Magical Fantasy Stories, Both Light & Dark

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's Colorado, The Snow's Melting

Trivia:  It's Halloween!  We made the dentists happy and gave out candy to all the little beggers.  Actually, the old man did in his Basque beret.  I went upstairs and wrote.

Lessons from My Reading:   Thoughts on Series... Managed to read the next two of Yasimine Galenorn's mysteries -- Murder Under a Mystic Moon and A Harvest of Bones -- since my last blog.  The likeable characters had me ignoring the news and reading.  Of course, plot and a fast moving story line had something to do with it too.  Each of the important characters appeared in each book with an added dimension to their previous appearance.  Hey, even the cats get their due.   

Still liked the series enough that I thought about getting the next in the series -- One Hex of a Wedding.  Hints inserted into the Bones book suggest it'll be as interesting as the others.  However, the two bookstores I checked didn't have it so I was saved.  I get to mine my "to read" pile.

Since publishers keep doing series, I assume there are a lot of people out there who like returning to comfortable worlds, even if they have their scary moments.  The mystery and fantasy genres are filled with series -- which is great for me since that's what I mostly read.  From a writer's point of view, I'd think economy of effort keeps them going.  From a reader's, you know you're going to get a good read -- at least until the writer works their ideas into the ground and start repeating themselves. 


Galenorn's an interesting case for me.  I've read in two series of hers:  Emerald O'Brien (human psychic) and the D'Artigo sisters (half-fae witch, vampire, and shapeshifter).  I'm willing to read more in the O'Brien series, but not the D'Artigo one.  Reason:  The mystery in each O'Brien book is significantly different from the the previous ones while the half-fae story lines felt repetitive.  

My Progress (if any):  Critiques:  Critiquing amuses me since I am set up as having some expertise by default.  So far, my comments seem to be appreciated ... which feels strange to me since I never had an English class and wouldn't know a theme from a hole in the plot.

Tangled:  Lanquishes.

Emma:  Have revised the previous draft into a middle grade format.  On Monday, I get to draft new stuff.  The end.  Lucky me ... if I can decide what the ending is besides a bunch a swirling possibilities.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's Snowing, Major Big Time

Trivia:  What a day to stay in and read and drink the coffee pot dry!  The Colorado weather people are hinting we may have a record setting October storm.  There's around a foot of snow here now and another ten inches +/- are expected.  Someone should have warned our stupid apricot.  It's standing out in the cold with drooping branches even though the old man knocked the snow off the leaves several times.

Writing Lessons:  Well, I got Hamilton's Burnt Offerings and Galenorn's Jade Dragon read.  [I've almost finished Galenorn's Mystic Moon today since I didn't do errands.]  While I liked both books, I realized that Hamilton constructs a more complex read, ie. multiple plot lines.  This may be one of the reasons I reread the Blake series and not Galenorn's.

Galenorn gives us a mystery set amidst a group of friends in a cozy small town setting.  O'Brien's paranormal abilities operate as a personality trait rather than something dark and dangerous.  Some people laugh a lot.  Some people scratch.  O'Brien sees auras, among other things.  

In this book, O'Brien must free herself and her kids from an ancient curse while protecting herself from the more mundane tasks of preventing more robberies and her son's kidnapping.  The writing follows O'Brien through her days in a linear sequence until she saves her son and converts a potential enemy into a friend.

In the middle books in the Anita Blake series, Laurens' plots tend to spiral around the various aspects of Blake's life:  her animator job where she raises zombies and fights with her boss, her contacts with the various lycanthrope communities and her role as the werewolf lupa, her uneasy relationships among the vampires, and her consulting with the police investigating paranormal activities.  

In Burnt Offerings, the major problem revolves around the attempts of Blake and Jean-Claud [the vampire master of the city and Blake's lover]  to save their people from the plots of visiting representatives of the vampire council to destroy them and their dependents.  Minor problems in the various areas of her life are directly affected by the visiting vampires.  As she solves the problems, Blake gains insights that help her in defeating the vampires for this round.  For all the supposed darkness of the Blake books [dealing with monsters of various kinds], the books offer a set of warm relationships every bit as cozy as Galedorn's.

