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.

.

Friday, May 31, 2013

To Self-Publish? -- That is The Question Every Writer Faces

Can you really, truely succeed if you self-publish? Are you stuck in the ghetto if you give up on traditional commercial publishing too soon?

Was ambling down the post on my Facebook page between chapter edits of There Be Demons. At Chisled Rock, J. A. Kazimer -- a romance, mystery writer -- blogged about the "7 Things I Wished I Knew Before I Indie Published". She doesn't knock it. In fact she's planning to repeat the process ever though the sales were disappointing. Read her comments and be forewarned about what you must do, especially in the dreaded area of marketing.

-- Thought Kazimer was right on. May be glad that my self-publishing efforts are to build platform more than selling epubs to make money. Though my self-published novella [Troublesome Neighbors] has sold more than the indie publisher one [Taking Vengeance].

-- Psssst. Don't tell the Grumpy Dragon that I may still self-publish if I ever am able to get some short stories written.

One Writer's Progress

On LinkedIn, I read a lot of unsuccess stories. I can even contribute grumps of my own. But self-published writers can achieve greater success as they go through the process of writing and self-publishing. Milo James Fowler is a case in point. He's self-published lots of short pieces including the funny western fantasies about Coyote Cal [Amazon]. I networked with him first at Write One, Sub One -- basically a group who aim to write and submit at least one story a week. Fowler combined stories written in 2011 for Immaterial Evidence.

-- Even joined it in hopes of speeding up my own writing ... but fell by the wayside. First couldn't keep up. Second my ideas tend to turn into novels.

Back to Milo. Since he has lots more reviews that I do, I assume he's more successful with his self-publishing. Now. Ta-dah. Musa Publishing is released his new book Immaterial Evidence

Tagline: A detective with a price on his head. An invisible criminal with nothing to lose...  Basically, it a story about a private detective who comes out of hiding to help the FBI solve an impossible theft. If it's runs true to form, you'll get more than one chuckle along with your mystery.       

So a book you like gets published: What can you do to foster its success -- especially if a friend wrote it. Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest blogged at Writer Unboxed about ways to support a writer's new book. Some of the support tactics are real simple and don't cost anything. Some of them are even doable by the author anonymously.

-- Now if I wish I was the type who networked easily. Fowler is good at it and has all those Write One, Sub One rooting for him. He has implemented some of the marketing advice: built a following with his stores and his networking activities. 

===

Progress of sorts. I'm building up a sympathetic character to be killed later in There Be Demons. I'm also starting to Twitter-promote it with the hashtags #WIP, #novelines, #writer, and #amwriting. I'm not impressed with Twitter, but I'm doing it anyway. Also mention what I'm doing on my author Facebook page. [I even have some 60 likes and 20-some reads on the page.]

Also am still rewriting the first couple of chapters of Forbidden Fruit, the beginning Far Isle Half-Elven story, for my critique group.  -- Then I'm going out and read under the hackberry. If I'm lucky the hawk will come sit in the bird bath. For some reason we aren't seeing many small birds again this year.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ending Your Series: What Would You Do If Your Fans Develop Fangs

I admire writers of series. A lot of the writers I read regularly write multiple books in the same world. I even look for new books by them -- if I can remember their names. If I don't, they're back to the cover, blurb, and/or the first couple of paragraphs catching my interest. This process results in an impressive to-read pile. It's a wonder that Charlaine Harris' Deadlocked ever managed to get read. 

At the moment, my reading stats are: 
  •  five books in the process of being read, though I thinking of putting a couple on the trade pile [three stacks & needs to go out the door],
  • six books in my recently bought pile,
  • about twenty books in my fermenting to-read pile, and
  • who knows how many on my bookshelves I might decide to reread like I did that first two books in the Anne of Green Gables [L. M. Montgomery] series over the last weekend.
  • Oh, the number of books I've read and haven't reviewed -- eight.
At the moment, I think most people who read mysteries and/or paranormal [fantasy] know Sookie Stackhouse. Even people who don't read know her from the TV series True Blood, a take off from the books that doesn't much follow the plot lines much. [Yeah, I own the DVDs even though "I don't watch TV." And they do tell a good story.]   

