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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Monday, February 2, 2015

Weaving the Details to Create an Innovativel Fantasy World

The Foundling's Tale Part One: Foundling  This week I found myself traveling through a strange, sort of 18th century Hanoverian world of the Foundling by D. M. Cornish. The books has won some big time awards -- ALA Best Book for Young Adults and A Book Sense Autumn 2006 Pick -- which made me feel a little guilty that I didn't like the book more. While the plot line is highly original, I found the prose rather ponderous ... like Germanic ... like in the days when I thought my term papers had to have 100 word [but coherent] sentences.

  Rossamund, a boy who, as an infant, was left on the doorstep of an orphanage that prepares kids for government service, leads a cast of Dickensian, over-the-top characters, especially his human and nonhuman villains. At the same time, internal motivations and personal development are in short supply. Too many of the characters prance across the stage when needed and disappear. I wouldn't say they were cardboard cut-outs, but some of the secondary characters came close.

  The setting of this dark, innovative world is its strength. The world is so unique that the book comes with a 100+ page Explicarium. The use of the odd term for a glossary demonstrates the tongue-in-cheek narrative that gives the book much of its charm as Cornish's Candide-like character learns that his world is more complex than his teachers taught him.

  The MC dreams of becoming a sailor ... well, and maybe that the school's bully would disappear ... but he ends up being chosen to become a lamplighter, the stalwarts who keep the roads of the country safe from monsters. Cornish adds all sorts of details that add texture to his world until it stands out in stark 3-D. Example: Lamplighters receive a tattoo etched in monster's ichor each time they kill one. Steampunk-type details like bathing eyes in chemicals to gain super powers abound in the book. But Cornish's habit of giving new terms to things that already have perfectly good names rather annoyed me.

  Foundling is the first of The Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy. Instead of magic, Cornish uses a
steampunkish rational for building his world's special powers. Recommended with reservations because of the sometimes limp character development. The excellent world creation redeems the book.

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Social Media Finds

  How about learning how 8 Key Elements of a Powerful Book Landing Page can help your marketing? Niki Woods takes you through the steps of creating a selling ad page for your book. She's focusing on non-fiction, but there are lots of ideas for fiction writers and anyone else trying to sell something on the web.

  Amazon has added an advertising service to beef up the reasons why you should give them a first six month exclusive on selling you book, aka Kindle Select. Nicholas Rossis blogs on how to Advertise with Amazon: a Step-by-step Tutorial.

  I find I'm actually thinking about doing Kindle Select for The Ghostcrow ... until I remember I get my cheap ISBNs at Smashwords.


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My Writing

  Editing my new author website has monopolized most of my marketing time this week, especially my evenings. The good news is that I'll have a more modern looking, more attractive website developing. I still have to do some major revisions on my free story page before the new version goes live.

  The bad news is that I've gotten precious little promo for my stories done. ... Or, is that good news too? I don't know. I do know I have to get my various display sites updated, especially now that I've got the new version of my Nobel Prize winner story up--Doom Comes for a Sold Soul, aka The Ignoble Nobel Prize Winner.

  Then, there's The Ghostcrow. It's going to the copy editor next week!!!! This time around I'm going to try some pre-publication promo. Goal is for pre-orders in March and publishing on April Fools, aka April 1st or my brother's birthday. I'm in the process of gathering reviewers. If you'd like a free PDF copy of my estory, I'll soon be starting a list [as soon as someone requests to be on it] and plan to send out PDF copies in March.

  One of my organizational changes is working out. I'm writing new stuff [mostly] in the mornings. Currently, I'm working on a sequel to Noticing Jamilla. Yeah, Cassy Mae in on the run and changing as she accepts her abilities to work with the supernatural. I anticipate a third estory where The Markham finds Cass and tries to exact revenge for the killing of her niece.

  Oh, I've got a Highgrim and Allsdipp story in the works too. Doom Comes for a Sold Soul isn't the end of their line. Unfortunately, Hear That Damn Owl? was the end of the line for Crayton ... and I've been taking some flak for that.
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