MuseTracks Guest – Rachael Johns – Making Time To Read, And Why It Is Important For Writers

MuseTracks is delighted to host romance author Rachael Johns, all the way from the Outback!

Please join us with a hearty welcome.

Making the time to read – why it is important for writers.

It blows me away when I hear writers say they don’t read in their genre or WORSE that they don’t read at all. Granted finding the time to squeeze reading into a busy life can be hard BUT isn’t reading the thing that brought most of us writers TO writing?!

After reading ALL The Babysitter’s Club books in high school, I then got hooked more on boys than books and reading fell by the wayside for a number of years. Then after breaking up with a boy I thought was THE ONE, for some reason I found healing in books and writing. I remember one of the books that brought me back to reading in a big way – it was Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones Diary. Something resonated in me in her writing style and the story. After Bridget I found Lisa Jewell – a British author who is now a MUST-BUY for me, Marian Keyes and Cathy Kelly. For years I devoured every book by these authors and many more in what was then known as the chick-lit genre.

StandInStar_finalDuring this time I embarked on a writing degree in writing and dabbled in writing of my own, but looking back I can see I always read more than I wrote. Then in 2006, I decided to get serious about my writing. I started writing romance and I joined Romance Writers of Australia. In the next six years, I worked crazily towards my goal of publication – there was barely a moment when I wasn’t working, sleeping, eating or writing. Everything else fell by the wayside, including I now realize reading. Oh I still read books, but I was no longer devouring four or five full-length novels a week, I was now lucky if I managed one book a week.

In my determination to be published, I’d almost forgotten the joy and forgotten what brought me to writing in the first place. This last year, I have made a HUGE effort to reverse this, or rather to find a balance between writing and reading again.

In 2013, I have pledged to read at least two full-length novels a week and I plan to do this in my own genre of contemporary romance but also in other genres, to widen my reading experiences. I believe there is a lot to be learnt from reading other styles and authors. I find I rarely totally read another book for pure enjoyment now – I’m always in analysis mode, working out why I really like or do not like something. Although with limited time, I no longer finish books that aren’t gripping me within a chapter.

I have some writer friends who say they cannot read within their particular genre while writing and others that have to. I don’t feel reading similar books is a hindrance to my writing but I don’t go out of my way to do so either. My reading choices are generally simply what I feel like reading at a particular time, unless I’m reading books for research, then it’s more thought out. But overall, I believe being a writer goes hand in hand with being a reader and I can’t understand writers who don’t read much!

What about you? Do you read in the same genre while writing? Do you only read books in your genre? What’s the best book you read last year!? I’d love to add some must-reads to my 2013 TBR pile!

STAND IN STAR – January 7thst 2013, Carina Press

As an anthropologist, Holly McCartney is more comfortable in a museum than shopping on Rodeo Drive. She isn’t prepared for the media frenzy on her arrival in L.A. to accept a posthumous acting award for her late sister….or for her sister’s gorgeous friend Nate Devlin to come to her rescue. Though he resents her for some reason, she can’t fight their irresistible chemistry—especially when the paparazzi force her to stay at his mansion.

Photographer Nate only agrees to help Holly survive Hollywood for her sister’s sake, but she soon gets under his skin in a way no other woman has. The more time he spends with her, the more his attraction grows and he finds himself opening up to her in ways he never expected. But will ghosts of the past stand in the way of their perfect Hollywood ending?


Holly McCartney stepped out of baggage claim at LAX International Airport and came face-to-face with a sea of people, cameras and flashing lights. It took all of five seconds to realize the media circus was here for her.

Every nerve ending in her body stood on edge. As Hollywood’s darling, this was the existence her sister had chosen. Daisy loved the limelight and had built a life on being the center of attention for as long as Holly could remember.

Holly couldn’t think of anything worse.

Sucking in as much oxygen as she could inhale in one deep breath, she tightened her grip on her laptop bag and suitcase. Then, she lifted her chin high, pushed her shoulders back and prepared to walk through the crowd like she had no inkling that all the frenzied attention was focused on her.

And let’s face it, she could be wrong. This was Los Angeles. Actors, rock stars, agents, producers, any number of starlets could have been on the plane and she, having no interest in such things whatsoever, would have been completely oblivious.

She flexed her toes in her comfortable travelling shoes and put her best foot forward. Immediately the crowd “ahhed,” more lights flashed in her face and the people behind the lenses pushed even closer to the barricade. She gulped. Froze. Felt like the most popular exhibit in the zoo–the one everyone wanted to get their hands on.

Someone shoved a tiny microphone in her face. “How did you feel about your sister’s death?”

“Is it true you hadn’t spoken to her in three years?” Another face, another identical microphone. These people were good. They’d dug deep for their facts, but how could they justify making a living in such a manner?

Holly blinked as another camera flash almost blinded her.

What was it they said in the movies? No comment?

“Which designer created your dress for the awards night?”

