Rob Lowe’s Book and the Writing “Brat Pack”

I never read biographies or autobiographies – I mean, never. It’s not that I have anything against those kind of books, but I much prefer fiction novels. I have to admit though, I got hooked on Rob Lowe’s new autobiography Stories I Only Tell My Friends after reading an excerpt in Vanity Fair while walking on the treadmill at the gym. The excerpt gave a behind the scenes glimpse into the making of the movie The Outsiders, based on the young adult novel by S.E. Hinton. I loved both the book and the movie growing up, and must have seen the film – which launched the careers of actors like Lowe, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, C. Thomas Howell, and Ralph Macchio – 20 times as a teenager.

I also enjoyed Lowe’s other early films, including St. Elmo’s Fire, Oxford Blues, Class and Youngblood. (Youngblood, a hockey movie, was another of my favorites in my teenage days.)

Reading Lowe’s book was like revisiting my adolescence. I found it really interesting that Lowe, the Sheen brothers, and the Penn brothers all attended the same high school and used to make amateur movies together. It was fun reading how all the actors portraying “greasers” in The Outsiders bonded as they pursued their movie-making goals together and wondered how this film would affect their futures. I also enjoyed reading about the Brat Pack and how this group of hot Hollywood actors got the nickname – a nickname that they did not appreciate. Another fun part of the book was learning about Lowe’s friendly rivalry and bantering with Michael J. Fox.

I found it admirable how unlike many of his peers, Lowe was able to outgrow his wilder days and settle down as a husband and dad. I hadn’t followed his more recent career endeavors on television shows such as The West Wing and after reading the book, I was glad to see that he’s been able to maintain his career as an in-demand actor after how hard he worked to break into show business. In fact, Lowe used to get picked on during his school days because his acting aspirations set him apart from his peers. He explains in the book that this is why he went on to form such tight friendships with other young actors as finally he’d found people who understood what he was going through – the highs and lows of auditions, the waiting for a big call, the rigorous demands of making a movie, and the wondering how this role will change your life.

This made me realize that actors and writers have a lot in common. Of course, I have some friends that aren’t in the writing or publishing business, but I also have many that share this world with me. Writing and publishing is not a 9-5 job. It’s a different sort of lifestyle fueled by creativity, head-in-the-clouds daydreaming, determination, and discipline. In my every day life over the years I’ve met a few people that write fiction and are pursuing publication, but not many and most aren’t as driven about it as I am. In my twenties, sometimes I felt like I was the only one who had this intense goal of making it as an author. (though obviously I wasn’t the only one, since there was so much competition to get an agent or land a publishing contract.) But it was easy to feel that way.

Thanks to writing organizations and the Internet, I no longer feel isolated. Truthfully, I know a heck of a lot more authors than non-authors. There’s my longtime critique partner and buddy Carol Baier – we’ve been critiquing each other’s books via e-mail for 9 years. Then there’s Hilary McGowan, whom I met in 2005 at the Malice Domestic Convention when we were both named as recipients of the William F. Deeck Malice Domestic Grant for new mystery writers. She is one of my closest friends and luckily, I even get to see her in person sometimes. (and speaking of the Brat Pack, Hilary has got a chick lit book that will knock your socks off! More on that when it comes out.) I’ve also found many friendships at Bestseller Bound, a site that brings together indie and small press authors and readers. Darcia Helle founded the site with some input from myself and Maria Savva, though Darcia and Maria have really kept it going. How lucky I am to have found such great friends in Maria, Darcia and everyone over at Bestseller Bound.

In addition, I’ve met wonderful authors and friends through Sisters in Crime, the Guppy subgroup of Sisters in Crime, and at the Kindle Boards. Recently, I got together with several of my fellow authors from Mainly Murder Press and we held a marketing brainstorming session amongst ourselves, followed by a well-attended panel discussion and book-signing for the public. What would I do without my inner circle and larger circle of writing friends, who understand what it takes to write a publishable novel, the ups and downs of submitting to agents, publishers and/or being an independent publisher, the overwhelming amount of promotion and marketing needed to make a career out of writing books, the joys of selling a thousand Kindle books in a month, and the frustrations of a slow month?

Our addiction is checking Kindle sales figures and Amazon rankings several times per day. We obsess a lot and dissect these obsessions with one another, i.e. why did I sell 30 Kindle books on Monday and a mere 2 on Wednesday? You want to know when Kindle authors are the most tense? The first day of the month, when Amazon sales reports start over again at zero. You sold 2000 books last month? That was then. This is now. Today you’re at zero. We all understand that relief of getting the first few sales of the month and seeing the numbers climb back up again. And when they don’t climb up… well, we’ve been there also.

In this age of the Internet, authors hang out in the same places. It’s not uncommon to see the same names over and over again on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon forums, various Yahoo groups and message board communities, and in the same newsletters and ad sites. Essentially, we’re one big pack, but it’s a friendly, welcoming pack. We share each other’s tweets on Twitter, like one another’s Facebook pages, team up for blogging events, on-line chats, and local book signings, review one another’s books, and hang out at the bar during writing conferences. Yeah, we may get a little “bratty” if we receive an unfair one-star review, but only in private with one another. To the world, we must present a professional demeanor. To each other, we can be neurotic and analytical.

Thanks to my fellow authors for all that they do. And thanks to my non-author friends and family, who help me to take a break and remind me of what’s truly important.

