Tag Archives: books

Oops!

I am sorry this post is late today. Life has gotten in the way, but in a good way. 🙂 I had a fantastically lazy and relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. I didn’t worry about very much (for a change) except reading my book and getting caught up on some chilled out family time. With all that laid back time, I just didn’t get my post done this weekend.

Then last night I went to see a production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, starring Sir Kenneth Branagh and Dame Judi Dench, broadcast from the Garrick theatre in London’s West End through a Fathom Events Live special showing at a local movie theater. It is a treat to see something like this, or NT Live’s Coriolanus, which I have seen a few times in local movie theaters. I have seen a few others and am also thinking I will HAVE to check out the Fathom Events Live broadcast of Sherlock – The Abominable Bride that will be here in the US in January.  With all the excitement of seeing the play, I didn’t manage to get anything written by the time the play was over at almost 10:30.

So even though this is late, I wanted to share a story with you from my super relaxing long weekend. Before we go to sleep at night, we take turns reading to the kids. They can read on their own, but there is something about having that time, reading aloud to the kids to get them to sleep. I have one book I’m reading to the twins and I had another I was reading for quite awhile to my oldest. He had gotten the book, The One and Only Ivan, on his school librarian’s recommendation, at the last book fair at school. We always end up spending a boatload at those book fairs by the way. 🙂

We read this book for a little while, though it is a children’s book with very short chapters. (I love short chapters for night time reading sessions!) The story is basically about this gorilla, Ivan, who has lived his life in a small cage, not in a zoo or in the wild, but doesn’t seem to mind too much until he meets a baby elephant named Ruby who needs his help. He makes a promise to his friend Stella the elephant to help save Ruby.

It’s a sweet and easy read, which I’d recommend reading, regardless of your age. What I wanted to share with you, though, was that I had one of those ugly cry moments (as Oprah might say) reading it to my son. I thought he was asleep so I’m just all choked up and unable to get any words out, then I look over and see he is waiting patiently for me to continue. It took me a few minutes to get myself under control enough to finish reading it to him.

I admire writers who can tell a story that makes a reader feel so strongly as to break into an ugly cry. I admire writers who can make a reader feel sad, or happy, or even angry reading their stories. The book I was reading myself over the weekend wasn’t the Great American Novel, but rather a feel good romance novel I knew exactly what to expect from the author as soon as I checked it out from the library.  This author may not give me much that is unexpected, but she manages to stir the emotions up from time to time in each book of hers I read.

I like reading books that make me feel and hope to be the writer that manages that for my readers someday.

Thanks for stopping by and for your forgiveness for the lateness.

Have a great week!

~CJS

NaNo Week Two & Using Adversity In Your Writing

As you know, I am participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). We’re two weeks in now with two more weeks to go. By now, according to a daily word count calendar, I should have completed 25,000 words. I have not. But I am not that far behind, only a few thousand words. Completely doable. I am not out of the game yet. 

It’s not so much that I want to “win” NaNo because I could care less about that. I just want to see if I can reach that 50,000 word mark for myself. I haven’t written every day but I’m not skipping that many days. Some days I may not write more than 200 words while the very next day I come back and write over my daily goal. I have already surpassed my total for NaNo last year, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a win already.

Currently, as I stated above, I am behind on my word count goal. There are events in my life that had to take precedence over the weekend, and they out me behind. I’d like to say these were normal every day things that just caused time to get away from me, but they were not. I’ve ridden an emotional rollercoaster several times in the last three days. This seriously hampered my desire to do anything but fall into bed and sleep until things straightened themselves out. So, writing became secondary. 

But, despite how I felt last night, I went to my bedroom where it was quiet and peaceful, grabbed my laptop, and began writing. I knew I was far behind where I wanted to be and I started to feel a little overwhelmed. After a brief Facebook writer support group meeting and a little encouragement, I calculated how many words I’d have to write over how many days and proceeded to type one word after another. It took a while to reach my new word count goal but reach it I did, and before midnight I looked at my word count total-21,000 words. It might not be 25,000 but I’m satisfied. Those words were well earned, and the writing was cathartic. 

