Do I read what I write? Umm… Huh? Do I have to answer that?


Today I have the lovely and energetic author, Jennifer M. Eaton, with me to promote CONNECT THE DOTS, her new short story released by Still Moments Publishing in their For the Love of Christmas anthology.

Jennifer is going to talk to us about reading what she writes.  Are you guys ready?  Take it away, Jennifer.

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Well hi-dee-hoo neighbors!  Good to see ya! 

I’m here to selfishly promote my anthology “For the love of Christmas” offer some words of wisdom on a topic of Jenny Keller Ford’s choice.  I do this hoping you will buy my book out of the kindness of your heart, because Jenny told me to is such a good friend.

So… What is the topic?

Reading books in the genre that you write.

Ummm… Really?  Can’t I talk about something else?  No?  Ugh.  Okay… so here’s the scoop.

I know that everyone out there who calls themselves an expert tells you to read inside your genre.  Their reasons are totally sound:

  1. Get a feel for the market
  2. Make sure the story you want to write is not already written
  3. Learn from the style of others writing in your genre.

There may be other reasons, but since I’m going to debunk anyway, let’s just hit these three.

Let’s chat about these:

  1.  If I read books out right now, they were contracted at least a year ago.  So, let’s say vampires ar in… I write a vampire book.  So do 100,000 other people.  Publishers get tired of vampire books saturating the market and stop requesting them.  Now I’m skunked, right?  In my opinion, write what you want to write.  Write what makes you happy.  If it’s good, it will probably sell.  You are going to spend six months or more with these characters… why stress out about writing characters you don’t like for a market that might not be there when you’re done?
  2. Who the heck cares if the story is already written?  How many different versions of Red Riding Hood are out there?  Ideas are not copyrighted.  You can have the same idea as someone else. The trick is to put your own slant on it… and if I didn’t read a book like it (in the genre) I’d have to put my own slant on it, right?
  3. Now that’s just ridiculous.  You can pick up on anything from any genre and apply it to what you write in.  If you do it well, it will transcend genre.

Here’s the God’s honest truth:

  • Last Winter Red, in the Make Believe Anthology, is a Dystopian.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a dystopian, although I’ve seen movies.  In fact, I had no idea that is was Dystopian until someone told me.  Did not reading Dystopian hurt my story telling abilities?  Nope!  Seemed to work out fine for me!
  • Connect the Dots, in the “For the Love of Christmas” anthology, and its follow-up “A Test of Faith” coming out in January… they are both Contemporary Romances with heavy Christian influence.  Do I read Christian Romance.  Absolutely not! (Although there is nothing wrong with them) Romance as a whole is not my cup of tea, unless you mix some explosions in there.  I wanted to make my Romance “Connect the Dots” more interesting, so I decided to shove in a supernatural theme, and since it was Christmas, I went with God… Imagine me… putting God back in Christmas.  I’m such a rebel!  But that’s how this came about… I flexed a genre to make it interesting to me… and I didn’t have to read a bunch of stuff I didn’t like
  • Fire in the Woods is a contemporary YA Sci-Fi.  Nope, I don’t read it.  Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve even seen anything like this anywhere. Hmmmm.  That could be good, or bad.
  • Une Variente, which I am currently querying, is a Paranormal.  Now, I will admit that I have read a few Paranormal novels.  One of them was even a shape-shifter novel, like Une Variante.  I guess the only influence was that I thought “I can think up a better story than that” … and so I did.

What do I like to read?  Give me knights.  Give me Dragons.  Give me Elves.  Castles?  Oh Yeah!  Love it!

Why don’t I write it?  Well, I tried once, but since I read SO MUCH OF IT I could not come up with anything that I thought was original. The novel lays at the bottom of my closet, half-written.

See my dilemma?

No.  I will not start feverously reading inside the genres that I write.  The next book I pick up will be because it interests me… not because I need to do research.

And as for castles and dragons…. I’ll leave writing those to the people who do them best.

Do you read inside your genre?

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Thanks, Jennifer, and to answer your question, yes, I read inside the genre I write.  I also read outside the genre I write.  In fact, I read more in genre I don’t write than write in the genres I read.  Did that make sense?  

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Jennifer Eaton lives on the East Coast USA with her husband, three boys, and a pepped up poodle.  She hosts an interactive website www.jennifermeaton.com aimed at making all writers the best they can be.

Her Dystopian novelette “Last Winter Red” is available as part of the “Make Believe” Anthology from J.Taylor Publishing.  Her Christmas Romance “Connect the Dots” is available as part of Still Moments publishing’s “For the Love of Christmas” Anthology.  Both are available in ebook format from Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com and Smashwords.

