Posts Tagged ‘writing’

A Dickens of an Agent Search

July 18th, 2014 • by Karen A. Chase • 2 Comments



I have decided that querying agents is a lot like reading Dickens.

First, you must enter the process knowing it is going to take some time. Our book club read David Copperfield last year. 1019 pages! I hope I have the patience of my friend who read that whole thing on her iphone.

Second, there are pages and pages of characters. And you don’t get to know much about them in the beginning. I query agents based on what I can find in Google searches and in websites like QueryTracker and AgentQuery. I have to be prudent and savvy. A couple of weeks ago I chose poorly. The rejection from the agent’s assistant said readers already know “what really happened to the Constitution.” Yeah… uhm… my book is about the Declaration.

Third, Dicken’s dialogue is polite, even when things are going poorly. So are my rejection emails. “We wish you luck with finding a home for this intriguing work.” That’s so nice, but it leaves me feeling like Oliver Twist. “Please, Sir, I want some more.”

Lastly, (and I hope this is true), a darn good ending is coming. I read Great Expectations many years ago, slogging through that thing for weeks. The ending left me stunned. The anticipation, and the unexpected ending with one person showing great character, made me rethink and appreciate all the writing that had come before.

So on I will go. Happily. I will revel in this moment. For this is the best of times. It is the worst of times.

Men’s Fiction Part III (of III): Why we (all) should read it

July 11th, 2014 • by Karen A. Chase • 2 Comments


I’m back for a final chat about men’s fiction with West Coast Don of MenReadingBooks.

Karen: It’s discussed on the website, The Art of Manliness, why men should read fiction. Another article from a couple years ago speculated why men weren’t reading novels anymore. Why should we, men and women, read men’s fiction? For compassion? For understanding? Why do you read fiction?

Don: It’s different for everyone. I really do read for fun. Given that I deal in real life human trauma, both emotional and the emotional impact of big physical traumas, I like stories in which there is usually a favorable outcome and where there is less ambiguity than in real life. “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy, was both unfavorable and ambiguous.

Karen: I know for me, some of the men’s fiction allows me a true escape into another life. They’re adventurous. Wilbur Smith and his tales of South Africa and elephant hunts for instance.
Don: It is the vicarious thrill of adventure, and yet these stories–this men’s fiction–can still include human drama.

Karen: In the end, regardless of genre, male or female-focused, what is it we all hope to find in well-written fiction?
Don: Real life stories. I know I’m constantly drawn to them. I think, in the end, we all like to hear and read real human stories.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

If you missed our earlier discussions you can find Part I here, and Part II here.

If you’d like a comprehensive list of men’s fiction to read, The Art Of Manliness has that, as of course does MenReadingBooks. Please share your favorite titles, new and old that have been your best adventure stories in my comments below.

My favorite titles, written by  men or women, include the following. I include them because of their history, great writing or context, and their ability to inform not only my intellect by my character. Are they men’s fiction? Perhaps. (Just not when I read them.)

The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway
The Courtney series by Wilbur Smith
Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
The Laguna by Barbara Kingsolver
The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone
Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore
Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
Shogun by James Clavell
The Odyssey by Homer
(Yes, I’ve actually read both of those last two. All. Of. The. Pages. Whew!)

Men’s Fiction Part II (of III): What makes it great?

July 3rd, 2014 • by Karen A. Chase • 5 Comments


I’m back with West Coast Don of MenReadingBooks to continue our discussion of men’s fiction. Like all genres and books, there is good fiction, and there is bad.

Karen: What makes great men’s fiction great?
Don: The same as all fiction. I think it comes down to three things. Plot. Character development. Quality of the writing. If the author doesn’t handle those well, it’s weak.

Karen: If those apply to all fiction, what makes it great men’s fiction?
Don: I think with the third point–quality of writing–male authors focus on combining the right amount of complexity and timing. Too many twist and turns in the plot, and it’s a soap opera. The timing refers to when I’m fed information. I want details, but facts and background have to come at the right moment for the reader.

Karen: Does that mean that men’s fiction is fact-based or can it be literary?
Don: Definitely it can be simply literary. Ken Bruen is an amazing example. He writes crime set in Ireland in his Jack Taylor series. Great plot but his writing is so good. Again it goes back to quality, and reading him is a very literary experience. It’s prose. He doesn’t try to impress with vocabulary, but it’s not too elementary.

Next week, in the final Part III, we’ll chat about why men (and women) should read more fiction. If you missed it, here’s Part I of this series on what male fiction is and isn’t.

Readers: Is men’s fiction on your reading this summer? Who are some of your favorite male authors and why?