Reading Wednesday: What I’m Reading

      On the car ride home, my oldest daughter and I discussed her high school literature class. She doesn’t like the book she’s reading for her class. I thought how fortunate I am that I’m reading three good books right now. Yes, I am reading three books at one time and enjoying all of them.

     Technique of a Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain. I’m a romance writer, and I try to read books about the craft of writing to help me become a better writer. I ordered Dwight Swain’s Technique of a Selling Writer because it is highly recommended by other writers, other craft books and various writing websites. When it arrived, I gulped because it is a 316 page volume on writing. I wondered how I would ever finish it. Then it dawned on me that I didn’t have to read it all at once. By reading a little bit each day, I am slowly making my way through the whole book. And I’m enjoying the book.

     Dwight Swain shares his insights about how to construct a novel. He encourages the author to think about the words he or she chooses. Instead of an adverb to modify the verb, describe the action. Make the words create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind. He breaks down the different parts of a book into scenes and sequels and challenges the aspiring author to think about causation and effect on the characters. By setting up a situation and putting your character in the situation with an objective and a villain that spells disaster for the character’s objective, you create scenes which lead to sequels which lead to your book. He also details the different elements integral to a beginning, middle and an end to help the author think about the different acts of a book. 

     Presently I am reading about habits of the author. The author needs to plan out when and where to write. The author not only needs to research the publications that interests him or her, but do enough research for your background while not go overboard so you never write the book. 

     So by reading five to six pages a day, I’m learning more about word choice, scene choice and conflict. A little can go a long way.

     The Lawyer’s Luck by Piper G. Huguley. If you haven’t heard of Piper, you will. She’s an immensely talented writer who has reached the quarterfinals of the Amazon Breakthrough Contest and is a two-time Golden Heart finalist. Two of her works are presently available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other book seller sites. The first work is this novella, The Lawyer’s Luck. This is a prequel to her full-length novel, The Preacher’s Promise (the book that was the Golden Heart finalist and the quarterfinalists in the ABNAs. Piper is a fellow Georgia Romance Writer member (and for the record, I purchased my copy of The Lawyer’s Luck and am giving this recommendation of this book on my own).

     The Lawyer’s Luck is an inspirational, historical romance novella. I downloaded it on my Kindle last week, having already read the first chapter of The Preacher’s Promise when it was made available for free on Amazon through the ABNA contest. Yesterday I began reading The Lawyer’s Luck at lunch and was immediately carried away to Ohio in the days before the Civil War. The hero, Lawrence, has lost his horse at the worst possible time. He needs him to ride the legal circuit. He knows people already judge him because he’s black (his heritage is 1/2 black, 1/4 Miami Nation Indian tribe, and 1/4 white). He goes in search of his horse who is tied up in the woods. He pulls his gun and is confronted by a woman. The gun discharges, and she is shot. Lawrence feels awful for having shot a woman and carries her back to town to receive help. He discovers she’s a runaway slave named Realie who is attempting to get to Canada, far away from the heinous conditions she endured as a slave.  

     I’m 20% of the way done with the novella, and I love this quiet yet compelling story. I look forward to finishing it in the days to come.

     Somewhere Along the Way by Jodi Thomas. Last year I attended my first RWA Conference in Atlanta. Before the conference, Ms. Thomas recorded a welcome video intended for first-timers. I watched it and was touched by her caring and strong words intending to welcome, encourage and affirm the reasons for attending. 

     At each of the last two RWA Conferences, there has been a Literacy Autograph signing where 400-500 authors sign copies of their books for readers and fellow writers. The money raised goes to help charities which endeavor to end literacy. At last year’s RWA Conference, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Thomas who was very gracious to me even though I obviously had never read any of her books. I purchased one of her books in the Harmony series and smiled at her, basking in her encouraging presence.

     I’ll let you in on a little secret. I hate to begin reading series out of order. I crave the first copy, even for stand alone books that can be read regardless of order.

     Having admitted that, I browsed my library’s shelves to find the first Harmony book. Before I attended this year’s RWA, I read the first Harmony book and loved it. I checked and found that I did not purchase the second in the series. Instead I checked out book two, Somewhere Along the Way, and am now about forty percent of the way done with the book.

     The sequel takes place two years after the first ended. Reagan Truman, a former foster child, is now settled in Harmony and lives with Jeremiah Truman, her uncle. She has stumbled onto a job on Wednesday nights taking the place of Edith whenever Edith calls her and asks her to sub for her. Edith tells her that she’s been selling leftover food to a man for two dollars per meal. The man collects the meal at the end of her shift and has always paid her the same amount. 

     Reagan goes along with the deal and delivers the bag of food to the stranger who gives her the two dollars. The stranger is Gabriel Leary who lives on the outskirts of Harmony keeping as much to himself as possible. He makes a living by writing graphic novels and keeps an office in town. All his mail is delivered there to a G. L. Smith. Across the hall is new attorney Liz Matheson. Hers was one of the three founding families of Harmony: the Mathesons, the MacAllens, and the Trumans. Book one covered the story of Reagan finding a home in Harmony as well as the story of Hank Matheson and Alex MacAllen, the town’s voluntary fire chief and town’s sheriff respectively. My favorite character in the first book is the funeral director Tyler who is Hank’s best friend and Saralynn’s protector. 

     Ms. Thomas’ books have a way of slowly drawing me into the lives of the quirky characters who inhabit Harmony. Tyler is still one of my favorite characters and his story is tugging at my heartstrings.

     And so, I am fortunate to be reading three interesting books at the moment: one book about craft, one novella on my Kindle, and one novel from the library. 

     What are you reading? Do you like series? If so, do you like to start with the first in the series or will you pick up the latest release? Let me know. 


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