Five Ways my Reading Changed (After I Published)

Ever since I started seriously writing, my reading has transformed. Before, I could sit and read just for enjoyment, but when you start aiming for a career as an author, you begin to also read for your job. And sometimes that means reading things that you wouldn’t just pick up for fun…but it also means you read things you wouldn’t read if you weren’t a writer, such as nonfiction books on craft. It expands your understanding, your knowledge, and your capacity for new stories (at least for me).

But you know what else? There are also attitudes that change when you start reading as a writer. In fact, for me, there are five big attitude shifts I had after I began publishing my own work. Let’s break them down.

Writers are people, not figures

Yeah, I know this one sounds weird, but as a reader with no connections to the publishing world, it’s really easy to forget that there is a person behind that author name on the cover. They’re real people with real emotions and feelings who may even read your reviews.

But once you are one of those names yourself, you remember everything that goes into a book and the struggles of the people writing them. It becomes more human, beyond the humanity you might see in the pages themselves.

The writing world is small

I know this doesn’t sound like an attitude, but let me dig a little deeper.

The writing world is small. Especially within your genre. You are likely to meet many of these people at least once in your life, particularly if you attend conferences or spend a lot of time on social media.

And people will see what you say about other writers or even agents. Both writers and agents talk to each other, so your comments and interactions will not be forgotten easily and may spread throughout the community.

Before I published, as a reader I felt entitled to say whatever I wanted about a book (not attacking the author, of course). But now, I know that my reviews can potentially damage my relationship with other authors, depending on what I say.

Before, I had no problem posting a one-star review on Goodreads. Now, if I don’t like I book, I mark it read and do not review or rate it.

I even went back and edited old bad reviews so that, while I was still being truthful, I wasn’t being mean. Because…now I remember that authors are people too, and my obligations are not ONLY to the readers.

They’re to all of us book nerds.

You see all the errors more

I was a grammar fiend before, and I’m an even bigger one now. I notice when the writing style is poor, when the plot is lacking, when the characters are flat, when a book has too many problems. I can pick out ways the writing could be improved. I find books more predictable than I used to.

But a lot of people still like those books with the problems (including mine). Every book has its audience. And now I understand that not every book is for me.

And that’s okay.

But you’re more understanding when they happen

Now that I know all the work (and money) that goes into publishing a book, especially independently, I am a lot more forgiving of editing errors than I used to be. It’s easy, even in trad books, for typos and inconsistencies to fall through the cracks. Just like every other job, publishing is performed by humans, and humans can make mistakes.

And you know what? Those mistakes are okay. I have learned that stories can be less than perfect and still be wonderful.

I read more…both for pleasure and for education

One of the features I love on Goodreads is the Reading Challenge. I love setting goals and being able to see how my reading habits have changed over the years.

And guess what? I may have less time, but I read more than ever before (at least in my recorded history).

The first year I did the Goodreads Challenge, I had a goal of 45 books and read 65. Last year, I set a goal of 70 and read 92. This year, I set my goal at 80 and expect to clear it easily (I’m already 6 books in).

But the volume isn’t the only thing that’s changed. So has the variety.

You see, where I used to read exclusively novels, now I listen to audiobooks, read short stories and novellas, read more nonfiction, read manga and graphic novels, and read both indie and traditionally published works.

My reading horizons have grown, and with it, my dreams.

