Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Reading Update

I think that my huge burst of productivity last Monday may have done more harm than good because it ended up setting an unrealistic standard. When I didn't do that well on subsequent days I felt like I'd failed, and that sense of failure then made it harder to get back on track. So I'm setting more reasonable goals, and if I exceed them, then that's great but I'm less likely to feel like a failure.

I ended up getting really back on track yesterday, but this book keeps surprising me. There's a scene that in my first concept for this book was the climax, then when I started plotting it became the midpoint, and now it's moved way up to become the initial threshold crossing that kicks the plot into high gear -- the event so big that they can't pretend there's no problem anymore. I pretty much saw the movie of this in my head as I was waking up this morning, so I should be able to write it properly.

I'm behind on talking about my reading (and behind on my reading -- I'm not going to make my reading goal this year unless I drop everything else and do nothing but read for the rest of the month).

In one case, I want to talk about an author rather than a particular book. I do still miss chick lit because I liked books that were more like a romantic comedy movie usually is than like the traditional structure of romance novels. However, I tended to mostly prefer the British stuff, and I leaned toward the smaller-town stories rather than London stories. I liked the things about friends and family as opposed to drinking and sex. Fortunately, some is still getting published, and one author I've been rationing to myself (because I don't want to run out entirely) is Jill Mansell. Basically, most of her books are along the lines of the movie Love Actually in book form, though not necessarily set at Christmas (I'll admit to being a wee bit disappointed in the book she did set at Christmas, but that was mostly because I was reading it for Christmas purposes and the book pretty much skipped over Christmas entirely. I might like it if I read it at another time). There's a big cast of characters that's all interconnected, and they all have their own stories, not all of which are romantic. There's usually one central character, and then she has friends, co-workers, relatives, and sometimes even kids who also have plot lines. I suppose it doesn't really qualify as "chick" lit, since her heroines tend to be a bit older -- they're often single moms with teenage kids -- and that may be one reason I like them at this phase in my life. It's very much make a pot of tea and settle in for the afternoon reading, after which you feel a nice warm glow.

I also found a good entry in the "intimate fantasy" (no, not in that way, get your mind out of the gutter) category -- by that I mean focusing on a few characters and their lives rather than the horde of armies. Crown Duel and Court Duel by Sherwood Smith were reissued in one volume, which is how I got them, and I think they might read better as one book, while I'd have been disappointed if I'd just read the first one as a standalone because the story seemed incomplete without the second book. It's first-person narration, so it only shows us what happens through our viewpoint character, and that humanizes some massive events. She's the daughter of the lord of a remote province in an oppressive kingdom, and when her father dies, he makes her and her brother swear to rebel against the regime. Things don't go entirely as planned, to put it mildly. No one is who they seem to be, and the situation isn't quite what they expected. And then they have to deal with the aftermath of their actions. The first book is mostly an adventure story of all the things this young woman has to go through. The second is almost a comedy of manners as she has to adjust to life in what seems like an entirely new world for her. There's also a really satisfying romantic thread woven through the two books. Sometimes you want to bop the heroine on the head (though it's not like I'm allowed to criticize anyone else for being stubborn), but she does eventually figure things out.

Sherwood Smith is the guest of honor at ConDFW next year, so I imagine there will be some fangirling taking place. I already loved her contemporary fantasy Zenda-like series, and now I need to dig into her other fantasy series.

Speaking of Christmas-set romantic/chick lit stories, I'm starting to contemplate maybe novelizing that holiday movie screenplay I tried writing last year. I wonder if there's a market for sweet contemporary paranormal romantic comedy.

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