Posts tagged Marley Gibson
Five years after I started writing my first book, I’ve now, finally, realized that writing is a humbling experience, even humiliating. Why?
First, authors have no exposure. Okay, some do, but only if they’re represented and have best-selling works. But the majority of authors have to work for their publicity. And some, those of us struggling just to break into the business, have to spend all our time with no support. I have written and self-published two light sci-fi books in the Sue series: Sue’s Fingerprint and Sue’s Vision. I think they’re smarty, funny, and entertaining, and I have pretty good reviews so far. But my sales have no traction. Yes, I have this website, an author profile on Goodreads, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account. I tweet and post, but to no avail. I’m sure I could gain attention if I quit my day job to focus on marketing me and my books, but I can’t afford to do that right now.
Second, to restate the title of the advice book from William M. Akers, Your Book Sucks. My third book is a story taken from my personal experience. The protagonist’s name is no coincidence. After writing, I edited the book with the help from another author. Feeling confident, I sent out agent queries. Either my queries sucked, or the first few pages of the book sucked, or both, because I got no hits. Nothing. Not wanting to give up, I printed bound copies of the book, complete with cover artwork, and gave it to students in an AP English course at the local high school to read and review. They didn’t like it. Okay, it sucked. But they did give me valuable feedback. I took all their comments and suggestions, there were a lot, and re-wrote the story. So does it suck now? I don’t know. And I won’t know for a while. I’ve put it on the shelf.
Which brings me to my third point: Confidence? What Confidence? I’ve written my fourth book. It’s the story that long ago I told myself to write. It was my first idea for a book. It’s a semi-autobiographical novel of my fight and victory over cancer—a diagnosis that occurred four decades ago when I was a small child. This is a story very close to me, and I’ve finally written it. It’s almost 500 pages filled with 113,000 words! I wrote it. I put it away. I came back and re-wrote it. I edited it. Is it good? I have no idea. I think it is, but I won’t know until I ask others, which I plan to do.
Maybe I am insane for doing the same thing over again and hoping for a different outcome. Maybe I have the story that will be liked by many. Maybe I don’t. Either way, I’ll keep writing, despite it being a humbling, and potentially humiliating, experience.
This is a special book review for me.
Radiate, by Marley Gibson, is the story of Hayley Matthews; a motivated, high-school senior who makes the varsity cheer squad after years in the marching band. Her enthusiasm and dedication are infectious and have an immediate and large effect on the entire squad. But her hopes and dreams for senior year are interrupted by cancer.
What makes this book special is the way in which Hayley responds to her diagnosis and pending treatment. There is never any doubt in her mind that her cancer will be cured and she will return to the cheer squad. Never a doubt. Hayley does not go through typical stages of denial, anger, or depression. There is only one reaction to her prognosis: Beat the cancer. I admit that this is not typical for cancer patients. But it is essential for survival.
What makes me an authority on the subject? I, too, am a childhood cancer survivor.
I was much younger when I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. I did not yet have the same hopes and dreams as Hayley. I barely understood what was happening to me. But what I did have was a support group of my mother, my doctor, and many close family friends who never once wavered in their belief that my cancer would be cured. Yes, I’m sure they each went through stages of denial, anger, etc., but never in my presence. I was only exposed to unending support and determination to beat the cancer. I never had a doubt; death was not an option in my mind.
For those who have battled cancer and won, there will be little debate with my (and Hayley’s) mindset, especially for childhood cancer patients: Cancer will not win. It will not defeat me. I will defeat it, no matter what has to be done.
I have often thought about writing a book about my experiences, but I may not have to. Radiate is a book that captures everything I would, and maybe even more than I could. As I mentioned previously, at the time of her diagnosis, Hayley’s only thoughts are “get the cancer out of my leg and let me get back to cheerleading.” While going through chemotherapy, her spirits are dampened (chemotherapy kicks a patient’s ass), but she never decides to give up. Her goal remains fixed. And even after radiation therapy and the resulting hair-loss, Hayley holds her (bald) head high while she regains her strength and re-joins her cheer squad. Her determination and resolve make her a class favorite and an inspiration to all. It is this determination and never-ending resolve that is the key to coping with and beating cancer.
