M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Magical Murder Most Fluffy--A Cozy Mystery Shines

Murders needing to be solved isn't the only reason to read cozy mysteries. It's all the people surrounding the mystery solver. Yeah, I love the way Bailey Cates builds her characters. Potions and Patries gives several members of Katie Lightfoot's coven and friends moments in the sun with life changing information. Even the mystery solving protagonist gets life changing moment when she figures out what her foretold "sacrifice" is to be.

All satisfying, well, and good. But, how does Cates put her mystery together?

The book starts out with the promise of a "sacrifice" Lightfoot must make, the Traveler fortune teller dies before she can elaborate on her message. With character growth Cates' strong suit, Katie spends the book solving the mystery while wondering what sacrifice she's going to have to make as she and her fiance look look for a larger house than her beloved carriage house. Other characters are face other life changes, which is good for series readers. It reduces the chances they'll get bored.

The book may be feel-good and fluffy, but proving the fortune teller's "suicide" is really murder is the point of the book. All the clues are subtly there as Lightfoot pursues her witchy intuition that murder was committed. Danger follows with several attempts on Lightfoot's life when the perp tries to stop her.  All good clean fun for a mystery reader.

Read a sample and look at other reviews of Potions and Pastries on
Amazon       Nook        kobo    

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Other Interesting Stuff

New York Times Book Review section gave me pause again: a review of Jessica Buder's Nomadland: Surviving in America in the Twenty First Century by Arlee Russell Hochschild. 

Reminded me that real poverty doesn't appear often in the genre fiction I read. There Be Demons touches on it. But my characters don't really suffer physically from poverty, inconvenience abounds but the true pain of living in sub-existential conditions doesn't. With few counties in the US able to offer a one-bedroom apartment affordable by a single, full-time minimum wage earner, you'd think real poverty -- rather than the wanting-mores -- would get more "press" in fiction.


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My Writing Rut

Am trying to get Rondezvous with Demon jump-started. Tried doing NaNoWriMo for the first  time since 2010 when my back gave out. Failed again. My writing style, psychi just doesn't respond to competition. Plodding plodder, that's me. One step at a time gets me where I'm going, provided I have fun along the way. Any one else think fun is important?

Am making progess on all the stickey notes I've accumulated. Think half of them have been attached to chapters as notes. Today, I got a bunch of pages from a small spirel binder transferred. Have 20,000-plus words, and I haven't even started writing.

One of the ways I save ideas is to write tthem down on sticky notes. My computer is stacked with piles of them, in all collors, right and left. Started out with enough sticky notes to cover almost a fourth of my desk over an inch high. I decided gettig my ideas posting an approximate chapter a higher priority than just poundinng out words. Do have over 10,000 words connected to Reondezvous, about half coherent writing and the rest jotttings. Still have a 10x7x2 inches deep pile of pink, yellow, green, and blue bits of paper to place.

Not all the pieces of paper are connected to Rendezvous. Some a political tweets, that soothed my growls plus tweets promoting There Be Demons. Yeah, promoting a book takes lots of time. 

Next project is to work the list of review places I've discovered. So far, only have one 2*...because I included too much mundane stuff in the book. Don't know who she is or where she posted but it's not showing up on Amazon or GoodReads. Other readers appreciate my "magical realism".


A Heads Up
There's a giveaway of There Be Demons on Amazon for US readers. To win a chance for a free copy just follow this link.







Saturday, November 11, 2017

Can Gargoyles Have Problems? A Different Shade of Gargoyle

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Thanks to the family lending library, Gigi Pandian's Accidental Alchemist landed in my to-read piles. It turned out to be a fun, delightful read with its twisting murder plot, complete with bodies, almost bodies, and perp candidates. Best of all it had a gargoyle. I suspect the kids are waiting for me to say something because of Gillen in There Be Demons. [I haven't.]

Okay, I could develop a thing about intelligent gargoyles. Dorian Robert-Huduin is a Notre Dame gargoyle who was accidentally brought to life by an alchemist when the cathedral was being built. Now Dorian's got a problem. He's reverting back to stone and needs Zoe Faust's alchemy skills to translate an ancient grimorie to find the elexir that will prevent his return to stone. The gargoyle is also an accomplished French chef, a plot ingredient which qualifies this series as a cozy mystery, I guess. At least, the title isn't a pun.

