Saturday, October 4, 2014


I started writing a post about grammar blunders—and included one of my own that a “fan” felt the need to point out in a condescending email full of pomposity and convoluted sentences. And I’m not talking about those lovely labyrinthine sentences either. I’m talking sentences that made me go, “Say wha??” (Yeah, not even a “t” on the end of that.) . . . Ohhhh, will it make you laugh your ass off. However, I’ve had to set aside my blog writing (along with my much more important novel writing) to tackle the ten trillion projects I have going on in my house. So there’s a bullshit teaser for you. You have to WAIT for the condescending email and my thoughts on grammar + writers + editors + proofreaders.

My family is visiting for Christmas. Yay! They haven’t stood on Georgia red clay in several years. Lame. Now that they’re coming, I kind of need to have a kitchen ceiling (which is currently missing) as well as, you know, cabinets and working bathrooms. I could show you pictures, but my husband would kill me for sharing shots of the inside of our house. He’s very private. I get it. There are lunatics out there. I’m not thinking any of my followers are, but then I did receive that email . . .

So I’ll be gone for the next two months. And I want you to miss me. I used to wonder why Selena Gomez, Rihanna, Justin Beiber, and Kim Kardashian posted pictures of themselves nonstop. And I mean nonstop. If you ever pick up celeb magazines, which I’m wont to do from time to time, these are the only four celebs I ever see/read about. Then the light bulb went off, albeit a little late, but in my defense, my brain’s been a little jumbled lately with the mess that is my house. Anyway, they post incessantly about themselves to stay relevant. Duh. It must be exhausting, really, getting that perfect selfie (after fifty shots) and then actually posting it . . . with a caption that reads something like, “Life” or “Being.” Haha! Doesn’t it make you cringe? I cringe. And I love it. I oughta be doing this! Especially now that I’ll be absent (again). I tend to do that a lot—just fall off the edge of the earth for a while until I feel like I actually have something important to share with you all.

Okay, so here’s my version of a selfie. That’s how desperate I am for you to remember me and think I’m important in this overly crowded, slush pile of a literary world:

I have a book in the works that’s gonna blow your mind. You think Going Under was intense. Pffsst. Child’s play. Child’s play, people. My current story is on an entirely different level. Intense themes? Check. Cringe-worthy moments? Check. Controversy? Check. “Oh, hell no!” moments? Double check. Add in racing hearts, sweaty palms, “I don’t want to turn the page,” and “Summer, you bitch!!” moments, and you’ve got yourself my next big deal. Now, go out there and start sleuthing. See if you can discover any more tidbits. If someone comes back here with details I didn’t share, I’ll know one of my Summertime Girls squawked, and there will be a price to pay.

Oh, what the hell. Here’s an actual selfie, too. I took it after applying fake eyelashes for a night out. Like my so-very-thoughtful caption?

Windows into the soul.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Congratulations, teens. You've ruined my life.

Haha. Just kidding. They haven’t ruined my life, but they sure have complicated my writing career. Remember a really really long time ago—like the beginning of this year—when I posted about how I was just the slightest bit weary of writing about teenagers? They make for some really good stories, but they are exhausting. The angst. The drama. The melodrama. Good grief. I found myself turning into one: “Honey, what’s going on?” Aidan asked. “Get off my back! IDK!” I replied. IDK, people.

It was time for a break, and really that had to do with the fact that my closet was filled with more Love Culture clothing than normal, 34-year-old mature woman clothing. Thankfully Bailey from LoveLines spoke up and offered to give me what I thought would be a well-deserved break from high school. The only problem with that was that my fans weren’t ready for me to switch gears. They weren’t ready for Bailey. Bailey didn’t fit with Brooke or Cadence. Bailey was an adult. What the hell was I doing writing about adults?

It never once occurred to me that people stick with specific genres, not authors. I don’t know why this never occurred to me since I’m one such reader who chooses books over authors. I’m going for what interests me. I’m not picking up every single thing Diana Gabaldon writes. Haven’t touched her Lord John Grey series. Probably never will because his character and story don’t interest me. The other thing I failed to consider was that I’d already rooted myself in this weird, indefinable YA/NA crossover genre about teens and their not-quite-adult lives. Readers liked that I wrote these stories. They liked my teenagers because I gave them the best of both worlds: I let them remember adolescence (maybe fantasize a better version of those years), and I still threw in adult themes/situations.

I have a point to all this. And here it comes. I just read an insightful article on author branding, and it included advice on everything from what picture you want to use to represent your author self to how social media is vital to being noticed (I get it already. Jeez). Probably the hardest bit of advice for me to swallow was choosing a genre and sticking to it. See? Here’s the point. When I read that piece of advice, my writer self bristled—chest out and feathers ruffled like a little banter rooster. “No!” I crowed. “No no no! I will NOT be pigeon-holed! I will NOT be made to write in one genre for the rest of my writing career! I will NOT write in a prison of my own design!!!!!!!!! Or one others want to make for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

(See? Total drama because I write about teens too much.)

And then once I calmed down and thought about it rationally, I realized that choosing a genre and sticking to it was actually beneficial for me. It doesn’t pigeon-hole. I can still write whatever the hell I want to, just under a different name. Don’t you ever see those “T.L. Comma writing as Comma Sutra” bylines on books? That chick just went from clean YA to trashy erotica in the space of a single book. AND she took her audience with her. She’s damn good. She did it right. She let her audience know, “Hey, it’s still me, but I’m going a different direction with this book. I don’t wanna confuse you, so whenever you see me as ‘Comma Sutra’ now, you know it’s one of my sex books.” *sigh* If only I’d done that: “S. Walden writing as Summer Love” and my life would be completely different.

So authors, don’t be like me. Learn from my LoveLines mishap. Figure out your genre, stick to it, and write under a different name when you’re itching to tell a story that veers from your chosen path. Remember that you will have the diehard fans who will read anything you put out there—including tampon instructions, Amanda—but most readers expect a certain type of book from you. It’s your duty and privilege to give it to them. Much like voting. Voting is not a right, FYI; it’s a privilege, but that’s an entirely different subject.

Once you choose your genre, embrace it. Embrace it hard. Have lots and lots of sex with it because this is it, baby. This is your area of expertise. You own it. You love it. You expect it to take you places. And if you’re committed to it, you’ll solidify your place in the writing world—that teeny tiny space in the upper left-hand corner that’s alllllll yours. How do I know this to be true? Well, haven’t you heard? S. Walden writes the “controversial teen stuff.” ;)