One of the good things to come out of the dog-pile that was my weekend is all of the writing fodder. All of the emotional turmoil and fallout made for some excellent material to use in my book or in future books. My writing last night was very emotional and I think it will show later on. And in return I was able to look at what had happened through my character’s eyes. It allowed me to step back from my own perspective, view it through someone else’s, then let go of all of the stress caused by worrying over things.

Writing, even when I don’t particularly feel like it, is what I’ve learned this week. But if you persevere and just keep typing one word after another, even if they aren’t particularly good words, then you’ll reach your goal, whatever that may be.

Are you participating in NaNo, or even your own version of it? What have you learned and how is your writing going? Let me know below.

Jesi

A New Twilight?

This past week, Stephanie Meyer, the best-selling author of the teen vampire series, Twilight, upon which the blockbuster movies were based, made a big announcement.

With the 10 year anniversary of the first Twilight books’ publication, Meyer has announced a new Twilight book, Life and Death – A Twilight Re-Imagining sold in conjunction with the 10th anniversary edition . Well, it’s not really *new*, it’s a new version of the first book.

This release is not like her unreleased and incomplete version that was leaked and then given for free on her site at one point, Midnight Sun, which was told from Edward’s POV. The new re-telling is the same story with – wait for it- gender swapped characters! (Cue eye roll).

In this new book, Meyer now has the teenage vampire as a female character and the love struck human as a male. Instead of Bella, we have a Beau. Instead of Edward, we have Edythe. Other characters are also gender swapped, like Carlyle, but the story is the same.

Meyer has said that this “new book” is not really a new book and she views it as more like “bonus material”, however new book or not, it will get a lot of sales I would imagine, given the series success.

Here I will admit I enjoyed the Twilight books. I know, the writing wasn’t good. I know she totally ignored the vampire tropes and gave the world the sparkling vegatarian vampire. (Cringe) I know the female lead isn’t the strong character I prefer to read about and see portrayed in film. I know. But I enjoyed them. Yes, part of this had to do with liking the British actor who portrayed Edward in the movies. (I love the Brits okay?) It absolutely had to do with the fun of the first movie and the great soundtrack. For all of the books’ (and movies’) faults, I enjoyed them. Chalk it up to guilty pleasures if you must. I’m coming clean here. I liked Twilight. Judge me all you want. 😉

Having admitted to that, I can tell you I think it is absolutely ludicrous to re-tell the same story with changes. I’ve seen her defense that it’s a response to the harsh critisism she’s faced with her ‘damsel in distress’ main character. I think the flaws with Bella go beyond a simple gender swap to play with the weakness not being female. If she wants to respond to giving us a weak female character, she should write something entirely new with a kick-ass female lead.

If she wanted to capitalize on her well-loved existing series, she could take one of her other characters in the world she has already created and explore her story. Alice was a cool and capable character that she could make the heroine in a new series. It could still be in the same world people are already plugged into and could be either before Bella or after Bella.

She hasn’t done that with this new “book/bonus material”, so I have no interest in reading it. I hope for her that she gives her audience a better option in the future. Better yet, perhaps all the readers who fell in love with Twilight can continue enjoying all the great books that have been published since in the same young adult category that are really worth the read. Susanne Collins’ Hunger Games series is fantastic and has a kick-ass female lead. Marie Lu’s Legend series is a great read. Ally Condie’s Matched series is also great and her prose is beautiful. Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices Series are both captivating. (The Infernal Devices series was my personal favorite between those two series, by far.) I also enjoyed the very popular Divergent series but didn’t like the writing as much as others. The YA audience has a wealth of strong options to choose from, so I would say, let’s just skip this “new” Twilight book and look nearby on the shelves for another instead. 😀

What do you think? (Amanda and AJ you don’t get to chide me for my Twilight guilty pleasure! 😉 ) Is a re-tooling of an existing story ever a good idea? Does her gender swap accomplish anything? Should successful series ever be re-visited? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. (No, Amanda, nothing about the Twi-Hatred you may have haha).

Thanks for reading. Have a great week!

~CJS

6 Things Every Booklover Knows

Since Jesi wrote yesterday’s post on how you have to write to be a writer, and my writing life hasn’t been at it’s strongest these last few weeks, I chose to make today’s post about another vital component in the life of a writer. Yep, you guessed from the title, it’s reading.

