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.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Suzanne Collins: War's Not Glorious

The Read ...
Ever since I listened to World War II tales as a kid, I knew war wasn't "glorious" -- in spite of having heros.  The impression I got was more like war was the "drizzling shits".   

Over the weekend, I immersed myself in Suzanne Collins' Catching Fire and Mockingjay.  Along with the Hunger Games, the books well deserve the raves the trilogy is getting.  Collins lets you know front and center that even just rebellions are dirty, disgusting, and fearsome things that damage people even if they manage to survive.

Again, Collins' lean prose impresses even if the violence in the books upsets some people.  War is violent by definition ...  and it hits the most submissive the hardest.  Collins had me suspending my disbelief and totally immersed in her world.  So, immersed that I haven't started reading another book since Sunday.  [I'm watching the DVD and VHS of two different versions of Pride and Prejudice instead.  How's that for escaping?]

Opening hook in the first three sentences of Catching Fire.  "I clasp the flask between my hands even though the warmth from the tea has long since leached into the frozen air.  My muscles are clenched tight against the cold.  If a pack of wild dogs were to appear at this moment, the odds of scaling a tree before they attacked are not in my favor."   The paragraph ends:  "I can't fight the sun.  I can only watch helplessly as it drags me into a day that I've been dreading for months."

The reader knows immediately what were the effects of the Hunger Games on Katniss Everdeen.

Mockingjay has a brilliant opening hook too.  "I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash settles on the worn leather.  This is where the bed I shared with my sister, Prim, stood.  Over there was the kitchen table.  The bricks of the chimney, which collapsed in a charred heap, provide a point of reference for the rest of the house.  How else could I orient myself in this sea of gray?"

If I ever wore a hat, I'd take it off to Collins.  Even her secondary ... and tertiary ... characters are well, and pointedly drawn.  I don't think I'll ever forget Snow and his bleeding mouth he got from ingesting the poisons he killed people with.  [While not stated, I assume it was the old mystery writers' arsenic ploy: build up a resistance and you eliminate yourself from suspicion.]

Yeah,  I'm worrying about opening hooks at the moment.  There's these two projects I want to query Emma and There Be Demons.  I'm seem to be bumping my head against a blank wall when searching for marvelous images.  No changes in the manuscripts yet.

The demon book may break too many rules, especially the ones about presenting your viewpoint characters, but then again, I use two main viewpoints in a tween book.  Emma is more conventional middle grade book.  Okay, in Demons, I've got the demon rising from the portal, but he doesn't appear again until the end of the book.  :throws hands in the air:

Rules.  Rules.  Am back on the fence for Dark Solstice  [About my Half-Elven, not Tolkien's]  There's entirely too much telling, I think, for current tastes ... plus I have all sorts of multiple viewpoints giving their interpretation of the same events.  Does that sound like literary?  Maybe, I'll just self-publish the thing ... and go on and finish the trilogy about Kerry as a young adult.  In short, I don't know what I'll do.

Be careful when you complete more than one project.  Your headaches increase exponentially.

Web Stuff ...
Voice is an important problem for writers.  Even though I've given up on what I "sound" like when I write, Justine Musk has an significant blog on the distinctions between your  "essential self" and your "social self".  With the rush to e-publishing and building platforms, I think it's especially important.  Include, chasing an agent too in this discussion too.

[I gave up on figuring out what my voice is long ago.  If it's there, it's there.  If it's not, I don't know under which rock to find it.]

Had the above all set up for my web comment when I read Scarlett Parrish's blog on Erotica vs Porn  -- Let's Talk About Sex on Sunday night.  A lot of writers shy away from writing sex scenes, ie. the story fades to black when he carries her up the stairs.  Others jump in with both hands and feet, giving the reader minutes details.  Parrish makes a good distinction between what makes explicit sex in a book/story a part of the plot ... or porn.  [Don't ask me what porn is unless someone is getting hurt against their will, either.]

[My "sex" writing?  Well, I did indicate the females in my Gorsfeld story were running around without shirts on while they worked in the field.  I also implied a threesome ... which is a big plot point in Dark Solstice.  Sorry, no groping.] 

Then, there are the invaluable Beta readers and critique partners.  The GotYA blog has a neat bit on comparing them to characters in the Lord of the Rings.  Check it out for fun, if nothing else.

Trivia ...
The last of the home-grown peaches are eaten.  We had to buy more at the farmers' market.  Raspberries too.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Foiling of Gorsfeld

Did it.  The first installment of Renna's Tales about Mariah, Ashton and Linden is up and readable ... I hope.

