Showing posts with label readers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label readers. Show all posts

Dec 23, 2021

Are You in Panic Mode Yet?



 It's two days until Christmas. You have someone to buy for. Maybe you forgot. Maybe that person is difficult to buy for. Maybe you feel like the trite gift card is just too...trite for this person. You're desperate.

How about a book?

No, it probably won't arrive before Christmas, but you could present the description and cover art, creating anticipation for that 'something nice' that will arrive later, when things have calmed down a little.

Each book is a personal choice, but there are so many to choose from, so many great hours of enjoyment to come.

And if it happens to be one of mine, well, you'll make another person happy. Bonus!

Find all my books (and Maggie's too) 

https://www.amazon.com/Peg-Herring/e/B002JK5FKY

https://books2read.com/pegherring/


Dec 10, 2021

Book Clubs Take Note: Discussion Guide: Sister Saint, Sister Sinner

Book Club Clip Art  

When I sent Sister Saint, Sister Sinner to my editor, she was (as usual) helpful about pointing out areas that needed more development, parts that repeated information already given, and places where the logic  temporarily failed. At the end, she made a comment that stuck with me: "People are going to be talking about the things you deal with in this book."

To me, that meant the story was destined for book clubs. Having visited a few in my years of writing, I knew that they often begin with a list of discussion topics. Now, they often don't stay focused on them, and that's okay. Sometimes it's the wine. Sometimes it's a natural progression. But discussion leaders like having questions that can get the conversation back on track when it strays too far from the story.

Every person who reads a book gets something out of it that no one else does. I had the experience once of visiting a book group where one reader didn't like the book and kept bringing up her objections, much to the dismay of the discussion leader. I remained polite when she asked why I did this and didn't do that with the plot. The leader kept moving on to someone else's comments. It wasn't my most pleasant experience, but I recognize that readers will never agree completely on the quality of a book. Authors have to get used to it.

In anticipation of book club interest, I'm posting 20 discussion questions here. You might not want to read them until you've finished the book, since there are spoilers. Mostly they serve to start discussion of a character, a plot point, or a theme. Here are examples from the list:

1.     1.  At the beginning of the story, the sisters have been living separate lives. Now that you’ve finished the book, do you see any significance to their distance from each other?

1.    14.  The relationship between Kim and Drew seems like it was meant to be. What factors in Drew’s makeup contribute to Kim’s attraction to him? 

1 1818. Olin Dobbs becomes for Nettie the son she might have had. Do you believe her support of Olin is a form of redemption for her?


Buy it HERE




Dec 7, 2020

Which Book Was That?

 It happens to me sometimes. A reader mentions a character or a scene in one of my books, and it takes me a second to find it in my memory. Oh, right, Caroline, the protagonist in Somebody Doesn't Like Sarah Leigh. I remember her--kind of.

https://books2read.com/u/4AgVOq
The thing is, authors move on. We have new ideas. We dream up new people. But there's no way to tell when a reader will find a book, read it, and get excited for more. My first book was published in 2006. I just saw online where someone ordered it. Yay...but how much of Macbeth's Niece do I even remember?
https://books2read.com/u/m0xYdY

My newest book, Deceiving Elvera, released on Friday. There are ads for it everywhere, and the introductory price is a bargain, so readers are talking about it. One beta reader suggested I could make it a series. Um, no. Some books are meant to be stand-alones, and this one is...big-time.

https://books2read.com/u/38RZoB


The other day a fan wrote to say she wished Maggie Pill (that's me) would consider another Sleuth Sisters book. I said I'd think about it, but it's probably not going to happen. 

I remember going to a Peter, Paul, and Mary concert late in their career as a group. They sang songs I'd never heard before, songs they'd written recently, and I left a little disappointed. I'd gone there to hear "If I Had a Hammer" and "Puff, the Magic Dragon," but they were tired of singing those old chestnuts over and over. I get it: creative people want to move on and do something new. Audiences want to recapture the joy they felt the first time they heard/read/saw a creative work. Some authors can make themselves keep adding another episode. I can't.

Then what am I doing? Tweaking the characters for my next mystery, The Cutest Little Killer. I'm thinking this one could be a series, but readers will have a lot to say about that. It's kind of a partnership, at least with independent writers. Authors let readers know what they like to write by putting the books out there. Readers let an author know they want more by buying books, reviewing them, and recommending them to others.

