Writers Who Read: Jane Carter Barrett

Jane-Barrett-FB-LI-5421The Writers Who Read series continues this week with Jane Carter Barrett.

Who are you?
My name is Jane Carter Barrett and I attended Duke University and the University of Texas School of Law. Although I was born in Maryland and raised in New York, I currently live in Austin, Texas with my family. I continue to dabble in the legal field, but strongly prefer to run, swim, write, play the harp and, of course, read a good book. In February, I published my first novel, Antonia Barclay and Her Scottish Claymore, which is a romantic comedy that mixes adventure and history with light-hearted humor.

Which book or series was your gateway into the world of reading?
When I was very young, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series was one of my favorites to read. As I grew older, the English classics drew my interest, especially Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Thomas Hardy, Catherine Cookson, Agatha Christie, and John Galsworthy. As for American authors, Margaret Mitchell, Edna Ferber and David McCullough are particular favorites. I also love anything historical (my major at Duke) and enjoy period pieces that blend fact and fiction.

Nowadays, what makes you crack open a book instead of pressing play on your favorite Netflix show?
In general, I would rather read a book than watch TV, because I love words, especially the printed word. However, I adore the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries series put on by the Australian Broadcast Corporation. The story is set in 1920’s Melbourne and full of sharp-witted dialogue, marvelous acting, intelligent and well-developed characters, gorgeous scenery, and absolutely the most phenomenal costume designs I’ve ever seen—and I’m not even into clothes!  But circling back to books, any book with a really good story is the best reason to crack it open and dig right in! Oftentimes I find that biographies, autobiographies, and the “fact/fiction blend” genre provide the most riveting and compelling stories. I recently finished Lady Antonia Fraser’s autobiography and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Which authors are auto-buys for you? Why?
David McCullough, Lady Antonia Fraser, John Grisham (for the lawyer in me), and MC Beaton (the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth series) are definite auto-buys for me. Scottish author Rosamunde Pilcher and the late great Irish author, Maeve Binchy, are also particular favorites. I miss Maeve terribly, but I’m grateful to her husband who somehow manages to find more of her material to publish!

What is your book kryptonite–those unique settings, tropes, or character types that make you unable to resist reading?
Throw anything at me about Scotland or the Scots, and I’ll devour it, but I’m always drawn to a great story with strong character development, no matter the setting or topic.

What is your ideal time and place to read?
Nighttime is my ideal time to read and it helps settle me down, too. On the other hand, I have to be careful with certain books, like Grisham’s, and not read it immediately before bedtime or I run the risk of having vivid, disturbing dreams. I also look forward to traveling, because it affords me the opportunity to read with fewer distractions and limitations.

Are you a re-reader? Why or why not?
Oh, yes! I re-read constantly. I recently re-read a wonderful book by Paul Harding called Tinkers that is one of the most beautiful and captivating pieces of writing I’ve ever encountered. I think re-reading is extremely valuable with regards to more complex, multi-layered books such as Tinkers. It’s taken me several reads to understand the story fully as well as to comprehend the depth of emotion experienced by the characters and the motivation behind their actions. Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning is another book I’ve re-read so many times I’ve lost count.

Which books have had the biggest influence on your writing? 9781632990389
The Princess Bride and Pride and Prejudice are the two novels which most inspired me to write Antonia Barclay and Her Scottish Claymore. I attempted to blend the outlandish and over-the-top humor of Goldman’s book with the language, subtle wit and romantic themes of Austen’s. I have no idea if I succeeded, but nevertheless gave it my best shot and had a lot of fun in the process.

What makes a book a satisfying read for you?
Any book that is absorbing, thought provoking, and well written is a satisfying read for me. As I mentioned above, the confluence of a compelling story and solid character development instantly captures my attention and keeps me reading to the very last word. I know if it’s a good read if I think about the story throughout the day, even when I’m not reading, and look forward to immersing myself back into it at the end of the day.

What are you reading right now?
Currently, I’m reading Wings on My Sleeve by Captain Eric Brown and The Death and Rebirth of the Seneca by Anthony F.C. Wallace, both non-fiction. Next on my list is a novel by actor Sean Patrick Flanery called Jane Two. It was just released and I’m looking forward to attending his book signing at Book People in Austin next week!

~

Jane Carter Barrett attended Duke University and the University of Texas School of Law. She lives in Austin, and loves to read, write, and play the harp. Mary Queen of Scots and Jane Austen have been lifelong subjects of fascination for her. Antonia Barclay And Her Scottish Claymore is her debut novel.

You can find out more about Jane on her website or Facebook.

