Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Refilling The Well -- This writer is reading

I realize that for many November is NaNoWriMo, and for the many dedicated people pounding away at their keyboards, I salute you. As for me, after coordinating the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense this year as well as finishing my own romantic mystery, the last thing I want to do is sit at a keyboard and stare at a computer screen. Therefore, I dedicate November to "Me" time," to refilling the well time and to doing something I rarely get to do anymore--read for pleasure.

My nightstand resembles a bygone era in my household. The table is loaded with books! I just completed my first "for fun" reads. Tess Gerritsen's, The Bone Garden, and Daniel Silva's Moscow Rules. (I can picture non-thriller lovers saying, This is fun?) For me it is, absolutely.

Once again, Gerritsen's physician background serves her well in this Boston-based book set in the present and in the 1800s. Combining fictional characters with the remarkable real life historical figure Oliver Wendell Holmes, she addresses the subject of ressurectionists -- grave robbers who harvest bodies for the black market. Anytime you read Tess Gerritsen you expect beautiful writing and thought-provoking text. The Bone Garden doesn't disappoint. And I love the life lesson she provides at the end of the book. It's something we take for granted today, and yet our ancestors had to learn it the hard way--with myriad loss of life and disease. The book isn't Gerritsen's standard breakneck page turner. But if you like stories of Jack the Ripper and have a love of history, you'll love The Bone Garden.

Next on my nightstand is Moscow Rules. I love sitting down with anything written by Daniel Silva. First, I know I'm going on an international tour by reading his well-researched work. In Moscow Rules I traveled to Italy, Israel, France, England, Russia and of course the U.S. His protagonist Gabriel Allon is one of the most interesting fictional characters of all time in my opinion. His combination of art, political events, world history with some of the most intriguing protagonists and the most evil antagonists created guarantee I'm in for an up-all-night read. Silva does hooks better than any author out there, his sense of humor is laugh-out-loud funny, and the way he tortures his characters is grossly unfair. His knowledge of espionage and the realism in his storytelling leaves me with no choice but to turn the pages. What I love about his series featuring the ruthless, eye-for-an eye Gabriel Allon, Ari Shamron and Adrian Carter is I know after he's made my heart stop a time or two, good will defeat evil.

I forget that I'm a writer when I read books like these. Good luck to everyone doing NaNoWriMo. Like the overworked employee who hangs up a shingle that says, "Gone Fishin'", my shingle is up too. Mine says, "Gone Reading." So, if you're a writer, how do you refill your well?

27 comments:

Viola Estrella said...

Hi Donnell! I agree, reading is a great way to refill that well. So important!

Donnell said...

Thanks for stopping by, Viola. Have you noticed like me that you're either reading for education or for your own WIP, rather than pure enjoyment ;) That's why I dedicated this month to doing just that!

Sylvia said...

My first comment didn't go through. Computers! Bah, humbug!
Yes, holidays are for family and friends. The fingers stop but the mind keeps churning. I come back ready to go. Can't wait to read The Bone Garden. Tess Gerritsen is terrific.

Kathy said...

I read even if I'm writing. It's always been my escape. I'm lucky to have a husband that loves to read as well. I am doing NaNo so back to work for me before heading out to my paying job.:-)

Donnell said...

Syliva, The Bone Garden is right up your alley. Promise. And... you with your artistic background, you would love Daniel Silva's work.

Kathy, thanks for stopping by. I'm in awe. I read, of course, but never have time to get totally absorbed like I'm allowing myself to do this month. Good luck with NANO;

Lee Lofland said...

Hi Donnell. I, too, read to cleanse the writing palate. But I like to stray away from mystery, crime, murder, and police when doing so. One of my all-time favorite non-mystery books was Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen.

Tess's book, The Bone Garden was a nice read. I particularly enjoyed it because she and I exchanged signed books at a book store in Harvard Square a couple of snowy New England winters ago - her Bone Garden for my book on police procedure.

Donnell said...

Ah, Lee, Water for Elephants was a wonderful read. When Jacob gets in a fistfight in the nursing home and calls the new guy a liar, who couldn't fall in love with that man, or when he finds out why his parents were dirt poor -- to pay for his tuition... Another great escapist read! Yep, I do read a bit outside the genre, but since this month is ME time ;) I'm reading what I love best... Suspense.

magolla said...

Hey, Donnell!
Oi, the things I do to refill the well. . . reading, of course, tops the list. I have a variety of books sitting on my desk at the present time, everything from a book about Down Syndrome for siblings to middle grade stories, to paranormal and historical romance.
But I also crochet and am currently working on a baby blanket. Something about this time of year makes me want to pick up my hook and make a blankie--probably 'cause I can keep myself warm while I crochet!
And I need to get started on the afghan I'm going to donate to Brenda Novak's Diabetes Auction.

Donnell said...

Margaret, excellent point! Reading of course is a great inspiration, but using other creative outlets frees the muse. I hope you'll post some pictures of your afghan! Lucky bidders.

