I went to check out the blog of author Tim Pratt, who writes the Marla Mason series. And happily, there was a new Marla Mason title out — LADY OF MISRULE is the name.
So I bought it. Haven’t started it yet. Currently I’m reading MURDER OF A NEEDLED KNITTER, a cozy mystery by Denise Swanson. (More on her in a minute). I’m also reading RED SURF by Tracy Sharp. (More on her as well in a minute.)
I have always enjoyed Pratt’s urban fantasy series featuring a sorceress who kicks butt (usually literally). She’s changed a lot over the course of the series, and I’ve lost count on which book this one is. But the reason I thought I’d make a blog post on the series and on Tim Pratt is because I wanted to talk about the way I found him in the first place.
There’s a blog service called Journalscape — they offer free blogs to their users. It’s a different interface than what you find here at WordPress. In a lot of ways I like it. There is no scrolling; instead, you go to an archive if you want to see old posts by the blogger. Titles really mattered, if you wanted an audience.
Tim Pratt maintained a blog there at Journalscape called Tropism. He doesn’t blog there anymore, but back in the day he and a few other authors (Laura Lippman, Keith Snyder, S.J. Rozan, Michael Jasper, Eric Mayer, Mark Terry, to name a few) had their blogs at the site. (Only Rozan and Mayer still blog there, Rozan pretty regularly and Mayer off and on…) I found his work through his blog there. His Marla Mason novels were being published through a Big 5 publisher, and I found them in Barnes and Noble. Four novels were published in the series by whoever it was.
When Pratt’s series was dropped, he decided to self-publish the next book in the series. BONE SHOP was the first book he self-published, and it was also one of the first books I bought (for $4.99, if I recall correctly) for my old Kindle. Pratt usually runs a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to “pay” for the writing of the books now. He has enough fans that he is able to raise enough money to cover the “advance” that would have been paid by his publisher. Then he writes the book when it funds, and writes it to his own Kickstarter-imposed deadline. (I may have some of the specifics wrong here, but the gist of his system is correct, I think.) I have not contributed to the Kickstarter campaigns. But I’ve bought all of the Marla Mason books, and a couple of other books as well. I’ve found his writing to be very entertaining.
I was happy to buy this latest at $4.99 for my Kindle, and I look forward to reading it.
So, on to Denise Swanson. Ms. Swanson writes cozy mysteries featuring school psychologist Skye Dennison as her sleuth. Skye’s been getting involved in murder cases for seventeen books now, and in this latest, she is newly married to the police chief of Scumble River and on her honeymoon cruise.
I’ve loved this series from the start, in no small part because it is set in a fictional town very near my own town. In fact, my town is the “big” town that everyone from her town goes to whenever they want to see a flick or eat out. She names places in our city that I’ve eaten at. She describes things that I used to do when I was in high school. She’s even dedicated one of the books to a local dentist who is her dentist and who I know fairly well. And another book was dedicated to the guys in a local cover band called Plastic Santa (now defunct) and I played with two of those guys in the previous incarnation of Plastic Santa (called Night School) and with another of them in a band I was in right after high school. (I recognized the drummer of Plastic Santa as the main character’s brother in the books — I guess he’s related to Ms. Swanson in some way.)
The setting of these books has become a main character for me, and I always look forward to reading her descriptions of our area, and finding common experiences. It may be one reason that this latest book is taking me a while to read — it isn’t set in Scumble River; instead it’s set on a luxury liner on an ocean cruise. That “important character” (to me) isn’t a part of this latest book.
And last, I mentioned Tracy Sharp and her latest book, RED SURF. I’ve been slowly working my way through her Leah Ryan books, and this is the latest, I believe. I found her in a unique way as well. I found her through Joe Konrath’s blog. She did a guest post back in the days when he was doing the fund-raising for Alzheimer’s research, I believe, and then she ended up writing a collaboration with Joe called JACKED UP! It was pretty short, but it was fun. I liked the character of Leah. She was wild and irreverent and sexy. So I decided to try REPO CHICK BLUES, and I found that I really liked that one as well.
Her others in the series haven’t held up quite as well as those two. They’re still good, and I still like to read about Leah and her partner Jackson and their adventures, but it’s a good thing I started with the Konrath collaboration because if I had started with anything besides REPO CHICK BLUES, I probably wouldn’t have gone on.
Discoverability, thy name is Joe Konrath…
Joe’s own ebooks are pretty good too.
You have a broader range of reading interests than me. In particular, I’m not into urban fantasies or cozy mysteries–I’ve read a few of the closely related romantic mysteries (almost redundant, because many mysteries have romance), mostly as a reviewer, but they’re not high on my list of preferred genres.
Since you mentioned some recommended books, I just read (and subsequently reviewed) A. J. Hartley’s Tears of the Jaguar–more my kind of mystery (see my review tomorrow or the shorter version on Amazon). Well-researched and plotted, this is an entertaining read.
Don’t you love to discover new authors and books? Much better than TV….
I’ve read several of Konrath’s books and they are entertaining, if sometimes a bit over-the-top. Wonder what you think of his TIMECASTER books if you’ve read them.
I didn’t think I was interested in urban fantasy (or really any fantasy – I read Eddings and Brooks and Donaldson back in the old days but didn’t feel the need to read a bunch more), but I somehow got hooked on the Harry Dresden urban fantasies by Jim Butcher, and then as I said, I was exposed to Tim Pratt’s blog and decided to try a book by him. I do also like Laura Resnick’s Esther Diamond series, but I don’t go much beyond that. I guess my STRIKER FILES has a bit of an urban fantasy vibe in there with the hard-boiled detective stuff and the horror elements.
I have, however, always been a fan of cozies. Goes back to my days in the 90’s when I helped moderate the Book and Candle Pub forum on Delphi Internet Services. We had a participant/guest author named Jill Churchill (real name Janice Young Brooks) and a couple of members were big cozy fans; they sorta got me into reading some stuff like Carolyn Hart and a few others. As I said, I may like Denise Swanson’s stuff a bit more as her setting becomes a main character for me. Which may also explain why I had more trouble with her latest book (I finally did finish it) — it was set on a luxury liner at sea and not in Scumble River (which seems to me to be the small town of Wilmington, Illinois).
I’m currently reading a legal thriller/first novel by John Ellsworth called THE DEFENDANTS. It tells a good story, though I think it has an odd voice. I wonder if it improves in subsequent novels (he’s written a bunch of them). Ellsworth is a frequent contributor at The Passive Voice. Also reading a bio of P.L. Travers, but that’s slow-going.
I will check out Tears of the Jaguar. I saw the review but haven’t had time to read it thoroughly. (Busy at work and at home…my life is a little out-of-hand at the moment…) Take care and as always, thank you for reading and commenting!