Writers, and reading

To reach full potential, writers need to take reading seriously. This idea isn’t original with me. I am hearing the same thought from many different sources.

I seem to be fixated on promoting reading for writers and I think it is because the group of writers I hang out with show embers of interest about writing but only one or two give off  bright flames of  excitement or of strong motivation. We (as the steering committee) want to find a way to fan the embers and see them burst into flame.

We’ve brainstormed and come up with a few ideas we’d like to try.  Here’s one, sparked by the description of a book read this week by a member of our planning group. It was a book that drew her in to the story and made her forget about the mechanics of writing, even though that is usually the first thing she notices. We are going to encourage each member of the group to make a special effort this month to find a book like this for themselves.

Challenge – go to the library and sample as many books as you need to to find one that totally captures your interest. Before check out, read a bit to see if they seem like good possibilities and add only the good possibilities to the pile you are going  to take home. Make that a big pile. At home – if a book doesn’t totally capture your interest within a short time, move on to the next one. Keep doing this until you find one you can’t put down. If nothing in this pile does this for you, go back to the library for a new supply. Keep doing this until you find the book. This may sound too simple to be bothered with but trust me, it’s not always that easy to find a book like this. It is possible though, There are some amazing ones out there and we want to help you find them.

Now that you’ve found this captivating book. Stop and examine the way it feels, then consciously commit it to memory, as a measure for all of the books you will be reading soon.  If you already know this feeling, you are ahead of the game, and the search for qualifying books will go faster.

If you are serious about writing, you need to be serious about reading, and if you are serious about reading , you need to be serious about what you read.

Reading time is precious, you can’t afford to spend it reading books that don’t measure up to the new standard. I mean, you could, but not if you seriously want to write. I find myself following this rule more and more, now that life holds more for me than just reading, as a pain killer.

Reading only those books meeting the new standard will reset the internal measure for your own writing. As you write, and read aloud what you have written, you will view it all with new eyes and there will be a noticeable difference in your work.

You will be influenced and inspired in a new way. And hopefully the flame of your interest and passion will be burning brightly.


Some books for you

The Nick Kismet AdventuresThe Nick Kismet Adventures Volume 1 – Sean Ellis… I’ve read the first book, the Shroud of Heaven, it is a middle eastern adventure involving historical artifacts and struggles for possession. It was a good story but it was like an action movie, full of car chases and gun fights. I was telling my grandsons about the book, that there were too many chases for my liking. My son-in-law thought it sounded like a pretty good book. This is one for the guys!

 

The Inn at Ocean's Edge  A Sunset Cove Novel – The Inn at Ocean’s Edge book 1 – Colleen Coble …. When Claire makes a visit to the luxury hotel in a beautiful resort town, repressed memories begin to surface. Claire disappeared from her 4th birthday party at the hotel, reappearing at the same hotel a year later, and no one knew where she had been. She didn’t even know she had been missing and her parents seem to be discouraging her from remembering. Her friend Luke’s mother also disappeared that weekend. There must be a connection somehow.

Mermaid Moon  A Sunset Cove Novel – Mermaid Moon book 2 – Colleen Coble …. Mallory hasn’t been back to her hometown in fifteen years but when her dad dies on his mail route she has to go back. Kevin, the local game warden, is warily helping her solve her dad’s murder, Mallory broke his heart the day she left.

Twilight at Blueberry Barrens  A Sunset Cove Novel – Twilight at Blueberry Barrens book 3 – Colleen Coble …. Kate has shouldered the responsibility of her families blueberry farm but when the crop fails she has to look for a new way to make ends meet. Renting out their cabin when Drake and his nieces show up looking for a place seems like a solution to her dilemma. It’s even better when he needs a nanny for the girls while he spends time looking for his brother’s killer. Life would be good for Kate except someone seems to be stalking her.

Winter's Secret  Northern Intrigue – Winter’s Secret book 1 – Lyn Cote …. Someone is vandalizing during a record winter, targeting empty homes of senior citizens. Wendy, their public health nurse, is always the one to discover the break ins and seems to be the common thread between all of them. Rod is the new sheriff in town and the opposition to his appointment is not helping his investigation. It seems this town has secrets.

