What Have You Learned from Reading?

For me, reading is an adventure, which sometimes extends beyond the pages of the books I select. You never know what you can learn from a book of fiction.

I met Mary Higgins Clark at a Book and Author’s Luncheon after reading her second book, a mystery, Where Are the Children? From the story, I learned that an unnoticed child’s shoe was one clue to an unsolved crime. Clark is great at dropping seemingly insignificant clues that the protagonist misses early in the story. This soft spoken, petite author, who didn’t seem like the type of person to “commit murder” even in a novel, encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing.

After reading the first line of Dr. Bertice Berry’s steamy novel, Jim & Louella’s Homemade Heart-Fix Remedy, I promptly purchased her book. Written with folksy humor, the book tells the story of the boring love life of an elderly couple who are helped by Louella’s departed ancestors. Jim and Louella’s improved love life also gives them intuitive powers to help their neighbors with their various troubles. Dr. Berry, a sociologist, inspirational speaker, and author also encouraged my aspirations of writing.

Lee E. Meadows discussed the plot of his Silent Conspiracy, a Lincoln Keller Mystery, at a mystery writers’ workshop. In 1955, the Sentiments, a fictional rhythm and blues singing group disappeared without a trace after a gig in Detroit. The five men haven’t been seen since and Lincoln Keller, a private eye, has been hired to find out what happened to those five men forty years ago. Meadows, while on a book tour, discovered that the real-life disappearance of a singing group happened in another state. Life can be as strange as fiction.

Sometimes reading a book in public leads to dialogues with strangers. We may exchange quick reviews of books and offer suggestions on other book titles and authors to read.

At an airport, a man saw me looking at the book he was reading and asked if I liked mysteries. That’s how I discovered Harlan Coben books, which are intricately plotted, well-crafted mysteries.

While waiting for a lacrosse game to begin, I sat in the stands reading Elmore Leonard’s short stories, A Fire in the Hole. My husband officiates lacrosse, so I arrive early with him and use that time to get in about thirty minutes of reading. A pleasant, soft spoken woman sat next to me and asked if I liked the book.

“Yes, I do.” I said. “This is a collection of Elmore Leonard’s short stories. I like to write and wanted to study his style of short story writing.”

“I’m glad you like it. I’m Elmore Leonard’s daughter,” she said with a smile. “Have you read my father’s 10 rules of writing?”

I promised to check it out. There are so many rules to good writing, that I thought it wouldn’t hurt to check out what he thought was important. Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing were evident in his writing style.

Have you met any authors or learned any useful tidbits from your reading?





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