R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XI

Banner by Abigail Larson

Banner by Abigail Larson

09/01/16, Tempe, AZ – I just turned on the AC, but nevermind. I’ve already been eating chocolate-covered orange marshmallow pumpkins for a couple weeks now and the Spirit Halloween store is open at the mall. It’s September and it’s time for September things.

One of my favorite autumn traditions  is R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril. Hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings, it is a blogging celebration of mystery, suspense, thrillers, the gothic, horror and dark fantasy.

Participation involves enjoying stories of every type (novels, short stories, TV, movies, even gaming) and sharing your experiences with others. Imbibe a little peril or a lot.

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Magic Monday ~ Hoping for a Dazzling Week

MagicMonday

I like Mondays. I also like magic. I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

Some quick card magic and quicker patter from Alex Elmsley:

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

I’ve been behind the ball for the last two weeks. After a semi-restful weekend, I’m ready to begin the week with a clean(er) slate.

American Ghost was feeling like an anchor around my neck so I decided it was time to mark it DNF and move on. This week I will be finishing up From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury and moving on to The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian. My Deal Me In story for this week is “Prey” by Richard Matheson.

From the Dust Returned The Accidental Alchemist (An Accidental Alchemist Mystery)

Next week is the #FrightFall Readathon; most of my current TBR is mystery, so I’ll have to find something more appropriate for that.

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!

Mini Reviews ~ Two Little Doses of Peril

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“The Invisible Assistant” by John Gaspard

I’ve read a few mystery short stories over the past couple of years. It seems that long-form mystery writers sometimes struggle to fit a whole mystery, nose to tail, into the form. If John Gaspard struggled with “The Invisible Assistant,” it doesn’t show. This story features Eli Marks, stage magician, amateur crime solver, and main character of three great mystery novels. Yet, no previous Eli Marks experience is required to enjoy this story! Not only do we get a solid mystery, but we get some magic which provides an excellent introduction to the character. I will say that I guessed the solution to this mystery before the end. It seems a little…improbable, but given the tone of the story, it works.

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“Flop Sweat” from Shatterday by Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison writes speculative fiction. I’ve always liked the designation “speculative fiction” because it embraces anything that isn’t entirely current reality: science fiction, fantasy, and even horror. I don’t generally think of horror when I think of Harlan Ellison, but “Flop Sweat” is a fine piece of tension. Set against a city on edge due to a razor blade killer, radio talk show host Theresa Ketchum’s guests are cultist Brother Darkness and psychiatrist Jacob Theiss. But neither of them are the crazy one. Just how responsible *is* Theresa for what’s going on in Los Angeles?

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RIPXI Info | Reviews

#ROW80 ~ Round 3 in the Rearview Mirror

I had one set of plans what were usurped a few weeks ago by a totally new plan. And that’s been totally fine! For me, rejoining ROW80 has been about trying to settle back into good writing habits. Part of that ended up being open to a writing project that I’m really excited about.

So, what happened this round?

Writing

newbackProject #1: David Abbott in the Open Court – This was the nonfiction project I was working on at the beginning of the round. It’s a collection of articles written by magician David P. Abbott for The Open Court magazine in the early 1900s. I finished the front and back matter, gave it a final edit, formatted it, and even did a couple covers.  I ended up not publishing it because I decided to release it in conjunction with some of the One Ahead stories…

Project #2: One Ahead series – This is a series of stories about a fictional version of David P. Abbott solving mysteries as a magician and spiritualist debunker.  Coming in to the round, I had one story of 20K done and one drafted and in need of rewrite. The plan was to rewrite story #2 and get a draft of #3 going (I have vague ideas). I really didn’t want to start releasing these stories until I had a few done. I did get some organizational stuff done and worked on the rewrite but then…

Project #3: Wicked Witch, Retired – While I love the concept of the David Abbott stories and have been tinkering with ways to tell these stories for a while (years), it’s been like pulling teeth. I know that writing isn’t always easy, but man. I really wasn’t looking for a new project, but, well, Eric and I started riffing on an old idea and finally something really caught on. I haven’t gotten as much as I wanted done and I haven’t hit the hard middle, but it’s going well. As of right now, the manuscript is at 12K. (It’s been a rough week…)

Other Stuff

Got a good ways through my website improvements and did few online classes. Now that writing is taking more of a center stage, this stuff is taking a backseat.

Future

I’m going to continue on with Wicked Witch, Retired and hopefully have a set of refined focused goals by the beginning of Round 4!]

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What Am I Reading this Week? Same thing as last week, Pinky…

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

American Ghost: A Family's Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest From the Dust Returned

Still working on From the Dust Returned. I was sick last week and Bradbury’s fanciful style was too much of an additional head-spin. So I started American Ghost. If I were wise, I’d finish American Ghost this week and return it to the library instead of re-renewing it. We’ll see if that happens. Have a good reading week!

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!

ROW80 ~ Out like a dying fish…

Isn’t that a saying? “The round comes in like a lion, goes out like a dying fish?” No? Just me then…

Update Round 3, Week 11

It’s been a sucky week. And after such a good week last week! I’ve been dealing with a flare-up since last Sunday night. I got some writing done early in the week and stubbornly played some ultimate frisbee (which maybe I shouldn’t have). Everything else has been “late” or not done at all. I’ve been taking a lot of naps.

