So it would kind of funny if as a writer, I didn’t love books. But I really love them. I love the feel of a fresh spine beneath my fingers, the smooth edge of a cover not yet opened. I love the potential of the story and the promise held between those covers. There are small collections of books over here, scattered around the FOB and I’m drawn to them every time, just to see if it was something I’d read or would enjoy reading.
I have a small confession, however.
I’m an incredibly picky reader but I’m a romance writer, who when she started writing romance, did not read romance.
When I started writing, I knew it was going to be romance. But when I started writing, the only romance I’d read in years was Nora Roberts and Suzanne Brockmann. I didn’t have a clue what was out there market wise. My mentor Candace Irvin told me to get my ass to the book store and start looking for romance novels that were something like what I’d written. I didn’t find it (though I discovered I love romantic suspense) and I only recently discovered why, because of Roxanne St. Claire’s question as to whether War’s Darkest Fear was romantic suspense or straight romance. It’s straight romance, which means that as I was pitching it as military romance, agents were automatically thinking suspense, but I digress.
When I was a teenager, I discovered Danielle Steel, through my grandmother. I remember reading Zoya and Star and going to the library to read everything she’d written. I moved on to Jackie Collins, who my mother quickly banned from our house. At the time, I was pissed but as the mother of two potential teenagers, I can understand why my mom did not want her then 13 year old reading something that…explicit. But my love of romance continued. I grew reading Johanna Lindsey, Laura Kinsale and Jude Deveraux.
I can’t tell you when I stopped reading romance. I honestly have no idea when or why I stopped. But I went from loving all things historical romance to not reading one in years. Then, in 2001, I picked up Nora Roberts, Dance Upon Air and slowly reentered the romance world. Suzanne Brockmann made me want to write about the soldiers around me. Honestly, when I joined Austin RWA, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The wonderful women there were talking about all these authors I who I’d never heard of. I was completely clueless.
Here’s another secret. I had not picked up a historical novel in years. I don’t remember the last one I read, but I know that Laura Kinsale’s were the only ones I had kept in a box of things from high school (yes, my copy of The Shadow and The Star still has Fabio on it). The first historical I read in years was Sherry Thomas’s Private Arrangements. I read it out of loyalty to the group of women who took me in and taught me about the world I’d somehow left behind when I joined the army.
I loved it. And here’s what else. I picked up Julia London’s Highland Scandal. Loved it. Teresa Medeiros just sent me a care package that included Tessa Dare, Lisa Kleypas, Jillian Hunter, Eloisa James and Liz Carlyle. I love them. Every book Teresa sent has been incredible, a reminder of something I used to love and am taking true pleasure in rediscovering.
I’m rediscovering that I enjoy historicals as much as I enjoy romantic suspense. Something I had not experienced in years has been a reawakening within me. I’m discovering new authors I’d never heard of and finding some that are on my permanent to be read list. I will read every book that Sherry Thomas and Julia London write. I will order Tessa Dare’s back list when I get home, just like I’m eagerly awaiting Laura Griffin’s Untraceable, Skyler White’s and Falling, Fly, and Julie Kenner’s Blood Lily series. Wide spectrum of authors and types of books. That’s not a bad thing.
Being over here in Iraq, I’ve rediscovered a romance and that’s provided me escape from the realities of Iraq. I didn’t like first person point of view books, then I read Julie Kenner’s Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series. Loved it (seriously laughed my ass off).
So try something new. Don’t limit yourself by saying I don’t like paranormals. Try one. Don’t refuse to read a historical. Try one. Ask a friend for a recommendation. But try something new and kick yourself out of the habit of familiar reads. You might just find something new or remember when you liked something different and you might just find the inspiration you need to kick your own writing into gear.