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THE ABC BOOK CHALLENGE – P, Q

Royalty living and dead, and supernatural worlds.

FAVORITES

The Princess of Death, Courtney Pearson.

Cali is a spoiled princess whose world is turned upside down when a plague strikes her country, forcing her to try and cross a mysterious boundary to find a cure. A bit slow to start, but the story picks up with lively interactions between Cali the pirate king, Bae.  An intriguing premise behind the goddess of the sea as well. Pearson does a good job of exploring Cali’s dilemma over whether she should pursue duty or love. First of a series.

The Queen of the Damned (Vampire Chronicles #3), Anne Rice.

While I consider much of Rice’s work after Interview with the Vampire to be seriously bloated, I love this one. It features Lestat, whose kiss rouses Akesha, progenitor of the undead, from a 6,000-year ear sleep. She kills most of the world’s  vampires, saving a few to join her in a crusade against mortals.  Meanwhile, vampires and psychic humans around the globe are dreaming of twin red-haired women who weep over the body of another woman, whose eyes and brains are on a plate nearby. And then there’s Jesse, a member of the Telamasca, the secret society that collects data on paranormals. It’s a vast saga of dark sensual beings and has one of the most satisfying climaxes in her work. (BTW, the movie is so-so, although Stuart Townsend is good as Lestat.)

WANT TO READ

Paranormalcy, Kiersten White.

I’m not a big reader of urban fantasy but this series might change that. From Amazon: “Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through supernatural glamours. She’s also about to find out that she may be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. So much for normal.”

Palimpsest, Catherynne M. Valente

Sounds a bit kinky, to be honest: a world only accessed during sleep after sex? But the blurb is intriguing: “Between life and death, dreaming and waking, at the train stop beyond the end of the world is the city of Palimpsest. . . . Those fated to make the passage are marked forever by a map of that wondrous city tattooed on their flesh after a single orgasmic night. To this kingdom of ghost trains, lion-priests, living kanji, and cream-filled canals come four travelers: Oleg, a New York locksmith; the beekeeper November; Ludovico, a binder of rare books; and a young Japanese woman named Sei. They’ve each lost something important—a wife, a lover, a sister, a direction in life—and what they will find in Palimpsest is more than they could ever imagine.”

Any suggestions?

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

THE ABC BOOK CHALLENGE – O

Otherworldly delights for this round.

FAVORITES

OD MAGIC, Patricia McKillip.

I love this book so much I read it every year. Od is a wizard who needs a gardener for her school of magicians. But that’s only the start. The story takes place in a kingdom where unauthorized displays of magic are forbidden. So when a theatrical troupe that employs dazzling tricks stops in the city, it draws all sorts of unwanted attention. There are many characters whose fates are interwoven, so it requires a bit of patience with all the points of view, but the tale is wonderfully told and just might leave you wishing for a little magic of your own.

ORLANDO, Virginia Woolf.

A gender-bender, feminist classic that follows the adventures of a poet who changes from a man to a woman and lives for centuries, meeting the key figures of English literary history. Written for Woolf’s companion, Vita Sackville-West, it’s highly personal and a bit bizarre, but Woolf uses the story to criticize sexual and social expectations with wit and dark humor. Not for everyone, as it verges on stream-of-consciousness.

OUTLANDER, Diana Gabaldon.

I’m usually not much for time travel stories, but the romantic in me was charmed by the tale of Claire Randall, who walks through a standing stone in an ancient circle in 1945 Britain and finds herself in 1743 Scotland. She meets Jamie Fraser, a warrior, and eventually falls in love. Very strong writing that really delves into the main characters, avoiding the caricatures you might associate with romances. Very long, but so engrossing that the pages seems to fly by. Even if you’ve seen the TV series–Sam Heughan is definitely swoon-worthy–reading the book will provide a rich background.

WANT TO READ

OF SEA AND STONE (Secrets of Itlantis #1), Kate Avery Elison.

Aemi, a slave in the Village of the Rocks, thinks the stories she’s heard about the People of the Sea, who live underwater and possess unimaginable technology, are just that–stories. Then she’s captured, and enslaved below the waves in Itlantis, a world filled with ancient cities of glass and metal, floating gardens, and wondrous devices that seem to work magic. How will she escape? The first in a five-book series.

Any you’d recommend?

Thanks for reading.

 

FOUR GUIDELINES FOR REVISIONS

As I work with editors, I’m learning a few strategies to guide revisions. Here’s a brief rundown:

  1. DETAILS

This doesn’t mean getting microscopic. I have to justify whatever I include, consider its relevance. It helps to ask two questions: Why here? Why now? (Actually, these are terrific questions to ask about every part of a story.)

  1.  LINEARITY

Action is followed by reaction, not the reverse.

An example from my book, JEWEL OF THE GODS:

Old version: Nyada cried out at the blood oozing from the Elder’s forehead. “Gods help us, she’s dead!”

New version: Nyada smoothed back the strands of hair hanging over Sister Saule’s forehead. Her fingers came away smeared with blood. “Gods help us,” she cried. “She’s dead!”

  1.  PACING

I have a tendency to write lean, which can make for a rushed telling. I’m learning to slow down and look deeply into my story. Every scene has a purpose and needs to be developed fully. Sandra Scofield’s THE SCENE BOOK (link below) is the best book I’ve found for ensuring your scenes contain the necessary elements.

  1. GOAL, MOTIVATION, CONFLICT

I was familiar with this concept, but composing a GMC chart for every character gave me clarity and insight that really helped me stay on point. With a GMC printout to guide me, I’m less likely to have a character speak or act in ways that don’t ring true—no more “out of character” moments. One editor recommended Debra Dixon’s excellent book, GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT (link below), and I can’t thank her enough.

There you have it. Four easy steps to help with revisions. I hope you find them useful.

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Links to books mentioned:

Sandra Scofield, THE SCENE BOOK, A Primer for the Fiction Writer

Debra Dixon, GMC: GOAL, MOTIVATION and CONFLICT: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction

Thanks for reading!