Link's on the side.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Avoiding Glops of Infodump

The Read ...
All fiction writers wrestle with backstory.  Fantasy writers have an added nemesis -- infodumps that try to explain the characters' world without slowing down the story.  While browsing the bookstore shelves, I picked a random volumne of Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampires series.  If I remember right, she's going to be at MileHi Con in Denver.  Thought it'd be politick to read a couple more of the books.  I was rewarded by a skillful example of feeding backstory/world info into the story line without slowing it down.

The book:  Feast of Fools, the fourth in the series.  I know I read Glass Houses, the first in the series, and I'm sure I haven't read any others.  Still, her first chapter was masterful in leading the reader into the new installment of "how to deal with benign and not-so-benign vampires".  I really sat up and took notice when I learned the MC's over-protective parents had moved to Morganville and needed protection from their daughter in this new environment.  Whatever, by the end of the first chapter, I was back in the loop with a good idea of the new problems facing Claire, new villains, and what had happened to the main/secondary characters in the previous books.   All as the story surged ahead.

Loved the opening hook for the book too.  "It was hard to imagine how Claire's day -- even by Morganville standards -- could get any worse ... and then the vampires holding her hostage wanted breakfast."  I leave you to wonder what the big, bad vampires wanted for breakfast.

Web Stuff ...
Trying to get my first Renna's Tale up on the blog.   Grump.  Grump.  Snarl.  Blogger won't let you cut and paste from Word docs.  Anyone have any ideas  besides typing the story in ... all nine pages?

Progress ...
Just be fiddling with the website ... trying to get stat counters in and other such necessities.

Did get Dark Solstice re-editing done -- mostly duplicate comments (telling and then showing or vice-versa), changing passive that still lurked, and other miscellaneous.  Now I've got to think of marketing.

Trivia ...
Am deep in Suzanne Collins' Catching Fire, but keep slapping my hand when I pick up Mockingjay.  I don't think it's a good idea to read two books in a series at the same time.

Oh, the vampires.  They wanted scrambled eggs, which was good since Claire didn't know how to cook eggs over easy.  A sad commentary on today's young adults.  My kids, even the male, could cook a whole meal by the time they were 12. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Keepers: Better the ?th Time Around?

The Reads ... [or rather, Re-reads]
Do books improve ... or at least, keep your interest the ?th time around?  That's the purpose of bookshelves, isn't it?  ... To hold the books you might want to read again sometime?  Well, I put the idea to the test over the week-end.  Between a party, the New West Fest [before the riot] and visiting our daughter ... I decided I didn't want to think, so I re-read a couple of my favorite Stephanie Laurens' Cynster books:  On A Wild Night and On A Wicked Dawn.

Before you go eeeewwww ... a romance, think.  I'll argue that romances are prime fantasy concoctions.  Nothing could be further from real life.  Laurens gives her readers an added bonus to the sexy romp, her Cynster novels also contain a neat little mystery.  [Maybe this is why I keep them.]  In each book, Laurens drops clues  to the murder and the thefts that create the turning points in each novel.

Fantasy rears its head when the two protagonists go looking for true romance in a Regency/post-Regency setting in non-conformist ways.  One by visiting the scandalous fringes of society and the other by indulging in sexual escapades in empty rooms at ton parties -- both keeping their reputations intact.  In real life, they would have been caught, and their reputations ruined.

Don't be too impressed by my reading two 400+ page books over the week-end.  I skipped over the 2-3-4 pages of description of having sex ... over and over again.  Guess my romantic genes came atrophied.  When I think of falling into flaming abysses, pagan sacrifices to the gods come to mind faster than passion between the sheets.

Now, I'm wondering whether I should trade Laurens to make more shelf space.

Web Stuff ...
The only web stuff I spent much time on was my own site.  After two half-day sessions, I think I got the GoDaddy pictures up on my Half-Elven site.  In the process though, my author bio disappeared.  I'm not going to sweat it, though.  There're links to both my blogs where my bio is intact.

Then, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins lept onto the publishing scene, and people were actually getting their hands on it, like E. J. Wesley, at midnight no less.   Then there were the agent blogs.  Suzie Townsend did a photo essay, showing one of the few benefits of living in New York City.  Janet Reid even got into the act with her own movie.  I'll end the links with GotYA's Mockingjay give-away.

