A Novel Way to Read a Novel: Chapter by Chapter on The Huff Post

A Guest Post By Claudia Ricci

seeing red claudia ricciLast month, my new novel, Seeing Red, became the first novel ever to be serialized on the Huffington Post. It’s an exciting experiment in digital publishing, and like any experiment, it remains to be seen if it will succeed.

Serializing novels isn’t new. Way back in the 19th century, many authors – Charles Dickens, Joseph Conrad, Mark Twain among them — serialized their books in weekly or monthly magazines, and readers would line up to buy the next installments of the stories.

But that was the old days, when there wasn’t much to read. Today, readers are swamped with reading options. Do they really need one more? It’s not clear. But as I’ve been hearing from readers who are writing in with comments, serial installments spark interest in a book. Serialization also appeals to writers who are trying to get their work out into the world for others to see.

Reader reaction to Seeing Red – in both print and on-line formats — has been very favorable, and recently, a couple of newspaper articles have helped to focus attention on my online experiment.

Interviewing me for one of those articles, Amanda Korman of The Berkshire Eagle, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, posed a question that got me thinking.

“How will you know if it is successful?” she asked. Great question!

I thought for a moment and then I told her that the logical answer would be that readership of the novel would be gigantic and that I’d sell a million copies of the book.

“But honestly,” I went on, “I think the real sign of success would be that online reading of fiction would really start to catch on and that the HuffPost would decide to include a FICTION section in the blog, where other writers would post short stories or serialize their novels.”

I went on to say that I thought it would be wonderful if lots of other writers would serialize their novels, because it would help to normalize the idea of reading novels online.

Well, so, readers have written in to me on the HuffPost this week to share the names of other books already being serialized.

Author Claudia Hall Christian wrote in to say that she has two books in her Alex Fey thriller online and she is now serializing a third. Christian has also got an “old school serial fiction set in Denver, Colorado.” She calls it (quite cleverly) Denver Cereal!!

Another reader wrote to say that she’s following no less than six serialized books online at two sites. Among the titles are Greenies, by Al Steiner, Hannah Sawyer, by Gina Marie Wylie and The Trail West, by woodmanone.

But perhaps the most exciting turn of events to happen as a result of my HuffPost serialization is that I’ve been contacted by a well-published novelist from Missouri who asked if I would serialize her novel on my own blog, called MyStoryLives, which functions as a community writing space. I publish my own work there, but I also publish the writing of dozens and dozens of other writers.

Lynn Biederstadt is a Missouri-based novelist whose first two novels were published in four languages, under the imprint of Richard Marek. The Eye of the Mind, her first book published by Putnam, was about psychics who could predict natural disasters. Her second book, Sleep, A Horror Story, was published by St. Martin’s Press.

Now, Lynn has written a wonderful new novel called The Spiritkeeper, and as of last week, I began serializing the book in twice weekly installments on my blog. The second installment ran Saturday March 12th and the next will run Tuesday, March 15th.

Lynn is setting up a website shortly where she will be storing all previous chapters.

Meanwhile, she has sent the book, or part of it, to Henry Morrison, the New York literary agent who represented her first two novels. Among the writers Morrison represents is Robert Ludlum.

Biederstadt, who keeps a wonderful blog called Sky Diaries, started writing when she was seven years old. Her family came out of the steel mills and her dad worked his way up in the telephone company in Illinois. She produced her first novel, showed it to a friend and he recognized her talent immediately and told her she needed to get an agent.

She approached Morrison and he took the book right away.

After the second novel was published, Biederstadt had a lull in her writing life. Part of the reason for that? The publishing industry was starting to fall apart.

But then, about a year or so ago, she began writing again. Why?

‘”There was a gaping hole in my life,” Biederstadt said. “I was born to be a writer and there was just something missing in it. I came upon the idea that I needed to write a love story, and that’s what The Spiritkeeper is.”

She wrote it in less than a year. I had only to read the first few lines and it was clear to me that the book had a kind of sizzling energy. Here is a link to today’s installment of THE SPIRITKEEPER! We hope you enjoy it and will keep reading. We hope too that you will become a follow of MyStoryLives, and if you’re a reader, send your work!

To read Seeing Red on the HuffPost, you can start by going to today’s installment. I hope you will “Become a Fan” — one click on the red and white button to the right of my name. You will also find a link at the bottom of the piece to all previous chapters.


Claudia Ricci, who holds a Ph.D. in English, teaches literature, journalism and creative writing at the University at Albany, State University of New York. A former staff writer for The Wall Street Journal and a prize-winning reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, Ricci published her first novel, Dreaming Maples, in 2002 after it was nominated for a Pushcart Prize (available on Amazon.com). Her new novel, Seeing Red, is available at http://www.SeeingRedthenovel.com. Ricci has published short fiction in a number of literary magazines nationwide. She edits a community writing space at www.MyStoryLives.blogspot.com.
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