I probably reacted more strongly to the book than most readers will, but I was reliving my own past while reading Hayley’s story. I’m sure I smiled wider than most, cried a little more, and definitely cheered louder than most people reading Radiate. There is no way I can put a star rating on this book–there aren’t enough stars.
If you are a cancer survivor, please read this book. Smile, cry, and cheer like I did. It will make you feel great to be alive. If you are not a cancer survivor, please read the book and know that everything that Halyey goes through, and her reactions to it all, are genuine. Her story will make you feel great for Hayley to be alive.
Very rarely am I inspired by a work of fiction. Radiate is truly inspirational.
Welcome back readers! This is the fourth part of the interview with Andrew D. Carlson, author of two Earth-based, sci-fi novels in the Sue series; Sue’s Fingerprint and Sue’s Vision. Today we’ll learn more about his next novel.
Host: Welcome back, Andrew. It has been a while since we last talked.
Carlson: Thank you, I’m glad to be back. And yes, it has been a while. I was on vacation for a couple weeks and I’ve been busy editing my latest manuscript.
Host: You mentioned that manuscript last time. It’s tentatively titled Senior Experiment, correct? Is this another Sue book?
Carlson: Yes, it’s titled Senior Experiment. And no, it’s not another Sue book. This is a contemporary YA novel that stands by itself.
Host: Please, tell us about it.
Carlson: Like I mentioned last time, it’s the story of Anthony Castellano, who has his A-plus idea for the Senior Experiment project in AP Chemistry class stolen. It’s stolen by a greasy loser; Gregory Gray, who’s also known as Gregory Gay, Greasy Greg and Phlegm Boy. Greg passes the idea off as his own, impressing the teacher and pissing Anthony off. Anthony vows revenge.
Host: So this is a story of revenge?
Carlson: Well, at the same time, Anthony starts a new relationship with Amber Green, a smart, pretty classmate he’s had his eye on since the beginning of the year. So Senior Experiment is a story of revenge and romance.
Host: So Anthony beats up Gregory and kisses Amber and lives happily ever after, correct?
Carlson: Uh, sort of. Anthony doesn’t fight with Gregory… initially. Anthony knows that fighting will only hurt himself—injury or suspension, and unless he puts Greg in the hospital, Greg will still perform the experiment. Anthony wants to ruin Greg’s grade, not injure him. So he devises a plan to sabotage Greg’s Senior Experiment. All the while, Anthony’s relationship with Amber grows.
Host: Do the two story lines ever cross?
Carlson: Of course. (It would probably be really boring otherwise.) Anthony’s quest for revenge disrupts his newfound romance. Anthony allows Gregory to upset him; by the verbal taunting that Gregory serves up, and just by showing up in the same places—Starbucks, the basketball game, etc. Unfortunately, he’s with Amber when he gets upset, making their dates uncomfortable. And Anthony has to wait a week until Senior Experiment starts before he can get his revenge by sabotage. While he waits, his thoughts of Greg and the smack they talk at each other all interfere with his attention toward Amber.
Host: So Amber ditches him, correct?
Carlson: No, she doesn’t. She wants to be with Anthony, so she probably has more patience than she should. But when Anthony’s obsession with Greg makes him avoid or forget about her, Amber definitely isn’t happy.
Host: So Anthony’s caught in a vicious circle; the more he wants to get revenge, the more he upsets Amber.
Host: You said they don’t fight initially. What do you mean? Do Greg and Anthony eventually fight?
Carlson: They do, twice, but I won’t give any details.
Host: Does Anthony get his revenge and get the girl?
Carlson: Yes, justice is served, but not in the way Anthony expected. And yes, Anthony comes to his senses and does what he has to do to keep Amber. Will it be happily-ever-after for Amber and him? Time will tell.
Host: So what’s next for you?
Carlson: Through an online auction–Brenda Novak’s Online Auction for Diabetes Research, I won a manuscript critique and general mentoring from YA author Marley Gibson, author of Radiate. (Please go read that book, by the way. It is an incredible, motivating story of survival and determination.) I’ve been working with Marley to improve the manuscript. Her help has been invaluable! And I have an opportunity later this year for more reviews by my target audience—young adults in high school. Those, too, will help improve and polish the manuscript. After that, I’ll either query agents for representation or I’ll self-publish. I haven’t decided yet.
Host: Either way, good luck, Andrew.
Carlson: Thank you. And thanks for hosting these interviews. *winks*