Reading and Writing

Reading and Writing are my two most favorite things to do. I spend as much time as I possibly can doing these two activities, which as long as we have child(ren) still living in our home, is not as much as I would like, but the fact that I have lots of friends who love to read and write as much as I do is a huge plus. It allows me to share with other like-minded people, which is great, because even my husband doesn’t really understand my artist/writing ways. ¬† ūüôā

Reading and writing go hand-in-hand. To be a good writer, it is imperative to do a lot of reading, and not just books on the writing craft. Actually, sometimes you can learn more about writing from reading a fiction or nonfiction book than from some of the books on writing.

I’ve been told that I must spend a lot of time reading the type of books that I want to write because that’s extremely helpful. However, I love so many different genres that I read from a wide spectrum, which I think is also extremely helpful in many ways.

Since reading and writing are solitary activities, it’s important to be purposeful about getting out and spending some time with people. After all, that’s one place a lot of story ideas come from. Also, to just spend time with other reader/writer people helps to feed our creativity and helps us to be encouraged because, let’s face it, writing is hard work!

If you visit my blog regularly, then you’ve probably seen many of my Monday posts that are reviews of books I have read, so you know that I read a wide variety of genres and stuff that’s been published recently as well as many years ago.

What about you? What do you like to read?

Top Ten Tuesday

Today I get to choose what my Top Ten Tuesday list will be, since The Broke and Bookish have declared it Freebie Week! ¬†So, I have decided to do a topic that The Broke and Bookish did before I began participating in Top Ten Tuesday. ¬†Today’s list is “My Top Ten Bookish Confessions.”

  1.  I learned to read using the Dick and Jane books.
  2. I’m one of those who read everything I could get my hands on as a kid including milk cartons and cereal boxes.
  3. I used to read and record myself for an organization that provided books on tape for people with sight problems.
  4. I love to read to children.
  5. I love to use different voices for different characters when reading aloud to children.
  6. I wish I would have made a list of ALL of the books I’ve read since I started reading. (I’m still not as faithful at this as I should be.)
  7. My reading tastes have changed over the years.
  8. I regret getting rid of books I never read.
  9. I cannot resist a book sale, bargain book rack, a box of books at a yard or garage sale, or a discount book store.
  10. In addition to reading, I LOVE to write.  I am working on my first novel.  It is an historical romantic fiction book.

What about you?  What Bookish confessions are you hiding?  Leave a comment below and tell me one of your Bookish confessions.

What I’ve Learned About Critique Groups

There are different types of critique groups and it’s important to try several different types until you find the one you think fits you best and is most helpful to you in your writing.

I have been involved in two different critique groups and will begin my journey with another critique group this week. ¬†The two that I have been a part of seem to have the same basic rules: ¬†start by saying something positive, offer your thoughts on what works and doesn’t work in the writing or where things tend to drag, and end with something positive. ¬†Also, be specific! ¬†Saying something like, “This is nice. ¬†I like it,” is not really helpful at all to the writer.

Of the two critique groups I’ve been involved with so far, I do prefer one over the other because one group has difficulty critiquing the piece you bring to share. ¬†Because you may be working on a novel and you have brought early chapters in the past and now you’ve brought middle or later chapters, and this group may or may not consist of people who read the earlier chapters, it seems to be quite difficult for them to simply critique what is before them.

I understand that it can be difficult as far as knowing how things began and why what’s happening is happening now, but I don’t find it difficult to be able to focus on the words before me and give advice on what is happening on these pages. ¬†Whatever I am reading to critique, I simply, ask myself several questions as I read: ¬†1) Does the story flow? 2) Does the dialogue move the story forward and is the dialogue relevant to the story? 3) Are the goals of the main character clear from the action, the decisions and choices the character makes? 4) Are there any places that cause the story to lose momentum, slow down and seem to drag? 5) Are there any places that confuse the reader? ¬†6) Are the writer’s word choices fitting for the time the story is set in or are there word choices that are too modern or too outdated? 7) Does the story capture and hold my attention and make me want to keep reading? 8) Do I care about the main character? 9) Does the plot line keep my interest and does it keep the story moving? 10) Is the story unique compared to other stories in the same genre?

There may be more questions that pop into my head as I read that I look for answers too as well, but the ten I listed in the previous paragraph are some of the most important, so if you can keep those questions in your head while reading someone’s work, it shouldn’t matter whether you are reading a piece of writing from the beginning, middle or end of the story, in order to give the writer good quality, helpful feedback.

* * * * *

Now, just a bit about the critique group I will be getting involved with this week. ¬†It is the online critique group offered through the ACFW website for ACFW members. ¬†I am really excited about this because it sounds like it may be the most helpful critique group yet. ¬†In order to become involved in the critique group, I have to take a three day orientation, where I will receive three email assignments each day of those three days to complete, in order to learn the rules and how their critique group works. ¬†It’s a very large group and it has smaller branch groups as well, from what I understand. ¬†I am really looking forward to it! ¬†I’ll let you know what I think, once I am able to receive and offer some critiquing.

What about you?  Are you part of a critique group?  How do you benefit from your critique group?

Top Ten Tuesday

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday, as suggested by The Broke and the Bookish is “Ten Childhood Characters You’d Love to Revisit as Adults”.

  1.  Max from Where the Wild Things Are
  2. Henry Huggins
  3. Hansel and Gretel
  4. Heidi
  5. Madeline
  6. Alice from Alice in Wonderland
  7. Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  8. Fern from¬†Charlotte’s Web
  9. Ralph Moody from Little Britches
  10. Caddie Woodlawn

This list was a challenge because a lot of the books that I read growing up either had animals as characters or had the child grown up before the book or series was finished.  How about you?  Did you come up with a list?

