Tag Archive: reading

Read more

Read more

Read more is one of the top words of wisdom on how to be a better writer. I like to think I read a decent amount, but I don’t read much outside my favorite genres. I like what I like and I spend a lot of my reading time there. Which is great. Reading is valuable. And hopefully I don’t start reading so critically that I find the fun of it slipping away.

Read out of genre

I need to read more of other genres, both to learn about how story structure works for those genres and to learn more about human beings. Because I am a robot and don’t understand human interaction, apparently.

My plan

Read with a friend

I have a wonderful friend who is going to read some of these with me and then talk to me about them. Which is great, being able to discuss and dissect them makes a huge difference to understanding them and what I’m trying to get to.

Read what?

My current list is to loop through these over the next few months mixed in with other things. I’m trying to read…representative examples of the genre. (And I’m happy to take suggestions. The only thing is I’m trying to not read things that are like oooOOOOOooo it’s paranormal thriller or sci-fi mystery.)

Obviously this list won’t be the only things in these genres I read, but a good kick off for it.

If anyone would like to recommend things within these genres I’d love to hear them. I’m sort of doing it pretty haphazardly.

The list

  • Romance:
  • Mystery:
  • Thriller:
  • Literature:
  • Historical:
  • Religious:
  • Young Adult:
  • New Adult:
  • Erotica:

“Not reading”

Sci-fi and Fantasy:

Yeah they don’t go on this list because that is where I read a lot. Though at some point I’d like to make sure I’m reading a good range of sub-genres. More military sci-fi and more time travel I guess?

Horror:

I’m not a fan. I’m glad there are people who like it but like pranks and roller coaster rides, it just isn’t for me. Especially horror that leans toward gore, or the kind that is designed to keep you up at night. I need my robot sleep!

Western:

Is that still a genre? I don’t think so?

Nonfiction:

I do read a ton of this in non-book form (yay science articles, etc) as well as some books so it isn’t that I’m reading them, it is that I’ve already got it covered.

Classics:

I’ve read a ton of these already. Not that I’ve read them all, but I don’t feel like it is a gaping space. I might throw a few of these on my list over the next year though. But I will say that I find some of the “classics” just feel old and outdated and not like I’m bowled over by how it has managed to ring true for xxx years.

Any other genres I’m missing?

2016 Goals

Not resolutions but goals and plans

I don’t love making resolutions, but I do think that the new year is a good time to consider plans for the upcoming year and what goals I have. And what strategies will get me there. Part of this is the world is full of looking back on the last year and looking forward to the new year. Part of it is I spend a lot of time at my day job with year-end reports and next year planning. Part of it is lots of things roll over with the new year. Resolutions without a plan fail, so I need a plan. When I have a plan I can work the plan.

A look back on 2015

My goals were a little loosey in 2015. Read more, write more. About half way through I was struggling with what my plan was, so I came up with one. Basically randomly. Well I say randomly, but there was thought. As much as I’d like to say it was just a guess.

30 and 3 in 3

The goal was to write 30 shorts and 3 novels in 3 years. 30 shorts is less than one a month, and plan to write the novels during NaNoWriMo. Oh and during that time edit things too.

The shorts have ranged from flash fiction, challenges, novelette length, novella length, and shorts for anthologies. A few have been finished up. A few were bad, and won’t see the light of the world. A few are in progress. I’m a few ahead. (I have a note in my giant spreadsheet that says I’m up to May.) I’m going to keep doing challenges that pop up here and there, work on the list of random prompts I have stacked up, and more of the Smoke Jumpers series.

I’ve got draft 1 of novel 1 under my belt. I’m aiming to start in January on edits for it. Actually I’m going to edit the first book in the series. I found the missing chapters from the end of book 1. They will, naturally, have to be entirely rewritten, but I found them! My other 2 of the 3 will be Diane’s first full novel and Jenna’s third.

A look forward to 2016 goals

Writing

Continue the 30 and 3 in 3 goal. For 2016 goals this means continuing to try to write at least 1 short a month. Do my best to edit up and do something with them.  Next November draft a novel, not sure if it will be Jenna’s third book or Diane’s novel. I also want to get at least 1 maybe 3 more sort of novella length pieces for the Smoke Jumpers set. By the end of the year I want to have an anthologies worth for the Jumpers.

Editing

I have a strategy spreadsheet for editing steps. Starts with identify problems, create a plan, and comes all the way down to words I over use (and improperly use). I really need to dig in and start doing it more than I do now. Every week do some editing. Have a project to edit in the hopper at all times. And work it, according to the plan!

I have one novella length piece I’m working on and I want to dig in and start editing Jenna’s first book in January.

Reading

Read more, always read more. Read more out of genre. Read news. Read articles. Read novels. Read shorts. Read the labels on food. Read  websites. Read directions. (Don’t follow them, but read them.) I think I’m going to write another post about this later.

