Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Tag: readers

Series ends

No, not mine. This post actually came about because I read a book last night that represented the end of a series. Usually, if I’ve stuck with a series all the way, I feel regret to see it end. In this case, not so much. The reasons why are things I hope I can keep in mind as I work on my own series and bring them to an end.

I’m going to start by noting that this series is one of several from a best selling and traditionally published author. I started reading this particular series from her by accident. How, you ask, did that happen? Easy. I wasn’t careful when checking her Amazon author page and wound up buying one of the books in the series when I was actually looking for a book in another series.

That’s problem number one. The series titles (two different series) were close enough to cause confusion, at least to a sleep addled, pre-coffee brain. But, that’s okay. I enjoyed the book. Not as much as others she’d written but not every book can be hit out of the park.

Anyway.

What I came to wonder as I read the books in this particular series is simple. The series was set in the same town as another series. The characters from that series made appearances in the new series. Some of the characters in the second series were related to characters in the first.

Okay, that’s fine. I’ve seen it happen before and it has been done well in some cases and not so much in others. This series, unfortunately, would have done better (in my opinion) by completely removing it from the first series. There were simply too many similarities between characters and plot points. Add in the same basic setting and, by the end of the series, it felt as if the author was just phoning it in.

I get falling in love with your characters or setting but you can’t do it at the expense of putting out new and interesting material.

There were two other issues I had with not only this series but the other one. When you write a book, or books, where your lead female character is initially a strong, independent woman, don’t turn her into someone who no longer is capable to looking after herself just because a man has now come into her life. Sure, having a partner, male or female, will change a person’s life and how they think about things. After all, you are no longer the only person you have to think about when planning a course of action. But going from independent to dependent without cause is one of the surest ways to drive readers away.

I will admit, the author didn’t do it as much in this second series as she did in the first. For one, the women in this second series were more flawed than in the first. However, that made it all the more glaring when she did it in the last couple of books with the most independent of her female characters. Especially in the last book. Suddenly, the one woman who had been the rock turned to anything but, at least for the first half of the book. The foreshadowing of the earlier books in the series led to one secret, but it was minor. There had been nothing to prepare the reader for the real “weakness” in the character. Considering the relationship between her and the other characters in the series, this threw me out of the book.

I guess this is all a way of reminding myself of what not to do when I start wrapping up my different series. The last book needs to be as satisfying — if not more so — than the first. Otherwise, the reader will hesitate to buy anything else from that author. I know that, after two series endings that were disappointments because of the way the characters were developed and the plots were rolled out, I will hesitate to buy anything else from this particular author. Sort of the old “fool me one, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” adage. I hope none of my readers ever feel that way.

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If you have ever wondered what an author most wants, it’s reviews. So give an author a gift today. Write a review and post it to Amazon and, if you are so inclined, on your blog or Facebook. It really does help.

A Trip to the Library

Just a quick post this morning.  Remember to check my earlier post for the winner of yesterday’s giveaway.

Any way, yesterday I ran away to the library.  Yes, I did so willingly and happily.  You see, my small community has a brand new library that is just about everything you could want from a library.  Beautiful physical facilities, wonderful selection, state of the art computer lab, plenty of parking — something that had always been at a premium — and a wonderful staff.  No matter what the reason for going to the library, it’s always a pleasant experience.

But yesterday was one filled with a sense of awe, wonder and satisfaction.  I arrived less than five minutes after the library opened and the parking lot was already full.  To put this into perspective, the parking lot is the size of a mid-sized grocery store lot.  So, plenty of spaces.  I parked and started looking around.  There were kids there.  Lots and lots of kids.  Some were in costume, most weren’t.  The occasion?  Suessfest.

Ah, Dr. Suess can still bring out the kids.  They’d come, dragging their parents and siblings and the occasional grandparent, to see the Cat in the Hat and hear Green Eggs and Ham.  They could get their faces painted and eat free cookies.

But what impressed me was that while they loved all that, what really excited them were the books.  The Friends of the Library put out all the Dr. Suess books they’d collected and the books disappeared as fast as they could be put out.  Then the kids went into the library to check out books — books of all sizes, shapes and topics.

Then it dawned on me.  These kids were readers.  Readers!  At a time when we’re being told our kids aren’t reading any more, here were dozens upon dozens of kids willingly, happily looking for books to read.  Better yet, parents were guiding them, discussing what they wanted to check out and helping them find even more books that might be of interest.

When I see something like yesterday, it reminds me why we shouldn’t always take these studies as gospel.  Data is only as good as the sample pool and as the questions asked.  If you want to know if kids read, talk to the librarians and children who work with them on a daily basis.  But, most of all, talk to the kids themselves.  Better yet, watch them.  Actions really do speak louder than words.

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