Which Genres Do I Read?

Why? Or Why Not?

By Jeff Salter

To say that I’ll read nearly anything doesn’t mean that I have unrefined literary tastes — it just means that I love to read and if there’s nothing at hand that I’d prefer, I’ll just read practically whatever I can find. [The worst outcomes involve the waiting rooms of medical / dental offices and the place where I get my hair cut. They NEVER seem to have a magazine that actually interests me, so I just pick one of whatever’s present.]

I began with that intro simply to make clear that I’m not a literary snob. That said, I do have favorite genres and there are genres that I don’t care for.

One more general note before I get started. Most of the traditional genre divisions have been blurred in recent years… to the point that there are hybrids and blends of nearly every type. I think that’s a positive development, even though it makes things slightly more difficult for libraries and book stores.

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Genres That I Used to Ignore

For a large portion of my life, I had zero interest in Western novels. That could surprise any of you who understand that I grew up watching TV and movie westerns… and wanted (desperately) to be either a gunfighter or a sheriff when I grew up. But I’d only read THREE western novels in my entire life until last year, when I began writing my time-travel series featuring a cowboy character from the 1880s. Once I sank my teeth into Louis L’Amour, Max Brand, and Zane Grey – in order to research the folkways of the American cowboy – I was hooked. I’ve since read several more of those authors’ titles, as well as many books from other lesser known writers.

Likewise, for much of my life, I’d kept my distance from the entire multi-faceted genre which we loosely call “Romance.” My wife read them, my mother-in-law read them, and I knew they were extremely popular in the public libraries where I worked. But until I began writing novels with romance as a central thread – around 2006 – I had read exactly ONE romance… a Barbara Cartland novel. Since 2006, I’ve read scores of novels that fall within the blended genres that make up the world of Romance publishing.

As I noted about the westerns, the area of science fiction never appealed to me… in book form. Oh, I devoured the Sci-Fic movie explosion of the 1950s, and loved the episodes of Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, Outer Limits, etc. But other than reading a few short stories, I never got into Sci-Fic novels. Not exactly sure why, but I think I was deterred partly because I so despised science — as a subject, in classes from junior high through college. Maybe I feared the Sci-Fic books would delve so deeply into SCIENCE, that I’d be too bored to care about the plot and characters in the story itself. [And, by the way, I recently read a novel by an otherwise excellent author – Michael Crichton – called “Congo.” Folks, Crichton nearly bored me to death with all his pages and pages of scientific explanation. Good grief.]

What Do I Enjoy Reading?

Well, I love non-fiction military history… along with novels that have a military or war-time setting.

I’m fascinated by books on UFOs, aliens, and the JFK assassination.

I haven’t read much lately, but I used to read a lot of poetry.

I’ve long enjoyed “international intrigue” – AKA spy novels – especially those set during war times.

I like action books, thrillers, etc.

I love comedies. And, BTW, even non-fiction can be extremely funny… Bill Bryson’s many books being prime examples.

As I was reminded by our Tuesday Fox, Angela, I love reading Children’s books… provided the artwork is terrific and the story is not too preachy. One of my favorite parts of my nearly 30 years in librarianship were those periods when I selected children’s books for our collections.

Books I Still Won’t Read

I won’t read anything that I know will terrify me. Sure, call me a sissy. But if a story won’t let me sleep at night, for fear of noises and shadows, then I don’t want to read it.

I don’t read anything about demons or evil sprits. The spiritual world is far too real to me and I know from the Bible that we Christians are faced with a daily battle against our spiritual enemies… so I dare not contaminate my mind with stories about evil demons (which, BTW, are all the rage, right now).

What Do I Write?

In earlier blogs, I’ve stated that I write (besides screwball comedy): “a blend of action, romance, and comedy… plus a few also have suspense.” Since that point (2015), I’ve also written a bit of science fiction, some time-travel, and even a ghost story! But, overall, my assessment of my own writing is that most of my titles are BLENDS of several genres… and I truly do not believe any of mine are formulaic, as in the worst examples of the most common genres.

I was struck by Elaine’s expression (Wednesday), describing one of her cross genre novels: “It’s a cross between a mystery, thriller, romance with a dash of science fiction thrown in.”

