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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reading Outside the Box

I’m a big believer in reading outside your chosen genre, whether you’re a writer or a reader, it’s important to expand your horizons so to speak. And I believe this for many reasons: it broadens your view of creativity, it could provide new terminologies and expose a brand new world you’ve never seen before. There are other reasons I’m sure but those are the ones that stand out to me the most.

I have a love of history so I love historical romance. But I’ve also found a love for sci-fi. Funny isn’t it? Can you get any broader than that? My love of sci-fi stems from the books and movies called Star Wars – George Lucas was so far ahead of the game in his vision of this genre that it simply amazes me.

Another love affair I’ve recently found is thriller action books like James Rollins and Matthew Reilly. Both are edge of your seat, cannot breathe until the very end stories. I love that.

What this variety has given me as a writer is perhaps a blending of these unknowingly at first into my writing. I tended to naturally write lots of action into my historical books. I didn’t notice it at first and then I realized that – I - as a writer – wanted to blend the two genres together and that has become my brand. So through my love of other genres I found my writers voice. For so long I couldn’t tell you what my goals were as a writer, what my brand was or even what I wanted my readers to come away with after reading my work. Now I can answer every single one of those answers with confidence.

My goals as a writer are to blend both action and history together so seamlessly that you cannot tell where one ends and one begins. This is my brand. Everything on the web that I write, almost every blog I’ve written has to do with pacing, history or action. I’ve branded myself without even realizing it. I want my readers to come away from my work feeling a zest for life, feeling as if they’d just traveled on an adventure into the past and experienced a heart pounding zing that makes it unable to put the book down.

Now my first four novels I was merely toying with the idea of action, really unsure of those answers above. There were some action scenes in them but with every book my ability to write them grew and I began writing more and more. But now in recent months I’ve really learned about myself as a writer as well as a woman. So my newest wip is nonstop action, I’m halfway completed with it and I don’t think I’ve breathed a single breath. That’s not to say I don’t have some down moments where the h/h get to know each other but you can bet by the end of the scene something dramatic will happen. And I am so happy with where my career is taking me.

And I have to give props to the source of this newfound discovery: reading in other genres. So now I’ve downloaded a few other genres to see what else I can learn about myself and my writing, like erotica, young adult, and mystery. I’m excited to peak into these new areas and find new discoveries. I’ll always love historical romance though and I can’t imagine writing anything else. But what I can do is bring some elements of other genres into my writing. And I’m looking forward to it.

So as a reader, this is my to-be-read-pile for the moment at least, Temple by Matthew Reilly, The Confession by John Grisham, Warrior by Zoe Archer, Excavation by James Rollins (although he has a new one out I am dying to get called The Doomsday Key which sounds so fascinating) and I am looking for a new steampunk or sci-fi thriller. So any suggestions are welcome. So what are you reading outside of your normal chosen genre? Share it with us here!


  1. I recently read chick-lit for book club and was surprised how much I liked it. It was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It actually inspired a blog, and reminded me of the importance of trying new things.
    As for steam punk, all I can say is I tried Katie MacAlister's Steamed and HATED it. Her fans assured me that her books are normally great, so I am willing to believe that this was an anomaly, but I don't see myself picking up another steam punk any time soon ...

  2. Erin due to Jerrica's love affair with chick-lit I've put that next on my list as well. Curiousity killed the cat lol. I don't know if I'll like it but I'm willing to try it. As far as steampunk goes I thought I'd try it out. We'll see how it goes.

    And I love your blog post! lol so cute. Thanks for stopping by Erin! We always love it when you do!

  3. Which box? My kids say I'll read anything. It's not quite true, but with a family of guys, my boxes got trashed long ago.

  4. Outside of my box is reading cowboys and some of the category romances. I dislike Westerns and contemporary cowboys is about as far as I go towards reading that.

    I love cozy mysteries and some romantic suspense. But most of my reading falls into Regency Historical or the paranormal/fantasy/scifi romance/urban fantasy realm.

  5. I write Regency, but I read a lot more than that. Larry McMurtry is one of my all time favorite authors. And in my college career, I've discovered a love for magical realism in literary fiction--or at least for Isabelle Allende's brand of it. I plan to try out a few other magical realism authors to see if I like them as well as hers. And while I would never dream of writing it, I love the fantasy involved in books like Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series.

  6. Like Sheila, I'll read just about anything as long as it hooks me. I also love chick-lit, although I keep hearing how that is a dead word and not to use it. But today I have on my reader's hat, so CHICK-LIT, CHICK-LIT, CHICK-LIT!!! :) My favorite author is Sophie Kinsella. I laughed and cried reading "Twenties Girl" this summer. I really loved it.

    I also enjoy a good mystery, and I'm reading Anne Perry at the moment. She writes Victorian mysteries, more a who-done-it type of book.

    One thing I've tried that I probably never would have picked up on my own is graphic novels, particularly The Sandman. My hubby introduced me to this different world.

  7. Fun topic, Melissa! I'm learning that perhaps I have a wider scope than I thought when it comes to reading. Chicklit is my first love, followed by Regency romance. But before I discovered either of these, I was a literary snob. I only read things with "substance" and therefore I didn't read all that often. LOL! I did love Memoirs of a Geisha, though. That's my big nod to literary fiction. I also love YA, mainly the paranormal stuff like Harry Potter, Twilight and Evernight.

    If you're looking to try out chick-lit, I'm with Samantha on this one - Sophie Kinsella is the mother of all chick-lit. I'm in the middle of Twenties Girl, which is great, but my all-time favorite of hers is Can You Keep a Secret.

    Oh, and you might like Leanna Renee Hieber's The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker - it's kind of a Steampunk Paranormal Romance :)

  8. LOL Sheila your house sounds a lot like mine.

    Beth, I love cowboys but understand it's not for everyone. I plan to venture into the romantic suspense line as well, I think it would be right up my alley with my love for action.

    Cat! Omgosh I love fantasy! It's probably why I play alot of online fantasy games as well but no one does fantasy quite like Tolkien! Glad to see I'm not the only fantasy freak lol.

    LOL Samatha I think it's safe to say you can call it anything you want to girl. But I would love to try a victorian mystery. That sounds awesome. I'll have to check Anne Perry out I think. And you'll have to explain exactly what a graphic novel is to me offline lol.

    And Jerrica I'll have to check out this Twenties Girl then as well as Leanna Renee Hieber. Sounds interesting.

    Thanks for stopping by ladies! It's always fun to see what everyone is reading.

  9. Intersting topic. My first escape is always an historical romance. Lately, I have developed a love for historical fiction (non romance variety) outside the regency period. However, give me an Ed McBain novel or Tom Clancy one, and I am happy as can be. What I love about Ed McBain (who I discovered years ago and went through his 12th Precinct books by the day) is that even though these are police mysteries, they are the same characters, in a squade room and they were written over a couple of decades and it is fascinating to read the really early ones because there were no computers when these things started and to see how police procedure changed. The characters age, marry, kids, then the kids grow. And, the technology is added to the story as it comes into use. I haven't read them all, but I want to go back and revisit and do them in order. Same with Clancy, do not read any of the Jack Ryan ones out of order or you will be confused. Patricia Cromwell is good too but I have yet to enjoy a Sci-Fi one. Oh, and I've discovered horrid novels written in the late 1700s and early 1800s.