A Writer is also a Reader

This is my first post since joining Choc Lit, and I’m feeling my way a little. As a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association I already have friends among you, and am looking forward to meeting and making more. And as I love reading almost as much as I love writing, I’m also looking forward to enjoying everyone’s novels. So far I’ve read Jane Lovering’s, ‘Please Don’t Stop the Music’ – how could I not when it was the RNA Romantic Novel of the year? Evonne Wareham’s, ‘Never Coming Home’, Margaret James’, ‘The Silver Locket’, and Linda Mitchelmore’s, ‘To Turn Full Circle’ – when it was a pleasure to give a quote for the cover. And I have been absorbed in, loved and finished them all.

Sue Moorcroft’s latest, ‘Dream a Little Dream’ is waiting at the side of my bed, and I know from experience that will be one novel I’ll definitely finish. I seem to give up on so many books nowadays. Once I would persevere to the end of a novel, but no longer. If I’m not into a book by page 100, then I don’t continue reading it. So frustrating when one has taken the time to choose and buy a book or has downloaded it, then settled down with keen anticipation. I just feel that my leisure time is too precious to waste.

To be honest I think I read differently now that I’m a writer myself. I’d love to know if anyone else has found that they can’t always lose that editorial eye? It would also be interesting to learn the criteria of others. Do you have your own limit before abandoning a book? Could it be 50 pages, eight chapters, 150 pages etc? Or maybe you refuse to be defeated, as I once did.


33 thoughts on “A Writer is also a Reader

  1. Good morning, Margaret – lovely to see your first post. And oh yep. I abandon books too. You are far kinder than me giving it a hundred pages. It’s the first three chapters for me. I need to be gripped or intrigued by that point. If I’m not, then I don’t continue with the read as I am sure by that point that the book will only frustrate me if I persist with it. I’m not sure whether I’ve got more critical since I’ve been writing myself – but I do know that my abandonment policy has got more rigid since I’ve had my kindle. It doesn’t feel so bad not finishing a book if it has only cost a couple quid. Although books may be cheaper on kindle, the writer may perhaps be under even more pressure to get it right early on in the book?

    So lovely to have you in the Choc Lit family, Margaret. Sx

  2. Thank you Sarah. Everyone has been so welcoming and friendly. I love my Kindle too, but think there will always be a place for printed books. Apart from the joy of reading, well-stocked bookshelves add so much to a room. Margaret x

  3. Oh, that’s a very interesting first post, Margaret. One of the many advantages to me of having a Kindle (I love mine!)is being able to download free sample chapters. If the free sample doesn’t grab me, then I don’t buy the book, therefore I do finish the books I buy now.

    It was lovely to meet you at the RNA WInter Party.Cx

  4. Hi Margaret!

    I give up on books, too, I’m afraid. Life’s too short to wade through something I’m not enjoying, as if it has been set as part of an Eng Lit course. Although I do find it hard to switch off my inner editor, the books that make me do so are the ones that engage me most.


  5. Welcome to the Choc Lit author blog, Margaret, and to the Choc Lit author family!

    I find that most of the time I can silence my inner editor and read for the pleasure of reading. I don’t usually give up on a novel unless it starts upsetting or disgusting me. You start torturing animals or children and I’m afraid you’ve had it, Mr Author (it’s almost always a Mr Author), your book goes straight into the charity bag. But otherwise – if a novel isn’t that great, I read so far and then skip to the end. I don’t like giving up on anything!

  6. I agree as well, Margaret – life is too short to finish books you don’t like! And I have definitely become more critical of things like head-hopping and bad editing which can ruin a story for me. But if the story is really gripping, as Sue said, I’ll forget all of that and then I know it’s a great book!

    Great to have you with us!

  7. Hi, Margaret!

    Welcome to the Choc Lit family.

    I, too, sometimes give up on a book, although I try hard not to. I prefer to get to the end to find out what happens; however, if I really can’t get into the story/dislike the characters/find the situation confusing/realise that it’s a genre that I truly don’t like, then I’ll give up on it.

    As Sarah said, it’s easier to give up with a book on a kindle/PC than it is a book that you can hold in your hand.

    Liz X

  8. Thank you all for your comments, it was good to meet you too Chris, and as a Doris Day fan I’m looking forward to reading, ‘Move Over Darling’. And everyone’s warm welcome continues . . .

  9. Yes Liz, I agree with you and Sarah about it being easier to give up on Kindle, I’m afraid some of the ‘free downloads’ have very quickly been discarded – and without waiting for 100 pages!