As did Patricia on Monday, I’m placing a link to my blog from May 7, 2015…  in which I discuss a bit about different genres (in particular in how they END).

https://fourfoxesonehound.wordpress.com/2015/05/07/lets-talk-about-endings/

Question:

What about YOU? Which genres do YOU enjoy reading?

 

[JLS # 483]

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

I’m All Over the Place

Blue 52

What genres do I read and why is the question we’re discussing this week. It’s a hard one for me to answer because I’ve read a lot of different genres.

I guess romance is right there at the top of the list. I like to write romance, which I don’t think I could do if I didn’t enjoy it. Romances by nature are emotional, and I do like a book that engages my emotions. Most of them have a happily ever after ending, which is so satisfying. People like to think that things can work out in our imperfect world.

I also enjoy reading alternative history. I read one book where the Nazis won World War II. It was very tense, but it did have a good ending. I guess most of us have wondered ‘what if’ at some time or other.

I used to read Stephen King and scare myself to death. I still shiver when I think of Salem’s Lot or Pet Cemetery. I can’t do that anymore, though. I don’t like being scared to go to bed.

I’ve also read a lot of young adult novels. I worked in the school system for thirty five years, and I wanted to be able to recommend something for the kids to read. I also was curious about what they were reading and liked. I read Twilight because that was what the kids were reading.

Science fiction can be fun if it doesn’t bog down in too many technological details as can cozy mysteries, dystopian fiction, westerns, and thrillers. I used Blue 52 as an example of a cross genre novel. It’s a cross between a mystery, thriller, romance with a dash of science fiction thrown in.

So, what about you? Do you have a favorite genre, or do you read all over like me?

Posted in Books, Elaine Cantrell, Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Three I read.

We’re discussing genres that we read and why. I read a lot of different kinds of stories but I guess you can fit all of those down into two or three genres with multiple subgenres. I read childrens , historical, and romance.

Why do I read books in these genres? I enjoy childrens books because they tend to be a wonderful escape. Currently, I’m reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to my youngest. We read a chapter every night before bed. Its a wonderful way to escape from everything that is going on at the moment. I love rereading books that I loved as a child,  I get to go on an adventure all over again. Discovering new adventures that I can share with my kids.

I read historical because I enjoy history. Its a great way to learn about a different way of life while being entertained.

I read romance because it tends to be uplifting. I can usually count on a happy ending at the end of all the struggle.

What do you find yourself reaching for on the bookshelf?

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Books on my Virtual Nightstand

 

This week’s topic: What genres do you read? Why?

35986234 - young woman reading a magazine while riding the trainI normally read at least one book a week. Usually, I’m reading in the evening, as it’s my way to relax at the end of the day. But I also hate to just sit, so if I’m waiting for an appointment (I no longer have to wait for children in music lessons, rehearsals, or sports) I’ll read in my car or waiting room. I normally have one book on my iPad, another one on my phone, and now and then I’ll have a third one on my laptop. But every now and then I’ll change things up by reading a print book, either to give my eyes a break, because it’s been taking up space on my shelf, or because I won it somewhere. But I’m always reading. I think part of the problem is that so many things interest me, that I’m often sidetracked while researching online or even browsing through my social media outlets. I’ll see a blog post or news article that catches my eye and I’m off. An hour or two later I’m asking myself why I sat down in front of my laptop.

54094172 - woman resting with cup of hot drink and book near fireplaceWhen it comes to books, my choice of reading material depends on when and where I’m reading. If I’m reading at the end of the day, then my purpose is to relax. And if I’m using this time to de-stress, I find my tastes run more toward light romances and cozy mysteries. Some might say the choice of romances is actually a form of research. I’ve heard more than one successful writer recommend reading heavily in your genre. I guess that’s sound advice. I read a lot of books before I could pinpoint what I liked and what I disliked – and that helped me decide what to write. It was romance that got me through a stressful time in my life, and I devoured them. So then I decided to write them. My favorites at the moment are Robyn Carr and Debbie Macomber, but most of the time I’m reading books by people I have a personal connection with. About five years ago, we discussed our feelings about Happily-Ever-After (HEA), Happily-For-Now (HFN), or tragic endings, and I shared my thoughts in this post.

