Good Reads from Good Authors

You’ve heard the phrase. “Good readers make good writers.” Using mathematical properties I’ve long forgotten, I decided to inverse that phrase for today’s blog post. I would have to imagine that, “Good, established, published writers are really good readers.” So I tweeted out a question to some of my favorite and most beloved authors to see what they were reading. I asked, “What is the last book you read and adored?” Here were their responses: ________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sara Megibow- While Sara isn’t an author (as far as I know), she is one of the more responsive and charming literary agents on Twitter. Very responsive to my questions over the years and that proved true of this one as well.

Her response: “ARG! too many to choose from! Best AND most recent non-client book that I’ve loved was A TURN OF LIGHT by Julie Czerneda”

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Robin Hobb –  One of the big names in fantasy literature, Robin Hobb is best known for her The Farseer Trilogy and recently released a new and wonderful book.

Her response: “Don’t tell Sam Sykes, but most recent was The City Stained Red.”

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Django Wexler- Author of The Shadow Campaigns series and The Forbidden Library. Last year, I had the pleasure of Skype-hosting Django for my creative writing class and they loved him.

His response: “Hmm. Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone or Tainted Blood by M.L. Brennan.”

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Pierce Brown-  If you haven’t heard of Red Rising, you’re going to. Darrow will be the next name on the lips of every teenager and lover of dystopian worlds. I read it this summer. Twice.

His response: “The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell

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Jason Hough- Author of the best selling science fiction series, The Dire Earth Cycle. Read this book last year and it reignited my love for all things science fiction.

His response: “easy! THE EMPEROR’S BLADES by Brian Staveley”

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Michael Martinez – Author of The Daedalus Series, a wonderful mix of science fiction and alternative-almost-steampunkish history. I’ve read through the first book and am loving the second one.

His response: “Honestly, I don’t have one that springs to mind. I think as I keep writing books, I’ve become more critical of what I read!”

A big thanks to all the authors that participated. I may be editing and adding a few names as responses come in. But this should give all readers a few new names, books, and series to dip their metaphorical toes into. Happy reading!

Thoughts from a GREAT Writing Group

I was trying to figure out why my writing group is so successful and why it has made such a valuable impact on my writing and life. These thoughts concluded, as well they should have, on the fact that the people that make up this group are awesome. So I wanted to note what I love about each of these people and how they add to my writing. Maybe this well help you in your search for a similar group. Maybe it will help you in how you critique and view others’ work:

1. B- This person is incredibly insightful and may have one of the most expansive understandings of popular literature and cinema that I’ve encountered. Their ability to relate our works to other pieces, whether to praise what we’ve done or to give us ideas for what we could do, is unparalleled. I also think this person has a great sense of the “bigger picture”. I find myself so honed in on scenes sometimes, and they have an uncanny ability to zoom out and provide feedback on my piece and all its interconnected parts. That’s so valuable.

2. K – This person may be one of the best line by line critics I’ve met. When I’m going back through edits, I typically pull up their critique and make almost all of the line changes that have been noted. Then I go back and use their commentary to guide my connecting changes to the other critiques I’ve received. This person is also one of the most affirming people I’ve met as a writer. They do not hesitate to say, “This will be published” or “You are ready to be a published author”. Encouragement is great.

3. E – This person probably gets excited the most about my work. I genuinely feel like I’m writing a book and a good book when they respond to some of what they’re seeing with giddy joy about what a character is doing or will do or BETTER not do. They also seem to catch everything that everyone else misses.

4. P – This person is writing in the same genre as me and often points out where I’m following too closely to certain tropes, or happily notes where I’ve broken free of them. I often find this person has a fond appreciation of my work because we’re working in similar styles with similar stories and characters. This person also manages to find awkward inconsistencies. That’s an important thing that sometimes will slip by most people.

5. R- This person has a very, very unique writing style and tends to think technically about things. I can always rely on them to pick apart paragraphs and point out when sentence structures are being repeated too often or phrases are too common, etc.

6. J – This person doesn’t seem to BS anything. Not that anyone in this group ever seems to do that… But he is pretty blunt… Which is fantastic. I know that the things he sees as confusing were genuinely confusing. I know the things he thought were awesome were genuinely awesome. He also has a knack for writing some pretty hardcore characters and can give me great advice on how to push that envelope in my writing.

Now… does it make sense that this group, reading my work week in and week out, could make me better? Does it make sense that their understanding of literature and culture and life would have a positive impact on how I write? I could flounder about on my own, or I could dive further and deeper into the writer I was meant to be. I choose the second one.