Lessons from My Reading

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, May 12, 2014

When a Great Idea Misses the Mark - Book Review of Ghostseer by Robin D. Owens

Ghost SeerOne of the premises for this blog: I review books that I discover on book shelves -- new book stores, used book stores, and supermarkets. In this case, I found Robin D. Owens' Ghost Seer.

Why did I decide to buy it? First was a nice cover with a picture of Denver in the background. [My eyes latched onto Denver's iconic Quest building in the circle. You can barely see it in the cover I lifted from Barnes & Noble, but I thought I saw it.] Second, Owens is a RITA Award-Winning Author -- who I had never heard of. Third, Ghost Seer is the first in a new series.

After Clare Cermak's eccentric, but very rich, great-aunt dies, Clare inherits more than her money -- her great-aunt's obligation to help ghosts leave this plane for the next comes to plague her. Accountant-minded Cermak finds the transition from normalcy to seer difficult. But all isn't bad. She finds her hunk [aka love interest], a former cop suffering from a similar problem -- trying to deny a supernatural gift of his own, plus he must seek a new career because he was disabled during an arrest-gone-bad. The two are thrown together as they help the shade of Jack Slade, a notorious local character, find the severed ears he wrongly removed, so he can pass on to the arms of his waiting wife.

Promising premise. I settled in, looking forward to a comfortable read ... even though I knew a happy-ever-after loomed in my future. The promise of ghosts causing trouble made me willing to take the ride. Owens does build a well defined plot based on the premise that ghosts sometimes need a living, helping hand to make restitution before they can pass onto the next world.

But the gremlins soon appeared. While I don't visit Denver often now, we used to travel there every month to buy ethnic foods we couldn't get in the small town we moved to. The lightly sketched for Denver had me wondering: What the heck? 

One example. The public library and Denver Art Museum are two of the most distinctive buildings in Denver. Even though Owens has Cermak helping a ghost pass on in the plaza between the two buildings, the she creates no sense of a unique place. Just gives a generic description of a paved area. Being told that Cermak is eating lunch in the plaza which could be one of the spaces in New York City or a hundred other US towns or cities. Virgina Dale, which is a real place on the Colorado-Wyoming border, didn't fare any better.

The characters didn't escape the sterotypes either. While I realize the romance formulas generated a huge following, I want a more complex read. I want my characters to be unique people. Oh, both Cermak and the hunk are pleasant enough. Sadly, I'd met Owens' characters before.

The only character that escaped its stereotypical confines, was Enzo, a ghostly labrador housing something Other who acts as a spirit guide on Cermack's journey to accept her new talents.

A competently written book which held my interest with only one interruption, but offers no special wonder besides the idea of ghostly restitution. I give it three ***.

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When I proofed this blog, I realized my age is showing like the proverbial slip below my hem. I basically read print ... and mostly mass paperback. Yet all my stories are e-published, mainly because I can't see any economic sense in publishing a short novella in print.

As far as I can tell, everyone e-publishes now ... even the humongous five. But I'm wondering what people read. I know I make most of my sales on Nook. But what do you read? Care to share a comment anyone? I'm curious.
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  What have I been doing this week? ... I know I did something...if only because I sit in the chair in front of my laptop so many hours without getting bored. [If I played Mah Jong all the time, I would of given up and gone elsewhere.] 
 
Basically, I've been reorganizing the files on my desktop in the lull between waiting for comments on Crossings from my critique group and waiting for the copy edits on The Ignoble Nobel Prize Winner.

My critique group slammed me up the side of the head again -- for being stupid. What I thought was the ending of the novella is now the end of the middle turning point. I still have another third of the story to write.

Did get book trailers -- in my case story trailers -- up on You Tube. The only good I can see so far is that I have two channels and can't figure 
out how to merge them into one. Need to go to my video-smart daughter for some hand holding. Anyway, I would appreciate you taking a look at them so the numbers aren't so pitifully small: The Ghost in the Closet and Noticing Jamilla.

Might I make a promotion tip ... if you are a writer working to publicize a book? You might look at the various gigs on Fiverr. Not only did I find someone to do my videos
under marketing but Fiverr people did the above book covers too. The covers are cheap enough that you can even have two or three people do covers for you, and you can then pick the best one. Then, there's the promo posting help. I won't mention you can hire reviews too.

Oh, did I say something I shouldn't? Of course, writers pay for reviews. What do you think a blog tour is?
 
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