Writing Progress ...
None.  Oh, I did get a couple more chapters of Dark Solstice read with copy edits.   The manuscripts bothering me, a bit.  I can see where I can make changes, but I like the story as it is.

Trivia ...
Got delicious ice cream cones at the farmers' market.  [butter pecan]  ...  Then had a corn-on-the-cob lunch at home before we headed to the New West Fest, where we didn't spend anything.  Did get coffee at a downtown bookstore, though, including a snickerdoodle.  Didn't have to eat dinner.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Distopian Fiction -- Commercial or Literary?

The Read ...
When I think of futuristic distopian  fiction, I think of commercial fiction ... like science fiction.  Of course, there are literary writers who do crossovers like Margaret Atwood, but I don't think any one has done it like Suzanne Collins with her Hunger Games.  Collins has "crossed-over" in a couple ways -- I know of several adult literary book groups who have included her on their reading lists.  

For years (since 2008?), I think I glanced at her rankings on the New York Times best seller lists.  She's been there for good reason -- magnificent writing that far surpasses her first series. [Gregor-something-or-other which I've picked up in the past and put back down.]  

Just read this opening hook if you haven't already:  "When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.  My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim's warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress.  She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother.  Of course, she did.  This is the day of the reaping."  So much of the coming story is hinted at in the coming story in that one paragraph that I'm lost in amazement [ ... and envy?... ]

Took me a long time to buy the book, given my congenital cheapness, but I found a used copy of The Hunger Games ... and read it in two sittings, in spite of having episodes of True Blood sitting in the DVD player.  She hooked me on the series when she got me sniveling in a couple spots -- no misty-eyed sadness here, but nose-blowing sniveling.  I was lucky enough to find a used copy of the hardback of the sequel [Catching Fire], but I've ordered  Mocking Jay, which hasn't been released yet.

How's that for faith in a series.  Hope more adults cross-over and read her "kid's" books.

Media Stuff ...
A lot's being written about e-readers ... about buying books for them.  I'm not opposed to them.  In fact I plan to buy one when the technology allows me to buy books from any retailer I want.  Hey, I've bought CDs that work in my CD player in Cardiff, Wales ... London, UK ... and Sogenfiord, Norway. 

I think e-reader technology should allow you to do the same.  When I buy a book, I want to own it ... not rent it.  From what I've read, it seems that the purveyor of an e-book can yank it off your reader -- after you've paid good money for it -- when it gets upset with the original publisher or author.

Actually, my questions go farther.  No one talks about the people who don't own computers and/or e-readers.  Print stuff lays around used ... and cheap, if you look in the right places ... and doesn't need any technology [except electricity at night] to read.  A poor kid can give up a couple chips-and-soft-drink and buy a book, if they're so inclined.  End of expenditure.  With the the corporate paradigm taking over so much of our economy/social contacts, I worry that the poor will be left even further behind.  I call it the new serfdom.

Progress ...
Still trying to cross Renna's gossip about Mariah with a narrative short story.  So far, it's telling ... tellling and more telling.  I'm writing the short story to give away on my Half-Elven site ... aka adding content to the thing.  Need to work fast on it because I have a critique session coming up.  Words are coming out really slow ... and I've deleted maybe 20% of the ones I thought I was going to keep.  Unfortunately,  they were side-tracks or backstory ... and I still have huge amounts of backstory in the thing ... the first two pages.

Of course, I'm non-conformist enough to go against the fiction formulas and decrease my chances of major publishing.  How non-conformist am I?  Well, recently read an article on query advice that said you needed to format your query only in New Times Roman.  I prefer Ariel.  Nuf said.

Did come up with good advice from two writers on Twitter that all writers should heed:  writers should write ... even if they think what they are writing isn't any good.  I'm paraphrasing Yasmine Galenorn and Laurell K. Hamilton here but that's the gist of what they said.

Trivia ...
Took off yesterday to do a day trip --  over Cameron Pass up to Laramie, Wyoming and down again.  Was rewarded by mile after mile of beetle-kill spread across the mountain and road sides.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Book Series Failure

The Read ...
What do you do when the subsequent books in a series leave you lukewarm?  

Over the weekend, I read German writer, Kai Meyer's The Water Mirror, the first of his YA Dark Reflections trilogy.  The book was filled with adventures -- starting with an escape from an orphanage to an apprenticeship that turned into a jump into danger to greater danger as the magician pharaoh of Eqypt conquers the city of Venice, using mummies of the dead he exhumed from the other countries he conquered.  

