When I was in second grade the book fairy took the tooth I had placed under my pillow and left me a book. "Mom, what is this!"
"It's a book."
I burst into inconsolable tears. The book fairy had stolen my tooth. Now the tooth fairy would never come and leave me a quarter. I was forced to eat last year's Halloween candy.
This never happened.
I don't know why I love books. There is not a single member of my family that loves books -- or literacy in general-- besides me. Look, I'm not being hard on them. They are who they are. But nothing makes a child wonder if they were adopted like trying to read Chris Crutcher while their Uncle is teaching their sisters and cousins how to set a fart on fire without burning their butt cheeks.
This really did happen.
My inspiration for this meandering blog post was my trip to the used bookstore. A month ago I had left a big old bag of books because the owner was not in and purchased three books at full price.
I waited for a call about the store credit. It never came.Today I saw many of my books on the shelves. There was zero credit in the computer. I started to overact. (By overreact, I mean heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and steam came out of my ears.)
They advertise that they give 1/2 of the cover price for titles. Shipping aside, I should get about $3.50 for a book that costs $7.99. I get closer to $1.00 per book. Because I need to limit the amount of books I have-- my apartment is small -- I've decided to see it more like a swap that's good for me. I give them four books I have read, and they give me one book I haven't.
There is a limit to how much I'm willing to overlook. So, I took a deep breath and calmly shifted the stack of books I had picked out to the side, making clear that I wouldn't be spending any money.
This got the girl's attention better than if I'd shouted. She called the owner. When she returned she said, "you have twenty dollars credit."
I happily spent all of my credit plus another twenty dollars cash.
Here are titles:
The Invaders Plan by L. Ron Hubbard
Your Heart Belongs to Me by Dean Koontz
Lisey's Story by Stephen King
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
The Face by Dean Koontz
Rant by Chuck Palahniuk
Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup
And to improve my Korean for which there are no links:
Grim's Fair Tales in English and Korean
A collection of Poe's short stories in English and Korean.
Now, Book Fairy, please trade in some Laura Lipman!
Do you know who Blue October is? Of course you do. Hate Me and Into the Ocean are two songs that ought to jog your memory.
But you probably don't know them in the way you might know Brittany Spears. And it's a shame. I think they're probably writing some of the best lyrics of this generation. I'm biased, what can I say =)
But beyond inspiring me to write better, there's a really awesome story behind their success. Yep. I said success. Their songs are chart toppers. They had two hits and then nadda. The record label wanted them to be more commercial but how does one make a hit happen? Add a pop beat and sing about sex or money, or a boat =) So much so that their record label cut them loose. (Talk about rejection. Yikes!)The consensus was Blue October was a sinking ship to be forgotten.
Yet, their CDs continued to sell well and their concerts sold out. At first, the experts said it was a fluke. Blue October kept doing what it does and kept selling out concerts. Eventually, the record label came back, hat in hands, and offered Blue October another contract. While pride might have interfered, the truth is, even when your successful on your own, it's a lot easier with help. Not unlike self-published writers who break out of the pack, Blue October signed with a big name record label.
Blue October is not a household name, but this hasn't affected their success at all. They make a living doing what they love and sharing their life experiences. This what I call, a lesson in awesomeness. Speaking of awesome, this is one inspiring music video. There's another great story behind it too. If your a writer, or painter, or a traveling spoon man, what I want you to take away from this is that success isn't uninform. It var
Q: How long have you been writing? What things inspire you?
I have always loved to write and had a great imagination as a child, but it was only in the last few years that I was able to hold onto an idea, research it, and watch it come to fruition. I'm inspired by all the wonderful people I have met, all the fabulous books I've read, and particularly stories that transport us to another world.
Q: What's the most played song on your iPod or MP3 player?
Right now??? I listen to music most often when I run, Linkin Park, Muse, Prince, Tom Petty, just a lot of different things.
Q: A little birdie told me you're working on your first novel, care to share a little about this project?
The Energy Crusades takes place after the Great Oil Wars have destroyed the majority of civilization on Earth. An alien race has taken over, creating a government based on the currency- energy. All children are required to join an Energy Crusade by the time they are 18 years old. Kaia has lived her whole life as a dedicated Athlete for the Reformation Republic. Her ability to generate energy for her Grid affords her a life of privilege and celebrity. But when the Resistance attempts to capture her in the ruined city, she begins to understand that she has a bigger part to play in the struggle between the Reformation and the Resistance. She thought she knew who the good guys were, but now she's not so sure. Discovering the truth may be the key to her own identity.
Q: Who are your favorite authors? What was your favorite book as a child?
Wow, I have so many. I absolutely LOVED Mark Twain and Huckleberry Finn is my all time favorite book. I loved the Harry Potter Series, the Percy Jackson Series, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and so much more. I just finished a book called The Orphan Master's Son, by Adam Johnson, which was fantastic. I love George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series too, but darn it, I wish he would finish already!
Q: This next question is going to be a bit personal-- feel free not to answer-- but everybody is dying to know, do you prefer pop-tarts or cereal? Why?
Cereal!! I don't think I've ever eaten a whole pop-tart. We weren't allowed to have them when I was a kid.
Valerie has a background in property management and an education in food science. While studying chemistry, an idea for a story began to take root, and she has recently completed her first novel. It's a science fiction story for young adults called The Energy Crusades.
Because Valerie is both awesome and a great writer she was hired to ghost write a non-fiction project, an endeavor she's still working on. (Hopefully Valerie will come back for a second interview about ghost writing when the project is finished. I know that would interest a lot of writers.) She has a new a blog, www.noblevalerie.com which she says was inspired by my contest. (I'm blushing!) She recently attended the The Big Sur Writing Conference hosted by The Andrea Brown Literary Agency. ( In other words, the creme de la creme.)
She says, "There isn't much there yet, but I plan to work on it."
You can connect with Valerie on twitter @noblevalerie .
M.R. Jordan is a writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. Lives in South Korea with her two cats, Bear and Geumbi.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Gold in English)... then (above) and now (below).