Friday, June 14, 2013

Teasing Apart the Acknowledgements in a Book, by best-selling author, Beth Groundwater

Murderby4 is proud to welcome back best-selling author Beth Groundwater, who has recently released FATAL DESCENT, book 3 in her Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventures series, starring whitewater river ranger Mandy Tanner.

Here's a bit about the new book:

A fast-paced locked-room mystery in Utah’s awe-inspiring canyon lands provides thrills and spills in book 3 of the bestselling RM Outdoor Adventures series.

River guide Mandy Tanner and her fianc√© Rob Juarez, owners of RM Outdoor Adventures, are leading an off-season rafting and climbing trip on the Colorado River. The unfamiliar topography and a lecherous local climbing guide have Mandy on edge — but that’s nothing compared to the trouble the clients bring. When a young man is found dead, everyone on the trip is a suspect. Since there’s no way out of the Colorado River’s steep canyons, it’s up to Mandy and Rob to solve the mystery before the murderer strikes again.

I, for one, am going to check out her newest book in this award-winning series! Enjoy.

Aaron P. Lazar

Teasing Apart the Acknowledgements in a Book
copyright 2013, Beth Groundwater

I'm one of those strange people who always read the Acknowledgements page in a novel. I started doing it when I was still unpublished to find out who my favorite authors' agents were, whether they were in critique groups or had beta readers, and how many people they thanked at their publisher—or if they had an independent editor or cover artist. All fascinating background information about the industry.

Then, as I read more and more Acknowledgement pages, I saw how much research went into writing a novel, especially historical fiction novels or ones set in an actual setting, like my RM Outdoor Adventures series. As I got more and more involved in performing research for my two mystery series, I became more fascinated by the research being done by my fellows.

Anyway, I'm going to tease apart the Acknowledgements page for my most recent release, Fatal Descent, and give you the inside scoop on why I'm thanking these people. I start off the first paragraph with, "I had a lot of help researching the Colorado River in Utah and its Meander and Cataract Canyons for this book, particularly from the staff of Tag-A-Long Expeditions (, the outfitter that organized the scouting trip my husband and I took down the Colorado River from Moab to Lake Powell." The boatman, Dave Pitzer, and rafting guide, Justin King, were my models for all the work that Mandy Tanner, my whitewater rafting guide and co-outfitting company owner, and her crew had to do on their five-day tour of the 100 miles of the Colorado River from Moab, Utah to Lake Powell. I copied down the meal menus and observed Dave and Justin cooking and cleaning. I also watched how they loaded the raft each morning and unloaded it each evening and cajoled us into helping. I wrote down as many of their river tales as I could and peppered them with questions about the local flora and fauna, past experiences with river guests, and more. Not only did they take good care of me and my husband on our research trip, they were under the microscope the whole time, giving me plot and character ideas!

At the start of the second paragraph, I say, "Thank you to my husband Neil for the wonderful photos and videos you took of that trip, so I could reconstruct locations and experiences months later." This was so vitally important. I had my copious notes from our Colorado River trip, and the detailed guidebook that I mentioned, but having the visual cues to refer to months later to remember what a particular rapid, campsite, trail or cliffside looked like was so valuable. I could immerse myself back into the experience with the memories invoked by those photos and videos and describe what I was seeing, smelling, feeling, etc.

The first sentence of the third paragraph states, "Thanks to my critique group, Jeff Campbell, Vic Cruikshank, Maria Faulconer, Barbara Nickless, MB Partlow, and Robert Spiller, for making it abundantly clear when my writing wasn't up to snuff and I had more work to do." This tells you that even with all this research material, a killer outline, and thorough knowledge of my characters, my first attempts at writing Fatal Descent were not up to snuff, to my standards or to my fellow critiquers' standards. Sometimes hearing that a scene needed to be pulled apart and put back together was heartbreaking, especially when deep down I agreed. But that still meant a lot of work was ahead. Ugh! A really good critique group, where the members can be totally honest with each other about the issues that need to be resolved in a manuscript is priceless. I can't thank mine enough!

So there you have it—the inside scoop on an Acknowledgements page. How about you? Do you read them? What are you looking for in them? What have you found?


