Recommendation

Everyone aged 14 to 99 should read this book. I said something similar about The Book Thief. I don’t say it all that often about novels, probably because I read genre fiction. Most of that has a flavor only certain connoisseurs relish.

Maybe this book is considered literary fiction. I don’t know how a young adult novel would get that distinction. However, this book has many literary qualities, including allusions to epic American literature, like Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.

Have you read other books by this author? What recommendations would you make?