Seek Me with All Your Heart  A Land of Canaan Novel – Seek Me with All Your Heart book 1 – Beth Wiseman …. Why would the Amish move to Colorado leaving their friends and family behind. For Emily and her family the reason is personal. They are trying to start over after her devastating attack. David’s family has moved for reasons he doesn’t understand and he wants to find a way to go back to the home he loved. An attraction blooms between Emily and David but they each have a secret that makes a future seem impossible for them.

Finding Love at the Oregon Coast  Finding Love At the Oregon Coast – a romantic novella collection – Angela Ruth Strong, Christina Coreyell, Heather Woodhaven, Lisa Phillips ….. when a wedding is cancelled, three bridesmaids and a runaway bride contemplate the true meaning of love in four related novels.

Untangled Michele PillarUntangled: The Truth will set you free – Michele Pillar …. The personal story of a successful singing career derailed by tragedy and bad choices, and how facing the truth of her life and choices, gave her a second chance at a career and more. Truth brought freedom to the tangled mess that was her life.

 

 

Reading, and Writing

One of the discussions happening yesterday was centered around the question; what place does reading hold in the life of a successful writer? My comment was – I agree with previous comments, reading is essential to good writing. Today I feel compelled to go back and expand on that thought, but the moment has passed.

I am bursting to share more about this discussion because I don’t just agree with reading being essential, I am on a crusade to convince writers of the need to read more. Just ask the other members of our local writing group. In the last few months they have been subjected to my passionate rants. I am grateful they are open to this vision of mine. Together we are working hard to promote reading in our group, and hope to encourage our members to spend more time with some of the excellent books in our writing library.

I would also like to see them reading more than just the how to books in our library. I think good books are the cooking shows of the writer’s world. Good cooks become better cooks by watching successful chefs do their thing.  I think we can become better writers by watching successful authors do their thing. It’s difficult to convey in words, what it takes to write in a compelling manner, a demonstration works much easier. That’s why I would like to see us all develop a passion for  good books. It will open up a whole new realm of possibilities.

While many writers are avid readers, many more are not. The second group is the one I hope to inspire. In my opinion; people don’t enjoy reading because they haven’t  discovered the gold mine in an interesting book. If they do discover the treasure, it will be a life changing event. They will catch the bug. The reading love bug

There is an enemy of reading: reading out of obligation. Many of us have the idea that if we start a book we must finish it, even if it’s pure drudgery. I used to feel that way but not anymore. Now I follow my recommendation to all of you. Abandon the drudgery and move on. The freedom of this practice is awesome.

How do we promote a good reading experience: learn where to look. Once you know where to look there will always be good choices.

For me; education started in the public library. It is a free and safe way to discover what you like and what you don’t. Once you have a good understanding of what you like, you will be ready to move on and make the most of the many ebook opportunities out there

BookBub, and other e-book sites are an excellent source of good books. They offer up suggestions in whatever genre you pick, many of them free. The thing I love about free books – they feed my reading addiction without breaking the bank. I’ve met some amazing authors this way.

Writing has never been one of my passions. I had no particular interest in the required  English courses of my school years, if I passed, I was happy. Reading is responsible for whatever writing skills I may have now. Reading works.

In the end it’s a circle. I promote avid reading so you will write even better. If you write better, I will have even better books to read. It’s a win/win situation.

There is a good chance that I am preaching to the choir here. The fact your are reading this probably means you are a reader too.

Maybe you will be inspired to inspire. That works for me.

If nothing else, I feel better for the chance to vent.


a few books:

Heart of Glass  Irish Angel Series – Heart of Glass book 3, Jill Marie Landis ….  Kate Keene returns to the place of happy childhood memories, determined to  honour her friends and restore their plantation to it’s former glory after the ravages of war. She was not expecting to arrive and find someone living in the deserted buildings, least of all, a broken, bitter man. The changed man was her best friends brother and the love of her young teen heart. He demands she leave and orders her off the property, but he is in no shape to get up and make her go. She is determined to stay; to repay the kindness of his family for taking her in all those years ago, so there is a reprieve. If she can find a way to escape his notice.

