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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Friday, January 14, 2011

Golden Oldies: The Wool-Pack

The Read ...
My reading enabler son has an oldie fetish, especially paper back cover art.  In one of his haunts of used book stores, he discovered the British, Carnegie Medal winning writer, Cynthia Harnett.  One of the unexpected Christmas presents he left was The Wool-Pack from the 1950s, billed as "deception and intrigue in the fifteenth century." 

How styles have changed.  Would your first sentence be:  "Nicholas Fetterlock lay on his back on the hillside, gazing up into the young leaves of an oak tree."?  If you did, would an agent and/or publisher be likely to take it if the subsequent two paragraphs were mainly description of the bucolic surroundings?  The first hint of a problem comes on the second page when we learn that Nicholas is playing truant, aka hookie.

Historical fiction, beyond bodice rippers, seem to be in disfavor, the Tudors not withstanding.  At least, I don't see many reviews for them, especially for juvenile fiction.  Part of this is fad.  Part of this may also be lack of scholarship.  How many writers understand post-War of the Roses Europe enough to be able to incorporate how the Lombard banking system, the English wool trade, early betrothals, obedience to superiors, the rising mercantile system, and other social changes following a peace after years of civil war can impact the life of a well intentioned boy who solves the mystery of why his father's wool packs are being contaminated in time to save him from the dungeons.

The Wool-Pack does all this in under 250 pages complete with many line drawings depicting 15th century British life.  No.  The book was not a heavy slog even though the paragraphs and sentences were rather longer while presenting lots of historical detail.

Web and Other Stuff ...

Travel Alert:  Granted not all people are as amused by bed bugs as my old man ... but you might be interested in this Bed Bug Alert site.  Not that I think you can do anything about them.  Does anyone know if borax works on them?

Writer Beware included a link on Facebook to the Shelf Awareness blog that discussed e-pub vs print sales.  I thought it interesting even though they don't mention my reason for preferring print.  After looking a screen for much of the day, I rather not look at a screen when I relax.

Want an example on how publishing has consolidated after the couple decades? And, the ways they still need to change?  Eric at Pimp My Novel has an interesting discussion of branding and the publishing: "A Lesson in Brand Management".  Writers are urged to build their platform.  Seems publishers are facing the same chore.

Back to general living.  Have gas prices been rising in your area?  I recently found a site that lets you find the lowest gas prices in your area.  

Progress ...
After nibbling my fingernails over Spectra Magazine's hiatus ... I got another email from them.  Once they get their ap problems settled, they do plan to publish since they have the next issue laid out. ....  No one seems to know how long the delay will be.

Got two more short stories rewritten [ a great achievement since I seem to go through each one at least 20 times after I first think it's finished ] and sent out.  I won't hold my breath as I wait for the rejections.  

At the same time, my notes for Maren are growing.  I'll be interested in seeing how many of the ideas I use when I put my fingers to the keyboard.


Trivia ...
After a week of cold, snow, and ice, I'm going to enjoy the week of 40 degree weather until the next storm comes blasting through.  One good thing.  Since it's the middle of January, the time between storms will get longer and longer ...  until we get one last arctic blast in April ... or May ... or June ... or even July.  It has snowed on the Fourth of July in our town in the past.
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