  10. Great first post, Margaret. I’m completely with you about giving up on books, but it sounds like you’re more generous than I am, by not giving up until about 100 pages. For me it’s usually after the first 2 chapters (which may be generous to some…), but as Chris said, Kindles are great for sampling, so that’s one way to avoid wasting too much of our precious leisure time. Usually I go by gut instinct because I have a pretty good idea about the sort of book I’m going to like.

  11. Hello, Margaret, welcome to the Choc Lit family! Like you, I never used to give up on books, but now I feel that life is too short to torture myself doing something I hate, so I stop when I get bored. If a book bores me, I figure, it must be badly written in one way or another, and I don’t need any more bad influences in my life! I do buy books for my Kindle that I then either give up on or don’t pick up, I think it’s because they’re not sitting beside my bed in a big, accusing pile..

  12. And welcome from me too, Margaret.
    I’ve been known to throw a book that was irritating me across the room – usually for dire dialogue, or unbelievable relationships. Technical inaccuracies get my goat more than anything, though. I read a book once where the heroine lifted up the seat of a vintage Norton motorcycle – she gave the model and year etc – to stow away a crash helmet. Hmmm….editor needed shooting because the seats don’t lift up for storage – and I know because my husband has two vintage Nortons.
    Hmmm, some of you say ….samples. Time to get a Kindle methinks…:)

  13. Hi Linda,
    Thank you for the welcome. I’m just trying to imagine you on the back of a Norton motorcyle in leathers!

  14. Henriette and Jane, thank you for commenting. It’s good to hear that I’m not the only one who gives up on books. As for Kindle, I sometimes scroll down to discover books I’d forgotten I’d downloaded. It’s such a temptation to click ‘buy’. I do have a look at the first chapter if I’m paying for it, but if it’s a free download, I get carried away!

  15. Hi Margaret,
    How wonderful to see so many members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association published with Choc Lit.
    Congratulations to you Margaret on your recent contract. How wonderfully friendly everyone sounds.
    Enjoy it all.

  16. Congratulations on joining Choc Lit Margaret. So pleased for you. I hope you have a very long and happy time with them. Looking forward to seeing your new book.

  17. Can anyone join in? I agree with Margaret Kaine about being unable to discard the editing habit. I’m on Kindle but to nothing like the extent that you choc-lit people are – unfortuanately. Reading when you’re tired makes using the delete button even easier.

  18. Great first blog, Margaret. I can generally tell in the first chapter if I’m going to enjoy a book or not. Only once have I persevered, and that was with The Colour of Magic…I must have read the first ten pages some twenty times because I just couldn’t grasp it, or break through that barrier – but then I did, and I couldn’t put it down. It was a wonderful, laugh aloud adventure, from start to end, so I’m glad I had patience with that one because it led me into the rest of the Discworld series.

    I also have numerous Choc Lit books to read, and so far, I haven’t been disappointed in any. Funnily enough, I read, and loved, Trade Winds, after winning it, and I was hooked on Christina’s heroes right from the start, and pestered her constantly on Twitter about a sequel (which she obviously had line up already). I didn’t know anything about Choc Lit at that time.

    I do have something of an editorial head now. I’m no expert, but I do notice all the things I’ve learned over the past few years – use of adverbs, point of view etc. I think once it’s in there, it’s hard to get it out. Have to say though, that with the CL books I’ve read, it’s been very easy to just concentrate on the stories.

    What I do need to do, is to get my brain attuned to reviewing because I don’t feel particularly good at it, but I want to review on both Amazon and Goodreads.

    Liv xx

  19. Hello Margaret – lovely to have you here. I used to have a ‘started so I will finish’ mindset – a bit like having to eat all the food on your plate. (You did when my grandmother was around, anyway!) Now I’m a lot more cavalier – if it isn’t grabbing me, then I read the end and that’s it. Sometimes the end suggests the book is a lot more interesting than it seems and I will go back and read it all – but that does not happen often. So many books – so little time. If I’m really enjoying something then my inner editor goes completely to sleep.

  20. Hello and welcome, Margaret. I do give up on books sometimes I’m afraid. I was reading a thriller by a famous author last week and it was very thick. As I was reading I was thinking – when is this damned thing going to end? There was too much gratuitous violence and suffering in it, so I decided that I had better things to do with my time. Sometimes I flick through to see what happens, but if I can, I do try to read all of a book. I guess I’d like the reader to give my work the same courtesy.

    Often though, as Liv said, it’s hard to take your editor’s head off. I am constantly surprised how much head hopping goes on,(different points of view when there should only be one)in books of best selling authors, and also pages of telling instead of showing. I’m glad to say that none of the CL books I’ve read suffer from these types of errors.