 

Black Diamond Death A Sloane Monroe Mystery – Black Diamond Death book 1, Cheryl Bradshaw ……  Charlotte is upset about something and wants to talk it over with her sister but before they can meet for  lunch, Charlotte dies on the ski hill. Although the authorities rule her death accidental, her sister  knows there is something wrong with this conclusion. It doesn’t make sense for a skier of her caliber to die on such an easy slope.   Somehow, Audrey has to convince someone to help her find the truth.

 

A Christmas Surprise Love in the Cascades series – A Christmas Surprise book1, Kimberly Rose Johnson ….. After reluctantly agreeing to a blind date, Keira thinks he’s changed his mind when he doesn’t show. Pete, called away for an emergency before they can meet, is relieved in a way, to have it work out like this. Earlier, when he stopped to pick up a gift for his date, the owner of the chocolate shop caught his interest, making him wish  she was the one he was meeting for dinner.

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

 

Walk to Beautiful: The Power of Love….

Walk to Beautiful

Walk to Beautiful: The Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who Found the Way    Mr Jimmy Wayne with Ken Abraham

This is the powerful story of a little boy who lives with unimaginable neglect, abuse and hardship and is rescued as a teenager by an elderly couple who knew the transforming power of love.

It is also the story of how, as adults, we don’t have to be held back by the trauma of our childhood. Even with the lack of a positive influence and role models, we can have a healthy, purposeful life.

Jimmy Wayne grew up to become successful in a music career, singing and song writing – there are videos to show the truth of it. Three songs, now in videos on You Tube, are mentioned many times in the book. I would download them here for you but haven’t figured out how…yet. I hope you will check them out. Sarah Smile is one of his first covers, then two songs written by Jimmy,  I Love You This Much, and Stay Gone.

His successful career was not enough for him. He remembered the homeless and foster kids in his life, and he wanted to do something to make a difference, in the lives of kids like them. He set out to do a cross country walk to bring attention to the cause not expecting a double benefit – on a personal level – it was a healing journey.

His successful walk is the example he sets for us, to open our eyes to the hardships, and the possibilities in these kids. His efforts are responsible for a major change in foster care rules in his home state, and they shine a spotlight on areas still needing to be addressed. He is hoping to inspire all of us to step up and do something.

I’m glad I read this book, his story and his music touched my heart. That was his goal, and it worked. May I always see the possibilities.

 

 

Going Underground

Going Underground    My favorite book this week   Autistic British Detective Jonathan Roper – Going Underground  book 1  – Michael Leese

The chemistry between Jonathan and his mentor/partner is great and they work well together, but the others don’t relate as well and that creates stress in the whole office. He is brilliant though, and solves cases others haven’t been able to.  I liked this one so well I read the next one too.

I can See You  Autistic British Detective Jonathan Roper – I Can See You  book 2  – Michael Leese

Jonathan’s skills have been noticed and as a result has been recruited by another government agency. Things go well for awhile but he falls into a slump he can’t seem to work his way out of, no matter what they try. He worked well with his partner in the Police Special Investigations Unit, so, quietly and swiftly, Brian Hooley is transferred to the new agency, to see if it would make the difference. It seems to be working and things are getting back on track. And, they are off to solve another baffling mystery.

Noelle's Golden Christmas Holiday Inc. Series – Noelle’s Golden Christmas book 1 – Tamie Dearen

Noelle is a Scrooge about Christmas, the way her life has gone she just knows something else bad is going to happen. Maybe if she got a dog….. maybe that’s what she needs to get through the holiday. In the meantime, her meddling family thinks she needs a man and they are determined to bring  both Christmas and a man into her life.

Canteen Dreams  Cornhusker Dreams – Canteen Dreams book 1- Cara Putman

A heartwarming World War Two love story. The unthinkable happens when Pearl Harbor is bombed and young men are being shipped off to war. Audrey wants to do her part to support the troops and everyday joins a group of ladies running a canteen to serve the trainloads of men moving through their town. She doesn’t expect to fall for a local boy. Willard is distressed because he feels the need to enlist but is rejected because he is considered essential, being a rancher. He is impressed by the passion and dedication of the young woman who catches his eye but has a hard time watching her interact with the uniformed soldiers passing through town, especially when he wants to be one of them.

