Tag Archives: reading

Personality & Books

It’s amazing to me how a book can speak to you just like a human being. Open up to the first page (or tap to it) and a well-written novel is a lot like a conversation. Any good book instantly gets you talking back – asking questions, picturing the characters and setting, struggling to complete the puzzle. More incredible is that each book has a unique way of speaking to you. Just like each person you meet.

I’ve been thinking a lot about voice and writing as I’ve read lately, amazed and delighted by how it changes the experience, even if every book you read is in the same genre. When I read The Daily Post writing challenge a couple of weeks ago, I got inspired to talk about it. I’ve realized that voice is one of the main things that can draw me into a book. It changes from writer to writer, but even from book to book.

There are writers whose voice is instantaneously recognizable. In the realm of classic authors, Charles Dickens comes to mind right away. There’s something about the rambling that tips me off. Because I’ve been obsessed with Percy Jackson recently, I’m going to say Rick Riordan for modern-day authors. Each series may have a slightly different tone, but it’s all Riordan’s voice.

And how cool is that when you think about it? It’s like your favorite bands. You know their music in the first few notes without even knowing a particular song. Books can bear the same fingerprint.

Just look at different authors in your collection. Mine includes Suzanne Collins, James Dashner, Jane Austen, Y.S. Lee, Diana Wynne Jones, John Grisham, J.R.R. Tolkien, Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Mark Twain. They may share similarities due to genre or time period, but they’re still different.

Some authors have a loud, punchy vibe to their writing (Riordan, Twain), while others are on the quieter side (Austen, Dashner). Christie and Sayers, both queen bees of the mystery world, two completely different voices (and approaches to mystery writing, I might add!). You wouldn’t think you could take the same set of words in the same language and wind up with so many alternatives, but there you have it.

I find voice to be one of the most compelling aspects of good writing, old or new. And when you think about it, it’s really just the writer peeking out at you between the lines.

Last Day of The Jester’s Apprentice Giveaway!

Today is it to win an ebook copy of The Jester’s Apprentice! Every day this week I’ve posted a simple trivia question related to the book with cheats. So for #SampleSunday, I’m posting the second chapter of Jester’s with an easy question (answer found in the chapter). To enter, follow the instructions right after the post! You can read the first chapter by clicking here.

The question: What precious item do the thieves take from Philippa?

And the sample:

Chapter 2

Edric kept a wary eye open and his hand on the hilt of his sword as they made their way along the dirt path, knowing they would make a good target for highwaymen. Philippa rode alongside him, unconcerned with that. She worried more about the household she had left behind after the previous night’s events.

“You’re unusually quiet,” Edric said, eyes still straight ahead. “Are you nervous?”

“Not for the road ahead.” Philippa turned, but the manor was well behind them. “I’m worried for my household. I overheard a couple of servants talking…what if the fire wasn’t an accident?”

“We surveyed the damage and found no evidence of arson, nor of a stranger poking around your barn. They’re safe.”

Philippa checked his violet eye and satisfied Edric was sincere, tried to relax and focus on something lighter.

A hawk called out above them, and as Philippa tipped her head up to admire it, an object zinged passed her. She whipped her head in the direction of the woods, two dark figures shadowed in the trees, one aiming an arrow at her forehead. The party halted, Edric’s witching eye locked on the archer who shifted uncomfortably under his gaze. The other man stood casually surveying the group.

“Not the wealthiest wedding party we’ve seen,” he remarked to his comrade, “but they’ll do.” He sauntered up to Philippa, his small frame coming into full view. He smiled, a goatee hiding his lips, and bowed regally. “Sorry for the intrusion, my lady. This won’t take long.”

Philippa’s eyes narrowed, irritated by his smile. First, a fire during her wedding feast and now a robbery! He held out a gloved hand and helped her dismount. Edric watched him, keeping the archer in the background, poised to push Philippa out of the way if necessary. Philippa wore nothing of major consequence for this very reason and so handed over the trifling few pieces of silver she carried with her. The thief smirked, bowing before moving on to her attendant, Sibbe. Philippa turned to see Edric’s reaction, his face set menacingly on the archer who managed to keep his arrow fixed anyway. After collecting the few trinkets they carried, the leader slung a leather satchel over his arm and came around near Philippa again.

