Tag Archive | reading

What’s Your Favorite Flavor?

Image courtesy of debspoons / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of debspoons / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? My oldest son is pure vanilla. My daughter loves cherry and my middle son love Reece’s ice cream.

Hubby will eat about anything. I don’t think he has a favorite.

I love a mint chocolate chip but have been known to enjoy butter pecan or praline ice cream at times. Because ice cream messes with my asthma, it’s a few and far between treat…and it better be the best there is when I do have it.

Now if you asked me about favorite popsicle flavor I would be all over the board. I love cherry but also root beer and banana!

Our reading tastes are as varied and diverse as our taste for cool deserts in summer. For instance, I love a good romance, but I’m not as keen on southern romances and avoid Amish. I’m a fan of western historical and Regency time period. I have friends who love WWII fiction. Others who love thrillers or mysteries. I love a good romantic suspense but not a pure suspense. Women’s fiction is great but not my “go to” kind of thing.

Reviews can reflect more the taste of the reader than the quality of the book. Let’s face it. I’m not a fan of Stephen King but that doesn’t mean he is a poor writer. He’s not. He’s brilliant and has carved out a career for himself. Nicholas Sparks has a following too but while I’ve read him, he’s not my fave either. Now personally, I won’t do reviews on books like that if I don’t absolutely have to. “Have to” is when I’ve been given a free copy and in return write a review–good, bad or indifferent about it. As an author (or even a reader looking at reviews to decide whether you want to read the book), take that into account as you read the especially negative ones. My favorites are those who got a free copy of a Christian book and then take issue with the faith element. Um, duh? It was clearly stated that there was going to be an inspirational component! Yeah, not all readers are as smart as you and me.

Editors and Agents have preferences too! Sometimes a book could be well written but just not quite what we prefer. At Prism Book Group we will often ask another editor to read it to see if they want to take it on. Sometimes we just don’t have the time though. It is hard to say no to a great story, but sometimes we have to because it has to be a favorite, not just dessert for the sake of ice cream.

Even publishing houses have their flavor. I had friend say, “I don’t have a Bethany House voice.” I had to stop and think about that because I do read a lot of Bethany House authors and I think that writer is correct. There is a particular kind of voice they like. But another publisher may not. And you may not either. I’ve had friends read a book I raved about and been disappointed. It wasn’t their flavor! And that’s okay.

Editors and Agents don’t like to give rejections, but let’s just face it. If I don’t love your story as much as you do, then you do not want me to do the editing job on it. It’s hard work to edit a book but I like to enjoy my work and if I have a less than thrilled attitude going in, no matter how hard I try, I can’t guarantee I’ll be bringing my best game to your project. Not that I wouldn’t try. I would. But you want your editor or agent to be a champion for your book, to cheer you on, encourage you to make it the best. You need to know we aren’t being nasty when we give you those edits, but we are trying to polish your book, make sure its flavor is the best it can be, so the right readers can enjoy it too.

What is your favorite flavor–of ice cream or novel?



The Crash of the Loose Train of Thought

Image courtesy of Tom Curtis / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Tom Curtis / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have come off some busy crazy weeks just dealing with my primary job of being a mom.

It’s kind of sad that when your kids are babies we try so hard to get them to talk. To say “momma,” and “dadda” and then later to “use their words” instead of throwing a temper tantrum to get what they want.

My kids are older now. I’m tired of hearing their words.

It’s exhausting! They want to be fed all the time. This is especially true for my nine year old daughter who I suspect is hitting a growth spurt. I think she eats nonstop from the moment she gets home from school to bedtime. “Mom. I’m hungry,” are words I hear too often.

“So? You’re hungry? Didn’t I just feed you?”

“Yes, but I’m hungry again.”

Of course it is never for leftovers in the fridge. It’s always something that requires me to get up and prepare it for her.

I swear if tragedy comes upon this family, my kids will starve to death rather than get their own food, or refill their water bottles.

What kind of kids am I raising?

So why am I telling you all this?

Because life is full of what a friend of mine once called “the dailies.” The daily stresses we all have to deal with. Throw in demanding children, head lice (yeah, really), science fair projects, regenerating laundry pile and financial worries and the dailies begin to feel too much.

