Sunset October 31, 2014 from Casa Espiritu
When we left Oregon, I had on my Kindle a LOT of books, more even than I knew, which I had accumulated from writers I knew as well as those I had seen blurbs for and thought their books sounded interesting. With one exception, these are romances, a genre that I haven't read much for the last few years due mainly to writing for it myself.
Buying books and storing them with the idea of reading them in the future, is not just something I've done with eBooks. I also do it with paper books thinking the right time will come. I am a big believer in there being a right time, a window, where the book will mean more to my life. It happens that way a lot.
In this case though, I kind of overdid it. It turned out I had about 100 unread titles on my Kindle. Because over the last year or two, I have been doing a lot of writing, there had been almost no time for reading more than research, non-fiction, social issues, and newspapers. A book for pleasure had not been on my agenda.
Some claim that you should never read in your own genre when you are writing. I don't know if that is true. I do know when I am trying to generate my own plots or characters, I don't want to by accident get them from someone else's fiction. I have read enough books, through the years, to know a lot of writers do take their ideas from books they read. If they don't do it word for word, nobody says anything-- even if they think hmmmm, this is very familiar. For me though, the enjoyment of writing is generating my own ideas, letting them come from my observations, the book's setting, and its characters. It would not be fun for me to take what someone else created-- whether I could ethically do it or not.
However, I had been promising myself for months that I would take a time out and read just for pleasure. I began this project as we headed south, reading each night. When I read a book that I liked a lot, I did a review but only if I could give it 4 or 5 stars. If I could not, I didn't review it. If I ever felt an author needed some kind of slam, I'd email them (I don't get that irate at fiction and stop reading and delete; or if it's a physical book and horrible enough, drop it in the garbage).
Fortunately nothing I have read so far is anything like I write. They have all been romantic stories, which is why I bought them-- serious fiction and research books are already in folders.
Some of the books I've been reading turned out to be pretty shallow. A few had manipulative plots, but then what isn't manipulated if it's fiction! Yeah I know literature is different... uh huh... When it is fiction, writers control their stories, and whether the manipulation stands out or seems to fit, it's all used to suit the purposes the writer has for that book.
I do not know who did the cover for the book I am discussing below, but coincidentally I had bought a similar image some months back but have not found a way to use it yet as a cover. I like the one I have best but hers was pretty good too :)
It's Jimmy Thomas whose images I have used a lot in trailers and covers. I never can see too many of this guy;). Yes, he's a beautiful man but it's the way he shows emotions on his face that makes him a winner for me.
A book that looks at social issues and how someone can grow, when they are exposed to new ways of thinking, will always be one I like better than just a simple love story. Yes, a romance explores the developing relationship between two people, but it can do it through showing the social issues of a time. It can do it through illustrating actions and the resulting consequences. Princess and the Ox went into all of that but without preaching. It dealt with it through the divergent goals of the various characters and showing the lives people were leading during a time that was also of transition.
Because I write the sort of book that also uses social issues as plot elements, I know I lose some readers. If you illustrate, through actions, how some can be selfish and desire only power, while others have the good of others at their heart, some will find that partisan and political. Same problem, if you deal with religion-- which explains why some writers won't touch either to avoid offending someone. To me those resultant books are shallow and not that interesting to me. A good writer can explore problems and issues and not preach doing it. Craig was a good writer for this story.
I was delighted to find this kind of book out there and recommend it to anyone who is interested in historicals as well as a good romance.
Right now I don't know if she has such strong social issues explored in her other books because I refuse to buy any more eBooks (I hope anyway) until I have whittled down my massive backlog. I am not sure how long I can just read other writers' books. After awhile I get to itching to do my own, but I am going to stay with it for now anyway. It's been fun and actually educational to see what else is out there. I only though buy indie romances, no corporate published on my Kindle.
Because this blog has gone on too long and because I want to say more about our trip south and what we found when we got here, it's going to have to wait for Sunday's blog.