Lessons from My Reading

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, June 24, 2010

Action Speed or Character Depth

The Read ...
 My middle grade reading continues with Derek Landy's action filled Playing with Fire, the second Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain book.  Landy keeps the action rolling here, a great achievement for the second book in a series/trilogy(?).  But ... can't really see much character depth.  While Landy creates a host of fun characters -- especially villains, they pop in and out of the action as needed.  Who they are is left up in the air.  --  Maybe an exercise in minimalist character development?

Not even Valkyrie Cain grows much in the year between stories -- though I think there was a paragraph where she muses that her parents are good people instead of just another annoyance.

Still the book's a great read for light amusement.

Web Stuff ...
 As I struggle to get an ending on the Voices draft, I keep wonder why I'm spending so much time on the web, social networking ... or whatever you want to call it.  Today, Kris Tualla wrote a blog on publicizing your work in her blog "What's an Independent Publisher to Do?" on 1st Turning Point.  Don't trip over the term "independent publisher".  Click the link to find a nice checklist of stuff to do to get the word out about your work.

Now if I only had an email list.  [Actually, I do.  But I don't think I'd get many sales out of 20 people.]  I'll be muttering more about publicity in the future as I try to make my web-time more efficient.  I think my first step will be to blog only two times a week.

Progress ...
 Still grumbling about getting an end on my draft of Voices.   Last night, I got all wet in the flood.  Tonight, I get to confront social services and the neighborhood busy-body?

I also seem to remember I was going to clean off my desks before NYC son arrives.  Need to clean it off since I'll be working from a paper draft when I revise.

Trivia ...
 Turning carnivore at a local steakhouse for the old man's birthday.  A 40+ year tradition -- though now we split a meal so we don't stagger back to the car.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dialog = More thanTalk

The Surprise Reading Lesson...
Dialog should mirror how your characters should speak when they talk to each other.  Right?  I've read stuff where a 10-year-old character sounds like a TV curmudgeon.  I think there was even a TV series that played on that twist ... but it doesn't feel right to me when I read a middle grade novel.  I want to believe that the kid is doing all that wonderful stuff ... and s/he needs to talk like a kid to do it.

Then, there's Derek Landy's Scepter of the Ancients featuring detective Skulduggery Pleasant, an animated skeleton who lands in the middle of a mystery when a girl's uncle is murdered.  My NYC son kept after me to read the book while I was working on Emma since I have two characters constantly sniping at each other --  only Landy's characters are friends.

Found the book interesting because much of Landy's scene setting and descriptions are done in telling mode, but he uses very little of it.  Dialog carries his story forward to good effect and suspense as the characters roll from one adventure to the next disaster.  Landy solves the books major problem ... then, lays the groundwork for a set of new problems for the sequel.  [which I'm going to read next, I think.]

Web Notes Twittering ...
I'm finally getting a handle on TwitteringThe conventions.  The shorthand.  Then, Michelle Schusterman at YA Highway wrote a blog on Twitter Transgressions.  Interesting stuff you should know.  Fortunately, I don't think I committed any of the sins ... mostly because I'm technically incompetent.
  
Progress ...
Grumble.  Grumble.  At the beginning of last week, I had three chapters left in Voices.  Finished a chapter to my satisfaction for a draft.  Wrote part of the next chapter.  Still have three chapters left to go in Voices.  Had to add a chapter because I couldn't squeeze all the needed action into one chapter.  Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

Am itching to query Demons (Britt) again.  In fact, wrote a new query which seems closer to what agents say they like to see in the blogs.  Only problem?  Agents also needs to love the premise and writing in the books before they offer representation.  There are a few other caveats ... but who's counting. 

Yeah, I'll continue hitting my head against the wall.  My list of suitable agents isn't any where near exhausted ... thanks to Agent Query, AW Water Cooler, Casey McCormick, Chuck Sambuchino, Writer's Digest, etc.  [Need links?  Look in my "Useful Places".]

Trivia ...
We're going to eat fresh Local strawberries three days in a row!!  Would have bought more, but we also bought a lot of cherries this week.  The Bings and Raniers are in!  Summer fruit-eating time is here!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lessons from Ants

Lessons from the Literary Side of the Fence ....
A confession.  I love to watch ants scurry around ... as long as they aren't too close to my kitchen.  But, I tried for two days to get into E. O Wilson's Anthill, A Novel.  My internal editor kept getting in the way.