[The lack of complexity as I draft Emma has been bothering me.  Maybe now that I'm changing it to a middle grade novel, I can accept the linear plot line.]


Progress:  I've started my critiques, one of which is lo-o-o-ng.  Much longer than our original submission agreement.  I'm going to be obnoxious and just do half it for the first session and the rest for the second.


Tangled:  It's sort of on the back burner.  Translation:  I'm not writing, editing or revising, but I think a lot about the characters.


Emma:  Is rolling along.  I'm almost to the end of the changes to my original draft. Then, I think it's 3-4 chapters to the end.


Monday, October 26, 2009

On Being a Bad Girl

Trivia:  The director of the Northern Colorado Writers has written a pertinent blog on focusing.  [http://the-writing-bug.blogspot.com/]  I even agree with her.  Strongly agree, in fact.

So, what am I doing?  You got it.  Unfocusing.  

I'm supposed to be finishing Yasmine Galenorn's Legend of the Jade Dragon, a beautiful little mystery I'm enjoying a lotSo, on Saturday night, I started re-reading Laurell K. Hamilton's Burnt Offerings, an Anita Blake novel before the ardour (sp) reared its sexy head.  I was just going to check the opening ... to see how she placed her "hook".  It's Monday, and I'm still reading.  Still reading Galenorn too.

In the meantime, I skimmed through a "thesis" of a sort on medieval interpretations of out of body experiences.  Purpose:  to see if it  held any pertinent ideas for my interpretations of elves and fairies.  It didn't.

Writing Lessons:  While Hamilton's opening with the comparison of battle scars hooked me the first time I read the book,  this time, I glomed  onto another aspect of her writing -- her incorporating her descriptions in the course of the dialog.  Galenorn does it well too.

Random Hamliton (Anita Blake as narrator):

"'I'm so glad you've come,' he said.  'I tried to take care of them, but I couldn't. ...'  His shoulder had healed enough that he covered his eyes with his hand so we couldn't see him cry, but his voice was thick with tears, as well as blood."

"Zerbrowski met me on the steps leading into the squad room.  'If that dress was slit any higher, it'd be a shirt,' he said." 

Random Galenorn (Emerald O'Brien as narrator):

"'What a pretty box.'  I could feel a wave of emotion wash off Horvald as I spoke." 

"She pumped my hand like she was trying to jack up a car.  'Pleased to meet you.  Cathy Sutton. ...'"

Then there was: [Galenorn, again]

"'Oh, yes it can"  I told her about the two times we'd caught it in action.  'I was going to wait until we reached the resort to tell you about the visions, but I might as well tell you now.'  I detailed the two scenarios I'd witnessed while holding the statue."  

-- [I thought the above was a clever way of bringing another character up to speed without dragging in a lot of explanation.] 

Progress:  I did a re-review of a chapter of Tangled and submitted it to its critique group, but not much else.

Emma.  Ditto, except it was two chapters since they are so short.  I'm now working on Emma more than Tangled.  I'm tasting the end.

Now for the bad girl part:  I decided to revise a short story I had out for submission.  It's gathered some nice editorial comments, but no check.  

So, I went back and looked at it.   Aaargh!  While I try to write dialog like the above.  The first couple pages had several examples of showing the action, then telling what I showed.  Granted it wasn't as bad as the stuff I'm removing from Tangled, but still ....  You'd think I'd've learned to notice the fault the first edit around by now.



Saturday, October 24, 2009

Temptation

Trivia:  Last week on a whim, I picked up two of Yasmine Galenorn's Emerald O'Brien series at the grocery store.  Read the first in a couple days, then was stuck with a decision.  Did I read the series or just the first and fourth novels?  Gave in to temptation and bought the second and third.  Now my to-read pile is piled higher and deeper.

