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, July 7, 2011

Finding New Authors to Read and Writing Craft Ideas

Fantasy Book Review:
Need a new author to read? Novella collections make a great way to discover new writers.  Hexed, which includes stories by Yasmine Galenorn, Ilona Andrews, and Allyson James about magic and mayhem, was no exception.  Granted it included two of my favorite authors and reminded me of another whose name I had forgotten [James].  Jeanne C. Stein was new to me.

While I usually don't care much for vampire stories, Stein hooked me with her Anna Strong in Blood Debt.  I've a soft spot for people who stand up to arbitrary authority, especially when they use their brains.  James even came up with an interesting "other" antagonist which hasn't been overused -- at least not in the books I've read.  So, I gave her four stars for creativity.  I think she lost a star from me for the vampire protagonist -- even if Anna Strong fights to keep her humanity and can walk in daylight. -- Hey, the vampire meme needs all the innovation it can attract.

Another reason I like novella collections is they can fill in the back story of important secondary characters in a series. Galenorn first hinted at a tragic past when she first introduced Iris Kuusi, a Finnish house sprite, in her D'Artigo sister's Otherworld series.  Her story Ice Shards fills in the details.  Magic Dreams by Ilona Andrews does much the same for a more minor secondary character in her alternative world of magical Atlanta. Allyson James reminds the reader that a relatively minor character can wreck greater havoc in a story than writers normally assign to them in Double Hexed ... if a writer pushes beyond the obvious.

I was sorry when the book ended.  Fortunately, I had rebuilt my to-read pile so I've a couple juicy reads to look forward to.  And no, I'm not going to comment on the quality of the writing in this collection.  These be master's here. -- Maybe I write half as well.

Grumping about My Lessons:
[Are we learning yet?]
Are you search engine friendly?  Like do you want to make it easy to find what you write whether blog or novel?  Chuck Sambuchino at the Guide to Literary Agents recently had a guest blog by Hollis Gillespie on How to be  Click Magnet. If your a writer, its a skill you must learn to improve your sales and/or the readership of your blog.  I know I printed a copy of the blog to study it.

Lesson:  Out of the ten tips, I picked up on writing titles.  I did notice my longer, more descriptive titles got more visits from search engines, but didn't think much about it.  Now I have a list of handy-dandy ideas to improve my blog readership.

Good thing I printed the article.  My eyes glazed over the first tips on getting most out of your titles.  Did you know Google only lists 65 characters in their search engine titles?  I didn't.  Now I know why so many search engine listings dangle in mid-idea. 

And, while you are writing that title, make it specific. I have to quote Hollis' example.  Newspaper speak:  "Senile Feline Enthusiast Dies".  Web speak: "Dead Crazy Cat Lady of Dayton an Undercover CIA Spy".  -- Rather nice that the old lady had an interesting life ... but, maybe, the red tape drove her crazy.

Did you read the article? Which tip seemed most appealedl to you?

Opening hooks have also been on my mind.  Since I've been curtailing my time on the web, blog opening lines have to hook me.  Then, I find K. M. Weiland's Word Play blog on hooking readers:  Is Your Opening Line Lying to Your Readers?

Found another gold mine, I think, on Twitter. Galley Cat did a blog on Find Reviews on the Book Blogs Search Engine.  This one's not a list of things to do.  It's a link to Fyrefly Books which has compiled a search engine about people who blog about books.  They also feature reviews you can search by genres.   

Trivia:
Remember.  No one ever said writing is easy.  I've notice it's also time consuming.

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