Lessons from My Reading

M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Wandering in My Make-Believe Worlds

I'm Back ... Maybe

Has anybody out there noticed I've been playing hookie?
First, both me and my old man have been having health issues -- more chronic than critical -- but energy sapping. More important, I think, is that I got tired of writing book reports. Never fear. I've been buying and reading books. More important, I've been re-reading favorites. Charlaine Harris' Midnight series.

For the record: I can't wait for the NBC series to appear. At least, I think, it's appearing on commercial TV since I refuse to pay for cable when I only watch the weather and PBS News Hour and, maybe, 60 Minutes, though the new crew is flat compared to the old standards.

 The Writing Front 

 One thing I have been doing is writing -- something I enjoy as much as reading.

"On the Run" has progressed through beta-reading and is almost through the first re-writing. Lots of backstory has been eliminate, like 2000 plus words. Yeah, other things were clarified so it still reads at about 85,000 words. Only about 50 pages to go, if I can get out of my post-election fog.

Hope to have the re-write done by next week. Then, content edits. My slot is already reserved. 


Magical Thinking

Have you woken up from the election nightmare yet
 -- or, are you jumping for joy?

My thought on the election: I mourn for the relevant facts lost. I have the curious habit of accepting facts until they are proved wrong. It's not quite the scientific method, but close since I'll admit to an emotional bias -- the elites are up to "no damn good" -- as defined by: "being most concerned for their own self-interest".

So, my chuckles.

My biggest concern during the election was for the fate of the Supreme Court. Then, I read that 10% of college graduates think Judge Judy is a member of that august institution. Granted, Judge Judy might be a Ruth Bador Ginsburg look-a-like, but ????????
{Does "WTF" fit in here?}

Then, there are all those liberals taking cold comfort from Trump's promise to spend a billion on infrastructure. Granted, things look hopeful since maybe around 75% of city big infra-structure ballot measures passed. I'm waiting to make sure Trump considers crumbling bridges, not golf courses, as infrastructure.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Just Writing & Reading Along

Reading this last week has been disappointing. Am reading three books at the moment, none of which is keeping my attention for more than an hour or so. I'm just hooked enough to go back to the book, but none of them is pulling me along for "just one more chapter".

Would you believe they're all thrillers,
 books duty-bound to keep me reading in spite of sleep?


It always feels nice when I managed to complete some writing task for On the Run. This time it's the sticky notes. They're all incorporated with their chapters. Now I have to go back and revise for my beta readers. It's a tedious process. *grin* But, I'm progressing and am further ahead than my co-readers.

More important. I found the rough idea outline for a short story/novella, Pissing at the Green Onion. Who knew Cahal [from: There Be Demons] was living in Taddledon? I didn't until I found the situation floating floating in a college town. Of course, Taddledon is a major city, but that doesn't mean it lacks a beer scene. Am thinking about a sequel combining the character of the two manuscripts, so plopped Cahal into the short story notes. Managed to add about 300 words for a tentative beginning.


A link I found interesting and wish I could chat about:

A video from Slate about how a musical theme has been used over and over again in creative ways.

Anyone remember the list of the different kinds of plots?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Getting to Know You -- Using Flashbacks to Develop Characters

Did you miss R. S. Belcher's debut novel, The Six-Gun Tarot, when it first came out? 

I know I did. I can't even remember seeing the striking cover in the new books sections of the two bookstores I frequent. Fortunately, the family lending library treated me to the read. Guess New York City stores get to sample more books than the boonies where I live. Not only did the book keep me reading past my bedtime, but it snuck up on me with a lovely, believable steampunk subplot.

The Six-Gun Tarot takes place in Golgotha, Nevada on the other side of the 40 mile Desert from Reno/Virginia City. Belcher gives us one of the most ethnically mixed populations I've encountered in my reading and integrates the various belief systems into a complicated, occult fabric that's one of the most original takes on the western fantasy arcana I've seen. Yeah. The Tarot plays a big part in it.

Belcher develops his characters with extensive flashbacks which almost stand as novellas. Each of the main characters having some occult power or other ... even the supposedly Christian ones ... was just frosting on the read. Through the flashbacks, the reader learns about the acute danger the town faces.

Of course, the wounded hero and his pals must save the sheep like citizens. Sound like the cliches runneth over? Don't believe it. All the characters have odd-ball pains and strengths that will save the people of Golgatha ... if they can only arrive at the pit in time.

