01 October, 2014

#GuestPost :: What I’m Really Doing When I’m Reading by #Author A.J.Maguire

A.J. (Aimee Jean) Maguire is a consumer of stories. She thoroughly believes that stories are the bedrock of humanity, and that the answer to every question in life can be found in the tales that we tell. She also believes that spiders are the spawn of Satan and that her cat might just be the reincarnation of Dionysus; if, of course, a Greek god were capable of being reincarnated.
Her first science fiction, Deviation, was released by Double Dragon Publishing in August 2014 but her writing runs the gamut between Fantasy, Historical Fiction, and (soon-to-be) noire. Her novels can be found in all the virtual retailers (Barnes&Noble, Amazon, and Kobo.) 

What I’m Really Doing When I’m Reading

My son just entered the first grade and he’s starting to learn how to read. His excitement for this was a little subdued at first because my son is a rather typical boy who likes to move and run and play. The idea of sitting down to read any other time than right before bed seems ludicrous to his six-year-old brain. I kept telling him that every book holds an adventure, something new to learn and to experience and to see, but he didn’t really believe me. 

Until he picked up a Star Wars The Clone Wars book and started reading about Jedi’s and everything. He looked up at me and gasped and said; “Mom! You were right! There really is an adventure in every book!”

I loved the excitement in his voice and the pure pleasure I had in sitting down to read with him. As an author it’s important to me that he enjoy reading as much as I do. As a parent I know that reading is a means to help us grow, to help us see and understand life through the eyes of other people and in turn, help us see ourselves.  

Of course, he doesn’t understand that yet but one day he will. 

Still, how I read and how he reads are inherently different, and I don’t just mean by the skill level. Because I am an author I am seeing different aspects of the same storyline. I’m seeing character tropes, plot arcs, language style, rising action, strategically placed cliffhangers and just about every typo that might have made its way through dozens of editors. 

Writing is a craft and every time I read I’m taking ownership of that craft by learning what others have done. I see where they have succeeded and try to understand why they succeeded at it. I’m not looking to steal another author’s storytelling style, I’m looking to see how my style differs. 
But I think the major learning experience I get from reading is the language. Different authors use language in different ways, painting pictures on the page through a series of words I might never have considered before. For example, Diana Gabaldon (Outlander Series) and Cassandra Claire (Clockwork Angel) both have books rich with language. 

Whenever I’m editing a book I make sure to read one of the authors who best challenges me. Gabaldon, Claire, and Sara Donati are at the top of the list there but I’m sure I’ll find more as time goes by. The point is, what I’m really doing when I’m reading is I’m learning how to be better. 
It saddens me when I hear author’s say they don’t have time to read because I know they are doing themselves a disservice. Yes, we must keep writing. “Write every day” is a motto you hear across the board in the writing world. But we must also keep reading because if we don’t we will never be the best author we can be. 

And really, if you’re not looking to improve your own craft what’s the point?

On the brink of a religious war between Makeem and Novo Femina, Celeocia Prosser’s struggle for gender equality leads her to Reesa Zimms; the one woman in all of history who can identify the first Mavirus victim. Believing the information surrounding this patient zero to be pivotal in the fight against the Makeem, Celeocia sets her sights on Reesa Zimms, also known as Caresse Zimmerman. There’s just one problem; Reesa Zimms is a science fiction novelist who lived and died hundreds of years in the past. 

Utilizing wormhole travel and antimatter discs, Celeocia sends her son Hedric and the crew of the ship known as the Lothogy careening through time. When Hedric finds Reesa, the novelist is accompanied by her best friend Kate, who just happens to look like his recently murdered wife. Stunned and reeling, Hedric abducts both women, bringing Reesa and Kate on a not-so-gentle ride into the future. 

Time travel might be easier for Reesa to accept because Hedric Prosser, the High Priestess, and the very ship they’re traveling on, all belong in Reesa’s novels. Confused and pretty sure she’s going insane; Reesa tries to prepare her friend Kate for the very male-dominated society they’ve been dumped into. When she finds herself abandoned by Hedric, Reesa must rely on Matthew Borden, the villain of her books to rescue Kate and fight their way home.

1 comment:

  1. So much this, not only are books a wonderful way to explore new worlds and see through other people's eyes, but they help us fine tune our craft. Personally, I think we should read all ranges of things, I learned a helluva lot from writing and learning poetry. The art of choosing every word so that it has the biggest impact, the beat, cadence, rhythm, movement and underlying song of the story too. The Night Circus is incredible for that, try reading it out loud and you'll hear the melody and how particular words land on a certain beat, that then gives it more weight and meaning.

    How can we possibly grow, and learn, if we do not look around us and see how others are doing it? Locking ourselves in a little box isn't good for us on any level.