Smart Girls Read Romance

Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog. Join them as they dish about Books, Romance, Love, and Life.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Reading—Writers Do It


Reading—Writers Do It

Once upon a time, I had pneumonia. Man-oh-man, was I ever laid low. So I read. That’s what bookworms do when they get sick, you know. They read. A lot.

I’d read every single book in the house that even remotely interested me. That’s lots of books, folks. We sold 42 cases of books before we moved to that house, which didn’t even make a dent in our library (my husband is a bookworm, too). But there you have it—I had nothing to read.

My daughter read romance novels. I’d never read one, nor was I about to start. I read mystery, fantasy, historical novels, and good old shoot ’em up westerns. But not romance. She convinced me to try one. So I did.

I hated it. I still remember the book to this day and no, I won’t tell you the title or the author. My daughter gave me another book and I told her I refused to read it. She informed me that you can’t judge an entire genre by one book, and said if I read five romance novels and still felt the same way, then okay.

Eh. She was right and I knew it. We’ve all read stinkers in every genre, and what we consider stinkers, others think is the greatest thing since hot air. The second book was marvelous. It was Kathleen Eagle’s Fire and Rain. I was duly hooked and read over a hundred romance novels in the next month. That book is still one of my all-time favorites.

Then this dream happened. Yep, I dreamed a story. The next three weeks, I pounded away at the keyboard and wrote 200 pages of my first book. I’ll never forget the utterly confounded look on my husband’s face after he read the first couple chapters. “This is actually pretty good,” he said, shaking his head. “Are you going to finish it?”

“I started it—might as well finish it,” I told him. Of course, I never, at any time in my life, wanted to be a writer. Nor had I ever once finished a project that wasn’t a paying job. We had several closets full of yarn, cloth, and craft supplies to prove it. Needless to say, my husband was skeptical.

Along about that time, it came to me that I had absolutely no idea how to write and I joined our local chapter of Romance Writers of America. They actually took me seriously and treated me like a real writer, even though I wasn’t and knew in my heart that the book would likely never be finished. Still, they weren’t daunted and pushed me to learn, learn, learn. Which I did.

Two years later, I wrote The End of that book (which will never see the light of day). It’s my learning book, where I found out that I’m no good at angst and drama, that my strengths are action and humor. Including slapstick, which puts some people off. Sorry about that—it’s who I am. So I figured since I write silly stuff, I’d start off silly in the second book. A rock ’n roll writer, not trying to be a virtuoso. The book finaled in the Golden Heart and is now Much Ado About Madams, the second book of the Hearts of Owyhee series.

That’s my early writing journey and so much has happened since. But you know what, people helped me every single step of the way and they’re still helping me. Yes, I’ve helped a few others but on the whole, it would be very hard to give back what I’ve been given and am still getting.

But back to reading. Once I started writing, I read even more voraciously, but when a publisher actually bought a short story, the reading suffered, because that’s when my passion turned into work. Writing to deadline, social media, promotion, graphics, proofing one book while writing a proposal for a future book and writing the current manuscript. You see, things get a bit busy.

This bookworm had no time to read. It’s a sorry state of affairs. During the past year, I’ve made an effort to read more and not just because I need the reading fix for my addiction, but because I honestly think it’s a words-in/ words-out thing. No reading, and my writing well runs dry. Read a book—any genre—and we’re rockin’ and rollin’ again. So it goes.

I hope you don’t let life get in the way of your reading like I did. So tell me, what’s the last book you read that you absolutely loved?

Hearts of Owyhee series, ♦♣ Sleight of Heart ♠♥
'Twas the Fight Before Christmas (Wolf Creek, Book 9: A Wolf Creek Christmas)
A Gift for Rhoda (Wishing for a Cowboy) | A Flare of the Heart (Hearts and Spurs)



17 comments:

  1. Life does get in the way, but there's nothing better than a week of hot tea, a blanket, and all the books I want. It's almost worth getting sick! One of my latest favorites is Cheryl Reavis's The First Boy I Loved. It was wonderful!

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    1. I'm with you, Liz. Throw all responsibilities out the door for a few days, hunker down in your favorite chair with your favorite blanket, and read, read, read. I have something like 500 books waiting for me on my Kindle. Of those, I'm just dying to read about 400. The others were free and looked interesting, so I'll probably find some new-to-me authors, and I'm looking forward to that.

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  2. Jacquie, like you, I was late reading romance novels--or thought I was. I considered Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney, and Georgette Heyer mysteries. Ha! Like you, once I was hooked, I bit big time. My latest reads are for the Romance Writers of America RITA contest, so I can't tell you their names. But I found two new authors to follow from the eight books I judged.

