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.

Chapter Book Fantasy Stories

A writer must always be prepared to do research. No matter what the genre. Because if your reader discovers errors in your facts, you will lose their respect and their readership. An author cannot afford to have this happen.

If you’ve followed my progress over the years, you would have seen that I’ve researched all sorts of things – martial arts, poisonous plants, medieval times, weaponry, medical terms, feudal system, scientific facts and heaps more. All these things had some level of importance in a story I was writing at the time and I doubt my research will ever be over.

At the moment I’ve turned my attention to writing children’s chapter books. This has sparked an interest in me that had previously disappeared completely. Yes, this is a good thing. 🙂

I found myself thinking about how popular Chapter Book Fantasy Stories are. As you can see from the list, it seems quite popular. Children want to believe in magic (hey, I want to believe in magic) so why wouldn’t they be drawn to stories filled with wonderous things. The prospect of lighting up a child’s eyes with a story that fills their imagination inspires me. I love the thought of that.

Right now, at this very moment, the decision to write a chapter book feels right. Maybe the writing I’ve done up till now has all been in preparation for the journey I’m about to embark on.

Planning a Chapter Book

Following my research for writing chapter books for children aged 8 to 12 (middle grade), I’ve been writing a rough plan for the story to help get the details right.

I’ll be aiming for approximately 30,000 words in total.

The first quarter of the book is planned. It’s exciting to see things fall into place and doing it the way I have has helped me develop the main character, and has given me hints as to what the supporting character will be like.

Flashes of the final scene have been interrupting my thought process but I see this as a good thing because it means I know where I’m heading.

The middle isn’t doing much…actually nothing’s coming to me. A good dose of brain storming is needed or maybe it will need a bit more simmering in the back of my mind. I’ll see what happens over the next few days.

Meanwhile, I’m starting to put together character profiles and I have part of the opening scene already written. Yay!

Drowned Wednesday

In February, I went to an author reading. The author was Garth Nix and he read Drowned Wednesday (Keys to the Kingdom, Book 3). At the time I also bought the book (and had it autographed 🙂 ) but I never got around to reading it. Until now.

The first two books – Mister Monday and Grim Tuesday – were great. To enjoy the books, the reader must have a vivid imagination (like the author) to accept what is happening. I mean, how often do you see an eyebrow taking an active role in a story. 😉

I’m looking forward to the next adventure of Authur. I’ll let you know what I think when I’m finished (but don’t hold your breath because I read slow and infrequently).

The Little Country

The Little CountryYou would have noticed by the sidebar that I’ve been reading The Little Country by Charles de Lint. Last night I finished it.

What did I think?

It started out really well, very interesting. There are two stories running parallel with each other. At first, I enjoyed one story more than the other but I was eventually taken over into the other story. However, the middle seemed to drag on a bit. By the end it all made sense but I sort of lost a bit of interest – not much, just a bit but I’ve had worries and that could have contributed to this.

The pros for the book was that the author used his imagination and touched on things that I’ve thought about but never said out loud. You’ll have to read the book to know what I’m talking about but the way our memory works was the main thing I found interesting…and the possibility that there is magic in our world, if only we could “see” it.

The cons were that there were several scenes that I felt were there for shock purposes. This book certainly is not recommended to under 18 year olds. Then again, that might be me being a bit of a prude. That aside, there were some awkward sentences that broke the flow and a fair bit of head hopping (which I find annoying).

Overall, this was a good read. I feel that if I had given the book more time and read it quicker then I would have gotten deeper into both stories and would have loved it but time is something I don’t have a lot of so it took me a couple of months to read the 630 pages. It was worth it.

Following the Guidelines

Do people read the rules when they join an online community? I don’t think so because if they did I wouldn’t have to waste my time explaining why I’ve just denied their submission to join a private forum the day after they join the message board (which I no longer do because if they can’t be bothered doing the right thing then why should I be bothered).

This makes me wonder if people actually read the guidelines, given by an editor or publisher, before they submit their manuscript.

It’s important to remember that the guidelines are there for a reason and if we (in our wisdom) decide that we’re going to ignore them, then it’s a sure way to receive a rejection letter. That’s fine if your goal is to receive the most rejection letters in writing history but if that’s not the case then you’re simply wasting your time and money on countless submission that will never be read, let alone be accepted.

Most publishing houses receive dozens, if not hundreds, of submissions in a month and it would be annoying to see that their guidelines are constantly ignored. That alone would see your work returned unread. What’s more, and this is the most important part, if an author can’t be bothered following simple instructions before they are represented then how can the publisher be sure that they would follow editing instructions afterwards. That might be a risk they are not willing to take.

A serious writer will follow the guidelines. It will show that you’re a professional, that you know what is expected and this might get your manuscript off the slush pile into the editor’s hands.

What happens then will depend on your writing, but that’s a different post.