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An Ode to Bestsellers

(Sung to the tune of “The Monster Mash” written by Bobby Pickett, Leonard L. Capizzi)

I was looking at my stats late one night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight
For my book from its slough began to rise
And suddenly to my surprise

It hit the list
It hit the bestseller list
The bestseller list
It was an Amazon hit
It hit the list
I pumped my fist
It hit the list
It hit the bestseller list

From their computers in their happy homes
To the Amazon boards where the critics roam
The readers all came and their Kindles shook
They wanted a download of my book

It hit the list
It hit the bestseller list
The bestseller list
It was an Amazon hit
It hit the list
I pumped my fist
It hit the list
It hit the bestseller list

The downloaders were having fun
The series had just begun
Readers could download a three-pack
Or buy paperbacks, one by one.

The scenes were rockin’, all were digging the plot
Word spread quickly, they liked it a lot
Everyone predicted the book would thrive
If only some characters came out alive

It hit the list
It hit the bestseller list
The bestseller list
It was an Amazon hit
It hit the list
I pumped my fist
It hit the list
It hit the bestseller list

Out from his lair, a critic’s voice did ring
Seems he was troubled by just one thing
He opened the book and shook his fist
And said, “Whatever happened to a final plot twist?”

It hit the list
It hit the bestseller list
The bestseller list
It was an Amazon hit
It hit the list
I pumped my fist
It hit the list
It hit the bestseller list

Now everything’s cool, the critics have calmed down
And my new book is the hit of the town
For you, the reader, this book was meant to
Hook you on the series; I’ve planned twenty-two!

It hit the list
It hit the bestseller list
The bestseller list
It was an Amazon hit
It hit the list
I pumped my fist
It hit the list
It hit the bestseller list

When to End a Book Series

Wow. A tough question if ever there was one. Just how long should a book series last? Some authors love trilogies. Others subscribe to the seven-book saga made popular by J.K. Rowling. Some authors have no preset number in mind; if another idea for a tale manifests, they write it. Others are working toward a specific goal, such as Sue Grafton, the author of the popular Kinsey Malone mysteries, who is working her way through the alphabet. In fact in a review of Grafton’s T is for Trespass, USA today praised her work and wondered,  “What does it take to write twenty novels about the same character and manage to create a fresh, genre-bending novel every time?”

And that is the heart of the debate. Is an author cranking out the same story over and over or creating an original tale for each new book? Some authors get around the fresh/stale problem by constantly creating new characters. Piers Anthony and his wonderful Xanth series is a good example. His characters age and new ones emerge. His 36th Xanth novel will be published this December.

The dilemma that authors face is readers often love the characters in the series they read. They want to read more stories, find out how the next adventure will unfold. They want to see how the lives of the characters progress, learn their ultimate destinies. (Have you seen the meme that made its way around Facebook this past summer? It showed a kneeling man and the caption said, “I pray for world peace, the safety of kittens, and that J.K. Rowling’s new book is really about Harry Potter, the Grown-up Years.”)

Some readers love formula tales, books that follow a well-known, well-loved pattern that gives them the assurance of knowing how the the story will unfold and even what the ending will bring. It’s safe and comfortable, like a good friend. Others want the thrill of not knowing, the adventure of discovering something new, the excitement of wondering, “what is going to happen this time?” Does a long-lived series need to provide endless twists and surprises or does it survive by keeping to the formula? A little of both, we suspect.

Some authors are under contract to write one or more titles in their series per year. Is it hard to be creative under such deadlines? We don’t know the answer to that one since we are not under such constraints, but we have seen once wonderful series deteriorate into obvious have-to-crank-out-another-book tales. This is sad, both for the authors and the readers. Yet the money factor that drives this kind of book production is a hard fact of life.

When will the Time’s Edge series end? We honestly don’t know. We have several adventures in mind for Michael and Kate, and we do know their ultimate destinies. We even know what the final book in the series will be; the last chapter of that tale is written. We keep it in mind when we write and sometimes will hint at their final story. We have already written three books in this series and have three more planned. After that, who knows? If we have more stories to tell, we will. If we feel it is time to bring it to a close, we will do that, too.

That is the true dilemma of writing a book series: knowing when to make a graceful bow and exit.

It’s Impossible to Own Just One Book

Books are like potato chips. You can’t have just one.

What Great Stories Have in Common

Ever feel deja vu when reading a book or watching a movie? Here’s why.

Fiction in the Garden

We have a lot of fun with our gardens. They are a mix of styles: cottage, Zen. rock, and just plain whimsical. (Plain whimsical? There’s an oxymoron for you!) But they do have one element in common. Each garden contains at least one reference to a work of fiction.

Sometimes it is just the name of the garden. One of  our gardens is called the Thoughtful Spot from A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. It sits by a large pair of pines tree and has three boulders for sitting and contemplating nature, the world, or the plot of our most recent book. One of the entries to our backyard gardens is guarded by a large stone lion that we call Aslan. Next to him there is a sign that says “Narnia”  with a directional arrow. A rock with a hole in the center has the name “Excalibur” scribbled across it. The roses that line the sidewalk out front are Robin Hood Roses (aka Mediterranean Musk Roses).

As you wander through our gardens, you will occasionally find a helpful signpost. Need to get to the Emerald City? No problem. A sign points the way. Want to visit Hogwarts? The sign tells you to follow the path through the shade garden. There are numerous signposts throughout our gardens, some boldly tacked to trees, others hidden so that they may only be glimpsed by the careful observer. If you look closely you will see directional signs for Camelot, Xanth, Neverland, Middle-earth, and several others. We are always adding to our collection.

The best part about our gardens? Nearly every one has a place where you can sit down and read. Benches, tree stumps, boulders; nooks, crannies, and hideaways. Just follow the sign to your favorite place, sit down, and open a book (or ebook, depending on your preference). You will be there.

 

 

We’ve Been Editing Our New Book

Sung to the tune “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”

 

We’ve been editing our new book

all the livelong day!

We’ve been editing our new book,

and the time has slipped away.

We can see the deadline looming

so we rise up early in the morn.

We can hear each other shouting

“Damn it, cut some more!”

 

Damn it, cut some more!

Damn it, cut some more!

Damn it, cut some more and more, more, more!

Damn it, cut some more!

Damn it, cut some more!

Damn it, cut some more, more, more!

 

Someone has to check for grammar.

Someone has to check for form.

Someone has to check for style.

While rewriting it some more!

 

We’re singin’ “Gee, why did I write this?

Gee, this piece has to go-o-o-o-o.

Gee, why is editing so damn hard?

Wish we were strummin’ on the old banjo!”

The Cover of Time’s Illusion

Time’s lllusion, the third book in the Time’s Edge sci-fi/fantasy series, will be published in Fall 2012. The cover has just been completed. The picture is the work of the very talented Ali Ries. You can view Ali’s artwork on her website: casperium.deviantart.com

Libraries Rock

Take two minutes (all right, two minutes and 53 seconds) and watch this incredible video of how the Troy Library saved itself from disappearing forever. Go, Troy!

 

Time’s Edge Book Trailer

Library Santa

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