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, February 24, 2011

Short Lessons from Short Stories

Fiction Lessons:
Two collections of short stories landed on my reading pileUnusual Suspects [edited by Dana Stabenow] and Songs of Love and Death [edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozoise].  I sat back in anticipation of reading some of my favorite writers [Neil Gaiman Jim Butcher, Yasmine Galenorn, Charlaine Harris,  Laurie R. King, Simon R. Green among others ... and studying what the truly expert do with their opening paragraphs.

Believe it or not, I actually did learn something from studying the openings.  I've mentioned the class I took from Trai Cartwright, sponsored by the Northern Colorado Writers.  Well, I decided Emma needed a major revision even though I had some wonderful critiques in my files [which had me condensing chapter where  not much happened].

After studying the openings, I threw a new opening paragraph on the first chapter for the class.  Got told by the teach:  I should of started with the incident I told about in the first paragraph and that the original first chapter dripped with globs of back story.  [Oh.  Oh.  Way back to the drawing board.]

Sharon Shinn also provided an illuminating moment.  She has a ghost story in Unusual Suspects, called "The House of Seven Spirits".  By the time, I got to the end I had realized not only had I noted each of the major clues ...  but ... she had still managed to pull a plot twist under my eyes.  If you're wondering how to plant red herrings without a noticible stink, you might go looking for this paperback.

Web Promotions and Other Stuff:
So you want to use Twitter to build your writer's platform?  I read enough about how I'm not doing enough with social media.  I sometimes feel like the web-o-sphere is breathing down my neck ... or it that nagging me to learn more.  My feelings?  Ugh!  Yet, I do it.   One resource I recently added to my study materials was a blog by Tamela Burke at Chiseled Rock.  If you want to get the most out of your Twitter usage, you might take a peek at Catch that Twitter Love. I doubt if I'll ever learn to love it, but I'm trying to use it.  May I like it?

I have a confession to make.  For a while there I developed the bad habit of letting emails accumulate.  I think my computer crash cured that, but I'm still working at cleaning up the back log -- the 1st Turning Point articles I subscribe to.  Tuns of good information to sort through, but I thought I'd mention the things I've failed to do.

How about the basic stuff you should have on your website.  Deborah Schneider wrote did a blog on the basic items you should have on your writer's website:  Back to The Basics.  The one thing people should easily find is publicity stuff for your publications.  Guess what.  I don't do it ... so ... more revision.  

But I have a problem.  I don't quite fit into the parameters.  My site is a "world" site not an "author site" because I thought it best since I write both adult and tween fantasy.  I was saving my "author's website" for the tween stuff.  Only time will tell if I made a serious mistake there.

Fortunately, 1st Turning Point has an answer for this double bind.  Amber Scott did an interview with author Eileen Cook, who writes adult, young adult, and middle grade, and finds she gets a lot of cross-over.  Her basic advice is to set up a marketing budget in both time and money ... and use a number of promotional tools to get the word out when you're published. 

Of course, my Half-Elven stuff isn't published yet.  Also, subsequent books would be a little racy for middle grade readers.  Even Dark Solstice, which I toned down, is beyond MG parameters -- the reason I figured I'd have to do two sites.  Some might say that YA takes on some racy subject matter ... but the next two books skim along the border of unacceptable subject matter.

Since I just printed out the article/blog, I thought I'd add a blog on Twittering I'm also studying:  Shelli Stevens blog on "Make Every Tweet Count".  Again, this comes from 1st Turning Point.  [If I'm ever successful at this writing game, 1st Turning Point is going to be blamed.]

Progress:
Had a thought when writing my Half-Elven focused blog the other day.   Why bother trying to sell what you write?  Heresy, I know.  But, I'm more comfortable growling in my corner than engaging with people.  I can tolerate the disconnect in attitude ... but sometimes, I wonder if I want to bother.  On the other hand, Cartwright said why bother learning craft skills if you don't use them ... or something to that effect.

Heh.  Heh.  Heh.  I think I'm getting a little more organized.  I'm actually making progress on a new Renna's tale, drafting more pages for Maren, and revising Emma Kloken, Reluctant Hero.  Actually, I'm drafting a whole new first chapter for Emma ... but who's going to nit-pick?


Trivia:
The weather is bright with sun and warm enough you only need a sweater.  Sure hope March sends us some snow.  It's so dry around here, the old man had to water the south side garden.
 
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