Books, Books, Books!

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Yes, I am FINISHED with my parenting-related series. (I linked to the first one. Feel free to take it from there, if you’re new or just interested.) Since then, I got inspired to do something a little more fun (or so I hope!).

Recently read a blog post by author, NYTBSA and indie publisher Bob Mayer. (His background is far more extensive and impressive than the little I listed here, lol. He ties all his experience in when giving one of his lively and informative workshops, which I was fortunate enough to participate in just last weekend.) When my comment to his post started going over the two-paragraph mark, I realized I’d been inspired to write one of my own.

In his post, Bob asked a lot of questions regarding reading, but these two spoke to me the most:

(1) What turned me on to reading, and (2) which is the first book that excited me?

Can’t remember what turned me on to reading: maybe my interest in almost anything or inner restlessness? (That would include reading bottles of cleaner in the bathroom, etc.)

I probably read EVERYTHING that passed my hands after the skill was established thru the Dick and Jane readers. Not that I claim those as the first to make my heart go pitter-patter. That questionable honor goes to the book that got me in trouble, to which I refer below.) The Little House Books are my all time favorites.

Little House on the Prairie cover

Aside: My kids and husband are S.I.C.K. of Laura Ingalls references to life then v. now, lol.

We had a great main library a few miles from home. My dad was really proud of my reading and brought me almost any time I asked. I’d check out the max amount of books every time.

Another aside: I rarely  brought everything back on time. Once, my mom forked over $21 or so in fines on one trip. That’s a lot of $$ for that time—and I was sworn to secrecy. She was afraid my dad would flip. Being Daddy’s li’l girl and how much he supported my passion, I’m sure he would have gotten over it soon enough.

The Poseidon Adventure was the first novel I read AFTER seeing the movie. That taught me to watch first, read later—the written version ALWAYS beats a screenplay, with no disappointment either way. That tenet held true for John Jakes North and South. (Of course I read the second part before the second ABC miniseries and was seriously disappointed. Not even Patrick Swayze and/or James Read made up for the differences from novel to the small screen.)

Recommending the first explicit romance novel I picked up got me in trouble with my older cousin and confirmation sponsor about the “literature” I was reading. (Talk about a heart going pitter-patter, lol, especially since I wasn’t quite sure what I was reading in some of those scenes. What did I know? I thought it was great and recommended it. The librarian had no business checking that stuff out to a 13 y/o, lol.)

Loves Avenging Heart cover(Wow. This many years later I recognized this cover immediately, lol.)

As a young adult, I came across Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Ashes in the Wind. That probably sparked my love of romance, and got me started on ALL of that author’s books (and maybe a deeply buried desire to emulate her sweeping love stories). BTW, that’s where the Aislinn in my nome-de-plume originated, from The Wolf and the Dove. Never had a daughter—nor would that lovely name have paired with what would have been her Italian surname. BUT: my debut novel was my baby and my dream. Since Aislinn is Gaelic (?) for vision or dream it seemed fitting.

Ashes in the Wind   wolf and dove

If I HAD to pick ONE book as a favorite: maybe I’d have to go with a tie between Lynn Austin’s Hidden Places and Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon. (I’ve only read the latter three times. Last round, I bawled. Not sure I could do it again.)

Hidden Places  Flowers for Algernon

So, let’s open this up. How would you answer Bob Mayer’s questions and how has (or does) your reading influence you in little (or big) ways?

Have a great day and week all,

Joanna

And You Keep Reading Because…?

Hi friends,

As always, I’m catching up! I originally wrote this the evening after Tropical Storm Irene made the east coast crazy. I was blessed with no loss of power and only a little water in one corner of my basement (the advantages of living on a small hill).

So one major storm, two baby squirrels and one bird rescued by my son later, and while all the kids were out inspecting storm-related outdoor events, I got to write something. (Okay, the bird did a lot of chirping but that was no big deal—quite a pleasant sound, actually. Keeping up with the kids to heat the squirrels’ rice-filled sock, especially overnight was another story…). Sadly, the bird and one of the squirrels didn’t make it. The other squirrel found her way to a vet who has a special place in her heart for rescuing and releasing squirrels back to the great outdoors when they’re ready. (God is good!)

      

Sidetracked, as usual. I’m focused now, I promise! 😀

Recently I downloaded and read a book. (No!) Uh, yes, and may I take a moment to say it was among the worst written I’ve read through to the end. The editing was probably of poorer quality than the writing, as the book was released by a small press (vs. self-published). Read some of the prose to my son and his friend, both teens. Neither likes reading but to their language arts teachers’ credit, both said something about run-on sentences. Honestly, I don’t know how this book made it to press in the shape I read it, little more than first-draft quality.

I know, I sound mean, but I’m entitled to MHO, right?

Having written that, I’ll reveal nothing identifying about the author or the story; I’ll simply share what I didn’t like.

I’d have no problem with story being told completely from the protagonist’s point of view (POV, from here on), but if you’re throwing in another POV, please allow me to get into that character’s head at least one handful of times. A very likable character got less than five times to shine from his standpoint. Author may as well have skipped including a second POV altogether.

Backstory dumps: more than should be legal for any story, and one of the longest inserted at the most inappropriate times. (I won’t say where for fear of giving any revealing info away.)  At least one of these info dumps was dumped twice, almost verbatim too.

I’ve read many a romance and many a love scene. I’ve heard other readers say they’ve skimmed over love scenes when they get dragged out. First time I ever did so during a first read. Not only were these dragged out, they were way overused. So were the descriptions: same or similar words; same approaches to ‘the act’ and pretty much the same response every time by the heroine, since every scene was in her POV. I got it. I didn’t need to be hit over the head every time this couple decided to show each other how they felt.

So back to the title question: what kept me reading this book?

Yep, the story and the players. Very likable characters caught in a number of worlds—this was a paranormal—whose story goals were defined enough to make me want to root for them while trudging through a dragged out book to see how things turned out. Would I read a second book by this author? Doubt it. But, this was proof that characters and an engaging story will keep this reader turning the pages far more than something well-put together but with no people relatability going on.

Anyway, that’s MHO. Thanks for indulging me. Your turn! What keeps YOU reading? And since I’ll be judging first-round in The Suzannah Contest and because I want to start branching out and paying forward more, leave a comment for a chance to win a five-page critique on a current work-in-progress; I’ll pick a winner by the end of the week!

Have a great day,

Joanna