"My Mom's a Killer," a.k.a the title of my new book

My actual mother is not a killer. She has never killed anyone, and in fact, I'm certain even if she ever tried it wouldn't work: she has back problems, you see. Keira Mendez's mom, on the other hand, is a totally different story. And what happens when she gets let out of jail and moves back home with her daughter, well...that's a whole book. And you'll have to read it if you want to know what happens ;)

The inspiration came from this article that I read, compounded with the fact I took a Creative Writing for Young Readers class this semester and needed material for a workshop. It begins,

"My mom tried to kill me when I was a baby."

We talked about great openings, and while you'll never catch me saying that something I've done is "great," at the very least it's arresting and will, hopefully, get people to read even further to see where the story is going to go.

Frankly, I'm excited to see how the story ends. I've worked on several different outcomes, and as much as I've plotted, I've reached the conclusion that I'm just going to have to write until the story unfolds itself. There are two potential endings and one of them is very me and the other is very...Carrie...

Creepy, I know.

So I'm still trying to decide whether I'm going to dip my toes into the lake of crazy or stay in my own, safe, happy little world :P (If you've never read a book I've written, which of course all except for like three of you haven't, that's a joke. For...reasons).

Whichever way it goes, though, I'm sure the writing will be a blast and I can't wait to keep going on it. The plan is to finish writing it over the summer (when I'm not writing articles and doing other things for the paper) and then for the fun part: revise!

In the meantime, I'm still trying to get an agent for "Red Rain Boots," the first novel I completed. It hasn't been going too successfully, but you know what? I'm just gonna keep trying. Because someday I want you to read my books. It'll be fun, you know? Like seeing a glimpse into my soul. So exciting ;)

In other random news, I graduate one week from today. It's time to put the books and the blog aside and buckle down for three days of finals. Hurrah!

The definition of success

Sometimes it feels like I can only process things if they are in writing. That's why, last Tuesday, I wrote down my personal definition of success...as far as the creative writing/publishing industry is concerned. Here it is:

Success is having the book published. Success is having it do well enough to be able to keep writing and selling. Success is enough to afford a small apartment somewhere in NYC, food for my table, and clothes for my body. Success is being able to continue Compassion...and more. Success is being able to help my family.

As a side note, I'd like to say that I believe that success in life is following God and honoring Him. As far as my goals as an author, though, this set represents a huge victory for me.

You see, for most of my life I've nourished the secret thought that success equals fame and fortune. To be a successful writer, I thought I had to be a famous writer, someone like J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins or James Patterson. Success meant thousands if not millions of followers on Twitter. Success meant being recognized on the street. Success meant multiple homes and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Last summer, though, I was in a counseling session and my amazing counselor said that she thought this kind of fame and fortune would be the worst possible things I could experience right now. I stopped talking and stared at her, open-mouthed. "Huh?"

She explained: if I was finding value in success, and this was my idea of success, achieving it would do nothing but make me big-headed and impossible. And if I ever lost it, I would also lose any sense of worth I felt.

I've been thinking about her words a lot. And somehow, when I woke up last Tuesday, I understood. I understood why I write: not because it is the pathway to fame and fortune (cause it's not). It all goes back to story. Ever since I was a child, I have had an obsession with stories. I used to beg my parents to tell me stories of their childhood. As I grew older, I began reading. Then I discovered movies. Then TV. In the end I was filling my mind with as many stories as possible.

I write because there are stories I want to share with the world.

But I also write because the act of writing itself is something beautiful. It is cathartic. It makes me feel alive. It is the art form that I can do...I might even venture to say I am fairly good at it.

I write because I love it. Therefore, success as a writer means being able to continue doing what I want to do: write.

I've come to realize that I don't need fame or fortune, millions of Twitter followers and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those things would be awesome, yeah. And I'm going to do my best and if I reach that type of fame, awesome.

But success, for me...success is being able to keep writing, keep loving and helping people, keep sharing my stories with the world.

'Tis the season for giving...away your heart and soul

If your heart and soul is a book. Which, let's be honest, mine totally is. Over the past year, I've been laboring over my first novel, "Red Rain Boots," (for now) and I finally put the--for now--finishing touches on it this past Monday. I made my final revisions, closed the document, and immediately began sending query letters to agents. But that's not what this post is about.

About a month and a half ago, I had the brilliant idea of giving my book to my mom as a Christmas present. This might not seem like a big move, but for the past, oh, my entire life, I've been telling her she's not allowed to read my work until it's published. Occasionally I'll send her a short story or a handful of poems (in fact, one Christmas a few years ago I gave her a stack of poems), but for the most part I've stuck to my promise: she can't read it until it's published.

I'm still not 100 percent sure why I do this; it's a combination of privateness, insecurity and the fear of becoming one of those people who writes novels that only their mother reads. That's not the plan. Not at all.

Nonetheless, I made up my mind and set about on my brilliant plan to completely surprise and overwhelm her on Christmas day. I'd like to think I succeeded.

Post by Karis Rogerson. (Click to see a video of her reaction).

The copy of my manuscript I gave my mom for Christmas.  Photo by Becky Rogerson

I spent a lot of time scheming. My father and I locked ourselves in his office and printed off all 142 1.15-spaced pages onto parchment paper, hole-punched them, tied it up with ribbon, curled the ends of the ribbon, wrapped it up. Then my father wrote: "To: Becky, Love: Santa Clause," so my unsuspecting mother would assume it was a gift from my father. The surprise was assured. Now to make sure she was completely convinced she wouldn't get my book as a present, I had several conversations with her in which I promised, time and time again, that it wasn't going to happen. And after opening a pair of sweaters from me, she was sure: her Christmas wish of getting my book wasn't going to happen.

If you've ever written a book (or a short story, or a poem, or a nonfiction essay...) you know how much you get attached to it. The characters, products of your brain, seem to jump onto the page and assume a life of their own, living, breathing and wreaking havoc with your carefully plotted out story. The whole thing becomes a part of you. It's an outpouring of your soul, and when you're done you see it there, translated into dashes and curves on a white page, and wow...it's kind of breathtaking.
It's hard to give that away. It's hard to send it to publishers and agents, and somehow even harder to give to family. Because if your own family doesn't fall in love with what you've written, well...that's a problem.
But I did it. And boy, was it worth it.