Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Fricassee

And it's Friday again!

Kudos to the brave souls who shared their work this week, and thanks, as always, to the fearless (fearsome?) critters.

We chat a lot about our writing; how we balance time, how we plot, how we meet goals. Today, let's talk about our reading.

What do you love? What makes a story work for you? Who is your favorite author? Favorite genre? What are your pet peeves about "stuff on the shelves" that doesn't flip your cookie?

And are you able, on any level, to read a book SIMPLY TO READ? Or do you find that it's difficult to turn off your internal editor?



  1. While I have not posted here yet, I've been lurking, reading everyone's wonderful submissions and thoughtful comments.

    I love epic adventure stories. When I pick up a book, I want a story with rich characters. I want to believe their actions and understand why they make decisions, even if I don't agree with them.

    I want a strong and evenly paced plot, but I also enjoy seeing the small details of daily life that are so often omitted (or cut) because they don't move the story along.

    I like to read quality writing. Charles Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen . . . they each had a mastery of the English language that elevated their stories into literature. When modern writers do it -- I am hooked!

    However, my favorite genres are fantasy (Tolkien, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Ursula K. LeGuin, etc.), science fiction (Larry Niven, Dan Simmons) and horror (Stephen King, Shirley Jackson.

    Ever since the advent of audiobooks, I fill my commute with "reading". If I really enjoy a book, I'll then buy it and actually sit down and read it. (I find each experience to be quite different -- and I take different things from the story as a result).

    When I listen to a book -- I can just absorb the story. When I read, I want to edit. However, if the writing is bad (passive voice, too many adverbs, etc.) I even have a hard time listening to it.

  2. I read everything I can get my hands on. My favorite authors are . . . Guy Gavriel Kay, Carol Goodman, J. R. R. Tolien, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Lisa M. Goldstein, Raymond E. Feist, Gregory Maguire . . . oh, and so many more.

    My personal favorite genre was fantasy. I used to read nothing but fantasy, the more epic the better. Anne McCaffrey's Pern series is fantastic. Tad Williams.

    Somewhere along the way, I began to branch out. I love me some Mary Higgins Clark. Give me a good, well crafted mystery any day.

    Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos is absolutely amazing. I cried through the last 1/3 of the book. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. Cried again. Big. Time.

    Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips - very good read, semi-fantasy, semi commercial. Good.

    A story works for me when it draws me totally in so all I can think about is reading, not ever wanting to put down the book, and staying up until the crack of dawn just reading, reading, reading. Make me care about the characters. Make me cry. Make chills run up and down my spine because the book is so dang good.

    As for what doesn't flip my cookies . . . don't make me trudge through page after page and not care about the characters. I'm willing to give any book a chance, but don't torture me along the way. If I don't care about the characters by the fourth chapter - buh bye little book, and on to the next.

    Intrige me. Fascinate me. Capture me. Never, ever let me go. Make me keep thinking about the book long after I put it down so that, one day, when Authoress asks me about my favorite books, my fingers can fly across the keyboard with ease because those books are still with me, many years after I finished reading them.

    Have a great weekend and sorry about the lengthy post.


  3. I love ideas - grand ideas, odd ideas, anything that I've never considered before, or never considered in the way in which the author presents it. I love the 'what if.' And I really love it when an author carries off their idea really well.

    I loved the 'Quilted Beast' in one of Jane Yolen's children's stories (I remember the beast but not the title.) It was one of the most original creatures I've ever come across. I loved her idea of setting up a holocaust story in the realm of the sleeping beauty fairy tale in 'Briar Rose." I loved Neil Gaiman's idea of heaven and the creation of the world (and I really wish I could remember the title of that short story because I'd love to read it again!)

    And I also have a soft spot for grand adventure. Shogun, The Far Pavallions, Gone with the Wind, Lord of the Rings, anything Dickens.

    I can't remember the last time I read an adult book. I try, because I love to read, but after spending so long in the realm of MG and YA, I've come to appreciate the tightness of a story. When I read adult books, all I do is pick them apart, even books I've always liked.

    In the world of childrens books, my favorites are Madapple, Holes, The Giver, Briar Rose, and yes, I have to admit it, Harry Potter.

