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Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Writer's Resolutions for 2012

Just to be clear, I dislike resolutions. They reek of failure and political posturing. I resolve to balance the budget. We all understand it's not under the control of one man or woman. And there's part of us that believes the candidate doesn't even mean it. He/She is jumping on the bandwagon and making a promise that sounds good. Why should it be any different when the Average Jane makes the same kind of statement? I resolve to fit into my high school prom dress. Right.

I do, however, like to set goals. Actually, I'm anal retentive and like to make lists so I can experience the joy of crossing something off with my pretty new pen. Here is my list of hopes for 2012.

I hope to leave more reviews on Amazon.

Luck has been with me in 2011, and I've discovered authors who make me smile. It seems heartless and selfish to keep all that enjoyment to myself. Besides, I know how hard it is to get reviews. I've tried giving away free books in exchange for reviews. Here is the formula:

Dozens of Free Books + Requests = No Reviews.

If an author has made my day, why not give them something in return? And for all those Scrooges who say I already gave them my money, don't be so miserly. Spread the joy.

I hope to get my finished works up on Kindle.

I have several mysteries I've been working on for, hmmm, forever! I've rewritten, tweaked, torn apart, and tweaked again. In life, you can't expect new yummy things on your plate if you don't let go of what's already there. So I'm going to do it. I'm going to publish The Body Guy and Barking Mad About Murder. I'm even going to aim to get Civility Rules out by next Christmas.

I hope to get my Kindle books up on Create Space.

I'm tactile about books. I love to hold them in my greedy little paws. As intimidating as learning a new formatting process is for disorganized me, I'm going to do it.

I hope to interview more authors on my blog.

I love authors. I love their excitement, their insights, and their books. When I interview, I don't send a pat list of questions. I read the books and tailor to each author, so it's time consuming. But it's worth it. BTW, if you're an author who wants to be interviewed, send me a note with Author Interview in the subject line. I'm not a snob. In fact, I'm sometimes more excited about new authors I haven't heard about.

I hope to get up a new website.

My current website doesn't do it for me. None of the blame lies with the designer. It's all me. I'm the nightmare client who doesn't understand visuals. This year, I want a one-stop shop that reflects my books and includes my blog. And, hopefully, I won't drive my designer mad in the process.

The other thing about resolutions is that people overdo them. The list is an endless chain that can't possibly be conquered in one year. So I'm going to stop here. Literally.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Start the New Years Off Right with New Authors

Before Christmas, I offered a list of fabulous writers I've discovered in the past year or two. I couldn't put them all on one list, so here are some more suggestions for 2012! I guarantee you I'll have more lists throughout the year because, as I've discovered, there are some fantastic writers out there!

J. Michael Orenduff - The Pot Thief Mysteries are a pleasure to read. Protagonist Hubie Schuze is the kind of guy you can spend time with without checking your watch. The books are filled with clever dialogue, romance, mystery, and philosophizing. Alburquerque makes a beautiful setting, and the author is coming out with a cookbook of Southwest dishes like the ones Hubie whips up in the books. Each book revolves around a theory, and past stories have included scientific and culinary tidbits that leave you feeling smarter when you're finished with the book. I'll be first in line for the cookbook!

Mark Schweizer - The Liturgical Mysteries are a riot, plain and simple. Hayden Konig is both St. Germaine's police chief and the organist for St. Barnabas Episcopal Church. Sometimes his duties overlap. It's hard to figure out which is more hysterical--the goings on at the church or the murder itself. A huge fan of Raymond Chandler, Konig hopes to write his own detective novel, each book contains a novel within a novel--an outragiously poor piece of prose. I dare you to read it with a straight face.

L.C. Tyler  Cross the pond to meet up with third-rate mystery writer Ethelred Tressidor and his diamond-in-the-rough Elsie Thirkettle as they stumble through murder investigations. You'll have to hang onto your sides as you giggle your way through their antics. Mean CAN be funny, especially when it's coming from Elsie. I'm so excited to find that there's a new book out, Herring on the Nile. I can't wait!

Diana Dempsey - Who wouldn't like a mystery called Ms. America and the Offing in Oahu? I did! Not only did I enjoy the laughs, but I felt like putting on a little makeup and a nice outfit by the time I finished. A great vacation read because the environment and vicarious pampering will relax you!

I'll stop there, except to give you a couple of quick links to other authors I've enjoyed.

G.M. Malliet  Ms. Malliet writes the St. Just mysteries. I've tried her new series, but I like St. Just best. Lots of humor, and the investigation reminds me of a good, old-fashioned British cozy.

Linda O. Johnston  Take your pick. She has several series including her new Pet Rescue books. Others are the Pet Sitter Mysteries and paranormal romances. A book for any mood!

Dorothy Howell - Haley Randolph is a protagonist that you love to hate. Sometimes you wonder why she's not the victim.

Gwen Freeman - Fifi Cutter will have you laughing over her snarky observations, mostly because you'll agree with her!

I hope you enjoy the authors I've listed. I love them all! Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

We Have a Winner!

The lucky winner of a free copy of Family Matters is Jackie Houchin! May she receive hours of enjoyment, laughter, and a general feeling of frivolity from the ebook! Congratulations, Jackie!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How Editing is like Tithing in Reverse

Tithing. It comes from the Jewish Scriptures (the Old Testament to us Catholics). It's when we give God the "first fruits". It's saying, "Hey, God. Since everything comes from you, I give you back the first and best part of everything, just so You know that I know." (And then we wink.) That's why we tithe off the gross, not the net. Otherwise, the government would get the first and best. Not going to happen.