And honestly, what more could I ask for?

~~~

Writer friends, what things have you noticed about your reading since you began writing? Readers, do you have any opinions on these attitudes? Let’s chat in the comments! ❤

My Year in Books: 2019 Edition

It’s that time of year again! The time to discuss all the wonderful books I read and loved this year! If you want to see everything I read this year, hop over to Goodreads and check it out.

First, some stats.

This year my goal was to read 70 books. I blew that goal away! As of the writing of this post, I’m at 89 books and expect to finish at least 1 or 2 more before the end of December.

Of those books, I believe 25 (possibly more) were indie authors.

Three were my own (surprise!), which technically I read at least 3 times each.

One was a book I beta read.

Eight were graphic novels or manga.

Six were nonfiction (including an anthology I participated in).

Four were poetry.

And now, without further ado, my picks for favorite reads of the year!

Young adult

The Siren, by Kiera Cass

Yes, I know this is kind of an old one, but I adored this standalone! I especially loved how the ocean was its own character.

Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor

This was an incredibly inventive fantasy that I became completely immersed in. If you’re looking for something well-written and just a bit different, this is a great pick!

General Fiction and Adult Fiction

Sourdough, by Robin Sloan

Oh my word, I loved this book! It’s all about an engineer who discovers a love for baking bread…and who inherits a pretty awesome sourdough starter that may or may not be alive? I mean, beyond the usual yeast-alive that bread starters have…

Fantasy

The WAy of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

I can’t believe it took me so long to finally dive into Brandon Sanderson, but I finished this book early in the year and still can’t get over the magic and worldbuilding in this series. They’re long, but so worth the read!

Daughter of Sun, Bride of Ice, by H.L. Burke

This is an indie book that was absolutely fantastic. I really loved the worldbuilding and the fiery characters in here!

Sand and Storm, by Stella Dorthwany

Another indie I read in the Fellowship of Fantasy book club this year, this book has some awesome high fantasy worldbuilding, sand magic, and archaeology, all things I loved wrapped together so beautifully!

Garden of Lilies, by Eli Constant

Okay, so I read a lot of indies this year! This was an adult urban fantasy I just could not put down…even though I didn’t love what happened in the ending. Despite that, I found that by the end of November, I was craving the world and characters again, and I purchased and devoured book 2. Definitely worth the read, but not for those of you who like clean fiction!

Lake Silence, by Anne Bishop

And finally, of course Anne Bishop is on this list! I was a little skeptical when the new The Others book wasn’t following Meg and Simon, but I quickly fell in love with this book. Let’s be real, I just love this world!

Graphic Novels

Monstress

This is such a beautifully created art style and interesting fantasy. I highly recommend this!

Over the Wall

Another gorgeous fantasy with an awesome storyline. I can’t wait to get the next books by this creator!

Delicious in Dungeon

I discovered this one at Katsucon in February, and I just can’t get over it. It’s basically a group of adventurers who need to return to the depths of a dungeon to save their friend from a dragon, but because they have no money to supply themselves, they eat their way through the dungeon. Hilarious, and an awesome treat for fans of DND!

Nonfiction

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

I have a soft spot for adventure nonfiction. In previous years I enjoyed A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson and Antarctic Tears by Aaron Linsdau, and this book felt like it was in the same vein. It was a story of discovery, perseverance, and nature that I loved!

Resources for Writers

The Business of Being a Writer, by Jane Friedman

This is definitely a must-read for anyone who wants to write professionally, whether that’s indie or traditional. It covers a range of topics including the basics of writing jobs, online tools, and the ins and outs of the industry, both indie and trad.

Concluding Thoughts

I read so many awesome books this year, and if I shared every one I loved, this post would be more like a novella! So if you’re interested in seeing everything I read, don’t forget to hop over to Goodreads!

There are also a bunch of books on my TBR that I wish I could have read this year but unfortunately won’t make it until next year (thinking of you, Dear Author!). I look forward to sharing them next December!

In the meantime, what did you read and love this year? I’m always looking for new reads, especially in fantasy, urban fantasy, YA, and writing! Let’s chat in the comments!

Why Writers NEED to Read

It’s probably pretty safe to say that writers are, first and foremost, lovers of story. And often that naturally means that they are also some of the biggest bibliophiles you’ll ever find!

But there’s more to it than that. Writers actually NEED to read…for a number of reasons.

Let’s take a look at why.

Honing their Craft

Of course, firstly writers need to read to improve their own writing. How else can we learn how to write well (or how to avoid writing poorly) than by reading widely? In fact, Stephen King once famously said that writers who don’t read don’t have the tools they need to write.

Yup, I brought back an old graphic…complete with the tumblog I rarely visit these days!