Zoe Faust has just moved to Portland, Oregon, and bought a neighborhood's "haunted house". A survivor of the Salem witch trials, Faust is the most undeveloped detective protagonist I've come across in ages. In fact, characters are Panian's weakness. Seldom do they escape the bondage of cardboard figures. Oh, they're described, have secrets, and give many smiles to the reader...but they all tend to remain flat, except for Dorian. He's worth the price of the book.

All in all, a delightful romp, meaning a light quick read for when you want to be be entertained mystery or just tired. You can take a look for yourself by clicking
Amazon       Nook        kobo


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Other Interesting Reading

Ever wonder what the State of Publishing is today? Came across this interesting article reference at GoodReads. Tells you the characteristics that make 100K selling authors successful, both indie and corporate-published.

I not only chuckle at the New York Times Book Review. The real estate ads in the New York Times magazine are also laughable. Condos for $2 million plus home association fees. Real pertinent ads to the American public when the average net worth is under $100,000, I think. 

I know I couldn't afford a $2 million condo, any where. Not that it matters. I wouldn't want to live in New York City. It's dirty and noisy and in ill repair, even though they spend huge amounts of money not getting things to work efficiently. I'll say: subways without elevators for the handicapped and rest my case.

On a writing note. I think I'm going to have to blog every other week. My age is catching up with me. 

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My Writing Rut

Reviews are coming in for There Be Demons [not bad], but not that many sales. Am hoping the sales improve after the ebook version is lowered to $2.99. Currently, the ebook is descounted to $1.99 until 12 November. You can take a look at:


Amazon      Nook       kobo       iBooks

Or, if you'd like to take a chance on winning a free Kindle copy, you can click here if you are a US reader.

I tried to do NaNoWriMo this year as a way to jumpstart the third book for a potential trilogy called The Demon Wars. Oh, I'm making some progress, but definitly missing the 2,000 words a day mark.

I've fallen back into my normal writing pace...and fighting not to pull The Pig Wars, a Far Isles Half-Elven story, out of the bowels of my computer. Think I gave up on NaNoWriMo when I couldn't figure out how to post my daily words on the NaNo graph when I was making my quota, like about days 3 and 4. I think I prefer to keep my undisciplined persona.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Juggling Two Myseries for the Price of One

Tossing the mysery clues on the table and scrambling them is something Carol O'Connell does like few other mystery authors. Her books are dense with characters' backstory and plot twists. Not only that she manages to juggle two crime stories with other minor foibles in Blind Sight, she keep the pace fast and furious. 

The fewest foibles belong to her hard-boiled detective, Kathy Mallory. I'm always looking for a clue that Mallory feels human emotions. O'Connell teases, but never quite delivers in the later books in the series.

Blind Sight, the twelveth Mallory book, reads like a jigsaw puzzle. Scattered viewpoints, several in each chapter, reveal a tad of information about what's going on. By the end of the fourth or fifth chapter, Carol O'Connell builds a platform that gives the reader enough information to know a lot about New York City, main and secondary characters, plus the possible villians and their crimes--all without an info-dump. Quite an achievment when you consider how complex O'Connell's Mallory books are.

I like the way the puzzle pieces bounce around as O'Connell juggles her two interrealated mysteries, giving the reader a lot of mental exercise. They land here and there with little slight of hand until you can start making guesses about what is relevant and not, what pieces tie into each other. O'Connell doesn't deal in anything so obvious as a red herring.


Interested in reading a sample? Check out these links
Amazon      Barnes & Nobel      kobo       Google Play

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Other Reading Adventures

I'm a chronic reader of the author interviews in the Sunday New York Times Book Review--even though the questions are mostly the same. The authors who don't have "nightstands" full of book always get a chuckle. Piles of books always seems more realistic. Surprisingly, seldom is a guilty pleasure mentioned. All the titles are impressive. Or, maybe, I gave up reading serious books for lent years ago.