Writers Who Read: Tamara Lush

The Writers Who Read series continues this week with romance author Tamara Lush. Welcome, Tamara! MCP Tamara Lush-2 BW Small

Who are you?
I’m Tamara and I’m a journalist and romance writer. During the day I write news for The Associated Press. I’m based in Florida, so those stories you read about alligators, sinkholes and wrestlers? They’re probably written by me.

At night I’m a romance novelist. I’ve written three books: Hot Shade, Into the Heat and Tell Me a Story. The first two are with Boroughs Publishing Group, and they’re stand-alone novels set on a fictional Florida island. Tell Me a Story is my self-published novella about a bookstore owner who reads erotica to a billionaire at a literary event. It will be in an upcoming anthology called Sizzling Florida Heat. All of the stories in the anthology are set in the Sunshine State and are written by Florida romance authors.

Which book or series was your gateway into the world of reading?
I was a reader from a very early age, all because my parents read voraciously. My father has a graduate degree in history and was always buried in a book when I was a girl. My mother loved early 20th Century American literature. They encouraged me to read whatever I could get my hands on; there were never any banned books at any age (even when I started reading steamy stories like Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying as a young teen).

Probably the most instrumental book of my childhood was Harriet the Spy. It got me to write (I began keeping a journal when I was around eight) and after I read the book, I started to observe people, like Harriet did. So it’s probably no surprise I became a journalist.

Nowadays, what makes you crack open a book instead of pressing play on your favorite Netflix show?
I don’t watch a lot of TV or movies. I try to read widely both in and out of the romance genre, but I’m always looking for an interesting, well-told, sexy tale.

Which authors are auto-buys for you? Why?
Lisa Kleypas’ historical romances. Her writing is my catnip. I’m not normally a historical romance reader, but something about her turns of phrase and pacing make me want to gobble everything up at once. She also tends to walk a fine line between a hero who is wicked, and who also comes undone for the heroine. Kleypas writes the best complex, tortured heroes.

What is your book kryptonite–those unique settings, tropes, or character types that make you unable to resist reading?
If it has the words “Italian,” “rogue,” and “revenge,” then I’m one-clicking.

What is your ideal time and place to read?
Generally at night, when I should be writing. Usually I curl up on the sofa with one of my dogs and have a glass of wine or tea.

Are you a re-reader? Why or why not?
Usually, no. There’s a lot of books waiting to be read and there’s only so much time.

Tell me a Story GOOGLE PLAYWhich books have had the biggest influence on your writing?
Stephen King’s On Writing was instrumental, both for my fiction and non-fiction work. For those that haven’t read it, he gives people the one key to good writing: read. My favorite quote: “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

What makes a book a satisfying read for you?
A satisfying read leaves me with two things: overwhelming emotion (usually reserved for romance reads) or a larger, difficult truth about life and humanity. Sometimes I can only take so much of the latter, though, and need to escape into the fantasy of romance.

What are you reading right now?
I try to read a romance novel and a non-romance novel every week. My recent books have both contained the word “Secret” in the title. (I didn’t plan it that way, honest!)

First, I read Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig. It’s a novella written in 1914 and set in pre-WWI Austria. The plot: a rich baron at a resort sets his sights on a gorgeous woman with a 12-year-old son. He’s a rogue and she’s intrigued by his charm. The baron befriends the boy so he can have sexytimes with the mom. Sounds kind of like a Harlequin Presents, no? NOPE. Turns out the baron is a serial seducer and the woman is married. The son, initially thrilled at making an urbane and charming friend, realizes that the mysterious man and his mother want to be alone. He just can’t figure out why. The story is heartbreaking, really, because it captures the moment a child loses his innocence. This was a beautifully written story. I can’t stress that enough. Gorgeous prose that remained fresh and modern after 100 years.

For a romance writer, though, it was a somewhat toxic book — and it had nothing to do with the infidelity theme. I’m quite happy to read about the complexities of marriage and relationships. My issues were with the brutal honesty about the characters. Some of the descriptions made me squirm, which means the writer really did his job. The baron’s pursuit of women was described as “the stalking of the prey, the excitement and mental cruelty of the kill.” His character arc was never redeemed in the story. The woman’s “glowing sunset colors of her beauty offer her one last, urgent choice between maternal and feminine love.” Gah. That part made me think of Amy Schumer’s Last Fuckable Day skit, and also about how things haven’t changed much for women in 100 years. No, Burning Secret was a tad too lifelike, I guess, and it frankly depressed me.

So. From there I turned to The Dirty Secret by Kira Gold, which I’m still reading. I was inspired to check out this fairy-tale like romance because it’s set in Burlington, Vermont, where I used to live. It’s about a quirky architect who works with an interior designer to decorate his model home.

