The Power of A Reader By Christie RichI love to read, to immerse myself in a different world, a different time or place. Yet finding that “perfect” read was pretty hit or miss for me until recently. When the Twilight frenzy hit, I was consumed, much like other women my age that shouldn’t have liked the books.
We were supposed to be too old, not part of the target audience for young adult literature according to experts. Pretty soon, Twilight moms emerged onto the ever growing scene of fans that spanned through several generations. It amazed me how many people love(d) the Twilight Saga, but if I consider how much I loved Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, I’ve come to realize the experts don’t know anything about me as a reader. I love reading all kinds of books. As long as the story speaks to me, I’ll try it.
Twilight sparked my love for reading at a time when I was in a reading drought. I hate to admit this, but I went more than ten years without reading anything for pleasure. I read a lot for my day job, but operative reports and spreadsheets don’t usually excite me. So when I finally had enough of my years of no reading, I found Twilight. After reading the first two books in less than a week, I was stuck waiting like the rest of the nation. I searched for something similar, as many readers out there were at the time, but it was hard to find that special something that was in the Twilight books.
It’s funny because now I can find books I want to read in a snap, but back then they were hard to come by. I don’t know how many times I looked online for mention of books “like Twilight” and came up empty.
Twilight started a revolution both in writing and in social networking. The Twilight fans were and are a bit zealous (I’m including myself in this lot). I’ve attended midnight releases and done things I didn’t think were possible to curl my fingers around the spine of a book. The sheer scope of what happened with the Twilight frenzy still amazes me.
I’m convinced that Twilight was such a success because of word of mouth. When it comes to success in publishing, readers have all the power. And word of mouth is the holy grail of writing achievement. All it takes are a few people telling their friends who tell more friends until the whole country (even world) are talking about a new literary phenomenon.
In my own writing journey, I’ve been blown away with the kindness and generosity of my fans who have taken the time to spread the word about my books. I’ll be forever grateful to those people, but sometimes I wonder if readers know the power they possess.
For so long we have been spoon fed what the gatekeepers have deemed “worthy” of publication. If you research what that really means, you’ll find out that worthiness is rarely the reason a book is picked up for publication. Usually there are a lot of factors involved that include what type of book a publisher needs to add to their list.
A writer may have written a fantastic book about fallen angels, but if an imprint already has a fallen angel book, chances are they will not buy the new one. It makes sense because that’s how business runs. There has to be order within an organization for it to function, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the needs of a corporation are going to mesh with the desires of readers.
Since I stepped into the Independent Publishing world, I’ve read some amazing books, both on the traditional and independent side of the spectrum, and sometimes I can see why a publisher or agent passed on an amazing book.
The truth is readers want instant access to books and in order for us to have them at the push of a button, we have to have a way to organize those books. When I set out to publish Five, I had to pick a genre. The trouble was none exactly fit my title. If I were to accurately represent the story I would say it was a new adult paranormal romance mystery suspense. Can you imagine that isle in a brick and mortar store?
Neither can I.
First of all New Adult is a burgeoning genre that I hope catches. New Adult combines the innocence of Young Adult with the mature subject matter of Adult books. And what you get is a mix. Because Rayla Tate is college age, her story should technically be adult, yet some of the issues of new beginnings and her journey of discovering who she is and where she fits in the world is more YA based.
I believe there is a large audience out there for New Adult books and more are popping up all the time, which is pretty exciting for me. I love that time of life where everything is open to you. Where your decisions forge your future. And most of all, I love writing about that time of life.
The truth is with the emergence of e-books and print on demand, authors now have several choices for their writing careers. It’s an exciting time to be in publishing and I happen to think even more exciting times are ahead that will be reader based.
Back when I was searching for the next Twilight, I had a hard time finding what I was looking for, but now, with all the choices out there, I have a TBR pile a mile long. I’ve developed my own way of choosing books that seems to work pretty well for me. The first thing I look for is a recommendation from people I trust with similar tastes in books. The second thing I look for is a pretty cover. I know there are great books with ugly covers, but I love art so I can’t really help that gut impulse. The last thing I look for is a great opening. Usually if I read a sample and am engaged with the story the rest will be just as great. It doesn’t always happen and sometimes I’m disappointed by the hype around a book that falls flat for me, but the power of word of mouth still amazes me.
