Saturday, July 12, 2014

Writing on the Fly

Scott D. Parker

Last week, I mentioned that I was starting a new job this week. Well I have and it caused some disruption here at the homestead. Nothing bad, but me and the family have had to adjust to the new normal. The new normal for me is that I have a lot less free time now. Again, not a huge deal--I get to ride my bike to work! And come home for lunch!--but I am in the process of figuring out where and when to write.

Well, the first couple of days, I started writing at 10am. When I start my day at 6am (that's normal) and start my workday at 7am (that's new), starting to write at 10pm posed some challenges. Throw in a old dog who needs help getting outside to pee and you can imagine the weariness is a factor. Okay, so lunch would seem like an obvious time to write but I come home to be with the family during that hour. Family 1, Writing 0. Throw in the family time during and after dinner and you can see why 10pm is, for now, the only good time to write.

Here's the thing about that: I did it before, the 10pm thing, back in 2005/2006 when I wrote my first book. But I've been a morning writer pretty much ever since. Time to do it again. But the thing I've already figured out is that with weariness knocking on the door, it's not time to *start* thinking about what to write, it's only time to write. Thus, I need to know, going in to a writing session, what I'm gonna write.

Thus, outlining, or, in my case, scene creation. Even if I don't know all the scenes, I tend to keep just a few scenes ahead of my present location. Often times, throughout the day, I have a spark of an idea for an upcoming scene. How to capture that now that I'm in an office nine hours a day? That's where my iPod Touch comes in. I have started keeping my notes in Google Drive and when I'm on a break, I just open up the file, type in the note, and then get to it later that night. Granted, it's not perfect, but, so far, it's worked for five days. We'll see how it goes. Another thing I started doing is copying my current chapter from Scrivener into another Google file so, if I have a five-minute break and I want to work on an actual chapter, I can just start writing and copy back into Scrivener when I get home.

For you writers with a full-time job that isn't writing, how do you work in your fiction writing time? What tools do you use?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Everybody loves some novel, sometimes...*

By Russel D McLean

I have a nightmare.

Not the one involving snakes.

Not the one involving Jay Stringer and Dave White's disturbing burlesque routine.

But rather the one where I finally get found out. The one where people realise I was faking being a writer all along. Where they call me out on years of bullshit.

Its a fear common among us all. When someone doesn't like our work, we wince and get this feeling like someone kicked us in the heart. Even when that criticism is wrapped up with good stuff there's a feeling like, you know, we failed somehow with just this one person.

And you know, what I've realise over the years is you either get used to that feeling or you night as well pack up your keyboard and go home. Because part and parcel of being a writer is dealing with criticism. I watched recently as a would-be writer kicked back against someone who gave them a professional report on their work.I won't go into details but it got me thinking about how we react to criticism, particularly early on in our careers.

Now I get the emotional reaction to criticism, but here's the thing: if one reader thinks there are issues, you can guarantee others will.  And you can either feel strongly enough that other readers will understand your work, or you can listen to the critism and learn from it.

Early in my career I signed with an agent who worked with in house editors. The first editor - who persuaded the agent that I had something - loved my work and gave me a lot of constructive advice that finally made its way into what would become The Good Son. The second editor had a hand in booting me out of that agency because they didn't like what I was doing and wanted me to write a very different kind of novel. Now that novel would have probably got me a huge six figure deal but it wasn't the kind of novel I wanted to write. I stuck to my guns. And got booted off that agent's list. Quite unceremoniously.

But I didn't call for the editor's head. I didn't gnash and wail and grind my teeth (in public). I looked at the reasons I got booted and weighed them up. I wondered whether there were things I could learn. In the end I took a few of those things and made the novel stronger, but I learned that sometimes people just aren't going to react to your manuscript. And that different folks have different tastes.

I took my keyboard and walked away from that one.

In another case, I sent a manuscript off to someone whose opinions I trusted. They came back and told me the book wasn't worked. I was gutted. It was a good book. I was sure of it. But I couldn't be sure. So I went through the manuscript looking at the points they suggested. And sure enough there were issues there. And in this case the person was right to tell me I maybe needed to restructure and restart. Sure, I could have sold the novel, according to this person, but it would have been for a pittance and it wouldn't have gotten the kudos that was clearly deserving of the story. I needed to re-examine it. I needed to really really re-examine it.