As for Rob Lowe’s book, if you’re a longtime fan of this actor, a new fan, or someone who is working hard to fulfill a dream of your own, I’d recommend it. He has an interesting story about the importance of being true to yourself and staying on the right path, a reminder that all of us could use from time to time.

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  1. HI Sarah,
    I’ve been thinking about getting this book. I’ve always had a thing for Rob, and I saw him talking about the book on Ellen. It’s one of those, maybe next week I’ll have more time, kind of things. But now that I read your post, I know I’ll get it.
    I also want to say that I love the rest of what you wrote. It’s really nice when you’re treading water to look around and find someone else from the same boat. I’ll check out you books, sites and whatever else you have out there. You have a new Fan! : )
    – KT

  2. I almost Fan’d the wrong person, good thing I took another look. The post was supposed to be to Stacy. Sorry about that.

  3. Thanks so much for reading and for your nice words, KT. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and the book was a fun read. I would’ve liked to see that Ellen interview. My guest author for the previous post was Sarah, so I can see the confusion! Stacy, Sarah – too many S names!

  4. Great Post! Definitely true many people really don’t know what our lives as writers are like, and I also wanted to thank you for my new “writer friend” friendship with you thanks to VoiceBoks, I’m going over to check out Bestseller bound shortly.Many blessings to you!

  5. I enjoyed yur review and your commentary on your own life. There is something very comforting when you find a group of people who just get it. Whether it be in acting, writing or being a mom. I think that connection is so vital to me as person and to grow in whatever endeavor I’m prusuing. Thanks again for some great insigts. I was never a huge Rob Lowe fan in his early years but I loved the West Wing. Have a great Sunday!

  6. Thanks so much for coming by, Heather and Kathy, I’m so glad to have met both of you through VoiceBoks, a place for wonderful connections with women who share the bond of motherhood. I love that so many of those women are also bloggers. I agree, these connections for different aspects of our lives are so vital. And Heather, would love to see you at Bestseller Bound!

  7. Darcia Helle says

    Stacy, I loved The Outsiders! That book is a standout for me as an early influence into the mystery/suspense genre.

    I’m not big on biographies or autobiographies, with the exception of musicians and musical groups. I probably wouldn’t have looked twice at Rob Lowe’s book. Now, of course, I have to add it to my to-read list!

    Thank you for the mention! I am incredibly lucky to count some awesome authors – and super nice people – as friends.

  8. Wow, I’m so glad to find you. I love this site and will be sure to be back soon! Check out my RL JULY 2011 BLOG HOP we would love for you to link up

    Reasonably Le$$

  9. I’m your newest hop follower:) check me out at whenever you can

  10. Kathleen O says

    I saw his interview with Oprah. I have always been a great fan of Rob Lowe. I loved him in St. Elmo’s fire and loved him on West Wing.. He has certainly turned his life around. I think his book should be an insperation to many who made mistakes, but who had the love a good woman to help him stay on the straigh and narrow..
    Good for him.

  11. It’s true that writing is a career of isolation. It can be crazy-making, obsessive (book sales sites are on macros!) and slightly slothful (if I start on the computer before a shower, I can end up writing in my jammies). It’s wonderful to have cyber friends who understand and support you when even your family thinks you’ve gone off the deep end. I’m delighted that I’m a MMP author, sad that I’m on the Left Coast so can’t see all my compatriots, but know that I have people like you, Stacy. Maybe we could form our own “….Pack”!

  12. I agree, Darcia, The Outsiders was a great book. I also liked Tex, also by S.E. Hinton, but The Outsiders was my favorite. I still remember the day I was visiting a video store with my parents and saw the movie on the shelf – I’d had no idea it was a movie also.

    Thanks for coming by Roechelle, I’m following you back.

  13. Those are good points, Kathleen, it is admirable when people can overcome their past mistakes rather than keep falling into the same patterns. Love the song St. Elmo’s Fire! I’m glad to have you in the MMP “Pack”, Michele! (and I work in my jammies all the time. Isn’t that the greatest job ever?)

  14. I’m a new gfc follower. 🙂

  15. Grandma Bonnie says

    This sounds like a book I need to read. Thank you for the book review.
    New follower from Tiggerific Tuesday. Hope you follow back.

  16. This book sounds really interesting. Thanks for sharing. I am following you from the hop.

  17. I agree – I have been involved with writing community’s for so long and it’s so good to know that there are other writer’s out there. Otherwise, writing can be so isolating!!

    Great blog – I’m a new followers.

    Howdy from: “Tiggerific Tuesday! Blog Hop…or Bounce.”

  18. Thanks for visiting, Chavonne, Bonnie and Nicole – am following you back! These blog hops are a great way for bloggers to find kindred spirits.

  19. Hi! I’m following from the Saturday blog hop. Hope you’ll follow me too. 🙂

  20. Hi! Following you from a blog hop!:0)
    Hope you visit me and return the follow!

  21. Hi Tanya and Dana, thanks for blog hopping over here. I am following back!

  22. thanks for that review, sounds like a good book!

    stopping by to follow your blog and say thank you for following mine!!

  23. I don’t like biographies too. Most of them are boring and try to put themselves in good light. But your review sounds like this would be a good read. Thanks!

    Bloghopping from New Friends Friday Bloghop!

    The Twerp and I

Stacy Juba