Tag Archives: reading

Reading Routine 3 – Nonfiction

On Wednesdays, I’ll cross-post my blog from Routines for Writers here…

People who love to read can get a little crazy-excited talking to each other about their to-be-read piles – TBRs, online. (Took me a while to figure out what TBR meant.) Most everyone seems to talk about all the fabulous fiction they’re trying to hurry and read. But it occurs to me that we rarely talk about the great time to be had in the midst of our nonfiction TBR pile.

Do you have one?

Most of my nonfiction books have to do with writing or research on something I’m writing. Sometimes it’s just something that looks interesting in general. Just for fun, I thought I’d tell you what is literally sitting next to my bed right now (much to my husband’s chagrin). Some I’ve read more than once, some I skim looking for something in particular, some I’m dying to sit down and read cover to cover some (nonexistent) free weekend. Here they are:

The Hero with a Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell
The Nicomachean Ethics – Aristotle
Running with the Giants – John C. Maxwell
How to Write Crime – edited by Marele Day
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed – Jared Diamond
Be Your Own Literary Agent – Martin P. Levin
Writing Popular Fiction – Dean R. Koontz
How to Write Best Selling Fiction – Dean R. Koontz
The Action Hero’s Handbook – David and Joe Borgenicht
Making a Good Writer Great – Linda Seger
Story – Robert McKee
Living with Angels – Theolyn Cortens
On Writing – Stephen King
Get Known Before the Book Deal – Christina Katz

That’s my list. And I hope one day soon to have/take the time to read all of them. What about you? What’s in your nonfiction TBR pile?

Reading Routine 2 – Finding Your Voice

One of the things I love about reading is that when the book is just right you can find your own writing voice. I’m in the process of finalizing my about-to-be published book, Little Miss Lovesick. At night and when I’m standing at the bus stop or waiting in the doctor’s office, I’m reading Sophie Kinsella’s Twenties Girl. My friend Paula loaned it to me and the idea of the story really caught my interest.

It’s about a girl in her 20s who meets her great-aunt’s ghost at the funeral. Her great-aunt is both her 20-something self as a ghost, and she was born in the 1920s. I liked how the title was a double entendre, and it made me wonder how I could think up titles like that. Other great titles that have caught my eye recently include Cara Lockwood’s Every Demon Has His Day and The Scarlet Letterman, Maureen McGowan’s Cinderella: Ninja Warrior, and K. Bennett’s The Year of Eating Dangerously.

Obviously, I like titles that play with words so I need to figure out how to come up with playful titles for my own books. (Special note: I’ll have a fun interview here with K. Bennett at the end of the month! I’m about to start his new zombie legal thriller, Pay Me In Flesh. I can’t wait!)

Another thing I’ve learned about my writing through reading is that I love humor. I didn’t try to write humorously for years until someone said, if you wrote the way you talk, it’d be so funny! After a while, it occurred to me that the books I love have a lot of humor in them. Ah-ha! Lightbulb moment. So then I went wandering through my mind trying to decide what I thought was funny and writing that down. (My husband still doesn’t quite believe anyone else out there could possibly have a similar sense of humor.)

So I like the title of Twenties Girl, I like the humor in it, and I like that the main character is struggling to figure out how to be her true self and a better version of that self as the story progresses. That’s kind of what all of my main characters do. When I read a book that hits that note for me, it’s a reminder of what I am trying to accomplish in my own work.

What’s equally interesting is what I read that I know is not what I want to write. I just finished Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Chick with a Charm. I love Vicki’s Nerd books and I loved the first book in this Babes on Brooms series. Vicki’s sense of humor makes me laugh out loud. A lot. But this particular book is about an adoration spell so the entire conflict of the story is about the guy wanting to have sex with the girl all the time. All the time. I had to start skimming those sections because it was just not that interesting to me to read. I like the “romance” parts of stories – what he says and what she does and awww, isn’t that sweet! So reading this book reminded me that I love humor and romance, but not with tons of sex. I want more “other” story.

