Thursday, July 22, 2010

Guest Blog and Giveaway with Sharon Ashwood




Serial writers
Writing a series is an interesting process. When I began the book that would become Ravenous, the first Dark Forgotten story, I had no thoughts of sequels. When my editor said to start planning for more, I had to start thinking in a hurry.

What kicked off the rest of the story for me was one question—if demons were escaping into our universe, where were they coming from? I had always assumed a fiery pit sort of place, but what if my assumptions—and everyone else’s—were dead wrong?

This question led to Scorched, which gives a lot of information about that demon dimension. Another question led to Unchained, and so on. In fact, every book raises a fistful of new ideas I simply have to grapple with.

Unchained tells the story of a slayer who also happens to be a mother—how does a woman deal with a conflict like that? And what happens when life returns to a world frozen in time? Is it all bluebirds and butterflies, or does life mean something else? And what happens when the hero has to choose between mere weeks of passion and a dreary, lifeless immortality dedicated to duty?

And, of course, at the end of Unchained, there were more things I needed to know. And so the Dark Forgotten books continue—and they shall do so, as long as people want to read them.

How long should a series be? I think as long as a series continues to be driven by curiosity and compelling characters, it can carry on forever. However, there are logistical problems. How do new readers catch up? How does the author keep details straight? These are all problems that are cropping up for me after only four finished manuscripts—even with copious notes, I have no idea how authors ten or twelve novels into a series manage! Fortunately, these days we have the Internet. I’ve managed to keep some things tidy with the Monsterpedia, where I’ve spelled out some information for both myself and readers.

So, to help me understand the series phenomenon from a reader’s viewpoint, here are a couple of questions:

1. What do you do when you find out about a new series?

a) Buy/borrow the books from the beginning and read them in order
b) Dive in partway through and then go back to the start if you like what you see
c) Get a friend to tell you what’s happened so far.

2. If “official” summaries of the books were on the web, would you

a) Avoid them like the plague
b) Use them to catch up before picking up a book partway through

Tell me what you think, and please share anything else you think I should know!

One commenter will win a book from my series – whichever one they’d like!

Excerpts from all three are available at www.sharonashwood.com

And, just for fun, my Unchained heroine, Ashe, stands ready to help you rid yourself of any monster infestations in your life ... check out her do-it-yourself monster removal advice.

And here you can check out the book video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbExjMvR8-0

42 comments:

Roxanne Rhoads said...

Hi Sharon

Thanks for joining us today- sorry the post was a little late

Been one of those weeks, thought I had this psot scheduled but turns out I had saved it but not scheduled it

donnas said...

Great post. When I find out about a new series I go back to the first and start there. I can not knowingly start a series in the middle. Even if they are standalone stories I just cant do it. I will read official blurbs on websites. But not to take the place of the book.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Bethie said...

I have to start a series from the beginning. If I get a book that is not the first, I don't read it until I have read all others before it.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

CrystalGB said...

Hi Sharon. I like to read a series from the beginning. So, will buy the books and read in order. I prefer not to read reviews that give spoilers.

Crystal816[at]hotmail[dot}com

Bethany C. said...

If I find out about a series that looks interesting to me, I HAVE to start at the beginning. And I'll avoid spoilers, even synopses of subsequent books in the series like the plague. I thrive on surprises. If I catch something that I think gives away a big plot point, I'll avoid the series until I've kind of forgotten about it.
And while it's great when there's a really good series that you can keep coming back to, I appreciate knowing (sometimes after a few books have already been released) exactly how many books are going to be in a series. I've been sad to see a few end (especially when they were just trilogies) but it's satisfying when all your burning questions about plots and characters have answers. And there are so many great series out there that it's almost relieving to have just a little more time to go and start something new.

throuthehaze said...

I absolutely HAVE to read a series in order. I think that reading them out of order causes you to miss out on a lot of little details that round out the story.

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Barbara E. said...

