Are You A Kayak Reader or a Speedboat Reader? Plus a Trio of Giveaways.

010As a kayaker, in addition to learning how to instantly turn 180 degrees  when sighting an alligator draped across the narrow channel ahead, I’ve learned one other important survival skill.  When faced with the wake of a high-powered speedboat, steer your kayak into the waves. You’ll have a washboard rippling ride, but you probably won’t capsize.

My husband and I are now the proud owners of a Point 65 kayak made in Sweden. We bought this particular model because it separates into three pieces. This means we can break it down and carry it in our car, and then reassemble on-site. No kayak rack on the car, no heavy lifting.  The right kayak for us.

Since buying the kayak a few months ago we’ve been out five times.  In addition to alligators and waves, we’ve also battled wind and sunburn, but we’re catching on. There are a hundred great places to explore within twenty miles of our Florida home, and our plan is to launch in every one.

On the last trip out, as I watched speedboats on the Intercoastal Waterway from the safety of a “no wake” zone in a mangrove preserve, I wondered why people chose to fly by that lovely scenery instead of taking their time exploring.

That thought seemed familiar.

In the months since I turned in No River Too Wide, I’ve read eclectically. Since I’m interested in independently pubbing some of my new books, I’ve been choosing indie books with good reviews, to see what readers appreciate and seem to want more of. I have, in my own way, decided this is the perfect time to steer into publishing waves and avoid getting whacked from the side.

I’ve been surprised by my reading in many ways, but one thing is now perfectly clear to me.  Many new authors I was introduced to are fabulous storytellers. They have great ideas with twists and turns and surprise endings. In the tradition of serialized novels, they know how to create cliffhangers, solve them, then create a new one at the end of the next chapter or even the next novel. They take their readers on a breathless ride.

They just don’t linger, and they don’t enjoy the scenery.

Am I talking about no description here? No. I’m talking about the internal landscape of place, characters, plot, the subtleties in the way people act, the tiny interactions that humanize the people who walk through our stories. I’m talking about elements that can slow a story. Some of the books I enjoyed were like canvases painted with bright colors and wide brushes. They were exciting, sometimes even breathtaking.

They were speedboat novels.

Not every indie novel fits this description.  Some, like traditionally published novels, moved so slowly I couldn’t finish. Time and lavish attention were paid to scenes and descriptions that accomplished nothing. To stretch the metaphor to the breaking point, these were rowboat novels. They moved slowly, too often went in circles, and couldn’t get close enough to anything of interest to really investigate it.

If you haven’t guessed yet, I am a fan of  kayak novels. I need a strong, gripping premise, a pace that’s fast enough to keep my interest but slow enough that I can ponder the important interactions. I want a novel that gives me a deeper appreciation of the struggles of humanity, the feel of a particular place and time, the well-wrought nuances of dialogue. I want  an artfully written narrative, a story that can make me smile and occasionally cry, and most of all the tug that comes when the last sentence is finished and I realize the characters who have been so real to me will now live the rest of their lives out of my sight.

Do self-pubbed kayak novels exist? Of course they do, but I wonder if the ability to publish quickly also lends itself to speedboat novels? And I wonder if readers, who more and more often are reading  on smart phones today, want more cut-to-the-chase narratives they can read quickly. When you’re standing at a checkout counter reading a novel, you don’t want to contemplate the mysteries of humanity. You want something to happen and fast.

I look forward to trying more indie authors and finding out if I’m right.  I also look forward to finding many new favorite authors with long backlists to savor.

Maybe the best novels do everything, but independently or traditionally pubbed, it’s rare not to be able to fit a book into one slot or the other.  Think about the novels you’ve loved best. Where do they fit?

Are you a kayak reader or a speedboat reader? Or do you love both depending on your mood? Comment and let us know.