Little Miss Lovesick is my first attempt at tying all of these areas together. I’ve got alliteration in the title. There’s a young woman trying to find a way to be a better version of herself. There’s humor and funny situations. And there’s a fun romance without any sex. I really enjoyed writing it, but I owe the parts that I did well to the writers who have gone before me, the ones who made me love to read. 🙂

Don’t let anyone tell you differently. If you want to be a great writer, you need to be a book-loving reader.

[Note: Little Miss Lovesick should be available as an ebook as early as next week!]


Reading Just Might Be My Favorite Routine

On Wednesdays, I’ll cross-post my blog from Routines for Writers here…

We’ve talked about a lot of routines at Routines for Writers in the last few years. Things to routinely do, things to routinely avoid, things that break up your routines. But I don’t know that we’ve talked much about a routine many writers say they have no time for – reading!

I am amazed by the number of times I hear writers say they don’t have time to read. But I also understand the dilemma. There are only so many hours in a day, a week, a year. Many of us complain that we don’t have enough time. Many of us worry we aren’t using our time wisely. How does the value of one hour of reading compare with one hour of writing, or sleeping, or time with family?

Available for your reading pleasure end of September

When taken out of context, it’s difficult to compare these things. But I think most things in life fall into cycles. For me, that cycle is most notably one day. I do certain things at certain times of the day and, when it comes to reading, I can almost always count on having 15-60 minutes at night.

I find I sleep better if my mind relaxes around a story, something I don’t have to think about but can just float on. When I read non-fiction at night, I usually dream about the topic – not great for a good night’s sleep, but I used to solve math problems this way in college!

Like my own target audience, I am a reader who sometimes craves an escape from my everyday life. When I’m really stressed out, I need to read romances. In fact, high stress situations are almost the only thing that make me return to a book more than once. When I’m calm and relaxed and nothing interesting is happening in my life, I crave excitement and danger in my reading life.

But I’m finding those reading cycles incredibly helpful to my writing. Because I read at least a little of so many genres, and because it might take me a year or more (or as little as a month) to cycle through romance, YA, suspense, fantasy, and more, my story brain is constantly being fed new and different ideas. Those all combine like eggs and flour and cocoa make brownies – to help me create some sweet treats of my own!

I love reading and my guess is you do, too. I encourage you to make – and keep – reading one of your writing routines. When you need a break from life, from work, from writer’s block, or you just have a few minutes to relax, reading is the perfect routine.

Finally Reading Harry Potter 5

Now that I’ve seen the final Harry Potter movie, now that my school days are over, and since I don’t have four or five jobs like I did when I read the first few Harry Potter books – it’s time to finally open book 5, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

The first thing I noticed was how happy I was reading a J.K. Rowling book again. The combination of her stories and the language choices she makes to tell them just make me happy. Happy.  🙂  How many books make you feel that way?

The second thing I noticed was that I could see much of the story as I remembered the film showing it to me, but I was also filling in all the other parts with the film that is happening in your head every time you read a book. It’s fun! I like the combination.

I’m only on page 94 so far, so the only other thing I’ve noticed is that there is a lot more going on than there was in the movie. Or at least I’m better understanding what’s happening. I remember, for instance, seeing Tonks in the movie with Professor Lupin, but I didn’t know who she was. And I remember seeing the dark, scary hallway of the safe house in the movie but I’m pretty sure I never knew the screaming portrait was of Sirius’s mother. All the extra details are sooo enjoyable!

As always, when I read a good book, I often feel like I’m never, ever going to be able to write as well as this. But at least with the Harry Potter books, that’s okay! I’m so happy to relax and enjoy the stories, to be transported away to a place that is familiar and unknown, to be back with old friends and making new enemies – I’m not thinking about writing when I’m reading these books!

And I’m perfectly happy to forget it’s my job for a while.

Gosh, I still do hope that someday I can make people forget their work when they’re reading my stories!  🙂