She almost laughed at that question. She’d like to see their faces when she told them she hadn’t given a thought to what she’d be wearing should Daisy win a posthumous Academy Award for Best Actress. But hysterical laughter made way for sheer panic.

Perhaps stupidly, she hadn’t anticipated any of this. When her parents had convinced her to come, she hadn’t imagined for one second anyone would be interested in the plain, boring younger sister of Daisy McCartney. Not when Hollywood was filled with bevies of near-clones of Daisy. Skinny, blond, beautiful, bubbly glamazons.

Everything Holly was most definitely not.

“Perhaps she’s mute,” yelled a voice from the hoards. Cackles of laugher followed, making her feel about the size of an ant.

She had to say something but right now–after a fifteen-hour plane flight from Sydney during which she’d sat next to a know-it-all neurologist who spoke nonstop about his successes–she was struggling to recall any of the questions. While Holly racked her brain for something to say, anything to get this unexpected and unwanted welcome off her back, a commotion erupted in front of her.

She peered through the tightly-knit wall of people to see a tall, dark, curly-haired head making waves in the crowd. A moment later the man had pushed through the photographers and come to a stop directly in her line of vision. Her heart skipped a beat. She reminded her lungs to pump. And tried damn hard not to stare. She’d never been big on movie stars–not the type of teen to wallpaper her bedroom in celebrity posters–but this man had to be someone famous. The kind of famous who inspired heartthrob status.

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19 Responses to MuseTracks Guest – Rachael Johns – Making Time To Read, And Why It Is Important For Writers

  1. Meb Bryant says:

    Hello, Rachael. I enjoyed your post and the excerpt for STAND-IN STAR. I can’t imagine not reading. If I don’t read every night, I’m not able to go to sleep. Most of my reading is in the genre I write (suspense/thriller/mystery), but I also like to read different genres for a breath of fresh air.

    If you get the chance, come visit us here in Texas at a Romance Writers meeting. We’d love to meet you.


    • jbrayweber says:

      Hi Meb~
      Funny, most of what I read for pleasure is paranormal romance. And I write historical romance. I guess becuase I fell into writing about pirates. Otherwise, I’d be writing what I read.

      Thanks for popping in. Doesn’t Rachael’s book sound fun?


  2. I agree. Reading is important, especially in one’s genre. It’s the only way to keep up with what’s selling. Though that is not the only reason I read my genre. Tweeted.


    • jbrayweber says:

      You are absolutely right, Ella. We writers must stay on top of our game. Reading isn’t just an escape, it’s research. LOL! Thanks for the tweets and popping in to say hi to Rachael.


  3. Hi Meb- I’m pretty much the same, have to read each night before sleep. Although my husband doesn’t always appreciate this 🙂 I would LOVE to come to Texas one day!


  4. Jenn thanks so much for having me today 🙂


  5. Agree Ella – so many good reasons to read one’s genre!!


  6. Loved the book, Rachel! I can read things that aren’t in the same genre I’m writing at the moment and since I’m currently deep in an SFR WIP, I was so happy to read your newest. HUGS!


    • jbrayweber says:

      Hi Veronica!
      Nice to see a fellow Carina author here. Oooh…a SFR. Interesting. 🙂 Looking forward to it. Thanks for stopping by and giving Rachael a shout-out.


  7. Darcy says:

    Hi Rachael. I totally agree with you. To be a writer, you have to read. It’s part of learning how to write. I had a friend who never reads give me a short story she wrote, and wow, did it show she doesn’t read. I do like to read the genre I’m writing in as it seems to create a flow with my work.
    My favourite book of last year was a tie between “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn and “11/22/63” by Stephen King – two totally different genres, but I can’t make up my mind which I liked best 🙂

    Looking forward to reading “Stand-in Star”.


    • jbrayweber says:

      I love Stephen King, Darcy. 🙂
      Reading is absolutely a necessary tool in the craft of writing. And I think it makes a more prolific when we read across the genres.

      Thanks for coming by!


  8. Hi Rachael! I loved the excerpt for SIS! Sounds really fun.

    You’re so right about reading. I think we all find it difficult to find the time, but it is vital.

    Now I feel like I haven’t read enough… Best get to it!

    Thanks for visiting us at Musetracks!


  9. Ooh yay Veronica – so glad you liked it and good luck with your current wip!


  10. Darcy – what a coincidence, I just downloaded Gone Girl today. Never been much for Stephen King but might have to try that one now 🙂


  11. OH dear Candi – I didn’t mean to make you feel guilty 🙂


  12. I’m so glad to find other authors who try to find a balance between reading and writing! I know so many who tell me they just don’t have the time. I’ve tried it. It wasn’t fun. I need to read, like I need to breathe. It’s a part of me, just like writing. Thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone! 🙂


    • jbrayweber says:

      Ah, I’m one that doesn’t have much time. However, I AM reading, as I also edit others work. So, for me, the time to read for pleasure is few and far between.
      You are never alone, Tricia, among writers. 😀


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