This time, I followed the advice.

And the book that emerged was, I think, better.

What I'm saying is this: at every stage of your career you will get criticism. Some of it will be as meaningless as a ranty one star review on Amazon saying that you're "not like Rebus" but some of it might just be worth listening to. Some of it might be well intentioned or even good advice that just might not gel with your plans, but is still worth listening to without losing the plot. Some of it might even save your book.

But anyone who simply praises your work should not be listened to at all. I never send WIPs to friends or family. I did it once and actually got measured responses, but I need to know that the person reading my book has the impartiality of a distant reader or someone who won't take into account who I am or what they know about me. Sometimes that means I get things that do not tally with my expectations. But I learned long ago that kicking up a fuss doesn't help. Listening the criticisms and asking yourself whether you think they might help your novel does.

In short, you and your novel are not special flowers. You do not get a pass just because you wrote something. You have to expect criticism. You have to expect to be imperfect. And you have to expect that sometimes you will learn from that.

*with huge apologies to Dean Martin...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Strangeways, Here We Come

By Alex Segura

My day job - and some of my writing life - occurs in the land of comic books. Like I noted last time, I do publicity for a living. In the world of comics, that means conventions. We’re in the midst of prepping for the mother of all comic cons: Comic-Con International: San Diego. It’s a week-long marathon of meetings, panels, social gatherings and two-minute conversations. It’s a blur. By the end of it, I usually start to wonder if my life at the con - waking up early, standing around a convention center for 10 hours, going to panels, going to dinners, seeing people I only interact with via email in person, living out of a suitcase in a hotel - is now my “real” life. You’re there that long. It’s fun to see old friends and so forth, but the trip is exhausting and there’s little room for rest or quiet contemplation.

But this is a crime fiction blog.

Working toward San Diego got me to thinking about events and conventions for authors in general. Whether it’s a big one like BEA or genre-specific ones like Bouchercon - or if you’re doing a reading at your local bodega: events matter. They connect you to your readership in a very personal and direct way.

I’ve had the pleasure of doing a lot of events while promoting my first novel, Silent City. I imagine I’ll do as many or more to push the second book when it’s ready. I like them. I’m a people person and enjoy making new friends, connections and networking with other authors and publishing folk. That being said, events are really exhausting. Your brain has to be turned up a notch and you have to be doubly mindful of everything you say, do and so on. But the fun and potential upside outweighs any of those concerns.

So, with “con season” in full swing and with books launching weekly from author friends - new and vets - I thought it’d be a good time to share my experience and tips about events, from readings to panels to just walking the floor.

Be concise. This applies to a lot of appearances, but mostly panels and book readings. Leave people wanting more. For panels, you don’t want to be seen as the guy hogging the limelight. When reading from your book, you want people to be intrigued but not looking at their watch. For readings, I usually stick to 3-4 pages. Maybe a few more if I have more time. You want to give readers a taste of your work - ideally a good one! - and leave them curious enough to buy the book. You don’t want them wondering where they should go for dinner after or if all the readers are going to take this long. Panels are trickier because you’re not in complete control - you have to play off a moderator (some are great, some not-so-great), fellow panelists and the audience. You will get questions from left field. You may not get to share that great joke you thought about on your way to the event. Roll with it. Be yourself, make sure you’re not taking up more time than you should and, most importantly, have fun. The audience can tell.

Don’t be a promo bot. Fans go to events, cons, etc. to interact with their favorite authors, meet new authors and make new friends. They don’t want to hear a pre-packaged blurb about your book, nor do they want everything you say to tie back into your book. Be yourself. Mention your book when relevant but also allow yourself to riff on things that show you’re more than the writer of Book X - music, TV, hobbies, sports. Fans want to feel like they know you, and if they do, they’re more inclined to become supporters of your work - especially if the work is good.

Mix and mingle. Not every event is going to center around you. As noted above, you will probably have to share the stage with other authors, critics or editors. These are not bad opportunities. It’s good to show yourself and your work in a greater context. I relish these opportunities because they allow me to show that I’m part of a much bigger writing community and fit in with various groups. Not long ago, a few writers and I did a really fun Latino Crime Writers panel in Astoria, NY. Low key, very thoughtful and engaging - one of the best panels I’ve ever been on. I think it was a good example of how to pool your audiences with fellow authors and showcase a larger literary picture. We all sold some books, had some laughs and enjoyed each other’s company for a bit. So, play nice. It helps.

