Do You Read What You Write?

Sitting at the Annual Christmas Party for one of my writer’s groups, I heard a writer mention she loved to read Sci fi/fantasy, but writes romance.  I’ve read her stuff, and it’s fabulous. She is writing stories that sell. But it’s not what she reads.

The comment has been percolating in the back of my mind for a couple of weeks. I am still not positive on why it resonated with me with such power. In my muddling around to figure things out, I’ve been thinking about what I read and why.

My mom created the romance reader in me. She had bought a brown papersack of books. I dug around and pulled out a copy of Catherine Coulter’s The Sherbrooke Bride. I inhaled the historical bodice ripper in one sitting.  When the heroine is standing there and the hero looks at her, boom. I have spent hours and hours inside the meddling minds of all kinds of romances ever since.

My guy and I popped into Barnes and Noble during the holiday crush. I was thrilled to see so many people in the store. Most often when I go, I find only 2 or 3 of us shopping. The first place I hit was the Sci fi/Fantasy section. I cruised the aisle looking at covers to find new authors. I realized about halfway down the aisle, I don’t go down the romance aisle.  All the covers show is a man and a woman. Well, unless it’s a little more risqué. Generally, I don’t see covers for M/M, M/M/F/, F/F and so forth.

I buy my romances on the kindle app. Rarely do I buy a paperback. And hell has frozen over if I buy a hardcover of anything.

That isn’t me being frugal as much as what a story is worth. I haven’t had an author in a long time who has persuaded me I should pay more for the hardcover than I could in the kindle app. I will admit to making a list while in the store and going home to buy things. Almost without fail, I get a better deal on the kindle.

My book shelves, both digital and paper, look like a hodge podge. I love Sci fi. A good strong female heroine in a space opera turns out to be my favorite. I also love dark and dangerous vampires, any kind of shape shifters, and I have a Nora Roberts addiction we won’t discuss.

I buy a book because the cover speaks to me. It’s a female who pulls my curiosity. Romance covers do little for me, but sci fi/ fantasy books clue me into what to expect. Maybe there is space and planets or a ship, maybe there is a dragon and a wizard, maybe it’s urban fantasy with a mix of art.

It is rare that I won’t finish a book.  If I put it down, the book has to have cheated or lied. Otherwise, I will get to the end.

There are many authors I will only buy once. In fact, I may remember the name only because I don’t want to go to their world again. There are only a handful I will buy without reading the blurb. Anything Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, Anne Bishop’s Others series, Laurann Dohner, Kay Hooper’s Bishop books.  I’ve had authors I love, but series die. Or a series gets so weird I can’t suspend my disbelief anymore.

A story has to touch me. I need to laugh, cry or “aww.” If a writer is great, I get all three.

I think part of the reason I read Sci fi/Fantasy over romance is I’m terrified I will use words or a phrase from another author’s work in romance and not realize it. So, I read something different.

This year I am planning on doing the bestseller list autopsy. A workshop leader talked about figuring what works in a bestseller. Why did it make the list?  You pick something and take it apart. Get down to the bones of the thing.

For the month of January, I will read James Patterson’s Cross the Line. I’ve read none of the Alex Cross books. I watched the movies. When I looked through the NYT list, this was the cover which made me want to know more. Should be interesting to see why this character has been a continued New York Times bestseller.

What makes you pick up a book? If you write, do you read what you write? Leave a comment below.

And come back on January 27th to read what I think makes James Patterson brilliant. Feel free to read and let me know your own comments.