Reading Lessons:  What a pleasure to read a 250 word book with short chapters.  My eyes didn't glaze over with excessive description.  More important, I could read a chapter during my after lunch coffee break and remember what happened.  I didn't have to go back and refresh my memory.  I wonder if this is a consideration for others with busier lives.  Maybe most people don't read by units as excessively as I do.  For me, plot specifics stick with me better when I read by chapters.

I'd read Galenorn's half-fae witch series, but got bored with it around the fifth or sixth book.  [The dragon was neat, though].  Really like O'Brien and her tea room (not shoppe).  An amateur sleuth with kids gumming up the works -- talk about magical realism.  A strong mystery provides the backbone that holds the book together.

I found Ghost of a Chance a book to go back and study.  O'Brien's complex backstory of the character is interlaced with the action.  Plot points -- a romance and a hint of competition, a second murder, nice red herring who stays unsympathetic, the motive of the real villain mentioned early in the book -- are all nicely strung together, better than most human spines.  The pagan foundation is presented in the course of the action with me appreciating Galenorn isn't dogmatic.  [Yes, some pagans are.] 

I read it in two days, but I think I'll be going back to it when I read the other three.  There's a lot to learn in the way she puts the book together.  Half-way into the second book, I'm already seeing hints at future plot points.


Progress:  Am up-to-date on my critiques.  All I have to do is review them to see if I still think the same -- and if I made myself clear.  Something I worry about since I'm so dyslexic.

Tangled.  Still chopping.

Emma.  Been spending more time here.  The reorganization to MG continues with me trying to add more emotional reaction as I go. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Same Ole, Same Old Stuff

Trivia:  Spent yesterday afternoon getting the car in shape for winter, including a new battery.  The dealership didn't have any record of me buying a new battery since 1999 so I figured it was time.

Managed to finish Christine Feehan's Dark Curse while waiting[Read one chapter on Saturday when I should have been writing.  Took two days for a 400 page book.]

Reading Lessons:  So what did I learn?  [Other than I'm a faithful series reader ... as long as the story line doesn't bore me.  Guess, I like retreating into other people's worlds ... though I don't fantasize about them afterwards.]


Feehan's working in back story without filling up pages of explanation caught my admiration.  Many of Feehan's older characters appear in the book with just enough tag to place them in the world's setting.  No giving their life histories and their characters remain consistent with what I remember.  Jim Butcher does this very well in his Dresden series too.   Both do this without using the same tags repeatedly.


Feehan's done her Carpathian series for over a decade and is pushing twenty books.   I'm overwhelmed by her output.  [Three series plus, and I'm doing good to get one 'book' a year with endless revisions.]  To keep all that straight, her character outlines must be as long as a book to keep her people straight.  [My Half-Elven stuff, including locations, covers three 'books' and runs about twenty pages; other WIPs are only three-four pages.]


While the attraction/love scenes repeated themselves, Feehan managed to switch gears before I became bored with the same repeated descriptions.  Redundancy, anyone?  To me, redundancy is more than telling and then showing the same action.  Some might think she head hops because she switches viewpoints in mid-chapter, but she's easy to follow so I didn't mind.


Progress:  I continue to chop about 1000 words a chapter on Tangled.  Most of it is redundancies, adverbs/double adjectives, and passive verbs.  When I get to the end, I'm seriously going to have to look at whether I want to simplify the viewpoints.  I'm sure I'll hit my head against the wall of liking to read multiple viewpoint stories.


Emma got slammed by my local crit group because I don't give enough emotion.  Well, I'm not emotional ... also she's suppressed her emotions due to the abusive treatment of the grandmother.  I need to work on that a bit.  Maybe have her feel more emotion and consciously suppress them.


Whoever said writing was easy.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Good byes

Trivia:  Well, we went to the farmer's market and bought the last fresh corn-on-the-cob for this year.  It was truly organic with a worm on top.  So, we say good-bye to the warm season.  At least the cold season will "roller-coaster" for a while before it hits the deep chill.

