The current read... Am savoring Jim Butcher's Changes featuring Harry Dresden. The family lending library came through with pennants rampant so I could read the book before the mass paperback came out.
(Sorry. I refuse to join Cheapskates Anonymous. I love pinching my pennies and hugging my dollars.)
Opening hook? How about learning you have a daughter, you never guessed you had, who has been captured by your vampire enemies. Talk about pushing an orphan's buttons! Of course, the Wardens supposedly protecting mankind from the supernatural are dysfunctional again. If they weren't, Dresden couldn't be such a "lone ranger". Dresden's going to have to solve this contretemps on his own.
Butcher always blows my mind in how much action he puts into his stories. The chapters are short, and he leaves all sorts of hooks dangling at the end of his chapters. You never know which characters from the previous books will appear to complicate things. More often than not, they poke a finger in Dresden eye ... or wreck more violent mayhem.
How does Butcher work his "action arcs", besides masterfully? Each chapter presents a problem which leaves Dresden deeper in trouble than he was before. The larger arc moves too. By page 70 (out of 400+), I think most of the major players are on the stage, each with a scene that complicates the plot. Then, when Dresden makes the first move to counter the vampires, I looked up and saw I was on about a third of the way through. -- [Do you think I've discovered a formula for writing fiction?]
Incidentally, I think Butcher foreshadowed the ending by page 36. Why? Just the way it stuck out in the prose.
Web Notes... The Gotham Writer's Workshop sends out emails to people interested in learning how to write or wanting to improve their results. You can sign up by visiting: http://www.writingclasses.com/ There is a little box at top where you can drop your email. Granted they want to sell you classes, but I find the info in the emails useful (even though I tend to ignore the ads. (I connected with them when I entered one of their contests ... and lost, but won at the same time.)
Are there any literary types lurking around here, here's Gotham's take on the best literary markets. http://bit.ly/9nf44I You can sample their info and decide if you want to read more from them.
Efforts ... Still, revising along to see what I wrote for Kaffy Anne and the Voices of Ghost Creek. Was pleased that the first ghost appeared right where it's supposed to -- the midpoint of the draft, after much foreshadowing. Still feel rather elephantine in the lack of speed in my progress.
Trivia ... The surgery went well -- just the removal of some scar tissue, but I had to drive to another town to get it done. I was going to use it as an excuse to take a vacation but was on the computer and critiquing within two hours of getting home.