“Thank you for your generosity,” he said, his eyes dipping from Philippa’s face down her neck. “You have no idea how this helps us.” He lifted Philippa’s hand, slipping her wedding ring off of her finger, raising his eyes to her glare as he kissed her fingertips. Philippa wrenched her hand away, her nostrils flaring. The man winked at Edric whose expression had turned to stone.

Philippa snorted as he took a final bow and they disappeared into the trees, the archer taking a final look behind him at Edric. Edric helped Philippa mount her pony again and the party moved ahead at a faster pace, going on almost as if nothing had happened.

“Why didn’t you stop them?” Philippa said, her face flushed from the heat. “You carry that sword as if you would use it and then you just stand there while that fool robs us!”

“Why would I risk harming us all to stop them from taking a few possessions?”

“They stole my wedding ring! Your mother’s ring.”

“I’m sure she would agree it’s not worth dying for.”

Philippa pursed her lips. Edric watched her from the corner of his eye. She would be even more upset once she realized the thieves had probably pillaged the cart carrying all of her precious possessions.

* * *

They arrived at Edric’s manor by the afternoon. Philippa’s undergarments clung to her wet skin and she couldn’t wait to jump off of her pony and straighten her legs. Edric dismounted, passing the reins to a servant who waited outside for them. While he spoke to the anxious looking attendant, Philippa rode away from the manor, surveying her new home. Edric had spoken of it, but she had not actually seen the building with her own eyes. It was as sad as he had described it. Blackened stones formed a box without much ornament, a conical dovecote and barn flanking the structure. It reminded her of the now dilapidated barn at Ainsley, which she would have to have rebuilt for the new tenants. Trees surrounded the edge of the manor property and Philippa could smell sheep wandering in a nearby field.

Edric held out his hands to help her dismount. “I’m afraid the inside is a bit shabby and lacking in comforts as well,” he said as if reading her mind.

Philippa followed him through the wooden doors into the main hall. “I didn’t think we needed much ceremony after yesterday,” he said, his long black hair blowing out behind him as he walked. “I figured we could do with having a quiet meal today.”

“Did my things arrive?” Philippa said, looking at a servant directly who immediately shifted her gaze to Edric.

“We’ll discuss that later,” he said, ignoring Philippa’s squeak of protest. “I have some business to attend to.” He kissed her forehead, but when he pulled away his eyes were hard and his face tight. “Hawis will help you settle in and feed you. We take dinner early. Do as you please until then.” Edric smiled, though Philippa thought it looked a tad forced. Something unhappy was on his mind and she doubted it had to do with her missing trunks.

Edric turned a moment to watch Philippa walk away. His heart pounded faster, eager to finish his business and get on with their life together.

He met his man, Sperling, in the backyard under an ash tree with sprawling boughs. Edric thought if trees could talk, this one would. The few spare moments he’d had since taking the manor he’d spent there.

Sperling grinned, planting his weight under its shade, his torso rivaling the tree’s trunk. “The Conqueror hath returned.”

Edric smiled and joined him. “Some conquest. There was no battle.” He involuntarily felt for his sword, which he’d removed already.

“How much better the reward, then. No scars, no losses. Just the enjoyment of living.”

“Do you have any news?”

Sperling shrugged. It seemed his master never had time or patience for his small talk. “Everything’s running just as beautifully as when you left.”

“No messages?”

Sperling rubbed his bald head. “None, sir.”

Edric frowned. “It’s been weeks now.”

“You always say patience-”

“It’s not a virtue if you’re waiting when you should act.” Edric rubbed his forehead, thinking of the strange message he’d found in his wife’s belongings. And the barn burning. Not that it had anything to do with his own business but it was odd timing.

“I think you should give it a little more time, sir. Taking off with a new wife in the wings might look odd.”

“I don’t care if I look odd.” Edric leaned his back against the tree and closed his weary eyes. “But you’re probably right. I’ll give him another fortnight.”

