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.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Make Your Cliche Stand Out from the Crowd

It's no secret that Regency romances are one of the most cliched genres. Just look at the number of the books published in Britain and the US since Georgette Heyer set the formula. I'm guessing there must be over 10,000 dukes [not counting other noblemen] each decade desparatelly searching for a bride. Preferably a spunky "flawed", but beautriful girl who deserves to live in luxury for the rest of her life.

The fact that the "ton" of Great Britain, totally, only totaled about 10,000 adults...and they didn't all die every year...is one of the ironies of the genre cliche.

I'll rest my case that Regencies are fantasies.
Since I'm a fantasy reader, I'll review Mary Balogh's Someone to Wed.

To tell the truth, I don't read many Regencies any more, though I think I still have all of Georgette Heyers books, except My Lord John, stored on my bookshelves. I have this fantasy that I'm going to binge read them in historical sequence. So far, I'm safe. I've never organized them by time period. There one Regency writer, though,  I still automatically buy--Mary Balogh. Why? She makes you engage with her characters as they work through their problems with a romance on the side. They always have a problem much greater than the romance, often a unique problem.

The example I read most recently was Someone to Wed. It's one of her novels involving the extended Wescott family. The book follows the  standard romance, historical variety, formula. Handsome nobleman needs to marry a rich wife, in this case because he's inherited a rundown estate and he has a super-strong sense of responsibility to restore it to profitability but he has no capital. The love interest comes out of left field as a cit who has loads of money but wants a husband. Sparks start to fly when she proposes a marriage of convenience to him. They waltz around a bit and eventually fall in love. He gets the money, and she gets the caring family she's needs.

Think that sounds trite? Maybe. But in Mary Balogh's masterful hands the stoyline of Someone to Wed blossoms. Balogh develops individual characters with believable traits, that  you care and cheer for. She's very sneaky in organizing her novels. Balogh builds a family or clique first. Then, she tells a series of stories of how each lonesome soul in the group finds love and acceptance.

This is all very general because I'm trying to work through her process and presentation.  Plot lines and setting are drawn in bold strokes. Balogh concentrates on the internal conflicts of the characters for her drama. What makes her masterful is that the problems aren't superficial or repetative, but focused on each characters until they are unique individuals. The end result is book after book worth reading. At least, I read them.

Read a more specific description, sample and reviews of Someone to Wed on
Amazon         Nook          iBooks 


Giveaway Announcement

Like contests and giveaways? Enter the GoodReads giveaway of There Be Demons if you live in the US. Prize is a chance to win one of five hardcover copies of my fantasy book.
30 December 2017 to 7 January 2018


Other Stuff

Not doing much. Got all my Christmas preparation stuff done. All that's remaining is to get the daily stuff done. Son's coming to stay a week, but he's just going to have to tolerate my messy house. I'm not cleaning up my husband's messes.

I think my short Andor works are going to be free for some Smashwords promo around Christmas. [All my short stuff is available there, but not There Be Demons.] Supposedly you can download from them no matter which ereader you use. You might take a look if your eReader needs something new to store. 

Four of my short stories are perma-free on Amazon too.  Otherwise, they are a whopping 99c.

Oh, I won't be doing a blog until January 2018. It's Christmas time. I'm going to sit around enjoying the company of family and friends and binge watch The Lord of the Rings. [Not The Hobbit because I didn't like the movie much. The action scenes dragged on until I found them boring.] Along the way, I'll also probably eat too munch. 

I hope you get to do the same.
If you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you just enjoy,
especially peace and goodwill
and the lack of hatred.

