Making Introductions

*Warning: Spoilers possible for the books I discuss*

I’ve come to believe that there are two kinds of readers: those who read the introduction (if there is one) before the book and those who wait until after. I read it before. My logic is that if it were intended to be read after the text, it would be included as an afterward, not an introduction. Also, I find it can be helpful in getting my mind ready for what I’m about to read.

a1x0awyh35l._ac_uy218_ml3_But there’s an inherent danger in reading the introduction first: will the writer give away spoilers? If so, will they be major. Years ago, I read Anya Seton’s novel Avalon. I enjoyed it, which surprised me, because Philippa Gregory’s introduction gave me the impression that it wasn’t a very good book. She warned that Seton stuck too closely to the facts in this historical novel, and didn’t provide a resolution where she should have, because there’s no historical evidence of such a resolution taking place. As a result, I didn’t expect a resolution when reading, and I wasn’t disappointed by its absence. I was able to take the text as it was, and not judge it based on what wasn’t there. Should Seton have taken some artistic licence and resolved the story line even if it wasn’t historically accurate? That’s open for debate. But because I wasn’t expecting it, I wasn’t disappointed in that element. In that sense, even though the introduction included spoilers, it helped me to enjoy my reading experience more.

51mw0x9so4l-_ac_us218_More recently I read Gwen Bristow’s Celia Garth, which had an introduction by Sara Donati. In her introduction Donati says that the novel, which was published in 1959, and is set during the American Revolution, has a problematic depiction of slavery. All the slave characters in the novel are depicted as happy, well treated, and loyal to their master’s side in the conflict. The title character never questions the morality of the institution, nor does she ever wonder how the slave characters might be feeling. Since I’m sure there were people like the title character, I can’t fault the author’s depiction of her. After reading that introduction, I mentally prepared myself to read a book with some significant flaws and blind spots, with a character who I may not like. Again I’m OK with that. I don’t have to like a character to find him/her interesting. Unfortunately, when reading the book, I felt like Donati downplayed the character’s unlikeability in the introduction, and that the book expected me to like her and depended on that. For me, the problem was that Celia wasn’t just blind to the evils of slavery, she was complicit. I don’t hold Donati responsible for that. Her introduction warned that this aspect of the plot and character was problematic. How problematic it is might vary from one reader to the next. That’s why we read the book and not just the introduction!

81lrqhg4fgl._ac_ul320_ml3_I just recently finished Angel by Elizabeth Taylor, with an introduction by Hilary Mantel. In her introduction, Mantel tells us about the character of Angelica “Angel” Deverell, writer of trashy, turn of the century, romance novels. Mantel tells us that the character comes from humble beginnings and fantasizes about Paradise House, where her aunt works as a maid. She also tells us that Angel will later purchase this house once she’s made her fortune, and remodel it. But, Mantel warns us, in doing so, Angel is building her own prison. World events, changing literary tastes, and her own ego mean that Angel’s books don’t sell as well as they once did. Angel and her few companions eventually become recluses, financially trapped in a rotting Paradise House. In this case I felt like Mantel gave away too much in her introduction. She should certainly introduce the character and explain that the book is a rags to riches character study. She might also hint at the fact that Angel will ultimately be the architect of her own destruction. But to tell use how it happens, and how it ties into Angel’s childhood fantasies robs the reader of a sense of pleasure (albeit a somewhat sadistic pleasure) in discovery.

So where do you stand on introductions? Do you read them first? Do you think that an introduction has the responsibility of warning the reader of potentially troubling plot points? If so, are spoilers a concern?

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Top Ten Tuesday: TBR Procrastination

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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September 10: Books On My TBR I’m Avoiding Reading and Why (maybe you’re scared of it, worried it won’t live up to the hype, etc.) (submitted by Caitlin @ Caitlin Althea)

Books that are intimidating because they’re really long

51saga5aeml-_ac_us218_1. Nor Gold by Kerry Lynne– Second in The Pirate Captain series 753 pages.  I’ve also heard it ends with a cliffhanger, so I’m not sure I want to start it until I have the next book nearby.

 

 

41oulsn7jul-_ac_us218_2. Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn– Got really great reviews but between the heavy subject matter and the fact that it’s 768 pages I keep putting it off.

 

 

51qkdj8lpel-_ac_us218_3. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss– Second in the Kingkilller Chronicles. I loved the first, but this is 1120 pages. Also, number three hasn’t been published yet so maybe I’ll wait until then and finish the series when it’s complete.