Yep, it’s that important. As a writer, we need to be involved in what’s going on to learn. We need to read the good and the bad, as well as books on craft and even business (yup, writing to publish also means learning how to run a business).

Learning the Market

Another huge reason why writers need to read, particularly in their own genre of choice, is to learn what’s being published and what is successful. What do readers want to read? What do publishers want to buy?

Whether you plan to indie publish or go the traditional route, it is important for you to know what sells so that you can sell your work (remember how I said writing is also business?). Agents and publishers want to know you’re familiar with the market. They want to know that you know what’s out there.

And if you’re indie pubbing, that’s how you get to sell your work: by knowing what the readers want! It also helps you learn what tropes are common (and sometimes expected) in your genre.

Expanding Our Creativity

It’s definitely worth your time to read wide. Find things that interest you, whether it’s scifi, nonfiction, romance, or whatever! By reading widely outside of your genre, you open yourself to new possibilities to include in your own stories. If you only ever read one genre, you’ll miss out on so much more you could be using. Reading, and reading a variety of things, helps us to fill our creative wells and come up with new ideas.

For the Love of Story

Most of all, writers need to read just because we are, as I mentioned earlier, lovers of story. We read for enjoyment. We read to cope with the world. We read to have a moment of escape or a bit of adventure.

Don’t forget to read for fun. 🙂

Some Bookish Gratitude

The holidays are all about gratitude, at least to me. We get a time specifically set aside to reflect on the good that has been given to us in our lives, the people we surround ourselves with, the things we have been blessed with. And with Christmas just around the corner, we also get to feel the warmth of blessing others.

Today, I’d like to take a few moments to show some bookish gratitude. So here are my book- and writing-related blessings from the year.

A supportive husband

Yeah, yeah. Sappy, I know. But seriously, my husband is my muse and my biggest cheerleader. When I’m stuck on a plot or need to work through a story element, he’s right there to help me come up with ideas. And when I release something new or share some writing, he’s one of the first people to share it, yell in the streets (ok, Facebook), and invite everyone he knows to read it.

I couldn’t have been blessed with a better partner for my life.

Family and Friends who like my work

I have to also include this, because I know many writers don’t have family that supports their passions like I do. My parents buy everything I release and share it with everyone they know. My siblings and siblings-in-law have an interest in what I do. And my sister is one of my first, best, and favorite beta readers. What a blessing, to have family who supports my passion even when they don’t understand it all.

Good stories

This may seem a bit odd, but I am grateful for all the good books I’ve read this year. You’ll have to come back in a couple weeks to hear about them, but I truly found some gems this year, and it makes me happy to have read them.

Audiobooks

Another weird one, right? I didn’t used to be so into audiobooks, but ever since my grad school thesis, when I had to sit in the lab and do mindless work for hours on end, audiobooks have been my boredom killers and reading boosters. I get to hear awesome performances of good books, I get to read more books than I would be able to otherwise, and I get something fun to pass my commute times and mindless lab work.

Courage to share

I had enough courage to finally hit that publish button, with the support of my wonderful husband. It had originally been my dream to publish This Cursed Flame indie, but so much happened between when I finished it and this year, so many things changed, that I went back and forth for seven years.

I finally did it.

And I published two more.

I’m proud of what I accomplished, and I’m happy to share my work with you guys. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

You

That’s right, my final bookish gratitude is for you, my readers. Whether you’ve read my blog for only one or two posts, followed from the beginning, or have gotten your hands on all my books, I appreciate that you take time out of your day to come visit with me. Readers are the lifeblood of books, as I’ve said before. Without you, none of what I do would have life.

So thank you, so much. ❤

My wishes for you

In this holiday season, I sincerely hope you will find the people to support you, to build you up, to cheer you on and shout about your passions to everyone who will listen. I hope you have wonderful writing sessions. I hope you read wonderful books. I hope you find joy and warmth and love.

Keep writing, my friends. And please, share the bookish things you’re grateful for this year in the comments below!

Why Readers Struggle to Quit Books They Don’t Like

I used to have a huge problem. If I started a book, I had to finish it. Even if it took me months. The entire year. Even at the cost of getting to books I’m really excited about.

And there are plenty of reasons you may not want to keep reading, like the writing isn’t the right style for you, the story doesn’t hold your interest, or it’s not a genre for you. I can’t express how many books I read just because they were popular and I thought I had to read them even though I knew I didn’t like the genre (i.e. steampunk, historical YA, a few others).

