Tag Archive | reading plans

Why One Should Read Classics.

Although I tend to write more science fiction than anything else, and I find that science fiction classes are not always the easiest to find, I have a special place on my inner bookshelf for classics. I actually read enough classics in highschool, and as such, I will never say not to read a classic merely because it is old.

Because of that, I have come up with five reasons why you should read classic books as writer.

1) They are all well written.

That may seem silly, I know, but think about it this way. You go to WalMart or Barnes & Nobel, and you pick up a book that is said to be a New York Times bestseller. That book may be popular, but it was written–what?–two years ago? Who says where it will be in the next five.

Compare that to we’ll say a Jane Austin book. That book has been around for almost two hundred years.  By the mere fact that it is still read two hundred years after it was written, we can be pretty certain that it is good.

3) They didn’t waste words.

Two hundred years ago, they didn’t have computers. They didn’t even have typewriters. All books were handwritten, copy by copy. Personally, if I had to write each copy of my story out, I probably would have given up writing a long time ago. I most certainly would be very careful not to use any more words than I need to. So they demonstrate good writing, while not saying too much.

2) They have some of the best examples of good writing.

All writers look to find the best examples of dialogue, narration, character development, ect. At least, all writers should be. Why not read how to develop these from books that are older, and from a time when people spent more with each other? This goes back to the last one, but still stands on its own, because sometimes the best way to see how a character develops the best is to read it from a really, really good book.

I have done that with The Three Brides, and it actually worked for character development.

Now, besides that, many of them were written in a time period when it took a lot less to shock people. As such, you can see how to take something small and make it serious.

4) They’re not all bad.

This sounds really bad, coming from someone who has been singing about the praises of classics. However, when I first thought about reading classics, I thought, “Boring.” Really! With the exception of Hemmingway, I have found very few classics that are truly boring. And what is better to say?

“I don’t like Hemmingway.”

“Why not?”

“He’s just so old!”


“I don’t like Hemmingway.”

“Why not?”

“I’ve read two or three of his books and they just didn’t sit with me. Not to mention he’s not that clean.”

5) They are long.

This is an added bonus. See, what would you rather read? A two hundred page book where you get friends and then lose them, or a five hundred page book where you can gain your friends and keep them longer before you lose them? Personally, the longer the book the better.

So where do you find these books? There are numberous itouch apps that have them, so you can carry them around. I don’t know if ibook does (I just downloaded that.) but look around and you can find some.

Also, Project Gutenburg contains a lot of out-of-print books for free. I’d suggest starting with either the top 100 downloaded books or by starting with one of my favorite authors, Charlotte Mary Yonge.

Anyone have any other recommendations on what to read?

Time of the Dragon Slayers (part 1)

Or “The Sentinels of Basham Heights.” I haven’t really decided yet. I think Time of the Dragon Slayers is better though.

Anyway, this is the first part of my Dragon Slayers book. As promised, I have finished it and I am going to post it. Comments from fellow writers are great to be quite honest. And for anyone who is keeping track, this is goal one of my March goals completed.

Now, the story:

Natlie slammed herself against the tree and caught her breath. The birds still sang softly above her, like they always did on lazy, late summer days. Besides that, only the trees’ whispers could be heard. Still, she knew when she recognized something abnormal in the woods, even if she couldn’t name it.

Silently, ever so silently, she pulled an arrow from her quiver and fitted it into the bow. Then, she just waited, her ears straining for the sound of something moving again. One slight movement and she could hit it. Living her whole life in the Dragon’s Nest helped her become an excellent marksman.

Read More…

bookstore = desire to write

So, if you are new to my blog you might not know that I live in small town South Dakota. Due to this slight location difficulty, I can get to a book store perhaps once every couple months, due to it being an hour away. But, bookstores are always a source of interesting emotions to me.

Being a science fiction writer, I often find myself checking out the recent release and other books that appear good in science fiction/fantasy section. I never buy books in the store and rarely do I buy books off of Amazon. The reason? A lot of it has to do with I’m too worried about getting a bad book. A lot of it has to do with my strict determination to maintain a sense of morality in what I read, that sense of morality being low swearing and low on sexual references/sex, if any.

But worse is that recently I haven’t found anything that I have actually wanted to read. I’ve liked some Orson Scott Card books, so I think I’m going to see what he does outside of Ender’s universe. (I saw Treason today and it looked interesting.) And actually Asimov looks very interest in some of his other books, so I’ll look at those. But in general, the new books are rather dull.

Which leads me into why bookstores are very unique for me. They make me want to write. Either I am incredibly unique in my interests, or there are other people out there who want to read what I want to read.

