Lipstick & Danger

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For the last two days I filled in for a librarian at the local junior high.  One of my tasks was to do a copy status on three book cases of books.  In other words I had to go into the computer and make sure there was a form on file for that particular title so students could check them out.  There was everything from The DaVinci Code  to the Twilight  series. The first three hours I sat alone, beeping in the information needed to keep the novel on the shelf.  My progress got slower and slower.  I found myself reading the backs, the insides and the covers of all these amazing authors.  I really tried to keep a running list of books I should read to break into the YA market. (Granted not all of these books were YA.  They were just listed as such so kids wouldn’t check out books their parents objected to.) Needless to say after a while the titles, the authors and the beeping computer became mind numbing.  
     One of the things that struck me was the vast amount of titles that were gloom and doom for teens.  I’m not talking just blood sucking vampires and stinky zombies robbing your little brother of a productive future to obtain world peace.  There were teenage beauty queens that ran away to be with their Uncle Joe’s best friend’s nephew with a police record.  Boys who traded being a good kid to sleep with the psycho deceiver girl on the pom squad only to find out she was his sister and dare I forget, the book involving cute little fairies turn serial killers with the imprint of Satan on their arms.  I mean…well I don’t know what I mean.  I overheard two girls earlier in the day trying to decide on a book.  One commented that there wasn’t enough murder and black magic on the shelf for her to chose something interesting.  
     That sounds really hopeless and depressing, I know.  However, the amount of books that could really strike a cord with young people were there as well.  The librarian had set up “hunger games” for students.  A book club met in the library after school and you couldn’t keep enough Nooks on hand for everyone who wanted them.  One student who had difficulty reading found adventure in the graphic novels available.  He came in three times in one day to check out as many as were allowed.  After gobbling them up he would deposit them in the return bin and grab more.  
     By the end of each day I couldn’t help but smile.  I love the smell of a library, the sound of pages turning and the soft chatter between students discussing some vampire’s love for a human.  It’s intriguing to listen to boys compare cars and magical weapons of someplace called…I can’t even pronounce it, from books they’ve read.  Even the tables appear to hold some magical power as students complete an assignment or search for information on Angkor Wat in Cambodia.  
     I wondered, dreamily, if I would ever have a book on the shelf with my name boldly written across the spine.  Would a tempting book jacket force students to be put on a waiting list in order to check out my novel?  Maybe some day the librarian would invite me to speak to students in her magical library, not as her helper, but as an author. I sigh at the possibility.  
     This weekend I’ll pick up the rest of my novel from my editor.  Then I can earnestly start the “rejection” process in order to get published.  With encouraging words from James Rollins and Steve Berry I look forward to having the door of publishing slammed shut a number of times until that insightful agent decides I’m worth a second look.  Until that time I will write.  I will read everything from stories about handsome werewolves to geopolitical studies of the world.  I’ll read children’s books and YA novels.  Writing magazines and those “be a better writer” books will whip me into becoming that novelist that gets her book pulled up on the computer with the words “MUST HAVE FORM ON FILE TO CHECK OUT.”

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