Set in an alternative world, Meyer gives fantasy readers of number of different paranormal elements not usually seen in American ficton.  A mirror of water (that never spills) instead of glass.  Intelligent mermaids.  Living stone lions (symbol of Venice).  A magical Flowing Queen who had used the waters of the canals to save Venice from the pharaoh -- until she was captured by treachery and saved by the two main characters of the book.  The plot moved, the writing was elegant, and the characters well-defined.  

Over all it was an engrossing read so I jumped into the other two books, looking forward to a couple good reads.

Again, there were some delicious elements like the magic of Baba Yaga saving Czarist Russia from the pharaoh and his army of mummies.  [Russian soldiers wear chicken feet around their necks.]  The two heros and the Flowing Queen trying for an alliance with the denizens of Hell to save Venice after the Venetians killed the first Hellish emissary.  The friends of the heroes fighting in the Venetian resistance.  I especially liked the lion motif that expanded into a sphinx motif when the main characters took the battle to Eqypt.

While the books had all the right pieces, I found myself skimming them rather than reading them.  The elegance had disappeared ... and I think that was mostly due to the translation.  Rather sad, I think.  Meyer offers the reader some interesting ideas. 

[So, now I'm wondering what kind of translation my books might get --  if they ever get sold.]

Progress ...
I mention most of the "progress" I made at the Half-Elven blog ... which was mostly learning stuff I should already know.  Still, I think I've made the Half-Elven site more understandable.  Now I have to add some content ... which I'll probably get criticized because I'm intentionally using "telling" mode for my free stories.

Queries.  Am sending two manuscripts out for rejection, [probably not for the execution so much as the content].  There Be Demons and Dark Solstice.  Since I'm putting the Half-Elven site up, I thought I should go back and try to market the main book of the sequence.  [It's also the one that's "done".] 

I've got my fantasy agent list almost compiled, courtesy of Agent Query and a lot of agent blogging.  It's a dishearteningly short list ... but at least the agents sound like they might be interest in the kind of fantasy I write.  Of course, I am complicating things by having an adult, a young adult, and a couple of middle grade manuscripts ready or almost ready.

I'm sending out several queries a week, and I'm already getting the "I'm sorry but this project isn't right for me" letters.

Trivia ...
Just doing our usual boring stuff, like going to farmers' markets even though most of our fruit and vegetables are coming out of our own yard now.  The apricots are all eaten, but the peaches are coming on. 

Did get a little excitement yesterday when a thunder-bunder crashed on top of the house.  The cats jumped and ran every which way.  I jumped, but stayed sat in my living room chair and thanked my crossed toes the computer was turned off.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fiction Formulas

The Read ...
Follow all the rules and formulas, and you increase your chances of being bought and read.  Again, I have two books to comment on since their covers were turned out on the bookshelves, and I liked them enough to buy them after reading the cover copy.  Two cozy mysteries by the "National Bestselling Author" Cleo Coyle: On What Grounds and Through the Grinder.

I'm still puzzled at the number of serial killers that turn up in "cozies", and the MC always seeming to slip through the killer's fingers with ease.  [Maybe that's their purpose.]  But both books made adequate who-done-its with enough twists and suspects to make the reader work to solve the mystery before the end.  There's at least one more in the series, but I'm not going to go searching for it.  I'm reading the Hunger Games.

As usual with cozies, the lives of the characters are important as well as the backgrounds.  In this case, you may learn a lot more about coffee than you ever wanted to know.   The "formula" here:  A little prologue that let's you see into the killer's mind (a bit).  First chapter opens with the main character.  After that, they follow the general formula for writing a mystery which the major complications appearing in about the "right" portions of the book -- with nicely drawn characters -- without making me pause to appreciate the author's skill or get out my mental red pencil. 

Web Stuff ...
Is the effort worth it?
New York Times best selling author Allison Winn Scotch has a blog on What an author owes her readers?  While I grit my teeth to agree with her, I found the comments especially illuminating.  You might want to pop over there if you're wondering if social media is worth it.  [Remember, I hate computers.]

This is a little late for some, but:  Maybe even more important illustration is my friend Pam Wolf's experience of what can happen with the right search labels.  She wrote a blog about a koret cat which the Animal Planet picked up for a segment.  Yeah, a national television crew in our town because of her blog.  The example?  Pam only has 7 followers but made a national splash.

If you want to read more comments on this read Pat Stoltey's blog and what her readers said in response. 

