Tag Archives: reading

Do I Really Need Another Book? Really?

Well, people, it’s that time of the year — the semi-annual Ridgefield Friends of the Library Book sale in about two weeks. Now you might wonder, after all I’ve written about the masses of books in my house, how I could even entertain the idea about buying more (don’t tell — I bought a book today, full price). Especially after John pointed out for the umptieth time that no one else decorates their hallway with piles of books (that would be my to-be-read pile, mentioned in a previous post), and just when did I think I’d get to read them all (probably never, but I can’t take that chance).

I actually think I’ve shown admirable restraint. There were two other Friends’ sponsored book sales in nearby towns within the last month which I did NOT go to. And I sent a box of books to a neighbor in Maine, as well as donated two boxes to our library. Isn’t that enough?

You might ask, with a sky high to-be-read pile, as well as research books to pore over, and my own novels to write, what on earth could I need or want to read? Well, more suspense, for one thing; new authors I could fall in love with, biographies, diaries, grandson-oriented books — there’s no dearth of things that interest me. Plus all that benefits my library and the Friends, for whom I was recording secretary for several years.

So of course I have to go to the Book Sale. And buy. Generously. I’ll find room. I can always squeeze in another book I’m sure nobody will notice another half dozen books on the hallway pile.

Anyway, it’s my pleasure. Really.

Can you resist a book sale? Does your husband have feelings about your stockpile of books? Did you notice I never mentioned Kindle?

Thea Devine is currently working on a contemporary erotic romance. She will be speaking at the NJRWA Put Your Heart In A Book Conference this weekend.

The Weekend is Mine!

Yay Friday! Casey here, hoping your week went well.

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Labor day trip to Kringle Candle, Bernardston, MA

Recently, I had an attitude adjustment. Every blog about writing or by writers, eventually, touches on the topic of professionalism and treating writing as a job.

I am not going to dispute that wisdom. If you’re in it for the long haul and you want to be published (or stay published), then you have to realize that writing isn’t sitting around waiting to be struck by genius. There comes a time in every writer’s day, month, year (take your pick) when you have to do the deed. You know, sit at your computer and write stuff – whether you feel like it or not.

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Someday owls will rule the world!

Kind of like being an employee at a day job. I have a full time job. I also consider writing a job and when I am actively working on a story, I do it after the paid job.

Which brings me to the attitude adjustment. For the last few weeks, I’ve written my 2,000 – 3,000 words a day from Monday – Friday (after my day job ends) and I’ve taken the weekends off!

And by off, I mean, I don’t even turn my laptop on. For the last several years, my trusty laptop has been on 364 days of the year. The only day it got off was Christmas day because family comes over.

So far, it’s been therapeutic. I don’t feel all – “Ugh, I have to write today.” I admit, I’ve been getting a little grouchy about writing. Like it was a ball and chain. Until I realized that even with my day job, I take time off and I sure don’t feel guilty about it. Why should writing be different than any other profession?

Who wouldn't want to pet this cute cat??
Who wouldn’t want to pet this cute cat??

That doesn’t mean I won’t write on the weekend. I will. But it’s also nice to know that I don’t have to feel guilty for taking a day trip with my family or grocery shopping so we can eat all week. Or read a book. Or just veg and pet my cat.

BTW- Mystic Hero is over the 55,000 words mark, well on it’s way to first draft completion in the next week or two. Yay!

See? It’s all about attitude. If you find yourself in a rut or so stressed out you can’t think straight it might be time for an adjustment!

Anyone else feel the need to take time away? How do you veg?

What Do You Like To Read?

Thea Devine here, curious to know. I told you about all my to-be-read piles, didn’t I? I know what I like to read — or should I say what we all first and foremost probably read: romance. But over and above that, what books do you love to settle in with on a cold snowy day?

My list includes romantic suspense, serial killer mysteries, gothics, women’s fiction, hearth and home novels, category romance, thrillers — especially object of desire quests. What I’m not reading a lot of recently is historical romance and erotica, which you all know I write. I wonder about that sometimes; if what you read is a reflection of what you love to write, I should be devouring historical and erotic novels by the armload.

But I really love romantic suspense and a good gothic mystery. And I adore books (and tv movies) about women returning to their small town roots, especially if they live down south. And I’ll “read” Pride and Prejudice dozens of times as long as it’s broadcast in 6 parts on cable tv. Preferably in a marathon.

Inquiring minds want to know — do you write the kind of book you like to read? Or is your reading for pleasure light years away from what you write?

Thea Devine’s novels defined erotic historical romance. She is currently working on her next erotic contemporary romance. She’ll be speaking at the NJRWA Put Your Heart in a Book Conference in October.

Porch Story

So we went to Maine, and I am sitting on the porch with my ghosts and memories as twilight falls and the call of a loon breaks the silence. And then the quacking of ducks from somewhere at the edge of the pond.

“Margaret still feeds the ducks,” John says, which seems very odd to me since they have to make their way from the pond up our lengthy path to get across the road to Margaret’s house.