I like to start a series at the beginning and read it in order. If I somehow miss that it's a series and start in the middle, I'll usually go back and read the first books as soon as I can. It's just more fun to read in order because you get to follow the recurring characters in each book and see how the story progresses.

SandyG265 said...

It depends on the series. If the series is a continuing storyline then I will start from the first book. But if it's a series where each book features a different couple then I will start with whichever book I can get.

Meredith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meredith said...

If at all possible, I like to read a series in order. It's not a rule though--I have read some series out of order.

I like reading from the beginning because there is no confusion about the history of the story. Which is also why I like reading the book before watching the movie--a lot of movies leave out important details.

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Lynette said...

I am an avid reader and love when I find a new series I enjoy. Normally I would look at paperbackbookswap.com to see if I can find others in the series.

by the way I am also hosting a week of giveaways at my place if your interested.

http://theysayimnuts.blogspot.com
lynette355@yahoo.com

Robin K said...

I like to read all of my book series from start to finish. I am currently collecting quite a few :)

I avoid summaries. I did not even know they came in official format, till this post. I do like reading blurbs though.

robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

Kailia Sage said...

I loved this post! most of the time, with new books I borrow the books from the beginning and read them in order. Or I'll ask my friends what they think!

twilightforever.edward(at)gmail(dot)com

Sullivan McPig said...

1. What do you do when you find out about a new series?

My answer would be A, but sometimes B
This is because the bookstores over here don't buy complete series but sometimes just start with the newest book so sometimes I buy the newest book even though I haven't read any other books, but mostly I like to start a series at the first book.

2. If “official” summaries of the books were on the web, would you

I would have to add C: for some series I would check them to see if things turn out as I hope, for others I'd avoid them.

elaing8 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
elaing8 said...

I have to read a series from the beginning.I can't read one and skip a few,they need to be read in order.Its a continuing story so I don't want to miss anything.
I would read summaries for certain books/series.If I really wanted to know what was gonna happened.
elaing8(at)netscape(dot)net

*yadkny* said...

Hiya Sharon!
1. When I find out about a new series I check out the author's website/blog to make sure I am getting it right because I have to start at the beginning. Even if the author says they can be read as stand alone books, I still like to read from the 1st book if I can, so I don't miss something.
2. I just can't pick up a series part way through, so I would have to avoid the official summaries like the plague.

I agree with you that as long as the series keeps things interesting and there are more questions to answer, then it can go on forever and I'm ok with that. I read somewhere that LKH (Anita Blake Series) has a notebook that she keeps all of the details (descriptions for characters, settings, timelines, etc.) in to make sure she keeps everything straight. I mean she is well on her way to 20 books (I believe) in that series alone. I didn't jump on the bandwagon with her series until the 15th book came out and there was no way I was going to start in the middle, so I bought the books from the beginning and read them straight thru to her latest.
BTW - loved the monster removal advice:)

yadkny@hotmail.com

JenM said...

I much prefer to read from the beginning of a series, especially in paranormals (I'm not quite so rigid in straight romances). I know that the first book is often a set-up/worldbuilding book so as long as I see potential and something in the book captures my attention, I'll keep reading even if the plot is kind of rough, or the characters are somewhat flat.

With PNR, since the leads usually change with each book, I'll sometimes pick up in the middle if the books are only loosely related, but with UF, I always try to start from the beginning.

I would read a summary if it was available, especially if one particular book in a series caught my attention, but I knew that I didn't want to read the rest. I'd be much more likely to pick up in the middle if summaries were available for earlier books.

Looking forward to reading this series - it's on my wishlist.
jen(at)delux(dot)com

Sandra said...

Hi Sharon,
The answer to your questions..If I find a new series I am one to hunt down and borrow all the books in the series and read in order..I hate reading out of order for at times you may learn things about the other books that are like spoilers for them..I like learning of the twists and turns and the love and hate relationships as they go not from a book out of sync.
And as far as “official” summaries of the books I do skim over them..But kind of like you read the back of a book to see if you want to read it or not..You get some information but not enough to spoil or ruin the book.
I looked into your series and whether I win or lose I'll end up hunting down and reading them all.
Best of luck to all..
Sandra
:)

stacey said...