Stephen King has one of my favorite quotes on the interconnectedness of being a good writer and being a committed reader.

Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life…you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.

– Stephen King

Of course I was a booklover long before I became a writer. I loved books for as long as I can remember. I can remember wanting to run away and live in a museum when I read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in elementary school. I can remember my favorite part of the day when my fifth grade teacher would sit and read to us from Shel Silverstein’s collections of poems. I can remember sitting in my sophomore English class, reading silently with all the others, but forgetting where I was as I cried reading the end of Chaim Potok’s The Chosen. I remember the all the joys of discovering new favorite authors and series along the way and the accompanying thrill of falling into new worlds and lives of interesting characters.

So what does every true booklover know about themselves and the greatness that is being a bibliophile?

1) There is NO SUCH THING as too many books.

Any true booklover knows that it’s impossible to have too many books. Our TBR list (to be read list) is always overflowing. Our bookshelves are always crammed full and double stacked. Our storage spaces frequently have more books that couldn’t fit on the bookshelves. Our friends don’t like to help us move because we are “book people” – thus we have many boxes that are super heavy. We download books on our kindles. We carry books around with us when we go to the doctor or the mechanic or the Sunday morning breakfast place that always has a wait. We ask our friends for book recommendations. We get books for our birthday or Christmas presents because our friend’s know we will love them. We love to spend time at the bookstore looking for something new, even when we have a hundred other books we still have yet to read. We can just never have too many books. 🙂

2) Just one more chapter almost NEVER means just one more chapter.

We stay up way too late, way too often because we just have to see what happens next. We tell ourselves just one more chapter, but we know this is a lie. We read one more chapter and then we know we need another and another and when the writer is really good we have to finish it all. Being swept away, as King says, is one of the joys of reading because even if we can’t literally escape our lives, we can disappear into another life whenever we want to pick up a good book.

3) Emotional trauma at the end of a good book or series is REAL.

When we find a good book or series, we have the inevitable conflict where we both want to finish it, but also really don’t want to finish it. We can’t wait to find a new favorite book or series but then when it is over, we wish we could find it again for the first time. We are reluctant to leave a world or a character so much so that we frequently have to return, sometimes again and again, but still the sadness of no new material like it can be heartbreaking.

4) The book is ALWAYS better.

We booklovers know that the book is always better than a movie or TV adaptation. We know it is hard to let go of the sheer volume of detail in the books, the ideas we have about those details, and the attachment we have to all the details. A movie cuts a major character. Unforgiveable. A TV show takes the series in a whole different direction that the books have taken you. Not unexpected but frequently disappointing. However faithful the movie/TV/whatever is to the books, the books are always better.

5) A good book can come in ALL shapes and sizes and formats.

Booklovers know that it doesn’t really matter if the book is traditionally printed, independently printed, electronically printed, 1000 pages, 5o pages, paperback, trade paperback, hard cover or coffee table sized, we love them all. Sure we may have our preference, maybe we even hold strong opinions about which are better than the other, but we book lovers will always come together on that big thing we can all agree upon, a lifelong love of books.

6) A good book CAN change your life.

We booklovers know the power that books have had in our lives. We have seen the impact books have had on those around us. We find truth in books that we may not be able to find in other places. We seek comfort in the books we read. We laugh, we cry, we get angry, and we get scared. We get new information, we get new ideas, and we get inspiration from the pages of good books. We find others who share the same love. We find places we want to explore, foods we would like to taste, and things we’d like try. We learn about ourselves and others. And sometimes we find a book has changed our life.

Are you a booklover? Any of these sound like you? Is there something I’ve left off the list? Please tell me about it in the comments. Thanks for reading and have a good week!

~CJS

10 Random but Awesome Gifts for the Bibliophile

My son just celebrated his tenth birthday today (and hubby and I are having a glass of wine celebrating a whole decade of being parents – woot woot). For his party, parents of friends attending inevitably ask what the birthday boy is into right now for possible gift ideas. It got me started thinking of gift ideas for myself, because, hey, I can’t help myself sometimes, and I do have a landmark birthday coming up before long (cough cough The Big 4-0 cough cough). For me, and for many bookish people, you can NEVER go wrong with anything book related. Thus, this random list of awesome gifts for your favorite bibliophile.