Reading Lessons:  You'd think someone my age would be done with lessons, but I'm pretending to be a writer.  Have to learn what I'm doing first, though.  So, what did comparing Jim Butcher (Turn Coat) and Stephanie Laurens (Temptation and Surrender) teach me?   (Besides I don't think I have the right mind-set to be a romance writer.)

Pacing, for one thing.  Both books are about 400 pages long.  Butcher comes out of the blocks in the first chapter with Dresden's nemesis turning up on his door step (wounded) asking to be hid from their fellow Wardens (magic workers guarding humans against the supernatural under the direction of the "White Council").  Laurens has her MC (Emily) showing up on the Cynster-clone's door step seeking to manage the village inn after running away from her uncle to look for a missing family treasure.

Nice start for both ... but Butcher continues the pace of his action.  Whatever Dresden does, some monster or other slips a "jimmie" into the works.  In each chapter, problems intensify and foil Dresden's trys to prove the "rogue" Warden's innocence.  The world stays consistent with the previous books, though Dresden isn't the adolescent male of the first ones.  All those people trying to kill him have aged him.  

Once, the bad guy is found and disposed of, Butcher leaves enough ideas dangling that you know another Dresden book is in the works.  -- You gotta love the concept of the "Grey Council" of wizards fighting the "Black Council" without the knowledge of the "White Council".  -- I sank into the book's world and read it in two days.


I struggled through Laurens' book:  skipping the overlong love scenes, skimming much of the rest, including anachronisms, and still taking forever to get to the end.  Laurens characters waltz back and forth until they end up in bed about half way through the book.  About the same time, Emily's uncle finds her and her siblings.  But, he's basically a red herring with another villain lurking in plain sight.  The last half of the book moves, at a slow pace granted, but the romance genre is different than the thriller.   They do find the treasure and live richly ever after.  Bottom line:  I think Laurens wrote a 300 page book plus padding.

It's not the romance I'm objecting to, maybe just the microscope she turns on it.  Butcher provides Dresden with a little romance -- though I doubt if he will ever enjoy a "happily-ever-after" since another relationship bit the dust in Turn Coat.  I'm not objecting to the sex either.  I'm already into a new Feehan Carpathian book.


One thing both books did:  you could break down the action into four sections, each one offering a major complication to confuse things until the last chapter.  Laurens got bogged down in the first half, but picked up the pace in the second.



Progress:  Still editing both Tangled and Emma.  Surprising how much better Emma flows as a middle grade book.  It remains to be seen if it's salable -- but I feel confident now that I'll get an ending on it.




Monday, October 12, 2009

Distractions

Trivia:  My son sabotaged me on Saturday.  I was doing my normal reading pattern -- alternating a rereading of Fritz Leiber's Ill Met in Lankhmar and Stephanie Laurens Temptation and something, this time.  I combine reading with doing the cat-lap thing or resting my hip from the computer.  

Then, my son sent Jim Butcher's new Harry Dresden, Turn Coat.  I'm 200 pages into it even though I watched Castle tonight.

Reading Lessons:  I'm into 200-some pages of Laurens.  Just when she finally threw in a plot twist -- the MC's uncle (the one she ran away from) turns up at the inn she's managing.  I do plan to go back to it, but it can't complete with Butcher who has Dresden's enemy showing up wounded and seeking help, a run-in with a SW shapeshifter, another run-in with vampires, a run-in with giant fae spiders -- all in the first 100 pages.  (It's all very linear, somewhat simplistic, but fun.)

Something more than the pace is bothering me about Laurens' book -- the anachronism of the inn turning into a "Starbucks" for the local villages.  Ladies and gents all meet up in the common room for lunch and afternoon tea, all classes together too.

I'm probably comparing apples to oranges here, but I'll stand by my position that something has to happen in a book.  In fact, I try to write so that I have a hook at the end of each chapter to drag the possible reader to the next scene.