    Things I hate to see on the shelf -- Picture Books by celebrities and books written as badly as Twilight. And this isn't to knock Stephanie Meyer. But where was her editor? We all know the success of Twilight, so that book is going to be out there for a long time, and poor Ms. Meyer is going to look back on that in four or five years and say "OMG! I can't believe I wrote that.'

    But then, maybe she won't. Maybe her thought will be - "OMG! I can't believe I wrote that - and it made millions!"

  4. I love to read and prefer mystery, political intrigue and history. I took a class in Texas taught by NY Times Bestselling Author, Jodi Thomas. She described one of her series and I thought it sounded interesting and bought the book. It's a historical romance set in Texas. Not a genre I would ever read. Ever. I opened the book and at 3 AM, I had to force myself to put it down and go to sleep. I

    I want to write like that! I want someone to open my book and get so wrapped up in the characters that they'll miss their bus in order to finish the story. It is clear to see why Ms Thomas is on the NYT list several times over.

    When reading a book, it is difficult for me to refrain from editing. If I read the word 'suddenly' I'll close the book. Too many adverbs and wrong verb tenses just drive me bonkers!

    I'm looking forward to a reading/writing filled weekend!

  5. What I love really depends on my mood. Sometimes I'd like to go for something heavier, and sometimes I just want a fast paced Grisham.

    In general, a story works for me if the characters are compelling.

    I especially love epic Fantasy, the old fashioned way. I just can't get into urban, somehow. My favorite writers there are G.R.R. Martin, and Robin Hobb.

    And the humorous fantasy of Terry Pratchett's Discworld.

    I'm also enjoying historical fiction. And there my favorite writer is Bernard Cornwell.

    Since I started to get more serious about writing and joined a critique group, I read in a different way, critting the novels to some extent. I have to admit, it sometimes annoys me because it takes away a bit from the pure pleasure of reading.

  6. I think my reading is so dependant upon my food. When I finished my degree though I found it so hard to read without analysing character development and author style whereas now I have relaxed I enjoy reading far more

  7. My internal editors are all noisy and obnoxious. They have loud parties (usually involving the grammar episodes of SCHOOL HOUSE ROCK), and are quick to criticize anything. My stories. Someone else's stories. It doesn't matter if anyone wants their input. My internal editors are sociopaths.

  8. If it's a good story with solid characters, I can totally turn off my internal editor. But when there are just obvious mistakes or if something has been totally blown up to be something awesome and it's just not (Twilight. Sorry to any fans) then I get disappointed and tend to pick it a part more.

    That said, I read a lot of stuff that other people probably don't like too. Such is art! It's all subjective. :-) Right now I'm reading the Dean Koontz Frankenstein trilogy which seems to have a love/hate following just like most popular novels. So far, I'm really enjoying it.

    I tend to like fantasy or paranormal stuff...anything with a little magic will certainly catch my interest. Interesting, 3-d characters and solid plot are really what pull me in.

  9. Authoress: Have you heard the news yet about your SA success story??

    Yay for SA contests!

  10. I haven't been serious about being published long enough to be sure (just one novel written and edited so far) but I find when I'm in my writing phase I can read and be fine, but when I'm in my editing phase, I can't read anything without the internal editor watching and screaming at every typo or confusing sentence. And since I can't open and fix them in the published book, they drive me over the edge faster there. I'm hoping to do better once I have multiple projects done - when each phase takes less time and single-minded concentration.

  11. Okay, the very quick answers.

    YA especially paranormal (though I'm starting to get bored with them) and YA contemporary.

    Romance is a given requirement, but it can be a subplot.

    Fav YA contemporary Author is Sarah Dessen. Fav YA Paranormal author is Lisa McMann (but there are many others as well).

    I try to read SIMPLY TO READ but it doesn't always work that way. I'm always trying to learn something new, even if I don't intend to.

    Pet peeves? Can't think of any, other than the open ended series. I prefer closure.

    Have a great weekend, Authoress

  12. I know some people will say exciting plots, character development, and all those other boring things. But for me, I really have to go with...


  13. If a book really draws me in I can turn off the internal editor - but if I can't, I just put the book down. It's too frustrating!