I also love to read cozy mysteries. I think this is partly because I love to solve puzzles – word puzzles, number puzzles, and of course jigsaw puzzles – and solving a mystery is like piecing a puzzle together. I’ve reviewed several books by Donna Andrews and Jana DeLeon (my current favorite), as well as Joanne Fluke and Janet Evanovich. When I need a challenge, I’ll pick up one of their books. I doubt that I’ll ever write a cozy, because that involves thinking backward – you start with the solution and work your way back through all the red herrings and motivations back to the original mystery. My mind doesn’t like to go backward! But I sure enjoy reading these.

Another type of book I enjoy (although I don’t know if this is a genre) are the Chicken Soup books and others like them, in which several short personal stories appear in a single volume. These are nice for when I have limited time to read. I can open it up and read one, and set it aside because I’m not in the middle of a scene or story. This is the type of book I usually read on my phone.

So, there’s a look at what’s on my reading list! What’s on yours?

Posted in author's life, Books, cozy mystery, e-books, Mystery stories, Patricia Kiyono, reading, reading preferences, romance, short stories, TBR List | 12 Comments

Fewer Words

Free Week and I thought that I had something ready, but I don’t.
Instead and in a rush, (because of a family emergency), I have a short rant.

There are words that suddenly seems to have disappeared from conversational, official and reported English, some of which I have mentioned before.

The latest word that seems to be MIA?

FEWER.

Everyone, (including those at the podium with the President’s coronavirus task force), seem to say “less” when they should be using the word ‘fewer’.

The words are not interchangeable.

 

Pray that there will be less virus spread around and fewer cases of infection.

Posted in Tonette Joyce | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

What Was I Doing In That Pub?

And Why Didn’t I Remember My Exciting Adventure in Annie’s Pub?

By Jeff Salter

This’ll be a long ride (from 2015), so hang on!
I was frantically pulling together my tax material (from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. almost non-stop) yesterday, so I could tote it over to my wonderful CPA.
Ran out of time and couldn’t go thru all the credit card statements… until today.
Found a payment for $29.97 on Feb. 12 to “Annie’s Pub“.
“Well,” I said to myself, “I wonder if I had a good time at Annie’s Pub?”

english-pub-2

This is how I imagined Annie’s Pub.

Of course, I had no recollection whatsoever of either Annie or her Pub. But I began stressing about that $30 and wondered what I had to show for it.
There was an 800 number listed on the statement, so I calculated how I could phrase my question if I managed to get Annie on the phone.
“Annie, can you tell me what I spent $30 on, when I was with you in February?”
No, too direct.
“Annie, can you tell me what product or service you provide?”
No, too vague.
So I decided not to call Annie until I had a witness (in 2015, Denise was honky-tonking in Pigeon Forge).
Then I got to thinking…
“Annie, Annie. Annie… who do I know named Annie?”
Nobody.
Then through a series of mental gymnastics, it came to me!
Annie runs a subscription service!
No, not that kind of subscription.
This is for a magazine called “Good Old Days” — quite good, BTW. Lots of articles about the generation before mine, and (of course) my own generation. How different things were in those days, etc.
It will take another complete post to explain why I had to call Annie in February, and how she suckered me into adding three more years to my subscription… when it was already extended through mid 2017.
But I wanted to let y’all know that Annie’s Pub is “legit”.
Annie’s Pub is an abbreviation of Annie’s Publications. Go figure.

Post Script

So I called Annie back today and asked her not to keep sending me renewal notices when I already have a subscription through June 2020.
She said she’d take me off the list.
I said, “I want to keep getting the magazine… just stop sending me “reminders” to renew, like the subscription is about to run out.”
“Okay, I’ll take you off the list,” replied Annie.
“But you will keep sending my magazine, right?”
Heavy sigh from Annie.

Question:
Have you ever seen something on a credit bill that totally threw you?

[JLS # 482]

Posted in Uncategorized | 30 Comments

I Like to Read My Own Work

Since we’ve been staying inside due to Covid 19 I find that I’m reading a lot more than usual. I finished my last book pretty late one evening, and I didn’t want to start something new so late. Well, I pulled out my Kindle and decided I’d look over one of my own books. I picked Blue 52, which was always one of my favorites. Well, I read until pretty late that night.  I still love Blue 52. I’d like to share a blurb and excerpt with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Blurb:

“First Lady Kills President Lovinggood!”