1) Maurauder’s Map Blanket (Amazon) Oh I solemnly swear I would be up to no good if someone decided to gift me with this!  What Harry Potter fan wouldn’t love to snuggle up under this blanket?

2) Where the Wild Things Are Coffee Mug (CaféPress) Let the Wild Rumpus Start! I don’t care how old you are, Max’s line from Where the Wild Things Are is still one of the coolest ever for most any occasion. 😉

3) Law office of Atticus Finch tshirt (Amazon) Some serious bibliophiles might say (not necessarily me, but some might 😉 ) : If your friends don’t get it, then they aren’t really your friends.

4) I’d Rather Be Reading Tote Bag (Barnes and Noble) The tote bag that says what we are all thinking, which can also conveniently carry our inevitable collection of way too many new books to possibly read (which nevertheless demand to be purchased).

5) Magnetic Poetry Kit Book Lover Edition (GoneReading.com) Magnetic Poetry kits are always a win with most bookish types, but then add in a nod to our passion for all things books – yes, we have a winner. I think many a bibliophile would need this in their life. I am certainly thinking I may need one. 🙂

6) We’re All A Little Mad Here Alice in Wonderland book locket (Amazon) Alice in Wonderland has many quotable quotes but this one is very popular and seems an especially apt description for quite a few of us book lovers. I know it applies to me!

7) The Strand Classic Tshirt (StrandBooks.com) What book lover doesn’t love exploring and supporting the unique bookshops? Grab a tee from a cool shop in NY as a gift and your bibliophile friend will love you. By the way, I’d like to do a tour of cool US bookshops (for starters, I’m willing to go international at some point too!) – so who’s with me?

8) Banned Book Coffee Mug (ShopPBS.org) Quick way to make a book lover’s blood boil? Talk about banning books! But since we know no one who loves us would do such a thing, why not show your love and get us a coffee mug decorated with a whole bunch of famous banned books? Bonus if you buy from the PBS website. 🙂

9) And Though She Be But Little She Is Fierce necklace (Amazon.com) Many Shakespeare related gifts will do but Shakespeare plus jewelry seems a good way to go, don’t you think?

10) Keep Mr. Grey, I’ll Stick With Mr. Darcy tote bag (Zazzle.com) Any day of the week and twice on Sunday would most true book lovers take Darcy over Grey. No contest.

So these 10 items just barely scratch the surface of the many, many, many wonderful bookish gifts one could possibly give or receive, but they were some that caught my fancy. Which of these do you like/need for your life to be complete? What about your favorite bibliophile gift ideas? Have you any suggestions for gifts for the book-lover type? Please share in the comments. Have a great week! ~CJS

Writing History, Right

 

Noah

I’m a history nut. Historical non-fiction and historical fiction is what I enjoy reading most. When I read that stuff I expect the writer to know what he or she is talking about. I don’t think it’s too much to ask, is it?

I’m also an aviation enthusiast. My wife would replace the word, “enthusiast,” with the word, “fanatic.” I prefer the former. So being a fana…um, enthusiast, it’s another area where I expect an author to do their homework. Information is too easily accessible, today, to accept lazy writing. There is no excuse for having your characters going out to the airport and boarding a Boeing 707 when your story takes place in 1949. There were no 707’s in 1949. A quick Google search would have told you that.

Recently, I read a crime thriller. Something I don’t normally read. The bad guy works for the U.S. Government. The Government, as in many recent books and movies, were all bad guys. He enters the story flying an F-14 Tomcat. Now, okay, it’s a novel so I’ll forgive the fact that the Navy gave a civilian an F-14. My problem is when he lands. The writer says that he “engaged the reverse thrusters.” Reverse thrusters? On an F14? It’s a jet fighter not an airliner. Sorry, no reverse thrust on an F14. Am I being too much of a geek to expect that to be correct? I don’t think so. But he got away with it because 99.9% of the population doesn’t know an F14 from a Piper Cub. But okay, I’m just enough of a geek that it bugged me.

