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, June 29, 2015

When Writing About Magic -- What Genre Should You Call It?

    Magical systems are one of Mercedes Lackey's fortes. Every story I've read of hers has played with magic in some way. Her paranormal mystery, Sacred Ground, focuses on Native American shamanism. Lackey shows her fellow writers how they can involve their readers in different way of thinking without over-burdening them with factoids and mechanics. It's all in the description and the images the writer creates.

   I'll say upfront that I'm disgruntled that this book is a stand alone. I think Jennie Talldeer deserves at least a trilogy. I'm assuming that the sales figures didn't encouraged her publisher to print more than the additional novella I was able to find. [I soothed my irritation by buying one of Lackey's newer novels.]

   In Sacred Ground, the "real" world of shopping malls and corrupt contractors impinge on Native American shamanistic practices. And my little pea-brain started wondering about magical realism of the literary types since the book is roughly contemporary. So I looked up the term. Discovered you can call the Sacred Ground magical realism instead of fantasy.  Lackey has her storyline meshing a magical system with the mundane world. You can't get any closer to the mainline definition than that.

   Jenifer Talldeer is a complex character--a regular on the powwow circuit, a private investigator who has a project a professional Waspy veneer, and a powerful shaman in training whose progress is blocked in some mysterious way. Then, Talldeer discovers a shaman ancestor's grave has been desecrated plus an old lover, who she still has feelings for, shows up on her doorstep.

   Yeah. The storyline twists and turns through all the possibilities as she investigates arson at a construction site for an insurance company, a crime which has supernatural implications that could endanger the world. Lackey uses the possibilities to create a vivid set of interacting primary characters, all of which have back stories that make them break the normal thriller cliches. 

Recommended, especially if your are tired of the same old Celtic-based magic systems. Lackey gives you a refreshing magical alternative in Jennifer Talldeer and her teacher, who just happens to be her grandfather with his own interpretations of traditional magic. See an excerpt and more reviews on

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Links

   In the last couple months, I've received several emails telling me my books were so good, they should be entered in their award contest or displayed on their website. Did you catch the reason I did the fast-delete? I should enter my self-published "books". Well, I've only published short stories, some longer than others, but short reads none the less.

   If I wanted to enter my stuff for some award, I'd look up the fantasy contests at Writer's Digest or the Absolute Write Water Cooler. More, I'd look up what Writer's Beware would say. In fact, Victoria Strauss has been writing about contests recently. You might take a look. My guys aren't the only ones running dicey contests.

No. I didn't recognize the people she discusses.

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My Writing Rut

    The story line of On the Run bumps along. I'm still revising chapters...adding 500 or more words to existing chapters as I change telling into scenes showing  feelings.

   The end result, I hope, is a series of better developed characters...including my mage dogs which reappear from Showdown at Crossings. Not the same dogs, but similar ones. Unfortunately, I have to kill a character for them to follow Pillar. Oh, well.

   My edits on Taking Vengeance are just about done. Would have finished them last week, but I goofed off. Hey, it's summer and I have to feed the mosquitoes.
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