Progress ...
I'm still editing Dark Solstice.  I have a choice:  to complete rewrite it to follow the current fiction structure or leave it as its semi-literary-navel-gazing-while-the-characters-save-their-country ... and, for Mariah, save her grandchild ... self.  Maybe, it'd be better described as woman's fiction crossed with high fantasy.   I'm sure there are parts were I don't make things clear, but I'm liking it the way it is.

Another reason I'm not getting much reading done:  Watching the second season of True Blood.  I can understand why the cinematography is so dark, but I wish it was lighter [ lumins not atmosphere] so I could see more of the background.

Trivia ...
The wisteria is blooming.  It had to crawl over the rose of sharon to be seen, but it's there in all its spindley glory.  Who says the stuff doesn't grow in Colorado?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Imagining Your World

The Read ...
Finally got around to reading Scott Westerfeld's Uglies and Pretties, thanks to finding the two of them used.  Don't think I'll go scrounging for Specials.  Why?  Well, for one thing Tally, the MC, doesn't seem to learn anything from what happens to her.  She keeps making the same mistakes.  

Also, I didn't see where Westerfeld presented a well-rounded cultural setting, aka world.  Maybe from an adolescent's blindered viewpoint.  *shrug*  ...  Good point, he did generate a nice teen slang which was consistent and easy to understand from the context.

This isn't to say the books weren't well written.  But, oh so shallow.  Wait.  Does that include more than half of the American adolescent population raised on Disney?

Media Buzz ...
I'm "regressing" to print for this blog.  The New York Times Book Review, in this case.  Among the book reviews was  Packing for Mars (by Mary Roach)  by M. G. Lord  which exploded all those nice sanitized presentations of space travel.  Maybe I should have said:  exposed how grubby space travel really is.  So much for those work-a-day world space adventures written in the 50s-70s when I was actively reading science fiction.  They left out the stink.

Won't go into the scatological details, but I really wonder what the fundamentalists will think of funding space travel with NASA's attitude.  As quoted in the review:  "NASA, she learns, doesn't expect a celibate Mars crew, but one that will 'mix and match or whatever.'"  --  [which makes me wonder if the fundamentalists will stop funding for what's left of the space program.]

Then, my mind did its weird little hop-thing by comparing the space travel in the novels to traveling across the Atlantic by sea ship.  Our current astronauts are sailing below decks on a slave ship.  The novels depict the Queen Elizabeth II ... or at least the cargo freighters that ply our oceans.

The bad part:  We can't protect astronauts from space radiation yet -- which reminds me of the dangers indicated in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Endless Voyage.

A second essay in the NYT also caught my eye -- on adults reading fantasy:  The Kids' Books Are All Right by Pamela Paul.  I guess some people are still surprised that adults read kid's books and young adult books on their own, without kids as an excuse.  My mind skipped from Andre Norton to Susan Cooper and Diana Wynne Jones, still stacked on my bookshelves.

Progress ...
Still editing Dark Solstice ... and drafted the first of Renna's tales ... and learning how to format Smashwords ... and ....   got the construction struts of my Half-Elven website up ...  Now, I'm waiting for artwork and copy-editing.  [I know better than to rely on my own editing of a final product, ... oh, that's supposed to be story.]  Nice to be back working in the Half-Elven world.

 Nicer still, I got some more debris into the recycle and filed.  I'm seeing wood on the second set of desks. 

Trivia ...
My Half-Elven blog got it's first follower!  Thank you, Steve.  ....  Or, do I have to grumble because I have to post new stuff to it?  [Yeah, I know.  Never satisfied.]  Now, I've got to figure out out to turn the background green.   

PS:  Which I did, but caused other color problems I don't like. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Starting a New Series

The Read ...
My "cockles" were nicely warmed by the opening of Yasmine Galenorn's new series about the Indigo Court of vampiric fae -- Night Myst.  Frankly, I'm a little tired of her D'Artigo sisters.  [I'd still read them, but the competition for my time is too great at the moment.]  

The book set up might be considered a cliche -- a roaming family member (Cicely) being called home because of a death.  When Cicely returns home, she's discovers she's inherited the position of head witch in the town, and all hell's breaking  out.  Yeah, it gets off the blocks fast and keeps racing from one disaster to another.