Let people know what you’re doing. I know I yapped about social media a while back, but seriously: you cannot complain about no one showing up to your event/panel/signing/rodeo if you didn’t promote it. Talk to the venue and see how you can help. Plug it - reasonably and regularly - via your channels. A lot of times, venues depend on the authors to do the heavy lifting in terms of promotional support. It’s a hard balance to strike, because I for one hate to seem like I’m begging people to come see me blather on about my book. But if not me, then who? Get past the ego part of it and push the event. At the end of the day, it’s better to feel like you sold your soul a bit to the publicity gods than bummed because no one came to your signing.

Be nice. Conventions and most events are supremely tiring. You’re on little sleep. Your feet hurt. You’re nervous. You see that annoying person from college in the audience and are feeling weird. It’s stressful. There’s a lot going on. But never forget: you’re there for the readers. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Spend that extra second with the person talking to you about their cat's health issues. Give advice to the guy asking what he should do with his manuscript. Be present. Fans will remember that and you’ll feel more successful about your interactions with them. Readers are what help us keep writing. They buy our books and support us and often befriend us. Don’t make them feel like an annoyance because you just want to get through the whole thing. If it’s that annoying, don’t do it. But if you’re there - make it count.

My writer friend Chuck Wendig also had an excellent post at his blog about conventions and panels you should all check out.

What about you, fellow readers? Share some of your event experiences - either as an author or attendee.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Little Bit About Mistress of Lies

By Holly West

Before I begin, I'd like to point out two posts by my fellow DSDers that I liked this week:

Escaping the Politics of Writing
Sandra Ruttan examines the Hachette/Amazon dispute and makes what I believe are some good points.

Debut Author Month in Pictures
Krisit Belcamino shares some of the highlights of having a book out. Being a debut author is fun!

Soon, I won't be a debut author anymore. On September 29, 2014, my second book, Mistress of Lies comes out. I want to savor the experience as much as possible, because it'll probably be a long time before another book is published.

I don't say that to be pessimistic. It's a fact. I don't plan on pursuing a contract for another Mistress of Fortune book and I'm only half-way through my first draft for a new series which will (hopefully) find a home with a new publisher. Despite the fact that I'll have two books out in 2014, things take time in the publishing world. Lots. Of. Time.

Mistress of Lies started out being a hard book to write. Let's not consider that, me being me, I made it a lot harder than it had to be. I talked to enough writers to know that for some reason, the second book is usually a tough one. While having a contract for a second book is terrific (I kind of wish I had one now), it's also daunting. Deadlines, you know? You have all the time in the world to write the first book and suddenly you've got six months to write the second one. It's skeery.

The first book, Mistress of Fortune, deals with court intrigue and a political conspiracy that rocked the English monarchy at the time (1678). It was a lot for me to bite off, especially since I'd never written a novel before. But I chewed and chewed and chewed and finally got that thing written. It's nearly exactly the book I wanted to write, but it's about as far from the "write what you know" advice aspiring authors always receive as you can get.

In Mistress of Lies, I decided to write a little bit about what I know. The story is more personal for my protagonist, Isabel Wilde, and while it still includes many of the same elements that make Mistress of Fortune memorable (intrigue and conniving at court, trysts with the king of England, that sort of thing) it stays closer to home in that Isabel must investigate the possible murder of her older brother, Adam, twelve years after it happened. When she learns that he might not have been as noble as she thought, she wonders if the truth is better left buried.

It's no accident that in the book, Adam was a goldsmith. I studied goldsmithing for several years under the tutelage of a master jeweler, Ralph Goldstein. Mistress of Lies is dedicated to Ralph, because he taught me the trade that inspired the story. I'm proud of the fact that I can make a ring using the same tools and techniques that Adam used in the 1600s.