Progress

Added 1600 to the manuscript and got about a third of the way through a rewrite. I also set up a notebook stack in Evernote to help with organizing. I really wanted a tool that can link info, kind of in the form of a wiki, rather than just a spreadsheet. Poking around the internet, I found that you can link to notes in Evernote. It’s quite handy.

By the end of the round? Gosh, I’d like to finish this rewrite and maybe come out on the positive side word-count-wise.

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Please, check out how other Round of Words participants are doing with their goals!

Deal Me In, Week 37 ~ “The Daemon Lover”

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Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What is Deal Me In?

“The Daemon Lover” by Shirley Jackson

Card picked: Five of Spades
From: The Lottery and Other Stories

Thoughts:

“Dearest Anne, by the time you get this I will be married. Doesn’t it sound funny? I can hardly believe it myself, but when I tell you how it happened, you’ll see it’s even stranger than that…”

Unfortunately, we never hear about how it happened. Our protagonist, another female character that I don’t recall Shirley Jackson naming, begins this letter to her sister as she’s waiting for her fiancé, Jamie, to come for her so they can elope. She is nervous and wants everything to be perfect. Is her comfortable blue dress too severe? The alternative is an old ruffled print that seems too young for her. She is thirty-four years old, after all. No spring chicken, but she’s sure Jamie sees all her good qualities. Unfortunately, Jamie Harris never shows up. When he’s sufficiently late, our protagonist goes to where he says he lives (she’d never been to his place). She finds that he was a sublet tenant (maybe) who moved out the day (hours?) before. But she’s certain he’d been there that morning and tried to track his progress to to her apartment. He stopped to get his shoes shined. He stopped to buy chrysanthemums for her (an odd choice for his bride). But then, he went to another house, to a room in the attic, and will not answer the door…

This story can be read two ways and neither of them is comfortable. Since we, the readers, have never meet Jamie (he just left before we meet our protagonist), and no one our protagonist talks to ever quite knows who she’s talking about, it’s possible that this old maid (but with skills and talents and a nice apartment!) has made him up. Or maybe…everyone is humoring our protagonist. Or making fun of her. A thirty-four year-old woman in a ruffled print dress that is too young for her chasing down a some man in a blue suit? Well…haven’t you ever wondered if the people around you are just humoring you, or maybe even making fun of you, but you can’t tell for sure because maybe they really are telling the truth? And I wonder, is this a particularly female feeling? Or only the feeling of someone who has never really been “cool” or popular? (Am I tipping my cards too much to say that maybe this story isn’t comfortable to me because I still feel this way sometimes?)

After googling “The Daemon Lover” (sometimes called “James Harris”), I find that this is also the name of Scottish ballad about the Devil who lures away the wife of a carpenter after being away for seven years. Maybe our protagonist will meet Jamie again in her forties. Or maybe it’s all just been a devil’s trick.

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RIPXI Info | Reviews

Review ~ The Seance

The Seance by Iain Lawrence

Cover via Goodreads

SCOOTER KING UNDERSTANDS illusions. In the midst of the Roaring Twenties, he performs them behind the scenes at his mother’s séances, giving the impression that Madam King communicates with the dead. Scooter also admires Harry Houdini and can hardly wait to see the famed magician escape from his razzle-dazzle Burmese Torture Tank. But when Scooter stumbles upon a dead body in the visiting Houdini’s tank, it’s no illusion. Who could the murderer be? And did he—or she—kill the right person?

As Scooter sets out to unmask the killer, the mysterious worlds of mediums, séances, and magic are revealed. No one is above suspicion, and appearances are deceiving. If Scooter doesn’t sort out the clues—and fast—he may end up as the next dead body. (via Goodreads)

The Séance is a murder mystery set in 1926 with a 13 year-old protagonist. I don’t read a lot of books with young protagonists (even when I was young) because I find it hard to believe in the proficiencies of young people. I remember being thirteen. I was pretty crap at most things. In this case though, Scooter is a boy of the 1920s who has been specifically trained with a certain set of skills. And it would have been nice if those skills would have been more intrinsic to his solving the mystery. Another problem I have with young protagonists is that they sort of require a lack of adults. In this case, there seems to be only one policeman investigating the inciting murder and he has no time for a kid’s testimony. All the other adults are pretty much buffoons, including Scooter’s mom. Houdini does make an appearance, here and there, and is a true-to-form glory hound.

I was attracted to this book due to my research into séances and I especially wanted to see how the author was going to treat the behind-the-scenes aspects. All-in-all, those details were handled fairly well. Scooter’s mother does partially believes that her psychic powers are real, but there’s nothing in the narrative that leads down a supernatural path. I was okay with Lawrence adding the fictitious spiky water tank, the Burmese Torture Tank, to Houdini’s repertoire when a unique murder weapon was needed, but there were some later details that were a little too convenient.

Publishing info, my copy: hardback, Delacorte Press, 2008
Acquired: Tempe Public Library
Genre: mystery

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RIPXI Info | Reviews