Monday, December 11, 2017

My Worst Writing Fear - Ridicule

My Worst Writing Fear: Ridicule


Shannon Heuston

I wrote my first book at the age of six, carefully printing the words in an orange spiral notebook.  It was about a group of naughty children misbehaving in school.  I illustrated it with blue ballpoint pen.  Deciding I was finished, I scrawled The End, then abandoned my masterpiece.
Days later, my sister and her friends discovered it.
Fists clenched, I listened to her giggle to my mother about how they had taken turns reading it.  This first audience did not please me.  They thought my book was a joke, and it wasn’t supposed to be funny.
I was furious, embarrassed, and hurt.  Despite the cavalier way I’d tossed my creation aside, I cared about it. Hearing it mocked stung.   I never forgot how that felt.
I didn’t stop writing, but I never lost my fear of sharing it.  The memory of that derisive laughter echoes in my head whenever I hit the publish button.
Writing is invasive, an excavation of the soul.  When finished, it becomes your contribution, your purpose for living.  It’s you.  Criticism is an unwelcome intrusion.
Writing my first novel, The Playground entailed reliving the past.  Based on my childhood bullying experiences and its aftermath, I felt brutal honesty was required to increase awareness about the ongoing trauma suffered by victims.  This meant reopening old wounds andrisking the same kind of rejection I experienced as a child, a frightening prospect.
Publishing my novel was both terrifying and exhilarating.  It wasn’t something I could take back or undo.  What if I regretted it?  Sending it out into the world was like jumping off a cliff.
The initial reaction was overwhelmingly positive. My novel was a hand reaching out to others who were also suffering, to let them know they are not alone and what happened was wrong.
Sometimes I receive notes from readers telling me how deeply my book touched them.  They always arrive in the nick of time, just when I’ve begun to question my vocation, to reassure me that all the hard work is worth it.
Then there’s the criticism.
It’s inevitable, and that’s why we writers fear it.  Any book that inspires great passion will eventually be hated by someone. 
The negative reviews hurt, but I try to take it in stride.  I may shed a tear or two, but my book continues to sell.  That’s the important thing.  I concentrate on the good and try to dismiss the bad. It’s silly to focus on a few negative reviews when they are outnumbered by the positives ones.  That’s what I tell myself, anyway.
Criticism is the first sign of success.  Rather than signaling failure, it’s a sign you’ve arrived.  People are not motivated to write a negative review unless you’ve awakened their emotions.   All great artists receive their share of criticism.  Occasional negative feedback is the price youpay for doing what you love and sharing it with the world.
I’ve learned that it’s okay to fear criticism, it’s okay to hate it, and it’s even okay to cry over it.   Butdon’t let it shake your confidence.  Contrary to popular belief, successful people sufferthe most rejection.Instead of giving up, they use it as motivation to work harder.
Writing is a brutal profession.  Rejection is guaranteed.   But the ability to share your message with the world, reach people in their loneliness, and have an impact on their lives is worth it.  Criticism is  the buzzing of a mosquito in comparison. Celebrate it as a sign of success.


Author Bio

Shannon T. Heuston was born in Boston, MA but grew up in Westchester County, New York, where she still resides. She first professed her desire to become a writer at the age of eight, when she tried to write a mystery series titled "The Sally Bridgman Mysteries" styled after Nancy Drew. Her first book had Sally Bridgeman and the gang traveling to France and then right away going out to peer in people's windows and spy on them, because, how else would you find yourself a mystery? She would like to believe her writing has grown more sophisticated since then.



This novel is for anyone who has ever suffered bullying.  Rachel Parsons was horrifically bullied as a child.  Thirty years later the memories of the abuse she suffered still haunts her.  What happened on the playground?  And why can't she forget it?  A book that explores the long term effects of childhood victimization.

Check out the reviews for Shannon Heuston's novel, The Playground, on Amazon. You can also find Shannon on GoodReads and on Facebook.



