Erin Lausten

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Posts Tagged ‘reading’

The fire is right behind me of course!

Posted by erinlausten on December 12, 2013

I love seeing progress. There are many times when it seems nothing will ever be finished, but after this month, I’ll have completed five projects total. Three done for my alter ego Amie Archer, and two for Erin. I really can’t explain how good it feels, but I have promised several people I will never let the backlog gather like it has this year. One project at a time! I swear. Ok, maybe two. Or three. But no more than that. Really. I mean it. Honest.

You may have noticed by previous posts Unforeseen is available, YAY, and that was a huge deal. It was one of those books that hung around in my head for too long. And now that it is out in the universe, I am excited about it again. I miss Grace and Lucius already. I guess I will just have to include them in Unrepentant: Viator Legacy Book 3. But I miss Carlo more, so he gets top billing in this book.

And I would jump right on that, except I have some unfinished business with a certain Lady and Cowboy (Slim—Love him, Seriously. I mean, who else could flirt with disaster so unabashedly and still come out on top? With a grin and oozing charm? Only Slim. Le sigh.) Cibola’s Revenge is on its way to the finish line, just a few more tweaks and we’ll be ready for the victory lap. Christmas is looking to be very good for release. I am extremely excited about this new book in the Cibola Universe, and about the adventures the next year will provide as I visit various steampunk events to share the series. If you haven’t checked out Wild Wild West Con yet, take a look. It is a fabulous event at Old Tucson. Steampunk in the old west, really you can’t do better. (Well in my mind, since I dig that kind of thing!) I’ll be there with a table of signed copies of all my available books, and will also be presenting on the topic of Steampunk Archaeology. Yes, you heard right. Steampunk Archaeology. Come to the con to find out what I’m up to (evil grin).

Once Cibola’s Revenge is off my plate, I will definitely be ready to work on Unrepentant—except that I’m not. I am working on Deadbeat. I have had Deadbeat in my head since 2010, so really, it is way overdue and I have had several requests to see those words put down in print.

So there you have it. I am finishing up the last bits of what I have finished, and starting new projects. I’m excited about the New Year!

And I promise, I WILL be writing the Viator Legacy Book 3 in 2014. It may come out in the Summer/Fall rather than Spring. Hang in there folks, we’ll know what happens to Carlo and Lisa soon enough. First, we have a buck-toothed vampire to contend with.

Cheers!

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Finally!

Posted by erinlausten on December 5, 2013

First and foremost – Thank You!
I know you have all waited and waited and waited. We were almost there, then the gremlins hit! Those little buggers conspired with some brownies I’m sure. For there was my beautiful manuscript, or at least the pathway to it, but I could not open it. Corruption most horrid! This heroine, however, persisted and perservered. I won’t bore you with the gory details, they don’t matter anymore. What truly matters is Unforeseen is here!

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Available NOW at Smashwords and Amazon!

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Is it just Me? Or is it Truly Bigger on the Inside?

Posted by erinlausten on August 7, 2013

I hit another milestone recently.

My son and I are reading the Chronicles of Narnia together. Now beyond the fact that he has the taken so well to listening to stories without pictures, I couldn’t be happier that he has learned to love a world which for so long been an influence on my life and philosophy. I do believe I may have an adventurer on my hands. We are in for a wonderful ride.

But I discovered something even more intriguing than usual, which with a boy of five, is quite a feat. This weekend we watched the three Narnia movies released since 2005. My son and I had made a pact that we would not watch the movies until we finished reading the first three movies. But we have only finished the first half of the third story. And yet, I could not wait—what can I say, I’m a sucker. It was a fabulous adventure, watching all three in two days, seeing this world in pictures through the eyes of a five year old. And then something miraculous happened. That night, my son hands me the book and asks for us to finish it.

There is no either/ or in this equation. The ability to shift from a visual/external medium to an audio/internal medium is natural and not rife with the qualitative question of better or worse. My son didn’t even think about which medium was better, but enjoys both. He seems to enjoy the way they create an experience in their own unique way.

So why then do we have this disconnect as we age? Why do we ask whether the book was better than the movie? Do we change how we see the book and imagine the characters if we have seen another’s vision of them before hand?

I have thought of this at times, not necessarily in a strict or specific sense, but quietly and without much care. But now I am. When I read a story, an author paints me a picture, but I see that world as my experience and desires lead. They may tell me the main character has blonde hair, but if I want them to have dark hair… then then will have dark hair. It’s my world. It is what I want it to be. But when I watch a film, the vision is presented to me, but the internal thoughts of those characters are silent. I get to fill in the motivation, the emotion, the meaning.

Film and television has often been described as a non-interactive passive experience. However, I think we have seen that it is hardly that. With fandoms exploding around the worlds which are created only in that medium, how can we ever think of it as a static experience?

And yet, we endeavor to create a competition between the mediums, arguing the merits and shortcomings of both. But I think I finally see that the true worlds don’t exist in the film or the pages of a book. They belong in the minds of the readers. And each world is different, built through the vision of the page and the pictures but completed in the eyes of the beholder.