Sperling nodded. “Spend some time with your wife, sir. At least make things appear normal.”

Edric glanced at him with his violet eye. Sperling resisted looking away.

“Speaking of which,” Edric said, suppressing a smile. “I hear we have a situation regarding the cart carrying my wife’s belongings.”

Sperling frowned. “Dangerous business traveling these days.”

“More dangerous when my beloved loses her entire dowry and then some in one swift move.”

“Good thing you took robbery into consideration beforehand, sir.”

“Good thing, indeed. She’ll still be unhappy, but not quite so much when she starts unpacking.”

Sperling laughed, a deep, raspy sound buried in his lungs. “Good, sir. Now, if it pleases you, I’ve got some things to tend to before the day is up.” Sperling bowed and headed toward the stables, relieved to escape his master’s stare.

Edric looked up into the sky and smiled, guessing he’d frightened Sperling away. He hoped his man was right and a fortnight would not be too late.

After resting and eating, Philippa spent the afternoon exploring the house and grounds near the manor to distract herself from thoughts of her missing trunks. Edric owned quite a bit of land and she wished to survey her new domain. She’d lived in the same household for nine years and the jolt of switching to new territory both exhilarated and overwhelmed her. After a swift check of the interior, she realized she had a lot of work ahead of her. Edric had barely furnished the private chambers, and he did not seem to own any items for special occasions. Fortunately, her dowry traveled with her along with all the things she’d inherited and acquired before and after her first husband’s death. Or, at least, she hoped she still had those things. Hawis immediately deferred to Philippa. In fact, she seemed relieved to have a woman running the house.

They did eat early as Edric promised. He’d greeted Philippa but other than that didn’t seem to notice her while he stuffed boiled meat and cabbage into his mouth. She ate quietly, sweeping her eyes over and over the bare walls, imagining what they might talk about or what songs they might sing or tales they might tell if Edric ever stopped eating. She had a sinking feeling she’d be alone after they ate so she thought of activities she might do then.

“Did you tour the house and grounds?” Edric said, wiping his mouth on his sleeve.

“Just the house.” Philippa sighed. “I have a lot of work to do.” Inside, her heart danced at the thought of transforming the cold interior into a welcoming abode.

“What do you think of Wolf Manor?”

“Is that what you call it?”

“Do you think it suits?”

Philippa thought of the tall grass in back waving with the breeze, the large ash tree with its boughs reaching out with shade, and the wildflowers crawling around the manor. “Not at all.”

Edric sat back in his chair and examined her. “Why don’t you like it?”

“It’s too menacing. The environment is friendly, not foreboding as one would think with such a name.”

“You don’t see the charcoal exterior as forbidding?”

“Houses burn sometimes. It’s hardly an omen.”

The thin brow over Edric’s violet eye crooked up in an almost perfect ‘V.’ “I assume you say that knowing the stories surrounding this haunt?”

Philippa shrugged. “It was still just a fire.” She saw the flames consuming her barn in her mind’s eye. Just another fire.

Satisfied, Edric licked his lips. “Perhaps it’s called Wolf Manor on purpose then. To ward off intruders.”

“Or to sound masculine and heroic.”

Edric smirked. “What do you say to a proper tour of these masculine and heroic grounds tomorrow?”

“I’d like that very much.” Philippa’s eyes sparkled.

“Good. We can do that once you’ve had time to unpack.”

Philippa’s head shot up. Edric smiled, and scooped up the last of his meat. “You didn’t think I’d allow all of your personal effects to just vanish into thin air, did you?”

Philippa grinned, crossed the length of the table and fell into his lap. He looked surprised at first then tightened his arms around her waist. “How did you save our belongings?”

Edric shrugged. “Simple. The cart sent ahead of us carried some old trunks filled with rocks and dirt. The real cart stocked with your most valued possessions was carried a little later and by a different way. I’m afraid this doesn’t help with your trinkets.” His eyes glinted. “I suppose I could hunt the thieves down and hope they haven’t pawned them off yet.”

“I don’t even miss them – the jewels, I mean.”