The Christmas Bargain  Hardman Holidays – The Christmas Bargain book 1 – Shanna Hatfield

This is a book I read two years ago but it caught my eye as I was browsing though my cache of books, I think it needs to be read again. It is a Victorian Christmas  story set in a real town from the 1800s. The town is Hardman Oregon USA and is now a ghost town. Philamena is left dazed and speechless when her father tries to settle a debt and a handsome cowboy agrees to take her in payment. Luke Hardman owns the bank and when her father threatens to sell her to the saloon owner for money to pay his debt, he found he couldn’t let that happen. He’d rather be out on his ranch than stuck in an office and has no idea what to do with this marriage of convenience. I’m looking forward to rediscovering a good story.

I have been distracted lately and it has been hard to settle down enough to focus on reading so my list isn’t as long as it is usually. I did enjoy these books though and hope maybe you will as well.

There are some great writers out there just waiting to be discovered. I hope you are crossing paths with some of them too. If you haven’t joined BookBub I hope you will, it’s one of the easiest sites to use in the discovery of great books, I’ve found.

Happy reading! and a fulfilling writing experience, if you are giving it a try too.

triggers

I am still processing distressing thoughts and feelings triggered by some of the events of the last couple of weeks. The process is never quite as simple as I think it should be but there is progress today and I’m grateful. It seems time goes on, and then some things come to the surface, finally ready to be examined and dealt with.

I’ve spent the day writing a post trying to work out an answer to the why question in my head. It was a worthwhile occupation as a number of answers presented themselves. Several were complete, some were not and will have to be revisited another day. At least the conversation has been started and that’s a positive step.

Even though I’ve erased all of today’s work to start over, it has been a beneficial day. The area under consideration is one I haven’t been ready to look at before now. Probably because it’s a hot button issue I didn’t know what to do with. I would share details but I wasn’t able to express it in a way that would make sense to anyone but me. Part of today was a major break through. All of the steam has been let out of several reactions and it feels good.

Sometimes, it seems like the effects of brokenness will never end. A day like today brings renewed hope. Hope is a good thing.

I don’t know if sharing this post will be helpful or encouraging to anyone, but I pray that it is. We all need a little hope, some days more than others.


A couple of books for you

Making Spirits Bright  Christmas Light Collection 2017 – Making Spirits Bright –  Swanson, Shiloh, Hayman and Havig……. four new never-before-released novellas. From romance to cozy mysteries. A fun Christmas read. This is the second set from these ladies this Christmas.

I Know You'll Find Me Dangerous Affections Series – I Know You’ll Find Me – Jennifer Youngblood ….Victoria’s dreams are starting to come true, her own dance studio and a handsome rich boyfriend. Everything changes in an instant when she witnesses a murder on an impromptu visit to his office. Running for her life, she grabs her kids and disappears to the one place she knows he would never think to look. Keeping their secret proves difficult when a handsome police office takes a romantic interest in her, bonding with her kids.

Happy reading!

I don’t feel like writing….

I don’t feel like writing… and the reason for this is not good. A blogger I follow is going through a rough patch and it is his pain that started mine. Empathy. I sense pain in others and take it on as my own. I don’t mean to, I know it’s not healthy – taking another’s pain as your own – but sometimes intentions aren’t enough to stop empathy.

This blogger is a young man and I am neither young, nor a man. He writes in a general way giving very little detail about his personal life, yet there is something in his writing that leaves the impression of much more below the surface.

I am drawn to reading his posts but I am an introvert, and there is the age/gender thing, so I am trying to stay hidden. Not an easy thing to do as his audience is still small.  Regular visitors stand out rather dramatically. With view stats he would see activity from my country only, but with likes and comments he would see my identity. So, I keep likes to a minimum, and avoid making comments. Eventually his curiosity about this person reading all of his posts has him trying to coax me out into the open. I steadfastly refuse to rise to the bait, until he shares a post revealing some of his pain. The encourager in me can’t help but respond, and I think this is where the trouble begins. But I could be wrong. It could have little to do with my response and much to do with the aftermath of his revealing some of his personal pain.

The trouble with wounded introverts, in my experience, is they over examine every interaction and then flog themselves mercilessly.  I can see signs of flogging going on. There is the unusually long silence and then today’s post indicating deep pain, with the probability of no more blogging. That would be a shame, on so many levels. I expressed this in a comment. I hope he hears and is encouraged to keep in touch.

