What I Write vs. What I Read – July Round Robin

I haven’t always loved to read. As a writer that seems like a scandalous admission but honestly, there had been too much going on inside my head for me to fully appreciate the work of other writers.

In my defense, this was sometime between grammar school and high school, so when I say “younger” I mean pigtails and Barbie dolls. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy writing back then because I did. And in fact, I have a cousin who used to swear I made Barbie dolls more interesting than anyone else. Instead of just going to work and coming home, Barbie (who was given a different name because honestly, who wants to be called Barbie?) we would go on adventures through time or try to avoid dying in some major natural disaster.

I don’t mean that to sound pretentious. At the time I had no idea that the way I played with my toys was any different from other girls.

But all of these stories and “play” in my imagination where I created the rules made reading about someone else’s rules and worlds a little more difficult. And then … Wait Til Helen Comes traumatized me in the 6th grade. I read the whole thing in a day, hiding it under my desk during school because I absolutely had to know what happened.

I’m pretty sure the teacher knew and didn’t say anything.

After that, it was like reading exploded into my life. My Aunt Debi has always been a big reader and every now and then I’d get one of her books. That’s how I found Jurassic Park. And The Hobbit. And this one novel whose title I can’t remember but it was about a big octopus/squid thing that ate people.

Genre’s didn’t matter, and they still don’t. I will read anything and everything, which is probably why I write in various genre’s as well. I broke into this business with Fantasy novels, moved to science fiction, then historical fiction, and I have a horror novel waiting to be edited in October.

The one thing I haven’t been able to write, but I will certainly try it again at some point, has been the murder mystery. I’m not sure why, since I love Sherlock Holmes and intelligent mysteries of that ilk, but those books tend to linger in a dark place. You have to understand your murderer, after all, and I find that unsettling.

I used to watch Criminal Minds but stopped because it was leaving me with that unsettled, distrustful sense too.

Anyway, I’m not sure what attracts people to read any one particular genre. I’ve never been able to restrain myself to just one, so I find it a trifle bizarre anyone could say; “Oh, I only read Urban Fantasies.” Or, in the most snobbish voice I’ve ever heard; “Fantasy and Science Fiction aren’t real fiction. You should read literary fiction. Or at least the classics. Anything else is just drivel.”

… No, really. I’ve heard that.

My response to that was to avoid the literary fiction section of the bookstore for a couple of years. Which I suppose wasn’t fair to literary fiction authors.

See what my fellow authors have to say in this month’s Round Robin …

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea/view/542

(YOU ARE HERE) A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/

Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/

Anne de Gruchy https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/

Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/

Dr. Bob Rich https://bobrich18.wordpress.com/rhobins-round-robin/

Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/

Kay Sisk http://www.kaysisk.com/blog

Book Review – The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

I liked this book so much, I listened to it twice. The first time was just for myself, and the second time I played the audible version for my son in the evenings before bed. Admittedly, the book is about a female magician, but my son liked it just the same.

Without giving spoilers – because I hate giving spoilers in fiction – I can tell you that this book is tightly written. The story follows Ceony Twill as she begins her apprenticeship as a paper magician.

The idea of magic being connected to different materials and crafts was interesting to me, and to my son. It was fun to “watch” as paper was made to do amazing things with magic, and in fact I believe this is what kept my nine-year-old son listening.

The magic system alone kept me fascinated, even if I did find some of the descriptions in the book a little clunky. This happened a couple of times in the book for me, drawing me out of the storyline because the descriptions seemed so odd, but it’s nothing to stop a reader from going on.

As an author, those descriptions are something that I’ve highlighted for further review and I’ll touch on them in a later post. Suffice to say, the book as a whole is excellent, Ceony is a relatable and proactive character that I was able to get behind and root for until the last page.

I’ll be grabbing the next book in this series and highly recommend it.

Book Review – On Writing by Stephen King

Let me start this review off by saying that I do not often read Stephen King. I started The Stand a long time ago but my son was all of three years old at the time and the dead children disturbed me so much I couldn’t move forward with the book.

I’m sure I could read it now, but at the time I wasn’t ready for that sort of reality. I needed to keep my happy bubble of pretend-safety around my little boy. (C’mon, now, as safe as we try to keep our kids we all know there’s only so much we can do.)

While I haven’t read much of his work, I know who Mr. King is and have great respect for him. I’m not sure why it took me so long to pick this book up – it looks like it was written during my senior year of high school – but I’m pleased that I finally did.

This book is freeing.

Yes, he reminds us about some of the mechanics of writing such as the dreaded adverb or adverbial clause, but he only touches on these for a moment. But for the most part, Mr. King’s “memoir of the craft” feels like a commiseration.

He proves that reading and writing are magic. And he invites authors to embrace that magic, reminding us why we enjoy this craft in the first place. I recommend this book to any and all writers out there who haven’t already picked it up. It’s a worthy read.

 

Authors Who Inspire Me

My son knelt beside the sofa, his Lego toys spread out on the cushions as he created little stories involving Star Wars and Batman and the occasional Ninja, while I curled up nearby with a book. It was a familiar book, a favored volume with yellowed pages and a cracked binding from too much use, and I had chosen it in spite of the many unread novels surrounding it.

I’ll get to those other novels another day.

For now, I’m content to relive a story that has managed to stay with me for over a decade; Sara Donati’s Into The Wilderness. 

I’ve read other works by Donati as well, but this one is my favorite. There’s a richness to it that draws me in, a vivid depiction of life in another time and complex characters all fighting for what they want, and I can get fully engrossed in its pages.

This is a book that inspires me. It challenges me to be a better writer and reminds me that being an author is not merely about telling a story, but about the art of telling a story. Donati knows the art of language, as does Diana Gabaldon and Cassandra Clare.

I’m sure there are others but these are the authors who inspire me. I find that when I read them, my own work improves. Not because I’m emulating them or anything, but because they remind me to focus on my word choices, on the internal conflicts of my characters, and on the setting in which those characters live.

I know that there are more books in the world than I could ever read in this lifetime, but there is something to be said about re-visiting a work that you love.