Myself? I have two to-read piles over two feet high. [Yes, I still buy books.] The thought of a small night stand able to hold all the books of a chronic reader strikes me funny. 

There is one book bearing "nightstand" in our family. My old man uses the cedar chest he built in high school as his. My piles of books are neater, but his are scattered all over the space of four large nightstands. We won't talk about the piles in the spare bedroom, living room, the dining room, and the basement. [The cookbooks in the kitchen don't count.]

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My Writing Rut


I've always had problem coming up with a comfortable genre for my Andor books. The Far Isles Half-Elven are simple in comparison.

So what are the Andor stories besides fantasy? What genre do they belong in?

"Weird" and "different" are a couple of descriptions reviewers have used. But Google Play just gave me some comparable authors-- Kim Harrison, P. C. Cast and Diana Rowlands. My publisher finally posted to Google Play, so now There Be Demons is available on the android platform. But I was surprised at the covers of similar books that Google put my book among.

You can read a sample of There Be Demons on
Amazon      Nook      kobo       Google Play      iBook

Have been floundering in the promo pool for There Be Demons, but it's getting to the point where it's going to have to sink or swim on its own. I've decided to do NaNoWriMo--the National Novel Writing Month--where novelist all over the world try to write a complete novel [50,000 words] in one month. Me? I'm not so ambitious. I plan to write one chapter problem a day. Hoping to have a semi-draft of the 3rd book in The Demon Wars to work with by the end of the month.

On another note. If you have time and are a member of GoodReads, you could tell them you want to read There Be Demons.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Do YA Attention Spans Need Explosions With Their Fantasy?

Finally, got Karina Sumner-Smith's Towers Fall from the family lending library. The fantasy book was slow in arriving, but I expected to savor it as soon as the night news was over. Instead, I found myself skimming the text in sort of a wave pattern. The book would absorb me, then when a narative meme was repeated two or more times in a row, my reading speed picked up again. The twists and turns and "hanging dooms" when Sumner-Smith switched characters kept me reading.

In short, I never quite abandoned the book for another but was left feeling unsatisfied. The book should have had me staying up past my bedtime as I rooted for the "down-and-outers" to best the snobby elite.

There's loads to like in this well-woven tale--two well- woven protagonists who keep on growing and struggling on their own, secondary characters who keep demonstrating new traits, plus non-stop action. Shai and Xhea are on a short timeline to save the Lower City, rushing from one organic crisis to another.

Yet I skimmed, even though I like to savor moments from the character's worlds. More important. I cried. The characters were so well drawn the usually reluctant tears flowed at the dilemma the Xhea and Shai had to face at the end.

I don't need explosions to keep my interest, but I wonder about teens. Towers Fall has been on the market since 2015 with under 20 reviews. This truely inventive book deserves better.


Try a sample of Towers Fall on:

Amazon      Barnes & Noble       kobo


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Other Reading Adventures

Thoroughly enjoyed re-reading Tamora Pierce's Terrier about Beka Cooper's first case as an apprentice Guard in a "medieval" type port. Didn't get bored once and read way beyond my bedtime. Had forgotten about the insult of "fishpuppy". Beka's shyness makes normal events painful for her, a trait she must overcome if she's to survive as a guard.  -- A great read if you aren't familiar with her books. Terrier is the first book in a trilogy.


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My Writing Rut

Have been feeling quilty about not writing. There Be Demons has been chewing through my time. Even the social media time I enjoy got bitten. Have managed some nice reviews. But not many sales. But then, the promo is just getting started, and I'm a total unknown. At least, my publisher got the ebook up on Google Play as well as Amazon and kobo.

My conscience is getting soothed by thinking I'm going to to do NaNoWriMo this year--that great sprint in November when writers try to draft a book in one month. Hah. 

Book? A possible third book in The Demon Wars Trilogy...if it gets written. As slow as I write, it may be five years from now before all the pieces are put in place and polished. Did have one new idea. Vetis comes back to woo Grylerrque, his long lost lust, fo the ending fight.

At least, he'll be doing more than checking up on Abraxas. As soon as I had the idea, the possibilities began tumbling through my mind.

Feel a little sad to be leaving Trapper in the middle of his story.