Lessons from My Fantasy Reading

M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer blogs about the books she reads, mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch my eye and keep my interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, but I make my opinions known. I also mutter about my own progress as a writer. Check out the links to my fantasy writing at my website. Links are in the sidebar.


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Monday, August 31, 2015

How to Keep a Book's Characters from Going Defunct.


   Quick answer: Follow Charlaine Harris' lead ... and reuse characters in subsequent books and stories, like she's doing in the Midnight series.

  Read a couple of treats besides The Lord of the Rings trilogy while on vacation. Charlaine Harris' Day Shift -- the second book in what I believe will be another long series featuring the strange residents of Midnight, Texas, who draw notice in spite of hating it -- was the winner of this batch of  reading.

   Yeah! My memory got a workout. Harris' books are located in the part of my Keeper Bookshelves that my son and I didn't weed. [We took five cartons of paperbacks to trade. The Friends of the Library got the books the bookstore didn't want.] --  No, I didn't go pawing through the stacks to find the Sookie Stackhouses and Lily Bards to verify my memory.

   Day Light picks up after new people come to live at the refurbished Midnight Hotel, which for some reason is housing some indigent Las Vegas seniors as well as paying guests. The reason why is never explained. The problem is left for future books? This book's mysteries center around a strange child who grows supernaturally fast and a couple murders connected to Manfred Bernardo and Olivia Charity.

   Yeah. Manfred Bernardo and Olivia Charity are featured residents this time around, but interesting revelations appear about most of the regular residents of Midnight. What I liked best were the appearances of characters out of Harris' previous books, each with new disclosures about their lives.

   While writing my thoughts on this Midnight book, I suddenly felt like I was discussing an ongoing TV series. Got me wondering.

   Do you think the reason multiple book series have become so prevalent that print stories are imitating TV shows? Yeah, I know there have been a huge number of continuing book series since novels became popular. But still...

Highly recommended. I kept reading the hardback even when my thumbs were hurting. Multiple viewpoints add texture to this tale of murder and strange goings-on. Harris fans will find her usual humor mixed with mayhem, a mystery with multiple red herrings, quirky but well-developed characters, and a fast moving plot. Read more formal reviews and excerpts on:

Amazon and Nook.

~~#~~ 
 My Little Writing Rut

    My writing got some spit and a polish while I goofed off. Major accomplishment was getting my "bible" or concordance for my Andor world organized. Still have to go through the character files/etc for most of the stories, but got my Trapper Tremaine stuff pretty well organized, including a cover. Was going to have a draft of the short story done. But we won't talk about that.

Ta Dah! Here is the Cover Reveal.

   Trapper is a copper in the Wilds of early Andor, stories with a Western feel, who accepts a new job in the Shyanne district working for the Paladins who have yet to organize into the Kingscourt.
Yeah. The cleaning up the "bible" was much needed.
Writers, how do you keep track of your characters? 



   Pillar of On the Run? She's still studying with Gracie trying to overcome the inhibitions her mother
inflicted on her so she wouldn't reveal how powerful her magic was when she was a toddler.

   My next side project is to post another snippet and put up some formal buy buttons on my website...if I can figure out how.



   Then, the new expanded version of Vengeance is up on Amazon, Nook, and Smashwords -- for free.
 
   The uneasy truce with the enemies surrounding the Far Isles Half-Elven is collapsing. An unprovoked attack, that kills her granddaughter and almost kills her daughter, is evidence enough for Mariah. But, will the fierce warrior and her ring-mate, Ashton, be able to convince Linden, Lord High Commander of the Marches, that their people are in danger?

   With attacks coming from the Trestemontans from over the eastern sea, hints of magic among the magic-hating Suthron Hounds, and Drummer Shamans using Spirit drums made from the skins of live human sacrifices, the Half-Elven warriors have reason to worry.

 Praise for Vengeance
“A magical novel that takes you into the world of half-elves.”
“A great mix of fantasy and humour.”
“A well-written novel packed with vivid imagery, strong world-building, characters that resonate with the reader and a single thread of taking vengeance for the death of a loved one.”

Monday, August 10, 2015

Looking for Free Reading in Good Places

Want Some Summer Reading on the Cheap?
Read On
If You Like Freebies.

    Some explanation. I'm on vacation until September and am looking forward to reading without thinking about critiquing. Will probably re-read some favorites. Haven't picked the author yet, but I'm leaning towards Sharon Crumb or Michael Jenks. Just finished a disappointing trip to the edge of the world so am feeling a need to go medievalish. On the other hand, Pillar is running around in southernish mountains. Maybe I'll read some of both.

Update: I decided to reread the Lord of the Rings instead of watching the movies
I'm going to miss those New Zealand backgrounds.

But I also want to reward you for your visit.
A giveaway of my novelette:
 Showdown at Crossings.

