Early in my journey to publication, I ran across Randy Ingermanson. Well, not actually. I didn’t run him down in my vehicle, but I found his Snowflake project. And I found his novels.
Confession time: I’ve not read all of them, but his City of God series hooked me from the first sentence. I’m still waiting for the next book in this series. I’ve not quite forgiven his traditional publisher for not contracting beyond the third book in the series. Their reasons were quite valid. Understandable from the accounting point of view, but quite a disappointment for those of us who like to read.
Randy publishes The Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine. It comes sporadically, but I truly enjoy it. He shares valuable information in digestible format with a wry sense of humor. Here is his “What I’m Reading” book list:
You might be interested in some of the books I’ve been reading recently. Then again, you might think some of them are terribly dull, since I’m still reading a lot of research books.
As always, I’m omitting books I started and didn’t finish. I’m also omitting books that were horrible but I read anyway. (There are certain aspects of the craft of writing that you can only learn by reading really wretched fiction and asking yourself what makes it so bad.)
Here are the ones worth reporting from January:
Edge of Eternity, by Ken Follett. This is Book 3 in the Century Trilogy, an incredibly ambitious series that covers most of the 20th century—from World War I up through the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. This book covers the Cold War, the Kennedy era, the civil rights movement, Watergate, and the Reagan era through the eyes of the next generation in each of five families—one from Wales, England, Russia, Germany, and the US. I was only 4 when JFK was assassinated, and I was 9 when MLK and RFK were, so it was interesting to get some context on the sixties.
Clutter Free, by Kathi Lipp. Kathi is a friend of mine and she writes better-living books targeted at Christian women. Clutter has been an ongoing problem in my life since approximately forever. My office is a mess right now, so when Kathi told me about her book, I had to get it. I hope to see results when I start applying her ideas. (January has been travel month and tax accounting month for me, so it wasn’t a great time for me to take on anything new.)
The Powers That Be, by Walter Wink. This was a research book for me. It’s a summary of three famous books that Walter Wink wrote on the “principalities and powers” mentioned in the New Testament. What are these spooky “powers” and how can any self-respecting person in the 21st century believe in such things? Walter Wink wrestled with these questions and found an answer that makes a lot of sense to me. I don’t think it’s the whole answer, but I’d say he’s given a big part of it.
How God Became King, by N.T. Wright. This is yet another research book for me. Wright’s main thesis is that the New Testament gospels are each the story of how God became king. And what is that supposed to mean? It would take a whole book to explain. Wright’s book is probably the minimal book required for the task. If you’ve ever wondered what is the point of all those stories about water into wine and walking on water and healing lepers, this book is a good start at explaining it.
Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, by Kenneth E. Bailey. Still more research for me. Dr. Bailey spent six decades living in Egypt, Lebanon, Jerusalem, and Cyprus. He’s applied what he knows about middle eastern culture to the stories about Jesus found in the gospels. And he includes comments by the great medieval and modern Christian scholars who wrote in Arabic. Context is important, and this book explains many of the questions that come up when a westerner reads the gospels. One of the strangest parables Jesus told was of an embezzling servant whose master commended him for his theft. Huh? What’s up with that? There’s a simple explanation that makes good sense to me.
That’s all for January. One novel, one self-help, and three nonfiction research books. Next month, I need to read some more fiction.
This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 11,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.
I find this kind of information helpful. Look at the proportions in his list. Twenty percent just because of interest; twenty percent improve your life; and sixty percent task oriented for the job of writing. This is something I can emulate – and perhaps reap some of the same rewards.
Do you have a favorite site or newsletter that gives you inspiration, information and general pleasure? Share it in the comments.