Critiquing

Read and critique. I’ve been doing it pretty regularly, but I’d like to do a couple of novels in the next year. Either volunteering on the NaNo or Critters sites or some other way. But being thoughtful and considerate of the way story and characters and plot works for others will help me. And hopefully help them!

Be critiqued

In addition to giving feedback, I need to continue to get feedback. Reach out and ask for feedback from others. Be thankful and appreciative of the feedback I get. Especially the negative feedback.

Don’t stop planning

Over the next few months I want to keep working on planning and aiming toward my 2016 goals. Planning is a big part of that. Write a lot isn’t a good resolution for me. A specific and achievable goal with a plan. I’m going to write a few more posts over January on some of these specific issues.

I challenge anyone else to have goals with plans to make the goals happen!

Ravens and Wolves

Ravens and wolves work together to hunt? I would read the hell out of the modern fantasy take on that.

I listened to an episode of Mysterious Universe (14.24 – this link skips right to the relevant part, but if you are interested in penises, pain, Mayan altered perceptions, and stingrays, rewind a bit – but you’ve been warned). The guest was Matt Kaplan (he wrote Science of the Magical) who had a bunch of interesting things to say about some of the links between the usual MU topics of mythology and altered perceptions and such. The thing that made me flail was the ravens and wolves thing. (I was out for a walk so I just made a crazy face and pulled out my phone to add the book to my to read list and then looked around to see if anyone saw me make the crazy face.)

Kaplan said that ravens will chase after wolves (which humans can chase and find a potential kill). Ravens dive in and pick every bit that’s left. Sometimes in the height of winter, ravens spot a good kill and then get the wolves attention and bring them over to their prey.

There is also a video with more information on the A Matter of Fact and Fiction site.

I’m not exactly sure what this looks like as a modern fantasy story, but I feel like it would be awesome. There could be something very urban with a take on who or what exactly is prey. If this book (or short) already exists please point me to it.

Book Recommendations

Books and Holidays and Gifts and Stuff

It is winter gift season, post NaNo reading season, cold snuggle up with a warm bowl of soup and a wonderful sweater season, and year end wrap up season. I am far from the first person to say this of course, but I am prompted now to say my own thoughts and recommendations.

There are really good lists out there already full of great book/art/music/etc recommendations. Try Whatever’s annual lists of traditional books, non-traditional books, art, and charities. Try terribleminds recommend a book list.

My Book Recommendations

I Am Princess X

by Cherie Priest. This is fun, fast, engaging and beautiful. It is a great book for anyone who doesn’t like to read. Lots of really beautiful comics interwoven with the book. It is a mystery that reaches the heart of its main character, a 16 year old girl who is lonely and friendless. She’s an active hero, reaching into the world and grasping and unweaving the mystery of her best friend’s death. Get this for the teenager or adult in your life who is like pff books. Tell them it’s a comic (it is!) and read it with them.

Written in Red

by Anne Bishop. I actually recommend all of them. This is an urban fantasy that creates an incredibly rich and complex world. This is the world that when I think about books I’ve read recently always comes to mind. Always led by Meg who is a great protagonist. She tries so damn hard. She fails so damn often. And she still gets up and tries again. The world though is really what sets this book apart. It isn’t at all our world but with magic. It is stripping the Earth back to the beginning  of life and starting magic, then building up from there. Political balance (which has a disturbingly familiar feel), technology, populations, everything is impacted, and well thought out. I highly recommend this series.

Cinder

by Marissa Meyer. Again, I recommend the entire series. This YA Sci-Fi series leans heavily on but still manages to really transport and reimagine them. I’m a secret, not so secret, huge Cinderella fan (hell I even watch when Disney makes a new version every 3 or 4 years) and this is a really good retelling. It holds all the good bits and tosses plenty of the not so important ones. There are also some really fantastic but subtle nods to the fairy tales throughout the books. The final book in the series just came out in November so I’m hoping to get my hands on it soon.

Shards of Honour

by Lois McMaster Bujold. Anything. The odd thing about this series was I started way, WAY out of place. Liked the writing, liked the characters, decided to pick something else up. Looked at the first book, saw it was written when I was very little, grimaced. I’ve found that lots of books that were written quite a long time ago are just books that aren’t for me. But I decided to try. Nothing about this book feels absurdly out of date. It doesn’t feel heavy with language that is laughable, it doesn’t make me constantly roll my eyes out of my skull with frustration. It feels current and engaging. It has characters that really matter, these books float through my brain on the incredible strength of the characters.

These are some I’d recommend. I’m burning through books at a good clip right now as a break for my brain from writing. I’m also just cracking into the novels I agreed to be a beta reader for as well which is exciting.

Go forth and find new books to add to your To Read lists! Have soup! Ski if you have snow! Wear a lovely, soft sweater!

I also really like All Thing Urban Fantasy when I’m looking for a new series, good reviews, thoughtful and considered. Easy to figure out when it isn’t for the reviewer but might be for me, or vice versa.