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.


Monday, August 25, 2014

3 Ways Characters Can Help You Get the Max from Your Writing

Books on the writing craft give you all sort of tips for developing brilliant plots, great characters, and realistic settings. To me, intriguing characters are the most important part of a book. If the characters bore me, a book quickly goes on the to-trade pile, partially read.

In the last month or so, my look-for authors hooked me with a bunch of books by developing some of my favorite characters from previous books, some which are still teasing me from my to-read piles ... all four of them [at the moment]. 

[Yeah, I read two books or so a week, but the piles keep growing. Maybe because I buy books instead of clothes?]

The books even got me wondering about how to develop my own engaging characters while listening to the plane's engines drone on my way to and from Wales this month. No, I didn't come up with any great insights about writing irresistible characters. I feel asleep.

But I will give some mini-reviews on ways authors
can use the characters
 to build readership for three of the books I read.

  Some Enchanted Eclair by Bailey Cates. Must say Cates has an unfair advantage here. She's a local author, and I think I even took a writing class from her. Her forte is being able to write paranormal, cozy mysteries without getting sappy. Katie Lightfoot solves mysteries in between running a bakery and to discover the extent of her newfound powers as a witch. This is the fourth in the series, and Cates has set up Lightfoot's abilities to support a long-standing series, even without the developing love relationship which is progressing nicely. Cates has me wondering how Lightfoot is going to catch magical bad guys with a three-year-old in tow. 

Oh, in this book, a movie crew comes to town to film in historical Savannah, and when one of the crew members dies, Lightfoot must prove her catering service wasn't the cause. Not only does Cates reuse her characters well, she supplies a nice twist at the end. [Yeah the clues were there if you noticed them]. -- 5*****

   Loving Rose by Stephanie Laurens.  I distinctly remember deciding not to buy any more of Laurens' extended Cynster series after one of the Adair casebooks got tangled in lovey-dovey relationships rather than the concentrating on the mystery. But she's seen the light, and is now concentrating on the people with the problems rather than the people solving them. [In my opinion]

The Casebooks of Barney Adair...with his wife Penelope nee Cynster, one of my favorite secondary characters until Laurens gave her a book of her own...combine Laurens knowledge of the Regency period, somewhat mushy romances, and a decent mystery. Lauren's a master of recycling secondary characters, this time by redeeming one of her previous villains, Malcolm Sinclair, by the magic of love. [Hey, Laurens is a romance writer who transcends the genre.] 

Not only does Loving Rose work better than most, but Laurens comes up with a twist that keeps the true villain hidden until the end, though there are clues along the way. -- 5*****, again.

Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton.

First, Hamilton deserves a standing ovation not only because she's managed to keep the Anita Blake series going for twenty years, but she also gives us a tight, action-packed thriller with lots of strong character development of the main secondary characters. This book gives us insight on why Micah, one of Blake's main squeezes, has avoided his family for so many years, all played out against the need to solve the mystery why Micah's father is dying from an attack of a flesh-eating zombie. It takes all of Blake's paranormal powers plus Edward's powers of mayhem to solve the mystery. -- I'm boring, but this is a 5***** too

In case you think I only read female authors: There were six books in my review pile plus a couple unreviewed books on another desk, including books by men. I may or may not get them reviewed on GoodReads. [My account link, in case you'd like to like me, or whatever you do on GoodReads.]


 So what have I been doing during my summer vacation? 

Not much except a lot of reading and traveling. We made, probably our last, trip to Wales in the company of a couple of kids. We rented a cottage, stayed put a lots, did touristy things, visited old friends, watched birds, and stared at the sheep in the meadows. The cottage was on a ridge overlooking a valley dotted with enclosed fields, and it was fascinating to watch the movement from day to day of the animals from pasture to pasture.  

My writing? Didn't do much. Turns out daughter brought the wrong kind of electrical converter, and we didn't have wifi, so the mini-laptop I bought was useless.

 Then, there's Crossings,
the book is up on Smashwords as I type this.


   Ebe loved the peaceful live of his isolated mountain community until abrasive newcomers started raising vicious guard dogs. The newcomers terrorize the locals, and Ebe finds himself in their sights along with an old family friend because they oppose their abusive ways. When the 'dog-farmers' murder a local healer/magic-worker, Ebe can only find his self-respect if he discovers a way get revenge. 

if you use code before 1 October 2014 --  PK78Y -- you can read it for free.

Of course, I'd appreciate a review even of it's on Smashwords rather than Amazon. With luck I'll get Crossings uploaded for Kindle today, but first I have to get my words tacked on my new Dumdie Swartz story [The Ghost in the Closet main character].

Hope your summer has gone to fun.