Tag Archives: books

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Sunshine and warm days. It’s the perfect setting for doing the thing every writer should do: read. Not only can you unwind with a good book, escape to another place, and take a break from your work; reading helps you cultivate your writing skills by teaching you how to use literary techniques effectively, broadening your vocabulary, and sparking creativity. The best part about summer reading is there’s no shortage of book options. But if you’re wondering what to read this summer, these ideas will give you plenty of satisfaction—and help you grow as a writer:

A Best Seller

Don’t let the summer go by without reading a book that everyone’s talking about, not only to experience all the hype for yourself but so you can contribute to the conversation too. Even better, best sellers can provide insight on what sells. Remember, a book becomes a best seller because it’s engaging, well written, and relatable. Pick one up; it might just help you on your journey to crafting one of your own.

A Nonfiction Book on a Favorite Subject

Reading nonfiction is a great way to learn about a real-life topic—and gain insight into a highly lucrative writing genre. Choose a nonfiction book with a subject that interests you, whether it be a political figure, historical event, or place to visit. As you read, consider how the author uses fictional tools to bring life to the facts. Don’t be surprised if you finish the book in one sitting. Nonfiction today is nothing like the mundane textbook-like stories of the past.

An Inspirational Read

Books that lift your spirits and give you confidence, comfort, and encouragement are worth a read for everyone. They can also inspire you in your writing life. A google search will uncover all kinds of inspirational books worthy of your time and attention, but here are a few top sellers to consider: The Time is Now by Joan Chittister, The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, and any of Mitch Albom’s inspiring stories.

A Cookbook

Cookbooks aren’t exactly reading books, but they can be just as absorbing and useful to writers. Whether you enjoy cooking or not, browsing through a cookbook is a great way to pick up tips for meal prep, get a feel for how to organize a book, see how pictures enhance content, and learn more about the art of good eating. Besides that, cookbooks are just plain fun to read, plus they’re easy on the brain and appealing to the appetite.

A Light Summer Page-turner

What summer is complete without a satisfyingly light page-turner? It can be anything from a humorous memoir to a steamy romance to a young adult fantasy novel. The point of a summer page-turner is pure enjoyment, so choose something that’s entertaining and uncomplicated. Check out summer picks at the bookstore, library, or get recommendations from friends. Then take a break from your craft and head to the beach or the hammock.

A Book on the Craft of Writing

Feel like your writing skills could use a little sharpening this summer? There’s no better way to do it than to educate yourself. Pick up a book on the craft of writing, especially one that teaches something you want to learn. Maybe you’ve wanted to try your hand at writing for children’s magazines or learn how to craft multi-dimensional characters. Books on writing instruction run the gamut. Just be sure to have your pen along when you read for note-taking.

Summertime is a great time to do some seriously fun reading. Get your summer reading list in order and start the season off right.

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There’s a lot to love about the state of Minnesota, but if you’re a writer living here, there’s even more to appreciate—all the great writing-related organizations. Whether you’re looking for an editor, a place to meet and network with other writers, or a writing class, the six listed below offer invaluable help, resources, and support. Take a look:

  • Professional Editors Network (PEN). An organization for editors and others who work with words, PEN offers many benefits to its members, including monthly meetings, resources for writers and editors, and a place to network with other writing professionals. PEN’s website includes a directory of mostly local editors. Yearly dues: $35.
  • The MidTown Writers Meetup Group. For a fun, no pressure morning of writing, you can join the MidTown Writers Meetup Group Saturday mornings at A La Salsa restaurant in Minneapolis. The group is given a prompt to begin the writing session. No critiquing is done, but you have the option to share your writing with the group.
  • The Loft Literary Center. This well-known literary center in the Open Book building on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis offers writing classes, contests, conferences, resources, readings, and more. You do not need to become a member to use The Loft, but a membership contribution provides you with discounts to Loft events.

loft

  • MN Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.The local chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s & Illustrators, the MN SCBWI is a great resource for those interested in networking with other children’s writers in the area. This group hosts “monthly mixers,” workshops, and conferences at various locations around the Twin Cities. Free with national SCBWI annual membership.
  • Midwest Fiction Writers. According to its website, the MFW is a “professional writing organization that includes approximately 100 published or aspiring writers. Under the broad umbrella of romance, our members write historical, contemporaries, time travels, suspense, erotic, women’s fiction – to name just a few.” The MFW meets every second Saturday at the Edina Community Center. Annual dues: $35.
  • Minnesota Center for Book Arts. A place for anyone interested in celebrating book arts, from papermaking to book binding to self-publishing techniques. The MCBA is located in the Open Book building, along with The Loft, and offers a variety of workshops, artists programs, and events. Membership includes discounts and invitations to MCBA-sponsored events. Individual membership: $40.

If you’ve joined or heard of any other Minnesota writing organizations that have helped you or inspired your writing life, please share them here!

Image by Grn1749

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New writers looking for advice from published authors are often told to read, read, read. Reading, they say, helps make you a better writer. A great tip, except that some writers are left wondering what exactly they should be reading and how they should be reading it.

When I read, I do it as a reader first. I start by choosing books that I want to read.  Often, they’re books that have been recommended to me or books that I’ve read about. I don’t just settle on one genre or type of publication, either. Naturally, if I’m working on a children’s book manuscript, I’ll read several books that have been published for that age group. But reading any material helps me as a writer.

A page-turning thriller helps me see how pace and action are used to move the plot forward. Historical fiction novels show how to incorporate authentic details and believable dialogue into an engaging story. Magazine pieces, blog posts, and journal articles provide examples of tight writing as well as satisfying introductions and conclusions. Even that fluffy romance novel has something useful to offer me about character development and creating emotional tension.

When I read, however, I don’t analyze the writing or take notes or pick apart sentences and paragraphs. That would ruin the reading experience for me. Still, I absorb a lot of information. In fact, reading helps me with all kinds of writing issues, including technique, voice, style, spelling, word choice, grammar, chapter length, titles, topics, and names. I take in all these things and more—without actually trying. And I imagine I’m not alone; we writers notice a lot more than we think we do when we read.

So new writers, follow that advice, and read, read, read. Anything and everything. But read as a reader first. You’ll not only enjoy the experience better, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll learn as a writer.

Image by Onderwijsgek