My pastor talked on Sunday about how we have an adversary as we seek to persevere in our faith. Ironically, as he finished his message that was when the adversary whacked me upside the head. Depression is a vicious weapon when aimed at a weary soul. The message?

“Would anyone even miss you if you weren’t here?”

Sounds a bit like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” doesn’t it? Ouch. My heart cracked as my brain sped into overdrive reciting all the things I do to use the gifts God has given me to honor and glorify him. As if my value is tied up in that?

Why would the enemy think he can use that line of attack? Because fellow believers have used it too, only with subtle changes in wording. The enemy doesn’t have to work too hard sometimes to defeat me.

So my day was spent spinning my wheels. I journaled a prayer, tried to watch a movie and couldn’t write. I repeatedly fed my kids. I gave up all attempts at productivity and sat down to read a novel. I started it the day before and struggled to set it aside. I read the last 300 pages of it. Done. Finished. LOVED it.

I wish my heart had a reset button. My computer has a reset to a previous version of a backup. If it gets corrupted, I can reset it and maybe lose some data but overcome perhaps another more damaging issue.

I prayed. I journaled. It wasn’t until I lost myself in the adventure, courage and perseverance of faith of someone else (yeah, fictional people, but still) that my heart recalibrated.

I’m still tired, but not as beaten down as I was earlier. The power of great fiction can be used by God in so many ways we often never realize. What an honor it is to be part of the business of putting stories like that into the hands, and hearts, of readers. Maybe it’s a selfish thing though, because I get the blessing of those words before the general public does.

I guess my train of thought is back on the tracks now. Whew!



What the Author Really Meant Was. . .

Image courtesy of Feelart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Feelart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In college, I remember dissecting stories for their deeper meanings. Comparing and contasting Shakespeare plays. Did he really mean for the fools to always be the wisest in the whole story?

I do think that a lot of what an author experiences in real life, from people, places, events, hurts, challenges, dreams and joys, finds their way into the pages of their stories. The fact is though that some of what a reader might see as a theme may have never crossed the mind of the writer.

I wrote a story and someone told me how cool my symbolism was with some of the physical aspects of the story to the emotional challenge of the character. I was impressed. “Sure, yeah. I meant to do that.”

In reality, it was unconscious. I had no clue I had written that way.

Part of communication isn’t only what the writer or speaker says, but how the reader or listener interprets those concepts or images. As much as the writers brings everything about themselves to their story, so to does the reader. For that reason alone, every story is going to have some people who love it. The tale resonates with something deep inside them. For others, it will be a miss and not enjoyable. It’s not the author’s fault or the reader’s either. It just is.

You might like chocolate ice cream and I prefer mint chocolate chip. It’s a preference and matter of taste.

So enjoy whatever story you are reading. Go ahead and ask yourself what the story’s theme and concepts are, but don’t do that with the idea of trying to really “get” at what the author was really saying. Do it for what the story revealed to you, about you. Your needs, met or unmet. Your dreams, passions, preferences.

Then find those authors who have a style that your relate best to. And enjoy the story and the journey it takes you on. When a story does not appeal though, don’t bash the author in reviews etc, without admitting it’s a personal preference. Unless there are serious issues with the story and research etc, there’s no need to belittle the hard work of an author because you don’t like their style or subject matter.

Nicholas Sparks is a great writer. I prersonally don’t like crying every time I pick up one of his books. Stephen King is also a phenomenal writer and in reading his bio/book on writing, I can see why he writes the subject matter he does. I don’t read those books because I don’t like that kind of thing.

When you do love a author, do them a favor and let them know. Give them a review on the bookseller sites (Amazon, Goodreads, B&N . . .) or even send them an email or letter or message on facebook. Unless you are a writer, you cannot have any idea of the hard work it takes to write, revise, edit, find a agent/publisher/editor and get that book to print. While making money is nice–face it, we all need it to live–writer’s need to know that you appreciated their hours, days, weeks, months and years of labor to bring that story to you. It can be a frustrating and fatiguing process and only those who really love it and are called to this can persevere. So a pat on the back can help. Especially if you like them and want them to write more stories for you to enjoy.

Thank an author today. Who are your favorites to read?