I wonder what my heroine would do. She’s come to Maine — why? She inherited the island in the middle of the pond, even though she’s not family. She’s thinking the family must be furious. There are a raft of nephews, nieces, cousins, aunts and uncles who on the face of it are more entitled to inherit than she. She’s never asked herself why her.

But the family must have: the family was surely gathering forces to contest the will. At the moment, however, my heroine doesn’t care.

She sits on the porch at the home of a friend, thinking about the past as she gazes out over the pond. She used to come here as a child. There was a guy — but best not to think about that. She hasn’t really thought about him in years and gives herself a moment to wonder now, is he still around? Is he married? Is he dead?

He is one of the ghosts; she fully expects to see him canoeing toward the dock, calling out to see if anyone’s home. Or to find a jar of homemade jelly on her front steps, a sure clue he came visiting.

But no — all she hears are the far-away voices from the camp at the other end of the pond. The sound of oars dipping in the water, or the occasional roar of a speedboat pulling water skiiers on the far side of the island.

It’s all about the island, my heroine thinks, and how it reflects in the water. In some lights, when you photograph it, you can’t tell which is the real island and which is the reflection. It feels like a metaphor for her life.

Clouds gather, a portent of a storm. Mist wafts across the water. The branches overhanging the pond, which look like a samurai warrior and a dragon respectively, sway in the churning wind like marionettes controlled by an unseen hand. It starts to rain, a pattery rain that causes the water to ripple. A drift of lily pads and pond grasses floats across the reflection, effectively dividing it in half.

The rain drops blur the shadowy trees mirrored in the pond, making the upper half look like ghostly men rolling toward the shore, coming for her, coming for me.

Across the pond, out of the corner of her eye, she sees movement — an ethereal figure in white which looks as if it’s walking on water.

She freezes. Who’s heading toward her island? Anyone could — it’s wide open all the time. If she were there, she’d be defenseless. Here, on the porch, in the rain, she can do nothing about it. She feels terrorized nonetheless.

The ghost men in the water come closer and closer, reaching for her, reaching for me. The white ghost floats along the length of the island, seeking — what?

Ducks quack loudly, one-two-three. “They’re on their way to Margaret’s house again,” John says from the kitchen window. “We’ll visit tomorrow morning.”

My heroine (and I) look up. The mysterious white figure is gone.

Does being away from home set your imagination in motion? Do you weave stories from dust motes? Do you believe in ghosts? Yes, the island really exists.

Thea Devine is working on her next erotic contemporary romance, and other projects. She will be attending CTRWA’s Fiction Fest in September, and speaking at the NJRWA Put Your Heart in a Book Conference in October. She was among those honored as a Romance Pioneer at this year’s Romantic Times Convention.

Act of Faith

Thea Devine today, just back from Atlanta, and thinking how everything concerned with writing is an act of faith. You’re born with it, I’m convinced, or why else would you at some point sit yourself down at a computer and start to write?

You have faith you have the talent, that you have the power to create characters with all their foibles and flaws, conflicts, motivations and consequences. You have absolute faith you can mix up that brew into some kind of plot.

And with all that faith, you start to write a book. Faith drives those opening chapters where you set up the problems and possible solutions and obstructions. You know you can solve any fictional problem, you have faith. Even in the depths of that sagging middle, you have faith.

And when you’re hurtling toward the end — faith. You’re going to get it done. You’re going to have your beta readers or your critique partners read it, with faith they will love it as much as you do.

Then, you take a huge leap of faith and submit. With faith the project will sell. And if it doesn’t, with faith that it will.

We writers live on the edge of a dangerously amorphous cliff called faith. My guess is, we’d never have it any other way.

What do you think? Is it faith or insanity that drives us? Have you ever lost faith?

Thea Devine is currently working on her next erotic romance. She’ll be speaking at the NJRWA Put Your Heart in a Book Conference in October, and is delighted that five of her backlist titles (the westerns) are now available in Kindle editions.

Winnah, Winnah, Chocolate Dinnah!

Hi, all. Suze here. We have a winner in last week’s Valentine’s Day Giveaway: Gail Ingis! Gail, I’ll contact you to make arrangements to get you your prize.

I have lots going on this week so I thought it would be fun to let you know what I’m reading right now. Yes, I tend to flit from book to book and usually have several going at once. How do I choose which one to read? It largely depends on (1) where I set the book down last, and if I can find it again (sometimes not for days/weeks/months later!); (2) whether my Nook is charged; and (3) whether I can get the iPad away from the teenaged Crown Prince so I can use the Kindle App. Here’s what I finished this week:

Buried in a Bog by Sheila Connolly. (Ebook, Nook) This is a wonderful little cozy mystery that just hit the NYT Bestseller list and is the first in a new series. It’s about an American woman who travels to Ireland to learn about her heritage, and ends up finding a home. It’s a little bit darker, a little bit slower paced (and slower paced is not always a bad thing!), and a lot more introspective than most cozies. Loved it!