 

51dyrlatcxl-_ac_us218_4. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey– First in the Kushiel’s Legacy series. It’s been recommended many times, it’s sitting on my shelf, but the premise doesn’t really grab me and it’s 912 pages.  I’ll get to  it at some point.

 

51q4v7d1rl-_ac_us218_5. Trinity by Leon Uris– This was recommended by several people but it’s a heavy subject matter and it’s 894 pages.

 

 

 

51bzo0tnhl-_ac_us218_6. Kristin Lavranstradder by Sigrid Undset– This is technically a trilogy of three normal sized books but apparently the translation matters, and I have the first book in the wrong translation. At some point I’ll try to read it and if it’s no good I’ll go for this edition which is supposed to be the “good” translation, but it’s all 3 books together making it a cumbersome 1168 pages.

61jrknqrsel-_ac_us218_7. A Column of Fire by Ken Follett– Third in Follett’s Kingsbridge trilogy. I liked the first two but at 923 pages it’s hard to dive into.

 

 

 

51wxqincjul-_ac_us218_8. The Revolution of Marina M. by Janet Fitch– I loved Fitch’s White Oleander and I’m  interested in this genre change (literary fiction to historical fiction) but the fact that it’s 812 pages makes it intimidating to get started on.

 

Books I’m hesitant to start because of content

51mmdwir-zl-_ac_us218_9. The Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett– This is third in Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles series. I liked the first two but they’re filled with obscure references and we rarely get into the main character’s head so it takes a lot of focus to read.

 

a1yvcyz-l._ac_uy218_ml3_10. An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear- This is the fifth in the Maisie Dobbs series. I’ve been enjoying it but after a while the terrible things that these characters go through (so far it’s not limited to war, PTSD, drug addiction, illness, and death) make it a fairly depressing experience.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Outside My Comfort Zone

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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September 3: Books I Enjoyed That Are Outside of My Comfort Zone (i.e., a genre you don’t typically read or subject matter you’re not usually drawn to)

I have a lot of respect for all these genres but generally they’re not where my personal taste tends to take me.  But there are exceptions to every rule!

Sciencey Nonfiction

I had some no-so-good science teachers in school that gave me a negative feeling for it for a long time. I’m trying to push myself out of that mindset because I do find some scientific topics interesting, but it’s a process. My knee-jerk reaction is still rather negative. For the most part these books aren’t hard core scientific but they have scientific portions or content.

51bven7uisl-_ac_us218_The Alphabet Versus the Goddess by Leonard Shalin

 

 

 

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The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

 

 

 

71zpcrwzwel._ac_uy218_The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

 

 

 

 

Romance

I’ve always enjoyed romantic subplots in books, but I think for a while I bought into the whole idea that romance as a genre was somehow less than other genres. I’ve come to see that’s not the case (I posted about it here and here) and I’ve been venturing into it a bit more, but I wouldn’t call it my comfort zone. I’m still figuring out my tastes in this genre.

51ldcwuzjyl._ac_uy218_Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale

 

 

 

51em7j9uqel-_ac_us218_A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux

 

 

 

91vhsxkxe7l._ac_uy218_An Extraordinary Union  by Alyssa Cole

 

 

 

 

Poetry

I like poetry a lot in small doses but I’ve never been one to sit for an afternoon and binge it. These are the exceptions to that rule.

51-xlyewull-_ac_us218_Crush by Richard Siken

 

 

 

817xb3ojwvl._ac_uy218_Transformations by Anne Sexton

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wish I Owned

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday

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August 27: Books I’ve Read That I’d Like In My Personal Library (perhaps you checked it out, borrowed it from a friend, received it for review, etc. and want to own it yourself.) (Submitted by Annemieke @ A Dance with Books)

Most of these I got from the library originally

51i6ln7tmul-_ac_us218_1. The Library Book by Susan Orlean– I got this (rather fittingly) from the library. But it’s a beautiful book physically. I want my own copy.

71pwec3g0ol._ac_ul436_2. Flush by Virginia Woolf– I read this as an ebook, and I still own it that way, but I really liked it and I want a physical copy.

513xypka1bl-_ac_us218_3. Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield- I’d like to read this one again at some point.

51wn17e1xil-_ac_us218_4. Nuclear Family by Susanna Fogel– This is a novel in letters so it’s easy to pick up anywhere and just read one. They’re really funny so I’d like to have it on hand to read bits and pieces from time to time.

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5. Let Me Tell You by Shirley Jackson- Some of these lesser known stories and essays are better than others,  but I’d like to have them on hand, especially since some of them highlight Jackson’s humorous side, which we don’t often get to see.

