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, June 26, 2018

A Very Unambitious Man: A True Anti-Hero

For about the first 20 pages, I always wonder why I buy M. C. Beaton's "Death of ???" mysteries. Death of a Ghost was no different. I find her declarative, staccato style annoying, not only because it's the antithesis of most of the advice I read about writing. Yet, the series continues on the "best selling" charts as it approaches the 40th book.

There is no mystery to the success of Beaton's hapless Highland sleuth, Hamish MacBeth. The books are as funny as all get out. A walk down the high street of Lochdubh, as Hamish ponders some murder or other problem, presents a series of chuckles as he meets the residents of the small town. In Death of a Ghost, the reader gets a funny subplot when a minister's wife tries to hook Hamish up with her neice.

Don't look for any indepth characterization here. The characters of the McBeth books walk their ordained path with a minimum of description and deviation. The chuckles are of prime importance. Even McBeth's constabulary opponents play the part of foils.

Oh, there's a mystery to be solved about who murdered whom and why. It even sports some nice twists and turns. All in all Beaton's books are more complicated than it first seems. Still, Hamish keeps to his set patterns of avoiding credit for the crimes he solves.

Care to take a look at a sample and other reviews? You can find print and epub versions of Death of a Ghost at
Amazon      B&N/Nook       kobo/Rakuten

Other Interesting Reading

For once, I found a news feed useful...one about the Queen of Great Britain and Megan Markle doing a royal tour together. Not a royalist. [I'm sort of stuck in a Pantagenant mind-set.] But, this article on body language gave me a tick for one of my characters--Pillar.


Then, an issue book buyers of all sorts should be interested in: anti-trust law. You know that 20th century idea that no one business should control sales of a particular product, aka no monopolies. The US has a particular problem with the idea. Can anyone say Amazon? -- Anyway, seems there has been some stirrings lately, and The Passive Guy wrote a blog about it.

My Writing Rut

is depressing. Oh, I'm making some progress. Finally got Cahal and Britt together again--in Chapter 12 rather than Chapter 4. Now I have to go back because I forgot to include a bit about Britt's Granny Nan's rings. [I think it's going to be an important part of the last battle at the end of the book so it was necessary.] Ugh.

Am making more little banners for There Be Demons. Won't getting them on Twitter yet. I'm waiting for the publisher to get the book blurb changed. [You can also download the ebook on kobo/Rakuten.]

5***** Review: "a great adventure through a fantasy land that captures your imagination and keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens next. Characters are well developed and the journey we are taken on is fast paced and filled with twists and treachery throughout."

Feisty Britt Kelly's life is a disaster. When her divorces her mother, her family moves into her half-sister's apartment in the projects. Britt must adjust to a new school and a step-mother who hates her and her younger brothers
But poverty and coping with a new school aren't Britt's worst problems. In the long standing Demon Wars, the minions of Prince Vetis build a secret base in Trebridge behind the Kingscourt's battle lines. When she is drafted to fight the demons with three new friends, Britt didn't know demons existed. She's not even sure she wants to fight them.

The race is on. As the demon forces grow, the Gargoyle Guardians of the city must teach the four teens to use enough "Grace" as a weapon to survive. Britt's new problem: learning to control her magical powers...in spite of Gillen, the gargoyle leader, pissing her off with his fussy rules.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Getting The Demons Under Control? The Unending To-Read Pile

A tale of this week's reading. My to-do piles got smaller this week...by four. I forced myself to read the first books on top of two piles. After several attempts to get interested, they got dumped on the trade pile. I'm now reading M. C. Beaton's Death of a Ghost but haven't finished.