These days, I don’t feel so obligated to read everything I start. If I start a book and it doesn’t feel right or doesn’t hold my interest, I set it aside and pick up something else. I even once cycled through five books, reading the first few pages of each, before I settled on my next book.

But why is this? Why do we struggle so much to quit reading a book we aren’t enjoying?

Here are my theories.

  1. Sense of completion. This tends to be a big one for me. I want to feel as if I accomplished something, and sometimes, getting through that rough book is the thing I feel like I have to do.
  2. Clearing space. I talked about this before, but my TBR is kind of out of control. While my physical shelf is a little better off now, my ereader is way overloaded. Sometimes, I don’t want to put that book back on the shelf. I want to clear it somewhere else, whether that’s a spot on my other shelves (unlikely if I really hated it) or to another reader.
  3. I don’t want to start it over later. I know if I put a book down halfway through, I’ll have to start over next time I pick it up to remember what’s happening. And if I didn’t like it the first time, why would I want to repeat all that work next time?
  4. It’s required reading. This doesn’t happen to me now that I’m a full-fledged adult with a career (two careers, actually) and no homework, but in school I had to read plenty of things I hated. And I had to power through those. This is probably the only reason you really have to finish a book you aren’t enjoying. For more on this, you can see a previous post I did on how to power through a book.

Other than point 4, all the reasons are blocks I put myself into. I create my own misery by forcing myself to read a book I don’t like.

If you have other reasons why you struggle to put down books you don’t like, please share them in the comments! But if you want to keep reading about how to quit these books (or the tricks I tell myself to get past my mental blocks), check out my previous post on how to quit a book you aren’t enjoying.

Until next week, let’s chat in the comments all about the struggle of finishing (and not finishing) our books and TBR piles!

Why Readers (and Writers) Love Book Series

Why are we so drawn to series?

It’s no secret: there are TONS of book series out there. And for a lot of people, that’s a great thing!

But why is it that readers love series so much?

This week, let’s explore the popularity of book series, as well as a few publishing models that play into the motivations for a series. Then, in the next couple of weeks, I’ll discuss some of my favorite completed (or not) series!

Be sure to hop down to the comments and let me know if you agree or disagree with any of my points. Or, if you absolutely hate series, let’s talk about that, too!

What makes book series so popular?

Now, this isn’t a how-to. I’m not here to tell you how to rocket your book series to the top of bestseller lists. Honestly, I don’t know . And that’s a completely different post. But I do want to explore a couple of characteristics of series that make them so popular.

So let’s dig in!

The Learning Curve

This week I actually got to a very apropos video on YouTube that talks about learning curves in books. You see, I’ve been watching Brandon Sanderson’s lectures on science fiction and fantasy writing (just search for Camera Panda and Brandon Sanderson on YouTube), and this video in particular discusses worldbuilding, one aspect of a book that readers need to learn to understand a story.

And the thing is, particularly in fantasy, there is a STEEP learning curve for readers. There are new terms to decode, an entire world and culture to understand, and characters to get to know. Sometimes, often depending on the age category, the learning curve is shallow and you get to learn things slowly. But other times, the author will throw everything at you very quickly.

The thing is, once you’ve learned what you need to understand the world and the story, you can just enjoy the book without having to learn more details that set the stage. You can put your reading on cruise control, and you can start to guess and extrapolate what’s going on!

But if the book is a standalone, that may mean you don’t get much time to really savor all your newfound knowledge.

In a series, much of the learning curve is set up and established in book one. After that, readers can enjoy the rest of the stories without having to start all over! And that is one great appeal of a series. No more origin stories after book one!

Episode and Binge Culture

Here’s another not-secret: our society loves binging on entertainment. Usually that’s in the form of streaming TV shows, but it’s extended into the literary world as well.

Series provide great ways to make episodic installments into a group of characters and a world. This happens a lot with urban fantasy, where a plucky hero/heroine fights different creatures in a (mostly) self-contained story every book. Each book feels fresh, but we know the people in the story and already love (or hate) them, and we’re invested in their adventures. We also get the chance to see them grow and develop as their new adventures force them to confront new things.

Traditional publishing can be slow, and it may take a long time for these books to come out (one per year or less). I’ve heard many, many people complain about books not releasing fast enough (particularly after all of the Game of Thrones delays). Some readers even go so far as to refuse to buy an author’s books until the entire series has been released. (Pro tip: don’t do this, please. I know it can be frustrating, but if not enough people buy the book(s), there will NEVER be an end to the series. Once it stops being profitable to the author/publisher, they may drop it, and it will stay incomplete forever.)

