Thoughts inspired by my reading
I’m speaking here as a reader, rather than an author, and reminding myself to remember these words when I have my author’s hat on!
I’ve just read a book that annoyed me. Another book, I should say, because I’ve read others that have irked me similarly. If you’re an author, you may want to know why.
Here’s how it goes –
I’m holding the book – either in print or digital form, it doesn’t matter. I take a look at the cover and absorb what’s on that. I turn or click, and expect to see a title page. It’s there, good.
Turn/click – another title page. Why?
Turn/click – publishing details. Good. I find those useful.
Turn/click – Now I want the story to start, but no.
Instead, there’s a plethora of other stuff first.
Dedication, a page or more of thanks to anyone who has even sneezed in close proximity to the manuscript. Yes, I understand the author feels indebted to them all, but if it’s more than a line or two, please put it at the end where the rest of us can ignore it if we want to.
Then comes –
Preface – rarely necessary, and if the content is a long explanation of why the author felt moved to write the book, usually to be ignored.
Prologue. In most cases this should simply be chapter one.
It’s 32 turns/clicks before I get into the stuff I want to read. In the past I’ve written serious non-fiction books and included some pre-pages I thought were necessary, but this one’s a novel, for heaven’s sake!
The one I'm looking at now is also an ebook but that’s not the problem, I love ebooks. I feel just the same when I find this in a tree book – actually even more so.
Yes, I know that in the case of an ebook, in my case my kindle,
I have the chance to start at the beginning without bothering with the
pre-pages, and that on its own should tell you something. But I’m in
the business. I want to see the cover. I want to note the publishing
details too. Strange of me, perhaps, but I do.
Then I want to start the reading.
Don’t make me turn/click over page after page. I may just decide to click the home button and select another title.
😊 Bronwyn Elsmore
Thoughts inspired by my reading
Despite common comments about the frenetic pace of life these days, it seems there are still a lot of people with time to saunter. There must be – I’m finding proof all the time in the pages of books I’ve read recently
Characters saunter down the beach, across the lawn, along the promenade, over to the couch/sofa, into the kitchen/bathroom, and particularly back to the office. And that’s all quite understandable.
Cats also saunter frequently through the pages, and that’s fair enough too – I have a couple and I’m quite used to that sight.
But other animals that seem to be more likely to stalk or otherwise move with more menacing intent are sometimes also said to saunter through a scene. Perhaps it’s just as well for the character sharing the page.
Nurses and doctors on duty, I read, saunter down corridors, and waiters saunter over to take orders when surely the alleviation of a patient’s pain, or a customer’s hunger, suggests they should move more quickly and purposefully. Detectives saunter on their way to make an arrest – presumably a ploy so the arrestee doesn’t catch on and saunter off faster.
It seems too, that though the verb alone is sufficient to portray a stroll or walking with a leisurely gait, some people can’t simply saunter. Characters in books I’ve read recently saunter away, both casually and causally; they saunter easily, erotically, gracefully, idly, lazily, listlessly, and slowly.
But perhaps I’m being too picky – at least they don’t usually saunter rapidly or at speed.
Thoughts inspired by my reading
Apparently everyone grabs everything these days. No longer do people simply pick up anything. If my reading is an indication of present-day trends, everyone’s so motivated by instant acquisition that they feel the need to seize things – snatch them, capture them, and clutch them in tight grasp.
In books I’ve read recently characters have grabbed, clothes, cell-phones, the arms, sleeves and hands of others, books, keys, bags, flowers, and all manner of other objects and devices.
I wonder if there’s a food shortage when all sorts of food is grabbed also – biscuits, bananas, Chinese take-out, a greasy burger, as well as drinks including coffee, wine, tea, and a round of beer. Even, strangely, a plucked chicken. It makes me wonder, does no one select, choose, or simply pick up a cookie any longer?
Coffee seems to be particularly affected, whether it be in coffeepots, plungers, or cups. Now I am an enthusiastic coffee drinker and the very thought of a long black, or occasionally a cappuccino, is enough to excite my taste buds. However, the thought of grabbing a cup, let alone a whole brimming coffeepot, fills me with worry. Surely it’s an action fraught with consequences.
As well as the hands, shoulders, arms and hair of others, characters grab their own or others' stomachs, crotches and, believe it or not, ass. It seems the Me-Too movement hasn’t percolated to the fiction pages yet.
Given appropriate circumstances, I can see that someone may well want to grab their purse, a cigarette, a machine-gun, shotgun/rifle/spear, a wrench, or a condom – all of which I’ve also encountered in recent reading. And I suppose I can accept that, particularly perhaps when associated with some of the former, a person might grab a moment, or a breath.
I have a little more difficulty when I read that characters grab cabs and taxis, one grabs an elephant, and another hobos. Go figure.
And I thought my reading preferences were somewhat on the literary side of the spectrum. It’s just as well I don’t grab books classified as popular or sensational.
HA! Resolution #1 achieved. (See below, 1/1/2018)
With the help of an expert, my son, who took more than half an hour - going through the process I had, then working out the next vital step. "Unnecessarily complicated," he concluded.
But, we've done it.
So here are 2 pix. Taken Christmas morning at Takapuna Beach, Auckland.
As predicted, resolution #3 was broken immediately.