The blurp on the trade paperback was a "hooker".  "'What the hell do you want?' snarled Frogman at Raff Cody, as the boy stepped innocently on the reputed murderer's property.  Fifteen years old, Raff had only wanted to catch a glimpse of Frogman's 1,000-pound alligator."  Then, the blurp lied.  It said that was the beginning of the book.

I opened the book and fell over a pretentious prologue.  [Okay.  Easy to skip over.]  Chapter 1 begins with Raff and his cousin eating ice cream on a hot day.  Which was an okay, if slow way, to introduce the characters.  Unfortunately, my internal editor kept stabbing at words with its red pencil.  The narrative is mostly telling by a dull story-teller.  --  I couldn't trade-pile it because the book belongs to my old man.  Guess I'll banish it to the basement.

Lesson?  Well, ants scurry around.  The story arc of a book should move too.

A Little Dip in Old-fashioned Print ...
The Writer's Digest leavened all the advertising circulars in the mail yesterday.  Better, they included an interview of Charlaine Harris as part of the publicity for the third season of True Blood.  Love her attitude towards writing:  She does it for fun.  I really relate to that since I write to amuse myself first of all.

Zachary Petit writes a profile that sheds light on the publishing world as well as the author.  Harris comes across as very down to earth.  Sounds like she was enduring as a mid-list author (of two published series, one of which is Lily Bard, a favorite) until she got tired of the mystery formula.  She jumped over the traces and wrote about telepathic Sookie Stackhouse who just happened to have a vampire for a boy friend.  In the process, she created a logical alternative vampire/werecritter/supernatural world.

Worried about whether you should outline or not?  Harris probably wouldn't recommend you follow her practice.  She basically turns on her computer, types 'Chapter 1', and then, wonders what the heck she's going to do.  She's usually saved from embarrassment by someone throwing a "firebomb through the window".

She does give some good advice tho.  "To read everything you can get your hands on.  And to write.  Constantly."  The July/August issue also has a comprehensive section on writing memoir.

If you don't subscribe to Writer's Digest, try to find a copy on a newsstand ... or order from a bookstore.

Progress ...
Stared at only two more chapters of Voices to do  ...........  I thought ... no hoped.  Then, last night I got a whole 500 words down ... ended the chapter ... then, added another.  Still have three chapters to go.  *nasty face*

Tried to research agents yesterday afternoon.  My back started whining so I used it as permission to shut down the computer.  Do you think my psyche is telling something?

Trivia ...
All was quiet on the robin front, allowing me to sleep in until seven (AM).  For half a day, I thought they'd left.  Then at lunch time, there was a fledgling snuggled in the front lawn grass with a parent hopping around, guarding him/her.  Fortunately, no dogs came by.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Juggling Characters

Lessons Found in my Reading ...
 In spite of reading diligently after the news [ You know, the-just-one-more-chapter-bit ], I have a good 100 pages left to go in Laurell K. Hamilton's Skin Trade.  Do you find yourself reading slower when you sink deep into a book?  I've caught myself doing it twice in a row.  Here and with Beka Cooper, Bloodhound.

Lots of writing craft stuff caught my attention in the book, but the enormous number of characters Hamilton juggles has my jaw dropping.  I sort of reviewed the number of heros/villains I deal with in all three of my tweensters.  I think just the number of Blake's lovers equals the number of major characters in each of my books -- and that doesn't even start to include the people in the factions Blake hits her head against.  The amazing thing to me is the Hamilton tags them enough -- without slowing the story -- so I can keep them straight.  Maybe others don't have problems keeping characters straight, but I often do.  [Trade Pile time!]

I think also Hamilton is foreshadowing futures books with bits of complications.  Didn't check out Hamilton's site, but if the incidents with the super-vampire villain (Mama Noir, the mother of all darkness) mean anything, some interesting things will be happening in the series.  I think Hamilton may be setting up a platform to end the series too.  After one feeding of the ardour with new lovers, Blake sets up a fail-safe system for two assassin vampires to kill her if she looses her humanity and turns evil. --  This happens after Hamilton proves that Blake isn't evil yet by her ability to call on St. Michael in a fight with Mommie Noir.

