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Tue, Sep. 27th, 2016, 01:12 pm
Reading and writing


I've read a couple of good MG books lately. Lauren Wolk's WOLF HOLLOW is a powerful book about guilt, responsibility, the rippling effects of malice, and the loss of innocence. The narrator is a woman looking back on events that happened when she was 12, living happily on a farm during WWII. Apparently Wolk wrote it as an adult book and the publisher talked her into releasing the book as middle-grade fiction. Frankly, I found the book so tense that I'd have been traumatized by reading it at, say, age 10. It's extremely well done though. I recommend it.

I also read THE BLACKSTONE KEY by Kevin Sands. It's a middle grade book set during the Restoration, and it's a good read for adults as well as kids. It's interesting to see how some MG and YA books cross over to adults well and some don't. I don't know what the difference is. In this book, an apprentice apothecary and his friend break codes to solve a mystery.

I also read a good YA book, E. M. Kokie's RADICAL, which is about prepper culture. It's in first person, and that can make it hard for a writer to convey details about the MC, who's unlikely to be narrating about themselves. In Chapter 1 of RADICAL, Kokie does a clever thing with that problem. I like clever. It's a timely book, given the growth of the Sovereign Citizen movement and the paranoia that leads a small number of people to amass a large number of guns.

Now I'm reading the new Louise Penny mystery. This series is set in a small town in Quebec and has a wonderful sense of place.


I've been doing what feels like a last round of revision for a new book. I've worked on this on and off for a while so you may have heard me talk about it before. The MC is a 15-year-old boy who's marooned on the streets of a quasi-medieval city. To earn a few pennies, he pretends to be able to tell fortunes. Then he accidentally tells a true fortune for the prince and is taken into the palace to be the royal fortune teller. Good news: food and a warm bed. Bad news: He can't tell fortunes.

Anyway, when I revise, I run into two issues over and over. (1) My enjoyment of humor often leads me to undercut the story's tension with a joke. (2) I have a hard time being mean enough to my characters. Actually, undercutting tension with humor may be part of #2 too. I'm uncomfortable when things get bad. Also I tend to lay out my plot first, and while concentrating on it, I skim over the real emotions a real person would feel in the situation. So I have to go back and think about those and make them clear and real.

Wed, Oct. 5th, 2016 01:27 am (UTC)

I've been thinking of you a lot lately because my housemate is working on the last revision of her story with a professional editor, and I'm learning so much by proxy that I now understand why you have such fun editing and revising!

Wed, Oct. 5th, 2016 01:32 am (UTC)

So good to see you! How's the tourist train business?

For me, revision is when the story deepens and the craft work happens.

Wed, Oct. 5th, 2016 01:48 am (UTC)

ugh, don't ask. The year is being awful what with zika, and earthquake and oil hitting lows.. these are going to be the worse couple years of my life in terms of business, best in terms of what I manage to do... but it's really stressful keeping up with it. THank god, the trains and the people involved really make it worth the effort...

I know what you mean. We are having the time of our lives ( mine at least) discussing the structure of this book. This guy has the coolest programs, he draw diagrams with charactes, and " screen time" and "bubbles of relationships" and "meaningful interaction quotes"... and then we try to turn that into events or situations within the story that help fill the gaps. My friend is a short story writer, so she finds it hard to elaborate. She wants to go from point a to point b, and so this is a learning experience for us all. I'm definitely writing vicariously through her.

Wed, Oct. 5th, 2016 01:57 am (UTC)

This editor sounds great! I love that kind of stuff.

Wed, Oct. 5th, 2016 02:01 am (UTC)

I forgot that zika would affect your business. I hope that a treatment or vaccine is developed soon.

Wed, Oct. 5th, 2016 02:12 am (UTC)

we have had 19 cases in the country 19!!!! But since the pandemic alert in February, the European market mostly fell dramatically. Tell me one thing that can go bad for business and I have gone through it this year.
But I'm happy, because every time I think I'm about to give up, I am reminded that I am working for these people, and that makes me stay. I have 420 employees, you know, and many of them are people from very humble background, no qualifications, and they earn very little money, and have been working in the company for 10, 15, 20, 30 years... so when they come to see me with a problem and say " you see, the company allowed me to put my children through college, I owe everything to the company..." well, then you have little doubt left that you have to fight until they send you packing. It's quite rewarding, despite all! :-)