The Copyright Page — by Letizia

Here’s a real treat for you my friends!  This week’s blog is by one of my frequent visitors, known only as Letizia.  She is a professor at a University that I’m guessing is located in the eastern United States, but her background is Swiss/French.  I’ve been reading Reading Interrupted for a couple of years, and it’s always well worth visiting.  Please enjoy today’s post, and thank you, Letizia, for donating your super reading observations!


I was so pleased when my blogging friend and author, Liesa, asked me to write a guest post.  I always look forward to her posts, her reflections on the creative process, and updates on her beautiful German Shepard.

Holding a book in my hand for inspiration, I started thinking about how I read. I turned the book cover open and realized that I didn’t start reading on the first page of the story.

For me, the first page of a book is the copyright page. I can’t remember when I started paying attention to it, but now, when I open a book for the first time, I always look at it.

Some are more interesting than others, but they provide me with a little introduction to the book.

Jhumpha Lahiri’s The Namesake, for example, gives us the subject terms by which the book is categorized: Young men—Fiction, Massachusetts—Fiction, Children of immigrants, etc.

I notice that she first published it as a novella in The New Yorker

Jhumpa Lahiri copyright page

The copyright page of Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road reminds me that the book was first published in 1961.

I learn that the author passed away in 1992.

copyright page for Revolutionary Road

My French books are different.  Natalie Sarraute’s Le Silence, for example, is very simple, only revealing the actual publication dates.  The ISBN number and other information are found at the end of the book.

Copyright page for Sarraute

If we are lucky, the page can be whimsical, part of the creative process itself.  I particularly like the ones by book designer, Louise Fili, who wanted to move beyond the traditional look:

copyright page for Louise Fili

The copyright page reminds us that we are holding someone’s creation, reminds us that we are about to read the collaborative work of an author, an editor, a book designer, etc.  At its best it gives us insight into the creative process and an introduction to the story.  At the very least, it tells us where and when the book was published, situating it in history.

Heading to Bouchercon 2014

picture of Bouchercon 2014You know when you have the best guy in the whole world?  When you tell him that no, you won’t be selling a lot of books at this upcoming reader/writer mystery conference and he still says, “I hope you have a good time.”

Whoo Hoo!  I’m heading to Bouchercon!

Although I’ve never been to this event, it’s supposed to be one of the biggest conferences for mystery lovers of all kinds with anywhere from 1000 to 1500 people or more converging on a cool location (this year it’s in Long Beach, CA) to talk mystery, sign books, meet famous authors, and generally get psyched up for a great year of reading and writing mysteries of all kinds.  How cool is that?

Some famous Bouchercon attendees . . .

Oh my goodness!  The glittery names are going to be there.  I hope to bump into such famous authors as:

  • CJ Box
  • Lee Child
  • Sue Grafton
  • David Hansard
  • William Kent Krueger
  • David Morrell
  • J.A. Jance
  • Edward Marston
  • Eoin Colfer
  • Jeffery Deaver

Question is, if I do meet these folks what can I say other than, “love your work?”  Still, it’s fun to know that there are real people behind the titles we read.

Good Friends Going to This Event

Then too, I’m looking forward to meeting some friends who I go to writing groups with.  Friends like:

  • Catherine Dilts (Stone Cold Dead series)
  • Shannon Baker (Nora Abbot Native American mysteries)
  • Mike Befler (great Geezer-lit mysteries)
  • Terri Bischoff (editor at Midnight Ink publishers)
  • Peg Brantley (thrilling thrillers and suspense novels)
  • Deni Dietz (author and editor for Five Star Publishing)
  • Margery Flax (the goddess of everything Mystery Writers of America)
  • Catriona McPherson (author of the Dandy Gilver mysteries)
  • and a whole lot more!

So, what do you do at a convention?  Gone are the days of illicit affairs and drunken parties (I suspect those were exaggerated anyway). There aren’t going to be any Hollywood “scouts” looking for their next Academy Award winning concept there. It’s going to be a big group of introverts (writers generally fall into this category) and a smattering of extroverts (there are exceptions to every rule), star gazers (“I want an author’s autograph in every book I buy) and so on.  We’re meeting for the main purpose of sharing our books and our personal stories in hopes of keeping the mystery genre alive and well among readers everywhere.  I’m looking forward to attending panel discussions on conducting a surveillance, murder most ghostly and paranormal, or even murder in a locked room. Heh, heh, heh!

