Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Guest Blog! Josh Vogt On Being a Reading Writer

We'd like to welcome Josh Vogt, author of ENTER THE JANITOR, book 1 of THE CLEANERS series, out this week. Josh has also written stories in the IRON KINGDOMS and PATHFINDER universes, and he's a full-time freelance writer, as well. You can find out more about him on his website, and he'll be joining us in the studio for several episodes of the Beyond the Trope podcast this summer.

Now on to the blog post he was generous enough to share with us!

On Being a Reading Writer

Talk with any author about the books they’re reading lately, and they’ll likely tell you that, at one point or another, they stopped being able to read purely for pleasure. Oh, they still love to pounce on a good book and crack that spine until it screams for mercy, but it’s rare-if-not-impossible to read a story without the writing and editing portions of the brain flaring up along the way.

I’ll admit to this being true in my case. Whenever I jump into a story, my writing perspective kicks into place. I start deconstructing sentences. I try to track the structure of a scene and see how the author brings in sensory details or emotional depth. I scan dialogue to get a sense of whether it feels “natural” or not. I nitpick awkward phrasings, thinking of how they might be written a little more smoothly. Or I marvel at a particularly powerful line and try to figure out how the  author accomplished it.

There’s this ongoing critique and deciphering going on in the back of my brain whenever my eyes rove over words. I can’t help it. In fact, I have to make a determined effort if I want to stop it.

But let me clarify. It’s not that I (or other writers) don’t or can’t enjoy reading. Far from it. It’s just that reading, in itself, gains extra layers. It becomes more than just entertainment. We do it because we want to learn. To grow. To become better writers. And what better way to do so than to constantly expose ourselves to the very thing we wish to create?

Think of it like a chef eating a meal. Sure, she’ll be able to enjoy the flavors and a full belly afterwards, but she’ll likely be analyzing that meal to determine what makes it deliciously satisfying or not. What ingredients went into it? How was it cooked? How do the flavors and colors contrast? What’s the texture like? 

Regular diners will absorb these sensations as they eat and maybe note them as an afterthought, but the chef will be more consciously aware of those elements. She’s tuned into them through her training and commitment to making edible masterpieces.

Or think of an artist studying a painting in a museum. They can enjoy the beauty and symbolism found within the painting—but they’re also going to be instinctively considering factors such as the types of paint used, the direction of the brush strokes, the frame it’s held within, the lighting, and much more. 

I’m curious: does this manifest in your life in any way? Do you have an activity or habit you’ve elevated beyond entertainment or distraction and actually begun to learn from, evaluating and practicing the techniques behind it? Do you study webcomics in the hopes to produce one? Do you watch certain athletes to perform better at sports? Do you analyze motivational speakers to teach yourself better public speaking habits? Do you play video games in order to become a graphics developer?

If not...maybe it’s time to start!

Thanks, again, Josh! Now, readers, Josh has two very awesome books you that you should really read. They're epic!


Clean-freak college student Dani Hashelheim never imagined she’d discover her latent magical ability in, of all places, a bathroom. But when she ducks into the ladies’ room at the library, she’s put in the crossfire between an elderly janitor and a ravenous muck-monster that emerges from the sink. 

Enter Ben, the janitor, who works for the Cleaners, a supernatural sanitation company that keeps reality tidy and safe…and a company Dani now works for as well, whether she wants to or not. This puts a significant crimp in her dream to attend med school and become a doctor. Nor is Ben happy, since it’s his duty to help Dani adapt to the job and learn to control her chaotic talent before it kills them both. 

Dani barely has time to try on her new company uniform before she and Ben are hunted down by a cult that wants to cleanse all life from the planet, and believes her power provides the means to do so. While fighting to survive the cult’s increasingly violent recruitment attempts, the pair must battle dust devils, navigate a maze of mystical sewers, face down trash golems—and scrub the occasional toilet.


Years ago, the dwarven warrior Akina left her home in the Five Kings Mountains to fight in the Goblinblood Wars. Now at long last she’s returning home, accompanied by Ondorum, her silent companion of living stone. What she finds there is far from what she remembers: a disgraced brother, an obsessive suitor, and a missing mother presumed dead. Yet the damage runs deeper than anyone knows, and when Akina’s brother is kidnapped by ancient enemies from the legendary Darklands, she and Ondorum must venture below the surface—and into danger as old as the stones themselves.

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