"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, May 21, 2012

NURTURING YOUR INNER NERD by Dom Testa and A Giveaway!

Probably the coolest thing about being an author is all the other authors I get to meet. (Okay, sure, there is the getting books published and talking to kids and signing books. But still, meeting other authors is way cool.) So I have to admit I was very excited at this past TLA when I got to meet Dom Testa. Dom was a super nice guy and was going to be in Austin at my local Barnes & Noble, so I headed over to watch him speak the following Friday night. Dom is funny and engaging, and I have to tell you, he had the audience hooked!

THE COMET'S CURSE by Dom Testa (Tor Teen, 2009)

I read THE COMET'S CURSE, the first book in his GALAHAD Series, about two years ago. It's a fabulous book aimed at the MAZE RUNNER, BLACK HOLE SUN, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, EARTHSEED, and HUNGER GAMES crowd. It's full of high action, deception, and mystery! I loved the book from start to finish, and now I am happy to offer up a SIGNED copy for you guys! But first, Dom has agreed to stop by for a fabulous guest post (and I do mean fabulous!).

So with no more hesitation, here is Dom!


Nurturing Your Inner Nerd

It’s a treat for me to contribute to PJ’s blog because she has one particular trait that resonates with me. For years I’ve declared that I’m not only a nerd, but proud of it. Well, PJ and I share that gene, and it’s likely why we do what we do.

Allow me to explain how nurturing your inner nerd could be just what you need to jump-start your writing. What is it about nerds that foreshadows literary success? A google search of the term revealed a list of characteristics, and I’d like to focus on three of them.

(1) Nerds show a pronounced interest in things that others might find dull or boring.

Do you get excited about the sales data of Hush Puppy shoes and how it compares to a syphilis outbreak in Baltimore? Well, maybe you should. Malcolm Gladwell thought about this stuff, and while his friends were probably at the bar partying, he curled up with his word processor and promptly put that kinda stuff into his book called The Tipping Point and sold two and half million copies.

Sure, nerds show a pronounced interest in topics that others might not find interesting. But isn’t that what makes a truly terrific writer? Someone who can take what we might consider boring, and spin it into gold?

I would never have dreamed that I’d like a dark, violent book about life under the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then I read The Kite Runner and I was left gaping.

(2) Nerds sometimes display symptoms of obsessive-compulsive-disorder by showing extreme interest in rules.

Oh yeah? You mean the writing rules that have been pounded into our heads, like keep your butt in the seat, or never edit while writing?

Forget those. I prefer these writing rules:

Elmore Leonard: Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.

Kurt Vonnegut: Start as close to the end as possible.

Or Hemingway’s rule: I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of s@#t. I try to put the s@#t in the wastebasket.

Personally, as a writer I try to follow a rule that I stole from an old Turkish proverb: No matter how far you’ve traveled down the wrong path, turn back. For me it means that no matter how many pages I’ve written in what’s obviously a lackluster scene, I go back and take another route. Agreed, fellow nerds?

(3) Someone who is unable or unwilling to follow trends.

I say hooray for not following trends! This is where some writers have lost their nerd compass. They get distracted by things like, oh, paying the rent and putting food on the table, so they cave in to the temptation to follow the crowd. It’s why there are now five million vampire novels, and soon we’ll see ten million “mommy porn” novels in the mold of Shades Of Grey.

The most inspiring nerds are the ones who START a trend. Hello? Steve Jobs, anyone? George Lucas?

If the worst thing I can be accused of as a nerd is that I don’t follow the crowd, I say hallelujah.

Those are just three traits that, as writers, we should celebrate. The reason I was instantly drawn to PJ when I met her is that she radiates exactly the kind of energy and nerdiness that I admire. It’s why she’s usually the most interesting person in the room, and why she’s a successful writer.

(insert comment from PJ: Seriously, how nice and awesome is that to say!! I am all happy inside!)

So tell me: are you nurturing your inner nerd? Are you able to recognize the traits that inevitably will lead to a published book in your future?

Or are you caught up in trying to avoid society’s negative association with the word nerd? Please don’t. Own it; embrace it; nurture it.

But still keep your butt in the seat.

Dom Testa is the author of the award-winning Galahad series of young adult books from Tor/Macmillan, including The Comet’s Curse, a Top Pick from the American Library Association.

He’s also the founder and president of The Big Brain Club, a non-profit foundation that helps young people recognize that Smart is Cool. More information about Dom, his writing, and his foundation can be found at www.DomTesta.com.


Now for your chance to win a signed copy of THE COMET'S CURSE! It's easy! Two things to note...

1) This giveaway is open until 12:01 am on June 2, 2012
2) Contest is US and Canada only!

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!


Tina B said...

Great post. I don't know if I can technically be classified as a nerd, but I definitely do not follow any trends. ;)
This sounds like a wonderful series and I will be adding it to my TBR pile.
How many books do you have planned for this series, Dom?
Thank you for the opportunity to read one of them.

PJ Hoover said...

Hey Tina, thanks for stopping by! The series is great. My son is reading now and loving it. And I think this finishes off the series.

Holly Bryan said...

FABULOUS guest post, I absolutely love it!! I wish that ALL of our young kids (especially our girls, wouldn't that be wonderful) could learn to nurture their inner nerds. I abhor the trend in our country that has seen "elite" (who doesn't want to be at the top?!) and "brainy" and "intellectual" become bad words! I will absolutely raise my son with these characteristics in mind, Mr. Testa. Thank you for a great guest post, and I'm so glad I've just stumbled on your blog, Ms. Hoover!

(PS - FYI, I follow via GFC (Holly))

PJ Hoover said...

Hey Holly! I loved the guest post, too :) I find it very fun being a nerd and love telling kids about it proudly. Thanks for stopping by!