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Last Winter Red:  In search of a husband, Emily leaves the safety of the city and risks her life stepping into the outside world.  What she finds there will question the foundations of everything she believes in.

Connect the Dots:   Jill has no idea what she wants for Christmas, but when it looks like her best friend Jack is going to get exactly what he asks for, Jill makes a Christmas wish that will change both of their lives forever.

You can stalk follow Jennifer at the following locations.  Tell her I sent you.

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19 thoughts on “Do I read what I write? Umm… Huh? Do I have to answer that?

  1. I read widely but I often read what I write. I think there is a certain difference between YA and adult books (I write both) and it is helpful to see how differently they can be done. It also helps when you have to mention comp titles. I think the most important thing is to read. Just to see how sentences and plots move and work. To gain exposure to different writers. 🙂

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    1. I completely agree. I’m always reading, though I do have to admit, most of the stories I’ve read lately have been Young Adult. I learn a lot by seeing how other authors make ‘it’ work.

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  2. I so LIKE this interview. Lots of good information yet again.
    As for me, NO, I do not read a specific genre. Frankly, when I have the chance to read–which I’ve been craving lately–I’ll attack the book like a starved woman because I’m making up for lost time. Anything will do. I know I’m easyt I’m honest. Ha ha.

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  3. Thank heaven, there may be hope for me! 😉 I read some sci fi, but not huge amounts these days. I read some mainstream, but only if it looks interesting. I’m a writer who follows where the Muse leads. And if that isn’t something I devour, so be it. Maybe like you, I’m coming up with a new twist!

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  4. Really interesting points. Thanks.

    I do read inside my genre, but that’s because I was reading it before I decided to try and write it. I am however also attempting to write something that I don’t read much of. So i suppose time will tell which works best for me. 🙂

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    1. To an extent I think different things work for different people. For me, I’d rather NOT be influenced. I want to make sure all ideas are my own… and reading recreationally in those genres really doesn’t appeal to me for some reason… it’s more fun to write.

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  5. Hi Jenny and Jennifer! I’m so glad to know I don’t have to give up my reading list, seeing as there isn’t one book I’m currently reading that is in “my genre” – hmmm, do I even have a genre? LOL. I’m currently reading a romantic suspense, a spy novel and a Christian novel in paperback; on my eReader I’m reading a couple of poetry books and a historical fiction. Yes, I read a lot, and better get back to writing as well. In my writing I’m working on another poetry collection for women, and (still) in the second draft of a mid-grade adventure/mystery novel (that will probably take another year to complete). LOL! 🙂

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    1. I actually believe it is not WHAT you read… but the fact that you are reading that makes you a better writer. I think you need to see words written by someone else every day to pick up (even subliminally) to make your writing better

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  6. Hi Jenny, Jennifer sent me. Interesting topic. I read a lot of books, mostly in my genre of contemporary romance. Not for market reasons, but because I love the stories, always have, always will. I also read historicals and a smidgen of other genres. Merry Christmas to both of you.

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    1. If I am going to read Romance, I would actually (and have) reached for historicals. But I would probably never write one, because it would take research, and to be honest, I am just too lazy for that. Stories interest me way more than setting.

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  7. I like to try and keep my reading diverse. I do love fantasy though. I heard Stephenie Meyer didn’t know anything about vampires when she wrote Twilight. If she had it might have turned out differently, not necessarily better.

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    1. Well, they wouldn’t have sparkled in the sunlight. More like disintegrate. LOL!! I think it’s great, though, that she took a norm and changed it into something different. That’s the twist and it think that’s one reason it worked for her audience..

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      1. I have not read twilight, but I do agree that she did something different with the sparkly thing… it was her own idea. Unfortunately, it looked hokey in the movies (in my opinion) Some things are just better in your imagination than seen on film.

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  8. Thanks Jennifer and J. Keller (nice to meet you. Jennifer brought me.) Such a relief! So many books! So little time! I’m working on a literary fiction story, and am reading … um Sheila Bair’s “Bull by the Horns”, Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children”, Rachel Maddow’s “Drift”, David Eagleman’s “Incognito” and now know that IT’S OK. Don’t have to sneak around and pretend I’m sticking to my genre. Happy holidays.

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    1. I’m so glad you stopped by. I read tons of books out of my genre so you’re not alone. Let me know what you think of Incognito. I’ve been toying with reading it but I’m not sure if it’s my cup of tea.

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