I read a lot. I read articles online, I get two magazines each month (Mother Earth News and MaryJane’s Farm), and I have a stack of books I want to read in my closet, on my nightstand, and on my bookshelf in my office. I have books on writing, editing, communicating. I have books full of interesting and obscure words, books of funny phrases and colloquialisms, books of physical descriptions, and more than one dictionary and more than one thesaurus. I have books of general fiction, short stories, women’s fiction, and romance. I have books I can’t categorize.
How many of the things I read influence my writing? Probably all of it, to one degree or another. My magazines are mostly about gardening and cooking, and those are practical skills that I use every day, especially this time of year. But I am also letting some of that “country” into my current WIP. The non-fiction books help me with crafting my novels – how to build characters, how to write effective opening scenes, how to craft my sentences for maximum effect. I’ve been writing for more than 40 years, but I always have new things to learn, new techniques to try, new ways of saying old things.
But what about all that fiction? I am by no means a voracious reader, but I do read fiction regularly. I also have “no patience for bad books,” as I like to say sometimes. If a book doesn’t catch me in the first 50 pages, I’m not likely to finish it. It will go to the discard pile in a hurry. Since I read a broad variety of fiction, I feel I’m always stretching my wings with fiction. I used to read romance exclusively – historicals wen I was younger, and contemporaries as I passed 30. I still read a lot of romance. But I read other things as well. And I think all of those things help me to see a bigger world. And sometimes, I get ideas about something I want to write, from some element of a story I’ve read.
To be clear, I am not lifting scenes from fiction I’ve read and using them in my own work. As a “spiral writer” who writes around a small seed of an idea, that would be impractical to say the least. But a scene in a novel, or a description of a place or person, might spark an idea that I will take into a novel that I am working on. And I think that is one of the biggest values, for me, of reading fiction.
In a perfect world, I’d spend half my day writing, and half my day reading. But I live in the real world, a practical world. There is the day J.O.B., the gardens in my own yard I need to maintain, the cooking and cleaning required of any wife and mother, the crafts I like to do – sewing, crochet, and whatever else I fancy at any given moment. There is time to spend with family and friends, and events to attend in my small-town-big-city. By necessity, my reading time is limited. But I still do it, and I know it influences my writing. And that’s just as it should be.
Fairest of the Faire – available now!
Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.
Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Youngblood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.
When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.
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