But some publishers, particularly indie authors, have embraced binge culture with the rapid release model. In this model, authors will write several books or an entire series, then release them in quick succession, usually within a few weeks to a month of each other. It keeps the buzz going on the story, satisfies binge readers, and can be more profitable for the author in the long run.

Other indie authors have taken advantage of this mindset by releasing smaller, bite-sized stories in serial. This allows them to publish fast and follow an episodic model of storytelling. I’m specifically thinking of stories like Coffee and Ghosts by Charity Tahmaseb and my own Seasons of Magic stories (though those are not connected; each is a standalone). Readers can read these stories much like they would watch a TV show: in short, rapid-release episodes that follow a Hollywood model of storytelling (same characters, but each season follows a different major arc, and individual episodes address part or none of the overall arc). They can also be anthology series that explore a different shorter story each episode (if I could remember that one on Netflix, I’d share it…).

New Adventures in Worlds Readers (and Writers) Love

And finally, let’s not forget the biggest reason that readers and writers love series: it allows them to spend more time in a world they love. Writers spend a ton of time with their characters and building their worlds, and sometimes we just fall in love. Readers also grow attached to the worlds we build, and every chance to read a new adventure is like catching up with an old friend.

It’s all about love.

Concluding Thoughts

I know not everyone is a fan of all these models. Personally, I used to hate serialized fiction, but… I get it now. I do. And I actually find it kind of fun! But there are lots of reasons (besides money) why people love series so much and why they continue to persist. I’m sure there are plenty more beyond what I discussed today!

So now it’s your turn. Do you love series? Hate them? Why? Let’s chat in the comments!

Blog Tour: Shifter

ANOTHER new release!!!

This truly has been a summer for new releases! Today, I’ll introduce a character who is not all he appears…a dragon shifter!

But first, let’s learn about the book.

Beroan is a shapeshifter, part of the dragon clan. His clan’s Alpha, Sirath, wants to watch the world burn.

For ten long years Sirath has attacked villages, killing thousands of humans and burning towns to the ground. Beroan has had enough, but his resistance will only end in suffering.

Nsi is a human living in a small village with her grandmother and cousin. Her ignorance about the existence of shifters won’t protect her for long. Her family was killed in a dragon attack when she was younger, and now dragons have come again. Now she will stop at nothing until the dragon shifters are stopped, to save humans from suffering the same fate as her family.

Together, Nsi and Beroan will risk everything to save humanity from Sirath.

Darkness is spreading through the galaxy, Corrupting one world after another, and now it has come for theirs. Sirath already belongs to the Corruption of darkness.

He will not stop until he burns down the world and leaves it covered in fire and ash.

Wow, that’s sounds fantastic! If this interests you, you can purchase the book here. It just came out yesterday!

There’s also an AWESOME giveaway running where you could win a book reading light, book holder, toy dragon, a tote bag, and a puzzle of Shifter’s cover!

And now, our special guest!

Hello, Beroan, and welcome to the blog! Why don’t we start off by learning a little bit about you?

Greetings. I am called Beroan and I am one of the dragon changers.

A dragon changer? What’s that? Do you enjoy it? Are you from the only dragon shifter clan?

I can change between my human form and my dragon form at will. Yes, I enjoy it immensely, but I much prefer to be in my dragon form because it allows me to view the earth at a distance; to see it as a whole, than as separate pieces.

Also, I dislike human clothes. They feel… confining. Yes, there is only one dragon clan.

Sirath sounds pretty terrifying. What finally made you decide enough was enough?

Sirath wishes to burn down the world. I cannot let him destroy humankind. When he called upon me and the Ba’sih’aa’n—the ones who breathe fire—to burn a village, I was a witness to all the death and destruction around me. It is not what God wants and it caused a great pain in my heart. Iy-m’aa-rah’t.

What is your biggest dream for yourself?

To fly free among the clouds, to free my clan from Sirath’s Alpha command, and to ensure that the humans may live peacefully. They do not know of the Ba’ny—the ones who change. I believe they should be left to themselves.

What about your biggest fear?

The events that take place are as God wants, though should Sirath win and the humans killed… for the world to be a place of death and destruction that leaves only the ash behind, that is a world I could not live in.

If you could go back and change one thing about your life, what would it be? Why?

I would stop Sirath from killing my father.

Thanks for visiting! It was certainly interesting getting to know you. 🙂

Et’r-ba’an’y. Until we meet again.

Don’t for get to enter the giveaway! (and take a look at the book)

About the Author

Joanna White earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing for Entertainment at Full Sail University. The Valiant Series is her first published work. She lives in the country of Missouri with her husband, where she continues to work on her other upcoming books. Writing has been a passion ever since she was ten, when she wrote her first book. Ever since then, writing has become her life outside of her family, God, and being a nerd. Hunter and Shifter are the first two books of the Valiant Novels to be published.