So my solution? I’ll write what I want to read. Obviously, that isn’t the best solution in the world. For one, it means that my writing skills don’t really improve with what I read. But in all honesty, is what is put out right now worth basing one’s writing skills on? I learned almost more about characters from reading a Charlotte Yonge (circa 1850) than I have from anything else. And I don’t see what people are doing thus far in science fiction. For all I know, someone has already written every story that I want to write. (Although my opinion is that by writing something that may have a little bit of three or four authors ideas, along with some of my own, it automatically becomes all mine. That is a whole entire blog entry.)

I would like to be able to read the kind of stories I like but I don’t know how to find them. Actually, what’s really bad is sometimes I want to just sit down and read a story that hasn’t been written at all, just to know where it ends up. But I like the idea of writing and by seeing how much  there isn’t in Barnes & Noble to read, it makes me want to write, and get published all the more.

On one other note, there seems to be a lot of fantasy published right now. I’m not sure why. Maybe it has to do with the Twilight craze or something. But my (probably faulty) logic is that eventually publishers are going to stop wanting to publish fantasy and go more towards science fiction again. I need to be there with my book, sooner rather than later, because if this happens, I want to have a shot.

Since, another one of my (probably faulty) logical deductions is that recently publishers have been accepting younger authors’ works. It used to be the case that authors were generally in their fifties or sixties and now they can be younger. If, for some reason, they see this as a bonus (more stories to be written by a younger author = more money maybe?), then I also have an advantage. (Although being the eldest of four, turning twenty-two this year and still hardly anything done in life, I’m questioning my youth on occasionally. Mentally, I’m still very young but age wise… ? Yeah, okay, I still look like I’m a teenager.)

So, this ended up being a giant ramble but to summarize so you’re not completely lost, I want to read good books. But good books are difficult to find, even in bookstores. So I write the books I want to read and hope that someday (preferably sooner) they’ll be published so others can read them as well.

One thing that I would like to ask published authors if you are reading this. I would be much more likely to read your book if I knew what I was getting into with morality before I began reading it. Don’t need to know the details like how many times they say F***. Just general comments would suffice. Thank you.

the unknown problem of writing in college

Basically, the problem with being in college is it takes a lot of time. I’m currently taking 17 hours, but that manages to add up to thirteen hours of sitting in class plus another nine hours of nursing clinical and two hours of lab for a total of twenty four hours of class room time, Then, I work for about an hour each week, but I’m trying for more just because I don’t want to have to survive on 28 dollars a month and I just finished training for my job, which took up another two hours of my day. And… I keep thinking I’m doing something that I’m missing but I don’t remember what, besides eight hours of sleep a night.

What it comes down to is that I am busy. Busybusybusy. Why does this matter with writing? Because when I’m this busy, I think I just can’t find the plots.

Reason why? See, you know about school’s writing contest that I’ve mentioned before. When I first saw it, I thought about what I would write for that whole first semester. Nothing came besides a few silly ideas. School stopped, I’m free and I get the idea to write short stories so I can get everything out. I come up with my Robin Hood rewrite, my when-to-fight story, my Dragon Slayers story, Kontyo and finish with starting mindskill, plus I think a few others. It was awesome after a month of no plots.

i also started a diet at about this time so I thought that it was the diet letting my mind think some more. Now… now I’m not sure. Because I’m two months into the semester and I’m having a hard time plotting. It’s like all my mental energy is focused on school that I can’t come up with anything to write.

This is, obviously, very bad, because I use writing to relax. If I have no plots, how can I relax while doing something productive (not playing stupid facebook games)?

This whole concept that school zaps my plotting skills is foreign to me. Last year, while at another school, I managed to write a whole novel (Shad) in a matter of months. It was a blast. But now… I’m lucky if I can come up with something to even write about.

Last semester at Thanksgiving break, I was sick the whole time, so I’m hoping now that things will clear up mentally for me over spring break so I can restock my plots.  I guess it’s just a side effect of going to college that we never think of.

My other thought is that I’d rather write more of a suspense type book, that’s quick and fast. Writing fights are hard to begin with that the last thing someone wants to read about is some kind of fight I would think every single scene (more or less). So I’m thinking that maybe what I should do is read a suspense book to get a better idea about how to do action. I am about to start a chaotic two weeks (from test 2 in nursing until test 3), so I obviously can’t start that until after those two weeks at least. Then we’ll see how much reading we have at that time to determine if I can or not.  I also want to read this book I started earlier this semester but never finished over spring break. Oi, looks like I’ll be busy.

(Oh, and on that love story idea, I LOVE that idea the more I think about it. The stupid plot won’t get out of my head. I am so frustrated, but convince now that he divorces the other girl at her request and marries someone else.)

because of star trek

Reading usually precedes writing and the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer. –Susan Sontag

Yes, I loved reading as a child. I read so much and loved it when school gave us so much of good books to read. I didn’t read the lame books, like goosebumps, but the good ones, like Journeyman Painter and House of Sixty Fathers and good, good books.

