As a little girl I dreamed of having my own library, a room filled from floor to ceiling with books just for me. And to go along with it, of course…unlimited time to read. I suppose that right now I have most of that. As my boys moved out I made one bedroom into a sewing room, and the other into a library filled with books.
Of course, as kids do, my youngest son moved back home last summer to go back to college. He’s sleeping in my library. Rather than pack up all of my books, he moved in another full bookshelf. Now, I worry that my son will be covered in an avalanche of books if we have an earthquake!
So, I have the books, and that doesn’t include what’s on my Kindle, and because my boys are all adults, and I’m no longer working, I have time. I can read all day long if I want. Or I can write.
I’m writing full time, well between loads of laundry, loads of dishes, and feeding my guys. Most of the reading I do is for friends, and while I enjoy working with friends, and it’s important for us to help each other out…I have good friends they reciprocate. There’s nothing like reading a book just to read, just to get lost in a really good story.
But I’m editing a historical novel and writing some novellas, romantic comedies right now, and I’m trying to focus, so there’s been little reading for the pure pleasure of it. I’ve learned so much in the last few years, and editing my historical novel has been exciting, educational and sometimes overwhelming. At one point my editor made notes that I needed to dig deeper to show Violet, my heroine’s growth, I needed to share more with my reader. I thought I knew what she meant, but I wasn’t sure. I poured through my manuscript. I could see places that could use more emotion, partially because Jenny had made notations by many them out, and partially because now that she’d pointed some out, I could see more. I sat at my desk digging into Violet’s soul. I could feel her hurt, her frustration and her fear, but I was having a hard time getting into the page. So, I walked away.
I loaded the washer, unloaded the dishwasher, found other chores that needed done. Eventually, I had to come back to my desk. I played a game of solitaire, then checked in on my friends on facebook. My friend, Author Nikki Prince (who is moving out of state, and I wish her the best, but will miss her terribly) had asked for suggestions for new books to read. Author Beth Yarnall and several others had recommended Sierra Simone’s book, Priest. Now this book may not be for everyone, it’s pretty steamy, and I’d consider it controversial. (Aunt Gloria if you’re reading this, this is not a book suggestion for you!)
So, I downloaded the book to my Kindle…I wasn’t getting much work done anyway.
From the very first words I was hooked. I devoured three hundred and forty-eight pages in one sitting. It had been a long time since I’d done that. I could feel Father Tyler’s compassion, his desire, his struggle with self-restraint, his suffering.
And when I finished the book, I felt renewed, and ready to write. I wanted my readers to feel as though they’d lived Violet’s life when they closed the book and I knew what I needed to do to get more from Violet. I went back to my manuscript, back to page one.
Now, I haven’t finished my edits, and I don’t know if Editor Jenny will be satisfied with what I’ve done, but I feel Violet’s frustration, her desire, her guilt and her fear. I feel Violet, and I hope that my readers will too.
The point of this is, that I’ve realized I need to read. I need to pick up a book just to hear a new voice, to live someone else’s life, to remember why I want to write.
So, make your suggestions now! What books have changed your writing? What books have left you wrung out, energized or in awe. What should be next on my reading list?
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