Tag Archives: Reading

Want a Free Book?

The Eastern Factor, book 3 of my Kingdom of Haven series is coming soon.  Just to get things rolling a bit, I am giving away 5 copies The Order of the Wolf, the first book in the series, over at Goodreads.  

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So head on over to sign up for the book giveaway.  While you’re there, go ahead and friend me, or ask me a question on my author page, or leave a book review.

The giveaway is going until September 30th.

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Books Now Available on Kobo!

The first two novels in my Kingdom of Haven series are now available as e-books on Kobo.  Also, I will be sponsoring book giveaways for these titles in Goodreads to promote the third book in the series: The Eastern Factor.  More details to come.

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Coming Soon – The Eastern Factor

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I’ve been working on the final revision of this novel.  It is the third book in my Kingdom of Haven series.  Soon it will be off to the editor, and then out in the world.   It will be available around November.  More details to come.

In the meantime, here is the cover design by my friend Don.  He does a great job, and is very patient with my requests.  I’m sure he gets tired of me asking: Can you do this?  So far he hasn’t said no, so hats off to his talent.

 

 

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The Book Review Quandary

When I joined Goodreads a few years ago, I felt like I should write reviews for the books I read. After doing this for a month or two, I changed my mind.  I still will rate a book (as long as I finished reading it, and if I liked it enough to read it then it will get a decent rating), but don’t typically write a review unless I really liked it.  We all have our niches.  I enjoy writing and reading, but I don’t enjoy writing book reviews.  I have two main reasons for not liking to give them:

  1. “If you don’t have something nice to say . . .” – Remember when your mom told you this way back when? In the writing world, I’m more interested in gaining readers than I am in evaluating the writing of others. Don’t get me wrong, I have posted reviews on Goodreads of the books that I enjoyed, but I prefer to keep my criticisms to myself. Honestly, if I didn’t like your book I won’t finish reading it or probably read any others you write. I’m not sure either of us are gaining anything if I tell you so. Writers’ egos get bruised enough without me adding to it. Then I was thinking that I owe it to other readers, but decided that was my own hubris talking.
  2. I am brutally honest and critical by nature – It is in my DNA. I tell people all the time, “Don’t ask for my opinion unless you really want to know what I think.” If I don’t like it, I’ll tell you so. I’ll also tell you what I don’t like about it and why. I don’t mind giving feedback as long as the recipient realizes this is what they are getting. For example, doing critiques in a writing group because they asked for it and hopefully are looking for input to make their story better.  Even if the author is a friend, I couldn’t give them a good review if I didn’t like the book. That being said, a book review is typically done for someone you don’t know. Since they didn’t ask me for my opinion, I don’t want to give it unless it is positive (see reason #1). Of course, if I don’t know you, it has to be really good for me to take the time to write about it because I’d rather be writing my own stuff.

I don’t mind receiving book reviews as long as they are productive in nature (not that I have a choice either way). Like anyone else, I prefer a positive review, but as long as the criticism shows thought (like they read the book) it doesn’t bother me.  There is nothing worse than receiving a low rating with an explanation like “I didn’t read it.”  If you didn’t read it, don’t review it.  Are any of our opinions that important that we should kick someone we don’t even know in the gut?  I prefer to torture the people I know who ask for it.  Does that make me twisted?

 

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Do You Re-read?

My philosophy has always been that there are too many books out there to spend the time to re-read.  I’ve only consciously made a couple of exceptions to this rule.

A few years ago I re-read Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land.  In my opinion, this is one of the classics of science fiction and it was one of the first books that I remember having an effect on my world view.  In other words, it made me think.  I probably read it in my early teens and I decided to read it again as an adult to see if it still elicited the same response.  It is still a powerful book, if you grok Heinlein.

I have also read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius a few times, and will probably read it again.  There are few books worth the time to read them repetitively, and this is the one I choose.  Marcus Aurelius was a roman emperor and a Stoic philosopher.  This is a great combination as far as I’m concerned because I have always been interested in the Roman Empire, and I’m pretty much a Stoic by nature and inclination.  If you are looking for words to live by, look no further than:  He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.