I have been focused on what I imagine to be his pain paying little attention to my own pain based behaviors. Recognizing the resulting depression in me is the reason for this blog post …. forcing myself back into community, avoiding the tendency for withdrawal.

There is something therapeutic about the attempt to express thoughts and feelings in a way that makes sense. It helps defend against depression. And, community feed back  from posting is a bonus.

I hope my blogger friend will stay in community and keep writing. I know he will discover others who have travelled roads similar to his and will cheer him on, and he will discover growth in positive new insights about himself.

It’s working for me tonight, I would like to see it work for him too

And the pressure is off, hiding is over, no more avoiding comments and likes. Nice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two books to inspire the writer within

Wite Well a Grammar Guide

I admit; I am not a fan of boring instructional books, and I assume (mainly based on school years) that all instructional books are boring. This assumption is beginning to change. Write Well: A Grammar Guide Rachelle Rea Cobb, is definitely not boring. Her style is conversational, fun, informative, and sneaky. She has a way of crafting her explanation to demonstrate the point she’s making. I love that. But, mostly, I love her straight to the point statements.  I’m feeling inspired.

 

Zen in Art of Writing  Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity Ray Bradbury

Magic happens when an author expresses things in a way guaranteed to capture our attention, to draw us in – to become part of the story. I am drawn in as Ray Bradbury talks about his career and how it came about. I love the unique way he paints word pictures. It’s easy to see why his long and successful career took off so dramatically at an early age. I can’t help but feel excited as I read this book because he validates the case for authenticity and passion as the important element in good writing. Not only does he validate but he also demonstrates. The way he expresses a thought is as important, if not more so, than the thought itself. I think reading writing of this calibre on a regular basis turns good writers into great writers.


More books read, and enjoyed, lately

Death Ship Death Ship book 5 Danforth Saga – Joseph Badal …. After decades, it is time to retire from his clandestine job and take his wife and grandson on the holiday he’s been promising. Some people seem to attract trouble wherever they go. In the right place at the wrong time, he finds himself in the middle of trouble of the worst kind, and like it or not his retirement is delayed.

 

Telling Lies  Telling Lies book 1 A Sam Mason Mystery Series  – L. A. Dobbs ….  as police investigate the recent shooting of one of their own, a body is discovered near the popular local campsite, the victim of a suspicious drowning. There are multiple suspects but no clear motive and it is hard to tell if truth is being told. Add to that; pressure from the mayor who seems to have a questionable agenda for solving this murder quickly. Things are often not as they seem. Who do you trust?

 

Wonderland Wishes

Wonderland Wishes: 7 Never-Before-Released Christmas Romances     * Kittens and Snow Flurries book 3 in the Hearts of Hollywood Series – Lynette Bonner   * Finding Christmas and You  – Jan Cline * Once Upon a Christmas Star – Kathleen Freeman  *A Christmas Hallelujah book 1 in the Cranberry Creek Series – Dori Harrell  * The Second Noel – Chautona Havig * Home For the Holidays book 3 in the Holiday Hearts Series – Lesley Ann McDaniel  * Montana Skye – Sylvia Stewart  ….  over 1200 pages so they are not short stories, which I like, a lot. An enjoyable and entertaining read.

 

Crane's Bride

Wild Rose Country – Crane’s Bride book 1 – Linda Ford ….Crane sets out to find land and a new life out west, part way there he realizes there is a need that he hasn’t considered, to make this new life work . A wife. He decides to advertise, and gets more than he bargained for. A wife and an instant family. She is feisty and distrusting of men. He has no idea how to be a husband. I enjoyed the authors engaging style and dry sense of humor, this was a fun read from beginning to end.

 

 

Wake (City 0f Lights Book 1)

Wake

This is a fantasy about a dictatorship, and the banishing of all but the subservient. The Community lives in an isolated bubble built to sustain life and keep prisoners. Those who question or show signs of “cultism” are sent for “rehabilitation”. It seems the stirrings of something more can never be stopped though, and Luke and Monet have seen and experienced things that plant seeds of truth in their minds, things that expose  the lies. This truth puts them in danger of banishment and death, will they backtrack and follow the rules or move ahead and go where truth takes them?