For those who haven't heard of Sookie Stackhouse, she's a southern gal of mixed fae heritage who survives a world filled with vampires, weres, faes and murder. Sookie is the naive solver of the mysteries though she has wised up considerably during the series.

Harris hooked me as a fan with her Lucy Bard of Shakespeare, Arkansas  series. Harper Connelly of the Grave Sight series also hooked me.* Never could get interested in the Aurora Teagarden, even though one of my aunts' name was Aurora.  ... She just doesn't appeal to me enough to spend a couple hours with her.  -- That attitude influences my own writing in the characters speak to me first, and then, I have to figure out a coherent book from a bunch of interesting situations.  Of course, they have to keep getting into trouble.

Harris has ended at least two series, the Shakespeare and Grave Sight* ones, but she really pitched some rabid fans a bone with the 13th Sookie book . Harris dared to end her Stackhouse series in a way they disagreed with. So. They threw a hissy fit. How juvenile ...  or is that todleresque? Am glad Harris is laughing all the way to the bank. I think writers have the right to write their books as they see fit.

Incidentally, I give Deadlocked five stars, like *****. Read it in a couple of days. Harris gives wonderful lessons on filling in back story without bogging down the storyline. Also liked the way the opening paragraph foreshadowed one of the central puzzles of the book.

===

I don't write series -- though I thought my Hagstone draft might be a trilogy. [It shrank back into one volume, 3/5 drafted & partly critiqued, and may even get finished if I can get untangled.]

The Far Isle Half-Elven world consists of a number of companion novels and novellas. [Forbidden Fruit Isn't getting drafted very fast because of edits of There Be Demons.]

Then, there's There Be Demons. The publisher is making noises about a sequel with an older Britt and Cahal. 

Have some notes with Britt and Cahal using their angel-given powers to wipe up the demons left over when the portals to Gehennathh were closed. Have gotten as far as a wounded Gillen appearing on their doorstep ... at Granny Nan's farm. Even know the nemisis/villain. But a book????? Not yet. -- Besides I feel an obligation to tell Teemon's story so he can give the young Mariah a hard time.  

Announcement.
I'm thinking about doing fantasy author interviews -- Quick Chats -- for the blog. Any readers out their with a published fantasy book care to be a guinea pig? You can email me at mkkaytheod [at] yahoo [dot] com 

*I assume the Grave Sight books ended because the last one had a logical end-of-a-series ending. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Are You Honest About Your Writing? Do You Know Where You Want to Go?

Am deep in the first round of edits for There Be Demons ... which will become a book with a real publisher, Grumpy Dragon. They may be small, but I have a lot of respect for the editor/publisher and how she and her husband have grown their business over the last couple years. 

So, I'm even more of a double-threat writer. I will be published by two small publishers as well as having self-published some of my Far Isle Half-Elven stuff. 

--And no, I don't like Grumpy Dragon because they like my comments on my Far Isle Half-Elven Facebook page.

All this leads into a link I found on Facebook, courtesy of Writer Beware sharing it. Chuck Sambuchino hosted guest blogger Matt Mikalatos writing about the 5 lies unpublished writers tell themselves. Yeah, he's published by a major company and gives some hints on the right tactics so you can share his status. 

-- Bottom line. Don't whine and make excuses. Writing an fresh intriguing story competently helps too. I say this even though I'm ambivalent about dipping a toe in the big league pools. I don't think I have the energy to maintain the pace needed at this point.

Then, let's the question on its head. What do other writers think of writers? Found this link on my Facebook page and got more than one chuckle out of it so decided to share. "The 30 Harshest Author-on-Author Insults in History"

Then again, there's Rachelle Gardner's blog on when a writer is ready to get published ... and why having a few trunk novels isn't such an bad idea. "Will Your First Book Be Published?

-- I'm not exempt from this question because my first novel is still sitting in my file cabinet ... typed on erasable bond, if it hasn't rubbed off over the years. Everyone can blame The Clue of the Clay Cats for my addiction to writing 

###

Checked in with my editor today. She liked what I said I was doing with There Be Demons.  ... But I bet she's reserving judgment until she sees it completely edited manuscript.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Openings -- Deciding Whether To-Read or Not-to-Read

Which book do you pick up from your To-Read-Pile? You don't have one? Either you have more time than I do or you're obsessive on finishing what you start or some other reason.