Speaking of hooks.  Have you ever noticed how TV shows always leave you hanging with a question just before the commercial?  I like the characters in Castle, especially the family moments.  Watching Castle tonight, had me wondering if it might be worth getting TIVO so I could study the pacing of the story telling.

(Oh, I also read the latest issue of Realms of Fantasy cover to cover.  Loved the twists in the concepts -- like flower fairies in a funeral home honoring a solitary old lady because she paid attention to them.  My favorite of the lot, though all made me embarrassed at my own attempts at short stories.)


Progress:  The rewriting.  The rewriting!  I'm doing nothing but rewriting. 

Tangled:  I finished 11 and now have chapter 12 on the chopping block.  Took out over 300 words in the first five pages, including most of the sex scene.

Emma:  Am changing it to middle grade-tween.  Mostly that means shortening the chapters and changing the ages.  Still, it took me over an hour to turn the first chapter into two.  I'm aiming for 1500 words chapters.  I think I read something somewhere that's appropriate for kids. 

Got my critiques done, so I feel virtuous even though I didn't get much written this week-end.  My oldest daughter and crew showed up for the day.  Then there were the family phone calls.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Books Pile Higher

Trivia:  I did a bad.  While going down the grocery aisle to the light bulbs, I got snared by the books section.  Walked away with three more to add to the to-be-read pile.  Including a Lori Foster (of Gaby, the Paladin fame.)  It's part of a short story collection with another author who I can't remember at the moment.  (Multiple author collections are one of the ways I add authors to my must-look-at file.) -- Oh, there isn't a zombie among them, I don't think.


Learning from What I Read:  I skimmed through another 100 pages of Laurens' Temptation.  They've gotten to the heavy panting stage, but the MC still is looking for "the highest of the high" among the gentry.  I'm half way through the book, and not much has happened except the "staring-at-each-other-across-the-mall" stuff.  (At least they don't giggle.) Only they didn't have malls in the 1820s, just village greens ... where they don't hang out. 

I'll be skimming this book ... mostly because I'm still looking for the mystery.  Also, she has failed to draw me into the world to the extent I accept whatever the characters do as being the right, even if it's stupid.  Besides I have Christine Feehan, James Doss (with Daisy Perika, my main lady), and Lori Foster waiting on the shelf among others.

If Laurens was a beginning writer, I'm sure someone would tell her to begin where the action begins.  Maybe all the coy posturing and growling possessiveness is standard for romances.  If so, I'm hopeless as a romance reader.  After all, I decided to marry the old man because he had the same blood type as me.  (An important factor when you're Rh negative, and kids enter the equation.)

Writing:  I think I'm writing too much.  Not only am I reading for only about a hour+ a day, but one of my critiquers is pounding me over the head because Tangled has too many characters.  According to the norms of most of the books on the shelves, she's right.  But, Tangled is part of the Half-Elven story which I wrote for myself at the beginning.  

So, the primary story is written in front of a tale of political intrigue involving the ruling family and their enemies ... and potential allies.  --  Yeah, it's funny.  The novice writer starts out with a multiple viewpoint story in which everyone has their two-cents to contribute, and I let them say it.

Another criticism about Tangled:  I "tell" too much.  Yeah, I do because it simplifies the telling when presenting multiple interpretations of events.  So will I listen?  Well, yes, sort of.  Still, I think it's interesting when people look at the same facts and come up with different conclusions.  Also, I don't flick out the cross when someone tells ... as long as it isn't an info dump.

Emma?  I'm going to start rewriting what I have from a younger point of view the beginning of the week.  Not that there will be that much, mostly changing facts here and there.  Hopefully, I'll add some depth to the characters along the way.


Progress:  Not much.  

I'm going to have to go back and look at a couple of short story submissions from June.  I think it's time to send some status queries.






Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's Snowed! (the first of the season)

Trivia:  The big fluffy flakes are enchanting for now.  The roads are still clear.  The trees are also in full leaf.  I hope the accumulation is light enough not to break any branches -- even on the apricot whose branches block the view from my window.

