Endings and Beginnings

This week, in between more amusing activities involving a five-year-old on a trampoline and a suddenly mobile baby trying to eat the Christmas tree decorations, I’ve been adding front and back matter to A Revolution of Rubies in preparation for formatting and publishing. Usually I put a teaser for the next book in series at the back, but this time there isn’t a next book in series. I could put the start of the Regency fantasy that’s up next, or the first chapter of the upcoming series that’s kind of a spin-off from this one… or I might do something completely different.

I’ve noticed that a lot of books now have a list of Book Group Questions at the end. I can see the benefit from the publisher’s point of view – getting a book picked up by a discussion group has to be great for sales – but most of the questions seem to be written by literary types who are all about symbolism and subtext and not at all interested in storytelling and having fun. So I had a crack at creating my own BGQ’s for A Revolution of Rubies. And concluded that I’m no good at this; most of these questions are only fun before you’ve read the book. Oh, well. I guess I’ll put a teaser for Salt Magic at the end of the book, after all. Meanwhile, enjoy:

1.    Thalia and the rest of the Center for Applied Topology have been sent to Europe to ingratiate themselves in diplomatic circles so that they can help bug the homes and offices of the diplomats. What could possibly go wrong with turning a bunch of topologists loose among diplomats? What couldn’t go wrong?

2.    Would you steal a woman’s borrowed rubies in order to get access to her niece’s paranormal abilities? Wouldn’t you even wonder about the wisdom of provoking someone who can become invisible and walk through walls?

3.    If a foreign agent and a woman with serious skills in card manipulation walk into Casino Barcelona, who’s going to have to borrow cab fare home?

4.    Lensky flatly forbids Thalia to try using her paranormal abilities in certain contexts. More than once. Whatever could have given him the illusion this would work? Will the handcuffs do it?

5.    A Revolution of Rubies takes place in Paris, Barcelona, and the imaginary Central Asian country of Taklanistan. Talk about these places from Thalia’s point of view, with particular attention to the various forms of chocolate-enhanced snacks available in each one.


    1. Well, she hasn’t really put in enough time connecting her small object manipulation skills with keys and locks. Ben’s the expert there. And, of course, she can get Ben to do anything…

      1. Presuming she can teleport to him, to be sure.

        Of course, if she can teleport away, she can work on handcuffs at leisure if she has the time.

    1. That’s the general atmosphere, yes. These books are based on many years’ close observation of topologists in their natural habitat.

      1. I wonder if that’s why I’ve found the books, while engaging, easily “put down-able”.. I keep thinking, “Alright you jumped on the same ‘mine’* three times already. Why do you think it won’t go boom again this fourth time?”

        * Yes, crap metaphor, but it’s what I have at the moment. Ox slow, OK?

    2. Is the Moebius Strip the one where the woman takes off an item of clothing from one end and puts it on on the other, continuously?

  1. Well, your dilemma did get me thinking. If Marvel ever forgets to put a teaser at the end of one of their movies, will that signal the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

  2. I think your questions for a book group are likely to be quite appropriate for some people since they won’t have read their book club book ahead of time. (That would be a foolish mistake with this series, just sayin’)

  3. Beginnings: I like the new trend toward chapter titles. Apparently, there is a way to set the “goto beginning” bookmark at a place after all the introductory material (cover, copyright, toc, etc…). I like this for series because when I finish one, the next one just starts.

    Endings: Authors put too much junk at the end. Apparently, there is not a way to put the “pop up next in series” bookmark anywhere except the physical end. I HATE paging and paging in order to get to the next book. This is especially the case where the end material is the start of the next book because then I must page and page – either at the end of this book or the start of the next one.

    For Michael Anderle, even the “other books by” section has gotten annoyingly long.

    And note that on non-tablet Kindles, hyperlinks links don’t work (and if they do, the browser is awful). Having to scroll past “buy book” links that I cannot use just so Amazon can prompt me to do the same thing is also annoying.

    This is especially true for Amazon-only authors. If I want to know what else you’ve written, the information is just a click away. I don’t need it in the book. If I want to know when your next book comes out, there is a “Follow” button that will tell me.

    Oddly, I don’t mind Author’s Notes. It is unique content and usually short.

    In summary: Throw as much in the front as you’d like because it is easy to skip automatically. Minimize what’s at the end.

    Looking forward to A Revolution of Rubies! (I think I’m buying them; iirc, I KUed the first then bought both when the second came out.)

    1. Thanks for the feedback! Maybe it’s not such a great idea to put a teaser chapter at the end, then? I certainly don’t want to annoy readers!

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