Mar 12, 2018

...and Then the Monsters Showed Up


I'm not a big reader of science fiction, but I love it when it's well done. (Michael Crichton comes to mind.) Good sci-fi writers explore interesting social questions while constructing cool plots about things that haven't happened...yet.
My complaint with SF is that all too often the story ends with "and now we must kill the aliens before they kill us." The last few chapters are the all out battle for the survival of our species, with lots of things blowing up and gallons of green blood spilt.
That's not my thing. In the most recent example I read, the story began well, with questions about how time travel would actually work and what the resulting physical and mental problems might be, but it ended up with monsters pouring out of the portal and lots of shooting. We started with questions and ended with an arcade game.

SF isn't the only predictable genre, which is why genre fiction has a bad name with literary folks. Who hasn't started a romance novel and known from the first chapter what was going to happen and who was going to end up living happily ever after together? (Sometimes it's a tossup between two men, but if you go with the less socially acceptable one, you'll probably get it right.)

Mysteries are often predictable too, and after reading them all my life, I really enjoy finding one that escapes the rules a little. An interesting (but not mean) sleuth is great, a unique setting is nice, and if at all possible, a solution that's clever and even obvious...after I read it. Too often these days I know the "who" early on, and I tend to skip chapters to get to the end and find exactly the same thing that happened in the last five books I read: The protag is bloody but alive, the cop that doubted him/her becomes a friend/lover, etc. etc. etc.

Even "literary fiction" novels, those books that are supposed to "transcend genre," are often the same old same old, and lately they seem to come in streaks. I'm tired of books about bookstore owners who are delightfully fey, tired of titles with "Girl," and tired of lead characters with no redeeming qualities who wallow in their own misery for 400 pages and end up exactly where they began.

If you're nodding your head as you read this, I know what's wrong with you. You have read TOO MUCH. YOU NEED TO STOP READING BOOKS. (YOU NEED TO STOP WATCHING TV AND MOVIES TOO.) YOU NEED TO GET A HOBBY, LIKE COLLECTING SPOONS OR WEAVING YOGA MATS OUT OF OLD GROCERY BAGS.

Or you can keep doing what you're doing, looking for the one book in ten that occupies your mind and satisfies your heart. That's what I intend to do!

Nov 28, 2016

Free Books and All That

I'm kind of bad at selling things (which is odd because my dad was a used car salesman. He wasn't the stereotypical one, though, and worked hard to find the best car for the money for each customer.)
Anyway, even with years of watching people sell things to other people, I can't make myself tell readers that my books are amazing and will change their lives. Nor can I follow the advice of one writer I met who said, "When people come up to your table at a signing, shove the book at them so they have to take it into their hands. They'll be embarrassed to put it down, so they'll buy it."
Really? I'd be embarrassed to be that pushy.

So here's the deal. It's the holiday season and people are looking for gifts. If you know a mystery reader, you might consider giving one of my books. I've listed below the first in each series, and I'm giving the Kindle versions away over the next month on Amazon. I won't hide my motive: if a person reads one book, this author hopes it will lead to buying the next and the next.

You win. I win. I like it that way.

First Sleuth Sisters Mystery (four so far, another on the way) is free TODAY/TOMORROW on Amazon. (Nov. 28-29) It's called, oddly enough, THE SLEUTH SISTERS. (Written as Maggie Pill).
Link to Amazon

The first Dead Detective Mystery (4 total) is THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY. Link to Amazon

The first Loser Mystery (3 total) is KILLING SILENCE  Link to Amazon.

The first Simon & Elizabeth Mystery is HER HIGHNESS' FIRST MURDER. Link to Amazon

All my books are available in print and e-book. Most are available in audio. Of course I have stand-alone mysteries too. You can find out more about them here on my site, at Amazon, or you can ask any bookstore to order them for you through their regular distributor.
 


