Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Guest Post: Reading Research by Donna Alward (+ Giveaway!)

It’s the start of the brand new year, and like many, I take stock of how much I read last year and how much I want to read this year. My goal last year was 52 books, one for each week. Considering my writing deadlines, and then the fact that we ended up moving nearly 4000 km, I was really pleased that I managed 56. The moving – packing, selling the house, buying the new house, renovating….well, it was stressful and time intensive.

This year, unless something really wonky happens, there will not be any moves. (I have told my husband I am not moving again until retirement. Considering I don’t plan to retire until I’m too old to write, you get the idea.) So I’m hoping that total will be closer to 100. I do participate in the e-harlequin reader challenge, so it’s also for a good cause.

The great thing is, while I read lots of books for “Just Because” reasons, I also read for work. I read craft books – for example, last year I read Save the Cat and I adored it. I have a couple more in my tbr including Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey.

But more than that I have a whole shelf of books for research.

I’m researching World War II at the moment and from a Canadian perspective. My non fiction books include Halifax at War, Juno Beach and Hell and High Water. I’ve already read a few to get my juices flowing though not Canadian – mainly Dick Winters’s story Beyond Band of Brothers and also Brothers In Battle, Best of Friends by Babe Heffron and Bill Guarnere. Band of Brothers changed my life quite literally and while it is focused on Easy Company, there is a universality to the brotherhood that can be translated into any company of men under such circumstances. My girls and I are reading The Diary of Anne Frank next. I have never read it and so we are going to read it together – as soon as we finish Little Women – probably this week.

But I also have other books that are fiction that I’m looking at delving into for inspiration. So much of writing means being able to put myself into that world, to relate to my characters. So immersing myself in the era, touching those feelings with my own, is the objective so that when I write MY characters, I can draw upon those feelings.

In my tbr is Suite Francaise, The Kommandant’s Girl, Rachel’s Secret and Such Sweet Sorrow (the last 2 my Christmas prezzie from my Critique partner).

All in all I have lots of reading, but I’m really looking forward to getting into it!

My current release is The Rancher’s Runaway Princess from Harlequin Romance. I’ll confess, my research for this one didn’t come from a book but from a spur of the moment camping trip that turned out to be very memorable. I’ll do a random draw from the comments to win a copy! Meanwhile you can find out what’s new with me at my website, www.donnaalward.com.

7 comments:

lilly said...

Thank you for the post Donna (and Amy). You have a wonderful job, I'm a little bit jealous (just a little tiny bit), you get to read books and get paid for it.
I like when you said that you immerse yourself so in the era the book is written about (WWII at the moment). Isn't that the greatest part of reading, to just plunge in to the book and not resurface until it's over!

Kara said...

I love immersing myself in a book - no matter what era it is. That to me is a sign of a great book - the ability to get lost in the reading and not resurface until the book is finished.

I Heart Book Gossip said...

Hi Donna! I have a question, when is the best time for you to write? Cause your stories are so detailed and in depth.

Love the contest, count me in.

Erika Lynn said...

I love that you are reading Little Women with your girls. That was my favorite book when I was younger and I would reread it almost once a year.

darbyscloset said...

Hi Donna,
I enjoyed reading about all the different genres you reference while writing....makes sense!
Thank you for sharing such a nice post and here's to no moves in 2009! ; )
Darby
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

valerie2350 said...

world war 2 from a canadian perspective sounds interesting! :)

Donna Alward said...

Hello all, and thanks for joining me today! Reading is definitely one of the perks of the job and the sad thing is, I have less time to read! I always feel behind!

One of my favourite ww2 fiction stories is Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer. I loved how the war was a backdrop, but the story was really about the two people.

And "I heart book gossip" - The best time for me to write is in the morning. Although I am getting better at writing at night if I have to. The one thing I need though is quiet. I like to be alone. So I don't usually write much on weekends, I spend time with my family. But during the week, especially during the school year, it is lovely and quiet in the house and I settle in, sometimes with music, sometimes without.

And thank you for saying my work is detailed and in depth! :)

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