Why I Enjoy Judging Contests

I had some books to judge for an RWA chapter contest. One of the things I love most about judging contests is they give me the opportunity to read books that I normally wouldn’t read.

This batch of books definitely had some I wouldn’t normally read. I got a time travel, a Regency, a category and a paranormal. Considering I write erotic romance and paranormals, I tend to gravitate toward those as my books of choice these days. Comfort zone and all, ya know.

I was in a reading mood this weekend, so I grabbed them and started reading. Lo and behold, the time travel back to the old west sucked me in. I mean really sucked me in. I read that book in about 3 hours Saturday night. And guess what? I LOVED it. And it had no sex until the very end of the book, and at that it was meh sex.

Now I love me some sex in books. I write sex for a reason, y’all. *g*. But the story was entertaining, the characters engaging and I fell madly in love with the book. I’m still missing it several days later, wishing the story had gone on.

The next afternoon I read the Regency. I never read Regencies. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, they’re just not my cuppa tea. But the heroine in this one was spunky, intelligent and engaging, the hero smart, handsome and not overbearing. The secondary characters were delightful and not at all pompous. Again, I fell in love. And guess what? There were hints of sexual play in this book! *gasp*. Scandalous, you say! hehehe. I loved this story too!

Both these books wouldn’t even have rated a passing glance from me on a routine book shopping expedition. How sad is that?

How many of us read what we’re used to reading, or read primarily the genre we write in, or what’s popular or on the bestseller list?

My sole purpose when reading is to be entertained. This weekend’s read fest has taught me a valuable lesson – it’s time to broaden my horizons and step outside my comfort zone. There are gems out there that I’m missing.