Day 27 Christina Dodd – Be Decadent & Read


Do you want to write a book? Then you need to know the one, really important (and guilty) secret that will help you get published. Brace yourself. Here it comes … You need to read. A lot.

I was appalled when I read this statistic: Eighty percent of Americans want to write a book, but only fifty-seven percent have read one in the past Christina_Dodd_Virtue_Fallsyear. How is this possible? If you don’t read, how will you be able to write a book? How will you know story structure? How will you understand the character archetypes? How will you discover what moves a reader to laughter, to tears, to love, if you don’t take that journey yourself?

In grade school, I was one of those snot-nosed kids who learned to read quickly and never stopped. (Whenever I say this, a lot of my readers wave their hands and say, “I was a snot-nosed kid, too!” Yes, us readers hang together.) I read indiscriminately all the way through high school — classics, Harlequin romances, Broadway plays, the Little House books, you name it. I would steal the time from homework and TV and friends, and spend the time reading. (I did not have to steal time from sports — I was also one of those snot-nosed kids with glasses and braces, and I ducked when a baseball came at my face.) Like everyone else in the world, I grew up and life interfered (work, husband, children.) I had to pare down the time I could spend reading, so I concentrated on what I loved best, which was romance: historical and contemporary, first person or third person, suspense or paranormal. As long as the plot appealed to me, I didn’t care when or where it was set, I’d read it.

Eventually all this romance reading gave me a brilliant idea. I thought, “I can write a book! How hard could it be?” thus proving I had two of the attributes of a writer — a large ego and very little sense of reality.

Actually what all those years of reading gave me a natural sense of how plot, characterization, motivation and conflict work together to create a story. Reading taught me to write in a way no writing lessons or writing books could do. I wrote for ten years before I got published, and during that time reading got to be guilty pleasure. It was tough to justify the time spent reading when I should be working on a writing a book in the hopes of someday grabbing the gold ring — or at least the signed check. But not only did reading teach me how to write, I found that putting words in fed the flow of words out. It seemed that reading fed the creative well and if I didn’t read, I’d find myself staring at a blank computer screen with no idea how to fill it.

Finally, after ten years of trying, I got The Call and my first book was published. Being a published author includes demands on my time I’d never bella terraimagined: publicity and email and blogging and touring, things I’m thrilled to do because they mean I’m a popular author. But my reading time has been seriously compromised and that breaks my heart. Writing fills some of that void; VIRTUE FALLS is my fiftieth full-length novel, and as I wrote it, I gasped in fear, laughed with my characters, suffered and hoped, struggled and fell in love again.

But while writing is the best job in the world, it’s still a job. I work fifty weeks a year, writing 1000-2000 words a day. Sometimes that writing takes me three hours. Sometimes that takes me ten. And if I’m hot (and by that, I mean the writing is going well), I don’t stop at 2000, I keep going. I deal with promotion every day, and when I have a new book out, the hours spent on promotion expand.

For me, reading a book is a vacation from real life. Reading a book immerses me in exotic worlds and different sensibilities. It’s … fun.

So there’s the secret to writing a book: Read to learn the basics of pacing and plotting and what’s involving in creating successful suspense. Read to learn how to craft a character arc that takes your heroine on a romantic journey that leads her to become the triumphant woman she was meant to be. Immerse yourself in the kinds of stories you want to write — and then put your rear in the chair and write them.

Don’t want to write a book? Reading a wonderful book is a decadent pleasure. Be decadent. Read now.

Were you a snot-nosed kid who read for pleasure? Or did you find the joy of reading later … when you were a snot-nosed adult? How many books have you read in the last year?


On Goodreads, I reviewed Jayne Ann Krentz‘s upcoming release, THE HOT ZONE. Hint: I loved it. I love all her Jayne Castle futuristics, and this one is “Halloween on Rainshadow Island.” It is so much fun!

Jayne Castle fans — THE HOT ZONE is a definite buy.

If you’ve never read Jayne Castle, it’s a fun place to start.You can read my Goodreads review here.

Questions for the Author:

Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.

Getting married. My husband and I got married very young (wow, we were stupid), but now we’ve been married since the earth’s crust cooled. We’ve had a lot of good years … and quite a few bad ones, too. It’s an ongoing process. I think getting married is like having children. There’s no way you know what you’re getting into, but it is the biggest adventure in life.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

I was too dumb to know how difficult writing is. Once I’d been working at it long enough, I couldn’t quit, so here I am fifty books later, and it’s an incredibly satisfying profession.

Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)

When I was six, I started reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, and I never looked back. I love THE LORD OF THE RINGS; in fact, my husband and I named my daughters after the female characters. I read research books for fun. My favorite book ever is either CHARLOTTE’S WEB or TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Or maybe the HARRY POTTER series. And of course, I read romance of all kinds.

Christina is generously giving away SECRETS OF BELLA TERRA, REVENGE AT BELLA TERRA and ONCE UPON A PILLOW to one U.S. winner, apologies to international friends (enter below).

jddebaehNew York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd builds worlds filled with suspense, romance and adventure and creates the most distinctive characters in fiction today. Her fifty+ novels — suspense, paranormals, and historicals — have been translated into twenty-five languages, featured by Doubleday Book Club, recorded on Books on Tape for the Blind, won Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart and RITA Awards and been called the year’s best by Library Journal. Dodd herself has been a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle — her mother was totally impressed. On September 9, the first full-length book in her new suspense series, VIRTUE FALLS, will arrive on the shelves in hardcover and on your e-readers. With more than fifteen million of her books in print, her legions of fans always know that when they pick up a Christina Dodd book, they’ve found, “an absolute thrill ride of a book!”

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