But a kaleidoscope of new butterflies are winging their way in the neighbourhood to live their lives and be admired.
I received several personal responses to my previous post (below, 1/1/2018) Thank you for them all.
It seems there are quite a few butterfly fanciers out there. Perhaps slaves is a more apt term. One friend, Susan, seems as enslaved as I am. And more obsessed. She says –
Monarchs! I have a large swan plant by my door and tend them loyally.
1/ I count the caterpillars at least 3 times a day. 122 last week.
2/ I rescue them off the path when they drop.
3/ I insist visitors come and admire them.
4/ I photograph them. Did you know they actually 'fight'?
5/ When the tree is stripped, I am always shocked!
6/ I google alternative foods. Last year, they ate pumpkin. This year it is cucumber and melon.
7/ I joined a Facebook group for them last year. Then I withdrew when I realised I wasn't up to their level of obsession. I do not bring them inside (well, I currently have one chrysalis in the kitchen because...) I do not travel miles to spread them among other swan plants etc.
[Note: a later message upped the inside count to 3]
8/ When a butterfly comes near me, I coo 'My baby!'
9/ I am obsessed. If the tree dies this year I won't mind. They take up sooo much time.
10/ Currently, there are 10 chrysalis (plural) on my walls and downpipe.
11/ I battle wasps and go ape when they attack a caterpillar. Crush them in my bare hands.
12/ I am obsessed and exhausted and hope the tree dies.
To which my response is –
A: Caterpillars can eat a little pumpkin if they are just about ready to go into cocoon – otherwise the butterflies are likely to emerge deformed. I have had very minor success with frangipani leaves – same family of plant, strangely. Even stranger, I think, they’re not interested in milkweed, also the same family and looks much more like swan plant.
B: Caterpillars are stupid. I am constantly saving them from their mindless actions. I have now have another dozen safely into chrysalis stage, at much effort on my part as they insist on doing things like attaching themselves to a leaf rather than to the experienced hanging sticks I provide. Another caterpillar eats the leaf and the chrysalis drops. Whereupon I sigh heavily and attach them to a stick with cotton or a clip.
C: The trees last only a couple of years. Then hundreds of tiny seedlings spring up and butterflies lay eggs on them.
D: Butterflies are stupid.
E: The caterpillars strip the seedlings in moments. So then I am rescuing starving caterpillars and searching for, and buying more plants.
F: I am stupid.
G: I don’t, though, crush wasps with my bare hands. Last summer I was stung twice just by being in the garden minding my own business.
H: It’s a slight relief to find there are others out there who are at least, and even more, obsessed than I am. So, Susan, Val, Anne and others – cheers!
Happy New Year 2018
Because of New Zealand's situation in the South Pacific we lead the world into the New Year, as we do with each new day.
For those on the other side of the globe and who have been including comments about the cold in New Year greetings, here’s a picture I took a week ago on Christmas morning – a fairly typical scene of a day at the beach. Note the red-flowered pohutukawa trees, aka the New Zealand Christmas tree as they flower at this time.
Resolution 1 – work out how to upload photos from this cellphone onto my computer. I should have taken my camera – no problems with that.
Okay, then how about this one instead.
Pohutukawa tree near another beach.
I’ve just counted the number of books I read in 2017 – 90.
A mixed shelf containing fiction and non-fiction, light and serious. Now I’m looking forward to what the coming year will bring my way, and anticipating discovering enough literary gems to provide frequent highlights in the full list.
Resolution 2 – in the case of books that disappoint, make an early decision to abandon them, rather than keep reading in the hope they’ll improve.
As I write I’m keeping an eye on three plants in containers on my desk. They’re fast being denuded of leaves as they’re devoured by a dozen caterpillars.
For years I’ve spent far too many hours each spring to autumn growing swan plants and buying more when they run out of food, nursing caterpillars, and tending butterflies. Each year I wonder if I should let nature take its course – allowing predators to get their share instead of bringing caterpillars inside where they’re safe, leaving those that fall, and letting them expire when they strip the plants of food.
Resolution 3 – save the time for other pursuits. I’m 99% sure this one will be broken.
In another room, I have other plants with 10 hatching monarch butterflies.
This morning I released four saying, as I have done to hundreds of others over the years, “have a happy life”.
The same to everyone, everywhere.
eNovel Authors at Work, an international cooperative group of authors, have got together to offer a selection of some of their members' books (e-books for kindle) at much reduced prices, for a few days only. There should be something for all readers.
They're either 99c (in some countries Amazon translates this as a little more) or free
Check them out here - http://bit.ly/2AjgjlA (via Books Go Social)
You'll spot one of my books among them!
My novel Every Five Minutes
A woman, a man, a white dog. The woman calls herself Gina, but it may not be her real name. She calls the man Mr Chipzenburger – definitely not his name. The dog is less complicated and is happy to answer to Electra. Their story will make you laugh and cry.
A B.R.A.G. Medallion book.
“Compelling … well-crafted … unique writing style … a lovely, lovely book … perfect in its style and delivery … a masterpiece! … a five-star read.”
Buy it here http://bit.ly/2AjgjlA
or direct from Amazon here http://hyperurl.co/t31r4n
But wait, that's not all!
Go to https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/70a6368557/
for a rafflecopter promotion in which you could win prizes.
If you would like to receive an email when this site is updated,