Category Archives: Reading

When Should an Author Say Goodbye to a Series?

You know those fiction series where you finish the first one – which you loved  – and you’re so excited to discover that there are more to come? It’s kind of like eating the first Cheezie. All that addictive cheesy-salty taste and a texture like styrofoam that melts in your mouth. Yum! But by the twentieth book (or thousandth Cheezie), the characters are no longer as enjoyable as they once were and the suspense in the character’s personal life begins to wear on you. Maybe you’re tired of the main character with two competing loves, or the possessionless wanderer who never seems to settle down. You need closure.

Characters who genuinely grow and move forward in their lives – and in a series – are much easier to stick with than those who never seem to get it together. Even whacky characters can get stale after the 15th book and as readers, we lose interest. I think the worst, however, is when the author has lost interest in the characters and it shows in the writing. If you’re not sure, just go back and read the first in a series you love and compare it to the latest to see if the attention to plot and detail is the same. Are you reading it because it’s just the next in the series and you don’t know when to stop (just like Cheezies!), or are you enjoying each one because it’s authentic?

The problem, of course, is money. If the series is hugely successful, the publisher is going to be offering the author delicious, wonderful sums and royalties to continue the series. Eventually, however, the author may be out of ideas of how to progress the series or have fallen out of love with the main character and that’s when it shows in the writing.

One of my favourite series started to lose me after about the 10th book.  The main character responded to a question with “Don’t know, don’t care.” It was so out of character, I felt like the writer was actually talking about her own interest in the plot! But I still went out and bought the next book – just to confirm that the author hadn’t had a rebirth of enthusiasm (no such luck). Which is exactly why publishers write cheques for those series in the first place. You see? I’m part of the problem!

In another instance of a series I had been devoted to, the plot turned out to be so thin that 3/4 of the book was sub-plots – to the point where you almost forgot what the main plot was about and it was solved so quickly and easily with little intrigue, that there too, I thought the author had lost interest in the series.

I think it’s up to the author to recognize when a character’s series has reached its natural end and not wait until the publisher says, “Sales are down! We need to come up with a new, intricate plot twist!” That only usually makes things worse. As painstaking as it might be to say goodbye, there are likely other, wonderful stories pent up inside the writer just waiting to get out. Given a strong fanbase, any new story introduced by the same author will be just as much of a hit as the old one.

Memorable stories start with memorable characters. But if a character just keeps getting into the same scrapes and never moves forward, eventually, we readers will say goodbye – even if the author won’t.


What Are Cozy Mysteries?

By brewbooks from near Seattle, USA - i103005 254, CC BY-SA 2.0,

By brewbooks from near Seattle, USA – i103005 254, CC BY-SA 2.0,

I am new to the cozy mystery genre but have been reading many books in it since I started signing up for ebooks through various websites (For information on where to find free e-books, see this post).

I couldn’t figure out the phrase “cozy mystery” and wondered about the definition. What does someone do when they want to figure out the origin of something? She Googles it, of course!

I found this great article by Brian Klems over at Writers Digest, which explained the genre and history of the genre – and of course, the reason why I tend to gravitate to it. So, here are four things about cozy mysteries I didn’t know:

1. G-rating

Lack of violence or sex in a storyline. According to Klems, the first ones were written by Agatha Christie. While we see the dead body, we follow Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot around as they interview (never interrogate) their suspects.

2. Amateur Detective/Shop owner

These days, the sleuth tends to be amateur and owns his/her own business in a small town or community.

3. Fast-paced compared to the originals

The pace of the story is much faster today than in Agatha Christie times. In my opinion, this is probably due to our being accustomed to the fast pace of  TV programs and movies which translates into a page-turner in fiction.

4. Usually developed as a series

What hasn’t changed since Christie’s writing days is that most cozy mysteries are written as a series. They have become a popular sub-genre of crime fiction.

For more information on cozy mysteries, visit Brian Klems’ original article:



Reading eBooks for Free

In this day and age of technology developments, publishing a first novel isn’t as difficult or as involved a process as was pre-internet. In fact, I remember this one time, I was walking through a shopping mall and a new author was standing beside a stack of books approaching people as they walked past, asking if they liked mystery or suspense novels and then pitching them on his.  I remembered thinking that if that was the way I would have to sell a self-published book I would probably sell one copy to each of my family members (maybe), and that would be it. I’m a terrible salesperson, and talking to each person individually, trying to convince them to buy your book, in a small town, well, it would take a very, very long time for you to spread the word about your book. In the old, pre-internet, days, using traditional publishers was the only way to go.

The internet age has changed the self-publishing field. I self-published without even bothering to send my book out to professional publishers or agents for a few reasons — the primary one being that I’m no spring chicken and I wanted to see it in the hands of readers before I go senile.

However, being self-published means you are responsible for getting your book out there and into the hands of people who might appreciate it. So, I’ve done a ton of research into book marketing in the last few months and what I have happily discovered is that there are plenty of sites where you can offer your book for free and where you can read other people’s high quality published work for free or heavily discounted prices as well. The only caveate to this is that I am only talking about e-books.  While my own preference is for a hard copy of a book, I have become used to downloading works onto my phone — perfect for my 50 minute subway and bus ride to work — and lighter than a book in print!

So, here are a few of my favourite sites where you can find free or discounted ebooks.

Story Cartel: I often use this site to make my own book available to readers. In exchange for a free copy, readers are asked to review it on any site they please. As a writer, I appreciate having a platform for people outside my own personal sphere to be able to find and read my book. As a reader, I have downloaded many wonderful books (and some that are not quite my cup of tea), that I have happily read and reviewed.

Noise Trade: I’ve uploaded my book to this site, which anyone can access for free. There is lots of great content on this site for book AND music lovers. It is a great way to discover indie authors and bands. In exchange for the download, there is a suggested tip tray. Personally, I would rather get reviews than tips, but I get the feeling the site is more geared towards music than books.

Reader’s Favorite: A great site for finding tens of thousands of new books from new and established writers. Writers can submit their book to get one free review from one of their reviewers. Reviewers receive the book for free and you will most likely see your review attached to editorial reviews for an author’s book on Amazon. They also have monthly book giveaway contests that you can enter to win the book of your choice.

The Fussy Librarian: A great site that only suggests free and low-priced eBooks that have received an average of 3.5-5 stars. The review ranges become more forgiving as books have an increased number of reviews. Subscribe to their daily email and get targeted suggestions based on the criteria you fill out in the subscription form.

Riffle: A good site for both discussions and discounted ebooks. You can get all kinds of books for your e-reader or phone. Subscribe to their newsletter to get books to get notified of  free and discounted book deals on your preferred platform (Amazon, Google Play, iBooks, etc.).

BookBub: Another site with tons of high-quality books available at discounted prices. Subscribe based on personal preferences for suggestions sent to your inbox every day.

One final discovery — at first, I was limited to the selection of books I was receiving because I have an iPhone and many of the books that I was interested in reading were only available on Amazon. It took me awhile, but I finally realized that there was probably an app for Kindle on iPhone. Lo and behold there is! So now I have the choice of books for Kindle or iPhone.

These are just a few of the many sites out there with low-priced and free ebooks available.

If you have a favourite site, please suggest it in the comments section.