Goals are important. Goals keep us on track and moving forward.
What are your writing goals for this year? Are you on track?
Do you set reading goals? If so, what are they?
For readers and writers, what do you do to stay on track?
Science indicates 75 percent of parents wish their children would read for fun more. Yet most parents stop reading aloud once the child learns to read on their own. A report from Scholastic suggests reading out loud to kids throughout their elementary school years inspires them to become bookworms, reading five to seven days per week for fun. More than 40 percent of frequent readers ages six to 11 were read to at home, compared to 13 percent who did not read for fun.
At any age, reading increases intelligence.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Diving into a good book opens up a whole world of knowledge. An increase in vocabulary is an obvious result, but it also leads to higher scores on intelligence tests. When children read for fun, it also leads to higher intelligence later in life.
Reading boosts brainpower.
Not only does regular reading make us smarter, but it also increases actual brainpower. Reading regularly improves memory function. Think of it as exercises for the brain. Aging often goes hand-in-hand with a decline in memory and brain function, but regular reading helps slow the process, keeping minds sharper longer, according to research published in Neurology.
Readers are more empathetic.
Being immersed in a story world, caring about characters, helps us relate to others. And so, we’re more aware of another person’s emotions, according to research published in Science Magazine. Interestingly, fiction has a greater impact on empathy than nonfiction.
“Understanding others’ mental states is a crucial skill that enables the complex social relationships that characterize human societies,” David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano wrote of their findings.
Reading may help fight Alzheimer’s disease.
Those who engage their brains through reading are 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who spend their downtime on less stimulating activities like television. Research suggests exercising the brain helps reduce the risk of developing other brain diseases, as well.
Reading reduces stress.
A 2009 study by Sussex University showed reading may reduce stress by as much as 68 percent.
“It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination,” cognitive neuropsychologist David Lewis told The Telegraph.
Reading helps us relax.
There’s a reason snuggling up with a good book sounds so appealing. Because it is! Reading washes away the stressors of the day as we melt into the pages of a good book.
Reading fiction for fun.
Readers of fiction have increased creativity, empathy, and emotional intelligence. Losing ourselves in a fictional character’s experiences make us more open-minded and allow us to spend time in someone else’s shoes. Thus, readers become better humans than non-readers.
Reading supports self-improvement.
Readers support lifelong learning. One of the best ways to do that is to pick up a book and learn something new. Waving at readers who prefer nonfiction!
In general, read is good for our wellbeing.
Some of us read to escape reality or imagine worlds beyond our own. Some read to learn new skills—cooking, crafting, creativity—or about real people who intrigue or inspire us. Some read thought-provoking books, some dive into futuristic worlds beyond our imagination. Whatever the reason that brings us to the page, reading is one of the best forms of self-care.
Is reading contagious?
Absolutely! Rather than rattle off statistics, I’ll pose a question. How many books have you bought based on word of mouth? When we see another reader all excited about a new book, we want to feel that way, too. So, what do we do? We check out the book.
When children see their parents reading for fun, it plants the seed for them to become lifelong readers, as well. In adults, if one partner pleasure reads several times per week, it lights a spark in their significant other. My husband never read for pleasure till he married me. When he first took the plunge, he devoured more books per week than I did. Over the years as he built and ran his small engine business, he had less time to read. But he dives between the folds whenever possible. Why? Because he sees how much I enjoy reading, and it’s contagious.
TKZers, why do you read? Does your partner read? Do your kids read? What’s the best thing about reading for you?
She may be paranoid, but is she right?
A string of gruesome murders rocks the small town of Alexandria, New Hampshire, with all the victims staged to resemble dead angels, and strange red and pink balloons appearing out of nowhere.
All the clues point to the Romeo Killer’s return. Except one: he died eight years ago.
Paranoid and on edge, Sage’s theory makes no sense. Dead serial killers don’t rise from the grave. Yet she swears he’s here, hungering for the only angel to slip through his grasp—Sage.
With only hours left to live, how can Sage convince her Sheriff husband before the sand in her hourglass runs out? Preorder on Amazon for $1.49
*Though HALOED is Book 5 of the Grafton County Series, it can easily be read as a standalone.