“Ah…so you did fancy the charming outlaw. I thought as much.”

“No, you’re wrong. I preferred the archer.” She swung her head, gold tendrils falling around her neck. “The fact that he stood his ground with your witching stare impressed me.”

Edric followed the curve of her cheekbone with a finger, tapping the point of her chin. He pinched it between his fingers, sinking his lips into Philippa’s.

“I’m still keeping my bow beside the bed,” Philippa said, pressing her hand against his mouth. “I’m used to having it on hand. I feel safer that way.” She had started keeping it in her room after receiving threatening letters once her husband died.

Edric kissed her fingertips. “Then we’ll both be ready for attack. I keep a blade in arm’s reach at all times.” He pulled up his bunched tunic, exposing a dagger tucked into his belt.

“You’re always well-armed.”

“I’m cautious.”

Philippa narrowed her eyes. She got the feeling he was more well-prepared for the inevitable. She just didn’t know why he would be waiting for a fight. They locked foreheads, Philippa shifting her gaze from his green eye to his violet eye.

“I think I’ve bewitched you enough.” Edric pushed Philippa off his lap, grabbing her hands and dragging her to their chamber.

Philippa awoke in the middle of the night with a start. She held her breath listening, but all she heard was Edric’s breath in her ear. She glanced in the direction of her bow, not even able to make out the silhouette and shut her eyes again. The barn burning and the robbery had just set her on edge. She focused on Edric’s breathing, his body resting next to her. Then she thought of the dagger in his belt and the knife he’d slipped under his pillow. Maybe he wasn’t resting as comfortably as he sounded.

To enter and win your ebook copy of Jester’s, email me at amydsaunders@gmail.com or leave a comment with the following info:

  • Your answer
  • Name
  • Email
  • And preferred ebook format: Kindle, EPUB, or PDF

Everyone who answers correctly, wins!

Thanks to everyone who participated this week! It’s been fun and I hope you all enjoyed it too. Happy reading!

Sample Sunday Walk ‘n Talk With Immie & Bast

This is a new snippet from my mystery novel, Dead Locked, a slower scene featuring Sebastian and Imogen discussing an important event that’s just occurred. This is one of the first scenes where we really see them interact and get a feel for their relationship. The ebook version (various formats including Kindle and Nook) of Dead Locked is completely free from Smashwords until July 31, 2011. If you want more of Imogen and Sebastian, check out my short story Bast & Immie, which is free all the time from Smashwords and other retailers like Barnes & Noble. Enjoy!

* * *

Sebastian and Imogen strolled back to her cottage that night, passing through the downtown of Whitesea after having fish ‘n chips at a shingled restaurant on the water. Sebastian had been quiet the whole time, his statuesque face stiff while he drifted in his own world, despite Imogen’s repeated attempts to ignite conversation. She finally surrendered, absorbing the pastel pinks and purples that now blushed in the early evening. They escaped the bustling main street, still brimming with couples climbing into Jags and Priuses, and families strapping in their heavy-eyed little ones in silver minivans and black SUVs. Shop owners flipped their signs over from “Open” to “Closed.”

They walked around the corner of Main Street onto Harbour Way, where Imogen lived. It never failed to turn instantly quiet once she turned that corner, regardless of the stream of people turning, crossing, parking, walking, eating, shopping, and running on Main Street.

“You looked good on the news,” he said suddenly, a smile pulling at the corners of his lips.

Imogen had forgotten about Sebastian for a second and turned to look at him. He had put on a black button-down short sleeve shirt and a pair of dark jeans for their date. His arms hung out of the sleeves, making him look lankier than he was. Imogen thought for the hundredth time how badly she wanted to take him shopping.

“Is that what you’ve been thinking about this whole time?” she said, bumping into him teasingly. “Did you see the rock thrower?”

“Uh…no. But they showed Mackenzie placating the journalists after we left.” Sebastian frowned. “He’s not happy. I have a feeling we’ll hear more about that later when no one’s watching.” Sebastian narrowed his already narrow eyes. “Actually, I lied. They interviewed the rock thrower.” He grinned suddenly, the wicked expression he wore only occasionally that Imogen liked and yet feared. “The rock thrower certainly liked you. He mentioned you in his interview.”