Doubt if you don't read. You wouldn't be here if you didn't.

At the moment, I've about six books "in process". I've started them and stopped somewhere between the covers. I've put the bookmark in them ... and gone on to other things. Sometimes, it's even embarrassing. Like when I abandoned a book by Simon R. Green for Richard Castle's Frozen Heat. Gads ... the Frozen Heat author isn't even real and is probably a committee! Yet I dropped a bunch of competently written books to read it ... in two days, all 400+ pages. I think the opening lured me into the mystery.

"Oh, yeah, that's it, Rook," said Nikki Heat. "That's what I want. Just like that." A trickle of sweat rolled down his neck to his heaving chest. He groaned and bit down on his tongue. "Don't stop yet. Keep it going. Yes. ..."

What do you think is going on there? Some hot and heavy sex scene? Actually, it's a rehab session as Rook works to gain back muscle-strength after getting shot at the end of the last book. Of course, the scene segues into a homicide case that is directly linked to Heat's mother's death. The plots in the Heat books mirror the tv show. What ever. The scene hooks, and the "Castle team" keep the action moving without any info-dumps until Heat discovers her initials carved into the suitcase wheels ... a suitcase which contains a frozen body.

Not all openings are bait and switches like the above. This time I'll give an example from There Be Demons ... which my editor/publisher at Grumpy Dragon loved: 

"Vetis, a prince of demons, burst through the portal connecting Gehennathh to the city of Trebridge. His magnificence blazed brighter than the setting sun. The narrow gate, stretched by his bulk and wide horns, closed with a tired sigh. He rubbed his sore neck as he surveyed his new foothold on the human world." 

So what makes a good opening, besides knowing after the fact that you and others got hooked? 

My opinion is that it's action. Both example have description. Both introduce characters. But both are contained within the action. Guess that's the summary of "show, don't tell" or the screenplay paradigm of novel writing.

Rating: Four Stars. I found Frozen Heat a nice read, but it's not a "keeper". 


===

Am experiencing something new. Publisher edits on There Be Dragons. The submission process has been slow, probably complicated by finding an artist for Pat, the Pet, but the project is finally progressing. Contract's signed ... and change requests made, including one that I need kill someone to raise the stakes for my Gargoyle Posse. -- Explanation: That makes the book a definite YA even though my main characters are freshmen.

[The editor didn't think I should call my kids the "Gargoyle Gang", either, when one of my gargoyles was named Gang. Don't look at me. I didn't even notice it until my nose was rubbed in it. Don't know if I like "posse" or "crew" better. Anyone got any comments?]

The surprise is I'm enjoying reading the manuscript instead of cringing. The fact that the editorial comments are easy to change helps.

Oh ... Did anyone notice I cleaned up my sidebar on the blog? Need to go in and make changes on my websites too. -- Hopefully, next weekend.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Writers' Words, Writers' Worries -- 1

Okay, I know I hop around on the internet too much, but I come across so much interesting stuff. So, I'll share some of the comments I read and give links so I can pretend I'm not wasting my time.

I'll start with the saddest, a situation that all writer's face -- Quitting, via a The Passive Guy link. If I interpreted things right India Drummond describes what happened when she went looking for an author who disappeared from markets and social networking ... and her thoughts on the writer's situation. Maybe she even offers some support for writers who are thinking about quitting. 

Morgan Mandel says "editing is a real pain" in her blog on Sloppy Editing as she worries about the editing of Blessing or Curse, her five story romance/science fiction anthology. --  I can't agree with her more even though I just edit my own stuff ... over and over again. But then, I often think writings a pain ... but not writing is a greater one.

Then, Dean Wesley Smith made some comments on a blog which gladdened my heard: Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Writing Fast. Summary. Everyone's different. Every project's different. Only he dishes up a lot of food for thought about the writing process while he discusses the myths writer's tell themselves. -- I'm a slow writer for a lot of reasons. I figure I've got to cut out the social networking and not play so much solitaire ... among other things. Editing as I go, on the other hand, helps.

===

This has been sitting in my computer a few days. No excuses really ... except maybe I've been playing too much spider solitaire. Seem to be suffering from writer's block plus distractions so I'm going to publish this and go downstairs and read Kay Hooper's Haven.