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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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Can You Write a Gripping Book?

I'm sure you've been told gripping books sell. I'm sure you've tried or are trying to write one. But have you figured out why writing a good book is so hard? 

My take: it's a matter of opinion. Publishers. Agents. Writers. Book Stores. Readers. All have their own idea of what works. Was thinking about this when I read Ilona Andrews, of the Magic urban fantasy series of Atlanta gone awry with fluctuating magic, making a comment in a blog which I think sums the situation up beautifully:

"A gripping book is like porn.  You know when you see it, but if you try to identify the elements of it, chances are someone will come back with a gripping book that does exactly the opposite."

Want an amusing look at a successful writer's day seen through the eyes of his/her hypothetical intern? Here's a link to the blog "Interns".

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So do I write gripping stories? I don't think so. I'm sort of a dilettante who writes more to amuse myself than become a great author or even a best-selling writer. Still, do have a publication date for "There Be Demons" of Spring 2014. Arcs should be ready about October-November. Then, I have to go into marketing mode to justify the investment Grumpy Dragon is making in me.

Have a big editorial meeting coming up in a couple weeks. I'm hoping my editorial board asks enough questions to fill in the holes in my storyline, characters, descriptions and all that other stuff that goes into making a readable story. In the meantime, I hoping the storyline is gripping enough not to put them to sleep.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Some Writing Thoughts -- Making Your Writing Better

Am really putzing. Like I'm not making much progress with my word counts.  One problem: I try to edit as I write. Slows you down, but I like the results better than encountering an embarrassing mess the next day.

Not doing much marketing either. Read Facebook but haven't contributed anything ... not even about the rioting roses and clematis. Even have slacked off on Twitter. Did read six of the early Anita Blake novels in front of the fan-enhanced A/C. In fact, I recommend the early Blake books by Laurell K. Hamilton. Better than anyone else I can remember off-hand, she weaves two-three plot lines with finesse ... without the romance/erotic stuff which adds other complications and distractions.

Are you editing yet?. Better yet, do you want to memorize some words that'll make your writing leaner so your storyline reads faster? Lauren Spieller has some suggestions for you: Words to Eliminate from Your Writing.  --

One of the ways I check for "flabby" words is to use the "find" in my toolbar. For "to-be" forms I seach for "ing" since it usually happens using "to-be"

While you play with ideas, do you also play with titles? What do you think of Emily Veinglory's comments on adding "xxx: a novel" to the end of your title? -- 

Titles are always hard for me. Like my current title for the opening to my Half-Elven series is 'Forbidden Fruit'. Don't like it but it sums up the situation. And, no. It isn't a 'romance' even though relationships are central to the plot line. And, yeah. I added "A Tale of the Half-Elven" to the title "The Foiling of Gorsfeld". [free at my author website]

Coming up with new, unused, or beaten-to-death situations is another problem for writers.  Susan Vittitow Mark wrote a blog at The Writing Bug about Making Big, Messy Art.   Bottom line: Mark writes about journaling to create a mine where you can dig for ideas. The opening is a gas. Won't do a spoiler here. Just go look at the pictures.

Then there's procrastination. There was a great article on the differences on being a writer 20-30 years ago. I didn't capture the url and paste it here for further use. In the meantime my computer and the phones died. Short version: Being a mid-list for major publishers has become a version of "hell". 

Oh, the computer -- I'm learning how to type on a new laptop computer. Don't have all the files finessed ... but it looks like I haven't lost any in the transfer.

Gargolye news. Have a tentative publication date for April 2014.  I'm waiting for the second edits on There Be Demons which should be done when I get back from visiting family in July. Oh, it is July. Well I'll be gone for a couple weeks.

And Pat, the Pet will come out in February or March. The delay here has been the artwork edits. Think we have an artist for the work -- both for the short-vowel stories and the unpublished long vowel ones. May do another set on dipthongs/letter combinations but the editor hasn't decided what. -- Actually, she's making noises about chapter books, and that scares me.

Enjoy ... and don't melt in the heat.