How Many Books

It’s difficult enough for an unpublished author to get one manuscript published, so trying to sell a trilogy is only weakening your chances. Once an author is established they can (almost) do as they please, but until then a writer must play by the rules. And this means that writing stand alone manuscript is the best option for you.

However, the publishing industry has many rules and it does become confusing. A publisher doesn’t want to risk lots of money on an unknown, so keeping the word count within the limits and writing a stand alone story goes in your favour. On the other hand, the publisher wants to know that the unknown is not a “one hit wonder” so they want to see evidence that you’ve got a sequel in the works. If the first book is a huge success, they want to follow that up with a (hopefully) successful sequel.

It’s all about money.

Yet this isn’t the reason for the post. I saw something today, that astonished me. Going Postal by Terry Pratchett is book 29 in the series. Book 29! Robert Jordan has been put down over his extremely long series – what’s he up to, book 10 or 11? So why haven’t I heard the same complaints about Terry Pratchett’s series?

Hmmm, even that isn’t the question I really want to ask, so I’d better get to the point.

How many books do you think is enough in a series? Do you really want to return to the same world time after time to read another story, or would you really prefer a new world and new characters?

Personally, I feel three or four books is enough. After that, I start getting sick and tired of the same old, same old, and I want something new and fresh. What about you?

Enchanted Forest Chronicles

I’ve been reading this series by Patricia C Wrede and must say that this writer is good. She’s taken all the old fairytale elements and crafted an interesting and funny series out of it. It’s so easy to read, and really entertaining.

The first book – Dealing with Dragons – is about a not so typical princess who runs away from home to live with the dragons. The second book – Searching for Dragons – is about the king of the enchanted forest, who with the help of the princess (well, that’s what he wants to believe anyway) is trying to find the King of the Dragons. The two have a great adventure and there’s a bit of romance blossoming too.

These books are perfect examples of how a writer can take what’s been done before and put a new spin on it. Patricia Wrede does an excellent job of doing just this.

Writers as Readers

Once a writer becomes serious about their craft, reading no longer has the power to entertain them because a writer develops an editing mind and that mind has its own “little red pen”. Gone are the hours lost in other worlds, and other people’s lives. What once was fun and relaxing, suddenly becomes just another story to critique.

When a writer reads a novel (a published novel), their editing mind finds mistakes and offers suggestions on how to fix those mistakes. It tells them what’s wrong with the main character, find plot holes and picks on sentence structure. It’s so annoying because a writer wants to be a reader…a normal reader. They don’t want to be “on the job” twenty-four hours a day. They have a right to relax just like everyone else.

So how does a writer get rid of that “little red pen”?

Don’t look at me for the answers. I can’t help you with this one. I have my own pen that needs to be capped. If you discover a way to deal with this, let me know.

Book Review: School of Wizardry

Last night I finished reading School of Wizardry (Circle of Magic, Book 1)by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald. This were slightly like Harry Potter…hang on, I checked the publication date and must change that to Harry Potter is slightly like School of Wizardry (first published in 1990).

The boy has no training but suddenly finds himself a wizard apprentice. There’s the “can’t do the spells” thing, the fiesty girl and the nasty master wizard but other than that it had a different feel to it – more medieval. I liked the way we got inside the boy’s head and although this was book 1 of 6, I liked the way it ended too. It was obvious what the next book will be about but with the addition of a couple of paragraphs, I felt satisfied with the ending and don’t have to read the next book. I hate being forced to do so, so this gave the book an extra point.

The book was entertaining. I enjoyed it.

The Children of Green Knowe

The Children of Green Knowe by L. M. Boston is a classic from the 1950’s. Before reading the book, I had read a few reviews that compared it to The Secret Garden.

This book didn’t do much for me. In fact, it annoyed me greatly.

It was a spooky type fantasy story, with ghosts of children from many years past visiting a child from the present. There were lots of wild animals and birds that came right up to people to be fed (this was the bit that really got to me) and then the story just ended. I didn’t feel as if there was a plot or a satisfactory ending.

Obviously, things have changed over the last 55 years and the kids of today would expect more – not to mention the publishers. I believe this was a good “what not to do” experience.

Clockwork

Yesterday, I started and finished reading Clockwork : Or All Wound Upby Philip Pullman. Sounds like a great feat, doesn’t it? There was only 81 pages so I can’t imagine anyone taking too long to read a book that thin.

This was the typical “Once upon a time…” type story. In fact, that’s exactly how it started. Those words alone told me not to take the story seriously, and although the story was put together well, in my opinion it wasn’t the best book on the face of the earth.

There was a page at the beginning that claimed that the book was based on an old German story. The surprising thing about this book was that, although it was written for children, the main characters were all adults, which is unusual. There were two children in the story who ended up having the roles that “saved the day” but they were really minor roles up till the end.

The other surprising fact about this story was the way the author talked included gory details. Remember, this book is read by children and I thought it was strange that the publishers allowed characters to be splattered, chopped up, sewn together and dead on their feet. It proves that it’s all in the wording and the tone and I felt the way the author did this was acceptable.

My recommendation? Hmmm. I can’t say I recommend it but it was a good distraction for a cold Saturday afternoon.

Update: Drowned Wednesday

Well, what can I say, I’ve outdone myself and managed to read Drowned Wednesday (Keys to the Kingdom, Book 3) in under two weeks. Not often does that happen. 🙂

As I said before, Garth Nix has let his mind run wild with this series but in my opinion it works well. The story is fast paced and fun to read. The entertainment value is high. There was no talking eye brows in this book but I lived, as I’m sure most readers will. Strangely, the very last paragraph didn’t make sense to me. I suppose it was a set up for the next book – Sir Thursday (The Keys To The Kingdom, Book 4) – but maybe I missed something in the storyline – I’m really not sure.

No matter, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to all young at heart readers who enjoy wacky stories.

A Visit to the Library

You may not believe me but this is research. It’s probably going to be a pleasant experience but then I won’t know until I’m finished. 🙂

Today, I visited the library and had to endure suspicious looks from not only little kids, but their parents too. Some kids are ruthless and pushy, but they haven’t dealt with me before and I gave as good as I got…and I won the prize! 😉

Yes, I visited the junior fiction section of the library. I made it out alive and with nine books clasped tightly in my arms. Here’s the list:

The Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede – I realise this is book 2 of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles but the first one wasn’t there and I really felt this would be a book book for my research.

The Plague of Quentaris by Gary Crew – just the mention of “plague” got me interested in this one.

Quentaris in Flames by Michael Pryor – it’s from the same series as the previous book but by a different author. Thought it might show me how this type of thing works.

The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley – judged by the cover alone (we all do it), it reminded me of Harry Potter in a way but the blurb on the back quickly told me that the story will be nothing like the Potter books.

Runestone by Anna Ciddor – haven’t heard of book or author but the blurb tells me that anyone who enjoys a strong story and a richly imagined world is bound to love this book.

School of Wizardry (Circle of Magic, Book 1) by Debra Doyle and James D Macdonald – there are six books to the series and this is the first one. Let’s see if it entices me to get book 2.

Clockwork : Or All Wound Up by Philip Pullman – haven’t read anything by this author before and thought it was time to change that.

Russell Troy, Monster Boy (Magic Shop) by Bruce Coville – looks like it will be a fun read.

The Children of Green Knowe by L M Boston – first published in 1954, I think it’s important to see what makes a story stick around after all these years and compare them to the modern stories.

So there you have it. Nine children’s chapter books. What will I learn from reading them? Time will tell.