Some of the Books I’ve Reading

Reading is a large part of my life.  I enjoy everything from a good murder mystery, to a steamy romance novel, and everything in between.  I read the classics (granted not as many as I should) and I read pop culture items.  I read news articles, and I read blogs.  I read about child development (well because it’s been a long time since I’ve dealt with a young child).  I read about writing and writer’s lives and writing habits.  I even occasionally read about celebrities (but not that often).  The point is that I read a lot, and one thing I have found is that you can learn something from everything that you read (even if you can’t believe everything you read).  You can learn how to be a better writer by reading, even if what you’ve read is poorly written.  You can learn how to deal with different stressful situations, how to build the perfect fort for playtime with a toddler, and you can learn how scary the real world is at times.  So for today’s post, I would like to talk a bit more about the things I have read this week.

Last week I wrote about my beta reading experience (if you missed the post you can find it here).  Mistral Dawn is a fantasy romance novelist and you can find her books on Amazon by following these links: Taken By the Huntsman or Bound By the Summer Prince.  Both are great fantasy romance novels filled with wonderful descriptions of the land of Fairie as Mistral envisions it and some pretty hot love scenes.  They both also lay out a world where everyone is accepted for who they are, regardless of what labels may be applied to them.  She does a wonderful job of making the reader think about social issues without coming across as preaching to the masses.  In short, both of her books offer more than sex scenes, and have a way of totally engrossing the reader.  I highly recommend them.

In the last week, I have also met another writer who is preparing to release her second book.  Julie Nicholls also writes fantasy romance and you can get her first book on Amazon at Demon Within.  In this first novel, Julie takes us into the life of Kai, a former slave who has won his freedom.  Within the pages of her book you will find mystery, lies, secrets, romance, and of course some steamy love scenes.  I particularly enjoyed how Julie weaves the different character’s individual stories into one and I am eagerly waiting the arrival of her next book titled Angel Within which is due to be released soon.

In the last week I also finally got around to reading Ready Player One.  This book was released back in 2011, and has been on my to read list for a couple of years now.  I have to say that I really enjoyed this novel.  As a child of the 80’s it was a blast from the past set in the future.  Ernest Cline gives readers a future dystopian world where most of humanity spends the majority of their time inside a virtual reality game world.  One of the creators of the “game” passes away and his will reveals the existence of an “Easter Egg” inside the game, and states that the person who finds the egg first will inherit his massive estate including billions of dollars. What follows is simply nerd heaven.  If you were a part of the 80’s, (and even if you were not) it is well worth the read and highly  entertaining.

Last, but certainly not least, I have been reading Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell.  This book is part of a series that Writer’s Digest has published over the years in their Write Great Fiction series.  It is one of the books on my to read list that I hope will help me gain the necessary skills (and confidence) to finally sit down and write a book (or if I’m lucky, several books).  I’m only a couple of chapters into the book, but I have already learned a couple of things, so Yay!

I would love to hear what you’ve been reading!  Please feel free to share in the comments below!


Beta Reading & Editing

Late last year I stumbled upon a fantasy romance novel, Taken By the Huntsman, while browsing announcements of new book releases.  The author, Mistral Dawn, was new to publishing, and this was her first book.  At first I hesitated to buy the book, even at the low price of $2.99 on Amazon simply because first books can be an awful experience.  The synopsis really grabbed my attention and piqued my interest though, so I decided to take the chance.  At worst, I would be out $3, and at best I would have a pleasurable reading experience.

I am so glad that I took that chance because Taken By the Huntsman turned out to be one of those rare books that I had to finish in one sitting.  The characters grabbed me, the world building was fascinating, and the story was enchanting.  Mistral Dawn even managed to make me think about social issues without preaching at the reader, not an easy accomplishment.

After I finished Taken By the Huntsman, I decided to write a review to help spread the word for this new indie author.  At the end of the review, on a whim, I added a note to the author stating that I would be willing to beta read her future works if she was interested.  Not in a million years did I expect for her to respond, but she did. So, for the past couple of months, I have had the pleasure and honor of beta reading Mistral Dawn’s second book, Bound By the Summer Prince, and offering editing advice to her.

It has been a wonderful experience for me on a couple of different levels:

  • Reading the book as it was written: I have never had the experience of reading a story in pieces. In fact, in the past I have refused to read an unfinished story (I avoided Stephen King’s The Green Mile until it was completed). At times it was difficult for me to be patient while waiting for the next part to arrive in my email inbox, but in the end, I began to appreciate it more when a new section of the book did arrive. I developed a liking to having breaks in reading that allowed me to process the story more fully before continuing to the next part.
  • Editing experience:  As an aspiring writer myself, being able to offer editing advice to someone who has already published a book was an eye opening and flattering experience. It gave me a new perspective on the writing process (one that I was aware of, but had never been a part of) and what goes into getting a book ready for publication.
  • A new friendship has formed:  I have never met Mistral in person. I have never spoken with her on the phone either. We have exchanged countless emails over the past few months, and I can say without a doubt, she is a kind woman filled with compassion for others, and I am proud to call her a friend. She has offered advice to me, but more importantly, she has offered encouragement to me as a writer.

Bound By the Summer Prince is the story of Roni, who is a human female con artist that literally falls through a portal and ends up in Fairie quite by accident. Shortly after arriving in a beautiful but deadly Fae forest, she meets Uaine who is the Summer Court’s prince and soon to be king. Fae law states that no human with knowledge of Fairie can be allowed to return to the human world, so Uaine must figure out what to do with her now that she has landed in his kingdom. He soon realizes that Roni is his perfect match; that they are bonded to each other by the goddess.

The story that Mistral Dawn weaves from this beginning follows the two as Roni plays the biggest con of her life and Uaine tries to convince her that she is destined to become the Summer Court’s next queen alongside himself as king. Can the two learn to trust in love and embrace their destinies?

The main purpose of this blog post is to say thank you. Thank you, Mistral, for trusting me enough to allow me to be a beta reader for your new book. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this project, and for the chance to practice my editing skills. Thank you for all of the kind words of encouragement you have offered. Thank you for taking the time to proofread some of my work and offer your own editing advice. And last, but certainly not least, thank you for another great story!