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.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Queries and Changes

Progress ... The queries in the back of my mind jumped to the front over the weekend -- like it's time to refine my approach to queries.  Spent a whole evening sorting through the stale queries I had hanging out there.  (About six for three books.)  By the time I organized them, cleaned them up and set up a new tracking system, I had three left ... one for a book submission which I'll probably withdraw. 

Actually, I'm thinking of not sending out anymore queries for a while.  Found a new critique partner (I hope.) who caught stuff my other valiant critiquers hadn't.  (Believe me, they found plenty wrong.)  -- Guess I don't have the craft stuff firmly internalized yet.

One thing, I'll be pickier about who I send my queries to.  No more general fantasy agents.  Now, I'm looking for agents who do both middle grade and young adult with a strong interest in fantasy (not necessarily just paranormal).  It narrows my options so I really do need to limit the number of queries I send out there,or I'd quickly exhaust the possibilities.

If you are looking for some in-depth info about agents -- beyond the summaries at Agent Query and Query Tracker (etc), you might look at Casey McCormick's blog Literary Rambles.   Click Here.

Of course, there's Publisher's Marketplace too, but they charge.  I'm still an amateur and don't feel I can justify the cost.

Sterling Reading Advice ... The Sunday New York Times Magazine had an interview with Charlaine Harris, "Once Bitten" where she gives her take on vampires.  I liked her writing advice: "For any writers at all, read everything you can and then put your butt in the chair and write.  That's all there is to it."

I really wish it were so.  All I can think of is the joke about the guy who wrote a class paper:  "Pop pop, poppity pop pop ..."

The Read ...  Jim Butcher keeps moving Harry Dresden from one disaster to another conflagration.  Old and new characters appear ... giving him a smidgen of help while digging him deeper into a hole.   As usual, I love the way he depicts characters through their actions and dialog.  His vampire-hired assassins are a hoot in the way he gets the dialog to indicate their weird mental processes.  I don't know if Butcher was a student of Edward Sapir or Benjamin Whorf, but ...  [I'll reserve that discussion for when I find myself among a bunch of anthropologists.]

Did I mention the action?  During the transition (about half way through) from setting up the problem facing Dresden to delaying Dresden so can't reach the villains in time to prevent his daughter's sacrifice -- he's being chased by these weird  assassins, mentioned above, who fire bomb his basement apartment.  The problem:  Dresden is faced with the problem of saving his cat and the elderly people who occupy the other apartments in the burning building -- with the hurt/broken(?) back he had retreated to his apartment to treat.  By the time he rescues the elderly occupants and gets taken to a safe-house, Dresden is treated for his back only to face a different assassin.  --  All in about 20 pages or so.

Thought I'd just throw in a couple lines, out of context, that had me laughing out loud.
1)  "Wizards don't giggle," I said, hardly able to speak.  "This is a cackling."  [Note the adverb and to-be word, anyone?]
2)  Sanya's eyes danced, though his face was sober.  "You are a drug dealer (pizza).  To tiny fairies.  Shame."

I've noticed another interesting difference in this book -- rather long, for Butcher, existential commentaries about religion, values, change, and other important stuff I don't remember in the previous books.

Trivia ... Went to the Farmer's Market in the cold.  Bought all sorts of good stuff -- kettle corn, snickerdoodles, apple strudel.  Hey, I didn't say healthy.
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