Excerpt of 
Running from Demons

Still doing copy edits of Running From Demons. Biggest change so far? I've decided to change the title. Anyway, here's an excerpt from the first chapter where Pillar comes on Grylerrque, a demon hiding from the authorities in human guise. The novel is set some seven/eight years after There Be Demons.
Scanning the area, Pillar tested her developing talent for reading auras. The slow dance of different shimmering colors popping through the light bluish-green glow of their life pulse fascinated her, but she concentrated on possible threats. Everyone in the lobby felt like nulls to Pillar. But her eavesdropping on the mage elders talking to her guardian told her they worried about magical attacks from demon-kind. While no adult talked much about them, Pillar assumed demons could camouflage themselves behind shields, too.
           Otherwise, they wouldn’t be so hard to find. She shuddered, not wanting to think of demons possessing people. Doubt if any demons would dare to hunt here, anyway.
           The thought comforted Pillar, and she relaxed. The waitress arrived and picked a plate off her ladened arm to plunk it on the counter with a sigh.
           Pillar smiled as the waitress scooted around the counter to the tables against the wall. “Thanks. It looks delicious.” The waitress bustled away without looking back, and Pillar shrugged.
Not wanting to dribble cheese on the new tee she’d bought in the museum shop, Pillar leaned forward to take a bite of her toasted ham and cheese sandwich. The gooey cheese oozed out the sides, over her fingers. She licked her fingers and lips. The cost of adding extra cheese was worth it, making a perfect ending to her first solo venture into Taddledon. The ride home would be dull in comparison to the carefree day she had enjoyed. At least her stomach wouldn't be growling.          
The PA system belched news of another arriving bus, adding to the racket bouncing off the station walls. The garbled words made no sense. Pillar ignored the announcement as she licked her fingers clean. The tenor of the air shifted. The hair on her nape rose. Pillar glanced back towards the benches in the lobby.
Taking another bite of her gooey sandwich, Pillar licked her lips as she searched for the disturbance in the station’s energy. The power became so intense even Pillar’s weak talent felt the rising pulse. A chill crawled across her shoulders and down her back. Pillar turned around. Her eyes locked on a tangled-haired girl, clutching a backpack in her hands and using the wall by the platform doors to protect her back. The girl's eyes grew wider as she scanned the station.
Pillar's frizzy hair stood at attention. A strange odor, the like of which she'd never smelled in Osseran, wafted from the outside doors. Her stomach churned, and Pillar dropped her no longer appetizing sandwich.
What's going on? That girl just doesn't feel like a normal, but she shouldn't  make my stomach want to heave.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What Everyone Needs: Someone to Care

Had fun reading Mary Balogh's Someone to Care. No I'm not going to write a review. Actually, I shouldn't even have to say it's good. Her stuff is...mostly because she masterful in setting up her characters to find someone who who will care for them as people not as a means to another goal.

I simply marvel at how Balogh manages to keep her plotlines engaging [not boring], especially since they are romance [one of the most unrealistic forms of fantasy]. I think she and Laurel K. Hamilton [Anita Blake] are the only romance writers I still read from those I was reading religiously five years ago. [Balogh was an outlier since I read mostly paranormal romances.] If anything, Balogh is a leftover from my Georgette Heyer reading of the 1970s.

Writers who want to write romances or include a romantic thread in their books should study how Balogh does it. Readers can just enjoy. Me? I think I'm going to dig into my Georgette Heyers for one of her less well known Regencies instead of the few I still reread regularly.

[Any other Heyer fans out there? What's your favorite book? Frederica immediately comes to my mind, but there are a couple others I can't quite remember the titles of I reread off and on.]

You can check out what other people say about Someone to Care plus read a blurb and reviews. Find both epub and print versions at
Amazon       B&N/Nook       kobo/Rakuten

Other Interesting Reading

Caught a blog by Janet Reid, agent extraordinaire, on white writers writing black characters when someone pushed the politically correct button. No wonder the alt-right calls fuming liberals "snowflakes". In this case, I think they're either fuming about the right thing in the wrong way or just wanted some media time. Whatever, here's the link to Janet Reid's answer to a pertinent question.  --  Granted I'm influenced by the fact I included black kids in classes in There Be Demons. 

