Grace's Mosaic Moments

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Rant Time

My daughter and family spent Spring Break in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, along with several other Florida families with school-age children. (The trip on hold for more than a year, they decided to "go for it.") Below are a few of the photos. Keep in mind that snow, let alone skiing, is a phenomenon to Floridians.


View from condo balcony (directly above the finish of the "easy" ski slope)


About as different from Florida as the desert in Dubai


Mike & Cassidy found a taco truck at 10,000 feet

For video of Cassidy and Mike wiping out on a ski slope, click here.


When the Florida contingent preferred something less strenuous...

Riley, Cassidy & Hailey - Floridians in need of warmth

Grace note:  On Friday afternoon I had the pleasure of living vicariously by watching numerous videos of the skiing at Steamboat Springs. I have to admit I was shocked to see Cassidy sailing along, not on the slopes, but through narrow paths between trees! But what beautiful trees—towering snow-dusted evergreens—I could certainly understand the temptation to get off the beaten path. Then again, when Mike was called upon to help a man who had plunged off the steep side of a trail, I had to admit Cassidy was probably safer wending her way through the relatively flat woods. All in all, the group from Seminole County numbered eighteen, and a great time was had by all.

 ~ * ~


Rant 1.

Alas, I ran into two rant-worthy books this week. The first was a particular disappointment as I'm always delighted to find a new author, one whose book isn't abandoned after a chapter or two or added to the list of "forget the next one." I had, in fact, pre-ordered Book 2 of a new author and was delighted when it popped up on my Kindle. Except . . . 

Oops. I wasn't five pages in when I realized the author had committed the cardinal sin of a series, beginning Book 2 as if the reader had just put down Book 1, when, instead, many months had passed while Book 2 was being written. And besides, the average reader had likely read a dozen to a hundred books since reading Book 1 of this particular series. Yet the author said not Word One to remind readers of what happened in Book 1; not an iota of identification of the characters, where they were, why they were there, etc., etc.

Frankly, I was appalled. I read maybe ten pages, sent the book to Archives, and will buy nothing from this author again. Not worth my time. Talk about an author shooting himself/herself in the foot!

As anyone who is a regular reader of this blog knows, I have long emphasized that each new book in a series* must catch readers up with what went on in previous books. NEVER expect readers to remember. And besides, there may be readers who never saw Book 1. Among the authors who do a great job of tackling the Who, What, Where, When & Why of each new book in series are:  Janet Evanovich, Jayne Castle (Jayne Ann Krentz), Jack Higgins, C. S. Harris, Charles Todd, Linda Castillo. 

 *This applies to a series with continuing main characters; to a much lesser degree with a series featuring new main characters in each book, the series held together only by a continuing theme.

 Rant 2.

I was looking through my Kindle for a book to re-read and noticed one with a catchy title, though I couldn't recall the plot. So I hit: Search - Go To - Beginning, and soon discovered it was a well-written, well-researched Medieval. Hmm - odd that I never followed up by ordering a second book from this author. (This, by the way, proves the point made in Rant 1 - how easy it is to forget a book one has already read.)

I'm half-way through the book, three-quarters - still can't see why I never followed up on this author. And then . . . well, the sex scenes were a little more graphic than I liked - maybe that was it. Nine tenths - Final scene . . . well, huh, maybe I should check the author's name so I could order more. Except . . .

The book didn't end. It went on and on and on, bringing up a secondary plot that should have been finished off well BEFORE the final action scene. And even when that unfortunate sidetrip was concluded, the book wandered through a maze of inconsequential idiocy before finally coming to the ending that should have occurred thirty or forty pages earlier. DO NOT DO THIS! Again, as has been covered in past blogs, DO wind up your action scene, then wind up the book in timely fashion with one final chapter that answers any questions still hanging and provides the expected denouement, whether it's the solution of a mystery or Happily Ever After. NEVER, EVER spoil your good efforts by dragging out your book long after its expiration date.

It's possible this author did not make the same mistake again, but as far as I'm concerned, presenting this book without judicious editing was fatal.


Later in the week, I ran across yet another series that began Book 2 with no hint of the theme of Book 1, no identification of characters, etc., yet I have to admit it was so well written I scarcely noticed it. A bit - a very little bit of the backstory - was revealed as the book progressed, but there's no doubt the beginning was too much of a mystery (saved only by the author's expertise with words). Nonetheless, it would have been a better book with a some effort at character identification and at least a hint of the theme of the continuing plot, particularly for people like me who never read Book 1. 

Moral of these Rants:

The same thing I've been saying for the last ten years: Do not hit the "Publish" button until you've taken a really good look at your manuscript. Edit, edit, edit. And if you can't do it yourself, hire an editor. Do not ruin your chances of capturing a faithful contingent of readers by feeding them an amateur effort. 

~ * ~

Previous Mosaic Moment rants, plus a lot of advice on Writing & Editing, can be found in Making Magic With Words, a 200,000-word compilation of all my blog posts on Writing & Editing from 2011 - 2019.


 And please don't forget Book 2 of my Matthew Wolfe series:


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft) 


  1. I completely agree with the need to begin each book as if the reader had not read any of the previous ones. (Every book should read as a standalone.)
    I've always admired the way Rex Stout managed a neat introduction of the brownstone of West 35th Street and the characters who inhabit the Nero Wolfe books. He did it for more than 40 years so it must have been almost automatic for him but I don't remember if ever seeming forced. Same thing with Agatha Christie and Poirot.
    A pro is a pro.

  2. And a REAL pro is one who can bring in all the important information from previous books without boring to tears the reader who is binge-reading the whole series one book after another.

  3. Hmmm. I wonder how I'm doing with Book 2...