What a beautiful world where our minds can hold so many unique stories and share the pieces with those we meet. And then they make their own. And the story goes on. I can’t even imagine what you see when you read my stories. But I hope it is wonderful.

Posted in dreams, motivation, quality, reading, reflection, voice, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Finding Someone: Thoughts on Betas

Posted by erinlausten on July 31, 2013

It is easy, as a writer, to be insulated. Stories are extremely personal and writing them is a very internal process. We may pull our inspiration and content from outside sources, but ultimately we look inward and pull out a completely unique perspective. There are so many worlds possible inside the human mind it is amazing that we can keep them contained within such a measly container. But, pardon the Doctor Who reference, “It’s bigger on the inside”.

Because we spend so much time internally, sometimes it is hard to pop out and see the world around us, let alone truly feel a part of it. Is it any wonder that so many authors have/had strained, dysfunctional relationships with their loved ones?

Honestly, it is amazing anyone puts up with us.

That brings me to what I really want to talk about today–Finding people that you can depend on. Ultimately, we want someone to read our stuff. Well, most of us do, I think.  But when it comes down to it, having someone read something that just came from a very lonely brain is terrifying. We go from the statement “Yes, I am going to write it this way because I like it that way” to the question “will anyone like what I wrote?”

It’s as frightening as a performance, group presentation, wearing a new fancy dress, and introducing the new boyfriend to the folks. We start to niggle at the details, picking out the faults before someone else can, and in some cases, just putting that boyfriend back in the car (or in the case of the book, back in the drawer).

And don’t think that with this grand ego of mine that I don’t have the same problem.  But I found something that helps, and I can only say it has helped me jump that bridge and put my stuff out there.

I have the best Beta readers in the world.

These are the people I give my manuscripts to when I’m done, ready for feedback, and desperate for eyes beyond mine to see the world I’ve created. While my eyes look in, theirs look out.

It took a while to find people I could trust to give me the feedback I needed. I have had many help me, but the best all share one very important trait–They don’t tell me they love it. Well they do, but not just that. They tell me when it sucks or where it is confusing, or where I could do better. And it hurts, oh how it hurts to hear I did not score on that first hit. But it makes me think and puts the story into a new perspective. It works.

However, being a Beta Reader is just as rough on the reader as it is on the writer. There is a relationship. If you are a regular reader and critique a book, there is no direct relationship, so it doesn’t feel like a big deal. But I now have a personal relationship with each of my Betas just by building this trust and position. They don’t want to hurt me. But sometimes you got to cut off the leg to stop the spread of gangrene.  So they do it, gritting their teeth the whole way. That is the mark of a great Beta and something I admire more than anything.

I really couldn’t do this without them and I hope they know how much their brilliant eyes mean to me.

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Catch 22 and Heller’s Curse

Posted by erinlausten on July 19, 2013

I think we have all left a book unfinished. For whatever reason, books are abandoned to the pile of best intentions. Some books lack the quality one might require, or miss the mark in engaging the reader. Others aren’t what were expected or were picked up out of curiosity and once that has been quenched, we let it go.

I’ve dropped books for all of the above reasons. Goodreads created an infographic outlining the top books that readers admit to abandoning and the top reasons why. http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/j-k-rowling-e-l-james-lead-most-abandoned-books-list_b73806

But as I glanced across the data, I cringe at one particular stat. The top abandoned Classic book was Catch-22. Heller’s curse strikes again and apparently I am not the only one.

 Catch-22 is one of my all-time favorite books. And I have never finished it.

Every time I sit down with the book, I get sucked in and aim to read it all the way to the end. I love the characters, the ideas, the style.

And yet, something always happens. I don’t put the book down for any of the reasons stated in the Goodreads graphic. It has always been an outside influence that draws me away and somehow I never get back to it. I’ve had family issues, school commitments, random acts of god, etc… and it all ends the same with Catch-22 tucked back into the bookcase unfinished and mysterious.

One might suggest I just sit down and focus on reading it. After all, it is a short book. I could have it finished within one dedicated day. And perhaps I could have done so several years ago, when I had reached the second or third instance of abandonment.

But now, I am almost frightened of the book. What happens if I do finish it? Has the universe conspired to prevent me from finishing this book? If I complete it, would I break the curse or unleash a great cataclysm that no one would see coming?

Can I risk it?

So, Catch-22 is still on my bookshelf. Maybe someday I will read it all. But if I do, I will make sure to let you all know, so you can prepare–just in case.

Posted in writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Shame in Reading

Posted by erinlausten on August 22, 2012

Prior to 2011, I was a reader, period. I had aspirations to eventually try my hand at writing a book, but those were dreams better left for fantasies in the dark of the night. But I was, most definitely, a reader. Having spent a good portion of my 20s at the University, I also read a ton of stuff that was “good” for me. I think my favorite was the Soviet era lit; they were so wonderfully perverse. But as soon as the semester ended, I was cracking open my romance novels and inhaling the “bad” stuff.