17th century goldsmiths laid the groundwork for the banking system we use today. Historically, most merchants and nobles kept their gold in the Tower for safekeeping. But when King Charles I needed money to pay for his war with Scotland in 1639, he confiscated it. Though it was eventually returned, wealthy citizens who didn’t want their gold taken every time war broke out began placing their bullion with goldsmiths, who had the means to secure precious goods in their personal vaults. The goldsmiths issued receipts in the form of notes, promising payment upon demand. In time, it became customary for merchants and tradesmen to exchange these receipts instead of the gold itself, and eventually, the goldsmiths began reinvesting the gold on behalf of the depositor, with interest.

In the midst of the chaos wreaked by the Great Plague in 1665, I figured an enterprising young goldsmith banker could get up to some trouble. What could possibly go wrong?

Mistress of Lies is available for pre-order now.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summer Reading

By Jay Stringer

It's the time of year when people go away on vacations. So I'm told. Holiday time for me means more time to sit at my writing desk. But I gather that some people like to go to a thing called a "beach" and they like to "read" some "books."

Well, unfortunately, books are dead, so these people need to find something new.

Wait...They're not dead? Okaaaaay. Well here are some books to read this summer.

Uhh, Jay? This books been out for a while, why are you recommending it now? Well, dogs have had bollocks for their whole lives, doesn't stop them licking. Big Maria is exactly the kind of book I'd want to read on one of them vacation things. Three men who've spent their whole lives losing decide, for one moment, to think big. They set off in search of a dead man's gold that may or may not be buried in an abandoned mine. The only real problem, call it more of a technicality, is that the mine is on land that is now used by the U.S. military. It's where they try out all of their best and most explosive weapons. And they don't stop their exploding practice just for the sake of three trespassers. 

The book is noir as hell, with some real moments of pain and despair, and it's also funny, with belly laughs that'll make other people on the bus think you're a bit of a weirdo. A dying Native American, a one-armed alcoholic, and a man called Shitburger; three men and two donkeys versus the might of the largest military in history. What could possibly go wrong? 

Big Maria is The Goonies for adults, with a large dose of noir, and if that doesn't sound like the best book ever, I have no idea what's wrong with you. 

This is my current read. In what passes for summer here in Glasgow. 

I've been looking forward to this one for a while. Mcfet -aside from having good taste in which websites to write for- is one of the best crime writers on the block. Which block? The block. His previous books have all had that laid back, easy going, criminals-on-the-make feel. You know, the one that keeps leading people to comparing him to a certain Dutch master. 

From estate agents plotting to blow people up, to women dressing as nuns to pull off a robbery, to an ageing rock band getting caught up in a gang war; Mcfet's books have all had a certain feel to them, a voice that sits halfway between caper and noir. It's a voice that's cause me a few problems; the writing style is so good that more than once I've found myself internalising it and taking it onto my next project, only to have to start again once I realise what's happening. 

That's why I was so interested to hear about Black Rock. I like it when writers throw out all of the things they're good at and run in a different direction. It's a challenge and a risk. And in Black Rock, that risk has paid off. One of the best compliments I can pay is that it feels exactly like a John McFetridge book, even though it doesn't fit snugly next to any of his previous ones. The voice is there, the tone is different but recognisable, and the prose is as cool and easy as ever. 

Black Rock is set in 1970, in Montreal. A city troubled by bombs, the FLQ, kidnapping and strikes. Eddie Dougherty ("Doe-Er-Dee") is a young cop who joined the force because he wanted to drive fast. By now, he's getting sick of driving fast. In the midst of racing around the city trying to find bombs, he stumbles somewhat-backwards into a murder mystery in his old neighbourhood. 

I'm loving it. Check it out.

Next up for me this summer will be Blessed Are The Dead, by that Ms. Belcamino that you can see linked on either side of this post. Then I'll be locking myself away in the 1980's to research the book I'm working on after my current project.

One other quick recommendation. If you like to take an iPad or a Kindle Fire away with you to this "beach" thing, then you could do a lot worse than head over to ComiXology and load up on The Mercenary Sea.  It follows a bunch of smugglers and treasure hunters tooling around the south seas in 1938. It's flippin' ace. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Escaping the Politics of Publishing

By Sandra Ruttan

I personally know people on both sides of the publishing dispute between Amazon and Hachette.

And this is one of those times that, if asked why I've foolishly decided to chime in on a bitter dispute in publishing, that I'd like to think I could say, "It's business.  It's not personal."

Here's what I know for sure:

1.  Everyone spins their own side to make themselves look better than the other guy.

2.  Authors can feel a sense of loyalty to their publisher.  Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

3.  If publishing was really treated like any other business, nobody would be talking about this issue.

Now, from what I understand, Amazon and Hachette are having a little tiff.  And the tiff is over book pricing.  Amazon wants the ability to set the prices on the books they sell.

Imagine that.  A retailer who wants to be able to set their prices.  Even if that means a deep discount.  Mmmmm, deals.  Who doesn't love a deal?  When I used to work at Canadian Tire, we could look up the price info on items in the store, and see the cost.  And there were times we put things below cost.  No retail markup.  A loss to the seller.  Why?  Because people love door crashers.  And when they come in for one great deal, they usually buy five more things they didn't plan on.

A loss on one item turns into a profit on many more items.

I also understand that apparently, Hachette wants to ensure they generate a certain amount of revenue from sales, and they therefore want to limit Amazon's ability to reduce prices of their books.

This dispute has been going on for several months, and Amazon is accused of taking punitive action against Hachette's authors, which allegedly includes not taking pre-orders of their books, slowing delivery, and in some cases, removing the page for the books so they aren't available for purchase on Amazon at all.

Many Hachette authors have urged readers to write to Amazon** to take their side.  There's talk of boycotting Amazon and trying to get the government to intervene.

The other side says "in this war, Hachette is using its authors as emotional ammunition. Hachette wants to control the price of its titles and keep those prices high, while Amazon wants to keep those prices reasonable. You may not realize this, but when Amazon discounts books, authors (and Hachette) still get paid the full amount."

They have a petition, and thousands have signed it.

Now, between work, family, editing and occasionally trying to write something myself, I don't really make a lot of time for all the online stuff anymore.  However, this dispute has been on my radar, because it's been able to reach even my limited online sphere.

There hasn't been a pissing match like this in publishing since sock puppets.  And that means this is a pretty big, as publishing disputes go.

And that means that chiming in on the subject is something I shouldn't do.

However, I'm going to share a few thoughts for readers to consider.

#1.  In any other business, a dispute between vendor and supplier could mean delays or inability to fulfill orders through that vendor.  Business is business.  I realize authors and readers can feel very emotional about their books, but Amazon is a business and Hachette is a business.  This is business.  And it really isn't abnormal.

I mean, seriously people, the fact that one retailer isn't selling a certain book or books isn't surprising.  Brick and mortar stores carry stock with publishers they have deals with.  And I do recall there's a standard policy about cost minimum and returns.  I remember when my first book was coming out, from an unknown publisher who were using POD technology.  They couldn't match the standard cost minimum, so retailers wouldn't carry the book.  They weren't the only publisher with that issue.

Look, I'm not with them now, and what transpired in that experience is water under the bridge, but nobody was writing letters crying about how readers were being hurt because vendors weren't making all books available to them.

Amazon may be the first company ever to offer all books from every publisher for sale, or to come close to doing that.

And if all of that is making you go cross-eyed, just consider this:  there are still places in the world that insist on selling only Pepsi products and won't let me buy a Coke instead.  Seriously, are people writing letters over which beverages are offered at the local restaurant?  Are people crying about the fact that their restaurant isn't offering them every option?  Is anyone boycotting them?

#2.  Amazon knows how to sell books.  And I think they've handily proven that they know how to do this so well, that prior disputes between publishers and Amazon have resulted in wins for the retail giant.

Here's all I really know.  I've had a lot of bad experiences in publishing.  With book #1 vendors weren't carrying my book, limiting it's ability to be sold and to earn profit.  And I was essentially an outcast in the publishing community because I wasn't with the right publisher.

I moved on to a NY publisher.  My books were in airports, and they were in libraries and bookstores.

But by book #3, it was nearly impossible to buy a copy of one of my books.  Eventually, I learned it was down to disputes between the publisher and the distributor.  Did it hurt me?  Sure.  But that's the way it goes in business.

My publisher went bankrupt, and I went through a long period where I considered those books a loss, and didn't hold out any hope of getting any further royalties or seeing them available again.

And then Amazon came along.  And they offered a deal and bought the rights from my former publisher.

I have a few things I've self published on Amazon, and books Amazon has the rights to.  And after a few years with Amazon, I've reached a few conclusions.