  21. Hello and welcome, Margaret! We’ve not met yet, but I’m an editor for Choc Lit.

    Like so many of you, it’s REALLY hard for me to turn off my editing eye. I used to finish everything I started, but now I’m more willing to give things up. Frankly, I just don’t have the time to read something that feels that work. 🙂 I think I own about 600 books that I’ve not yet road (about 3/4 of which are e-books), and not a lot of spare time for leisure reading. I even have an ‘abandoned reads’ shelf at goodreads, and I’ll admit that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is on it! I know, I know; everyone says it eventually becomes amazing. Oh well.

    And I have to confess that I pretty much never read sample chapters before buying for my Kindle. No time, lol. I have to disagree with others in that I find paper-books much more convenient for those times when I’m feeling unsure of whether to continue. So much easier to scan ahead in a pb! Though I’ll admit it’s quite rare for me to skip ahead in any type of book because to me, once the unknown is known, the tension is then irrelevant and the point of reading the story is a bit lost.

  22. It’s lovely to receive so many comments and thank you Liv, Evonne and Mandy. Rachel, it’s good to make contact – when Lyn and I met she mentioned that you and I may be working together – possibly in the Spring. And Liv, I too feel that my reviewing skills could be better, mine always end up being quite short, but then on Amazon for instance, I don’t think that matters. People are influenced by the number of reviews, the percentage of 5 and 4 stars, and often only scan the first few lines and the last few lines. As for me, I don’t want to know the story before I buy the book!

  23. Thank you for the congratulations on joining Choc Lit, Liz. I’ve had a wonderfully warm welcome and look forward to next year when Dangerous Decisions is published. Wishing you lots of luck with your own novel.

  24. Biddy, of course anyone can join in and thank you for doing so. I’m really enjoying reading everyone’s comments. And I think lots of us have the problem of eye fatigue when reading in bed – I think the culprit is the computer screen!

  25. Hi Margaret and other Chocolateers,
    First of all, many congratulations to you, Margaret, on being published by the wonderful Choc Lilt. I’m sure that you won;t feel like the new girl in the class because so many lovely RNA (and other) writers will be there to welcome you. I can’t wait to read your novel when it finally hits the shelf.
    On the subject of switching off one’s inner editor, I’m afraid I’m getting worse. Unless a novel rollicks along or the long descriptive passages have a point I’m afraid I totally switch off and the novel is abandoned. I feel like shouting at the author/editor – ‘we get it; move on’. And as for inner dialogue, well . . . Most people read before they fall asleep and if the action hasn’t moved on, or the author SHOWN why her character is acting as she is (briefly), I find when one opens the book the following evening its difficult to remember what the hell was going on. Many a book has been bought, abandoned and given to friends or the local charity shop. I think we forget our readers at our peril. Luckily all the Choc Lit books I’ve bought and read are still sitting on my book shelves.
    Onwards and upwards – all of you. Much love, Lizzie xx

  26. Bless you Lizzie for your good wishes. And I hope you have mega sales with your own new novel. Now that was one book I really enjoyed, but then you know I love your humour. A few stirring scenes in there too – you’ll know which ones I mean!

  27. Cathy, thank you too for commenting. I will be the one commenting on your own blog in the Spring when your first novel comes out as an ebook. 2013 is going to be an exciting year!

  28. I am an avid reader -I think all writers are unless they are in the last throes of writing their own novel when personally I have time for nothing else and my husband is dragging me away from the computer to eat. I was thrilled to have mysterious master short listed for an award and its my dream to one day get trad published instead of ebook and sponsored paperbacks -although that helped me persevere. And the feedback from being on sites like autonomy and feedaread helped enormously.
    I enjoyed all the books choc lit published by the excellent writers I met at the festival this year. Most of whom are now my facebook friends.
    Looking forward to 2013 and possibly getting one of my own books taken on by a publisher.

  29. Welcome, Margaret! We bumped into each other at the RNA Winter Party, remember?
    To answer your question: the less time I have to read, the more quickly I abandon a book that doesn’t wow me. Which is a shame, because at such times I probably need to relax more – and reading can be very relaxing.
    Looking forward to your first Choc Lit launch!

  30. Yes, I do remember Juliet and it was lovely to meet you. Reading is both relaxing and also escapism. How I wish I could go back to the days when in my teens I would curl up in armchair and read for hours!

  31. Thank you for commenting Pamela. I think most writers have had to persevere to be successful, and it sounds as if you are doing just that. I do hope you have success – maybe 2013 will be your lucky year.

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