I had outgrown my old sneakers, so my mother found a pair of white boy’s Nikes with a baby blue swoosh on the sides from Odd Lot, a store that sold brand name merchandise at steeply discounted prices.  They cost three dollars, an enormous bargain for sneakers even back in 1985.  Happy that my parents were happy, I innocently wore those sneakers the next day, not realizing that life as I knew it was about to end because of this fashion misstep.
            I had no idea I had just committed social suicide until Alicia, the gorgeous girl I had been trying vainly to impress, wrinkled her nose at my blinding white shoes.  “Are those from Odd Lot?” she asked.
Instinctively, I knew to deny it from her tone.  
“No,” I said, forcing a smile, “I’ve had them a long time.  I just haven’t worn them.”
I was hoping I could trick her into thinking I had bought them before they’d been marked down and condemned to the discount bins.
Darren, the boy who had asked me if my refrigerator broke because I ate all the food, materialized like a dog scenting blood.  Bending down with his hands on his knees to get a closer look, he chortled, “You’re a liar!  Those sneakers are so from Odd Lot!  I saw them in the three dollar bin when I went shopping there on Saturday with my mom.”
My cheeks burning, I drew my feet in beneath my desk, wishing I could pull them up inside me like a turtle withdrawing into its shell.
“Definitely from Odd Lot,” was Alicia’s final verdict, presented with a toss of her perfectly coiffed head.  “wouldn’t be caught dead in sneakers from Odd Lot.”  She swiveled her ankles to show off the delicate gold colored sandals adorning her feet. “These came from Bloomingdales.”
La-di-da, I had no idea what that meant anyway.  I knew nothing of brand names or stores.  If you said Banana Republic to me, I thought you were talking about a country whose main expert was bananas.
“Are you poor?” Alicia asked me bluntly.  “Only poor people buy their sneakers at Odd Lot.”
            “No,” I breathed, horrified.
I quickly scanned everyone else’s feet, for the first time observing something absolutely alarming.  My sneakers were completely wrong. Almost every other kid in my class wore the same sneakers, white low topped Reeboks with a jaunty British flag stitched into the sides and the brand name stamped on the back in blue block letters.  Even Jason, who was studying a book at his desk with way too much concentration not to be aware of what was going on, was wearing Reeboks.
I was an alien studying human life.
The feeling that had swept over me the first day of school, that everyone else was speaking a language I didn’t understand, was back.  Everyone was in on the joke together.  And I was all alone.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Two Books for the Price of One Isn't Always a Bargain

Knew Laurell K. Hamilton's new Anita Blake book was long when I saw it on the bookshelf, displayed face out. Didn't realize how long it was until I started reading it. There's something daunting about sinking into a morass of detail and not quite saving yourself by skimming. Yeah, I've read enough of the Anita Blake books to known all the characters that Blake encountered while preparing to go to Ireland to chase down mysterious vampire activity where none should exist. Problem: it was all busy work that really didn't add to the suspence.

This doesn't mean that Crimson Death was a bad book, exactly, but it was long. [I'm sure the sexual puritains have long been winnowed out of Hamilton's readship.] The book is padded with extra details I wasn't really interested in. I'm not a rabid fan of all things Hamilton. Let's just say that the Anita Blake books come, in the movie cliche, with "a cast of thousands".

Crimson Death starts out with a great puzzle--why have vampires suddenly started increasing in Ireland, the one country in Hamilton's world that only has one known, secretive vampire nest. My problem was once the hook was set, it took 350 pages for Anita to get on the plane. From then on, the book was Hamilton's usuall intricate, suspenceful read. A plus: readers get to learn more of Damian's maker, She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

Take a look at the excerpts and other reviews at:

Amazon        Nook       kobo

Other Reading of Interest

Editing manuscripts. Anyone can be asked to edit a friends writing -- whether a work report, non-fiction writing, or creative writing. Then, there's you own writing. Click here for some suggestions on making the editing process easier.

My Writing Rut

What, oh what to say. Haven't been writing much, though I've been writing everyday. Actually, I don't seem to be doing much of anything...though I almost have the Christmas baking done. Think I've been reading a 700 page book.

Interested in reading my short stories. I've got several free ones, how many depends on which venue you download from.

     Amazon - Most of my published stuff can be found here, including my book There Be Demons.
     Nook - You can find my Far Isles Half-Elven stories here as well as the Andor ones.
     kobo - This venue has a selection of my stories in e-format, including There Be Demons.
     Other places you can find my stories are: iBooks,  and Smashwords [which probably has the most complete listing of my stories, even my free Half-Elven stories, but not There Be Demons the last time I looked.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Bad to the Bone, So Bad, a Devil Wants Him

Clive Barker's Harry D'Amour is the classic bad guy with a heart of gold, so bad his actions, though logical, isolate him from most of his associates.