Every so often, Amazon promotes one of my books with a special sale price.  As a result, one of my books reached the top 40 in Kindle sales.  Not within a genre.  Not top 40 in Canadian-detective-serial killer-BC Coast subcategory.

Top 40 of all Kindle sales.

During the months that Amazon promotes my books, my sales increase astronomically.  And my overall royalties increase astronomically.  My payout for March, when my book was promoted, was 12 times what my payout for May will be.  Additionally, when Amazon promotes one of my titles they hold the rights to, my sales increase overall, and my royalties for my self published titles for March were more than 7 times the anticipated payout for May.

Amazon knows how to sell books.  And when they discount my books, they don't hurt readers by making my books cheaper, and they don't hurt me.  Just the opposite.

I understand that authors do feel a strong sense of loyalty to their publishers.  I also understand that traditional publishers have had the ability to make or break an author to a far greater extent in the past.  They choose to push some books for awards, and choose some authors to send on tours, and sometimes, they choose to pay for advertisements for certain books, and pay for displays in bookstores.

I understand that if a traditional publisher has done all those things for you, and brought your sales to the point where you can earn a living from writing, that you're going to feel a sense of obligation.

And I understand some people will assume I feel a sense of obligation to Amazon.


I feel gratitude.  I'm appreciative.  My experiences with Amazon have been the best of my publishing career to date.

But Amazon has never asked me to wade in on publishing matters, to take sides, or to take any action in their defense, or involved me with the business side of things.

I'll never be the sweetheart of the writing community, and perhaps this post can add to the numbers of people who've spontaneously stopped talking to me over the years.  (You see, in my experience, publishing has cliques and the rules of high school apply.  Some people are popular.  Some aren't.  Some people are fantastic, genuine, and would give the shirt off their back to help someone else.  And some aren't.  Some people will accept that a review is business and as long as it's an assessment of the text, it isn't personal.  And some people say any negative review is wrong wrong wrong.)

I've learned over the years that some people take everything about publishing personally, so some people aren't going to like this at all.

However, publishing is a business, and I think that if we apply business logic to publishing disputes, it's better for everyone.  Most of all, it's better for readers to not feel manipulated or pressured by these disputes.

I have enough drama elsewhere in my life, and I didn't start writing a book to live in a publishing industry soap opera.  I'm pretty sure that, like me, there are many people out there with their own personal struggles and challenges to deal with, that don't feel they have much energy for all this crap.

I think it's an absolute and total loss to everyone for there to be open letters calling for reader action or petitions online.  We are well past talking about quality books, or hot reads, or what should be trending in the book community here.  We're focused on taking sides in a pissing contest between two giant, international businesses.

Does anyone have any idea how massive a boycott would have to be for Amazon to even notice?

So in the long run, this dispute will carry on.  Each side will feel vindicated with each letter or signature or blog post supporting their position.

And readers will continue to lose.

Books used to be a safe escape for me.  I could lose myself in a bookstore or library, and imagine all the possible journeys I could take through the pages of different books.  It was the ultimate escape.

There are times I miss the days before I knew how publishing worked, before I knew people in the industry.  Before I knew about sock puppets and petitions.

Now, I pick up books, and so often they're mired in controversy or dispute or politics, and sometimes, I don't even want to read them.  I don't want to risk the act of reading this book or that book to be interpreted as an endorsement for a position or a behavior or anything else.  As an author, and not strictly a reader, how do I not consider what people will think if I'm reading Orson Scott Card or anyone else.

How do you truly lose yourself in a book when it comes to you with politics and posturing and the feeling of strings attached?

You don't.  You pull up Netflix and watch 7 seasons of Supernatural instead, because it's the honest, unfettered escape you're looking for.

** Within an hour of me drafting this post, the letter I'd linked to, with some of the authors listed, was no longer available online.  Another copy was available, but without the names of the authors supporting it.  I sourced that letter through this article

Perhaps by the time this post is live, the original letter will be available again.  I have no sense of anything occurring to effect this change and I don't care enough to spend any more time on this issue this fine Sunday.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Debut Author Month in Pictures

By Kristi Belcamino

This week will mark one month since my first book, BLESSED ARE THE DEAD, entered the world.

It has been an exciting whirlwind of small and large moments that involved much screaming and jumping up and down, such as the moment I held my paperback in my hands for the very first time.