And during all that time, I always had that feeling that I “shouldn’t” be reading those books. That a highly educated, socially responsible person shouldn’t waste their time on such drivel. But I loved them. I mean LOVED them. I could read three books in one sitting. On many nights I would look up to realize dawn had come and my eyes had dried out.  I would still do it, if I didn’t have a five-year-old that insists on a keeping mom to a reasonable schedule.

When I would purchase those books, I always hid them in my arms until I reached the register and tried not to make eye contact with the sales clerk. And I definitely did not read them on the bus unless I could scrunch my body so no one could see the cover.

Then something crazy happened. I started writing. And I discovered that all my friends read them too! Suddenly I understood how romance could control 13.4% of the consumer market. Everyone had a dirty little secret, but no one talked about it. They may discuss it with close friends, but they weren’t parading around town, bodice rippers in tow, showing the whole world their reading pleasure.

Fast forward to 2012. Suddenly, we find women reading Fifty Shades of Grey in public. Be still my beating heart, the secret is out.

People are appalled. The attacks are in full force. It is badly written, the story trite, the characters unreasonable and unbelievable. In all ways it should never have sold one copy let alone millions! Now, to be fair, I read the first book and my opinion….eh… not my kind of book. But I wasn’t a fan of Twilight either. There just aren’t enough explosions. (Have I mentioned I love explosions?) And honestly, most of the people I have spoken too are happy that she ran from him, but I would far rather that she’d turn around, beat him senseless and given him a true lesson in the power of a submissive. But that’s just me.

My personal opinions aside, one thing I can’t stand is the detractor’s claim that there is no redeemable value to the book. Really? None? So this and any book like it is being read by millions and they are getting no benefit from it? Then why are they reading it?

There’s more going on here than a story that I didn’t like. I think a recent Newsweek article hit on a few of the reasons behind the popularity. You can read that here.  I’m not going to go into specifics and the main reason is because I think the issues are significantly more complex regarding the why behind 50 shades, but that dialog is fantastic! Because it is encouraging us to think about the processes behind what we love or why we are drawn to the books we read.

I think there is this assumption that people read the “crap” simply as a means to brain dump, escape, or simply to satisfy a pleasure seeking part of their brain. This may be true. But what are we escaping? I don’t read romance novels to escape the life I live with my husband. Shoot, he’s a pain in the ass, but the romance I have experienced with him is significantly more intense and moving than those I read on the page.

Reading impacts the way our brain processes ideas, concepts, and emotion. It allows us to explore the variety of emotional options in a safe environment. I can be terrified without having to face down a real knife and fall in love without the anxiety of really making a relationship work. My brain is practicing. It’s like the difference between running on a treadmill and running from an African lion; it mimics reality without really tapping into reality.

The question when it comes to the popularity of 50 shades or any book is what has that book tapped into that is shared by so many? I may not understand it myself in the same way I can’t understand people that prefer running to biking. But I know that they are getting something from the book that is similar to what I get from my preferred reading material.

I believe there is redeemable value to 50 shades. Love it, Hate it. I don’t see that it matters. Because there are so many things that I love that someone else can’t understand (Doctor Who being one for sure). But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a value to it.

The biggest lesson I have drawn from this is I don’t need to be ashamed of what I choose to read. It may be a zombie novel, a comic book, a steamy romance, or an old classic. One could get into the argument that one may be better for my brain than another, but that is certainly a discussion for another day.

Posted in reading, reflection, romance, writing | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Side effects

Posted by erinlausten on April 25, 2011

It has been a while since I have written about my writing. Trust me, I haven’t slowed down. Actually I have been going gang busters, but with my head down and plowing through the manuscripts I didn’t take the time to reflect on the process as much as I had in the past. But now, now I have something really interesting to report.

When I am in heavy revision/editing mode it is extremely difficult to read other people’s work. I have been working on two books. One a novella I expect to release as an e-book in May, the second a full length urban fantasy novel I expect to release sometime this summer. Revision is fun. For me at least. It is like picking apart a puzzle. I get to use the analytical side of my brain and really work sentences into something real and enticing. It’s hard work. And I find as I practice I am getting better. This doesn’t mean I don’t love the initial creative phase when I lay the story on paper. I love that part too. One deals with possibilities the other takes them and makes them a reality. Together they make the whole.

But what about reading? Well, since I am in full analytical mode I find myself rewriting everything. Other people’s work included. So I sat down to read a book to relax and found myself rewriting their sentences. I couldn’t get involved in the story. I got sucked into the words. And I had to stop.

Eventually I found the switch that allowed me to let it go and just read, but it was a real eye-opener. And it illustrated how interesting the brain can be. I mean I never knew I had to turn one side off to use the other. Learning how to do it on command is even more difficult. I don’t know that I will ever be able to do it instantaneously.

So tell me, have you ever experienced something like this? Has your brain ever refused to cooperate and how have you learned to flip the switch?

Posted in editing, reading, reflection, writing | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »