Random Confessions of a Modern Reader

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Happy Presidents’ Day and/or belated Valentine’s Day, whatever floats your boat. Personally, neither holiday inspired me to blog so, instead, I’m going to share with you some random confessions of mine as a reader.

Forgive me followers for I have sinned . . .

Confession #1: I’ve read Secret Sacrament by Sherryl Jordan at least 10 times

Secret Sacrament is a fantasy novel that centers around Gabriel, a boy with a haunting past who wants to become a healer. His adventures–or misadventures more appropriately–lead him to the wild Shinali people on the outskirts of the city-state. As sinister forces take control of the empire and threaten the peaceful Shinali, Gabriel’s destiny is revealed. From the synopsis, it sounds like a typical YA fantasy read, but it’s anything but. The main character is vulnerable and intelligent. He’s relatable to me on so many levels. Not only does he have a close relationship with his brother (like I do with my sister) but he also has a tender heart. The way he emotionally invests in every patient he heals reminds me of the way I am with my clients. Not only that, but he’s a coward. I too struggle with my own cowardice. Fear is a huge barrier for me. Reading Gabriel’s story and seeing him overcome his past, his fears, and his circumstances, inspired me to do the same. I think it’s a book I’ll be revisiting soon.

Confession #2: I like to read in my underwear

I’m not trying to be shocking or scandalous; I seriously think it’s really enjoyable to read a book in nothing but my Fruit of the Looms. (I’m actually more of a Haynes Her Way kind of girl). Sitting on the couch or sprawled in bed with a good book is an intimate experience. Why ruin it with clothes?

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Everything is better without pants

Confession #3: I prefer to read paperbacks over hardcover copies or ebooks

As an Indie author, the majority of my sales are ebooks unless I’m at an event, then the paperback copies move like hot cakes. And I do buy a lot of books for my Kindle device because they’re affordable, but I prefer a physical book in hand, more specifically a paperback one. I don’t like the weight of hardcover books. Paperbacks bend easy and fit just right between the palms of my hands. And the pages smell good. Nothing beats a paperback book.

Confession #4: I’ve never read Harry Potter . . . and don’t plan to

Hear me out before you burn me as a heretic. The books came out when I was entering high school, and personally I thought the story sounded juvenile. At the time, I was exploring the adult fantasy section of my local bookstore because my school library couldn’t carry books containing adult content. I was mature for my age and curious about the darker elements of life, which those books were not shy to share. Young Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts just didn’t interest me. If homicidal maniacs weren’t sleeping with their sisters and destroying entire cities I didn’t care to read it.

As an adult, the YA genre certainly appeals to me more, though I am still hesitant to pick up that series. Why? Mainly because of the villain. I can’t stomach dark lords, and I don’t care what people say, dark lords don’t make a series dark. Wizard schools are neat and magic is always fun, but dark lords are dreadfully tired. And before you even call me out, I know the LOTR series features a dark lord. He’s not my favorite villain either and the only reason I forgive it is because of when the novel was written. Post WWI and WWII, stories often featured villainous villains and centered around a battle of good versus evil. War inspires such things. But modern storytelling cannot rely on tired tropes and lazy writing.

While some of the major supporting characters tempt me to pick the series up, I’m still doubtful I will ever dive into the realm of Harry Potter.

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Dark lord, eh? No thanks

Confession #5: I prefer The Lord of the Rings film adaptations to the books

I know. Burn me at the stake. I deserve it. But as much as I enjoy Tolkien’s unique author’s voice and his beautiful descriptions of landscapes, I actually prefer Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of the original trilogy. Why? Because of the characters. Peter Jackson focuses on the characters in the films, blowing up their personalities and making them absoltly lovable. Look at Gollum! Peter Jackson was so distant from them and focused on where and what they were doing, that I never got a good sense about who they were and what they were feeling, which is very important for me. I’m not saying the films are better; I’m just sharing my personal preference.

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You shall not pass judgment!

Confession #6: I only read for one hour a day

I like to think of myself as an avid reader since I read every day, but with mom’s illness, taking care of my nephew, working out,and writing my own novel, I don’t have more than one hour–if that–to devote to reading a day. When I was in high school it was nothing for me to read 5 or 6 hours straight, but now that I’m an adult with a full-time job and lots of responsibilities reading is just not something I can binge on anymore. Though that one hour or so I have to read is perhaps one of the best hours of my day.

Confession #7: I prefer traditionally published authors over indie authors . . . for the moment

I know as an indie author I should be ashamed, but so far I’ve been more satisfied by the traditional authors that I follow. Not to say there aren’t several indie authors I follow with excited anticipation, but they were hard-found in all the self-published sludge. Don’t get me wrong, I support indie authors–I am one–but I am constantly dissatisfied with the quality of their writing, writing that I know would excel that of the traditional authors if only they’d taken the proper steps in editing their works. With beta readers, content editors, and copy editors online, there’s no excuse for a poorly written story with redundant scenes and inconsistent characters. It’s the lack of serious editing that holds indie authors back.

Confession #8: I’d rather write than read

Don’t get me wrong; I love to read, but when I’m reading, I often become frustrated when the story doesn’t go my way. I’m not saying I could have written it better, but it’s nice to write the story you’d love to read and know it’s going to turn out just the way you wanted it to.

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I’d rather be writing

Confession #9: I only review a book when I hate it or love it

I’m like most readers; I only write a review when I’m inspired, or asked nicely to. It takes energy to construct a thorough review, and nothing inspires the words to flow like love or rage. When I love a book, I have to share it with the world! And when I hate a book, I feel compelled to warn others. Sometimes I don’t like books based on taste. This does not warrant a bad review. Only when I feel like the author didn’t try to put forth the proper effort do I dare a negative review. If there was any love or effort detected in the writing, I won’t write a flame review. I rarely write bad reviews. I have to really really hate a book to do that. Most of the time I write rave reviews, not to boost an author’s stats, but their self-esteem and encourage them to keep at it.

Confession #10: I never download free books, EVER!

As an indie author, I can’t support the giving away of free books when an author can profit on their hard work. I know I spend countless hours each week writing and editing my work. Not to mention the countless dollars I’ve spent for professional cover design and editing services. I loathe to imagine myself paying these off for years to come, so I make a point to purchase books at full price. Helping authors is what authors do best.

And those are my confessions. Boy, do I feel a heavy burden removed from my chest. Hopefully, I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, but I just wanted to be perfectly honest. The blogosphere is like a confession box, but for readers, so hopefully you can forgive me for my reader sins. For fun, share with me some of your reading sins.

Have a good Monday, everyone, celebrating whatever holiday you prefer!

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31 thoughts on “Random Confessions of a Modern Reader

  1. I actually agree about Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s rich description actually can be tpo rich to the point of confusion. I reread the description of Minas Tirith over and over but still couldn’t visualize it. The film fixed that with “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

  2. With you on #3 and #8. Though I do like hardcovers since they’re more durable and held find off the kid when he tries to attack.

    I only read the first Harry Potter book and it was for a Children’s Lit class. For me, it was because several friends would dive into the books once they came out and spoil it all. That and I’ve always gravitated more to the ‘quest’ adventures than stuff like Potter. The book was good and fun, but the urge I got to continue was quenched by mouthy friends. Feels like it’s too late also since I know a lot of what will happen.

    I try to read both indie and traditional authors, but it is tough to find quality when so many people jump into self-publishing with the idea that it’s an easy buck. One other challenge is that not everyone who steps into indie publishing can hire an editor, but the beta readers should be enough to cushion that blow. I really can’t talk because I don’t use many beta readers. Being so far into my series, I have trouble finding people and confusion happens if a person hasn’t read the previous books. So I try to rely more on my editor and being as meticulous as possible. One thing that authors should do is learn from their mistakes and take the criticism not only for one book, but future ones too.

    Free books . . . Not sure what to say here because of my current situation. At least I think I have to keep my mouth shut in public since I haven’t made a certain decision yet. :/

    • I’m with you on HP. It’s hard to get into a series when everyone tells you about it. LOL

      On the self-publishing thing. I hate to sound cruel but if an editor can’t be found . . . hold off until money becomes more available. I’m still in the hole from my expenses but they are worth it. You can’t start a business without money to invest. I feel the same with writing. I know times are hard and money is scarce but it’s needed to produce quality sometimes. Beta readers never did it for me. I have three editors, only two of which I pay. But yeah, wish it wasn’t so expensive. It’s definitely a barrier for most of us.

      • I’m talking from personal experience here, so I admit that I’m biased or at least jaded. I had $300 when I started, which only covered that. There was no way I’d save money because I couldn’t find anything more than temp jobs to cover bills and my wife wasn’t doing much better. So this became a ‘nothing else is working, so go for the dream’ act. I used writer workshops too, which got some editing and opinions in. I might be a rarity, but if I waited until I had the money to pay for an editor, I’d have never done this in the first place. There was always something that drained the extra cash, which was usually a car accident. I guess it really comes down to an author doing what is right for them and working to counter any hindrances that they have.

        It’s a really complicated subject after I’ve met so many authors. Some swear they don’t need an editor or to even edit their first draft. Others survive entirely on beta readers or writing groups. I do agree with you that editing has to be done and too many authors think they can get away without doing it. That brings the entire indie scene down because readers tend to remember the badly written stuff more than the good. The trick is to find a way to do it if you don’t have any money and it doesn’t look like it will happen before your hundredth birthday. That’s always a frustrating situation.

      • I hear you. I had to use my tax return. And I’m still in the hole. I’ve had to cut out eating out (and fun in general) to pay for my editing costs. Cause the book isn’t paying its debts yet.

        I always appreciated that you do seek feedback and edit your work. The authors I admire have found ways (free or at cost) to have their books reviewed. It’s better than just skipping the editing process all together.

      • Precious tax return. It has done so much for us. Mostly a bunch getting put in the kid’s college fund. I’ve cut back a lot to make sure I can afford a lot of the promo stuff, but it helps that I now have a friend who does the editing. One that knows what she’s doing as a professional. Owe her a lot for the assist. I’ve made sure to learn what my most common mistakes are, so I can self-edit to a certain extent. I think a big part of author evolution is to make things easier for your editor. If that person wonders if you’ve found someone else or that they looked at it already then you’ve made progress. 😀

      • Same here. I was so fortunate in college to make friends with several people in the professional writing/editing field who were able to provide editing services for free or discounted costs. Plus, my sister went to school to be an editor, that helps.

        I feel like I’ve grown a lot from them working with me and educating me on what I’m doing well and wrong. I can tell from reading your newer works that you’ve learned a lot from your editors as well. I feel like any author who doesn’t have an editor or reader who is closely involved misses out on that learning opportunity.

      • I didn’t have that luck with college. At least with novels. For some reason, I connected more with the poets than the novelists. Probably because I was the lone fantasy author in the program, so I was kind of on my own. On the other hand, I played a lot of role-playing games that helped my storytelling and character design skills.

        Happy to here that you saw improvement. She’s helped me with my pre-writing stuff too, so I can step in with a clearer mind. Do you have people that you can bounce ideas off of before you get very far? Not really editors or beta readers, so I’m not sure what to call them. Gluttons for punishment?

      • I was even more fortunate they were majoring in professional writing to become editors. LOL. I bounce ideas off of my sister and best friend. They are the most critical people I know. I’ve tried writing groups but found myself trapped in a one-way conversation about other writer’s books. Never got my turn to get feedback.

      • I ran into a similar problem with writer’s groups. Workshops seemed to be better because people were kind of required to respond. The thing with the groups is that you don’t really find novelists in there. Poets, memoirs, articles, rewrites of favorite TV episodes, but not much in the way of books. So I always became the odd man out in those conversations.

      • That is so interesting. One workshop I enjoyed was Erin Brock’s on WordPress. She forces everyone to share feedback to get feedback. Her workshops are fun. I got a lot from my peer groups during her summer workshop.

      • Something I just thought of: What about local author groups? I mean, there has to be some way to find an editor or something close to it without having to pay money. Even if it’s an editing swap or something.

      • I’m actually not any more. I was part of one a while back that disbanded and I haven’t found a new one. I mentioned in another comment that workshops seem to operate better for me. Sorry about that.

      • Sadly, if I wait until I have the money for an editor then I won’t be publishing at all until the later years of my life, and even then I feel I’ll be even less capable of spending money than more capable when I’m older. I already realize I’ll probably working well into my 70s at a day job.

        I think if you have the money to hire an editor it’s a good thing to do, for sure, and I would never tell someone not to do it. I really don’t want to give up on my dreams just because I can’t afford an editor.

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