My co-blogger Theresa Rizzo does mosaics. Lot of exact activity to get those juices stirring.

I also love long walks. I live in an old neighborhood with lots of overgrown trees -- in other words spooky -- perfect for a mystery writer's muse. Thanks for commenting!

Leslie Ann said...

Hi D,
Reading is fantastic, but I also turn toward sewing, embroidery design, needlework, scrapbooking and playing the piano. All creative, all different than writing.

Sometimes I'll jump up from the scrap table or whatever and run to my notebook (always out when I'm not glued to my keyboard in deep writing mode) and jot down an idea or something.

So I never totally get away from my story, but focusing on other pursuits that make me happy or frustrated--since I'm learning new computer programs--fills my well until I absolutely have to sit down and let my fingers fly across the keyboard.

~LA

Donnell said...

Excellent, LA. Sounds like doing something else with your hands is a great way to refill the well. Does laundry count, I wonder? ;)

Leslie Ann said...

No!! Laundry doesn't count, altho' I know some people who really can brainstorm while doing, uh, mundane tasks like that. I brainstorm really well in the shower...I need a waterproof recorder...

~LA
BTW The Silva book sounds great, I've never read him.

Donnell said...

Oh, yeah. If you want to free your muse, go into the shower... It never fails ;) I wish you would read him, I'd love to talk about his characterization and overall storytelling. It's excellent.

Leslie Ann said...

I will read him, then we'll chat over dinner. Deal?

~LA

Donnell said...

You're on. He writes in a series, but his books can stand alone as well. Looking forward to it, LA.

Liz L. said...

Hey, Donnell, great topic. I, too, try to read when I finish a project. I have so many books with one or two chapters read just waiting for me to return like the prodigal daughter.

I am such a slow writer and edit as I go, so I would need a Valium to do NaNo.

I'm in between projects as we speak, and I'm using the time to make it up to my CPs for all the hard work they've done for me while I was pushing myself to finish.

I love Gerritsen but have never read Silva. That will be my Christmas present to myself. I'm also going to use this time to read all the books by friends stockpiling on my shelf. Wish I had one of yours to read!!

Karin* said...

i read too, donnell, and take time for myself.

Karin Tabke*

Mary Marvella said...

I read books, I read articles on writing, I read magazines and, oh, yes, I read stories of all kinds.

Donnell said...

Liz, I think you will be delighted with your Christmas present to yourself. ;) Ah, and thank you for your very kind words. I'm trying, honest ;)

Karin: When? When do you take time for yourself. You are an amazing woman... and with that new grandbaby, you're about to get busier. Thanks for commenting!

Mary, and you write them too.

Thanks everyone for your comments! I'm having a marvelous vacation! ~ Donnell

Marley Delarose, Author said...

Reading, of course, but I live for beautiful cool days with no mosquitoes or stink bugs to sit by the bayou and write or just enjoy nature.

I love that you're doing the exact opposite of us Nanoers this month. I imagine next month will be for ME, &-)

Donnell said...

Oh my gosh, Marley, meet Sylvia. She lives on the bayou too! Thanks for stopping by. Sounds like a wonderful, inspirational way to refill the well. Good luck with Nano. I loved your Jamie-isms by the way ;)

http://marleydelaroseauthor.blogspot.com/

Misty Evans said...

Hi Donnell. I'm glad to see you taking some time to read and enjoy yourself. You've had a very busy year!

I'm reading scads of YA right now, trying to keep up with my boys. I also depend on music to refill my well, and things that make me laugh...good jokes, romcom movies, animals. Sometimes I pull out my torch and make jewelry.

Enjoy your reading extravaganza!

Donnell said...

Misty, all excellent way to refill the well. And your boys provide the music. You should see Ben on the guitar -- he's also a song writer. As for romantic comedies, I'll keep a look out. Was so disappointed with the movies coming out. I have no wish to see Saw IV, LOL.

Thanks for stopping by Misty and telling us what works for you!

Beth Groundwater said...

I nap, or exercise, or just get outside, anything for a change of pace and locale to relax or stretch my body and my mind with it.

Donnell said...

Beth, walking and the great outdoors is an excellent way to refill the well. I have to remind myself to leave the Ipod indoors though ;) Thanks for stopping by!

VR Barkowski said...

Like Kathy, I read when I'm writing, even during NaNo. I just read at a much slower pace. :) It is the editing process that refills my well. I spent so many months editing/revising my last MS, I couldn't wait to begin a new project. Even with the pressure of NaNo, it is a breath of fresh air.

Audra Harders said...

I love Daniel Silva! Especially Moscow Rules! Gotta admit, he had me hooked from the first page, but captured my adoration from the time he included two Corgis at the English cottage : )

My son went on Ebay last November and won a lot of Daniel Silva books which became my Christmas present. I love it when your family sees what really excites you and finds a way to give it as a present : )

Enjoy your month of reading, Donnell! I'm truly envious : )