What I’m reading: Girl in Disguise, The Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief

My goal on Goodreads for this year is to read 100 novels and I’ve read 56 so far. Plenty of them are older books I was only just getting around to reading, a few couple were re-reads, and I do try my best to read at least one novel a month that was published within the past year or two.

With so much to choose from out there, and being a somewhat fussy yet adventurous reader, I spend a fair amount of time scanning titles and reading through blurbs on myriad lists.

I wound up reading two books back to back that were remarkably similar. Both were set in the Victorian Era, starring female protagonists who’d become private detectives. The Girl* in Disguise centered on the first ever female detective employed at the famous Pinkerton agency. This one was based on a real person, who’d supposedly assisted in protecting President Abraham Lincoln from an assassination plot. Although I enjoyed it and the writing was quite clever, it unfortunately never felt that true to the era. The character still seemed overly modern, as was the writing style. The main plot also took a while to get going; the earlier chapters were more like loosely-connected short stories. Overall it was an enjoyable book, though. I also found the connection of the railways being laid down, and the war effort, quite interesting.

However I did prefer Lisa Tuttle’s novel The Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief. The writing style mimicked that particular era (1800s) more closely, plus I often do prefer stories with supernatural elements of some kind or other. (along with those who are skeptical or debunk psychic phenomena, such as my own story A Fortune Teller’s Luck) Although I tend to avoid books set in London (especially if they aren’t written by English authors and especially Victorian London) – I made an exception for this one after reading The Mysteries by the same author. She has a knack for pacing and keeping the reader hooked.

The neat thing about reading both novels within a short time period is the reminder that you can take a nearly identical premise and two authors will spin two entirely different stories and worlds from it.

 

 

*PLEASE, publishers, can we already end this trend of protagonists over the age of 18 being referred to as girls? Even Wilkie Collins, back in the mid-1800s, named his book The WOMAN in White.

Cover for A Fortune Teller’s Luck finally complete

I originally designed a cover that I was never quite satisfied with. While I liked the overall concept, which was based on a flower of life pattern, I was never happy with either the colours or the font. Time for a redesign, I figured, so I re-started from scratch.

I downloaded and modified Tarot card images in the public domain via Wikimedia commons. For the border, I tweaked my own version of one I’d found on Freepik.com.

Since a Tarot card reading was what launched the overall story, I used that as the focal point for the cover. The cards I chose correspond loosely with the progress of the story as well. Originally, I picked the planetary spread more for design purposes than anything else. However as I went through myriad interpretations, the eventual layout fit closely with how the story played out.

Getting the shade of blue I wanted was the biggest challenge, since computer screens rely on RBG for colors and printing of course, is in CYMK. This online conversion tool is handy giving you a preview before wasting paper and ink each time: http://www.rgb2cmyk.org/

I used Gimp, an open source design tool similar to Photoshop. On my YouTube channel, I have saved several instructional videos I found useful.  For vector graphics, I recommend another open source graphics tool called Inkscape. I’m only just learning to use it by fiddling around for now, have had fun making spirograph-type patterns with it.

For various reasons I have chosen to go the self-publishing route for this one. Oddly, according to a post I saw on Twitter, someone was commenting about a ‘mini trend’ in fake psychics, so I shall see if this novel, A Fortune Teller’s Luck, becomes part of it when I send it off into the aether later this week.

front med

Fingers crossed…