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, June 14, 2010

Immersed in a Master Craftsman's Mind

 The Writing Lesson ...
I'm savoring master craftsman Laurel K. Hamilton's new mass paperback, Skin Trade.  Wish  I could just sit and devour, but I've got too much other stuff demanding my attention.  In a way, I've already taken the bait.  Her opening hook is masterful.  "I'd worked my share of serial killer cases, but none of the killers had ever mailed me a human head."  The first sentence of the book rips your cheek out it lodges so firmly.

Even more impressive is the way she weaves the series back story into the first 4 page chapter.  She leaves out some things, but who cares.  I don't think this book will disappoint.  Hamilton has so many themes running through the Blake series that she  must had quite a time squeezing the references in.  At least, Blake seems to have gotten over her puritanical upbringing.

I'm about a third of the way in.  I don't know if Hamilton intended comments to be funny, but I found myself laughing out loud when characters referred back to situations from other books. Another bit that had me sitting back and thinking:  Hamilton gives an argument against those thinking commercial fiction is dumber than literary fiction when Blake raises objections to joining a witches church because it's too Gnostic.  How many Christians know what Gnosticism is?

Progress ...
My big bitch of the moment isn't getting an ending on Voices, though that bothers me.  It's getting my agent files set up so they are usable.  How many times have you read agents complaining about about sending inappropriate queries?  I gather it's one of the prime newbie mistakes.  I also gather you increase your chances of sending a partial (or full !!!) if you send something the agent is interested in.  --  A quick example.  I'd be wasting my time sending my stuff to an agent who only represented Christian romances.

Two of the best places I've found to get in depth agent info ... besides individual agent blogs ... are Casey McCormick [Literary Rambles] and Chuck Sambuchino [Guide to Literary Agents]  I think I've mentioned them before.  Well, this week-end I've been combing through their archives searching for agents who like fantasy.  

And, no.  Not all agents who like paranormal and/or urban fantasy do magical realism.   If you do sword and sorcery, the agent pickings get even slimmer.  So, I'm putting together a master list of agents who might be be interested in the kinds of fantasy I've written or have in my idea files.  My problem is complicated by having several adult, young adult, and middle grade manuscripts as done as I can make them.

Some examples I just stumbled across.  Michael Bourrett of Dystel & Goderich is looking for gritty, blue-collar YA paranormal.  For a few minutes I thought There Be Demons would be a good fit -- until I read he doesn't want science fiction or high fantasy (with magical creatures).  Then, I would love to query Jill Corcoran of the Herman Agency -- but she only does kid's stuff and doesn't have anyone in her agency that does adult, that I can tell.  --  It stands to reason that I think I'm an "exceptional" writer.

So, my manuscript files reflect my mind -- a Crazy Quilt.  Which makes me wonder if other writers stick to one genre specialty or do they bounce all over the place until they land on an idea that's publishable.

One thing I'm not doing is only bobbing like a dippy bird transferring agent info.   I'm "studying" book trailers on YouTube.  My NYC daughter, being a musician, knows a little about promoting yourself on the web, has promised to help me. 

Then, there are all those lovely trailer reviews at 1st Turning Point.  This week Rick Taubold points out the good points of a trailer for a children's picture book.  I found it interesting they used both English and Chinese in the production.  Whatever, I hope I can come up with something half as good for "Taking Vengeance".

Trivia ...
Disappointed the gurus trying to jump start the economy.  The old man stuck his foot through the bottom sheet.  Did I buy one of the many sets prominently displayed for my buying pleasure?  No, I dug around even though my back was cranky until I found a single fitted bottom sheet the right size.  Who cares what color it is? 
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