Why would this be important?  Hamilton gives a great summary of Blake's thinking about herself:  "Living vampire, serial killer; po-tay-to, po-ta-to."  Excuse me, I need to turn green.  [Envy.]

Web Notes ...
In case you didn't notice the moving gadget  in the corner, I want to alert you to a wonderful idea -- an online writing conference.  A free conference for kidlit writers.  My tweensters, being under 18, qualify.  This comes from the fertile brain of Casey McCormick.

I'm looking forward to "meeting" new people.

Progress ...
Sort of moving -- crawling ? -- towards the last chapter of Voices.   While I do make comments at the beginnings of my chapters, I find I have to go back and paint in the bits that support the action/comments later in the book.  Still, I hope to be able to print out a complete draft before I go visiting ... then, do the real edits/revisions when I get back.

Trivia ...
The fledgling robins are bumping around -- trying to fly.  Sometimes, the parents go ballistic. --   Does that remind you of anything?

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? 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Foreshadowing Your Action

Do you foreshadow what going to happen in your story?  Like, drop tidbits of information in the early chapters that are important to your finale?   Or, does a character wander aimlessly through your narrative ... until suddenly s/he does something that twists the plot the way you want it to go.  The latter is harder to accomplish in a multiple viewpoint story, but still can be done when none of the important characters clues into the motivations of the stealth-character.

The Read ...
Tamora Pierce is a past master of tying up the loose ends and still leaving a hook for the next installment.  My favorite example in Beka Cooper, Bloodhound was a crippled, nasty-tempered pigeon by the name of Slapper.  To understand what I'm saying, you should know that Beka is a young adult set in a medieval fantasy world of Tortall where magic works.   While Beka has magical talents (speaking with the dead who ride pigeons to the Death God and hearing scraps of dialog caught in dust-devils, aka spinners,) --  the stories read like police procedurals.

Slapper appears as part of a greedy flock of pigeons that Beka feeds in the beginning of the day [and other times] -- while writing in the journal that becomes the book.  After the beginning character intros and plot hints are set in the first third (+/-), Slapper appears on the ship taking Beka and her partner to the "scene of the crime".  He annoys Beka regularly by demanding hand-outs 

About 2/3s the way through, one of the minor villains is killed by the super villain's henchmen  and ends up riding Slapper because he had "unfinished" business.  The finale is well-motivated, by a henchman killing Slapper who attacks three of them trying to escape capture.  Beka ignores her orders to stay out of the way to wreck vengeance for Slapper's death.  The problem?  One of the people she chases is the super-villain whom she was ordered to leave alone.

Just in case you didn't notice, I'll repeat.  The book ends like all great young adult books where the fledgling accomplishes what the adults can't do -- find the villain.  Beka's adult partner did link up with her in the end and helped save her bacon.  The scene also resolved the first problem introduced at the beginning of the book.  Beka's bad luck in keeping a partner.

The book would be good study in how to construct a book.

Web Notes ...
Perhaps you've seen agent Nathan Bransford's article in the Huffington Post about the "rejection letter of the future".  He thinks that agents will only respond to queries for stories they want to see more of.  I expected more of an explosion even though I agree with him.   Responding to 500+ queries a week must get tedious at best even if the agent considers themselves a miner.  I'm all for it ... if the agents also gives an automatic response when they receive the query ... and a definite time for a positive response.  No response = rejected.

Don't worry too much, though.  As there are agents who still insist on paper queries, some agents will continue to send "written" rejections. 

Progress (?) ...
By Tuesday, I had over 1,000 words of Voices down.  Then, I dinked.  Adding a bit here and a bit there and setting up for the coming flood.  [To soothe my feelings, I call this adding "texture".]  The great scene with the La Llorona-take-off ghost will be truncated from what I first imagined it.  No great explanations of why she's still hanging around the mortal plane.  She'll just scare the ***** out of Kaffy Anne, who'll run away and wish she never sees a ghost again.  

Then, there's the added scene of KA being seen with a classmate coming up from the creek together by the busybody who's trying to get social services to take the kids.  --  All in one chapter, the part that hasn't been written yet.  Just notes sitting there festering.