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    1. When you get right down to it, the first western historical romance I read was Louis L'Amour's Hondo. LL and Zane Grey both put a lot of romance in their books. As for judging, I'm reading books for the Peacemaker contest--39 of them! I've found three must-read writers that are new to me. I'm a bit puzzled, though, because the books I thought I'd like best are actually in the mid-range. This has been an educational experience, actually.

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  3. I am a reader - not a writer! I loved Caroline Clemmons book The Most Unsuitable Courtship! I have read others that I really enjoyed and have added several new authors to my list! Including you! Keep up the good work!

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    1. I'm a Caroline Clemmons fan, too--love all her books! I actually miss not being able to read so much. Writing doesn't make up for it because there's too much thinking involved. I love to be swept away in someone else's world--of course, then I can't help but think up another story in my own fictional world. LOL.

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  4. I do the bulk of my reading during the summer, but I do get on spurts during the year in between writing and taking care of the family. My 2 favorite books are Johanna Lindsey's Gentle Rogue and Judith McNaught's Double Standards. To this day, I credit them for inspiring me to write and devour everything they write. .

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    1. Julie, there's always so many things that demand our attention besides writing that sometimes it's hard to convince ourselves to take the time to read. I've also enjoyed those two authors although I haven't read either of their books for quite a while now. Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Jacquie, my first romance novel and still one of my very favorites is SWEET SAVAGE LOVE by ROSEMARY ROGERS...Oh, my lord. I was so in love with Steve Morgan, just like Ginny was. I went through every emotion she felt right along with her...and the first time they made love...Oh, I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever read. I was hopelessly in love with him, too. LOL Loved The Flame and the Flower, and The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss, and of course later when I read Kathleen Eagle's The Night Remembers I was just blown away--that was my first modern day romance and I love it so much even to this day. It's on my keeper shelf, for sure.
    Cheryl

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    1. Cheryl, I think the emotion was what I missed in the other genres. The fact is, we're emotional beings, and just about every human on the planet wants to find that perfect someone to love and to love them back. That's what the romance genre brings to us. Yes, we know there'll be a happy ending, but we take that emotional journey. I'm flat-out addicted!

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  6. Jacquie, I started out reading historical and mysteries. I read all the time. When vacuuming, nursing, late at night when I should have been sleeping. Once I started writing, it became harder and harder to find reading time. It's better in the winter when there is less farming to do, but there are times when I think about all the books on my kindle and wish I had more time to get to them.

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    1. Paty, that's exactly what happened to me. Just because you start writing doesn't mean the chores don't still need to be done, so writing comes out of the reading time. And those stolen moments don't even happen as often because you have to vacuum faster!

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  7. The last book I read is the book I love, of course since I read about 2-4 books in less than a month, that is a lot of books to love. I read across genres and it keeps things interesting. (Including non-fiction since I do a great deal of research for my historic talks- and they are not included in the above 2-4 books.) Now to get paid to read, write and well you know the drill. Great post. Doris

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    1. Ha! Doris, that's usually my answer, too--the last one. There are very few books I can't get through and most I like even if others don't. The getting paid part, well, I'm all for that! :) Thanks for visiting SGRR!

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  8. My mother had a friend who subscribed to Women's Weekly from England. She's pass the issues on to my mother who passed them on to me. I was 12 or 13 at the time and loved the romances serialized in the magazine. Some were rather steamy... at least I thought so at the time.

    Mum introduced me to Georgette Heyer, Mary Stewart and Phyllis Whitney - also the grand dames of mystery: Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and Dorothy Sayers. Dad introduced me to Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey as well as great thrillers by Alistair McLean and Jack Higgins. Later I discover SF, Fantasy and, of course, humour.

    Straight up romances don't tend to grab me--I need a dose of mystery, suspense or humour in there. Likewise mysteries and suspense without a touch of romance, humour or both, just don't thrill me.

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    1. Ali, my favorites are nearly always genre blends. I think that's because life is a genre blend. There's no plain old romance--people do stuff like ranch, fight bad guys, are make magic. Whatever. Same with mysteries. Doing nothing but solving whodunit isn't that exciting, but with a romance or thriller element, especially with humor, now you have my attention. I could use a little more time to read, though. :)

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  9. Wonderful post! Some of my faves were those mentioned--Mary Stewart, Johanna Lindsey, Kathleen Woodiwiss, etc. I like my romance with a big dose of humor or suspense or high drama -- or all of the above. *g*

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