51vp6vchi4l-_ac_us218_6. A Little Life by Hana Yanagihara– This book was beautiful but difficult to read. I’d like to revisit it at some point,  knowing the plot, so that I can appreciate some of the other elements.

51-xlyewull-_ac_us218_7. Crush by Richard Siken– I’m rather fussy about poetry but Siken’s work is vivid and compelling enough for me to want to revisit it often.

81vn8opa4zl._ac_uy218_

8. M Train by Patti Smith– I have Smith’s other book, Just Kids, but I actually like this one much better.

81v5wp2zeql._ac_uy218_

9. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr– I read a book dealing with similar subject matter shortly after this and as a result they’re sort of blended in my mind. But I remember this one was vastly superior so I’d like to reread it and have it clearer in my memory.

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10. Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak– This is a childhood favorite that I’ve been trying to find forever. I may just order it from Amazon at some point.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Tropes

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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August 20: Favorite Tropes (a trope is a commonly used theme or plot device) (submitted by Andrea @ Books for Muse)

1. Mysterious school

2. Slow burn romance

3. Small towns

4. Missing/Absent parents

5. Family secrets

6. Gothic

7. Neo-Victorian

8. Time Travel / Time Slips

9. Dual Timelines

10. Fairy Tale retellings

How Prolific Do I Want To Be?

Lately I’ve been wondering what kind of writer I am. In some ways the answer to that is obvious. I’m an indie author. I write fantasy. But in some ways I feel like I don’t measure up to other, “similar” authors. I put similar in quotes because these authors are also indie/self published who write fantasy in the same sub-genre but they write a lot more than I do, and seem to do it more professionally.

thumbnail_Elle s mIt took me about four years to write Beautiful, and another year to publish it. Some of that was because I had to figure out elements of publishing for myself, while working full time.  Now I’ve been working on the follow up, Frozen Heart, for about three years. It’s pretty much written, in that I have a manuscript with a beginning, middle and end. I’m somewhere between the second and third drafts  right now. I’d like it to be ready by early 2020. If I’m not able to manage that I might have to wait until the end of 2020. Beautiful was published in July 2018.

Indie authors usually try to write at least a book per year, preferably more. I’ve seen authors publish as many as three books per year. A lot of the research I did before publishing Beautiful actually recommended waiting until you have several publish-able manuscripts before publishing your first, so you have more ready to go. I decided not to do that because I wasn’t sure if/when I’d have a ready follow-up and I felt ready to send Beautiful out into the world. I don’t think that was a mistake but I don’t think I’ll ever be a writer who can publish one book a year.

I read a blog post once by an indie author who said she writes only one draft of each novel before having an editor look it over, making a few, small tweaks, and then publishing. I can’t imagine doing that. My first drafts are a mess! My second drafts are a little bit better, and so on.

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Here's a bit of a #tbt to Beautiful in it's editing days. Seeing the draft covered in red was really overwhelming at one point! . . . Now I'm at a similar point with my second novel. I have to open an email attachment that will inevitably be full of red. I'm still waiting to feel 'ready' to tackle it. But at least this time I know that I made it through the process once and I can do it again! . . . #books #Beautifulbook #fairytaleretellings #beautyandthebeast #indiepub #indieauthors #indiebooks #indiesareworthit #indiebooksbeseen #authorsofig #authorsofinstagram #writersofig #writersofinstagram #authorcommunity #writerscommunity #writerslife #authorslife #amwriting #amwritingfantasy #amediting #igwriters #igauthors #writingtime #indieauthorcentral #indieauthorsunite #fantasywipmay #weloveindiebooks #epicreads #yafantasyauthor

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I’m not criticizing anyone who can turn out great work on the first try! I’m envious! I don’t think that will ever be me.

Maybe as I go on, I’ll get better at self-editing. Already, I’m noticing improvements between my first book and my second. When I wrote Beautiful, I would see something in a draft that didn’t quite work but I’d stubbornly hold onto it until several beta readers had told me it didn’t work. Now I’m quicker to kill my darlings.

But I want my published novels to reflect my best work. In order to do that, it takes me longer to write a book than is generally recommended for indie authors. Obviously the more I publish the more opportunity I have for sales, but right now, compromising quality doesn’t seem worth it to me.

Do you prefer authors to be prolific or careful with what they publish? Does it have to be an “either/or” situation?