I’ve seen obscure titles become hits within a few months just because readers start talking. What a great time to be a reader, and what an extraordinary time to be a writer. I’m grateful for being part of this reading revolution. How about you? Do you like having more choices? How do you pick your books?
“I will never tire of seeing that,” a melodic voice erupted behind me.
If I had gotten a bit more air, I would have landed on Mars. “Zach.” I put a hand against my pounding heart. “You scared me.” I hadn’t even heard him come up to me.
“I noticed.” He smirked. “I was trying my best not to disturb you. You looked so peaceful, but I am a selfish man.” He chuckled, moving closer.
My attraction to him was hard enough to handle when he had all his clothes on. My pulse raced with his approach for an entirely different reason. He had the sort of flawless body that belonged on the airbrushed pages of a magazine. His skin glowed golden in the blazing sunset that brought out rusty hues in his dark hair. My fingers itched to trace every angle of his sculpted abdomen and chest.
“Leave it to you to make this thing look good,” he said, running a finger under the strap on my shoulder. “By rights, it should be burned. Are you going to tell me why you insisted on wearing it?”
He traced my collarbone. “Really?” In one fluid motion, I was in his arms, and he was carrying me deeper into the water.
I hoped he couldn’t feel the thud of my heart beating against his chest. “What do you think you’re doing?” I asked more calmly than I felt.
“Changing your mind,” he said just as evenly.
I could see where he was going with this, and over the edge of a cliff wasn’t my idea of fun. “Don’t.”
He grinned. “Tell me.”
I stiffened in his arms. “If you do this, I will leave—without you.” His exaggerated exhale tickled my neck, sending goose-bumps down my body.
“Don’t you ever relax?”
I gritted my teeth, hating what I had become in the past few weeks. If he had tried this back home, I would have protested, giggled, and screamed but loved every minute of his antics.
Things were different now. I was on edge constantly. “I’m so not okay with heights. Let me down.”
The set of his jaw didn’t give me any comfort. He walked up a ramp between the two converging rivers that made the waterfall. On sure feet, he stepped to the edge. I honestly didn’t know how he was still standing with the water blasting against his knees. He leaned into my ear. “Tell me.”
I clung to his neck like grime to a barn cat. “I don’t want to.”
He looked over the edge and back at me. The humor in his gaze died. He sighed, stepping back a few paces. My heart found its way back into my chest. He carried me to a lounge chair, setting me down gently.
“You can’t possibly think that thing is pretty,” he commented after a while.
“Pretty isn’t everything,” I said.
He raised his brows, tucking his strong chin inward in mockery then looked at me sidelong. “It helps.” He smiled teasingly.
I shot him a dirty look before giving him my back. He placed a timid hand on my shoulder.
“Come, now. It can’t possibly be as bad as all that.”
Why couldn’t he just let it go? I wasn’t all up in his business, why did he feel the need to be in mine. “Drop it already.”
Zach sat beside me, coaxing my chin upward. His voice was soft. “Aren’t you having fun, lass?”
I wouldn’t look him in the eye. If I did he would see every insecurity I had. “I was before you decided to go all Tarzan on me.”
He thumped his chest, doing a great imitation of the call. I tried to smile, but I didn’t think it helped.
“You weren’t like this the other day.” He turned away as if in thought, glancing at me hastily. “Don’t you like swimming?”
The other day I didn’t have four terrifying men after me. I would have liked to give him an easy out, but I didn’t want to lie. “I usually love it.”
Cassie had an indoor pool back home. On the rare occasion I actually got to stay the night at her house, we would spend hours in the water. She taught me how to float first. I had progressively gotten better. I was an adequate swimmer now. The one thing I didn’t like was the high-dive.
He frowned. “Is it me?” His brows furrowed as though he was really worried. “Have I done something to offend you?”
I closed my eyes, inhaling sharply. “I’m sorry. I’ve had fun today, really. I just have other things on my mind right now.”
He grinned, tucking my hair behind my ear. “I’m a great listener.”
I didn’t like being such a disappointment, but I couldn’t snap myself out of it. I could just imagine how fast he’d be gone if I did tell him everything that was wrong with me at the moment. “I’d rather not talk about it right now.”
He knelt in front of me and took my hands in his. “You can’t expect me to not be curious.”
“It’s a free country,” I said. “Be curious all you like.” I was pushing him away when normally I would have been doing everything in my power to keep him interested in me.