Trivia ...
Did the Friday run-around, and took the time to look at the book racks since the to-read pile is getting a little short.  I took the time to see what type of books were popular.  My quick guesstimate says "Vampires rule the racks."

And, Skin Trade, the newest (?) Anita Blake, is out in paperback and in my hot little hands.  It's not the newest/last in the series.  There are two more in the "cheapskates pipeline."  Which comments makes me wonder:  Do you dream of your novels coming out in hardcover first?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Finding Story Ideas

Where do you get your story ideas?  The lack of new story ideas in my files -- until yesterday, the New York Times (8 June 2010) delayed my morning routine -- had been bothering me.  Suddenly all sorts of ideas bounced against each other in my head -- all inappropriate for "fantasy writer".  After all, I write the serious make-believe stuff.

On the front page, a headline gives the bare bones of a great novel pitch:  "Army Leak Suspect Is Turned In, by Ex-Hacker".  Add a few names, motivations (anti & pro), a setting, and reduce it to "A wants x more than anything in the world, but D stands in the way because ..."   Need a situation to surround these combatants?  How about the implications of Estonian language police patrolling classrooms for signs of Russian being spoken?  --- Change the cause and you could have a dozen novels.

If you need more ideas to flesh out your idea, the Business Section has an article about how the US Air Force is using savvy social networkers in the war efforts.

The first story structure that grabbed me:
This story idea leapt at me as soon as I picked up the Science Times.  An entrepreneur, named Robert T Bigelow, may be providing the world with a viable, moduale space station -- that would work in space, on the moon ... and, hopefully, on Mars.  Bigelow bought the exclusive rights to unused NASA patents for inflatable spacecraft and ran with them to create what might become a commercial space enterprise.  The biggest hole in his plans at this point seems to reliable transportation.

Besides transportation, other possible glitches exist -- like supplying food, water, air, sanitation, etc.  Think of all the things that could go wrong from bureaucrats to asteroids, and you have a hundred stories or more, once you got your world set.  Still, this is the first time I've been hopeful about the space program since Nixon castrated it.

Then, for those who are wondering 
why they are
in debt for a humanities degree,
I offer David Brooks, New York Time columnist and PBS News Hour commentator.

"Over the past century or so, people have built various systems to help them understand human behavior:  economics, political science, game theory, and evolutionary psychology.  These systems are useful in many  circumstances.  But none completely explain behavior because deep down people have passions and drives that don't lend themselves to systemic modelings.  They have yearnings and fears that reside in an inner beast you could call The Big Shaggy."

Isn't that a nice, polite way of saying people are messy?  And, we writers get to slog through all that mess.

The Read ...
Am thoroughly immersed in Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper, Bloodhound and wish for the days when I could just sit down for a couple hours and a stretch and read.  I guess if you nit-pick publishing categories, you might say Beka is a fantasy police procedural.  To me, it's a fantasy and a darn good read.
Half-way through the book and enjoying how she develops her cast of primary and secondary characters.  Has two real good villains, old standbys from the first book, and a cast of new allies.  Keeping a series fresh tip:  Pierces locates the book in a new city where Beka and her partner are at a disadvantage. 

Progress ...
I put another Half-Elven story on the desktop to work -- a sword and sorcery romance which answered Linden's question about what the blazes his Defender of the West saw in her ring-mate.  I'm sending it to WolfSinger Publications -- even though it might be a mistake -- because I have some ideas on marketing I want to try on something small.   If they reject it, I get to start water-skiing at 60 miles per hour.

Voices ...  Am finally getting words down on the computer screen ... and not revising (very much). 

Trivia ...
Wiggles got totally disgusted with me yesterday.  While I sipped coffee and read the paper, he waited on the kitchen table stool.  Glared at me as if to say, "Why isn't your butt in the chair?"  By the time, I wandered into the living room, he was no where to be seen.  Though his brother hopped on my lap for a quick pet. 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Book Turn-Offs?

The Reads ...  A given.  Not every book you start to read -- even in your favorite genre -- will hold your interest.  While reading how to survive when the economy collapses, I kept taking books off the to-read pile and transferring them to the trade pile.  Two authors who got caught in the shift, Lori G. Armstrong and Anne Ursu, both popular and respected authors.
Why didn't I read them?
Lori G. Armstrong had lots of potentially interesting characters running around in the beginning of Blood Ties and an interesting premise.  Hey, I bought the book, after all.  The protagonist is a no-nonsense, take-the-bit-in-her-teeth kind of gal with some convoluted family issues which aren't the worse others in the cast of characters must face.  Still, I did no more than skim it.  My internal editor just wouldn't turn off, and the "red pen" got a little heavy.  