It’s always fun to catch up, and we haven’t done one of these for a while, so…
What are you reading?
Fiction or nonfiction?
What are you enjoying most about the book?
I’m deep into HOLLOW KINGDOM by Kira Jane Buxton. Normally, I steer clear from Apocalypse type novels. I’ve never even watched an episode of the Walking Dead. What attracted me to this funny, off-beat, heartwarming story was not the cover, or blurb, or industry praise. It’s narrated by a crow. Brilliant!
There’s a disturbing new trend on social media that could bankrupt authors. I first learned about it on Facebook, but it’s since traveled throughout all social media.
Some readers feel it’s fine to buy a Kindle book on Amazon, read it, enjoy it, and then return it for a full refund. After all, who’s it hurting? Authors, that’s who.
Did you know if authors rack up too many returns Amazon can send them a bill? I didn’t realize this, either, but it’s happening as we speak. I’ve heard from more than a few Indie authors who, along with royalty payments they received a bill for returns. And these are professional authors who sell 200-500 books per week.
Before you dismiss this post because you think it doesn’t apply to you, this trend affects all authors regardless of how they choose to publish.
A massive influx of returns might result in a publishing house dropping the author. At the very least, they may be hesitant to buy the author’s next book. Why? Because too many returns give the impression that readers are not enjoying the series, when in fact these habitual returners do it to save money. For some reason they’re under the misguided impression that all authors are rolling in dough. They also don’t take into consideration how hard we work. Most authors I know work six days per week, sometimes seven if they fall behind.
Is it fair for these habitual returners to prevent us from earning a livable wage?
Look. I’m not sayin’ if the book sucks due to a lack of editing or poor formatting you shouldn’t be able to return it. That’s different. But to read the entire book and then return it is just plain wrong. Would you go to a theatre, watch the movie, and then ask for your money back because you didn’t like the ending? Of course not. So, why do habitual returners think the same rules don’t apply to ebooks?
Amazon makes it easy to return digital products within a seven-day period. Here’s the kicker. If these habitual returners continue to game the system, Amazon can stop them from buying more Kindle books for at least a year. Nowhere could I find the parameters of what’s considered abuse, but there’s at least one habitual returner who publicly apologized for her behavior after getting banned from Amazon.
Thankfully, I haven’t seen an increase in returns, but this new trend worries me. Some authors are even habitual returners — and they’re bragging about it on social media! I will never understand what goes through some people’s mind. Be reckless all you want with your own life, but don’t let your crazy loose on the rest of us.
I have never returned a Kindle book in my life, and I’ve slogged through more than my share of crappy reads. Now, I download the sample first. If I like it, I buy it. If I don’t, no harm done. That’s why Amazon has the sample feature.
The return feature is available for readers who one-click by mistake.
SUBSCRIPTION ALTERNATIVES THAT DON’T HARM AUTHORS
Join Kindle Unlimited
For $9.99 a month, you can read an unlimited number of Kindle books. You will only have access to books within the KU library, but for voracious readers it’s a good option. Amazon offers a free 30-day trial period or a two-month deal for $4.99.
FREE ALTERNATIVES THAT DON’T HARM AUTHORS
Yes, you need a Prime account, but most households have one to save shipping costs. If you don’t, you will need a subscription ($99/yr.). Otherwise, a Prime account automatically gives you access to FREE Prime Reading books. I’ve found some amazing new-to-me authors this way. If I love the author’s writing, I usually buy all their books, but that’s me. You could stay within the Prime Reading lending library and never buy another ebook.
Local Libraries Offer FREE Ebooks Through Libby.
Download Libby from the App Store or Google Play. The welcome page will ask if you have a library card.
If you do, click YES.
Then click ADD LIBRARY.
Enter your zip code.
Select your local library from the list.
Enter your library card details.
If you don’t have a library card, click NOT YET.
Libby will walk you through requesting a library card through the app.
Once you’re inside Libby, you can browse through the books or search for a specific title, author, or genre. Libby adds new titles all the time.
If you read on a Kindle device, click READ ON KINDLE and Libby will open an Amazon account log-in window.
Enter Amazon username and password, and the ebook will automatically download to your Kindle.