The sun had made its final descent. The haze of twilight settled all around us with the stars spotting the barely glowing sky. In a few minutes, I would be able to relax a little.
Zach tugged my hand. “Do you wish to go join the others?” He sounded dejected.
Why was I acting like this? I needed to snap out of it. My mood wasn’t his fault. “If you don’t mind, I’d
rather stay here for a while.”
He nodded then moved to a lounge chair opposite me, wasting no time in getting comfortable. “Why don’t you tell me of your home?”
The subject seemed safe enough. “Have you ever been to eastern Utah?”
He made an odd sound, sort of a half concealed groan. “It has been many years.”
He wasn’t old enough for it to have been that long ago. I leaned back and put my arms behind my head
preparing to give him details.
“I see,” he said in a sympathetic tone, his eyes soft with compassion.
I followed his gaze down to my exposed torso. How could I have been so stupid? The bottom half of my scar poked out from beneath the fringe. I bolted up, pulling awkwardly at the fabric.
He shook his head. “Everyone has imperfections, Rayla.” In an instant he moved to the edge of my chair. Calloused fingers caressed my shoulder before skimming down my arm. “Some are just more visible than others.”
I turned away. Then I got mad. “Really, where’s yours?”
His face crinkled thoughtfully. His eyes held haunted shadows. “You’d be surprised.”
I gave him a look. “Enlighten me.”
“There are certain things I want to change so badly about myself that it consumes my life.” Unless he was a fantastic actor, he was being sincere.
He grimaced, only slightly, but it was enough to make me wonder. “I would rather not get into that with you yet.”
I cocked my jaw, clicking my tongue. “It’s okay for me, but not for you, huh?”
He leveled his gaze to mine seriously. “If a scar is all you have to hide, you should be thankful.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
He shoved a hand through his hair. “Only that there are worse things to bear than a scar.”
The truth burned me like a solar flare. I should have been able to put on a pretty bikini without so much as a second thought, but I wasn’t there yet. I hoped I would be some day. I felt ridiculous being so shallow.
“You didn’t answer my question,” I said after a moment of hesitation.
The lines of his face turned hard. “I know.”
“There you are,” Natalie yelled, cresting the hill in a sprint with Sam close behind her. “Help me, Rayla!”
She crouched down between my chair and the stacked rock wall.
“They can’t save you,” Sam said coldly, standing by my feet. “You will pay.”
I turned back, whispering, “What did you do?”
She smiled proudly. “Put ice in his trunks.”
Zach narrowed his eyes at Natalie. His jaw tightened. “You deserve anything you get.” He grabbed my hand, pulling me to my feet.
Sam swept the chair sideways. Natalie squealed, trying to out-maneuver him. She didn’t make it.
Attempting to wrench away from him, she said desperately, “You can put ice in my suit. Rayla, do you have a drink?”
Sam smiled wickedly. He looked over at the edge of the falls. Did all male minds work the same? “I have something better in mind.”
She put her hands on his cheeks. “Please, Sam. I’m sorry. I won’t do anything like that again.”
He grabbed her wrists, pushing her into the river. She kicked at him and squealed the entire way.“Not after this,” he said, grinning. Without another word, he pinned her arms to her sides in a bear hug. She smiled at him. I couldn’t see his expression, but her eyes flew wide just before he shouted, “Geronimo.”
Her “No” was squelched when they hit the water. Zach grinned down at me. My smile shriveled.
“Don’t even think about it,” I said when he came closer. Natalie’s laugh rang clear from below.
“Not that I don’t find the idea tempting once more, but I think I will pursue your affections another way.”
Five (Book 1 in the Elemental Emnity Series) is free on Smashwords and Barnes & Noble, so go grab your copy and enter the giveaway for your chance to win Book 2 & 3! Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Good Luck!
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To learn more about Christie Rich and her books, visit her website & blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter.
About the Author:
I grew up daydreaming about fairytales, and my love for discovering new worlds has never died. I am not one of those writers who always knew I would write. I thought that was what other people did until one day a few years ago, I took a challenge from a friend and typed my first words. My journey has been wonderful, and I cannot imagine a day where I would ever give up writing now. My love for reading is what fueled my imagination in the first place and still does. When I am not writing or reading, I am enjoying family time with my husband and two children. We live in a quiet community under the Wellsville mountains in Utah, and I am so thankful for the rich life I have been blessed with.