1.(a) Buy the books from the beginning and then read them in order.I have lotes of book that i have not read yet because I'm waiting to get the rest of the set.
2.(a)Avoid like the Plague
I like to read all of the books out there not cheat.
sasluvbooks(at)yahoo.com

tina werner said...

i prefer to start the series from the beginning. i like to read reviews on the series first before i decide to actually start a new series.

stampitchick at yahoo dot ca

joder said...

Great post! When it comes to series, I have to start them from the very beginning. I immediately buy all of them or get them from the library. I hate being left out.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

cait045 said...

I have to start series from the beginning and go all the way through. I can't start in the middle it drives me crazy. And I don't read summaries unless it is the first book in the series afraid it might give something away.

usignolc(at)yahooDOTcom

Beth said...

Great post.
In answer to question one, I like to start the series from the beginning, but if I discover it after several books are out, like I did this one, I usually go to the used book store to try to find the earlier ones and if I can't I'll wind up ordering them from a book store.
In answer to question two, I would avoid them just like I do reviews, at least til I've made my buying decision based on the blurbs. If I decide to buy then I avoid anything that might be a spoiler. If I decide not to buy, then there is no reason to read any summaries(or reviews).

van_pham said...

1. What do you do when you find out about a new series?

A. I will definitely buy the series, and read them in order. I can't stand reading books halfway through or out of order.

2. If “official” summaries of the books were on the web, would you

B. If i never heard of the series before and i'm thinking about buying the books...i will read the summaries first to see if i like it.

fun questions!

Van
Littopandaxpress(at)yahoo(dot)com

katsrus said...

1. What do you do when you find out about a new series?
a) Buy/borrow the books from the beginning and read them in order
~I have been known to pick up a book in the middle or end & didn't know it till after I read it.~
2. If “official” summaries of the books were on the web, would you
b) Use them to catch up before picking up a book partway through
~I would pick this because it would help me decide if it sounds like something I would enjoy.~
I think series are good as long as an author can make each both somewhat differant and keep you interested.
Really enjoyed your post today Sharon.
Sue B
katsrus(at)gmail(dot)com

Roxanne Rhoads said...

This is from Sharon who had some blogger issues and couldn't post-

THANK YOU to everyone for coming out and leaving such great replies! It’s interesting to me to hear how many of you are “begin at the beginning” readers. I just goes to show how important it is for the first books in a series to stay in print long enough for readers to discover them. I hate discovering an author and finding out that book one is unavailable while book five is just coming out. Honestly, I think that’s killed some decent authors. I’m counting on ebooks to solve this problem!

Cheers,

Sharon

Books and Bane said...

So, to help me understand the series phenomenon from a reader’s viewpoint, here are a couple of questions:

1. What do you do when you find out about a new series? Read the reviews on Amazon then answer A).

a) Buy/borrow the books from the beginning and read them in order

2. If “official” summaries of the books were on the web, would you
A)
a) Avoid them like the plague


nedsped at gmail dot com

Thanks!!

Jessica said...

When I hear about a new series, I first check out the author's website to get a better feel for the book. I'll ask some of my online friends who read the same genre and see their opinion. Then I usually look over book 1, see the description and the review/comments and what authors comment on it and basically end up buying book 1.

If a full detailed summary of a book is on the web and I haven't read it yet, I avoid it. I don't want to read spoilers before I read the book. Basically just a back of the book description is enough for me and a few reviews from bloggers that I know read the same things I do.

rita said...

Thanks for the chance!

I'll start reading with whatever book catches my eye. If I like it, I'll go back and read them all, in order. I used to have to start at the beginning, but I got over that.

I won't read anything detailed about a book. I'd rather find out for myself.

Nicole said...

I love your cover!! It is so beautiful!

