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.

A Fortune Teller’s Luck now available

The hard copy is now available on createspace here: A Fortune Teller’s Luck for $10.99. It wound up being pricier than I wanted, as most of that is eaten up by printing costs. The e-book will be $4.99.

Here is the preview, where the first chapter is available for download: https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1218176

It’s currently under review on Amazon where the e-book will be $2.99. Once that is up, I will provide a link and also look into paperback versions on there.

Business at Madame Lucy Zharakova’s psychic shop has been struggling all summer, and her love life is non-existent. Despairing and hoping to foresee an end to this streak of bad fortune, she does a Tarot Card reading. She draws the dreaded Tower card, portending disruption and chaos.

Her luck appears to turn around when a distressed, but gorgeous, man arrives in her store. He claims his house is haunted and he desperately needs her help. Though contacting the spirit world can be tricky, it would help cover her mounting bills. She crosses her fingers, hoping this gig will turn into something more.

Unfortunately for her, she’s right …

As co-host to The Debunkers, former magician Thomas Janssen has been sent to expose Lucy’s sleight-of-hand tricks by getting her to conduct a séance in front of hidden cameras. He quickly becomes enchanted with her but cannot risk losing his job. When she learns the truth about him, she inadvertently conjures the very destructive force the Tower Card had warned her about.

Each participant becomes lost in a world where they’re forced to contend with their most deeply-rooted fears. It’s up to Lucy to vanquish it, or face the possibility she is a fraud after all.

Page Count: 246

Binding Type: US Trade Paper
Trim Size: 6″ x 9″
Language: English
Color: Black and White
Related Categories: Fiction / Fantasy / Paranormal

Favourite quotes about novels

One of mine, defending reading fiction to those who would disparage it, comes from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. It is still one of my favourite books of all time. Back when I was first writing, I began my own updated version of the story, switching it to a “New Age” retreat and inspired partly by Moliere’s plays as well. I’ve since lost whatever it was that I’d written and sometimes I wished I’d kept at it, especially since re-workings of Austen novels later became quite a trend.

“It is only a novel… or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language”

What are YOUR favourite quotes about novels, books or reading?

I just did one of the worst things a would-be writer could do

I let myself get distracted with a new project before completing any old ones. Bad, bad, bad!

Instead of finishing final edits and finishing the book cover for The Fortune Teller, I wrote four thousand odd words for the opening of a brand new novel. Normally, I don’t bother writing new ideas down. If they’re good enough, they’ll stick in my mind regardless. Well, this new idea stuck like crazy glue, though it’s barely the skeleton of a story. More like a premise. However, it’s also that ever-elusive ‘high concept’ idea that might someday sell. I hope.

As for the cover of my almost-finished project, it’s basically a fairly generic-looking fortune teller, complete with hands hovering around a crystal ball. When I looked up something similar for inspiration in Google images, there were two general versions: one with an opaque, glowing crystal ball like the one I created myself, and one with a glassier looking, more traditional crystal ball. Naturally, I’m now dithering on whether I should try the latter instead. I have a blue marble I photographed, but I’m thinking of getting a clear one from the dollar store or one of those new age shops and trying that instead.

Decisions, decisions… or is that excuses, excuses?

At least I have still been plugging away at something… *sigh*

Hoping to get back into writing after a longish break

I have several manuscripts that seem to be forever almost finished. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been concentrating on one called The Fortune Teller, which I plan to self-publish, and have spent a good chunk of time designing a cover for it.

I used GIMP, which I wasn’t completely familiar with, though it is similar to Photoshop. Thankfully I’ve used that one plenty of times. It’s free to download at http://www.gimp.org and while there were a couple of annoying quirks (mostly to do with floating toolbars that I couldn’t figure out how to re-anchor), it’s an excellent program overall.

There was still a learning curve and it took me a few tries to settle on one particular photo, testing several different backgrounds and so on. After several substantial revisions, I have to admit that the first one was horrible. I knew it was at the time, which was what prompted me to start again from scratch. While the adage goes, You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, sales numbers say otherwise. Mine probably won’t be perfect, but so long as it doesn’t look amateur, I should be okay. I do have an art background and some in design, and a couple of friends who are design professionals who’ve given me some great tips.

The cover is nearly done, and I just finished yet one more revision after getting some feedback from a critique site. Now I’m letting it sit while I make a final version of the cover, making sure it adheres to the various technical standards for Smashwords and Kindle. After that, one more run-through in the novel to make any last story changes (like changing one character’s age a little) and check for any inconsistencies, it should be ready for a final, line-by-line edit.

After that (oh, and uploading and trying to get the novel ‘out there’), I will finally be able to get back to what I really love doing most. Working on another story!