Yeah, not all heros are played up as good guys. Clive Barker came to the top of the gotta read list when I searched for something different to read, and I ended up grabbing The Scarlett Gospels. Wanted to get out of my comfort zone since it felt like I was reading the same authors over and over again. Well, The Scarlet Gospels was different, but not that much since R. S. Belcher has join my "'panwriterdom" of writers I buy without even looking at the book blurb

Lots of good stuff going on in The Scarlet Gospels, something you'd expect from a writer this prominent with so many books in his portfolio. Thought the characterization a little weak, but there was just enough sympathy/curiousity to keep me at least skimming through the pages. Norma, the character who sees ghosts, kept pulling me through the more cliched parts, a bad thing for a thriller, when you start getting the feeling been there, seen that. Harry D'Amour, indeed, is seedy beyond the max, but he never quite jelled for me like Jack Reacher does.

Found the trip into Hell interesting in light of my own demons, but thought the description rather bland. Liked the political turmoil of the plot line a lot though.

Worse point. I skimmed way too much of the book. Even was beginning to wonder if I was getting too sleepy to early, feeling older than I felt before I started reading the book.

Take a look at a sample and other reviews for yourself on
Amazon       Nook        kobo


Other Interesting Reading

The "By the Book" of the New York Times Book Review section gave me a memory-chuckle again this week. Anthony Boudain, a food writer, made a comment about cooking snobbery--one of his favorite food writers was never a snob about food, even though he wrote about French cuisine. Don't know about you, but I've always equated French cuisine with snobbery.

My mind skipped to the snobbery of literary writing circles towards genre writing circles. Like, wondering how often to you get put down because you read genre fiction? I know I drew all sorts of comments the one month I tried to work on my college's literary journal, even heard the words "genre hacks" more than a few times. Did think it was ironic that I was the only one in the group that had been published...as a freshman. 

That's definitely not important now. But I did chuckle again when I saw the ad for Anne Rice's new book Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra. No, I'm not going to say that Anne Rice is an literary writer. But I did get a chuckle from the copy saying it was a blend of "historical fiction, fantasy, and romance."


Going back to the point of The Scarlett Gospels putting me to sleep. Got Laurell K. Hamilton's new book. Stayed up until 1AM reading, even though her editors didn't do a good job of using the cutting room floor. Which makes me wonder why Hamilton's books haven't been turned into "film". Plenty of streaming services on there distorting books ala Crossroads, Texas.


My Writing Rut

Have decided marketing books is an addtiction. I look at the promo stats even though I'm not doing any promotions. [Yeah, sales stopped.] Which means I'm wasting lots of time not writing. Not that I'm worried. It's the cookie baking time a year around our house. I do Greek 
cookies and 
baklava for Christmas presents. No one in my family needs any more stuff and buy what they need when they need it.

Would be negligent, though, if I didn't plug my short stories, you can check them out by clicking here. Showdown at Crossings is a prequel to There Be Demons. It tells the tale of Granny Nan's death. Britt Kelly, the protagonist of There Be Demons, worrys Granny Nan's advice like a sore tooth as her world crashes around her ears.

You can also access my 99c and Free short ebook versions on kobo.

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    


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.


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

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


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. 


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


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.]


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


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.


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.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Groan. Do Cozy Mysteries Really Need a Pun?

Almost gagged when looking at the new arrivals in the mystery section awhile back, but I bought Grave Errors by Carol J. Perry anyway. Kinda liked the main character when I bought the first book in the series of five books and still do. Still, I object to having to read all the bad puns as I searched for authors I wanted to read.

[Don't get me wrong. I love cozy mysteries, especially ones that happen in a small interacting communities like English villages. It's the puns that gag me.]

Lee Barrent is one of those magical types whose magic is iffy at best. Makes for a good mystery protagonist. There's just enough psi ability for the book to be both an urban fantasy and a cozy mystery.