Never worry about late fees. At the end of the loan period (time varies among local libraries), the book vanishes from your device.
Libby also provides audiobooks, as Jim mentioned in this post. If you live outside the U.S., you can access Libby through Overdrive.
Become a Reviewer on NetGalley
Use NetGalley for free to request, read, and recommend books before they are published — and provide essential reviews and feedback to publishers and other readers.
Contact Your Favorite Author
Tell the author how much you love their work and ask to join their ARC team. If you keep up your end of the bargain by posting honest reviews, the authors will continue to send you FREE ARCs. Plus, you’ll be the first to read new releases!
With all these free options, why return Kindle books? Unless you one-click by mistake or the book is riddled with typos or formatting errors, please, please, please stop returning ebooks to save money. Think about your favorite authors. Do we deserve to feed our family? Do we deserve a roof over our head? Do we deserve heat in the winter and cool air in the summer? Then let us earn a living. We’re not asking for donations. We’re simply asking habitual returners to stop stealing our work.
If you want to help prevent this trend from continuing, sign the Change.org petition.
TKZers, have you heard of this disturbing new trend? Have you been affected by it yet?
To master the art of writing we need to read. Whenever the words won’t flow, I grab my Kindle. Reading someone else’s story kickstarts my creativity, and like magic, I know exactly what I need to do in my WIP.
“Read” is the easiest writing tip, yet one of the most powerful. And here’s why.
READING BENEFITS OUR WRITING
READING IMPROVES BRAIN HEALTH
Narratives activate many parts of our brains. In a 2006 study published in the journal NeuroImage, researchers in Spain asked participants to read words with strong odor associations, along with neutral words, while their brains were being scanned by a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine.
Brain scans are revealing what happens in our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters. Stories, this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life. — New York Times
Whenever participants read words like “perfume” and “coffee,” their primary olfactory cortex (the part of the brain that processes smell) lit up the fMRI machine. Words like “velvet” activated the sensory cortex, the emotional center of the brain. Researchers concluded that in certain cases, the brain can make no distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life. Pretty cool, right?
4 TIPS TO READ WITH A WRITER’S EYE
1. Look for the author’s persuasion tactics.
How does s/he draw you in?
How does s/he keep you focused and flipping pages?
What’s the author’s style, fast-pace or slow but intriguing?
Does the author have beautiful imagery or sparse, powerful description that rockets an image into your mind?
2. Take note of metaphors and analogies.
How did the metaphor enhance the image in your mind?
How often did the author use an analogy?
Where in the scene did the author use a metaphor/analogy?
Why did the author use a metaphor/analogy? Reread the scene without it. Did it strengthen or weaken the scene?
In a 2012 study, researchers from Emory University discovered how metaphors can access different regions of the brain.
New brain imaging research reveals that a region of the brain important for sensing texture through touch, the parietal operculum, is also activated when someone listens to a sentence with a textural metaphor. The same region is not activated when a similar sentence expressing the meaning of the metaphor is heard.
A metaphor like “he had leathery hands” activated the participants’ sensory cortex, while “he had strong hands” did nothing at all.
“We see that metaphors are engaging the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in sensory responses even though the metaphors are quite familiar,” says senior author Krish Sathian, MD, PhD, professor of neurology, rehabilitation medicine, and psychology at Emory University. “This result illustrates how we draw upon sensory experiences to achieve understanding of metaphorical language.”
3. Read with purpose.
As you read, study the different ways some writers tackle subjects, how they craft their sentences and employ story structure, and how they handle dialogue.
4. Recognize the author’s strengths (and weaknesses, but focus on strengths).
Other writers are unintentional mentors. When we read their work, they’re showing us a different way to tell a story—their way.
Ask, why am I drawn to this author? What’s the magic sauce that compels me to buy everything they write?
Is it how they string sentences together?
How they world-build?
Or all of the above?
I don’t know about you but I’m dying to jump back into the book I’m devouring. 🙂 What’s your favorite tip?
Wishing you a safe and happy Memorial Day! In between cookouts and family get-togethers, squeeze in time to read!
Looking for a new series to love?
FOR TODAY ONLY, all four Grafton County thrillers are on sale!