When I find out about a new series, I like to start at the beginning so I don't miss out on anything. Even if each book is about different characters, or can be stand-alone, I like the overall story lines too!

Ashley said...

I have to start a series from beginning to the end.

hewella1 at gmail dot com

EVA SB said...

I like to start a series from the beginning - catchups and summaries don't satisfy me.

I'm also not a fan of long series. Most series peak before reaching the half dozen mark and even the best have lost me once there are more than a dozen books out there.

Alicia said...

I will start from the beginning if I am aware it's a series.

And I only read the official reviews to determine if I've read something or not. If I'm sure I haven't, I won't so no spoilers.

Thanks for the giveaway >^..^<

bloggyig at gmail dot com

linaramz said...

When I find a new series I'm interested in I have to start from the beginning. I'll buy the first book if my library doesn't have it and if I like it I'll continue the series.

mbreakfield said...

I, usually, try to buy the books from the beginning. If I accidentally start in the middle, I try to catch up and would enjoy a recap of the previous books. marlenebreakfield(at)yahoo(dot)com

katscorner said...

Hi, When I find out about a new series I would love to read I go to the first book and read that first, but till I can get the seriea I make sure I write the name in a special book I have along with the authors name so I can get it at the local library. I try not to read summeries cause I love to read each and every word of thte book. I do with that authors would make sure the readers know in which order the books come in cause as readers it is hard to find out even going by copywrite date. So I would love it if they made it real clear this is book 1 ..2..3 and so on. I am so looking forward to reading your series and I have wrote it in my book to put a hold on at my local library. : )
k.vallee@comcast.net

pams00 said...

I really liked this post! If it is a series I am really in to then the sequels can be unlimited lol.

Answer to Qs:
1. What do you do when you find out about a new series?

a) Buy/borrow the books from the beginning and read them in order

-- I like the first hand experience best :)

2. If “official” summaries of the books were on the web, would you

a) Avoid them like the plague

b) Use them to catch up before picking up a book partway through

-- This is a tougher answer though generally I'd pick a. b is only reserved if I can't find all of the series copies (i.e. there are rare occassions where its been yrs on the prev release and its now oop)

Pam S
pams00@aol.com

Beverly said...

Thanks for hosting! When I hear of a series the first thing I want to know is how much of the series is printed already. If the whole series is published, then I run out and get them (if I think they sound great) but if they are not all published, then I have started waiting to read them as my TBR is a mountain.
bevsharp@desch.org

Beverly said...

Thanks for hosting! When I hear of a series the first thing I want to know is how much of the series is printed already. If the whole series is published, then I run out and get them (if I think they sound great) but if they are not all published, then I have started waiting to read them as my TBR is a mountain.
bevsharp@desch.org

Cherry said...

I like starting a series from the start. The only time I read a book which was number 4 or 5 down the series was because it was a review copy and I do not have time to read all 3 or 4 books before it before my review was due. Always, I didn't really like the book that much. So when I encounter a new series, I always start from book1. I also nosey about it before deciding to read it. I google the author, the series and the book. I read all info about it that I can get. Like Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series. It had such an uninspiring cover, I borrowed it from the library rather than buy it. It turns out that the series is a masterpiece. So I bought my own copy of the books in the series after I returned the books to the library. So, no I don't jump straight into it. I used to, but I got burned with the Weather Warden series. Because it had fantastic covers, I bought all three books in the series (there were only three at that time). It turns out to be such an irritating read that by the time I finished book three I was wondering how these books got published. I never buy like that again. That was a lesson I learned well.

Re-posted your contest at: http://contests-freebies.blogspot.com/2010/07/win-dark-forgotten-book-at-fang-tastic.html

Cherry Mischievous
mischivus101-warrior [at] yahoo [dot] com

katscorner said...

following on your blog 7-27
k.vallee@comcast.net

 
BLOG DESIGN FOR FANG-TASTIC BOOKS BY BARBARA.
RED CORSET © HALAQUINN ARCADIAS. GOTHIC NIGHT © ASHEN SHARROW.