Love giveaways? There are currently three in progress for my books, but two end soon. Here are the links:

  1. Emilie’s Celebration Giveaway on her website, ending May 15.
  2. Mira’s No River Too Wide Giveaway at Goodreads, ending May 24
  3. Emilie’s The Trouble With Joe Giveaway at Goodreads, ending May 15.

That’s a lot of books. I hope that you, my most faithful readers, win lots of them.


  1. RoseMary Forstrom on May 14, 2014 at 11:49 am

    I feel that I am a kayak reader. I like to be pulled into the story in the first chapter. I like characters with depth that I can enjoy getting to know. I am not a fan of the paragraph or two of descriptions of food, clothes, etc. I enjoy laughing, crying or feeling emotions with the characters. I know I’ve enjoyed a book when I check to see if there will be another book about these characters.

    • Emilie Richards on May 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      Thanks, RoseMary. I sometimes enjoy in depth descriptions to help me sink into a story, but not when they’re overdone. Walking that line as an author is tricky. I’ve noticed that despite the bad rap that romance novels receive about overwriting, mysteries frequently describe scenes in much greater detail. It’s interesting to hypothesize why some of my favorite authors feel a need to tell me everything that’s sitting on a bookshelf, for instance. I think many readers want to feel that they’re right there seeing everything the character sees, but others want to use their own imaginations. Speedboats or kayaks? I don’t know.

  2. Mary M. on May 15, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Some days, I just want a quick romp through a story to take me away and I drive that speedboat. Mostly, though, I prefer to enjoy well fleshed out characters in non-contrived situations that can become friends to be revisited, so I am kayaking then. By the way, I agree with you re some mysteries, but the worst “clutterer” of a writer I have ever read was Honore Balzac, in the original French. It was probably the style of his time, but it numbed my teenaged brain into a fog.

    • Emilie Richards on May 15, 2014 at 9:02 am

      You said it well. Interesting, too, how some of the classics didn’t really “help” us learn to love reading. I worry that so much of what kids today are required to read (and analyze to death) is so dark or obtuse they will never turn to books to escape into a world where they actually want to be.

  3. Marilyn Seitz on May 15, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Don’t even get me started on how children are learning to read! I retired after 30 years and not a moment too soon. The AR (Advanced Reader) program in Virginia requires them to read books on their level and then take a TEST on it! How would you like to think you had to take a test on every book you read? It spoils reading. Reading “on their” level also becomes a problem if there is a child in 5th grade reading on an 11th grade level. Books on that level are many time inappropriate, and way over their heads. Where is my stump? I’m preaching……..sorry! Can’t WAIT till July 1!

    • Emilie Richards on May 17, 2014 at 10:24 am

      Yikes! Just because a child reads on an 11th grade level, there’s no reason to assume they’re ready for 11th grade subject matter. Preach it, sister, you are absolutely right. I once had a piano student (yes I once taught piano), a very bright girl in a wonderful private school, whose mother threw a fit because Elizabeth wanted to read The Babysitter’s Club or something similar. This eleven-year-old was not allowed to choose what she read for fun, only for literary merit. I wonder if she reads as an adult? I’ll never know, but I can make a good guess.

  4. Marsha Markham on May 20, 2014 at 11:30 am

    I think reading to children and teaching them to love books is beyond important. If I person loves to read, the whole world is open to them. My three sons all enjoyed reading and the two living ones read a variety of things.

    As for myself, I am a kayak reader mainly although do enjoy a gentle trip back into time occasionally. When I say that I’m especially thinking of books like Little Women (which I received for my 10th birthday and still have) and the books Gladys Taber wrote about her years in New England. I’ve read those over and over.

    Lauraine Snelling writes wonderful books about people who lived over 100 years ago and settled in Minnesota from Norway…having grandparents who settled in America from Sweden, I identify and enjoy those. There are several good writers to enjoy…as I said, the love of reading opens a world.

    When one of the writers I love has a new book coming out I am always excited, looking forward to many hours of enjoyment. I pace that book out and try not to read it too fast.

Leave a Comment