December 5, 2018

Thirty years later, Hank Lovinggood embarks on a quest to prove his mother’s innocence and punish the killers who took his family from him. Together Hank and lovely physicist Dr. Kathryn Sinclair confront an implacable, twisted, and merciless enemy who’ll do whatever it takes to hide the truth forever.

 

Excerpt: This excerpt comes from the beginning of the story after Hank decides to start a new investigation into the murders. His Aunt Joan has amazing information for him. Aunt Joan speaks first. (Hank’s Uncle Scott was in the FBI. He was killed along with his daughters Tori and Toni.)

 

“How about starting with your Uncle Scott’s private files?”

“What private files?” Hank demanded as a shaft of excitement pierced him and set his heart racing. He set his cup on the coffee table and leaned forward. “Didn’t the FBI take everything from his office after he died?”

“Mostly, yes, but there’s one or two files left. I managed to hide them before the FBI got here. They searched his home office as well as his office at work, you know.”

“Why did you hide those files?” Hank asked.

“Because I think they pertain to Richard’s death, and I had no idea who I could trust. If Scott really was onto something, those files had to remain a secret or no Lovinggood would have been safe.”

Hank’s mouth went dry. “I think you’d better explain. If you had information that would have brought the killers to justice, you should have turned it over to the police.”

Her hands fisted. “The time wasn’t right. Originally, I planned to show the files to Dad once he got over Richard’s death, but as you know he never got over it. Then I decided to wait for you to grow up and give the files to you, but you didn’t seem like a man who’d know what to do with them. Not until now, anyway. You’ve changed, Hank, and that’s why I’ve brought you here.” Excitement filled her face as her eyes bored into his.

“As you know, the case against your mother seemed airtight. No one suggested a conspiracy or any kind of cover up. It seemed so straightforward they didn’t even bother to seal the investigation records. Every i was dotted, every t was crossed. No one doubted Elizabeth had shot and killed Richard. I don’t mind telling you I bitterly hated her, but Scott didn’t seem angry at all.

“I confronted him about it maybe three months after the murder. He said he thought things were almost too neat. He said in real life investigations were usually a little messier. He said Elizabeth wasn’t a violent person; it was out of character for her to shoot someone.

“I asked him if he had any proof she hadn’t done it. He said no, but I started to watch him and soon figured out he was working on something. One night, I walked into the study while he was in the bathroom. I saw Josh Stanton’s name on an open file. He rushed back into the room and slammed it shut before I could read it.

“This went on for almost a year. I teased him and carried on until he finally admitted he thought someone had framed Elizabeth.”

A look of incredible anguish crossed Joan’s face. “Two weeks after we had that conversation, he was dead. So were the girls. I suspect Scott too was murdered. I think he found out something so big the real murderers were afraid to let him live.” She fell silent and clenched her jaw.

Hank had never imagined his Uncle Scott’s death had been anything but an accident. If someone had murdered Scott to keep him from revealing what he knew, there really was a conspiracy! “I’m so sorry,” he said. He wanted to give Joan a hug of compassion and sympathy, but the cold glitter in her eyes warned him she wouldn’t appreciate his pity.

“I’m sorry too,” she said. “Torie would be thirty-eight and Toni thirty-five.” She sighed. “It’s hard to believe so much time has gone by.”

Hank gave her a pat on the shoulder anyway. They both knew far too much about grief and loss. “So, what do you think we should do now?”

Joan grabbed his hand and squeezed so hard it was genuinely painful. “I want you to go through the files. I want you to see if you think Scott was onto something. If so, I want you to nail them. I want them punished for every holiday we spent without our loved ones. I want them to suffer for every dance recital they cheated my girls of. I want their heads for every ball game you ever played that your father didn’t see. I want the whole world to know your mother was no murderer, and my Scott was smart enough to see through their horrible schemes. Get them, Hank, and if I can help you, I will.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Hank softly replied as his eyes caught fire and his blood roared in his ears. “Get the files for me.”

 

Posted in Books, Elaine Cantrell, Uncategorized | 8 Comments