And another good thing . . .

When the convention is over, lots of people will be heading back to their desks, energized to write that next novel.  Some will go home with an arm load of great reading material and names of authors they’re definitely going to try next.

Me? I’m going to visit my daughter and granddaughter. This just keeps getting better and better!

For now, I’ll let you go.  I’m starting to prep and pack already and the event is still a month away.  Can you tell I’m excited?  Hope to see you there!


Over the past several months of writing this blog a total stranger has become something of a friend.  Letizia of ReadingInterrupted. com has often visited here and has a beautiful site of her own on the topic of reading.  She has agreed to do a blog post for us next Wednesday.  I think you’ll really like her work and am looking forward to what she has to say. Please be sure to check in next week, and leave a comment.  Friendships begin with such small gestures and often reward us for years to come.

Have a great week!



Is A Group Memoir For You?

Memories are the stuff of great stories, warm feelings, and learning opportunities. And when those memories are collected into book form, the reading is a real treat. Yes, David Niven’s Moon’s A Balloon comes to mind, as does Len Goodman’s Better Late than Never. Have you read any good memoirs? There are thousands out there, and I find they emotionally draw you in, no matter how well or poorly they are written.

photo of Al and Frieda Braun

Al and Frieda, mom and dad, as seen through the eyes of their eldest three children.

I couldn’t resist, therefore, a wonderful memoir where I was mentioned in it. Over the past few days, I’ve enjoyed reading Growing up in the 1950s by three of my eldest siblings. It is a private publication, so you won’t find it on bookshelves at your local Barnes and Noble, but I was able to purchase a copy by ordering from my sister and picking up this “photo album” at a local Costco. Talk about total joy. I loved reading about life in my home before I was hardly a twinkle in anyone’s eye.

One of my sisters, Linda Gidley, was kind enough to share a few minutes with me talking about the work.

“This project helped us get together and talk about Mom and Dad,” said Linda.  While the siblings had often done so in the past, I think enough time had elapsed (my parents died in the early 1970s) that they could take on this big project with kinder eyes. Another observation Linda made, “We met regularly and it was definitely a positive experience.”

Photo of Growing up in the 1950s

A project to share with future generations of Brauns.

The reason this was important to me, is that these women, now approaching retirement years with a vigor you don’t expect, live hundreds of miles from each other, have an entire spectrum of political viewpoints, and childhood memories that many people cannot or will not face.  Our parents were alcoholics and unprepared to do more than delegate the raising of siblings to these three strong women–while they were hardly more than babies themselves. The responsibility was apparently both the girls’ joy and tremendous burden.  In writing the memoir they had to face a lot of memories I’d rather forget, but they worked through them and wrote a story each of them can easily share with grandchildren.

As my mom had nine children, describing the birth of one of those children was a fitting start to the book.  “I liked that start too,” said Linda. “It showed a healthy memory of some of the trauma we lived through.”

In writing a memoir with multiple authors the big phrase, said Linda, is “gentle compromise.    You can’t just say, ‘well okay. You insist on this, so we’ll go with it.’ You need to be able to say, ‘okay, let’s put it that way.’ Of course, if there’s some memory that’s hard to believe, you need to either prove it or leave it out.”

One sister claimed to go to school right across from a nuclear missile site and the other two authors rolled their eyes over what surely must be an inaccurate memory.  Then Linda looked up the situation on Google, and sure enough, the silo was mentioned.  That story stayed in the memoir.

These three women are very special people in their own right.  I remember them being labeled (behind their backs) as “the big three.”  Detroit may have been referring to the car industry, but the rest of us knew where the real power rested in our family.  We were at once drawn to their charisma and power of being older and wiser, and scared to death of the retributions for infraction of rules they passed down from our parents.

For the memoir, they worked together and with a more gentle spirit towards the world they wrote about.  Again, their maturity shone. If I had written this book, I think a certain lack of discretion may have made my effort less kind.  But there you have it.  Their wisdom shines again.

Perhaps there are memories you can capture–with the help and hard work of family or friends.  I’m hoping the next set of three siblings in my family might take on the task of writing about life in the 1960s. Could be cool.

What will you write today?  Best to you in all of your creative efforts.  And thank you to three wonderful women for a great trip down memory lane.+