"Groundwater’s third entry (after the Left Coast Crime Rocky Award finalist Wicked Eddies) is marked by an outdoorsy intensity and authentic sports chatter sure to resonate with Nevada Barr readers. Her methodical, gentle buildup mirrors the river’s course so that when the characters hit the rapids, life jackets are a must."
    -- Library Journal, June 1, 2013

"The tension runs high in Groundwater’s absorbing third RM Outdoor Adventures mystery … Scenic descriptions and folklore add atmosphere to a suspenseful tale."
   -- Publishers Weekly, April 8, 2013


Bestselling mystery author Beth Groundwater writes the Claire Hanover gift basket designer series (A Real Basket Case, a Best First Novel Agatha Award finalist, To Hell in a Handbasket, and in November, 2013, A Basket of Trouble) and the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventures series starring whitewater river ranger Mandy Tanner (Deadly Currents, an Amazon #3 overall bestseller, Wicked Eddies, finalist for the Rocky Award, and just released, Fatal Descent). Beth enjoys Colorado's many outdoor activities, including skiing and whitewater rafting, and loves talking to book clubs.  

Facebook page:
Goodreads page:


Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Welcome, Beth! It's great to have you here again. I love reading the acknowledgments page, too. Always interesting to see who authors thank, and why! Thanks for being here on MB4 today and best of luck with your new release!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Hey, Beth, I always read the acknowledgements. Sometimes I read them first! It tells me a lot about the author, the sorts of research, and the types of support. But I hate writing the acknowledgements for my books because I'm always worried that I'll leave someone out.

ceblain said...

Dear Beth: I have also wondered if many other readers besides me read the acknowledgements. I always read them before the book and again after. I think this is a doorway into the author's life and it shows how deep their feelings are for others who have helped them get this particular book to completion. As with anything in life, there is usually more than just one person involved somehow, someway, in any person's fame or accomplishments in putting books out on the shelves. It is nice to hear that family was helpful and had guidance or more involvement and I like to know about it.

I do agree with Joanna that it has to be hard to list everyone, and you may always feel that you left someone out and would be upset when you realized that, or when someone commented on why not me!!!

Long comment to say that I always do read them and that I truly enjoy them, so keep up the wonderful thank you that you give to all involved with your books. It is a testament to your generous and kindness for sure.

And, I am looking forward to more books in the gift basket series so much as they are great just like your outdoor adventure books.


Beth Groundwater said...

Hi Aaron, Joanna, and Cynthia,

Thanks for your comments. Aaron, thanks for having me on Murder by 4!

Yes, Joanna, I also worry about leaving someone out of my Acknowledgements, so it can take a long time to write it, as I go through all my research notes and emails about the book while I was working on it, to make sure I mentioned everyone.

Cynthia, you won't have to wait much longer for the third Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery, A BASKET OF TROUBLE, which will come out in November. I know it's been a long time coming, and the delay is mostly caused by my change in publishers.

Michael said...

Hi Beth,
I always read an author's Acknowledgments. In fact, I'm disappointed when they are thin or perfunctory -- or even nonexistent. As one "poster" here commented, it's interesting to read who the author thanks and why. But I also think they give you an insight into an author's personality and what she/he regards as important. I think that's very telling. Great idea for your visit here. Thanks!

Gabby said...

Hi Beth! I always read the acknowledgments. I do that because some authors talk about where their ideas came from and how they developed one small bit of fact or information into a 400 page book. I always read what Stephen King has to say because he acknowledges the "Constant Reader" as well as others helpful to him. Steve Martini is one who will reveal what led him to write his book in the first place. Many authors identify friends and groups who have lent support. I always look for names I recognize there. There is a wonderful network of writers supporting writers out there, and I find it interesting to see who is among that group. I had my own name mentioned in an author's books - I was so proud! And I probably should mention the main reason I began reading acknowledgments in the first place. I don't consider a book "read" unless I've really read all of it, and besides that -- I'm nosy.

Beth Groundwater said...

Hi Michael and Gabby,

Thanks for your comments, and Gabby, I love all your reasons for reading Acknowledgements. I agree that it's a a nice little thrill to be cited in an author's Acknowledgements page, and something to be proud of. Plus, having come to know you somewhat on-line, I can see why you were mentioned in one author's books!

Rachelle21 said...

I always read acknowledgements. I don't remember when I started reading them. I also read the cast lists in movies to the end unless mother nature calls and I need to leave. Movies and books are not made always in isolation = there might be people who helped the author with research or by reading or editing the book. Dedications are sometime interesting also. My husband had a cousin who worked as a unit production director and his wife did makeup - so it was fun to look for their names in credits and I still read them and count the number of accountants. I hope to see my name in one next year.