Critical Reading:  On several of the forums/boards (whatever) I read, people mention they get tired of flabby series -- you know the ones were the first books are 300 pages of excitement and the tenth is 600 of, well 600 pages. 

I'm wading through one that may be overstaying its welcome.  I really loved Stephanie Laurens' early Cynster novels after my heart surgery.  She caught the mix of mystery and non-conformist Regency protagonists which made me a Georgette Heyer fan.  Laurens is now working on "minor" Cynster connections finding love in recent books.  I've found most of them a disappointment -- the one about Barnaby and Penelope being the exception.

Still, I bought the newest, Temptation and Surrender.  I'm almost 200 pages into a 500 +/- book.  At this point, I'm thinking a treasure hunt -- even for a financially-challenged MC -- is too slight a premise to carry a novel for 500 pages. It's essentially a girl-meets-boy, girl-resists-boy story at this point.  Example:  taking a page to describe a kiss?  Are American women so deprived that they crave a sensation-by-sensation read?

Why too slight a premise?   Well, the rhyme giving the clue to the treasure.  For one, it's been passed down from the 16-17th century to the 19th with out the rules of Gossip distorting it.  More important is the MC's interpretation of the the lines:  "In the highest house, of the highest ..."  While in the church on the hill, MC is thinking about the local gentry???  Give me a break, as the saying goes.  

(Only further reading will tell me if I'm all wet.  There 's got to be some twists coming down the line or the book will be bo-o-r-r-ing.  Guess I'll have to read more to see what happens.  Do I get bored or read to the end?)

PS:  I did get a copy of Realms of Fantasy at B&N.  I had to wipe the green from my face.  Read two great stories so far.  They didn't bore me.


Writing:  Life has been conspiring against me.  Like last night.  My local fantasy critique group (the three of us) were supposed to meet.  One is on vacation.  The other didn't show.  So there I sat, perched at the coffee shop with a full cup of coffee and a yellow tablet.  So I started scribbling about Maren, the protagonist of the idea I'm trying to ignore.  Got the first third of back-story into short-story done, all 500+ words.   (Yes, it has a middle and end summaries in blue ink at the end.)



Am half way done with slicing Tangled.  I'm suprised the thing is holding up -- though I have to tighten the motivations of the villien.  Still, Catsfeld is a day late but always a dollar ahead.


Emma?  I'm thinking she surrounded by a middle grade book rather than a young adult.  Rewrite anyone?  Yes, Kay.... couldn't you have seen it at the beginning?



Progress:  See above.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Busy Day

Trivia:  Didn't get much done today.  A good friend's funeral cast a damper over it.  I hate funerals but felt I had to go.

Critical Reading:  Got the last book of the Charlaine Harris' Harper Connelly books read:  An Ice Cold Grave.  Fortunately, the grave wasn't for Harper, but she did have to run for her life in the snow from a villein who didn't appear for sure until at least the last third of the book.  (Hints were dropped along the way.)  

My guess about the changing relationship was right on -- Harper and Tolliver decided they weren't siblings and took 'significant other' to the carnal level.  I was wrong about the triology though.  Harris kept making hints about finding Cameron, Harper's missing sisterThe question is dead or alive?

Dropping such textual hints are a great marketing tool, it seems to me.  Nothing like implanted teasers to make people look for your next book.  The only problem is you have to have a regularly published series to take advantage of it.  Harris has four series going.  In the Harper Connelly one, Harris has dropped so many hints in Ice  you can't possibly miss them.  I'd say Cameron is definitely looming on the horizon.  Which to me is a good deal since I like a series ...  though Lily Bard is my favorite of her MCs.


Another form of hooking readers before the book is out is including a first chapter of the next book in the current one.  Teaser chapters have always got me when I like a series, but there's always that wait until the book comes out in mass paperback.  At the moment, I'm champing at the bit for Karen Moning's newest MacKayla fae book.  At the moment, it's still in hardback.  (Incidentally, Moning drops her own hints.  I'm looking forward to her bringing MacKayla into the Highlander world.)

