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, May 25, 2015

Developing Characters--Twisting Characterizations to the Max

Who doesn't love a story about a whorehouse madam with a heart of gold? Sandra Dallas delivers more than a tired cliche in her unpredictable historical novel, The Chili Queen.

Now, I've read a lot of Sandra Dallas. But for some reason never read The Chili Queen until I traded my last bunch of books. I always count on her for a heart-warming tale to counter my usual snarky tendencies. Then, I started this book and was totally dismayed. I encountered cliche after cliche at the beginning. Only Dallas' masterful telling of a good tale kept me reading until the plot twisted as the characters shifted their positions in the story line.

As I said, The Chili Queen is unpredictable. None of the main characters turns out to be quite what they seem at the beginning. To make the reader care, all the members of Dallas' quartet are likeable. To make the critics happy, all the characters have distinct personalities as revealed in the interesting back stories. You care about Dallas' people and root for them, even though they all seem to be in the wrong at one time or other.

The execution of a con creates the core of the plot, and Dallas' plotting makes this book as hard to predict as a classic shell game. The characters all want to win the prize and find ways to push the odds in their favor. Yeah, the character depictions are front and center here, with faint clues along the way for the reader to figure out the solution to the puzzle.

Recommended. Readers will find hanging onto their preconceptions hard as the plot twists and turns through the story line. See a summary of the book and more reviews at

  
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My Writing Scene

Kinda like not thinking much about marketing any more. It's finally become obvious to me that I need to totally rewrite There Be Demons. The world has become more complicated with not only rival mage groups but two sets of aliens. Wading through the beginning of On the Run has been a revelation. One I enjoyed. You can sort of follow the process with the draft snippets I post at my author website.

My writing still happens at my normal pace--slow. But that's okay. I'm under no pressure to publish anything. I can just write to amuse myself. Big change this last week was adding another chapter to the beginning. I'm not joking when I say I back into my stories.

I was going to write a 10,000 word short story?
I already have over 30,000 words...and I don't have the world foundations set yet--
and only 3/5 of the book drafted.
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