What Are You Reading? March 22nd Edition

I had fun with my last “What are you reading?” post, so let’s do it again.

This week, I read a novella. In case you aren’t sure about the terminology, a “novella” is like a novel, but shorter. Novels are usually defined as being between 50,000-100,000 words. A novella is usually between 20,000-50,000 words. Novellas shouldn’t be confused with short stories, which are usually around 8,000 words. So, a novella is considerably longer than a short story and more just like a short novel.

The novella I read this week is “Six Little Sunflowers,” by author Gina Welborn (ironically, no relation, as far as I know!). I’d heard Gina’s name in my writing circles, and even last year at the ACFW national conference, a couple of people saw my name tag and asked me if I was Gina or related to her.

I’d recently become friends with her on Facebook, and one day, one of her posts caught my attention. It said, “A chambermaid’s Leap Year Day proposal takes a turn for the worse when the heroic fireman she asks says yes.”

My curiosity was piqued; I was intrigued. So I clicked on her link and checked it out. The descriptive paragraphs further explained the story, and it sounded really interesting, so I bought the book. And I went back to Facebook and let Gina know why I bought it – because of her marketing.

Nowadays, authors are required to do most of their own marketing, even if they are published by a large, traditional publishing house. And most of that marketing takes place on their social media outlets. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest – these are the billboards, flyers, and print ads of today.

Since I’ve worked in web/digital marketing as my “day job” for a number of years (let’s not count how many, okay?), I understand and appreciate the value of a well-placed piece of marketing copy. And that was it.

So, did the story live up to the tag line? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Absolutely! It was a quick read – I finished it in a couple of evenings. The characters were great, well-developed and well-rounded, even in the short amount of time I had to “meet” them. Their backstories were also well-developed, and Gina gave just enough of them to ground the characters and help the reader to understand them and the motivations for their behaviors. The hero/heroine had great give-and-take, and their dialogue had me laughing out loud.

The story was well-plotted and kept me guessing, surprising me with twists and turns. I loved the two main characters and rooted for them. They had great chemistry, and their romance was both believable and enjoyable.

The supporting characters were also well done, and I especially loved the scenes with the “little ol’ church ladies.” I could just picture them, and the whole tone reminded me of something from Little House on the Prairie or Anne of Green Gables (two of my all-time favorites).

Something really cool is that the author opened each chapter with a quote from an historical book – either from one about firefighting or one about social manners/etiquette. Each quote set the tone for the chapter and added a little something extra to the book. She also explains at the end of the book about the Leap Year Day proposal tradition and where it came from. I’d never heard of that, but what a neat idea to base a story around!

I’m not usually a huge fan of historical romances, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I saw on her Facebook page that she’s planning a sequel for this summer, so I’ll have to be sure to check that out.

Okay, your turn: what are you reading this week? What are the genres you are usually drawn to? What makes you pick up a story outside of that genre? Regarding marketing, what makes you pick up a story in the first place? Leave a comment below to join the discussion!

 

What are you reading?

I’d like to start something new today. How about a recurring feature called “What are you reading?” I know many of you are avid readers, and I’d like to start a discussion around that.

There are so many great books out there (and so little time to read them all, right?). How about we share them with others?

I’ll start.

I just finished reading a great book by author K.M. Weiland called Dreamlander. I’ve actually had this book on my Kindle for a couple of years now. It was one of the first books I ever bought in electronic form.

I started reading it a while back and then never finished. Now, that has nothing to do with the quality of the book. I’ll get to that in a minute. But, it’s taken me a while to get used to reading a book on my tablet.

You just can’t beat REAL books. I love the feel of an actual book in my hands. The smell of it, the texture of the pages.

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Some of the books on my bookshelf

Reading in electronic format is different. You can bookmark a page in an e-book, but it’s not the same as putting my little bookmark in a real book. I can’t hold it up and see how much I’ve read and how much is left. There is a “page counter” thing at the bottom of the screen, but somehow it’s not the same.

And I can’t flip back over to an earlier section to check something I may have missed or forgotten in the e-book format. (Or skip ahead to make sure the hero/heroine makes it through the latest crisis!)

So, yeah, I prefer to read an actual book, but once I got into this story, I didn’t mind as much.

Dreamlander would be categorized as a fantasy novel. Think along the lines of Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia, with strange creatures, glorious castles, and epic battles.

The tag line for this book is something like, “What if our dreams are real?” Basically, the story is about Chris, who goes to sleep in our world, and wakes up in a different world, the land of Lael, where he is a chosen one called The Gifted.

Chris thinks he has completely lost his mind, but he soon finds himself caught up in a battle of good versus evil, where he may be the only one who can save both the dream world and his own world.

The plot is well done, with plenty of twists and turns that kept me turning pages (or clicking the little “next page” button, as if were). The characters are well-developed, interesting, and relatable. I found myself wondering about them during my day and itching to get back home and into their world to find out what was going to happen next.

I don’t know about you, but when a character comes to mind when I’m not reading the book, I think of that as great writing. The character has gotten under my skin, into my soul – and that is a very good thing.

I certainly feel that way about the characters I write, and I hope that my readers will feel that connection with them as well.

I really enjoyed this book and plan to read more by this author. Now … to figure out what to read next!

What about you? What are YOU reading? Are there certain genres you like reading more than others? What do you love best about your favorite books? What things really pull you into a story? Join the discussion by leaving a comment below.