Now, like most writers, I tend to write what I like to read. My novel, ‘Jenny,’ is an historical piece that takes place in 1928 Texas. Obviously things were different then. It’s up to the writer to know, or at least find out, just how different. We’ve already established the fact that it’s no longer hard to do. I actually find the research enjoyable. I have a Model T Ford that plays a prominent part in the story and I did a lot of reading and Google searches on Model T’s. I like finding out things like the fact that the car’s gas tank was under the front seat. I love passing information like that on to the reader. I even watched a video by a guy who owns one. He showed how to start it. I got a kick out of that and worked it into the story.

And the history itself has to be right, too, of course. Not just the little details. If it’s 1928 you have to be careful that you don’t have your characters talking about something that happened in 1932. Make sure you don’t have them heading out to see ‘Gone With The Wind.’ That wasn’t until 1939. You have to do the research. I’m sure this scares a lot of people away from doing period pieces. It’s time consuming, that’s for sure. But, again, I like it.

But a writer can also have fun with history. Embellishment often works when doing historical novels. Putting your own slant to an historical event. In a great novel about the old west called, ‘Little Big Man,’ Thomas Berger decided to make George Armstrong Custer slightly insane. There’s no way to know if he was, or not, so he could do that sort of thing. He shoots down a bunch of other western myths, too. Terrific book. But even there, his history was on the mark. He just made use of a little artistic license, that’s all. (Which reminds me, mine is up for renewal, soon).

However, I don’t think you should mess with the facts as much as Noah’s biographer did (see cartoon). Then you’re leaving the historical fiction genre and moving into fantasy. If I pick up a book about ancient Rome and it starts with Nero pulling up in a limousine, I can be pretty sure that the writer didn’t do his research. Or that this is gonna be a really good story!

 

 

 

Monogamy vs. Polygamy, What works for you?

Polygamy

 

There are three types of people in this world – monogamists, polygamists and those others. (No, no, not bigamy. Sheesh. Non-literary people, those who do not read OR write. They do exist.)

I have seen these terms used in regards to a reader for years.

The monogamist reader who reads only one book at a time, from beginning to end, giving each book its undivided attention.

The polygamist reader who can juggle their book reading as though they have a spotlight in the literary circus – right after the fire breathing typewriters of course. These readers can read a multitude of books at a time, never getting the stories confused with one another.

When I received the  picture above recently, I started thinking about how the terms also work for writers as well.

You have the monogamy group – a person who writes only on one project at a time from start to finish. They do not stray onto other projects for fear of losing focus or voice.

Then you have the polygamy group – a person who has the ability to work on multiple stories/projects at any given time. They can wake up one day writing out a much anticipated fight scene only to end the next day in the head of the niece with a crazy talking dead aunt. Ahem. Not mentioning any names here. Cough. Amanda. 

Personally, I am a mix of both worlds.

As far as when I write, I am a  tried and true monogamist. I do not have the talent to really jump stories or my voices tend to be weaker. No, not the voices in my head, but the voice of the story itself. But then when I read, I break all of the monogamy rules. Currently I am reading four different book, and love three of them! (You can see what I am reading here.)

So what type of people are you? Let me know in the comments.

Till next time,

~AJP

“Nobody goes to libraries anymore.”

One of my favorite movies as a kid was The Pagemaster with Macaulay Culkin. It was about a boy who found himself taking shelter from a storm inside a very empty library except for the lone librarian. The boy ended up having to overcome these different obstacles and adventures before he was able to return back to normal.

The idea of getting lost in a library only to have to live out the stories fascinated me. Along with the fact that I could never quite understand why such a grand library was so deserted. (The library in this movie was beyond cool looking.) With all of those books to be read, the idea that no one was fighting over getting to read as many as possible always baffled me.

Now fast forward 21 years and I find myself dealing with a similar feeling.

“Nobody goes to libraries anymore.”

These words struck me as odd when I heard them while watching a TV show with my husband the other night. I had to rewind the scene to make sure I heard the dialogue correctly. Sure enough,I heard correctly. My husband laughed a little and muttered that they obviously hadn’t met me.

Touché husband, touché,

It was Monday night and already I had been to the library twice this week. Just earlier that evening I had taken my son and a neighbor’s daughter (ND) so that they could pick up a stack of books for after test reading this week.

