How to Incorporate Backstory That Hooks The Reader

Spoiler warning: Spoilers for the John Rain series by Barry Eisler. Also, The Detachment reached #1 on the Kindle store this week. Congrats, Barry!

I don't often read series out of order, but Barry Eisler was kind enough to send me a review copy of The Detachment when he visited the blog. The Detachment can be read as a standalone, although there are references to events from previous books.

 While I often find “here’s what you’ve missed” sections boring, I enjoyed the backstory passages in The Detachment. They actually made me eager to go back and read the previous volumes. Now why would that be? Time to dig out the old magnifying glass.

Spoilers: Good or Bad?

One of my favorite Threadless T shirts
I hate spoilers. Once I turned on the TV and accidentally watched last 10 min. of The Usual Suspects (I hadn't seen it before). Whoops. I also figured out the ending of The Sixth Sense halfway through and was grumpy the rest of the movie because I'd missed out on the surprise.

But do spoilers actually decrease enjoyment?

Spoiler alert:  A recent study says no.

Top Five Book Picks of 2011

I usually don't do book reviews, but once in a while, it's fun to blog as a reader rather than a writer. Here are my favorite books that I read this past year.  I read many other fantastic books as well, but if I have to limit myself to five...

(Listed in the order in which I read them.)

1. Plain Kate by Erin Bow

I have already gushed about Plain Kate -- the poetic language, the heartbreak. I loved this book so much that I bought two copies – one to keep and one to underline and analyze. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fairytales and bittersweet stories.

Tips On Responding to Public Criticism (Inspired by Steve Jobs)

The Internet is an interesting place. When people interact through computer screens, it increases anonymity and decreases inhibitions while dehumanizing the person on the other end. This is why online interactions tend to be so polite and respectful.

Um, right.

The truth is, if you spend enough time on the Internet, you’ll eventually take your turn as a punching bag.  As a blogger and future author, I'm very interested in how people react to public criticism. A while back, I ran across this video of Steve Jobs during a question-and-answer session. A man asks an insulting question, and Jobs’ response was quite impressive. It's worth taking a look.

Let's break down this response see if we can come up with some generalizable tips for dealing with public criticism.