I enjoy fantasy and have read books with similar scenarios but this one was handled in a different way and I liked that. I found the story line hard to follow in places but the book as a whole was worth reading and I want to read the sequel.

One quote from the book struck a cord with me:

Blind men, scared men, and hurting men, just like The Community, tried to silence Him, but creation can’t silence the Creator or His Son He sent into the world. He walks among us, even now. (82% Kindle)  Words to bring hope in our own time of upheaval and turmoil. The Creator cannot be overpowered or silenced. The very rocks will cry out. Not a new  battle in our world; the banishing of God.

Wake (City of Lights book 1) Sherry Rossman


one more book

Valley of the Shadow  Dakota Moons Series – Valley of the Shadow book 1 – Stephanie Grace Whitson …. Genevieve, the daughter of Good Song Woman and a French trader, is distressed when her father sends her to live with missionaries, to be educated the way  her mother wanted for her. When a young warrior is found  gravely wounded and left in their barn, Gen begins to lose her heart. Their love is just starting to blossom when the war of 1862 breaks out dragging them both into the valley of the shadow of death.

The hard thing about this story was hearing the historical record of the treatment displaced inhabitants received at the hands of displacers, and the resulting wars. I feel deep sadness that we could treat fellow human beings in such a way. It makes me appreciate the imperfect but improved circumstances of our present world, a world without mass pillaging and killings.

I enjoyed this book because it was well written, compelling, and an education. The characters were real and had me caring about them.

Reading a historical novel is always a good thing; it helps us see where we come from, appreciate where we are, and see where we could end up again if we forget where we come from.

Be on the lookout for a good historical novel. Or a fantasy.

Happy reading!

A Life Intercepted

A Life Intercepted

This is my book of the week. To qualify as favorite it must be a book I can’t bear to put down. I was reading this one when I shouldn’t be…that qualifies.

The thing I like about Charles Martin’s books; his characters meet life head on, with what we call these days, emotional intelligence. Stuff happens, there are misunderstandings  and disagreements, but they handle them like adults.

Most of his stories are filled with the hard places of life and I think this appeals to us as readers because we see our lives reflected in his stories, we need something deeper and he gives it to us. Watching the way his characters face a dilemma helps us see possibilities in our own situation.

On the downside, he includes a lot of detail that I struggle with at times. I’m not sure whether this is because I am lazy in doing the work needed to see the picture he’s painting, or if my mind  doesn’t think in a way that words can paint a picture. It’s probably a bit of both. In spite of this I still feel compelled to read his stories.

If you are not familiar with Charles Martin and you like a story you can chew on, check out one of his books.


and now for the rest of this weeks books

The Gondola Maker  The Gondola Maker – Laura Morelli …. This was my next favorite book this week. It’s set in 16th century Venice and is about a family of traditional gondola makers. Luca figures his father has his life mapped out for him in the family business until a disagreement turns tragic and the course of his life is drastically changed.  This was a gripping tale hard to put down.

It also makes you rethink the advantages and freedoms we enjoy in this day and age. Rules of the day said you were to paint your gondola in drab colors with little-to-no other adornments. Bright colours and flashy embellishments were considered excessive and prideful and meant the owner would be fined. This is an important part of the story.  Of more general impact though; children/offspring were expected to follow the father’s wishes about occupation and marriage choices, with no regard for their wants or wishes. There were restrictions on clothing choices, as well as free time and movement. Women were denied most of the freedoms and privileges we enjoy today.  This lack of freedom stands out in a greater way when we hear of today’s freedom demands. Reading historical fiction on a widespread basis might be a good thing to bring our priorities back in to focus.

Refuge on Crescent Hill   Refuge on Crescent Hill – Melanie Dobson … another novel based in history. The mansion has been in the family for 150 years and there are rumors of ghosts, underground railways, and buried treasure. Camden returns  determined to see  her grandmother only to find she has passed away. Unsettling things keep happening, and it seems other people are trying to claim what is hers. This was a page turner.

Good books have been scarce this week, I started several others but couldn’t seem to get in to them. Not sure if it’s me or the books. I’ll give it a few days and try again.

I hope your week has gone well and it’s been a good one.

Happy reading.