When we arrived, I let the kids loose to find what they wanted. At first I noticed that ND was kind of wandering around, looking for something but she had a scrunched up face about her. She had wanted to search for a specific book, but the one of the catalog computers was out of service and the other was occupied. She hadn’t ever been out of the “children” section before so when I took her to a different machine in the “main” part of the library, her face was in awe. It was incredible. She was down right giddy.

“Oh, I like mysteries!” she said. And after further conversation, I determined that what she was looking for was the horror genre, not mystery. We quickly found the book she had been looking for and then I steered her towards R.L. Stine’s collection (safely back in the children’s section) where she went home with his first two Goosebumps series.  (Thank God, I wasn’t sure how her mother would have felt had I let her come home with a stack of Stephen King novels.)

In a matter of minutes, these two had their arms loaded down with books. It was hilarious, partly because at this moment they were competing on who could check out the most books. The other part was because I kept waiting for one of them to drop their stack – I am the mom who likes to point and laugh…

UnFortunately, no books tumbled to the ground, we managed to check out with 40 books between the three of us (some of these books were designated for the two younger siblings that were unable to tag along), and I had the pure joy of experiencing someone else’s excitement over books.

This leaves me with the question… why does Hollywood think that libraries are dead?

Do they think we aren’t reading? Surely they are smarter than that.

Is it because ebooks have come up in the world full force, and that is great, but guess what? Any given library has an exceptional ebook collection.

There are more published writers in today’s world than ever before so this can’t be the reason.

Today’s library isn’t just for old dusty books anymore (were they ever?), and it is not just a place for someone to use the computers for free (Monday night, the computers were almost all vacant, thank you very much.)

The library is a community for the community. It is a place for all, it doesn’t care what your race is, your gender, your age, your likes, dislikes. No matter who you are, there is something at the library for you.

Just please, do not bend the pages.

Do you have a favorite library? Is there a special library that you hope to visit one day? I’d like to visit all of them…

Happy reading,

~AJP

(Too bad I didn’t think of this post last week during National Library Week…)

 

Reading and Writing (No Arithmetic)

 

image

Lately I’ve been so busy with work and with my very limited amount of writing that I have spent far less time reading than I would like. I am really missing it.  Reading offers so much to me for sheer escapism and reading pleasure, but also because what we read can be such an inspiration for our writing and a practical lesson in how to write well.  Or, depending on the book, how *not* to write! 😉

Stephen King says so well in his great autobiographical writing book, On Writing:

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others, read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

While I simply enjoy reading and always have, I totally get the idea of reading to be a better writer. When I read now, I always read with an idea in mind about what I like about what the writer is doing, and what I don’t think works that well. I can’t help but see those details.  That’s not to say I don’t get completely wrapped up in the story sometimes and forget to pick up on any details, because I do that a lot, too. But those are learning moments as well.  I can ask myself what made me get lost in the story or why was it so compelling.  I may not be able to tell you details but I can tell you an overall impression.

I go through spells where I read obsessively. Sometimes it’s because I find something I especially like to read and sometimes just because of the circumstances at the time. But for lots of reasons, the largest being just an insane work life right now, I have cut my reading down significantly the last few months.  In the last few weeks, though, I’ve been having a serious craving to read more.

I like the quote at the beginning from J.K. Rowling because I am an escapist reader. I like to read stories that let me escape my own reality and explore someone else’s.  I will read stories that have a lot of conflict or horror, but they aren’t my first preference because I don’t like to spend a lot of time in a stressful world.  If it serves the story well and the writing is good, I’ll still enjoy the book, but I like to enjoy the world I visit.

I recently read an article I found on Twitter – 32 Books You’d Like to Read Again For The First Time and was thrilled to see most of my choices represented. I’ve read a lot of the books they have on the list and am tempted to check out some of the others that I haven’t. Two of the selections were very popular series so were not at all surprising. The number one selection was the Harry Potter series, which I love and wholeheartedly agree would be a great one to read again for the first time. Another was the Hunger Games trilogy. I would love to read both of those series again for the first time again because they are just so good. I’ve re-read them several times, but to read them again for the first time would be a real treat. Many classics were also listed that are also favorites of mine, like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby. Both might feel like the first time again since it’s been so long.  But one book I didn’t expect to see on the list is one I would definitely include on my list – The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. I’ve read this book so many times and can I just tell you the movie based on the book is a total disappointment if you’ve read it.  Read the book, don’t watch the movie.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower on the other hand (also on the list), is a great movie, so I’d recommend giving both a shot.