“By name?”

“Hair color,” he said and grinned again.

Imogen scrunched her nose, unsure of whether to be flattered or insulted.

“Watch what you say or I’ll call him to have Isaac Crewe haunt you,” she said.

“Let’em. I’d like to ask the guy a few questions.”

Imogen had to agree with him there.

“I wish he had just left a note somewhere that says ‘the treasure is at blah blah blah’ so we didn’t have all these random people ruining our fun.”

“A note with the treasure’s address would keep people away? That’s interesting.”

Imogen pinched his arm.

“You know what I mean. We would find the note and hand over the treasure to a museum before anyone else could get to it.”

“We?” Sebastian said sarcastically.

“Fine. You. You would find the treasure and turn it over to a museum.”

Sebastian chuckled. Imogen pinched him again, but secretly liked that he was teasing her. At least he was in a good mood for a change with all the stress they’d been under.

“More than likely the note would read, ‘There is no treasure. Go home.'”

“The pirates had to do something with their loot.”

“Yeah, spend it.” Sebastian grinned. “They were wanted criminals. They didn’t open up bank accounts.”

“Exactly why they would need to hide it.”

“You watch too many movies.”

Imogen stuck out her tongue. “So logical. It’s no fun.”

“The truth can be fun.” His arm tensed a little under her hands, his voice getting crispy around the edges.

Imogen bit her tongue. Sometimes her teasing hit a little too hard.

“There were battles at sea for one,” he said proudly. “And they had all kinds of cool tricks to seize their prey.”

“Like taking out the sails?” Imogen gripped his arm, hoping to smooth over her words.

“And sailing under the guise of merchant vessels.” Sebastian half-smiled. “You’re placating me.”

She shrugged, playing with a loose string on his black sleeve.

“I do like the truth…to some extent. But real pirates weren’t glorious. They were just criminals like we have today who hurt people. I just like the idea of a little more to it than that. That’s all.”

Sebastian grazed her apple cheek with his lips. She leaned her head on his shoulder, and watched as the sun said goodbye with its last blaze of orange on the horizon.

Music & Reading: An Interview With Songwriter/Producer Daphne Tetreault

Music and storytelling have always been friends. From minstrels to opera to modern-day movie scores, the two combined enhance and enrich each other. Along that line, I talked to songwriter/producer Daphne Tetreault who composed the music for my Dead Locked book trailer (we also happen to be sisters). She primarily writes and produces Top 40 pop tunes so I asked her what scoring for a book trailer was like and how reading affects her music. At the end of the interview, we have an exclusive free download of Daphne’s latest release with artist Brittany Hill!

The Dead Locked trailer was your first time scoring music. What was that like?

I was excited by the creative challenge and really enjoyed the process of letting the visual images evoke the music. It’s very different from my usual mode of working and I felt a bit nervous, wondering if I could get the right feelings across. Capturing the feeling of visual images is a whole other ball game, and I didn’t know where to start at first. But I started noodling, and ideas started flowing.

How did knowing the story affect the music? Did you get ideas as you were reading?

Yes, reading and knowing the story did affect the music. It helped me to inject the right level of excitement and mystery into the music. I don’t remember getting ideas as I was reading – I was too into the story! – but then when I saw the images for the trailer and knowing what was behind them, that’s when I got the ideas. Though I did have sort of a musical outline of how I wanted the music to build.

Music really affects my storytelling. Does reading fiction influence your songs at all?

Reading fiction has definitely influenced my songwriting. I’ve gotten ideas for song titles, concepts, phrases, even language and terminology from books. I’ve also translated the mood or feelings from different books I liked and turned it into a song.

What is the impact of a good score on a movie or TV show…or even a book trailer?

The visual arts, including trailers, wouldn’t have nearly the level of emotional impact without music. Music in non-verbal and can create fear, excitement, romance, mystery, unease…you name it. Even if the music is subtle or simple it can be very powerful. To quote Jack Black from the movie The Holiday – “with Jaws, John Williams created a villain in two notes!”