When you edit, you're tithing ten percent, only it's not the best ten percent, and it's not going to God (or to the all-powerful reader). This ten percent goes right into the wastebasket. But it's still a gift. By culling it out of the story, your reader winds up with only the best. The last fruits, but in this case that's a good thing.

There are those who will tell you to edit out twenty, thirty, or even forty percent of your first draft, but I say, No, No. Let us not be extreme. Or, if we're going to be extreme, do it in steps. Edit ten percent. Clean it up. Edit another ten percent if necessary. Clean it up. And so on.

Cutting like a madwoman on a scissors rampage can kill the voice of your story. Here is my finely edited mystery:

He killed. She died. They solved. The End. Grunt.

Some advise taking out all of the adverbs. I'm not going to sink into a depression  if I read "Tell her to go to hell," he said, jokingly. Maybe it's because I read a lot of old books. If Agatha Christie can get away with it, it's a rule that can be broken.

I'm in love with words, so my first draft has a lot of blather. It's highly creative, impressive blather, but it's still blather. My first draft of Family Matters was more of a social satire/mystery. There was a subplot about an illegal immigrant who witnessed the murder...and the murderer knew it. While this poor, frightened guy was trying to lay low and avoid his own demise, demonstrators on both side of the issue were trying to make him their poster boy. Funny, perhaps brilliant, (well, I thought it might be) but it brought in all sorts of characters who had nothing to do with the murder. But they sure made the book fun.

Snip, snip.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Drawing on Friday, December 16th

Dates have become kind of blurry since Foster was injured. I realized after my post that it was already Thursday, so the drawing for the free copy of Family Matters will take place on Friday, December 16th!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Christmas Gift to You

I've been off the net for a while. My husband had an accident at work in October, and it's been a whirlwind of hospitals, rehab, and caretaker activity. He's doing nicely.

To celebrate, I want to do something nice for readers this Christmas. Okay. Make that two nice things.

First, I want to give you a list of great new books available on Kindle. These are authors you will love reading; books that will give you the warm, fuzzy feeling you should have during the holidays; books guaranteed to lower your stress level. Books you can gift to your mother-in-law without worries! (If she has a Kindle. If not, you can always give her one for Christmas along with the book and become her favorite In-Law!) They include a variety of mystery genres, so you should be able to find someone who will appeal to your tastes. The second gift is a free copy of my ebook, Family Matters. Leave a comment, and I'll have a drawing on Friday. Make sure I have a way to contact you.

These are authors you might not have heard of yet, but should. Authors I've discovered over the past year or two who delight me!

Marilyn Meredith. Marilyn writes two mystery series, one under the name of F.M. Meredith. Her latest is Bears with Us and features Deputy Tempe Crabtree, a woman of Indian heritage married to a minister. Marilyn's books are straight-forward mysteries that are part police procedural, probably because she knows so many law enforcement officials.

M.M. Gornell . Madeline's latest standalone mystery is Reticence of Ravens. This lady has the ability to put you down in the middle of a story and make you feel as if you've entered another world. You really feel as if the characters have been living a full life and you've stepped into the room as a spectator. Like P.D. James, Madeline finds a location and wonders what would happen if a murder occurred here? Reticence features Route 66, where Hubert Champion must face his past in order to clear an unbalanced but harmless girl of the murder of her father.

Karen Cantwell . Funny. Funny, funny, funny. Karen writes the Barbara Marr mysteries. Barbara is a suburban housewife and mother who's living a bit like Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies. Karen has a holiday short out, It's a Dunder-Bull Wife, so you can try her out, fall in love, and start her series at the beginning with Take the Monkeys and Run.

Karen Ranney .  If you're looking for romance, Karen's your author. Her latest release is A Scottish Love. Her stories feature Scotland, and she blogs at Warm Fuzzies. I love that Karen's books often deal with characters who are difficult to love who have huge obstacles to overcome.

Pam Ripling . Did you say you like romantic suspense? And lighthouses? Great! You can have both with Pam's books, which she writes under Anne Carter. Her latest, Cape Seduction, travels back and forth between Hollywood's heyday and a modern investigation into the decades-old disappearance of a starlet and a twist ending that will shock you.

Kwei Quartey . Inspecter Darko Dawson is a new favorite of mine. These mysteries take place in Ghana, and Dr. Quartey takes us from the struggling modernization of that country to the traditional villages where superstition rules. Children of the Street will hook you from the start. These are characters you will care about.

Jeri Westerson . A dishonored knight, a young thief, and Merry Ol' England. What's not to love? Westerson's Medevial Noir gives us enough background to create an atmosphere, but not too much. You won't feel you're reading a history book. The mysteries weave in and out of historical events and figures, and the characters are easy to root for. Troubled Bones is the latest release.

K.J. Larsen . While waiting for the next Cat DeLuca mystery--Sticks & Stones--why not check out the first--Liar, Liar? This wonderful cast of characters including Cat, the owner of the Pants on Fire Detective Agency, will have you laughing out loud. Written by three gifted sisters, this series in on my list of favorites!

I better stop there.

As for Family Matters, the novel is my first Wilder Women mystery, featuring Roxanne Wilder and her mother, Deanna, and sister, Vanessa. Deanna is addicted to classes at WACKED (Wilton Adult Center for Knowledge & Education), and her latest is Criminal Psychology & You. When the local accountant turns up murdered at the Historic Christmas Walk, Deanna decides to put her textbook to work. Roxanne's job includes keeping her mother from becoming the next victim, an especially difficult task as Roxanne is carting her sister around in a gigantic wheelchair, the temporary result of an unfortunate accident.

Just leave a comment, and on Friday I'll have a drawing for a free copy--either Kindle or Smashwords, depending on your ereader.

Make sure to check out the authors listed above. They are all wonderful storytellers and their books are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of hot chocolate and some Christmas cookies!