A Good Read.
I’ve just finished reading The Third Nero. Set in the reign of the paranoid Roman Emperor Diocletian – a world of intrigue and double dealing – Flavia Albia is hired by Palace officials to find and expose yet a third pretender claiming to be the Emperor Nero. One of Diocletian’s inner circle is obviously attempting a takeover. Can Albia save Rome from civil war by uncovering the traitor before the Emperor returns from his triumphant conquests in Pannonia without falling prey to an enemy assassin herself?
The book kept me reading until the early hours and I confess I even sneaked it downstairs to read during the day when I should have been hard at it on my PC rewriting the first draft of my latest Fiona Mason Mystery – a definite no-no!
If you have never read one of Lindsey Davis’s wonderful 1st century Roman private eye mysteries, you are missing a treat.
I have to confess I’ve been addicted to Lindsey’s books ever since I read the first Falco novel – The Silver Pigs – back in the early 1990s. After devouring every one of the twenty Falco, I was heartbroken when she decided to move on to a new protagonist. Albia may be Falco’s adopted daughter, but I wasn’t sure about her at first. She is a very different personality from the irreverent joker slightly-shady character I had come to love. But I was quickly converted, peaked by the enigmatic Manlius Faustus and the possibility of a budding relationship over the next few volumes that might promised to be anything but smooth.
Changes in the Library Service.
I read The Third Nero in hard book form. A rare activity for me these days. I’m ashamed to admit that most of the fiction I read these days is in eBook form. Downloading books from Amazon is so quick and convenient that it is easy to slip into the habit and forget the visceral pleasure of cuddling down holding a real book in your hands. Making one of my rare visits into the town centre last week, I decided to pop into the library and there was The Third Nero sitting on the shelf!
Not so long ago, the majority of my reading was supplied by the library. Apart from its fantastic new well-stocked central library, Swindon boasted fourteen other local branches plus a library van that called in at the more remote villages in the borough. We could proudly claim to have one of best library services in the country. Sadly, cuts in local government spending have meant that all but four have been closed and even they have had their hours drastically reduced. To my shame, I must confess that my own far less frequent visits in the last three or four years have helped to bring that change about.
Meeting a New Author
The small branch library less than ten minutes’ walk from my home, was one of those that fell to the axe, but a volunteer trust working in conjunction a neighbouring local library in the same position took over the building and its stock. To attract new readers, it is planning a series of community events to attract local people through its doors. One such event was a talk by a new local author last Monday. Grace’s Turmoil, Peter Perrin’s first published novel, is best described as a romance involving older characters living in a retirement home. At the end of his talk, Peter and I had an interesting chat about publishing, promotion and marketing and the many technical skills we writers need to acquire that we never dreamt we would be necessary when we began our writing journeys. Though our genres are very different, designing websites, mastering social media, building a fan base and all the many other peripheral activities are common to us both. Whether you are an indie or with a publisher, these are part and parcel of a writer’s life. Soon to launch my tenth published novel, though I’ve learnt a vast amount about writing, I still have a long way to go on the technical promotional side.
How Times Have Changed
My writing career began well over fifteen years ago. I had written three novels before I managed to persuade a small publisher to take on my fourth attempt. Talking with Peter, made me realise just how different things were back then. My first four novels were produced as paperbacks. The new Print on Demand process meant publishers no longer had to print 10,000 copies before making a single sale. It made it a less risky proposition to take on new untried authors. When All in the Mind came out in 2005, the eBook was still a novelty and few people had an eReader.
These days, any writer can load their novel onto Amazon with relative ease with no expense. (Whether they will sell, is a totally different issue!) Anyone can become an indie author. It means that it has become harder to make your creation stand out from the masses.
Those of us with Kindles, Nooks, Kobos or one of the many other eBook readers, are probably members of the fabulous BookBub, Reading Deals, eBookStage or one of the other groups who send us daily emails telling of free and heavily discounted books currently available. Such tempting offers mean many of us now have more eBooks downloaded that we can possibly read in a lifetime.
That said, some of the most enjoyable reads that we come across are ones that have been personally recommended to us by our friends and fellow readers. Have you discovered an exceptional read in the last few weeks? If so, please do share it with us. I would love to know the books you enjoy and what it is that appeals to you most about them.