Jenna Black's Blog Experiment

Wherein romance author Jenna Black plunges into the terrifying new territory of blogging . . .


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My Very First Book

Although Watchers in the Night is my very first commercially published book, there are lots of other books I've written that have some claim on the word "first." But none has as valid a claim as My Life in Tahiti, the "autobiography" I wrote at the age of ten. From when I was three to when I was seven, my mom and I lived in Tahiti (for reasons that will never be clear to me). In fifth grade, I decided to write the story of my life there, complete with illustrations in crayon.

More years than I'd like to admit later, I think the book is absolutely precious (if I do say so myself) and would like to share it with you. It's longer than you'd expect from a ten-year-old, so I'll probably post it in bits and pieces here and there. I've also taken some pictures of the illustrations, which I'll pepper in when appropriate. When I transcribe the text, I'll attempt to refrain from correcting my childish spelling, but I can't promise my brain won't sometimes overrule me.

So, without further ado . . .

Chapter 1: Tahiti is Beautiful

For four years of my life I lived in Tahiti. Rain comes in a flash. And rain goes in a flash. There was a gravel road in front of my house. I'd pick up shells. In that time I had many pets. I had .-: 1 rabit, 4 doves, 2 cats, (my cats had kittens) and lots of dogs. (Author's note: in the image below, the drawing is supposed to be of the gravel road with the shells in it.)

Tahiti had thousands of palm trees. (known there as coconut trees) Thow palm trees are not hard to climd, it is extremely dangerous to climd them.

Down by the sea there are coral reefs. My mother and I would walk on them and see beautifull fish. The fish are so colerful, and the coralreef is so beautiful I can not draw them. I see crabs by the doxen. There are all kinds of crabs, especialy hermit crabs.

To be continued, since I've been fighting Blogger tooth and nail for the past week trying to get any images uploaded. Now that I've got some, I want to publish this post (finally!) before something else goes wrong.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Writing to Authors

I have a good excuse for not posting to my blog in so long. No, really, I do. First, I've been teaching this online class that I've blogged about before. Then I had not one, but two "quick" synopses I had to write for books I'd thought I didn't need synopses for. On top of that, I've had a cold that's made me miserable.

Okay, now that the whining is over, on to other subjects.

Up until maybe about two or three years ago, I would never have dreamed of writing to an author to tell her that I enjoyed her work. You see, until I actually met and got to know some published authors, I had this distorted view in my mind of what they were like. I pictured them always innundated with fanmail, desperately trying to keep up with it (kind of like editors with the slush pile), wishing it would all just go away. The last thing I wanted to do was be yet another annoying fan who demanded my favorite author take time from her day to read and maybe even respond to my letter.

I'm not really sure where this distorted point of view came from, but I realize now how wrong it was. When I first worked up my nerve to email an author I didn't know personally and tell her how much I enjoyed her book, I was shocked to find her writing back almost immediately and thanking me for making her day. (Off the top of my head, I can't remember who this was.) I got a similar response the next time I wrote a short, gracious email to another author. And I realized--what a shock!--that authors actually like to be told how great their books are! They like knowing that someone has read and enjoyed them.

Ever since then, whenever I finish a book that I really love, I check to see if the author has a "contact me" section on her website. If she does, then I write her a brief note to let her know how much I enjoyed her book. Not everyone writes back, but then I don't expect them to. My goal is not to start up some kind of two-way communication with the author--though that can be nice when it happens--but to let some of the people who bring joy to my life by writing great books know they're appreciated.

So if you've just finished a book that you truly loved, consider writing the author a letter. He or she might enjoy receiving that letter more than you think.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Damsels in Distress

On one of the many loops that I belong to, a writer was talking about a Dear Abby column she'd read where a mother was concerned about her 14-year-old daughter reading romances. Apparently (and I haven't read the column to confirm this), at the end of the response, Abby stated: "Some might argue that the idealized depiction of romance, and women being 'rescued' by powerful, wealthy men, is more worrisome than the sex and eroticism."

This statement, of course, has caused a bit of a furor on the romance loops, but it got me to thinking. I've only been reading romance for about three years, having once upon a time been under the mistaken impression that they would be too "mushy" for my taste. (Who knew I was a closet romantic?)

When I read Abby's statement (and some of the responses to it on the loop), it made me realize how different romance novels must be now than they were in the past. Because these days, when I read a romance novel where a woman is in jeopardy, I always know one thing for certain: the hero is not going to swoop in and rescue her. Today's romance authors--and readers, one presumes--will not tolerate a heroine who needs rescuing. The hero can, of course, help her, but she takes an active role in getting herself out of whatever trouble she's in. And if the hero needs to be rescued himself, that's even better!

I think the strong female role models, particularly some of the kick-butt heroines we've seen on TV (think Buffy, or Sidney Bristow), have significantly changed the way the general public looks at women. And it shows just how much power we "entertainers" can have on the world at large.



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