Saturday, July 28, 2012

To Re-Read or not to Re-Read?

Lately, I've been giving some thought to the idea of re-reading. You see, I just don't have the same amount of free time that I used to have and so I've been having to make more conscious choices about how to use it. I know a lot of people out there don't re-read novels, but I've always been one to do it, and here's why:

1) Pure Entertainment Value - There's always something new to discover in a re-read:
It's not that I don't pay close attention the first time through, it's just that I'm more focused on the big picture. The tension is usually killing me and I'm worried about my favorite characters so I tend to miss the more subtle elements which can really come through in a re-read. If I LOVED a novel, then I'll want to re-read it to catch all the things I might have missed in the initial read.

2) Learning to be a Better Writer:
During the first read-through, if the story is really great, I find myself completely wrapped up in it and unable to focus on the craft. At the end of the read, I'll have an impression of what the author did right - great pacing, high tension, relatable characters - but I won't know specifically how this was achieved. In a read through, I can focus on the craft to really dissect the how and then apply it to my own writing.

3) Getting a new Perspective:
There are books that I've re-read in different stages of life. Maybe there were 2 years between reads, maybe 10, but either way, I understood the story in a whole new way based on the changes that had occurred in my personal life (new experiences, personal growth, etc.). And this, to me, is amazing. I mean, I can't think of any other situation which gives me the opportunity to really see how I've changed or grown over time based on my perspective and understanding of the emotions and actions involved in a story.

4) Language Skills:
I like to re-read books I've read in English in German. Not only does this help me to improve my German and expand my vocabulary, but it also sometimes reveals new insight into the story. Word choice can be so influential in terms of how a scene is understood and a translation choice may add or detract from the story. I find it fascinating to see how my interpretation of a story changes based on the language I read it in.

So, with all these great benefits of re-reading, why wouldn't I re-read? Well, my (virtual) TBR pile is ginormous, and one of the books in there could be the start of something - the one the sparks a great idea, leads me to a new friend, changes my perspective, or teaches me something new about writing! It's the great unknown, and one of those books could end up being a huge waste of time (making me wish I'd gone with a safe re-read), but it could also be something I couldn't imagine living without (after the fact). So, I've got some decisions to make.

What about you? How do you decide what to read next? Do you ever re-read?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday

This Week's Topic:
When you need creative inspiration, where do you go?

Road Trip Song of the Week: "Where'd You Go?- The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Hmm, where would I go would result in a much different answer that where do I got, but I'll stick to topic :)

Usually, it's not necessarily a matter of needing inspiration, but a matter of clearing my mind and allowing seedling thoughts to break through the surface. And the place I most often go to kick-start this process is not that exciting: my bathroom. There's really nothing like a steamy bath or shower to get the creative juices flowing!

The second most common place for inspiration to strike is on my commute to and from work! Every weekday, I find a good window seat and stare out the window for a good, solid hour. And like magic, my most gnarled of plots untangle themselves as I ride. It's fantastic :)

Should both those options fail, then it's time for a writing break - That's when I get back out into the world and experience something: go for a walk, meet up with friends, go to a movie, visit a museum, soak up some sun at an outdoor bar or cafe (especially if it's on the river) - you get the idea :)

So, what about you? Where do you go to get inspired?

Sunday, July 8, 2012


I know I've been totally MIA lately, but there are reasons! And I promise to update you all soon :) In the meantime, I thought I'd share my thoughts on two books (well, one is technically a Novelette) I recently finished reading.

Guardian (Creepy Hollow, #1)Guardian by Rachel Morgan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I downloaded this for free and read it without knowing exactly what to expect. I follow Rachel Morgan's blog so I knew she was a talented writer, but didn't know much about Creepy Hollow. And I have to say - I loved it!

The writing was clean, the plot was fun and engaging, the dialogue witty and real, and I completely connected to her characters. The world-building was seamlessly natural and a unique take on the land of fairies. The only negative thing that can be said about this was that it was too short and I was sorry I didn't already have the next installment downloaded when I came to the end of GUARDIAN - I'll definitely be continuing on with this series and can only recommend it.

Starcrossed (Starcrossed, #1)Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a tough review to write because there was a point in the book where I nearly stopped reading and had to push my way through. The entire middle really dragged for me and felt drawn out - it was obvious where things were going and it felt like the author was delaying to up the word count, imo. I also had a hard time connecting to the style of writing and was bothered by the narrative distance and telling going on. I think this is probably a direct result of not being drawn into the story because if I had been, I wouldn't have been noticing all the smaller, nit-picky things I did notice.

After I pulled through that rocky middle though, the story really took off! The plot had me completely engaged and I either stopped noticing the aspects of the writing style which had previously bothered me, or they disappeared as the author found her groove - I'd have to re-read to be sure. And now, I have a dilemma. You see, I read a version with extended material, and the excerpt from the second book really hooked me. BUT, if I had known about the huge middle portion of the first book, I wouldn't have chosen to read it. I actually wish I'd just read the end of the first book and started right into the second.

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