Reading Fuels Writing

Reading a Novel on My Porch

Reading a Novel on My Porch

I’ve been reading a lot this summer!  In addition to my usual dose of newspaper and education-related articles, I read a lot of books. Nerdy Book Club’s Book-a-Day Challenge encouraged me to track my reading via Twitter. (Click here to see what I read the past two months.) Initially I felt guilty about tracking the picture books I read for the Book-a-Day Challenge since many other participants were reading novels in a day.  I envy their ability to read so quickly, but I’m not that fast of a reader. (Plus I have a three year-old at home!) Thanks to Donalyn’s reassurances I realized reading picture books was more than okay for three reasons:

  1. I need to read a lot of picture books since I’m looking for books to include in Craft Moves, my forthcoming book from Stenhouse.
  2. I am constantly introducing my daughter to new picture books in addition to reading some books over and over again.
  3. I want to be a picture book author when I grow up (i.e., once I find an agent and a publisher), so I read lots of picture books so I can write better manuscripts.

I read to be inspired.  Nothing motivates me to stretch myself as a writer than reading a well-written text. I’ve read several novels this summer, but three have inspired me, kept me reading well past my bedtime, and have encouraged me to get more of my own words down on the page.

Cancel the Wedding pb c

Want to win a copy of Cancel the Wedding? Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win.

I have a feeling you’ve heard of Sittenfeld and Sullivan, but Dingman’s name might be new to you. Cancel the Wedding is her debut novel.  There were several things I admired about this book:

  • The depth of the characters — main and secondary — made me get deeply invested in this book.
  • Setting details were woven throughout the story which made me feel as though I were there.
  • Historical facts were embedded into the text.
  • The plot had twists and turns, which made it exciting to read.
  • The conclusion wrapped everything up neatly. I had a feeling something would be left hanging, but it wasn’t. Everything became clear by the end of the novel.

In addition to admiring all of the above, I also paid special attention to Dingman’s style since it felt unique. Upon finishing Cancel the Wedding, two things happened:

  1. My enthusiasm to do my own writing went up.
  2. My desire to find out if she was writing another novel was insatiable. Thanks to Twitter, I found out she is working on another one.

I’m wondering… What have you read this summer in service of your own writing? Please share titles and what made them great reads.


  • This giveaway is for a copy of Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn T. Dingman. Many thanks to HarperCollins for donating a copy for one reader (USA/Canada only, please).
  • For a chance to win this copy of Cancel the Wedding, please leave a comment about this post by Monday, August 25th at 11:59 p.m. EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner, whose name I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Wednesday, August 26th.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.  From there, my contact at HarperCollins will ship your book out to you.  (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)

Comments are now closed.  Thanks to everyone who left behind titles that inspire them.

Lisa’s name was selected using the random number generator so she’ll win a copy of Cancel the Wedding.  Here’s what she wrote:

Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd & How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes are Untied but Jess Keating. Both of Middle Grade fiction with very realistic, believable characters. I often feel that I need to write a book with a big dramatic event that is OVER THE TOP! But both of these showed me that the big turning-point event doesn’t have to be HUGE to be effective as a craft move.