What do you like to read?

Jane Austen is one of my fav authors – my favorites by her are of course P&P and Persuasion; Elizabeth Gaskell – North & South; ah, yes- Amy Saunders author of Dead Locked! 😉 And I still have some favorites from when I was a kid. I’m all about the characters – I really have to get involved with them on a deep level to love a book.

What do you do as a songwriter/producer?

As a songwriter/producer I write lyrics and melodies, make demos, write, arrange and record tracks, coordinate musicians and vocalists, mix (which is adding effects, panning instruments in the audio field, EQ instruments so they don’t step on each other’s toes, and generally making it sound as good as possible) and sometimes I master it if it’s a demo. But if it’s a release I usually hire that out as it’s an art unto itself. Then I also pitch, pitch, pitch! Oh yeah, and network.

How long have you been doing this?

A while. 😉

What are you working on now?

I’m working with a few artists on album projects – mini-albums, which are 3- 5 songs long. Just had a couple of single releases with artists Miss Jess and Brittany Hill (available on iTunes and Amazon!) and have some more releases coming with other artists this summer.

You can hear Daphne’s current and past works at http://www.myspace.com/daphnetetreault and www.songbeat.net. Listen to full songs on her YouTube channel. Or contact her at daphne@songbeat.net.

Now about that free song download! Click here to go to the download page for the free MP3 of the pop/dance tune “Wish I May” by Brittany Hill and co-written and produced by Daphne (listen to the full track in the video below). You can download other tracks by Brittany Hill and Miss Jess on iTunes and Amazon (where they’re a steal for $.89 a piece). Enjoy!

Thanks to Daphne for joining us!

The Changing Face of Bookselling, or R.I.P. Borders

The news that Borders is officially shutting all its doors, and then reading this post on the MaggieCakes blog about the demise of bookshops inspired me to pen this post (figuratively speaking of course). And isn’t it true that expressions like ‘pen this or that’ are becoming more figurative than actual? Many authors start and finish their books and stories and poems today on a computer. And now that is passing over to how readers acquire and often read those books and stories and poems. But let’s go back for a minute to the Borders closing issue.

Is it the end of the world? Well, no. But when I learned that they had officially declared bankruptcy, which I knew was coming anyway, my heart still sunk a little. Even though it was never as convenient for me to go there, I’ve always fancied Borders. They carried a different selection of writing books and I did discover some gems there. But, alas, I don’t always have a lot of money and price often wins over preference and I end up buying my books from Barnes & Noble – or more commonly Amazon.

The problem with Borders closing its doors is that it’s the first step towards a chain reaction of other bookshops closing their physical doors. We’ve already seen this happen with video rental. It took a while but eventually Netflix and redbox forced stores like Hollywood Video and Blockbuster to say goodbye (the very last video rental store just closed in my area this winter). I’m not so sad about that development, but the point is things do change and establishments that put other establishments out of business (the local video rental store and book store for instance) are themselves facing extinction. Maybe it’s actually more fitting than we realize.

Is change always bad? No. Will print materials vanish entirely? Well, I can’t see the future so who knows. I do think the way we buy print books will be increasingly remote, which does make me sad because I love browsing. For me, it’s about lazily scanning the shelves for something that pops out and waves wildly, saying, “I’m here! Read me!” It’s a little more difficult to browse beyond the bestseller shelf online (another physical expression gone figurative). But who knows what will spring up because of these changes in how we buy.

So while I’m still more of print book reader and love physical bookshops, I’m hardly opposed to buying online or books going digital. I’m excited at what ebooks make possible for both readers and writers and what may come as the technology improves (I’m rooting for more interactive novels). After all, ebooks have made publishing my novels independently possible, and I know readers have given my books a shot in digital format when they may not have in print. What I wish is that physical bookstores and the online world could live in harmony. But we can’t have it all.

How do you feel about all of this? Do you prefer print books or ebooks? Buying in a store or online? What do you think the future holds for readers?

