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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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Avoiding Series Traps

First, a Warning ...
I picked up a virus on Sunday night.  As soon as the little shield on my bottom tool-bar popped up, I shut the computer off -- so I don't think I infected anyone.  But, if you visit a lot of the stuff I do, you probably already know you've been infected.  Whatever, it took two days to get the computer guru here to remove the stuff.

Seems to be a lot of the stuff going around from the stories the guru told me.  So, if you haven't updated your security lately ... you should look into it.  I've added two new security systems.  A Windows Security thing and some anti-Malware stuff.  Don't ask this computer idiot anything more.

The Read ...
Kay Hooper is an author I look for, but I almost missed her new book -- Blood Ties -- because of the similarities in the title with others in this trilogy (Blood Dreams and Blood Sins).  My momentary lapse in judgment ... or was it because I haven't visited B&N recently and the book was buried at the bottom of the supermarket shelves.  Unless you shop a lot on line, readers as much as authors are at the mercy of book placement on the shelves.

A structural tidbit:  Within 25 pages there are two murders with similarities to other murders in the region.  Halfway through the book, the FBI Special Crimes Unit realizes they aren't dealing with a  garden variety serial killer, but one that's targeting the unit for some not so obvious reasons.

That said, it was comforting to sit into a comfortable read by an author who avoided the common series traps.  The characters I have known and enjoyed continue to grow as people while in the middle of life and death situations with truly sinister opponents.  Yes, Hooper's plotting is masterful and suspenseful ... making me want to get up and take a break from reading to relieve the tension in my mind as well as my back.  She gives just enough setting to picture the Southern background of poor county sheriff departments that can't afford all the forensic bells and whistles.  [Yeah, I know other parts of the country can't afford them either.]  The villains, of course are satisfying as well as not the usual suspects.

And yes, Hooper has left, I think, an intriguing lead-in to the next trilogy when the evil genius of the Blood one is reincarnated.  I think it'll be a long time before Hooper stagnates.  The thought warms the cockles of my heart.

Then, there was R. L. LaFevers third Theodosia book -- Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus.  While the book was entertaining, I felt she landed two-feet-square in the writer's trap Kay Hooper avoided.  She had her structure set and filled in the blanks with new bits of information, all of which were interesting.

Problem:  Theodosia didn't grow ... just kept doing her remarkable things.  Worse, at the end, her cantankerous grandmother emerged as a deus ex machina.

Web Stuff ...
Got a big surprise last Friday (besides the one at the supermarket cash register).  Was strolling down the blogs I read, and there was Emma staring me in the face.  Ariel Emerald at Writer's Craze query critiques gave me one. :)  I had forgotten I had sent it out to be critiqued (by a publisher slush pile reader).  

The first thing I noticed was:  I didn't put the "pitch in" right after the description of the book.  Not that that would've done much good.  The critiquer said you should jump right into the premise.  My choice of vernacular (from my search for my "voice") also lead to some misunderstandings.  [Gotta tell the internal editor to keep the vernacular to the dialog and out of the exposition.]

Ahh ... another example of where you get conflicting advice.  Of course, he had a bunch of other nits to pick ... or maybe they were full grown lice.

Progress ...
Still deep into revisions of Voices of Ghost Creek, a never-ending process.  But, I don't mind I'll be doing it at least twice more after I get to the end.  I don't know about you.  Here, I'm always finding new stuff to change.  Must say, though, I feel like clapping when I get through a page without a change. 

My next Renna's tale is progressing too.  Felt good when I was able to eliminate a lot of back story.  Does anyone else see the stuff better when it's on the computer screen?

Trivia ...
The annual plum kuchen is made.  (Feeling very virtuous since I don't really like the stuff.)  More important the tree apples are gone.  Put a couple gallons of applesauce and two pies in the freezer.  The apple crisp from the pie leftovers evaporated. 
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