My Controversial New Year’s Resolution. And Tell Me: What’s Your Reading-Related Resolution?

King QuoteThere are so many great ways to incorporate reading into your New Year’s Resolutions.

Do you want to read more books in 2016? Try Harper’s 50 Book Pledge.

Do you want to read books you wouldn’t otherwise? Here’s a great reading challenge from Pop Sugar!

Do you want to increase the diverse reading you’re doing? Check out WNDB’s campaigns.

Do you need accountability? Try the Goodreads Challenge.

Do you need help with discoverability? Why not follow the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge.

Or maybe you’re like me and have decided to read fewer books next year. That’s right, my New Year’s Resolution is to read fewer books. Why? Because I want to read slower, remember more, and enjoy them more. 

Instead of trying to read everything this year–because let’s be serious, there is no way on earth to read all the books published in one year–I’m going to focus on (outside of my clients and slush-pile work reading of course!) the “special to me” books. No beating myself up about not getting to everything. Books are meant to come into your life when you need them most. I can only get out of them what I put in and rushed reading isn’t helping me.

This is my favorite Doris Lessing quote and you’ll quickly see why:

“There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag-and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement. Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty-and vise versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you.”

Q: What’s your reading-related New Year’s Resolution? Do you agree with mine?

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Why Writers Must Be Readers

ImageI often get asked, how does someone become a better writer? My answer is always to read more, more, more.

Here are the reasons why writers must be voracious readers:

  • Attention to detail – People who read a lot learn grammar, spelling, dialogue and more from books.
  • Knowing what’s going on in your genre – Over 200,000 books are traditionally published in the U.S. in any given year. Do you know what’s out there in yours?
  • Comparison titles – When it comes time to get an agent can you compare and contrast your writing within your own genre? What types of books should yours be placed beside in a bookstore?
  • Gaps in the marketContinue reading Why Writers Must Be Readers

Digital strategy, do you have one?

An agent’s job is changing as rapidly as the publishing industry itself. We’re carving out new territory for our authors and ourselves. The support we give our authors is more complex in recent times and if you didn’t think you needed an agent before you certainly need one now to help you with your online presence, digital strategy for ebooks and otherwise, negotiate tumultuous and evolving contracts, and all the traditional publishing problem solving.

With the limitless abilities to upload content and provide your readers with entertainment I caution against thoughtlessly self publishing. Even while you are pursing a traditional publishing deal and think that will be your main market your self published works reflect on your author brand more than you know.

It is all too easy, and unintentional, to confuse readers and the marketplace with a website that is ineffective as a platform, and self published work that doesn’t support your growing brand. Things like consistent visual identifiers between your blog, social media, website and cover images are the easiest way to create a brand. This being colour, logos, cover images, tag lines and more.

Think of your website as a hub for the spokes of your brand. Continue reading Digital strategy, do you have one?

The Top 10 Books I Read This Year

I did a cumulative post about the books I have read this year in mid-November. However, I wanted to highlight my favourite reads of the bunch in fiction and non fiction. (Minus my client’s work, of course.) They did not all come out this year, but many did. Get a taste of my interests below!

My favourite fiction reads

ANNABEL by Kathleen Winter

This is literary Canadian fiction at its finest and it had a fantastic reception in the UK. From House of Anansi’s website: “In 1968, into the beautiful, spare environment of remote coastal Labrador, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once. Haunting, sweeping in scope, and stylistically reminiscent of Jeffrey Eugenides’ MiddlesexAnnabel is a compelling tale about one person’s struggle to discover the truth about their birth and self in a culture that shuns contradiction.” Twitter: @supremetronic

BIRDS OF PARADISE by Diana Abu-Jaber

After hearing about this book at BookExpo America in the spring I was eager for the rest of the reading community to catch up with my excitement. From Norton’s website: “In the tropical paradise that is Miami, Avis and Brian Muir are still haunted by the disappearance of their ineffably beautiful daughter, Felice, who ran away when she was thirteen. This multilayered novel about a family that comes apart at the seams-and finds its way together again-is totally involving and deeply satisfying, a glorious feast of a book.” Twitter: @dabujaber

NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro

This book changed the way I think about fiction, especially speculative fiction, and the film adaptation was fantastic. I was late coming to this one, but I’m forever changed. From Random House: “From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day comes a devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss. As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were.”

STILTSVILLE by Susanna Daniel

This was my latest read and again, not sure why it took so long for me to get to it, but I love the way it made me think about family, unconditional love and the way love and life plays out over the decades. From HarperCollins: “Against a vivid South Florida background, Susanna Daniel’s Stiltsville offers a gripping, bittersweet portrait of a marriage—and a romance—that deepens over the course of three decades. Called “an elegantly crafted work of art and a great read” by Curtis Sittenfeld (American Wife, PrepStiltsville is a stunningly assured debut novel sure to appeal to readers of Anita Shreve, Sue Miller, and Annie Dillard, or anyone enchanted by the sultry magic of Miami.” Twitter: @susannadaniel

THE MARRIAGE PLOT by Jeffery Eugenidies

I am new to Eugenidies as this was the first book of his I read (he wrote THE VIRGIN SUICIDES and MIDDLESEX). It is one of the best books of 2011 in my opinion. From Random House: “The triangle in this amazing and delicious novel about a generation beginning to grow up is age old, and completely fresh and surprising. With devastating wit, irony and an abiding understanding and love for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides resuscitates the original energies of the novel while creating a story so contemporary that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives.” Continue reading The Top 10 Books I Read This Year