January 26th, 2012

dalek tea

Pondering Book Viability

I discovered last night when my decongestant wore off a few minutes into choir rehearsal that it's very difficult to sing soprano when your sinuses are totally blocked. I could manage up to an F (and probably could have done a G if one had been in the music) because I can do that without going into my head voice, but when an A above the staff came up, that just wasn't happening. When it's more of a throat or chest problem, I can sing the high notes and not the low ones, but when it's in the head, high is the problem. I sort of made it through the rehearsal of the piece we're singing Sunday, and then I bailed because the more I tried to sing, the worse I felt. I'm doing a lot better today, even without drugs, but I'm really tired of the sniffling and sneezing. I'm still not sure if this is a major allergy attack or a mild cold, but I suspect this will be a weekend of hibernation to let myself rest and recover.

In spite of the stuffy head yesterday, I got some serious work done in reviewing/editing The Book That Will Not Die. The more I read this book, the more I love it. I'm just still not sure how viable it is. I love reading it, but I don't really get the "this is it!" tingle that I got from Enchanted, Inc. I don't know if it's because this book evolved gradually over time instead of coming to me as a flash or if it's because I'm less naive and more cynical about the publishing industry (so that I know my "this is it" doesn't coincide with the industry's) or if it's a bad sign that I don't have that much confidence in this book in spite of loving it. It's not exactly "high concept" in that it's very difficult to describe quickly and convey what's cool about it. It's sort of a "Tam Lin" story, only contemporary and about sisters, and there's a whole plot about what's going on with the fairies that's the reason one was taken, and trying to get her back gets the other sister into even bigger problems.

I've also noticed that while this book isn't really a mystery (the main character knows what happened and just has to figure out what to do about it), it has a lot of mystery-like elements, so maybe I've been moving in that direction without knowing it, or maybe writing this book got me headed in that direction. We have the heroine who's something of an amateur sleuth in that she's not officially a cop or detective (even if she happens to know more than the cops about this sort of thing), and then there's the real police detective who's also on the case (without knowing what's really going on) and who's suspicious about the amateur. There's even a bit of police procedure. I don't think this could be published as a mystery, though (if it can be published anywhere). I don't normally do the beta reader thing, but I may get a sanity check from some friends with this book before I send it to my agent, just to see if I'm the only one who loves it. And before people start volunteering, that will be limited to people I know personally whose reading taste and experience I'm familiar with.

Meanwhile, I've been continuing my mystery market research reading. I appreciate all the suggestions, and many of them are going into my "to be read" notebook for potential pleasure reading, but for the purposes of the current exercise, I'm looking at relatively recent (still being published, preferably started in the past few years) series that are published as mysteries and shelved as mystery in bookstores and that contain paranormal elements. I'm trying to read as many first books in as many series as I can, and then I'm getting subsequent books for series I like or that I think get close to what I'd want to do. Because genre lines tend to blur, it's entirely possible that whatever I do could still end up being published as fantasy (if it's published at all), but right now it looks like the fantasy/mysteries published as fantasy are darker and grittier, more noir than cozy, and since "cozy" is more my style, my hope is that the mystery publishers could be more receptive than the fantasy publishers have been.

One area where I may tend to stray from the mystery norm is with the world building. In most of these books I've been reading, the heroine and maybe one or two (usually older) relatives have the same or similar paranormal talents, and the rest of the world is very normal. I haven't yet seen a situation where the world itself has a little more magic in it -- aside from the Charlaine Harris books that were initially shelved as mystery (though that may have changed after the urban fantasy wave hit and after the series became a bestseller). I guess I'm more drawn to writing the "normal" person in a crazy world than the "crazy" person in the normal world, or else I like the idea of being in on the secret in spite of being normal, because all my ideas lean more toward the curious outsider discovering the location's secrets than to the gifted person whose gifts get her in trouble. However, having a location with secrets does give a reason why the per capita murder rate in a seemingly sleepy small town is higher than that of most major cities.

I've also started reading some "how to write a mystery" books I found in the library, and that's had me rethinking my series idea. Now I have two potential avenues I might take with my amateur sleuth. With one, I think I would like it better as a reader, but it will be harder to do and require more research. The other would be easier to write and might even be more marketable, but I kind of think it would be less interesting in the long run and I wouldn't like the character as much. But I still have a lot of work to do before I get to the point where that's an issue.

And first I have to finish editing this book.