But I didn’t write because of what I wrote. I started writing because of a TV show.

See, when I was about fourteen we had cable for the first time in my life. Many of the small towns don’t have many, if any, TV channels without cable or satellite.  With cable came our watching of a new TV show–Star Trek, original series. Yes, it is rather lame compared to the other TV shows now, but then we thought it was pretty cool and we liked it a lot. It came on every day at 5 pm and by the time we moved, I had watched every episode, all 70, except for one half of one.

I loved Star Trek. I thought it was awesome. And I wanted to be a part of it.

So I wrote myself in. It began as a small story, about five pages. The grammar didn’t even obey basic grammar rules; I wrote quotes one after another without a return. The first person, from my own point of view, severely limited the story line and the pen and paper made it impossible to edit. But guess what? I began writing.

It took me about three or four short little stories to realize I wanted to do more. So changed into writing into a three-ring binder and wrote it in third person, with proper grammar, but still on pen and paper. My mind buzzed with possibilities of what I could do with this.

Another thing happened. with me writing these fanfic books, I also got other ideas. I began to tell them to my sister as a bed time story. It was a long story, that I’d tell a little at a time and when she got tired, I’d figure out a way to quickly end it for the night at a cliff hanger. She loved it, I enjoyed it, and we did it just before we fell asleep at night.

That limited me in another way. I couldn’t tell her the story as fast as I could fill it out in my head. I desperately wanted to tell her another story while telling the current one. So one day on a trip to Springfield, I began to write the story.

From that February to when I moved that August, I wrote six stories in length of about 60 to 80 pages. Each one of the grew in interestingness and length.I’d write one, read it through once, call it done and sent it to my brother to read. It was a blast. I always had an idea in my head and I wrote it down almost as quickly. I

At this time, I mostly wrote stories about someone about my age. I experimented with first and third person, experimented with journeys, and just wrote, fast, long, hard.

Everything began to change after I moved. Where I moved, there was a writing contest. Up until this point, only my brother read what I wrote. I wasn’t ready to enter in something quite yet. I wrote something anyway. I actually wrote four stories and entered them all in.

And I won. Third place.

I won’t go into all of the details but I loved the feeling of it and I kept writing for the writing contest. And I learned the value of doing a paper edit.

Within the next four years, things really changed. I began to understand character development and dimensions. Characters didn’t have just one side, they had three, and I learned how to figure them out. I learned how to let the characters talk to me. I learned how to write for characters other than my own age. All that I learned from role playing with a friend. Those role plays that we started in jest became something very important to my writing.

The other thing that changed was I began to write something a bit more realistic. True, aliens invading Earth and making us their slaves, although we didn’t know it, seemed a little outlandish but I thought it more or less worked. Some input for someone else and I discovered that it was a good idea to not have a faceless villein, so I developed the character as a villain but also as someone who I ended up finding rather interesting.

By the time I finished with the writing contest and moved (again), I felt that instead of it being awesome that I won second place, that my story was actually better than the girl who won first place. I felt more confident in my ability to write, and more willing to admit that, yeah, I write. No, I’m not perfect in what I write and not everything I write is wonderful but yes, I write.

I haven’t even looked at the story I originally wrote. I’ve been too scared of the horror I would find. But I don’t write now because I want to put myself into a fictional TV show. I actually write now for two reason. REason one is because I have too many ideas in my head that all float around all happy and want to get out. Reason two is, excluding classics, I can’t find anything decent to read. Whenever I go through the science fiction section at Barnes and Noble, I hardly find anything worth even looking at.

So I suppose she is right in saying that “Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer.”


I was trying to find a quote by, I think, C. S. Lewis, but I could not. However, I found several lists of quotes and because I just feel like following the crowd tonight, I’m going to post some of my favorite. If you would like to read them all, you can find them here. I’m thinking about taking some of the really interesting ones and writing my own opinions about them as well.

For me, writing is exploration; and most of the time, I’m surprised where the journey takes me. –Jack Dann

Writing is a cop-out. An excuse to live perpetually in fantasy land, where you can create, direct and watch the products of your own head. Very selfish. –Monica Dickens

There are many reasons why novelists write – but they all have one thing in common: a need to create an alternative world. –John Fowles

Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing.–Melinda Haynes

Writing also includes the possibility of living many lives as well as living in any time or world possible.–Virpi Hämeen-Anttila

My purpose is to entertain myself first and other people secondly. –John D. MacDonald

The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with. –William Faulkner

If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.–William Zinsser

If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I’d type a little faster. –Isaac Asimov