Anne Ursu's The Shadow Thieves, the first in her The Cronus Chronicles, didn't even get a skim.   This was a contribution from the NYC fantasy readers, and I was looking forward to reading a middle grade novel ... after putting Emma on the shelf.  I didn't get beyond page 7.  The telling voice just ... plain ... turned ... me ... off.

What kinds of things turn you off when you settle down, expecting a reality-suspending read?

Must admit that, Beka, Blood Hound finally came in.


Web Stuff ...

All  writers need support ... and northern Colorado writers of all levels and genres have the Northern Colorado Writers thanks to Kerrie Flanagan.  Members, like me, enjoy many benefits like coffees, classes, conferences with big-time agents/editors, a Yahoo group, newsletter ... and an informative blog.   M-F, five different writers offer helpful info and insights about writing.

Fridays are especially valuable for writer's without much time to scour the web.  Brooke Favero of "The Writing Bug" does the slogging for you.  This last week she included outstanding info on querying agents, building platforms, and improving your writing craft skills.  --  To tell the truth, she's always includes outstanding information from some of the best bloggers on the web.

And then, there's Facebook.  After a couple months of experimenting,I recently limited my Facebook page to family and real friends who I might even talk to once in awhile.  For the life of me, I couldn't comprehend how a my page would help me as a writer.  Maybe you wonder the same thing?  Well, Jessica Faust in her Bookends blog gives some pointers on how build a business platform on Facebook.  She uses one of her clients, Ellery Adams of A Killer Plot, as an example.  Check it out.

[For me, it came at an opportune time.]

Progress ...
The Voices, the Voices ... got new chapters tacked on them last week ... in spite of me having to write promotional material for Taking Vengeance.  I think my decision to just write 1,000 words a day -- no matter what kind of cr*p it is -- might work.  I knew I had to go back and add description as soon as I noticed I was staring at my end-of-chapter hook.  The chapter also has that unusual problem of "telling" rather than showing the action.

Then, there are the Demons, Gargoyles, and Britt ... have loads of changes to make, thank to my lovely beta reader.  [Now, if she'll only send me her chapters.  Hint.  Hint.]


I'm getting a down and busy view of the publishing world.  No more day-dreaming.  Have sent my contract, bio, and back cover copy to WolfSinger Publications.  [You might check them out at Amazon or Barns & Noble.] -- No, my teeny effort (We're talking 12,000 words.) won't be published until sometime in 2011.

A reality check on the odds of acceptance.  I'm assuming a couple hundred submissions were made last year.  I'm one of 11-2 contracts offered for 2011.  WolfSinger also publishes a couple e-magazines.  You can check the guidelines and contracts out.  Sorcerous Signals closed to submissions on June 15th.

Trivia ...

The robins were squawking up a storm yesterday morning.  I woke up to something chirring back at them.  I opened the blinds to the robins dive-bombing something with a bushy tail disappearing over the fence. --  I don't think robins like raccoons.  (Another good reason to keep the cats indoors, as if the hawks weren't enough.)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Reality Hits the Fan

News ... Progress ... or Something ...
WolfSinger Publications sent me a contract to e-publish "Taking Vengeance" in 2011.
I'm working through the details,

BUT

the publisher wants a bio, picture, and back-page blurp.
So, my brain is stuttering, wondering how I'm going to do a decent marketing pitch.

Truth in advertising summary sentence for short story:  Mariah has given up fighting with the ruler of the Marches and wants to live her life in peace ... until her daughter is attacked by privateers who turn out to be more than they seem.  --  Hey, thanks guys ... Writing this blog helps me clarify my muddled thoughts.

In case you were wondering:  Taking Vengeance is part of what I think of as my "Mariah mess".  The piece is the first three chapters I excised from "Dark Solstice" last year.  The story chronicles the beginning of the feud between Mariah and Linden, the ruler of the Marches and her former lover.

