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Reading Guides
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Mark Terry has been blogging about online book marketing. He covers a wide range of techniques in a sensible way which makes for worthwhile reading. In today's entry he quotes Mary who mentions reading guides:

...the beauty of these is that book clubs and such are always interested in them -- if you contact these clubs, to be able to offer a reading guide is always a bonus.

Mark sets out some discussion points for his new Derek Stillwater novel The Serpent's Kiss and then remarks, "Kind of makes you feel like a literature professor, doesn't it?"

Well, yes. It is an educational exercise to go back and try to analyze your own books. When I'm writing I'm thinking about story and characters and this or that neat idea or setting. I don't think specifically in terms of theme, so when Mary and I put together our own Reading Guide for the John the Eunuch Historical Mystery Series, which is in need of updating, I was interested, and sometimes surprised to realize what, exactly, we were writing about, what we apparently had in the backs of our minds, while wrestling with all the action and mystery puzzles and mechanics.

Here are a few of the questions from our reading guide:

John suffered castration as a young man. In what way has this affected his emotional and mental attitudes? How do you think you would react to this type of traumatic event? To what extent do the things that happen to us dictate "who we are" and to what extent can we decide "who we are" despite the things that happen to us?

As Lord Chamberlain, John the Eunuch is immensely wealthy but he prefers plain food and a sparsely furnished house. What does this tell you about him? Is wealth necessarily the measure of a person? What would you do if you were suddenly as rich as John?

In One For Sorrow, John is driven to find his friend's murderer even though the emperor has ordered him to stop the pursuit. Do we have a higher duty to our family and friends than to those in power?

Consulting reading guides might be a good way to select reading material. What writers think their books are about probably gives a reader a better feel for them than publishers' blurbs.

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