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.–E. L. Doctorow

People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it. –Harlan Ellison

Writing is a crummy profession, but a good hobby. –Paavo Haavikko

A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing. –Eugene Ionesco

Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.–Stephen King

Hardly anybody ever writes anything nice about introverts. Extroverts rule. This is rather odd when you realise that about nineteen writers out of twenty are introverts.–Ursula K. LeGuin

We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to. –Somerset Maugham

Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason; they made no such demand upon those who wrote them..–Charles Caleb Colton

A writer doesn’t solve problems. He allows them to emerge. –Friedrich Dürrenmatt

Imagination is more important than knowledge. –Albert Einstein

If you start with a bang, you won’t end with a whimper. –T. S. Eliot

If you read good books, when you write, good books will come out of you.–Natalie Goldberg

For all my longer works, for example novels, I write chapter outlines so I can have the pleasure of departing from them later on. –Garth Nix

When in doubt, blow something up. –J. Michael Straczynski

Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.–Orson Scott Card

Nighttime is really the best time to work. All the ideas are there to be yours because everyone else is asleep. –Catherine O’Hara

And, finally, I shall end with a very fitting saying that sums up how I just wasted a half of hour reading all of these quotes.

Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet.–Anonymous


A quick google search revealed a list of the top 100 best sci-fi books. I did this because I understand about how much reading is needed to write well. (After reading Charolette Younge and seeing character development last year, I know.) I don’t like reading. It takes so much time and it seriously distracts me.

Anyway, I glanced through the list and I’ll put my two cents in on it. Surprising, I’ve read some of these.

1-Ender’s Game [S1]–1985 I have read this book and though I found it very good up until the end, I never had the motivation to continue in the series.

2-Frank Herbert–Dune [S1]–1965 This one just scares me.

3–Isaac Asimov–Foundation [S1-3]–1951–No comments except that I read the first page and found it interesting.

4–Douglas Adams–Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy [S1]–I suppose I should read it, though I’ve always thought I disliked comedic books.

5–George Orwell, 1984–1949–Read it. Very sad.

6–Robert A Heinlein—Stranger in a Strange Land–1961

7–Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451–1954–Have been wanting to read this for a while actually. Never have gotten around to it.

8–Arthur C Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey–1968–Didn’t even know this was a book actually.

12, Robert A Heinlein, Starship Troopers–1959–Again, have been wanting to read this one.

13–Larry Niven, Ringworld–1970–Something about this title triggers something in my memory, but I’m not sure what.


15, Aldous Huxley, Brave New World–1932–Read it. Rather good in the beginning but bad at the end.

16, Dan Simmons–Hyperion [S1]—1989–Didn’t have any problem with this until I read that there is a sex scene it. I will not read a book with a sex scene in it.

17, H G Wells–The Time Machine–1895–No offense against H. G. Wells, but I’ve always thought of this book as boring.

19, H G Wells, The War of the Worlds, 1898–Again, sounds boring. But the recording biases me.

20, Robert A Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, 1966–Read. Loved it.

21, Ray Bradbury, [C] The Martian Chronicles, 1950–My brother read it and it looked boring, but he said it wasn’t that bad, and that is good for him.


24, Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash, 1992–I heard this was good actually.

26, Ursula K Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969–I’ve never liked her as an author. I’m not sure why.

27, Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead [S2], 1986–Again, I didn’t have any interest in reading it.

28, Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park, 1990–No interest, although I didn’t know that it was that new of a book.

34, Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle In Time, 1962–We own this book I think, though I’ve never read it.


36, Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, 1870–I’ve been curious about this book since there was a picture in my study room.

38, Carl Sagan, Contact, 1985–I’m bias, but I would not read anything by Carl Sagan.


48, Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars [S1], 1992–I took it out of the library once, before I knew it was that good.


51, Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, 1818–I should read this, but again, I don’t want to.


59, Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Shadow [S1], 1999–More or less read this one.


62, Niven & Pournelle, Lucifer’s Hammer, 1977—It’s just me, but I probably won’t read this one either just because of Lucifer part. That just sounds evil. I’ll probably look into it. FAr Side of Evil was very good.

75, C S Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet [S1], 1938–REad this when I was, oh, maybe 10. Bad idea. I should go read it again.

76, Alastair Reynolds, Revelation Space [S1], 2000–I’ve been wanting to read a book by him, actually.

82, Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars [S1], 1912–I heard this one is very good.  There’s 10 in the series too.


89, Edwin A Abbott, Flatland, 1884–I didn’t know this was that famous. I have an ipod app with this book. I just found something to do during school.

… And that’s them all. I guess I’ve read six of them. I almost thought I had more. If I didn’t have so much editing to do, I’d go to the library and get some of those out. Maybe I will anyway. (Actually, I want to upload all those books in public domain onto my touch, so I can read them.)

But, as C. S. Lewis said, read as much as you can and don’t read magazines.