So I need to find something new to read. I have quite a lot on my ever growing To Be Read list, and have more than a few sitting unread on my bedside table and on my Kindle. I’ll keep you posted if I find a new one that I especially enjoy. But whether I end up with great new find or not, I will be happy to be reading. 🙂

Do you read a lot? Wish you could read more? What are you reading now? Are there books you’d like to read again for the first time? What are they?  Do leave a comment and let us know.

Thanks for *reading* and have a great week!

~CJS

What’s your genre niche?

When you go into a book store/library, what do you find yourself browsing for in a book? Is it a spicy romance novel that has your heart racing? Or a thrilling horror that has you screaming when your kids startle you… by merely going to the bathroom in the middle of the night? How about a travel through time to see the world how it used to be? Maybe you prefer an exciting trip into a world not quite like our own? There are so many varieties out there that it is mind boggling.

It is human nature to find something you know and like then to stick to it.

Growing up I tended to read more of the horror genre only sneaking my mom’s romance novels when I was really desperate. Then as I became a grown up, I read whatever book was passed to me from my mom and grandmother ; still mostly romances – Nora Roberts, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Danielle Steel, etc.

Somewhere along the way, the three of us branched out a bit further, now my grandmother tends to pick up suspense and mystery novels; my mom is more of a thriller junkie.  Me, I still read whatever is usually passed on or referred to me.

As a writer you have to read a lot. They say read what you write and write what you read. Research your genre and see what works and what doesn’t.

How does that work if what you write isn’t necessarily what you like to read?

When I read a book, I want my characters to have a happy ending. I know, I know, how boring. Life doesn’t always have that happy ending and neither does a book. I don’t care, I like what I like and good should over come evil, the bad guy should get his butt kicked by the end of the story, and the couple that is madly in love should have their happily ever after. Oh how it kills me when a romance story kills off one of the main characters at the end.

However, when I write, I don’t follow my own reading rules. This makes things a little difficult when trying to juggle reading for pleasure and reading to better your writing.

When I started writing the first draft of my current novel, I had no clue where I was going with it. In fact, it had started out as a short story to let off some steam. Once I had finished the short story, I realized that it wasn’t completed. There were other voices that needed to be heard, other point of views that needed writing. After all was said and done, I approached Amanda with my first draft and asked her just how crazy was I in doing what I did.

Her response… Eek. You did what? With how many different…

Like I said, what I have been writing is not something I generally like reading.

Being able to write something that wasn’t overwhelming or confusing and had people wanting to read it meant a lot of research in finding what worked and what didn’t. I was left with the possibilities of having to change so much that I considered giving up many different times but I kept going, expanding my story and plotlines.

Then it came time to start reading what I was writing… and I wasn’t looking forward to it. Again I contemplated just leaving it as a first draft and cutting my losses.

Research is fun for me… as long as it is not a requirement. Then it becomes tedious. So not only was I faced with having to read a bunch of books that I was sure I would dislike, I also had the chore of figuring out what books would benefit me the most. Needle in a haystack. (Ha! more like a book in a library.)

As I mentioned earlier, most of the books I read come as recommendations from friends, family or other bloggers. I have been extremely lucky these past months, almost every single book that has been suggested to me has somehow helped me with my current book.

Books ranging from a YA ghost story, a dystopian collapse of mankind that spanned over 70 years in time, a YA written in present tense, a historical two-person view that absolutely broke my heart, and a multitude of books all written by the same author who has many titles under their belt exploring multiple POV’s.

As far as research reading goes, I hit the jackpot. And it was because I did not stick to one specific type/style of book. I had to branch out and jump around from shelf to shelf, picking my way through what works and what didn’t work for me. My job isn’t done, I am still reading and with each new book, I am better equipped with the knowledge that I need to do the best that I can do.

If I had stuck to only one particular genre, I’d have probably given up on my novel by now.

Do you have a favorite genre? And does it help your writing? Let me know in the comments.

~AJP