I realize my description makes this book sound fussy and twee. It’s anything but. The characters are original and fun, not overly angsty and not horribly broken. They seem like people I would know, and like. And the sex scenes, so far, are perfection. I’m a big fan of erotica that’s not crass. Gold’s prose is elegant and delicious. The hero, Killian, isn’t a filthy-talking alpha hole, he’s more like a smart, respectful geek who talks dirty at all the right times. The heroine, Vessa, is refreshingly open about what she wants sexually, and seduces Killian first with her decorating prowess.

Another reason why Gold’s book is so interesting: it contains lavish descriptions of interior design. The story is making me want to alternately redecorate and have sex. If you like house porn and erotica, this is the book for you.

~

Tamara Lush is an award-winning journalist with The Associated Press. She also writes fiction. Her debut novel, Hot Shade, was released in September 2015 by Boroughs Publishing Group.

When Tamara isn’t writing or reading, she’s doing yoga, cooking for her Italian husband or chasing her dogs on a beach on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Tamara is represented by Amanda Leuck of Spencerhill Associates.

You could find out more about her on her website, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.

Six Ways Sweet Valley High Lied to Us

Photo courtesy of Goodreads and the not-so-little part of my brain devoted to Sweet Valley trivia

Photo courtesy of Goodreads and the not-so-little part of my brain devoted to Sweet Valley trivia

I’m over on romance site Lady Smut today, talking about Sweet Valley High, like you do. Check it out:

Six Ways Sweet Valley High Lied to Us

Did you read Sweet Valley as a kid, too? I love talking about it. Pop over and comment what you think!

I also posted recently on Lady Smut about why I love novellas, with recommendations for the favorite short, hot stories I’ve read (or are sitting at the top of my TBR).

Writers Who Read: Christina Alexandra

The Writers Who Read series continues this week with historical romance author Christina Alexandra. image1

Who are you?
Hi, my name is Christina and I’m a recovering foodie. Oh, who am I kidding, I’m enjoying every delicious bite! ;)

I’m Christina Alexandra. I write steamy historical romance set in Georgian and Regency England. You can find me all over the Internet, but mostly on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. I’m on Pinterest, but I have to hold myself back or else I’ll never be seen again!

Which book or series was your gateway into the world of reading?
I don’t remember which books led me to read, but I remember before I could read, sitting with my Dad while he read Terry Brooks’ Shannara Chronicles and Magic Kingdom for Sale. After that, I just remember reading everything out in front of me – books, magazines, newspapers, ad pages…

Nowadays, what makes you crack open a book instead of pressing play on your favorite Netflix show?
I really don’t have the attention span for TV anymore. Lol. I know it seems like it’d be the opposite since TV takes less imagination and concentration, but unless it’s a documentary, my TV attention span is about thirty minutes. No binge watching for me!

Which authors are auto-buys for you? Why?
Oh, man, so many! Elizabeth Hoyt, Grace Burrowes, Victoria Dahl, Julia Quinn, Samantha Grace, Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sherry Thomas, Katharine Ashe, Jim Butcher, and before he died, Michael Crichton. So many others, but I could literally go on forever.

What keeps me coming back? It’s the story. For me the story has to be believable, the “this could have happened” factor. Michael Crichton was the master of this. There’s just enough blend of fact and fiction that makes you go WTH?!

What is your book kryptonite–those unique settings, tropes, or character types that make you unable to resist reading?
Ever since I entered the world of romance a mere three years ago, I have been fully absorbed and indoctrinated into Romancelandia. I love Love. I especially love Historical Love. I’m a sucker for an arranged marriage or marriage of convenience.

If not romance, then the speculative fiction draws me in. For those, I have no guidelines other than the story has to be fun to read and I have to like the characters.

What is your ideal time and place to read?
Anytime. Anyplace. Paper, ebook, tablet, phone. No matter where I am, I have something to read on at all times. I’m not picky. :)

Are you a re-reader? Why or why not?
Absolutely! Unless I’m reading a new story from start to finish, I jump around. I’ll reread passages that I think can help me be a better writer. That’s why I love ebooks so much. I can’t imagine having to carry all my books with me everywhere I go. It’s a little more convenient to carry just a tablet with my 500+ book library with me.

Which books have had the biggest influence on your writing?
Not so much a book, but the authors mentioned above teach me to be a better storyteller. I can see how flow, language, plot twist, hook and black moment all fit together. And with those authors who have multiple books and series, I can see how each character is a different person. Which is much harder to pull off as a beginning writer than you’d think.

What makes a book a satisfying read for you?
The story has to flow and all questions have to be answered. I read one recently where there were a couple of questions that were left unanswered. I kept flipping back and forth trying to figure out if I missed something. That left me frustrated because now I’m left wondering what was said!

What are you reading right now?
I’m rereading a few things. Right now I’m looking how a mystery element is hidden throughout the books. It’s not so much a mystery book I’m writing, but there’s an element of secrecy about it that I don’t want the readers to guess too early.

~

About Christina:
A late-comer to the romance world, once she picked up her first romance in 2011, there was no going back. Always a history lover in school, it was the historical romance novels that had the greatest impact and carried her favorite story lines.

It wasn’t long before she joined Romance Writers of America (RWA) and several online chapters specializing in history – specifically nineteenth century England since she writes historical romance set in the Georgian and Regency time periods.

Christina lives in Southern California where she works as an emergency services operator for a large police department. An avid trivia junkie, she is constantly on the lookout for random facts in the hopes that it will help her in her never ending quest for a spot on “Jeopardy!”

Connect with her:
Website: http://www.ChristinaAlexandra.net
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorChrisAlex
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AuthorChrisAlex
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/AuthorChrisAlex
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/AuthorChrisAlex

Check out other Romance Writers Who Read here!

Writers Who Read: Leah Umansky

ZQfjkJizWk-p-wJ2x-uuGEQYKvDJuig3W0Dnd_oTU-rQdM4xdPL3e8mJWd74CaLKxsFk9w=s2048The Writers Who Read series continues this week with poet Leah Umansky. Welcome, Leah!

Who are you?
I’m a poet, a collage-artist, a writer, a writing mentor, a reader, a pop-culture junkie and a middle and high school English teacher. Straight Away the Emptied World, is my third book, and second chapbook. It’s dystopian-themed and will be out with Kattywompus Press this month. This book was highly influenced by being a single woman in the 21st century, teaching three dystopian books at the same time to middle and high school students, and obsessing over, Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven.

I am also the author of the full-length Domestic Uncertainties (Blazevox 2012), and the Mad Men-inspired Don Dreams and I Dream (Kattywompus Press 2014). I am the host and curator of the COUPLET reading series in NYC, which just turned five years old. I studied poetry in the MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College and as an undergrad at SUNY Binghamton.

Which book or series was your gateway into the world of reading?
My 10th grade English teacher introduced me to the world of reading. The three books that truly opened that gate were books he gave me: Wuthering Heights, The Once and Future King, and Jane Eyre. It also turned me into the anglophile I now am, but clearly, I threw myself into the realm of british literature and fantasy and never looked back.

Nowadays, what makes you crack open a book instead of pressing play on your favorite Netflix show?
This is a great question. What makes me crack open a book instead of turning to Netflix, though there’s nothing wrong with Netflix, it brought me to AMC’s Mad Men, which I’ll always be grateful for, but what makes me read is language and story. I need to be sucked into a world. I’m drawn to lyrical, experimental novels that make me feel something and make me believe in something. It’s also what I’m drawn to in poetry.

Which authors are auto-buys for you? Why?
Easy! Jeanette Winterson, Andrew Sean Greer, Rainbow Rowell, Maggie Nelson, Rachel Zucker, Sharon Olds, Marie Howe, Carole Maso, Sarah Gerard, and Dena Rash Guzman.

What is your book kryptonite–those unique settings, tropes, or character types that make you unable to resist reading?
book kryptonite: love. I am all about love and the lyric. It’s what draws me. Repetition and image. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with dystopian literature, but even in there, it’s the notion of love lost or love that never dies…

What is your ideal time and place to read?
Before bed, or when traveling.

Are you a re-reader? Why or why not?
I re-read books all the time as a teacher. I’m actually dying to re-read The Once and Future King. It might be time. It’s been 20 years.

Which books have had the biggest influence on your writing? 799YlTFFougHL-vggNruKdF1HZ2a7JuqShJPJYNCHICP93nkUVKhceCo0tNFsaVOwQgvMQ=s2048 (1)
On my writing of this book? Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk, the title of the book is phrase of one of her sentences, and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. Go out and read both of them!

What makes a book a satisfying read for you?
A satisfying read I one that I dog-ear nearly every page, I annotate all over and just want to hold close to my body and never let it go. I felt that way about the H is for Hawk and Station Eleven.

What are you reading right now?
Charlie Jane Anders’ All the Birds in the Sky, Donna Vorreyer’s Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story, and I’m still trying to get into Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend.

~

Leah Umansky is the author of the forthcoming dystopian themed chapbook, Straight Away the Emptied World (Kattywompus Press 2016)¸ the Mad-Men inspired, Don Dreams and I Dream (Kattywompus Press 2014) and the full-length collection Domestic Uncertainties (Blazevox Books 2012). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such places as Poetry Magazine, The Poetry Review, Magma, Faerie Magazine, Thrush Poetry Journal, The Golden Shovel Anthology, Barrow Street, and elsewhere. Visit her website and buy her books at http://www.LeahUmansky.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @Lady_Bronte

Writers Who Read: Kelly Bennett Seiler

The Writers Who Read series continues this week with romance author Kelly Bennett Seiler. Welcome, Kelly! Kelly headshot large

Who are you?
I’m Kelly – a mom of three exhausting (but beautiful) children, a wife of nearly 20 years, a Jersey girl who’s become a Texan. I love few things as much as sleep. Some people collect dolls or stamps or keychains. I collect people – but not in the creepy sense. I don’t keep them in my basement or anything (In fact, I don’t even have a basement). I’ve just never met a stranger. I write in short spurts – but very, very quickly, once I finally sit down and get to work. My novel, Shifting Time, is about a woman who loses the love of her life when he passes away. Fifteen years later, she wakes up in an alternate universe where he’s never died and she gets to experience how life and the world would have turned out had he lived. My next novel, The Plan, will be released on September 20, 2016.

Which book or series was your gateway into the world of reading?
The first novel I remember reading, alone – cover-to-cover – was The Wizard of Oz. From that moment on, I was hooked and devoured novels. I’d read by the light of my digital alarm clock when my mom would tell me to go to bed. (That’s probably why I needed glasses at such a young age!) I was a huge Nancy Drew fan. I discovered Stephen King in Jr High.

Nowadays, what makes you crack open a book instead of pressing play on your favorite Netflix show?
I hate to say it, but nowadays, I tend to “press play” on audiobooks and don’t crack as many actual books open as I’d like! I find I have the most time to ‘read’ while I’m driving my car or lying in bed at night, in the dark, with my headphones in my ears. I ‘read’ while I’m folding laundry or cooking dinner or putting together an Ikea cabinet. I’m usually involved in two or more books at any given time.

shifting time coverWhich authors are auto-buys for you? Why?
If Stieg Larsson were still alive, he would be at the top of that list! I found all the Dragon Tattoo books to be captivating and they linger in my mind, even years after reading them. I love Gillian Flynn, John Grisham, Jennifer Weiner, and Nora Roberts. I’m also a huge sucker for Danielle Steel.

What is your book kryptonite–those unique settings, tropes, or character types that make you unable to resist reading?
I love to read about strong woman or, should I say, women who don’t believe they’re strong, but find an inner strength they didn’t know they possessed.

What is your ideal time and place to read?
If I have time to actually sit and crack open a real book made of paper, then I’d love to do it when I am completely alone – whether that be in bed or on a beach. As a mom of three small children, that rarely happens. At this stage in my life, I find reading needs to be a part of multitasking.

Are you a re-reader? Why or why not?
I rarely re-read. I, generally, feel as if those words/thoughts/stories have already entered my head and there’s no need to put them back in there again! However, I have reread Jane Eyre numerous times. Favorite.Book.Ever.

Which books have had the biggest influence on your writing? ThePlanCovers1b
Every book I have read has had an influence on my writing, whether it be a good or bad one. Some books have a flow to them that I find helps me discover my own current when I write. Some books reveal to me things I do not want to do with my characters or patterns of speech I wouldn’t want to use. I love to see how other authors develop characters and make locations and settings come alive for a reader. I’m always open to a new technique.

What makes a book a satisfying read for you?
If the ending doesn’t leave you hanging! My readers will never be left with an unclear, unresolved ending. Whether it be a movie or a book, I can’t handle uncertain story lines and conclusions. It makes me insane.

What are you reading right now?
I am currently reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, and a number of books I am judging for the Romance Writers of America RITA Awards.

~

Kelly Bennett Seiler is the author of The Plan and Shifting Time. A former high school English teacher and school counselor, she has written articles for such websites as The Daily Muse, eHow and Livestrong, in addition to creating questions for nationally standardized exams. She’s been featured by Woman’s Day magazine, NPR and PBS and was on the cover of Military Spouse magazine. Kelly has edited numerous books, including a New York Times bestseller. She received both her Bachelor’s degree and her Master’s degree in English from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. A native of New Jersey, Kelly currently lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and three children.

You can find out more about Kelly on her website, Facebook, or Twitter (@kbennettseiler).

Writers Who Read: Laurie Boris

LaurieHeadshotJuly2015The Writers Who Read series continues this week with Laurie Boris. Welcome, Laurie!

Who are you?
Hi, everyone! Thank you for letting me visit. Twenty-five years ago, I wrote my first novel on a dare. Now I have six novels published and several more first drafts under the bed waiting for me to get around to revising them. I write in a variety of genres, from women’s fiction to contemporary to literary, and most have a twist of humor. My latest novel is A Sudden Gust of Gravity, a romantic suspense story about an aspiring magician who ends up in a world of trouble after taking a job as a charming street performer’s assistant. I’m also a freelance writer and copyeditor.

Which book or series was your gateway into the world of reading?
I was an early reader, and I know there were probably a ton before this, but the books I remember most vividly from my childhood are Curious George, Amelia Bedelia, Harriet the Spy, and anything by Beverly Cleary.

Nowadays, what makes you crack open a book instead of pressing play on your favorite Netflix show?
I’m hoping for an intriguing story that grabs my attention. I do have my Netflix favorites, but unless I’m sick, or fried from a long day of work, I’d prefer to read.

Which authors are auto-buys for you? Why?
I can’t resist Janet Evanovich for her humor and fun characters, and TC Boyle and Joyce Carol Oates for their brilliant writing.

What is your book kryptonite–those unique settings, tropes, or character types that make you unable to resist reading? 
Kryptonite, I like that! I love reading about broken or quirky characters seeking redemption. “Nerdy” guys who get the girl (or the guy, depending). Sibling rivalries are another favorite. And I’m a total sucker for stories about single dads with young children. That just melts my heart.

What is your ideal time and place to read?
Reading is one of my favorite ways to unwind at the end of the day. Curling up in bed with a book is sadly no longer an option, because it bothers my neck and I’ve already contributed enough to my chiropractor’s kids’ college fund. So now I read in my glide rocker, in a cozy corner of my writing room. The chair was a housewarming gift from my grandmother, and sitting there always makes me think of her.

Are you a re-reader? Why or why not?
I love re-reading my favorites, especially after a few years, because sometimes I can find new things in the story that didn’t connect with me before. Or connect in a different way.

Which books have had the biggest influence on your writing? GravityBookcoverSmall
I was fourteen when I stumbled across my mother’s copy of Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York by Gail Parent. It was the first book that made me want to be a writer. I learned that novels could be accessible—funny and conversational and intimate, and not just the “stuffy” things I read for school. John Irving’s The World According to Garp was the first book that made me say, “I wish I’d written this.”

What makes a book a satisfying read for you?
I love a good romance, but if it’s too easy, I lose interest. The story needs to introduce compelling characters, an intriguing situation, and keep raising the stakes. I don’t necessarily need larger-than-life heroes or every little storyline wrapped up in a bow, but I like some good emotional turmoil, a fight for redemption, and a satisfying-yet-hopeful ending.

What are you reading right now?
I’m taking part in a year-long challenge by Indies Unlimited (I’m a contributing author to the blog) to read a book by an indie author each month. Right now I’m reading The Reveal, Mike Markel’s latest Seagate and Miner mystery. The main characters, Detectives Karen Seagate and Ryan Miner, have compelling back stories, and I’m really enjoying Markel’s straightforward style.

~

Laurie Boris has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of six novels. When not playing with the universe of imaginary people in her head, she’s a freelance copyeditor and enjoys baseball, reading, and avoiding housework. You can learn more about her at http://laurieboris.com, Facebook, Twitter, or her Amazon author page.

Smart & Sexy Spring Giveaway! (and other Facebook news)

Happy March! I’m sharing two exciting things in celebration of the (almost) springtime:sunflower

*Today the SMART & SEXY SPRING GIVEAWAY begins. I’m part of this group of authors writing smart, sexy romance who are holding a month-long Facebook party with chances to win free books and other prizes every single day–including a Kindle Fire at the end of March! Please like the page to join the party, especially if you’ve been wanting a new Kindle… or simply want to ring in spring by getting your book on!

*In related news, I now have a Facebook page. I’ll be sharing book news, Writers Who Read interviews, blog posts, and other fun things there, so please like the page if you’d like to read more about romance, books, Writers Who Read, or my thoughts on the latest monster movie.

Writers Who Read: Lian Dolan

Lian DolanThe Writers Who Read series continues this week with Lian Dolan. Welcome, Lian!

Who are you?
I’m Lian Dolan, a writer and broadcaster. My writing career includes regular columns in O, the Oprah Magazine and Working Mother, two collections of essays, a TV pilot and two women’s fiction titles that are contemporary romantic comedies with a bit of history, Helen of Pasadena and Elizabeth the First Wife. My broadcast career includes creating and hosting Satellite Sisters, a long-running radio show and podcast I do with my four real sisters.

Which book or series was your gateway into the world of reading?
I’ve been a reader all my life and loved everything from Winnie-the-Pooh to The Boxcar Children to all the Little House books (over and over again.) But I’d have to point to Judy Blume as the writer who made me think about my own life in a different way. She wrote brave, honest books, the kind I read under the cover for years.

Nowadays, what makes you crack open a book instead of pressing play on your favorite Netflix show?
It’s usually work! Over the past dozen years, I’ve interviewed lots of writers on air about their work, so jamming through books for work is part of my process. It’s a privilege to get to talk to authors I admire about their writing and I read the whole book beforehand not just the press kits. When I’m writing fiction, like now, I read a lot of books in my genre to ‘get me in the mood’ to write.

Which authors are auto-buys for you? Why?
Nick Hornby is an automatic for me because his work is funny and deep, a combination I love, and I think I might gain some insight into the men in my life! Anna Quindlen nails women’s lives and I admire her career because she’s worked across genres. Joanna Trollope and Diane Johnson are wonderful storytellers whose characters have full ordinary lives. And Elin Hilderbrand because she manages to write really sexy scenes in books set in Nantucket, the most proper place in America!

What is your book kryptonite–those unique settings, tropes, or character types that make you unable to resist reading?
I am sucker for any sort of historical mystery—a found manuscript, a discovered diary, a painting that materializes in the attic. I love books that can balance a few academic details with great narrative.

What is your ideal time and place to read?
I read a ton on vacation or business travel. That’s when I read for me and not for work. I use vacation time to skip the news, the web and Netflix and just read, read, read. If you’re wondering who buys all those books in airports, it’s me.

Are you a re-reader? Why or why not?
I don’t re-read a lot. It’s something I aspire to do when I have more time, like retirement. I always feel like there are so many books I haven’t gotten to for the first time, let alone a re-reading. But I will say in recent years, one of the fun parts of having older kids is re- reading some of the classics so we can talk about them as they make their way through high school and college: The Great Gatsby, A Tale of Two Cities, the short stories of Flannery O’Connor or Ray Carver, The Moviegoer. Love having the chance to re-discover these books with my sons.

Which books have had the biggest influence on your writing? 2BooksOnly
One sub-genre I really love is books by comedy writers. I know, weird, right? But most of my work falls into the humor category and I have a real appreciation for writers that are super funny on a regular basis. Neil Simon’s memoir Rewrites really changed my writing process. It’s so illuminating about the importance of writing and rewriting and then rewriting again. Comedy is hard work, but so is any really good writing. Recent memoirs by Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling and Amy Poehler are all hilarious, of course, but also filled with lessons about craft and perseverance.

What makes a book a satisfying read for you?
Humor, heart, insight are all good. But I do like my fiction to have a pretty substantial plot, not just be a character study. I’ve read a bunch of well-reviewed books lately where nothing happens. For me to really remember a book, stuff needs to happen and I need to be taken away on a journey.

What are you reading right now?
I just finished The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild, one of those books with an art history mystery built in and it was very entertaining. I also ate up The Arrangement by Ashley Warlick, a novelized look at the life of the amazing American food writer, MFK Fisher. Up next is The Past by Tess Hadley. And, for late night reading when my husband’s asleep, I’m tearing through Sarah McLean’s entire library!

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Lian Dolan is a writer and broadcaster. Her broadcast career includes creating and hosting the nationally syndicated radio show, now podcast called Satellite Sisters, winner of thirteen Gracie Allen Awards for Excellence in Women’s Media. With Satellite Sisters, Lian has toured with Oprah Winfrey, been featured on The Today Show and CBS Sunday Morning and interviewed guests from Nora Ephron to Bill Clinton to Big Bird. She is the author of two best-selling comedic novels, Helen of Pasadena and Elizabeth the First Wife (Prospect Park Books) Helen of Pasadena was a nominee for Best First Fiction by the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association. Both have been developed for TV. Her latest book of essays written with her sisters is called You’re the Best: A Celebration of Friendship, a popular book club pick. In addition, she has written extensively for a variety of media, including a television pilot for Nick at Night and monthly columns for O, the Oprah Magazine and Working Mother Magazine and now Pasadena Magazine. Lian graduated from Pomona College with a degree in Classics. She is married and lives in Pasadena, California with her husband and two sons.

You can find out more about Lian on her website, Twitter, or Facebook, and check out her writing on Amazon.

Writers Who Read: Jennifer Sable

The Writers Who Read series continues this week with romance author Jennifer Sable.JS_Headshot

Who are you?
Such a deep question! I’m an author, a cat enthusiast, a dreamer who… oh, that’s not what you meant… Ha! I’m Jennifer Sable and I write both contemporary and science fiction romance. My published contemporary piece is a short story titled Hearts and Flours. It is a part of the charity romance anthology Taste Me, Tempt Me: Eight Tales of Sweet and Spicy Romance which, by the way, is only available for a couple more weeks! Get your copy today!

My published sci-fi romance is titled Separation Point and I sold it to my publisher by telling her, “It has airships, and captains, and DANGER!!!” That may or may not be why she decided to take a chance on it…

Which book or series was your gateway into the world of reading?
Go, Dog, Go by P.D. Eastman. The story goes that I asked my Grandmother to read it to me so many times that she begged my Dad to hide the book.

Nowadays, what makes you crack open a book instead of pressing play on your favorite Netflix show?
Quite often it’s the ding of an e-mail either from my local library, saying that the e-book I put on hold is ready for checkout, or an e-mail from Amazon saying my pre-order has arrived! That’s not to say that I don’t watch TV, but given the right book, the movie in my head created by the book can be so much more vivid.

Which authors are auto-buys for you? Why?
Jill Shalvis, Rebecca Brooks, and Lindsay Buroker.

Jill Shalvis’ books are really easy reads for me, I can tear through one of those in about four hours, give or take, so the book hangover isn’t too bad the next morning. Also, there’s something about the characters and how she writes them; I can imagine myself being friends with these people and hanging out with the cool, beautiful people. It’s a fantasy and I get sucked right in. I want to be Jill Shalvis when I grow up.

The first time I read a book by Rebecca Brooks – I had just come home from the Romance Writers of America conference in New York City and while there I got to hang out with her a bit, so I already thought she was pretty cool, but then I picked up her first book, Above All, and just… wow. I am so glad I was able to meet her before I read her book or I would’ve been tongue tied and in awe. She is so, so good. I love her books. Why she isn’t all over the bestseller lists, I couldn’t tell you. But she constructs the world of her characters so completely I don’t even realize I’m not there. I also want to be Rebecca Brooks when I grow up.

I came across Lindsay Buroker by accident. My publisher suggested her book, Balanced On the Blade’s Edge, to me as a “comp title” to Separation Point, so I thought I should pick up her books and give ‘em a read. They’re not as fast reading for me as Jill Shalvis or Rebecca Brooks because she builds an entirely new world, but she does it exceptionally well. I like books that, while I’m reading, create a movie in my mind to go with the story. Being Lindsay Buroker when I grow up would be pretty cool.

What is your book kryptonite–those unique settings, tropes, or character types that make you unable to resist reading?
Strong, smart, intelligent women. The women that can walk away if the man (or whoever) isn’t ready for her. She doesn’t need to be a jerk about it, but I don’t like it when they put up with tons of…immaturity… in hopes that he’ll change.

What is your ideal time and place to read?
In bed, under the covers, in the dead of night when everyone else is asleep. Not that I have a lot of people bothering me during the day, but I like to get into a book and stay there for a while. The middle of the night is the best time for me to do that.

Are you a re-reader? Why or why not?
I used to be, but I’m not so much anymore. My To-Be-Read pile is so large that there’s not enough time for re-reading.

SP_COVERWhich books have had the biggest influence on your writing?
I’ve only read a couple of craft/how-to books – How I Write by Janet Evanovich was one. The biggest take-away from the book was that if one wants to be a writer, then one should write! There is no break between books. Finish one, start the next. It seems like a fairly common sense approach.

What makes a book a satisfying read for you?
A good Happily-Ever-After or a promising Happy-For-Now. It doesn’t have to end with a wedding and babies; in fact, I strongly prefer that it doesn’t. I don’t need to know about that stuff, but a good story that ends happily with the partners on equal footing, I love those.

What are you reading right now?
The last thing to hit my Kindle app was Kristan Higgins’ Anything For You. She’s another favorite, especially her Blue Heron series. The series is mostly about a family that owns a vineyard and there are plenty of laughs. Who wouldn’t want to read that?

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Jennifer Sable is a contemporary and science fiction romance author. These days she spends an inordinate amount of time on the computer, usually with a cat in her lap. She enjoys hanging out with friends, long walks on the beach, and sushi. If you’d like to talk, look her up at the following places:

Author website: http://www.jennsable.com – No pictures of cats
Twitter - Tweets about cats
Facebook – Lots of pictures of cats
Instagram - More pictures of cats
Pinterest - Pictures of cats with men!

Would you like to receive her newsletter? Sign up here. All subscribers will receive a copy of the Separation Point epilogue! There are fewer pictures of cats here.

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