Heart of the Curiosity Cover Reveal!

H.L. Burke’s new book comes out soon…check out her awesome cover!

Today I have another upcoming release for you, this one from the very talented H. L. Burke! I’ve seen her talking about this so much over the past few months, and I am so excited to read it when it releases.

Anyway, before the cover, here’s the blurb:

The secret lies with the Heart.

Born with a magical knack for manipulating emotions, Leodora’s only dream is to ensure her talented little sister dances on the biggest, brightest stage in the Republic: The Curiosity, a grand old theater of tradition and innovation. After escaping a cruel carnival, Leo secures her sister a place in the Curiosity’s chorus line, and herself a job as a professional audience member, swaying the crowd’s mood with her magic. The girls have a home for the first time in their lives.

Then a tragic accident darkens the theater. A greedy businessman begins blackmailing Leo, and financial woes threaten to close the show forever. The Curiosity’s sole hope lies in a mythical power source hidden beneath the maze-like passages and trapdoors of the theater—the Heart. And Leo’s only friend Paxton, nephew of the theater’s stagemistress, is the key to finding it.

While Leo and Paxton hunt for the Heart, the blackmailer’s threats loom larger. Mysterious figures, cryptic clues, and deadly traps hinder the search at every turn. If the friends cannot recover the Heart in time, Leo and her sister will be cast out of the only home they’ve ever known, and the final curtain will fall on The Curiosity.

Enter a world reminiscent of The Greatest Showman, with a puzzle worthy of Sherlock Holmes and National Treasure, in this new Steampunk Fantasy from H. L. Burke.

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for.

You can find this book in all your favorite places…including an autographed copy from the author herself! It will be out on June 27th.

About the author

Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic. 

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture. 

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

Where to find her

My Favorite Genie Books

Wait, you mean there are books with GENIES in them??? GIMME ALL THE BOOKS!!!

We are just over two weeks away from the release of This Cursed Flame (and only a week and a weekend away from the start of the blog tour, starting April 21). So for the next two Fridays, I’ll be sharing things related to the book!

Today I want to talk about some of my favorite books and series that deal with djinn and genies. Genies aren’t common creatures for authors to use, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some really great stories out there that have them!

So without further ado, let’s get right into it! Here are some of my favorite books with djinn and genies.

Weather Warden, by Rachel Caine

If you’ve been around a while, you’ve heard me mention this before (maybe back in February?). This series is one of my favorite urban fantasies, and it specifically deals with the relationships between magically gifted humans, the djinn they capture and use, and the tumultuous planet under our feet. I greatly enjoyed the elemental nature of the powers and the complexity of the interactions between each magical thing involved in the story. And having a vengeful planet underfoot, one that seems to be sentient, well, that’s terrifying.

If Wishes Were Curses (Steel City Genie Series), by Janeen Ippolito

This one just came out earlier this year. It’s urban fantasy, takes place in Pittsburgh, AND features a genie… yeah, this was an insta-buy for me. And I didn’t regret it. This book had a fresh flavor of urban fantasy with unique shifters, lesser-known and lesser seen magical creatures, and a genie with wish magic. I loved every second of the read, and I cannot wait for the next book to come out!

The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker

This book was one of those more lighthearted fantastic romps. It felt like I was listening to someone tell me a story, which always warms my reader’s heart, and it stars a genie (jinni) and a golem straight out of Jewish folklore. The story was deep and engaging, and it was such a pleasure to read!

Rebel of the Sands, by Alwyn Hamilton

This one is a young adult book set in a desert country full of legendary magic (that a friend of a friend has seen) and gunslingers. It was such an interesting blend of Wild West and desert culture, and then the idea of the magical creatures layered throughout, including genies, just kind of sealed the deal for me. It was a fun, magical read!

Bottled, by Carol Riggs

This one is about a teen who was changed into a genie a thousand years ago and has been on the run from a power-hungry man who wants to use her magic to become even more powerful. The main character has faced classic genie problems, such as horrible masters and inane wishes, and in this book, she gets a real, kind master who wants to help. This was another fun, unique story that I loved!

This Cursed Flame, by Selina J. Eckert

And, of course, how could I have a favorite genie books post without including my own??? This book, if you haven’t been paying attention to me lately, is all about a girl who was changed into a genie by an evil djinn… and now he finds that her very existence disrupts his plans. And then there’s the science nerd human. The two girls are accidentally thrown together, and it is only with each other that they can save their worlds, and themselves, from the reach of this evil djinn. This book is full of magic, worldbuilding, and strong female relationships. You can pre-order it on Amazon or any other major retailer, and keep an eye on Amazon for the paperback, coming soon!

