Variety is the spice of life, the saying goes. That’s true of food—a diet with a variety of fruits, whole grains, nuts, and vegetables is best for you. A variety of exercise—walking, dancing, hiking, even carrying groceries all the way across the parking lot—is good for your body. Wearing colorful clothes, rather than black all the time, is refreshing to your eye and your mood.

For me, the saying applies to reading, too.

I know some readers who read just one type of work. Only thrillers. Or political thrillers. Or mysteries, police procedurals, true crime. Or just science fiction. Just fantasy. Now some readers only want to read Young Adult (YA, as it’s called in the biz). Or only nonfiction. Only celebrity bios. Only romance. Only hot romance.

I understand! The publishers have parceled out the vast body of work out there into categories, subcategories, and sub-sub-categories, and packaged and marketed books that way. If you’re a reader with the reading bug, for whom reading is a passion, a special form of entertainment beyond TV, sports, movies, and gaming, you form expectations about what you want to read next. You want to see those expectations fulfilled. What works for you in your genre of choice may not work in another category. Words dart through your eyes into your brain, giving you that special feeling of entering another world on the most intimate level. Unlike TV or movies, you taste, feel, smell, and experience. And participate in that other world in a way even movies can’t match.

I remember having a long hard frustrating day of office work, picking up a fantasy story, and feeling as if I were drinking a cool fresh sip of water after being parched.

If you’re an author, you should be familiar with the genre you’re writing in, of course. But if you limit your reading only to that, you’re missing a lot of tricks. And the spice of variety. You also risk becoming too derivative of everything else in your genre. It’s true, the editors are looking for more of the same. More of the same, but different. That special edge of difference may mean the difference between a sale and a turn-down.

As a reader, I enjoy a variety of genres in fiction and enjoy nonfiction, too. I enjoy science fiction and fantasy, mostly of the earth-bound variety, mostly written by women. I enjoy mysteries, some mainstream if there’s a good story and not just linguistic frills. Some romance, also if there’s a good story and not just body parts steaming up. I know romance is super popular, but not so much with me. Still, I like a bit of hot romance. One genre I stay away from is horror. There’s enough horror in reality; I don’t need fictional horror in my mind. Yet there may be horror moments in urban fantasy, fantasy, mystery, and science fiction that work effectively.

I suppose I’m a riddle of a reader to the publishers who are trying to sell me a book!

As an author, I like to write in a variety of genres, as well, but my tastes are as specialized as my interests as a reader. I write fantasy, but not “high fantasy” kings and swords George R.R. Martin-style fantasy. I write science fiction, but not spacesuits and laser guns blazing hard SF. I write urban fantasy, but not cartoonish witches in black leather jumpsuits. I write some literary stories, but not about privileged people bored with their lives.

I want to read a good story. I very much want to write a good story.

You could say all my stories, however diverse, are Lisa Mason stories. Obsessed about discovering your true self, your destiny in life. About freedom and about moral responsibility. About creativity. About good overcoming evil.

So there you have it, my friend.

What about you? What do you read? Do you enjoy the spice of variety?

From the author of The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, Summer of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

New romantic suspense! Celestial Girl, Book 1: The Heartland (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily flees Toledo on the Overland train. She must share a seat with Jackson Tremaine and befriends the Celestial Girl, the daughter of a Chinese dignitary. But appearances are not what they seem.

New! Celestial Girl, Book 2: Jewel of the Golden West (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily and Jackson arrive in San Francisco and discover the murder of an immigration official connected with the Celestial Girl. They are drawn into a dangerous murder investigation and begin a passionate affair, as a contract for murder is taken out on Lily’s life.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more. And on my Facebook Author Page, on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

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Thank you for your readership!