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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Thursday, October 29, 2015

What if I Bore My Readers -- T S Mercer, Guest Blogger

My Worst Writing Fear:
Boring My Readers

by 

T. S. Mercer
            
Listen, Mercer, I said:  “DON’T BORE THE READER!”

   I wrote those words on a sheet of paper and stuck it on the window right in front of me. Not only does it prevent me from aimlessly wasting time, staring out at passing wildlife, it also reminds me of that all-important rule for anyone in the entertainment business. And, yes, writers are entertainers, too 

   When I worked with a TV illusionist he was always ‘on’, always working hard to entertain the crew before filming began. If the crew became bored, then that would feed through into the show and it would become dull, committing the crime of being “boring”. Nothing kills TV or a book faster. And boring the reader is my worst writing fear.
            
   Lots of people read on the move, at airports, on buses, trains. They might read for only five minutes at a time. Therefore, at some point in those five minutes there should be excitement. There should be drama that – pow! – explodes from the page, and entertains the hell out of us. After all, it’s pointless having heart-pounding excitement at the end of a movie if the first part bores as much as lukewarm pasta with no sauce. And who reads a thriller if there are no thrills until chapter eight?
           
    So, if you intend to write scripts or books copy out those vital words in BIG letters: DON’T BORE THE READER (or VIEWER).
   Let me give you a tip. Every time you see or hear something that that catches your attention, make a note. Because if you experience something that hooks you then it’ll do exactly that to other people. For example, I’ve worked in maximum security jails. When I got home I wrote down everything that the prisoners said, and what I saw in those echoing corridors with steel gates and guard dog howling out in the yards. That stuff was pure gold. Lots of it went into the scripts I wrote and it grabbed the producers’ interest. They told me, “Do more of this. We like it.”
              
   You don’t have to penetrate jail walls to find incidents that set your readers’ minds on fire. You might overhear a conversation in a street – one guy telling another that there are rumours of stolen cash buried in a nearby park. No, don’t go looking for the stash. You’re going to use the conversation in a story that takes you to the bigtime. Because the strange stuff that is “real” has that something extra that makes your story shine brighter. This is what I do to avoid boring the reader.
           
   In fact, you can write down interesting events right now. Think back to what you’ve experienced in the past, or the exciting, mysterious, shocking things your friends have told you about. Has anyone confessed to you that they’ve seen a ghost? Or they saw a meteor crash into the woods? Or the night lighting struck your house and blew the TV across the room. If an unusual event catches your interest it’s a grabber. It will grab other people, too.
Okay, you MUST change names, disguise real places, fictionalize – but make reality work for you. And write that script or book that makes your dreams come true.


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Author Bio:
T. S. Mercer

   T S Mercer has worked in a maximum security jail and alongside a TV illusionist – not at the same time, it must be pointed out. When not writing scripts and articles Mercer spends as much time as possible in a house that occupies a sliver of land between the rolling ocean and some of the most beautiful mountains on Earth. Jail for the Damned is Mercer’s first novel.


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Blub:
Jail for the Damned


   America has found a solution to its explosive prison population. A city-sized jail located in a remote desert in an unknown country. It’s name: Newton Supermax.
 
   Once you enter, you won’t escape. Newton allows no survivors.
 
   Claudi Drive is about to learn that the hard way.
 
   Jail for the Damned is a gripping dystopian horror-thriller by T S Mercer published by Venture Press. It is an explosive newcomer to the New Adult genre, filled with action, twists and turns, and passionate throes.

Read excerpts and reviews of Jail for the Damned




Monday, October 26, 2015

Ka Pow! Time to Get Some Thrilling Comic Book Action

    Picked up William C. Dietz's Redzone: The Mutant Files off the to-read pile and rocketed off to the days of yester-year when my reading was confined to comic books -- because my teachers had convinced me I couldn't read.  Don't know why the book was there. It's not the kind of book I usually read. But, if you want a thriller filled with action, the book won't disappoint.

   Redzone isn't just another dystopian novel, set after a bioterrorist killed off most of humanity and turned a sizable portion of the survivors into despised mutants. Political boundaries have realigned with Pacifica, along the west coast of the US, for normal people. Nevada-Utah-Arizona has become a land controlled by mutants. Casandra Lee, a detective with the Los Angeles police, travels into the redzone where mutants are in control to seek her missing mother. That the story does this in the middle of a serial murder investigation feels weird, but Lee lands in an assassins sights, which ups the action. Thrills are the goal here, not logic, I guess.

   Casandra Lee isn't the usual dysfunctional detective with a drinking problem. She tends to kill suspects at a faster rate than normal, but then, she is attacked more often than most cops. Lee's the target of two would-be assassins, the group of mutants, who follow her back to LA from Nevada, and the Bonebreaker, the serial cop killer the department had mobilized to capture. Yeah, for the record, Lee will be is next victim, but that villain doesn't seem to be in any hurry.

   Character development isn't the strongest point in action thrillers. Yet most of Dieitz's characters come across as people rather than space-fillers. Lee is a sassy, kick-ass, intelligent protagonist with a temper that gets her into trouble as often as not. Sounds like a cliche, but I didn't think so while I was reading. The support characters were believable, too, if standard, including a love interest.

   The medical basis of the plague that created the mutants bothered me a bit. Didn't feel like Dietz incorporated medical knowledge about airborne diseases in his characters' interactions with the wider, might-be-carrying public. Hints were made, but nothing was consistent...or meaningful. Since his world resulted from a virulent contagion that changed genetic material, I felt in need of a bit more explanation. But since I didn't really think about it until after I completed the book, no points off. 

  The book met my "one more chapter" test so I'll recommend it even though the plot line is a little fractured. Dietz creates a believable dystopian world as well as an investigative cop procedural, at least for someone relatively unknowledgeable about police procedures -- like me.

Read excerpt and more reviews at Amazon and B&N Nook.


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Interesting Links

   Found this article at the Savvy Book Writers blog -- Nothing New in e-Book Price Wars -- very interesting. You might want to take a look at it, reader or writer.

   Accepting the dangerous reputation of the Fair Folk from folklore, I have never been a particular fan of Tinker Bell. Imagine my delight when I found Sylvia Spruck Wrigley's blog on Five Reasons Not To Piss Off the Fair Folk. By the end of the blog, I was thinking what a wonderfully funny novel this premise would make. -- No. I won't be writing it. Not only do I have too much in my files already, but I don't write funny.


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My Writing Rut

   The first demon attack in On the Run is finished and ready for revision...sometime, when I get an
ending onto the book. But the "Nate" chapters that started my novella back last spring are ready to be worked on. Have about 7,000 words and a couple empty chapters.

Am wondering why this would ever be a novella.

   Spent a lot of time this week organizing my writing files for On the Run and pulled out a page full of suggestions for my transition chapter for when Pillar is kicked out of the Academy. Yeah, she's going to be on the roam again, but gotta make it different this time around. Grylerrque is still waiting in the wings too.

   Now, I need to clean up debris ... or should I say, I'm placing ideas from the pile of sticky notes around my computer in the appropriate chapters. Hopefully, tomorrow I'll start the transition chapter to the next and last part of the book.

   Then, I need to pay some attention to my website again. Which means I have to get on the phone with Go Daddy. Ugh.