    Right now I'm reading The Little Book by Selden Edwards and it's fabulous!

    I love mystery, but my absolute favorite are lit fic or upmarket commercial fic with a mystery/secret at the core - like The House at Riverton, or Possession, or Rebecca's Tale.

    And lately, I've been loving Indian Chick Lit. ;)

    A story works if it makes me believe it. It doesn't if I can see the writing - the tricks, the failures, etc.

    Pet Peeves - authors who clearly write to hear their own words, like people who speak to hear themselves talk. Hate that!

    PS My validation word is:proust!!

  14. Woot, woot, Authoress! And congratulations, Lianne! ANOTHER Secret Agent success story! We'd better start calling you the Dream Maker.

    (but does that teeny, tiny voice (I wish I could make these words smaller) deep down inside ever whisper, "yeah, but what about me? when will it ever happen for me?" because my teeny, tiny voice whispers that sometimes, and it can be pretty hard to tune out)

    Anyway, as far as what I like to read, I stick mostly to the same stuff I write: young adult, fantasy, science fiction.

    I throw in a nonfiction something or other every now and then because I think all fiction readers should read some nonfiction every once in a while to keep them honest (and vice versa), and I like to read the classics, too. And anything else that turns out to be entertaining and well written.

  15. Books I have loved lately:

    DUST OF 100 DOGS, by A.S. King


    NOTES FROM THE UNDERWIRE, by Quinn Cummings

    BROKEN SHORE, by Peter Temple

    MEMORY OF RUNNING, by Ron McLarty

    and a manuscript by a YA author who's just signed with an agent, your own entry #26 from the last Secret Agent contest

    All had a little something special or quirky - and phenomenal writing - that resonated with me.

  16. I love a good romance. I'm not talking about steamy romantic junk. I'm talking about boy meets girl (or vise versa) sweet kind of stuff. I like pretty much any genre(except horror) as long as it has a good romance in it.

  17. I love paranormal romance, paranormal anything, horror, humor, fantasy, anything I can get my hands on!

    I do have a major problem with my internal editor and shutting it off. For me it's a lot like it was when I became an artist full time, I couldn't just look at a scene anymore, I was looking at composition. Now with writing I'm the same. I can't just read it anymore. So when I find a book that takes me out of that, boy do I love it!

    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is definitely one, and the Time Travelers Wife is another.

  18. Most of my regular reading is urban fantasy these days. But I go through stages and I'm heading back to catch the classics I haven't read before (starting with Jane Eyre).

    But I know a book is great if my internal editor only makes a peep now and then.

  19. ...are you able, on any level, to read a book SIMPLY TO READ? Or do you find that it's difficult to turn off your internal editor?

    For me, this is the sign of a truly well-written book. The quieter my internal editor is, the better the book.

  20. I agree with many of the others - if the story really grabs me, my internal editor can be pretty quiet.

    I like variety in my reading. Mysteries, romantic suspense, fantasy, sci fi. In the YA I read for school, I like fantasy, paranormal, mystery, adventure, historicals, comedy...

    I do require a happy ending. Reality is too harsh - need happy vibes from my books.

  21. My internal editor was made by Microsoft and therefore, the off switch says "start" and things just got confused from there. She doesn't know when to shut up anymore.
    What makes a story for me? Passion. Not necessarily sex (in fact, preferably not), but strong emotion. I want to love the characters. Pet peeves right now are all those things in print that people keep telling me I can't do if I expect to get published. Favorite author is still Guy Gavriel Kay, although he has his ups and downs.

  22. I'm huge on series - I never want books to end! This is why I'm a novelist and I hate short stories.

    I'm reading the Sookie Stackhouse series like it's crack. I find I'm in a better mood when she and the vamps are in my life. I start to dream about it. I'm a better person with it. ::shakes::

  23. Oooo, what a bunch of great book recs! I like character-driven stories, whether it's PB, MG, YA, or Adult, I have to be invested in those characters or I'll quit reading (Well, maybe not PB. Good pictures can suck me in to so-so stories).

    As for my internal editor, she's been yammering for years, saying things like "I could write better than this!" Which is why I started writing. (When I read something like Waiting by Ha Jin, I don't hear a peep from her.)