Expand your reading list…

And I don’t mean add more books to it. Consider reading a different genre.

I learned a cool lesson the other night. I recently joined a local writing group…let me correct myself. I was finally invited to join by a friend.

I was concerned about presenting the opening scene of my new novel to the group…because it’s violent. Not overly so, for me…but I needed a better gauge of the group. I asked the host to describe the types of writing involved at the meetings, and he gave me a list. Person matched with genre.

Crime fiction- That was my friend’s work. I had already read a few chapters. Excellent.

Memoir-Huh? OK, I just read a book written by a Navy Seal…definitely memoir. Not the best book, but memoir. I know what memoir is…just being dramatic

More memoir-Oh boy. And both memoir writers are women. I’m still not too worried.

Poetic Memoir-Now I’m worried. I think I’ll definitely keep my book’s prologue on my own computer. Eight people are shot to death in the span of thirty seconds. Not very poetic. I have other chapters to share.

Literary Fiction – I was an English major. No worries here.

Young Adult Fiction – Actually, the host was wrong about the genre…it’s Middle Aged Fiction. My 10 year old son’s realm…Now I’m worried again.

I uploaded my chapter to the group’s share site, and downloaded all of their samples. I sat down late at night and started to dig into…memoir, memoir and more memoir? Had I ever really read memoir before? Not like this. I thoroughly enjoyed reading real memoir. There is something about the personal style of writing memoir that grabs me. I hope they submit more.

Same with Middle Aged and Literary Fiction. I read with my son all the time, but I don’t really dig into his books anymore. He reads silently while I read one of my books. I think I need to pick up a few of his books. Reading the sample passage brought back nice memories of a much less complicated time in my life. It was a nice break, but a lot of fun.

I read three or four good literary fiction novels each year. I’m pretty careful with these, basing my decision on critical recommendation. I can tell within two pages whether I made the right choice. I won’t read past that. I save a lot of money in Borders browsing these books for the right tone, description, and pace. Were it not for a technical problem, I would have read all forty pages submitted. As it stood, I read close to fifteen without hesitation. I look forward to reading more…from everyone.

It’s hard to read another genre, especially as a writer. I view everything through my own personal genre lens.  My current work sits squarely in the thriller camp..ala Bourne Identity.  But I have a feeling that I’m going to learn some subtle ways to imbue this story with cross genre techniques. Touches that will greatly enhance the work…or have silo-genre readers bitching. Either way, I’ll be happy to hear from them.

Sometimes I like the bitching more.





  1. Bernie says:

    Hi, I’m reading your Jakarta Pandemic and enjoying it. Staying up too late reading it. Don’t take this wrong, but I thought you really needed a good editor. So I was really happy to hear that you are now in a writers group. A discussion group of writers here in the Midwest were sharing how much they benefitted from their writing groups. They were all crime writers but that probably doesn’t matter. I’m also very happy to hear that you are writing another book. Your main characters are very likable, very real. The action is good and it wasn’t hard to figure out that you knew what you were talking about in regards to the pharma business. Thanks for a good read and looking forward to more. Bernie

    • Steven Konkoly says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more about the writers group…and that I needed a good editor. Once The Jakarta Pandemic started picking up steam, I decided that I needed a “real” editor…someone who does this professionally. Fortunately, I found one, and she’s working on it as I type. I decided to go with a complete makeover for the book…new cover, full edit, streamline of story (reduction in media/news scenes). I was going to launch it all at once, but I loved the cover so much…well, I couldn’t wait on the rest.

      Fortunately for my editor, a number of friends, family and readers have contributed to make her job somewhat easier. I can name at least five people who have read the book (s0me of them twice) and kept track of typos, omitted words, etc. I’ll acknowledge them in the new release.

      Thank you again for reading my book, for the kind words…and for nudging me in the right direction. I certainly don’t mind. Actually, I rely on reader input to improve the story. A lot of the changes/improvements have been reader suggested.

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