   I don't do the Kindle Select bit, so I have to use Smashwords more lenient coupon system. Click this Showdown at Crossings link and use coupon code --  MZ75T  -- to download the story for free. Smashwords offers a variety of reader formats in their downloads: mobi, epub, PDF, on line, etc.

   Blurb:  Old Ebe loved the peaceful life of his isolated mountain community until abrasive newcomers started raising vicious guard dogs on land his family once owned. The newcomers terrorize the locals. Ebe supports Nance, an old family friend and mage, who oppose their abusive ways. When Ebe fails to prevent the 'dog-farmers' murder of Nance, Ebe can only regain his self respect by finding a way to destroy the demons.

But one short story does not a reader fill.
   So, I'm sharing a link of an interesting freebie/bargain books service --The Books Machine. [click the link for complete information] You can receive free Kindle books in exchange for an honest review. The service is free for readers. You might want to take a look. I was impressed with the selection of reading they offered.

Enjoy the rest of the Summer, you Northern Hemisphere types.
You Live in the Southern Hemisphere?
Spring is just around the corner.



Monday, August 3, 2015

Can A Terrible Accident Turn into a Fluffy Murder?

Of course it can. 
That's what cozy mysteries are all about.
I'm guessing people like them because
They make the horrendous neat and tidy, even pleasant. 
Fluffy.

    The book I'm reading this week is non-fiction about the Dark Ages of Europe. So, I'm talking about the mystery I finished last Sunday, cozy mysteries being one of my favorite forms of fantasy. 

   Cozies are known for their light touch with murder and mayhem. Why do I say this? Because I can't remember one that's gets into the messy process of grieving. Lorna Barrett's Sentenced to Death provides a perfect example. Oh, the main character feels sad and impelled to investigate. But no writer even gets close to the raw emotions that even a hard-boiled egg like me feels when losing a friend. 

   On the craft level, Sentenced to Death gives the reader a fast moving plot, an engaging cast of characters, and a delightful little New England town filled with small shops, including bookstores. And, ranks high is reader satisfaction. What's not to like? Everyone, except perhaps the villains, are pleasant.

   Result? I couldn't shake the thought that the book provided a perfect illustration for the phrase "once again lightly". Not that the book was badly written. I just didn't find anything memorable, except maybe the opening scene when a plane dropped from the sky and killed the main character's best friend. That's a solid hook if I ever saw one.

    The plot was so well constructed, it kept pulling me along, in spite of my wrinkled nose. Want twists and turns that jump from one complication to another until another murder needs to be solved? Ya got it. And, the clues are well embedded in the details of the villains' lives as they are unearthed by Tricia Miles, mystery book seller extraodinaire. In fact the plot reminded me of reading Agatha Christie, only with a younger, American "Miss Marple".

   The depiction of the characters got to me, like sand paper. I'd spend never more than fifteen minutes with the actual types of people depicted in the book, however well-rounded they are. The one exception is the main character's sister, but she annoyed me too. Didn't think she had her sister's back enough.

   This is the fifth book in a successful series which has a couple well-received additions since 2011, but I found the protagonist flat. So, she stressed out by the men in her life. But, she dithers. Eeeewww. She does have a nice cat, though.

   Again a summer read, mostly for fans of cozy mysteries. The plot and the writing overcome the overuse of conventions.

You can read excerpts and more reviews at  
Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  

~~~#~~~
My Writing Rut 

    Am I making progress yet? Did get Vengeance to the copy editor and have my appointment with the formatter. Now I have to decide whether to have pre-orders. For a novelette, aka long short story. There's the rub. In short, I'm staring at the marketing tar pit and finding it unattractive. Guess I'll try pre-orders just to see what happens. [That's how I'm feeling today.]

I am looking for reviews. 
 Hint. Hint

   If anyone reading is interested, I should have a PDF copy by mid-August. You can email me at mkkaytheod at yahoo to get on the list for me to mail it to you. If you have a book review blog so much the better.  
My current blurb:

    After four centuries of political infighting with Linden, the ruler of the Marches, all Mariah wants is a little peace and quiet. Then, her daughter's family is attacked by enemy privateers, leaving Norerah at death's door. Mariah’s anger boils over. Ashton, her ring-mate, and Mariah seek vengeance, ignoring Linden’s decrees, only to discover a strange magic that threatens every thing the three Half-Elven hold dear.  

 
   On the Run? Would you believe I'm revising? Even tacked a new paragraph onto the beginning to set the emotions of Pillar, my main character. Yeah, I tend to be short on my characters reactions until my critique group yanks my chain. Look for a new installment of the On the Run wip. I should get it added when I clean up my author website some more. Give it a look if you want to check out longer versions of my estories.



Yeah, I'm getting sick of playing with my author website.
It's like getting immersed in quicksand.
Have you tamed your website?