So recommended, I've been lending or suggesting the book to all my writer friends, even the ones that don't read fantasy. See excerpt and reviews at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Interesting Links

To Blog or Not to Blog. Rachelle Gardner recently posted some interesting comments about effective social media and writers. It all boils down to what you are passionate about. Makes me wonders why I'm blogging. Is it just a marketing myth? You can read it by clicking here. Care to comment on what you think? 

My Writing Rut

Guess I'm back. Just ran out of steam over the winter doldrums. Medical issues didn't help. Besides I was/am tired of doing book reviews. Reminded me too much of English classes, I guess.

I'm in the process of revising my whole media presence. keeping Facebook ... because I interact with people I know there as well as having an author page, where it's easy to interact to comments -- when they happen. Yeah, I'm a pipsqueak, but the only media that turned out humanish was Facebook, in spite of all the manipulations.

May continue on Twitter, too, where I have two accounts: a "personal" one and a promotion one. Chances are you're reading this by responding to a tweet.

Oh, yeah. The writing. May have been scarce on social media, but I've been writing. I've finished the draft of On the Run. The 50 page novella turned into a 280 page draft with an entirely different protagonist than the one I started out with. Guess there won't be a sequel to Noticing Jamilla. The short story did give me a better idea of my demons than the outlined world I used in Night for the Gargoyles and There Be Demons, but I guess Cassy Mae will remain a singleton quick read.

Now I'm incorporating all the addenda into the draft so I can get On the Run to my beta readers. Then, I get to go back to edit There Be Demons because the world is more complicated than it was before.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Squeezing All of a Series Characters into the Action

Wasn't going to review Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones, but the other book I'm enjoying is over 500 pages long and complicated -- and I'm helping my old man learn enough Word so he can transfer his written memoir into a computer. Not that Eighth Grave is an  unworthy read. But ... *shrug* Yah only can do so much in a week, especially when you're in the winter doldrums.

Do you get the idea my feelings on Jones' series are mixed?

The few urban fantasy books of hers I've read have great, action-filled plot lines. Jones has built up a cast of interesting, revolving characters who usually do intriguing things to push and pull the plot along. Then, there's a main character, Charley aka Charlotte, who I find about as mature as my fourteen-year-old granddaughter, which is especially annoying to me after the revelations in Eighth Grave After Dark. She's going to be responsible for saving the world from Satan ... when she's got the hots and is married to the Son of Satan?
A lot is going on in Eighth Grave After Dark. Charley, who is terminally pregnant with the child phophecised to off Satan to prevent the end of the world, is hosting a wedding for her assistant to her uncle in the confines of an abandoned convent because twelve hell hounds lurk on the boundaries, waiting to rip Charley's throat out so said child won't be born.

Yeah, complicated. But that's not the only thing going on in the book. Huge numbers of ghosts are gathering on the convent grounds, including a mysterious nun who refuses to talk to Charley. The wedding goes off with all sorts of weird relatives gathering, including Charely's stepmother who made her childhood miserable. Said Son of Satan is acting strangely. Charley has contacted the parents he was kidnapped from in spite of his forbidding her to contact them. Oh, did a mention the FBI comes to her for help in locating a kidnapped neice of one of the agents?

And that's only the first third of the book.

If you're a writer, I recommend you get the series and map out what the main secondary characters do in each  book. You'll get a great idea on how to squeeze the most out of the characters you create. On the other hand, I recommend you pick a grown up for your main character unless you're writing young adult or children's books. I really got tired of reading Charley make one dumb decision after another, especially when she was putting her child in danger by being an adolescent idiot.

Yeah, I'm recommending the book because it's so entertaining. The craftsmanship is outstanding too. I don't think the pace slowed down much more than to give the reader a chance to absorb the next facts -- though sometimes these were confusing. The book left me wondering why a character couldn't be snarky and grown-up at the same time.

This review getting posted "late" is just another example of my
winter doldrums.
Enjoy the typos.

My Writing Rut

Got a lesson on why taking a break from your writing can be beneficial. Took a look at the
"chapter" I was trying to fit into the current version of On the Run and realized why the action wouldn't fit. The fact that the main character was called "Cass" should have been a clue. Yeah, I'm still back tracking ... but I think I'm making the manuscript more coherent.

I hope.

Still, I'm in the doldrums though ... but now its the marketing of my short stories which seem to be getting ignored.