Nameless Cowboy/Cowgirl Romance by unnamed author. (Mass Market Paperback) Honestly, I did not love this book. In fact, I didn’t love it enough that I’m not going to tell you what it was about or who wrote it (nobody I know personally, BTW!). I will say that this is by a prolific author, and lots of other people apparently don’t agree with me because it has sold lots and lots of copies. So, to each his own! But I’ll be giving this one back to the person who lent it to me, with no regrets.

Manuscript Written by a Friend. (Word doc, on computer) One of the things we writers do for each other is read and critique each other’s manuscripts. I finished one this week–with just a little bit of polish, this is ready to go out into the world. It’s a romantic suspense, fresh with a fun premise, and with a great heroine and a sexy Portuguese hero. I predict a sale this year!

Now that I’ve told you what I finished this week, here’s what I have in progress:

Penelope (A Madcap Regency Romance), by Anya Wylde. (iPad, Kindle app) I’ve fallen a bit in love with this indie-pubbed Irish author (just a coincidence, btw, all the Irish stuff in this post!) since I read her previous book, The Wicked Wager (A Regency Murder Mystery & Romance). These books are great fun, a bit offbeat, and only 99 cents each–so I recommend picking them both up if you like historicals/regencies. In fact, everybody go buy them, read them, and report back here with questions/comments in a few weeks, when I’ll be interviewing Anya!

Wedding Day Murder, by Leslie Meier. (Mass Market Paperback) This is another cozy mystery by a veteran author. I can’t get enough of Lucy Stone and the inhabitants of Tinker’s Cove, Maine. I’m reading this series out of order–but the author does such a good job of making each a standalone, I can easily keep the stories straight.

Portrait of a Dead Guy, by Larissa Reinhart. (Ebook, Nook) Just getting started on this mystery, but how can you not love this first line? “In a small town, there is a thin gray line between personal freedom and public ruin.” Can’t wait to dig into this one.

How about you? What are you reading these days? Are you a one-at-a-time reader, or do you have several books going at once?

Stories that Stick

Happy Friday everyone! Casey Wyatt here.

With the holiday season in full swing, I wanted to share some of my favorite books in case you’re looking for gifts or something different to read in all your “free” time.

Either because of the characters or the adventure, these are the stories that have stuck with me over the years. Sometimes, I re-read them (except for #6, explanation to follow), other times, the memory is enough to make me smile.

By no means, is this a list of all my favorite books. Absent, but no less loved, are The Lord Of the Rings trilogy, A Christmas Carol and all of Harry Potter. Instead, I wanted to offer more obscure titles that maybe you’ve never encountered. And I do admit that some of these have a sci-fi/fantasy bent (but I can’t help that!).

1.In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker – a 24th century cyborg named Mendoza time travels to Elizabethan England to the garden of Sir Walter Iden. While there, she falls in love with a monk name Nicholas Harpole. While there’s a romance, this is really speculative fiction and is the first of an epic series about the mysterious Company – Dr. Zeus, Inc.

2. Spring Moon: A Novel of China by Bette Boa Lord – I first read this book as a teen. I distinctively remember that you could choose among an assortment of different colored covers. I choose a pink one with red lettering (which I still own). At the time, I knew next to nothing about China, let alone about the turmoil at the turn of the twentieth century. But I never forgot this tale about Spring Moon and how she survived her country’s massive social upheaval. I re-read this book several years ago and it was still as poignant as I remembered.  If you are a fan of Lisa See, check this book out.

3. A High Wind In Jamaica by Richard Hughes – this book was out of print for many years but returned in the early 2000s, when I first learned about it. This story is a dark comedy about a group of siblings on their way home to England after their Jamaican plantation home is leveled by a hurricane. Along the way, their ship is hi-jacked by pirates who have no idea what they are in for. And it begs the question, who is more wicked? The children or the pirates?

4. The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett – A wacky variation of the story about the guy in the in the red suit. In the land of Discworld, Hogswatchnight is in danger when the beloved Hogfather goes missing.Death’s granddaughter has the task of finding him before disaster ensues. With appearances by a down on her luck tooth fairy, a nasty assassin, and Death himself, this is a satirical holiday tale like nothing you’ve read before.

5. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote – A short story that I read in high school English class. Young Truman recalls holiday visits with his aunt and their annual mission to find ingredients to make fruitcake. I believe this tale sneakily contributed to my fascination and enjoyment of fruitcake. Yes! I admit it. I like fruitcake!

6. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks – This book scares the crap out of me. Written in fast-paced, first person, documentary style, this story is so plausible, it’s freaky! And, since Brad Pitt will be starring in the movie version (which I am sure will bear no resemblance to the book), you might want to check this out. If you read Stephen King, you can handle this. Don’t be put off by my nightmares! I’m just a big scaredy cat when it comes to zombies

7. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley –  Everyone has a book that they read a zillion times as a kid. This was mine. I took it out of the library so often that I knew its exact shelf. My love of Beauty and the Beast traces back to this book. And I suspect my love of romance too.

Who wants to share their favorite (not as popular) stories? And what books are you looking forward to reading in 2013?