Photo by Tim Walker

How Writing Changed the Way I Read

Today’s post comes to us from one of my favorite people on Twitter, Jennie Ivins, better known as Autumn2May. This is her perspective on how writing her own novel has altered her view of reading. Enjoy!

* * *

Reading and writing have always gone hand in hand. One really can’t learn to write without knowing how to read. So then knowing how to write well must make reading easier, right? Well, sort of.

I started writing my book in October of last year. I had never written before and really didn’t know what to expect. After finishing my first rough draft, I discovered two things about writing. The first is that writing is just as addicting as reading and the second is that once you start writing as a serious pastime, reading is never the same again.

The whole time I was working on my first draft, I completely shunned all reading. I didn’t think I had the time and some part of me thought that if I started reading again, that my work would start sounding like whatever book I was reading. Luckily both of those things turned out to be false, but that’s another story. However, when I finally picked up a new book in January I was surprised by what I discovered. My perspective on the writing itself had changed dramatically!

Every once in a while I would notice a really good paragraph or phrasing and wonder if the author had a hard time writing it or if it was created in one of those moments where the words just flow out exactly the way you want them too. I also noticed the patterns of how the author wrote and words and phrases I could tell they used a lot. I had never noticed things like that before I started writing, and I think it made me appreciate the work itself more than I did before.

It was actually very similar to when I became a chef. I appreciated a well made meal more because I knew how easy it was to mess up and how hard it was to get it just right. I noticed each ingredient separately and noted how they mixed together to form the finished food rather than just focusing on the overall taste and whether I personally liked it or not. Reading after being a writer is very much the same. You appreciate the bits and pieces of the writing more even if the whole book isn’t really your cup of tea. It does however making reading pieces that aren’t written quite as well a bit harder. You tend to see the errors more and analyze what you might have done differently, even when you’re trying not to.

But there is also more of a sense of understanding for the author. Bad or good someone put their blood, sweat, and tears into the story and that deserves a certain amount of respect. It certainly gave me a lot more respect for anyone that can get a novel published. Putting your heart and soul into something then releasing it to be critiqued by the world is a scary proposition, whether you are a famous writer for the Big Six or just indie published your book yesterday.

Overall I think that being a writer has made me a more mature reader and given me a greater love and admiration for truly well written stories. And if you ever think you have a story in you, don’t be afraid to let it out. All stories deserve to be told.

* * *

Jennie Ivins is a stay-at-home mom with three boys (one set of twins & one singleton) who for some reason likes living in Central New Jersey. She married a geek and enjoys watching other geeks discuss their geeky ways. In her pre-mom life, she worked as a chef’s apprentice and a retail store manager. She loves taking pictures and cooking, but her other loves include art, science, music, computers, history and anything else shiny that happens across her field of vision. She is currently writing her first series of fantasy books and enjoying it more than she thought humanly possible. However, she has found writing about herself in the third person to be a rather odd thing to have to do. If you’d like to say hi, you can usually find her on Twitter or Fantasy-Faction.com as Autumn2May. 🙂

Photos by Matt Jiggins & Glory Foods

Story is in the Details

I’m down to a lot of nitty-gritty editing with my current book, examining every nook and cranny of my story, characters, and setting. In the end, I want the small things to count as much as the big ones because when I think about my favorite books (and other media) it’s often details that hook me or keep me interested. I’ve narrowed it down to three categories that matter the most to me. Want to know what they are and why they matter? Thought you might. Here they are in no particular order:

Character details. Quirks. Surprises. Mannerisms. Interests. Tastes. Isms. When I like a character, I eat up all these details and more. I can’t really explain why, but I turn into a bit of a stalker. Call it human nature if you will but I always want more in this department.

Setting details. I have a thing for describing settings, especially outdoor settings. And wouldn’t you agree that a few well-chosen images ground you in a scene? You don’t need to know everything, but the right amount can quickly transport you.

Historical details (if applicable). Since I’m writing around a historical setting right now, this is on my mind. While no one wants to lose the story in too much detail, it’s good to know enough about homes, clothing, transportation to feel like you’re right there with the characters.

That’s my take. I’m sure you have your own favorites. What story details matter to you and why?