What Writer is Your Greatest Influence?

I have several authors whom I list as my favorites, or as my greatest influences. I believe a lot of writers probably do the same.

A writer (or artist of any discipline, really) takes a little bit from every piece of work they read or experience. And that’s really the best way to learn. We learn to tell great stories by imitating other great storytellers.

Learning by Imitation

When we’re first learning, the imitation is often just that: a thinly-disguised copy of a favorite story or an obvious mimicry of another author’s style. And that’s okay, because we’re still in the early stages of learning and developing our own style. Our influences are more apparent. Continue reading

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Childhood Book Tag

I just read this post about favorite childhood books over on The Magic Violinist’s blog, so I thought I’d join in the fun. I’m blessed to have grown up in a book-loving household, so I’ve loved books and reading since day one of my life, pretty much.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Probably various Dr. Seuss books, but my first non-picture book I remember reading was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. And of course the rest of the Chronicles of Narnia.

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5 Little-Known Facts about Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter – the creator of the classic childhood characters of Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Tom Kitten, and others – has long been one of my favorite authors. I grew up reading her whimsical tales of rabbits, cats, hedgehogs, and other charming creatures. Now, in adulthood, I’ve researched the woman behind the stories I’ve loved so much, and learned that Beatrix was so much more than just a writer and painter (although that’s nothing to be ashamed of!)

Beatrix Potter and the real Benjamin Bunny

So in celebration of Beatrix Potter’s 150th birthday (she was born July 28th, 1866), I’m sharing a few little facts that you may not have known about the famous children’s author:

Beatrix didn’t get married till she was 47. Miss Potter was pushing 50 before she became Mrs. Heelis – her first and only marriage. So if you’re over 35 and still single, don’t despair – there’s still time! Continue reading

My Top 10 Favorite Authors

I realized that since this is supposed to be a writing blog, I ought to make mention of other authors occasionally besides myself. In the various “top favorite” posts of this and that, I have never covered my favorite writers. So, I am now remedying that. Here they are, in a sort-of one to ten listing:

C.S. Lewis – Once I graduated from Little Golden Book versions of fairy tales, C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia is what I cut my fantasy teeth on. I’ve reread those books probably more than any other book or series ever.

J.R.R. Tolkien – Middle-Earth was the next logical step after I mastered the Narnia stories. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are not easy reads, but I loved the stories and Tolkien’s words enough to read the books several times.

Beatrix Potter – My mom read me stories about Peter Rabbit and Tom Kitten along with those Little Golden Books, but I never actually outgrew Peter Rabbit. Beatrix Potter is one of my writing heroes in general, and not just because she wrote about bunnies.

L. Frank Baum – He is a recent addition to my favorite author list, because I only recently started reading his Oz books. Baum’s vivid imagination and love of the fairy tale style is evident in The Wizard of Oz and all the subsequent books.

Chris Claremont – He wrote all of the greatest X-Men stories of the 80s and 90s, in my opinion. I’ve always loved comics, and Claremont had some of the most vivid characters and elaborate storylines during his time on the various X-Men series.

J. Michael Straczynski – JMS, as he’s often known, is primarily a writer and producer for TV (though he has written a few comics, as well). I love him best for his show Babylon 5, which featured epic sci-fi storytelling on a Tolkien-esque scale. JMS not only drafted the overall concept for the series, but he wrote the script for almost every single episode himself.

John Maxwell – Here is my token non-fiction writer for the list. John Maxwell is known as a leadership expert, and I’ve read quite a few of his books. While I don’t have a desire to be a leader in a corporate or political sense, I do want to be able to positively influence people with my writing. And as John Maxwell says, “leadership is influence.”

Jeff Smith – Another comic writer. He’s actually an artist, too, and he wrote and drew his famous Bone saga. Bone is equal parts epic fantasy and slapstick humor, and a very unique cast of characters.

Lois Gladys Leppard – She wrote the Mandie books – an inspirational children’s mystery series. Unlike most of the books on this list, the Mandie books aren’t fantasy. They’re historical fiction, set in North Carolina around the year 1900. Believe it or not, I do enjoy the occasional non-fantasy tale.

Dr. Seuss – Who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss? His books have that fun, timeless quality that makes them enjoyable at any age.

Who is your favorite author?

ABC Book Challenge

I borrowed this idea from The Magic Violinist, a great writer and blogger who is always giving me good ideas.

This challenge is to list books that I’ve read, one for every letter of the alphabet (skipping words like A and The in the titles, of course). My list is a little bit of everything – fantasy, children’s books, classics, non-fiction. So here goes!

AAleutian Sparrow by Karen Hesse

BBeezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

CThe Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

DThe Devil’s Horse: Tales from the Kalevala by Keith Bosley

EEchoes of Mercy by Nancy Alcorn

FThe Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

GThe Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

HThe Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

IThe Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

JJust-So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

KKirsten’s Surprise by Janet Shaw

L Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

MMara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

NNight Mare by Piers Anthony

OOnce Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman

PPiercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti

QQ-Squared by Peter David

RRebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

SThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

TThe Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter

UUltima Thule: Explorers and Natives in the Polar North by Jean Malaurie

VVoyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

WWisdom by Bonnie Watson

XX-Men: Empire’s End by Diane Duane

YYertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss

Z Zero: the Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife

What about your reading list? Have you hit every letter yet? Please share!