May 30, 2016

The Bitter End

Not me. My hero, Dorothy Parker
I posted on Facebook the other day that each book I write comes to the point where I'd like to tell the reader, "I've brought you this far, now you finish it!"
I was surprised to read in the responses I got that it's been done. Can't imagine reading a whole book and being left in the lurch like that. As one respondent pointed out, "As the author, you know the characters better than anyone else. You have to tell us what happens to them."
Yes, it's the author's responsibility to sort out the mess she's created. Still:
1) I'm tired of them at that point. Like one's children, an author loves her characters, but there are times when she'd like to love them from a galaxy far, far away.
2) Some readers won't be satisfied. I've heard from some who wanted more romance (okay, sex) between the characters to end the book. One reader complained that a certain character would never have given in and obeyed the bad guy who stuck a gun to her head. (Maybe I should have said, "He pointed the gun at her and she said, "Stop that," so he dropped the gun, gave himself up to the police, and admitted everything.) In another instance, a woman at a book group expressed vexation that I never told what happened to a certain very minor character at the end of the book. (She lived her life--I guess.)
3)  The biggest reason I don't look forward to writing the end is that it's hard, especially in a mystery, where a writer can't just fade out, as some literary novelists do. There has to be an accounting of some sort, and though I've had in mind all the way along who's guilty, making the ending logical, exciting, and summary of all previous events takes concentration. Every strand should pull together and make a nice whole. There shouldn't be a point where the reader thinks, "That wasn't fair."
 I've read books where the killer came out of the woodwork, like an ant when dinner's over, and it irritates me. The clues should be there, and the ending should make it clear it couldn't have been anyone else. One of my favorite comments ever from a reader of my work was, "I didn't figure out the ending, but I should have been able to."
If you haven't guessed by now, my task this week is to end a book I've been working on. I know how it ends. I know where each character needs to step in and do his part.
I just haven't written it down yet.

Apr 18, 2016

The Gifts I Buy Myself

I buy myself presents all the time: they're called books.
Sometimes they're Kindle books, although I'm often irritated by the inflated cost of books by big-name authors. If mid-list authors' books can be produced for six dollars or less, why can't everyone's?
I know, supply and demand, but there isn't the cost in e-books that there is with print: no print cost, no warehousing, no shipping.
But I digress.
In addition to Kindle books, I also buy print books. Lots of them. No less than three, sometimes more, bookstores exist where the clerks smile when they see me coming. They know I'm buying.
Sometimes my purchases result in entertainment for few hours, and that's great. People gripe about "affording" books, but where else do you get eight hours of entertainment for under thirty bucks?
The best times are when my purchase results in absolute rapture. I got lucky last week with THE NIGHTINGALE on my Kindle, which was wonderful. On Thursday I picked up (at a nice young clerk at McLean and Eakin's suggestion) BE FRANK WITH ME.
Oh, the joy.
I can't tell you where it's going for sure yet, because I haven't finished. It concerns a young woman who's sent to smooth the way for a famous author so she can get a  book written. Smoothing the way involves dealing with Frank, a kid who's unique, hilarious, frustrating, and endearing. If you love unique characters cleverly presented, you will love Frank, and his mom's pretty interesting, too.
One of the blurbs mentions that the reader wants to
read the book again later, just to spend more time with Frank.
That's like double value for your money. How great is that?

Mar 21, 2016

Taking Criticism

E-book available on Amazon. Print soon
Writers have to learn to accept criticism. It starts with your editor, who takes out some of your favorite passages because they don't advance the plot.
"But it's a commentary on society!" you whine.
"You're not a philosopher. You're a mystery writer," is the reply.
Then you get the beta reader who wants the story to end differently. "Why didn't she hook up with the sheriff?"
"I preferred to suggest that she might and let the reader imagine it. I didn't want to start another whole thread in the last few pages."
(Pouty face) "I think you should say it."
Later come the readers, who go on Amazon and say things like, "The author speaks of a 'dollar' but there were no dollars in Tudor England."
Actually, the word was slang for a coin called a crown in the 1500s. But don't let my months of research top your assumption you know what you're talking about.
Of course, there is criticism that's justified. My favorite story is the person who wrote to inform me that though the first Simon & Elizabeth book was interesting and historically well done, I'd put in rhododendrons, which didn't exist in the 1500s.
Okay, I'll take the blame for that one. Who knew? And who'd have thought to include it in her research? (Well, I do now!)
Writers have to learn not only to take criticism, but to not take it as well. Tastes vary. Best-selling authors sometimes leave me cold, since they don't write things I like to read. I try not to conclude they're bad writers because of my tastes. It's hard when a reader assumes that because he/she felt a certain way about a book, that's the final truth of it. "I didn't feel connected to the characters because they were not well-developed" is hurtful. It helps, though, when the very next review says the exact opposite. "Great characters that felt like people I knew well. I was eager to know what they'd do next."


 

New Reader Site Hits the Target

 Though I'm not sure how, I recently heard about Shepherd.com The people there are trying to change the way we find new books to read o...