When I was in high school, I had a real dilemma: I loved the books the teachers assigned us, and as a result, the teachers loved me. Naturally, that meant some of the other students hated me.

Now, I should clarify this by saying that I didn’t always love what I was assigned. Prior to high school, teachers gave young people some pretty boring books to read. But in high school (and possibly even junior high), we got some classics. To Kill A Mockingbird. Huck Finn. Those types of classics.

And in my high school, the teachers exposed us to a variety of great stuff. I’m talking everything from The Sound and the Fury to Slaugherhouse-Five! My teenage mind was already overstimulated with wonderful music, and in school, they overstimulated my mind with wonderful books.

Like most writers who aspire to create classics of their own, I was a reader before I could become a writer. And, like most writers of the obsessive type, I had to have more. This is a behavior that follows me even to this day: I can’t just have one John Coltrane album. I have to hear it all! I approached reading classic literature in much the same way.

But What About Genres?

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not into genre fiction. But that doesn’t mean I’m constantly looking down my nose at Michael Crichton or J.K. Rowling. I get it: lots of folks love to read accessible, fun, page-turner fiction.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Plenty of writers aspire to be the next [Fill-In-The-Blank] in a genre they love.

But that’s not the kind of writing I love the best. What I love are the books that take me into a different type of experience – not one exactly like my own, but one that’s relatable for me. I can’t relate to vampires or spacemen. I can relate to 18th-century girls or 20th-century mob bosses, but not to non-human entities. That’s just how I roll.

So I have always had to be a reader. For me, that meant going beyond even the Master’s in English and checking out all sorts of books they didn’t ever get around to assigning me. Balzac. Camus. Gardner. You name it, I probably read it.

And I’m still reading today.

What about you? What’s on your TBR list? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

exhausted

“Broke Down And Busted In The Promised Land”

Man, are you exhausted or what? I know I am. We all are, right? In fact, I was thinking of titling today's blog post Exhausted, but then the phrase "broke down and busted" drifted into my mind. It comes from a song by a band called The Hilltops, which eventually...

Communication? Keep It Simple, Sweetheart

Last week’s blog post was all about business. This week, I’m still going to talk about business a little, but really it’s more about writing. And if there’s one lesson we should take to heart in writing – in fact, in all our communication – it’s Keep It Simple. Today...
game of thrones

3 Reasons the End of Game of Thrones is an Example of Good Storytelling

Social media is interesting: every time an artist or entertainer creates a new work, it’s going to get mixed reviews. Even in the case of a highly popular TV series like Game of Thrones, the armchair critics come out with their claws sharpened—especially when...

What a Character

I was recently reading another author's blog, and saw a post about the writing process, and in particular the naming of characters. I wondered, Are people really interested in reading about this? I couldn't help thinking that only writers are so interested in other...
giving

Why I Think Giving Your Work Away Is (Mostly) A Bad Idea

​Free books—who doesn’t love that idea, right? Me. I don’t love that idea. In fact, I think it sucks. Now, you might wonder: why, Mike, are you so against free books? I mean, don’t you want more people to read? You’re not against libraries, are you? No, I’m not...

Self-Publishing: The Trouble with Going It Alone

Indie publishing is on the rise but tread carefully. Self-publishing is exactly how it sounds:everything depends on you and you alone. Sure, you get to make all of the decisions, but that also means you have to make all of the decisions. Editing, proofreading,...
advance reader copy

Does An ARC Have to Include A Cover Illustration?

One of the most confusing concepts in publishing is that of the Advance Reader Copy, or ARC. I call it confusing because there appears to be no universal agreement on what those initials actually mean. While some sources refer to an ARC as an Advance Reader Copy,...

Taking a Page from the Dylan Playbook?

Although he doesn't use the term himself, recent Nobel winner Bob Dylan's relentless touring has been referred to as the Never-Ending Tour. Taking a page from the Dylan playbook might seem like a weird idea for an author, but recently I have thought about doing just...

Last Quarter and a New Partnership Announcement

The typical Monday blog post did not happen today. There were a couple reasons for this. First, I had to spend much of the afternoon with a client of mine. I went beyond my normal role as a writer, editor, proofreader, speaker, or publisher and was, instead - wait for...

But I’m Too Busy to Blog!

If you're like me, you're a committed writer: maybe you keep to a rigorous writing schedule, or maybe you have actually written a full-length book or books. Chances are good that if you're reading this, you're also a blogger. Maybe you even have a blog like this one....