The setting of Grave Errors is a cliche, -- Salem, Massachusetts. But Dia de los Muertos  makes an appearance--something I haven't seen an American book do very often.

The plot centers on a closed suicide case that comes back to life as a murder investigation-- when Barrett's TV production class sets up a public service campaign to extend the town's Halloween festival by adding the Mexican holiday. Garrett's cop boyfriend isn't happy when the closed case comes back to bite him, but he's learned to pay attention to Barrett's sporatic visions. This book gives the reader a nice romp with well rounded characters, lots of red herrings, and an interesting cat. It all adds up to a fun read.

Check the listings for Grave Errors at these stores\


My Writing Rut

Haven't written anything worth talking about. Just doing promo stuff. I think getting a book published turns your brain to mush. Even my traditionally published friends look at their Amazon stats at least two, three times a day. The good news is that I've sold a few copies of There Be Demons, even breaking through the 100,000 ranking...but not for long.

If you read this far, you deserve a reward. Night for the Gargoyles, the short story that inspired There Be Demons, is free on the links below. [I don't know if the Amazon link is free in foreign countries, but I fairly sure kobo is.]

Treat Yourself for Halloween:

Amazon       Barnes & Noble      kobo        Apple Books/iTunes

The best group of reviews are on Amazon.
Oh, I guess you can find me among the books at GoodReads . You can find reviews there too. I have several demon-focused short stories listed for free.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Throwing the Genres in a Mixer -- Mystery and What?

Energized isn't a witchie cozy, but Mary Behre took a little bit of mystery, a lot of suspense, a serial killer, romance, and the preternatural to construct her urban fantasy. You might say that most books in the genre do that. Maybe because writers and readers got bored with books with only one note. But the book didn't bore me with predictability even if it had a hunky former marine as the love interest. Yeah, she does the usual urban fantasy bit. Threw the ideas in the mixer.

It's no secret I read more mysteries than out and out fantasy. I read even less romance. The characters felt fresh to me. How many electricians are the heroes in urban fantasy? I know of one series with a carpenter mystery protagonist. Behre manages to round out all the important characters until they escape their clinches. One exception. The perp who was surprising mostly because she didn't give the character much of a spotlight. Still, the mystery held up quite well.

Best of all, Mary Behre gives you an example of how you can take a cliched genre book and make it totally fresh. The book didn't bore me with predictability even if a former hunky marine was the love interest. In fact I might expend a little effort and find the other two books [about the protagonist's long lost sisters] -- used, of course. You can read the sample of Energized to find out what you think on

Amazon          Barnes & Noble


Other Reading Notes

Sometimes The New York Times Book Reviews yields little nuggets I hoard. Sharyn McCrumb has a new book out--The Unquiet Grave. Now I'm sitting here waiting. I find it hard to read hardbacks with my achy thumbs, so I'll hope the mass paperback will eventually appear. Sigh. I love the way she's been mixing historical fact and mystery lately.

Picked up another useless piece of information from the NYT Book Reviews. Who do you think are the four best sellers authors of all time? Shakespeare obviously since he had a few years to out-publish the competition. Danielle Steele is the fourth best selling writer. Agatha Christie and Barbara Cartland are the other two. Do you think romance writers get no respect?


My Writing Rut

So comfortable to be back writing again. Still in Andor, but a much earlier time in its history--when the country was on its way to recovery after the "Disasters". I'm working trying to get Trapper out of the hills into a town. 

But I don't think you can call the stories dystopian. People have already learned to survive and are building larger communities and a central government again. Trial by Lies was the novella I was working on when I decided to drag There Be Demons out of the computer and publish it. The story has its own genre cliche--YA coming of age mixed with magic.

Not that its important, but I got a chuckle out of my one 2* review. The reviewer didn't like it. The beginning and ending grabbed her as well as some of the middle. The rest was just boring everyday stuff. Actually, that was one of the things I was trying to do...convey the "hurry up and wait" aspect of desperate fights, how Britt juggles her every day life with fighting demons.