That said, watching Galenorn set up the coming books in the series is a writing lesson in itself.  The end of the book leaves the reader anticipating several threads:
--Cecily inheriting responsibility for the safety of humans and witches in the town threatened by the Indigo Court, 
--The MC lover a captive of the Indigo Court queen, 
--A battle between two tribes of fae, one of which was supposedly destroyed by the Indigo Court,
--Not only can Cicely talk to a wind elemental by can turn into an owl which is the enemy of the queen of the Indigo Court,
--The Indigo Court of Vampiric fae out to destroy the Red Court of normal vampires, which are wickedly delicious and self-centered, the poster-people for unreliable allies. 
-- Cicely discovers her father is a fae from yet a different tribe, and
--There's a reincarnation thing going on.
Oh, there are some mild sex scenes and reserve partners in the wings to complicate future plots.
That's just what I remember from the top of my head.  I'll close my comments by thanking Galenorn for not sanitizing her vampires.

Media Buzz ...
Promoting Your Book:  The web has been busy catching my interest.  Maybe one of the most important posts I've read lately comes from Eric at Pimp My Novel -- an author's 12 Step Program.  Yay!  A nice step-by-step list of things you need to do to promote your books -- even if you hit the big time since publishers are publicizing less and less. 

I'm sort of stuck on #5 ... I skipped the agent bit on the list when I sold Taking Vengeance to WolfSinger Publications.  Laughed at the party suggestion.  I just went comatose when I got the email saying WolfSinger had accepted the novelette.  [Remember, this is super small time even if it's occupying enormous amounts of my time.]

Bureaucratic Sillyness:  I start out my day reading the New York Times.  [Actually, it's skimming the NYT.  The old man reads it.]  A recent gem was an article on how print books help avoid the "summer slump" affecting so many low income school kids, all of whom can't afford to forgot what they learned the previous year.  Seems their heads retain more if they have books to read.  Also seems, it works best when the kids pick out their own books.

With school districts cutting summer programs right and left because their tax base has evaporated, research has revealed a cost-effective solution -- give the kids books they pick out for themselves, even if the subject is "frivolous".  Hey, that might even get boys reading.

Progress ...
The site for the Half-Elven of the Far Isles is now up and under construction.  If you're curious, you can visit the site ... or the blog.  Did you guess I've put my other projects on the back burner to start another edit of Dark Solstice -- in spite of coming down with something with a fever?

Trivia ...
Got my desk cleaned off again ... Does that mean I'll start revising Voices??????  Maybe next week.  I'm still cleaning stuff -- both computer and print -- up.   The changes in Dark Solstice are minor -- so maybe I can do both.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Spinning My Wheels

The Reads ...
How do you pretend you are accomplishing something instead of spinning your wheels in the sand?  I decided to please myself and spend the weekend finishing Tamora Pierce's The Immortals series, again set in the world of Tortall during a series of medevial style magico-political wars.  

Really don't have any criticism.  Time is long gone for that.  The series was published in the 90s.  It was quite startling to see mention of CompuServ in the acknowledgments.  Pierce researched on the internet as well as the library.  A good reminder to hermit-me that even fantasy is based in the real world.

Must confess, I took some comfort in other pieces of writing (from The Realm of the Gods).  First, it had a prologue which gave me the courage to put the prologue back on Demons.  More important, Piece opened by setting the scene.

""The Stormwing sat on a low wooden perch like a king on his throne.  All around him torches flickered; men spoke quietly as they prepared the evening meal.  He was a creature of bad dreams, a giant bird with the head and chest of a man."  Did you guess this is the villain? 

Web Buzz ...
You shouldn't be surprised that I follow Tamora Pierce's blog.  Her latest discussed the eternal question of boys vs girls in YA fiction.   The title:  Dare to be Stupid.  It's worth reading by writers in all genres, I think.

Progress ...
For all my head spinning, I am making progress.  I think I've gotten all the loose ends of There Be Demons tied ... and put the prologue back on.  Why since so many dislike them?  Well, if I didn't, the arch-villain of the book doesn't appear until the second to the last chapter except as the addressee of various demonic letters.

Got my first rejection from my Demon queries.  Sent the query out last night.  The rejection was waiting in my inbox this morning.  No.  My feelings weren't hurt.  I expect this manuscript to get rejected often because the subject matter/story telling is unconventional.

Dark Solstice.  Have the revised query almost done ... and even found a few agents who haven't rejected it.  Of course, it's been so long since most of the agents have seen it and the thing have been extensively revised -- that I might just requery.  Again the story is off center.  Anyone know off hand someone interested in the grandmother rescuing a granddaughter from the villain who's plotting to usurp the ruler?

Trivia ...
I've been so wrapped up in doing websites, I haven't been doing much besides yakking at my kids on the phone.