 

Beautiful: Reader’s Guide

The Reader’s Guide to Beautiful is now available on the books page of my website.  It features some discussion questions, a bit “about the author”, some information about the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, and a sneak peak of my upcoming novel Frozen Heart. It’s free so check it out!

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It's #selfpromotesunday and I'm sharing the news that a reader's guide to my novel, Beautiful, is available for free on my website: franlaniado.wordpress.com/books. It has some discussion questions, background information and a sneak peek at my next book, Frozen Heart. . . . . #books #Beautifulbook #fairytaleretellings #beautyandthebeast #indiepub #indieauthors #indiebooks #indiesareworthit #indiebooksbeseen #indiefantasy #indieauthorsunited #indieauthorcentral #bookpromotion #bookmarketing #authorcommunity #authorslife #authorsofinstagram #authorsofig #writersofig #writersofinstagram #writerscommunity #writerslife #bookbuzz #amwriting #bookstagram #igwritingcommunity #writersnetwork #workinprogress #supportingindieauthors

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Top Ten Tuesday: Novels Based on Poems

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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July 30: Freebie (Come up with your own topic! I might steal yours for a future TTT and credit you!)

I decided to do a list of novels based on poems

5196005bwql-_ac_us218_1. Watch by Moonlight by Kate Hawks – Based on The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes

“I’ll come to thee by moonlight,
though hell should bar the way.” 

 

 

51xk9vlpl-l._ac_ul436_2. The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue– Inspired by The Stolen Child by WB Yeats

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand

 

51euvactsql._ac_ul436_ 3. His Last Dutchess by Gabrielle Kimm– Based on My Last Duchess by Robert Browning

That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall, 
Looking as if she were alive.

 

 

61rw3ljx-ml._ac_ul436_ 4. Kilmeny of the Orchard by LM Montgomery Based on Kilmeny by James Hogg

For Kilmeny had been, she knew not where,  
And Kilmeny had seen what she could not declare;  

 

 

51gfr6gfj2l._ac_ul320_5. Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday– Based on Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; 
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; 
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea. 

 

51gzvucvqfl._ac_ul436_6. Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandall– Based  on The Lady of Shalott  by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Under tower and balcony, 
By garden wall and gallery, 
A pale, pale corpse she floated by, 
Deadcold, between the houses high, 
       Dead into tower’d Camelot. 
Knight and burgher, lord and dame, 
To the planked wharfage came: 
Below the stern they read her name, 
       The Lady of Shalott. 

 

61w5z1qq7ul._ac_ul320_7. Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner– Based on Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti

We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?”

 

51omzinvtpl-_ac_us218_8.  The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons – Based on The Bronze Horseman by Alexander Pushkin

And here a city by our labor
Founded, shall gall our haughty neighbor;
“Here cut” – so Nature gives command –
Your window through on Europe; stand
Firm-footed by the sea, unchanging!”

 

41-f8aif5zl-_ac_us218_9. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier- Based on the Odyssey by Homer

Men are so quick to blame the gods: they say
that we devise their misery. But they
themselves- in their depravity- design
grief greater than the griefs that fate assigns.” 

 

10. A whole TTT list of books based on Tam Lin by Frances James Child

“O I forbid you, maidens all, 
That wear gold in your hair, 
To come or go by Carterhaugh, 
For young Tam Lin is there.”

 

Coming Soon!

I’ve been working on a reader’s guide to Beautiful. I had initially planned to have it out by the book’s first birthday but some other things go in the way. But it’s coming soon, so keep an eye on the “books” page of my website. I’ll also share on my blog when it’s up. But it’ll have:

  • Discussion questions
  • Background information
  • A sneak peak of Frozen Heart
  • more…

Plus it’s free!

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It's #selfpromotesunday so I'm sharing something I've been working on. It's a reader's guide to my novel, Beautiful. I wanted to have it ready for Beautiful's first book birthday there were some delays. It includes some discussion questions, information about me, a small preview of my #workinprogress and some behind the scenes tidbits. It will be available for free on my website (franlaniado.wordpress.com/books) so keep a lookout. . . . . #books #Beautifulbook #fairytaleretellings #beautyandthebeast #indiepub #indieauthors #indiebooks #indiesareworthit #indiebooksbeseen #indiefantasy #indieauthorsunited #indieauthorcentral #bookpromotion #bookmarketing #authorcommunity #authorslife #authorsofinstagram #authorsofig #writersofig #writersofinstagram #writerscommunity #writerslife #yaauthor #iwritefantasy #bookstagram #bookish #bookworm #igwritingcommunity

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