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, May 5, 2011

Newbery Books, Ghosts, and Other Things

The Reading Lesson:
A couple months ago, I thought it might be nice to read all the books that got the Newbery Award, but had already read most of them.  One I hadn't:  Ruth White's Belle Prater's Boy from 1996, if I read the copyright correctly.  The book was a nice dose of magical realism combined with a mystery.  Each character -- the narrator and her cousin, Belle Prater's Boy -- had a problem to solve.  Thought the book gave a good lesson in weaving two similar strength plot lines involving two different characters together.

Everybody likes a ghost story.  So, it's no surprise I picked up another middle grade book:  Mary Downing Hahn's The Old Willis Place: a Ghost Story.  The book was told from a ghost's point of view.  The three main characters are well drawn with an evil old woman's ghost lurking in the background, scaring the bejesus out of the kids, ghost and alive.  Hahn's setting the clues about the wild kids in the woods is masterful. --  Hop the younger step-grandkid enjoys the book when I give it to her for Mother's Day.

After reading the two books close together, I'm thinking more and more people trying to write publishable books for adults should read good middle grade.  It's so much easier to see how the writer's work their craft tools.

Web Promotion and Other Stuff:
I've been sending rough drafts of a short story out for critiquing lately, mostly because of time crunches.  This gives my critique partners an easy target where they get back at me for highlighting I've done of their use of "to-be" forms.  Only not all "was" forms are wrong.  Do you know when "was" is the correct word to use?  The Grammar Divas give you some hints, if you care to read them.

Tagging can get your or your friends books noticed in the great e-publishing swirl.  Karen Nut writes about a technique to bring your book to people's attention at the 1st Turning Point.

For those seeking agents, I thought I'd add this blog [from a link at Writer Beware's Facebook comments].  Jennifer Laughran of the Andrea Brown Agency commented on agency agreements at her blog Jennifer Represents.  While I'm not querying agents at the moment, I thought it interesting and filed it for when I get Emma revised, edited, etc.

Let's go on to imagine when we become a best selling author like, say, Yasmine Galenorn.  In her blog, Life on the Fringe, she blogged about how many pages she should produce each day ... and then goes on to explain there's much more to being a best-selling author than just writing, or even revising/editing, pages.

Progress:
Got the short short story [Devil in the Details] -- which is different from flash fiction -- back from the critiquers.  Sent it out to Betas after revising/editing it a couple times.  Wanna bet I won't revise it when I get it back again?  You'd lose.  --  It'll be nice to have something to submit to the professional-paying markets again.   

Also, I'm reaching the middle of the editing (yet again) of There Be Demons.  [Then, I'll submit it to a couple of e-publishers.  In the end, I expect I'll be self-publishing it.  The language is really rather strong even after I've been removing the f-bomb.  [Hey, it's my favorite expletive, though sometime I soften to "screw it".]  We won't talk about my bureaucratic angels, twisting of Catholicism, and wrong-aged protagonists. --  And, I thought it was middle grade?

Say, aren't I supposed to be creating something new?

Trivia:
I've been reading a couple romances and thinking about "happily-eve-afters".  I think the HEA comes after you learn to keep your mouth shut ... until you think of a neutral way to present your position.       
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