Reading and Writing – The Basics by Kate Thornton

Kate Thornton is a retired US Army officer who enjoys writing both mysteries and science fiction. With over 100 short stories in print, she teaches a short story class and is currently working on a series of romantic suspense novels. She divides her time between Southern California and Tucson, Arizona

Reading and writing. I have been doing both.

It has always been a firm belief of mine that you can’t write – or write well, anyway – if you don’t read. And I’m not talking about magazines – c’mon, people, we all read magazines, if only while waiting at the checkout counter (although 2 of my regular supermarkets now have TV for the attention-impaired, 5 second snippets of shows and commercials.) I do not discount this type of reading; I publish in magazines and do not bite the hand that at least pats me on the head. But magazines are very thin picture books, meant to give your mind a jumpstart or a tweak, not to give you hours of transportation to a completely other world.

The difference between books and magazines (or newspapers or blogs or the Huffington Post) is not exactly the same as the difference between People Magazine and actual people, but it is nonetheless great.

So when I say I have been reading, I mean books. It sort of goes without saying that I read magazines, online posts, news, cereal boxes, tee shirts, bumper stickers, the mail, and just about anything with printed words.

I have my favorite genre fiction – it runs from James Lee Burke, Dean Koontz, and Louise Penney on one side to Earl Derr Biggers, Arthur Upfield and Ngaio Marsh on another and Sue Ann Jaffarian, Jeff Sharrat and Taffy Cannon on yet another – it’s a multi-sided construct. But I love classic fiction as well. I learn from it, the easy way, while being entertained, enthralled, whisked away, and fed on rich things.

I have a dear friend who just discovered the joys of a Kindle and is reading Willa Cather. Now that’s reading. This same friend just finished Faulkner (the hard, difficult, rip your eyes out Faulkner of Light in August) in hardcover, so she’s no stranger to the type of reading that sometimes takes you to places you would never allow yourself to be taken otherwise. But she enjoys going to the good, kind places, too.

Which brings me to writing. If you don’t take the trips to places through reading, I don’t see where you can buy your ticket to take others to places through your writing. It is one of only two ways I know to learn how to write, and they are both connected. The other half of it is actually writing, the BIC (Butt In Chair) method.

This week I have been reading both fiction and non-fiction – and writing.

I have completed that same novel I started writing in late 2007. I confess I let it sit for several years due to plot holes, but I have since learned how to knit up the raveled sleeve of a couple of good ideas strung together with engaging characters, an endearing puppy dog and a couple of gruesome murders. What’s not to love? And working on it this time around was a pleasure, not a chore.

I also discovered – by reading through it and looking ahead to the satisfying conclusion that it is not the mystery I thought it would be, but is an animal I have not before tamed, namely Romantic Suspense.

So I have begun to read in that genre. And it’s fun. I am enjoying and learning and reading it all with a delight I before had reserved only for mystery, science fiction and certain favorite classics.

So my question is:

Which romantic suspense authors do you like? Recommend a few books to me as I reach the end of my own.

8 thoughts on “Reading and Writing – The Basics by Kate Thornton”

  1. I have been reading Anna Katharine Green and Mary Roberts Rinehart. Both lived a hundred years ago, but their works read like they were written yesterday. I will be posting a blog here on The Writers in Residence in a few months about these two marvels. Modern-day writers can learn a lot from these ladies.

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  2. Read Heather Ames’ books. She is kind of an X partee (word?) of our writing group. (Our critiques led her through the first one, originally named The Rose Tattoo.) Good romantic-suspense. Also writes some regular romance if you are interested.
    Good post BTW.

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  3. It’s not a genre I generally read, but I really enjoyed “Indelible” by Heather Ames (full disclosure – a friend and co-member of my online writers group). But I’m glad you brought up the reason for your question. As a writer, nothing inspires me more than reading a great line, passage, or novel.

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  4. Another entry in the Heather Ames fan club–“Indelible” is a terrific read. I don’t often delve into Romantic Suspense, but I just finished a terrific novel by Jodi Picoult, a writer I thought I didn’t like based on reading an earlier book of hers. But “Leaving Time” is a fabulous, tricky novel about mothers and daughters, love, and elephants. Oh, and it’s a ghost story too.

    I believe one of the reasons I became a writer is that I have always loved to read books; I remember as a child being so impatient to learn to read, and once I mastered (more of less) the skill, a host of different worlds came alive for me. I loved it so much that I decided I wanted to write stories of my own.

    Nice post, Kate.

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    1. Thanks ladies, for giving me a thumbs-up for “Indelible.” The sequel, “Swift Justice” is finished and about to be sent out, hopefully to get another thumbs-up, this time from the publisher.

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  5. I’m still in love with the classic mystery writers, starting with Wilkie Collins, and of course love Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers…right now (though not a mystery) reading The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by John Dickson Carr. You’re so right, Kate, about how important it is to read. We are sooo lucky to have books, I think. (I do also love TV (smile) especially when they’re dramatizing classic books, authors, and characters I like from reading!)

    Mad

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