I had a swell time this past weekend speaking at the September meeting of the Los Angeles chapter of the Historical Novel Society. It took place at the Fairfax Library in Hollywood.
The friendly, welcoming members all sat around a large table. Light poured in through the high cloistered windows that encircled the round room, and the air conditioning was thankfully working—it was a stifling hot LA day.
The other speaker was Jennifer Ramos of Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena and Book Soup in Hollywood. Vroman’s has been in Pasadena since 1894! She provided a wealth of information about selling books in today’s market, and was inundated with questions from the members who are all eager to sell their books. Me too!
After I gave my presentation, which included a Q & A session, the members took turns talking about what they’re currently working on—the agonies and joys of being a writer. The subject of having someone critique your work as you go along came up; it was an interesting conversation.
- For most writers, it’s vital to have at least one other person read your work, and give you constructive criticism and feedback.
- That other person or persons should be sensitive to the author’s feelings during the process. Writers are fragile, beings about their work, and a harsh or brutal word can literally stop the process, at least for a while. (Are you listening to this, Linda? “Eeew, nobody wants to hear you talk about that,” is not actually going to help anyone that much. A simple, “Darling, oh my darling, you only ever write sublime, poetic prose,” will do.)
The discussions were lively, fascinating. Linda and I had a good time and made some new friends.
When we got home we had glass of wine and another lively conversation about the always entertaining subjects of tact and ceasefire.