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Have you read any other books with genies? Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear about some more!

Don’t Trick Your Readers

Today I want to talk about something I don’t think I’ve discussed before. How writers can fulfill the promises they make to readers… and just how they make those promises.

You see, every reader will enter into a story with some kind of expectation, whether it is regarding the genre, the target age, the tone of the writing, or the level of maturity (think gore, sex, and language). They form those opinions based on a number of things, and if we as writers do not fulfill those expectations, the reader is likely to become angry, feel betrayed, and walk away from our writing. Sometimes for good.

But what promises are we making? What promises are readers seeing? Let’s take a closer look.

The Cover

The first and biggest glimpse a reader will get into your story is through the cover. That’s right, readers DO judge books by their covers!

The purpose of a cover is twofold: grab readers’ attention and convey to those readers what they can expect.

First, we want our covers to be eye-catching. We want it to make readers stop scrolling through options and click on that link or that cover to find out more. It’s their first chance to learn about our story.

But the cover’s content will also determine which readers will stop on your book’s page. For example, a reader interested in clean fantasy is unlikely to stop on a book with two half-dressed people kissing on the cover. They will more likely stop on a cover with a castle or a dragon.

You see, the cover you give your book sets the mood for the story and, if it’s doing its job, tells readers about the genre. This is why it’s so important to be aware of what other authors’ book covers in your genre look like, because this is what readers are expecting. If you give them a cover that seems like it might be one thing when the story is really another, you may find yourself the not-so-proud owner of a one-star review. You will have unwittingly tricked the reader.

Your other work

While there are other ways you can make promises to readers, such as how you market the book, I only want to focus on one more today: your other work.

As an author, you may have already heard that your name is your brand. The things you write, the topics and themes you pursue, and the content and maturity level of your writing all influence what a reader will come to expect from your new works. This is why so many authors only publish in one genre… or do they?

Actually, this is one reason pen names exist. Readers will absolutely associate your name with the books you have already written. But if you want to write something completely different, they may expect it to be along the same type of work you’ve already done. Often, the solution is the creation of another pen name to associate with the new works.

Personally, I have one pen name, and that is the only name under which I share my work. But there may come a time in the future that I need to compartmentalize into another name, such as if I move from YA into adult or fantasy into fiction. And that is a possibility I know is open.

One good example of this is Mira Grant. Mira Grant is the pen name for an author who writes zombie fiction, specifically YA zombie fiction (The Newsflesh books). I found out a few years back that she is also the same author who writes one of the urban fantasy series I like, the October Daye series, under the name Seanan McGuire (who also penned some other fantasy reads). Readers have very different expectations from these two distinct names, and for that reason, she compartmentalizes her work into multiple names.

How do we fulfill these promises?

First and foremost, be cognizant of the way you present your work. Don’t misrepresent it, and do your research on how other authors in the same genre are presenting and marketing their work.

Second, make sure you aren’t breaking promises you’ve made through your other work. At a minimum, let your readers know when a book is different from what you’ve previously published. If it’s a minimal difference such as the level of maturity or how clean a read it is, you may not need anything else, particularly if it’s still in the same genre and age category. And if it’s very different, perhaps consider starting a new pen name and letting your current readers know, in case they want to follow along.

Finally, pay attention to your readers. If they are confused or you seem to be getting a lot of negative reviews along the lines of “this wasn’t what I expected,” then you may need to evaluate changing your target audience for the work or rebranding under a new name. Be open to the changes and listen to the advice of others (but of course, use that advice to make your own decisions).

Your Turn

These are the things I’ve come up with about times I’ve felt tricked by a cover or an author, but I know there are so many other examples, such as false advertising (Example: get this free book! Just kidding, it’s just a sample.).

Usually, it’s not intentional. Writers don’t want to trick their readers (except for plot twists!). But we still need to keep the possibility in mind and be sensitive to what our readers are telling us.

And now I want to hear from you. Was there a time you felt tricked by a writer or a book? How did it make you feel? What are your suggestions and other experiences for fulfilling promises to readers? Tell me below!