Big Problem, though ...
I'm no longer a pretend writer
[basking in my own brilliance].
I have to work.

[All that said, I must tell you we're talking 12,000 words here, but the poor lil' thing
will have to stand
on its own two feet.]


The Read ... I sort of had a read, a mystery/thriller with a romance.  Felt it was overwritten  ... couldn't get into it even though I skimmed over a third.  Just didn't like the character (written in first person) -- even though she shared some of my favorite habits, and she was smart, persistent, and didn't take no sh*t from nobody.  I cheated.  Read the ending, but didn't read enough to guess the villain, before I put it back on the trade pile.

Used books serve a purpose by making it cheaper to buy a book you might not like.  Glad it was a used one.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Surviving Undead Vampires and Goons

Calling All Vampires:
The Folklore Society (London, GB) is holding a two-day conference
on Death in Legend and Tradition.
Anyone, including vampires, who is interested in death is invited to attend.
[I should mention: Vampires might beware of undertakers (bearing wooden stakes?)
who were also invited to attend.]

Vampires may be taking over the world.  The New York Times (2 June 2010)  tells of a college professor being stalked by film makers.  Justin Cronin, a literary author, wrote a vampire novel called The Passage and has both publishers and film makers drooling.

What the Julie Bosman in New York Times said:  "Justin Cronin is the author of an epic, multimillion-dollar, 766-page novel that stars blood thirsty creatures that run in packs and savagely kill people at night.  And, he's planning to turn it into a trilogy."  --  If you're looking for subtle clues to the book-selling market, I think you might say the paranormal sub-genre is alive and well.  Series too.

The Book Review ...
Got sidetracked reading Sean Broderick's  The Ultimate Suburban Survivalist Guide: The Smartest Money Moves to Prepare for Any Crisis, a rather sensible book on being prepared collapses in our eco-system, economy, and society.

Now, I must admit I'm a "survivalist".  No, I won't defend my case of canned spaghetti with my uzi.  [Or, should that be a M-16?]  Maybe I'm a survivalist-lite.  I'm not up to my ears in debt.  I don't buy things if I don't need (not want) them -- unless maybe something like butter pecan ice cream if I have money in my pocket.  I do stock a couple weeks supply of staples, including water and medicine.  We still grow a garden and preserve food.  --  It was the way me and the old man were raised.

Other than chasing coupons for manufactured foods and thinking about evacuation, us urban peasants have been living the survivalist life-style since we were kids.  --  Yeah, I know it's hard saying no when raising kids, but our kids grew up thinking we were poor.

As a writer, the book might give you some ideas on writing about apocalyptic themes.

Web Stuff ...
Even though I'm trying to limit the time I spend on the web, I keep finding need stuff to print out and put in my research binders.  Today, I recommend Chris Brogan's blog on using social media to promote your book.  Thanks to a tip from Writer Beware, where you can find out all sorts of interesting publishing information -- especially about people who try to rip you off.  Back to using Brogan's info:

If you are Published:  double check to see if you've covered all the bases.

Unpublished?  double check to see if have set a platform to jump from when someone accepts your  manuscript.

Web Stuff
isn't only business.  It can be fun too.  Clarissa Draper gave me a "Sugar Doll" award which threatened my identity, but my fellow recipients have some interesting things to say.  You might go an visit.  If you do, you'll be awarded with a paranormal Jane Austin pastiche.  --  The perspective lady must be chuckling in her grave.

Progress ...
Dipped a toe in Voices, basically revisions.  I had some notes from a critique group on the first chapter ... which left me shaking my hand.  I didn't do an info-dump and they guessed the time period was after World War II ... but they weren't sure.  So, I have to stare at chapter 1 again.  --

Otherwise, revised the last chapter I finished and drafted an ending on the road-block chapter (12).  Only five more chapters to go. [???????]  Maybe I might have a draft finished before we leave for California.

Trivia ...
It's finally feeling like summer in the back yard ... so yesterday I did my annual release of the ladybugs.  Unfortunately, about a half were dead in the package.  Grumble.  Grumble.

Oh, the tree peonies are in full bloom, over a 100 feet of multicolored blossoms.  After we rescued my dad's tree peonies when they left the house, my old man decided he liked them ... and went out to buy every color they came in.

Goodbye for now, and don't let the vampires bite.