Writing:  Tangled is still being revised at the rate of a couple chapters a week -- and being critiqued at one chapter a week.  It's going to take forever to get it sliced into shape.  I'm supposed to worry when it sat in my computer for three-four years and gathered mold?

I thought I had a good thing going when I was writing about the Marches the first time around.  Now I'm looking at the manuscript, and I can't believe how much I've learned in the past couple of years.  Who knows if I'm any closer to getting published, but my fiction is approaching the quality of my former non-fiction shorts. 

Progress:  Next to none.  

Maybe even less if I spend more time with the new character bobbing around in my head.  So far, I haven't figured out what kind of book ... other than it's YA.  Maybe a mystery with some sort of supernatural in a small town.  So far I'm thinking of north of Hardscrabble in my never-never-California world.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I Made It

Progress:  I kept this thing going for a month.  Now, I have to figure out how to make this pertinent to something or other.  Don't ask me what.  Am making a few changes though.

Got Emma through another chapter.  Have some ideas about making words appear faster on the page ... that I can follow through on ... but it remains to be seen if they'll work.  I'd have to start a whole new WIP to test them.  (Actually, I've got notes on file.  Like the characters, but have no idea what they are going to do besides fight something.)  

Bottom line here:  I must devise a way to outline that'll work with the way my brain doesn't work.


Tangled continues on its introspective way.  The tone won't change -- which will probably end up with it and its siblings never getting published.  It is so 70s, and maybe too literary for genre fiction.   -- Whoever said I was a conformist?

Trivia:  Pickings are getting slim at the farmer's market:  apples and squash.  I did buy a green pepper and probably the last corn-on-the-cob (for us).  Of course, there are other vegies there, but we get most of those from our own garden.  Today is tomato sauce day since we had to pick the vines before the big frost.  (I'll sneak one of the zucchini in there so I only have the two smaller ones left on the counter.)

Critical Reading:  (For me, that is.  Like trying to figure out how published writers make it work.  Maybe I should call this:  How They Done It.)

Finished the second of Charlaine Harris' Harper Connelly series (Grave Surprise) with way too many corpses showing up in the same grave and the suspects camouflaged within a sympathetic dysfunctional family.  This is a recently written series so maybe she's continuing it.  Still, haven't looked at the third book yet so I don't know if Harris capped it as a trilogy.  -- This is a mystery ... but it does have supernatural elements so I consider it fantasy.  Paranormal mystery, anyone?


One of the things I've noticed in both of the Harper Connelly books is that Harris gives a hint at the topic of her next book in the series.  In Grave Sight, she mentioned Tabitha Morgenstern as Harper's one failure.  In Grave Surprise, I think she gave some indication the relationship between Harper and Tolliver is changing.  At least, they seem to be reconciling with their estranged family.  I'll find out in the next book.  -- An interesting way to hook a reader outside of the usual pitch.



Guess this qualifies as a "cozy" since the gruesome details occur off-stage.  I'm not too sure what constitutes a cozy mystery, outside the murderous English village settings.  In my mind, I use two classifictions -- soft and hard-boiled.  Charlaine Harris is soft-boiled.  Lee Child is hard-boiled.

Writing:  I'm going to have a hard time concentrating on writing next week.  Fantasy-reading son  sent the DVD of the Harry Dresden TV show.  What a temptation, even though I understand not all the episodes aren't up to the standards of the weaker books.  Who knows, I might hate the episodes, but they should prove an interesting illustration on how a book (s) gets adapted into another medium.

Harking back to Harris.  (Or, is that 'harping', like nagging?).  In Grave Surprise, I could almost see the incident board, as in a police procedural.  The second time the perp (No spoilers here.) was mentioned, my suspicious were raised.  Each further mention of family members dropped clues and few red herrings.  Liked the twisted motive.  Harris puts sugar on southern gothic.  -- Guess, if I add a mystery element (since I flunked at thriller), I'll have to add an incident board to my outline. 

(Nothing like more balls when you can't even juggle three.)