Top Ten Tuesday

The theme for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday as determined by The Broke and Bookish is “Ten Books to Read If You Are in the Mood for Something Sci Fi”. ¬†However I am substituting “Romantic” for “Sci Fi” because I have not read any Sci Fi books.

1.   A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux

I read this book years ago but it still stands out as my favorite love story because I             have always loved stories of knights in medieval times, and this story has that plus a         wonderful spin on it.  It includes time travel.  Ms. Deveraux does a wonderful job                 capturing and holding my attention.  She creates wonderful characters and I just get       completely swept up in this story.  I hope to reread this treasure again soon.

2. ¬†The O’Malley series by Dee Henderson (I know we are supposed to give a list with a ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†total of 10 books, but this is a series and it’s nearly impossible to choose just one ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†from the series.) ¬†This series is so good. ¬†I totally love it. ¬†Each story has a suspenseful ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†plot and the characters are so well developed that I felt like I really knew them. ¬†I fell ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†in love with the characters and was sad when the series came to an end. ¬†I would still ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†like to see more books about these characters, but I will definitely read this series ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†over again, probably several times.

3.  Fire and Water by Betsy Graziani Fasbinder

This story drew me in immediately and held me fast.  Jake and Kate have such a                   strong love for one another, but they face some serious struggles.  I kept routing for         them throughout the story.  I think I loved Jake just as much as Kate did and as he               sank deeper and deeper into his mental illness, my heart ached for both of them.               After finishing the book, I was affected as no other book had ever affected me.  I                 literally had to take a week or two to process the story and to deal with the emotions     it had evoked within me before I could move on and read another book.

4.  Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I read this story years ago and my husband and I went to see it performed on stage in     the early years of our marriage.  It still remains one of my favorites.  Who can ever             forget Catherine and Heathcliff?  I look forward to reading this story again soon as           well.

5. ¬†The Hunger Games trilogy (I know, again this is more than one book. ¬†I can’t help it.) ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†I just love the love between Catniss and Peeta. ¬†Peeta is the kind of loving man any ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†girl would want to have loving her.

6.  Kissed by a Cowboy by Debra Clopton

If you want to know why I like this book so much, you can read my review.

7.  Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund

This story is a wonderful story about a lonely lighthouse keeper and a young woman ¬† ¬† ¬† who ends up on the same island after a storm. ¬†Emma, the woman, seems to be ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† unwanted at the home where her brother, Ryan was taken in. ¬†She is intrigued by ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Patrick, the lighthouse keeper and reaches out to his little boy. ¬†It’s wonderful to read ¬† ¬† how the relationship between Emma and Patrick grows.

8.  Prison by Toni V. Lee

This is just a fun story that includes danger, suspense and romance. ¬†The two main ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† characters are very entertaining and I couldn’t help but chuckle often while they were ¬† falling in love.

9.  Mermaid Moon by Colleen Coble

This book is a wonderful book about an old love rekindled and old hurts healed. ¬†It’s ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†got suspense, danger, and romance and wonderful characters.

10.  Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke

I will refrain from including this entire series because I haven’t read the entire series ¬† ¬† ¬† yet, but I know I’ll love the books I haven’t read as much as the ones I have. ¬†This ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† series is Janette Oke’s most popular series. ¬†It follows the life of pioneer woman ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Marty and the man she marries for convenience, Clark Davis. ¬†This series was made ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† into a series of movies which I recently ordered on DVD from Amazon.


Binge Reading

I hear a lot of people about binge watching t.v. shows or movies, but have you ever binge read books? ¬†I haven’t heard anyone talk about this, but I have to admit that recently, I have been binge reading.

Sometimes my brain just craves good books, and I need to feed this craving. ¬†That’s why you’ve been seeing all of the book reviews here on my blog. ¬†I like to write a review for every book I read, whether old or new, and whether I am doing it for BookLook Blogger or just for my own reading record.

I’m still writing too, but I believe I need to continue to read to feed my writing as well. ¬†When I read, I can see what works and what doesn’t as I read books that I think are okay and books that I think are really good.

In my opinion, the very best books make me laugh and cry. (Incidentally, my opinion is the same for movies.) ¬†I must say that none of the books I’ve read during my recent binge have ranked that high.

So, in my opinion, good books are the books that hold my attention, make me care about and route for the main character(s), and keep me turning pages past my bedtime.  Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina, Mermaid Moon by Colleen Coble, and The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson fall into this category.

Then there are the books that are okay. ¬†These would be the books that interest me either in the character(s) or the plot, but not necessarily both. ¬†It could be the plot is too slow or the characters don’t really make me care about them, but some aspect of the story keeps me reading. ¬†Maybe I care enough about the character to see how things will turn out for that character, or maybe the plot line includes something like a murder and I want to know whodunit. ¬†These books may keep me reading, but I will not read through a book like this nearly as quickly.

Finally, there are the books that are not very good. ¬†These lack both characters that I care about and a good plot line. ¬†I trudge through these books, and only if I am reading them for a BookLook Blogger book review because I have agreed to read a book in its entirety before writing the review for them. ¬†If it’s just a book I have picked up, I will lay it aside and most likely never pick it up again.


The following books are on my current list of books I want to read as I continue binge reading:

Dauntless by Dina Sleiman

Chivalrous by Dina Sleiman

Rose Madder by Steven King

Fear Mountain by Mike Dellosso

Darlington Woods by Mike Dellosso

I’m sure there will be many more added, as I continue to binge. ¬†There will also be more added for book reviews for BookLook Blogger. ¬†The next one of those that is up is¬†Inspirational Reflections by Ian J. Roberts.

So, do you binge read? ¬†What’s on your binge reading list?