These are the only two books I have purposefully read more than once, but the list grew by two more in the last year.  The titles don’t really matter because it was more a result of my mind slipping with age than a conscious decision.  So twice in the last year I found myself reading a book that I had read in the past.  Maybe you’ve had that feeling a few chapters into a book where you realize you’ve read it before.  What do you do?  To quote Marcus Aurelius:

Whatever the universal nature assigns to any man at any time is for the good of that man at that time.

In other words, just go with it.  I recognize that I have to accept this occasional slip as I get older.  Also, a little flexibility in my book reading philosophy isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I have a feeling the universal nature is not done with me yet, so I might as well accept what comes next.

An exception to this rule, of course, is my own stories.  We call them revisions, but it’s pretty much re-reading the story multiple times to find errors and make it better.  Maybe if I call it re-writing it will make me feel better about it.

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KISS

We are given advice in all aspects of our lives.  Career advice, life advice, marriage advice, writing advice—everyone has an opinion and most are willing to share it.  How much of that advice do you follow?  Any of it worth listening to, or repeating?

I have found one piece of advice to be useful in almost any situation, and it is easy to remember.  The acronym is K.I.S.S. and it stands for Keep It Simple Stupid.  I’ve heard variations of this advice for years.  Probably the first version I remember was about lying.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a terrible liar.  My wife has told me that I’m the worst liar she ever met (as in I can’t lie worth a crap).  Still, I remember from my childhood being told that if you’re going to lie, keep it simple.  Why?  Because the simpler the lie the easier it is to remember. 

I first ran into the acronym KISS a couple of years ago.  It was actually in a management handbook my boss gave me, and I realized that I had been following that philosophy for years but had never recognized or articulated it.  Since that time, I’ve recognized the wisdom of those words in most things I do.  Recently it came to mind when I was reading a book, and got me thinking about how it is good advice for writing as well.

I was reading a fantasy novel, which I’ll leave nameless because I wasn’t impressed.  In fact, it’s one of the few books I’ve set aside without finishing.  I kept pausing because the action scenes in the story were so over-described that it put me off the story.  I’m a fan of good storytelling and I like a convoluted plot, but please keep the writing simple.  By simple, I mean concise prose with no extraneous words.  We’ve all read stories where the writing interrupts the flow of the story and we skip to where the story picks back up again.  This book made me want to skip almost every paragraph.  To me, it felt like the author was trying too hard to be entertaining and ended up overdoing it.

So my advice to all writers out there, including myself, is Keep It Simple Stupid.  Keep your writing style simple, and let the story wow your audience.  Knock out those extra words, the unnecessary adverbs, the convoluted sentences, and just write simple prose that tells your awesome story.  In the end, it’s the story that draws in your reader not over-the-top prose. 

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What Do You Like to Read?

I’ve been a livelong reader.  I remember going to the bookstore with my mom just about every weekend for years.  We were the only two out of a family of six that were avid readers, and the weekly trip to the bookstore was one of the things we did together.  These are some of my best childhood memories. 

I’ve always been a homebody.  When I was in High School, I spent more time reading in my room—traveling to strange worlds—than I did in this one.   I did start to come out of my shell after high school, but I’ve always loved diving into a good book. 

Over the years my reading preferences have expanded.  Growing up, I read science fiction and fantasy.  In high school I expanded into history texts.  In my thirties I read a lot of religious stuff of all types.  When I was working on my English degree, I read a lot of classic literature.  Lately, I’ve expanded into mysteries and enjoy historical fiction.  I’ll admit, I’m not big on contemporary literature but I will read the occasional story in this genre.

Because I’ve read science fiction and fantasy the longest, I am most comfortable writing in that genre.  For novel-length work, in particular, I prefer fantasy.  I do like to experiment more with shorter work, but I’m not really a short story person.  I prefer to write, and read, something that lasts a bit longer.

If anyone is interested in what I’ve read lately, you can check out my list on Goodreads.  I’ve made an effort to review each of the books I read there.        

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