My Writing Rut

Wasted almost a full week trying to write a battle scene for the first third of Rendezvous with Demons. Have two chapters of character and world development roughed in, have the wall of the nest broached by explosives, have Britt and Gillen secretly shadowing the Crosssings mages, but... the stupid chapter won't get written.  Result, one more week without any real progress on the novel.

Actually it was for a good reason. Britt and Gillen don't go in and save the day ala the calvary. I'm setting her up to be royally put down... I think. This is written on Wednesday. I'll add something more before I post this. I'm wondering myself what answer I'm going to come up with. Didn't get any more written. Good thing the blog got done on Wednessday when I finished the book. -- Yeah, have been distracted by other things.

Think I feel a little envious of corporate authors who get their publicity done by the company. While trying to write, I've been also juggling promotion. Came up with an ad from my artwork of Vetis. Also think I may have found a new artist to create line drawings of my characters. -- Not that I really expect it to increase my sales. You can check out the ebook of There Be Demons on Amazon, B&N Nook, and kobo/Rakuten.

                                     Artwork                                       ad

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Witches, Crows and Murder Most Cozy

Witches and Salem are almost synomyns in the US.  Carol J. Perry makes good use of the convention in her cozy mystery series starring Lee Barrett, sometime TV personality. It Takes a Coven is an enjoyable example, so enjoyable that I decided to write a book review even though I'm on vacation.

Barrett's Witch City series is bubbly without being fluffy. She doesn't juggle as many characters as say Louis Penny does, but each of her secondary characters have ongoing subplots that progress from book to book. That for me is masterful writing. [Maybe because I have problems with it.] 

The best thing? I think you can read the book as a stand alone. I haven't read all the books [6] in the series, but I followed the mystery action well integrated with the daily stuff...though I thought the wedding sequences missed an opportunity to be sarcatistic about US wedding preps. The "compromise on the cake" was a throw-away when common sense ruled.

Integrating plot elements so there are no loose, dangling bits can be difficult. Barrett takes her crows, modern witches, and historical witches and weaves an interesting tale of cause and effect. Some plot elements from previous books have been "put to bed" in It Takes a Coven--which leaves me wondering what direction the next book will be taking. Guess I'll have to wait a year to find out.

Check it out for yourself on Amazon, B&N Nook, or kobo/lRakuten. For the record, these links include ebooks.

Interesting Reading

Writer R. Mac Wheeler takes wonderful photos. Here recently posted some wonderful close-ups of flowers. You can check them out here. He also writes some fun fantasies.

An older Write Unboxed blog had a short, to the point blog on writing a synopsis. Anyone needing to write a short report can benefit from its tips. Take a look.

Ever wonder about what's actually in the food and care products you use? I found this interesting because so many heath articles blame inflamation for tons of bad health conditions. This one has links to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Click here is you want to know what is lurking in your toothpaste, maybe.

Yeah, some of this weren't posted yesterday. Maybe it's another point we should all take...about how long items last on the web. You never know when a search engine might spit out one of your posts. You can't count on the ads taking up enough space to conceal things. I'm still bouncing around the web seeing what there is to see. Am really disappointed in how low search engine results have sunk in the last three-five years.

My Writing Rut

Have been playing on Fivver, looking for something interesting to promote my books. Found an artist who might be able to create pictures of my characters in my demon books. Here's the one of Vetis, my arch villen, who proclaims in There Be Demons: "The Angeli have lost the war. They just don't know it yet." Now have to figure out how to use the picture.

Next illustration? Britt or maybe a group of demons?

Writing is going slow. Have been working for a week on my first demon fight in Rendezvous. Today I just got to the Freemages blowing a hole in the wall around the demon compound...in Docket's Diggings from Noticing Jamilla. Still, haven't gotten to the big fight.

A *chuckle*. When I "drafted" the book, Britt linking up with Cahal in Pacifica happened in the fourth chapter. I'm working on Chapter 10 on a demon fight I didn't contemplate until Britt got off the bus in the mountains. That fourth chapter was from Pillar's [Running from Demons ?, thinking of title change...] pov. Still have a major fight with a demon biker gang before they even get to Cascadia.