Saturday, October 27, 2012

The two faces of Kaye


by Kaye George

public domain from wiki commons
My friend and fellow blogger here, Marilyn Levinson, suggested this topic, for which I'm grateful! The gist of it is that I write a lot of different things, but the biggest contrast is between my cozy and my noir. I do hit spots in between, but I think many writers stick to one type of writing.

I started out to write traditional mysteries. Really, I did. The one that fits that category the best, I think, will be put out by Barking Rain Press next spring. It features a classical composer sleuth. (That hook isn't considered viable by the big cozy people, but I think it's a good hook, and so does BRP. We'll see, won't we?) An actual cozy will be out for Berkley Prime Crime in either 2013 or 2014, God willin' and the crick don't rise. That one will have recipes and a cute cat.

Here's what I think happened. On the way to getting published in novel form, I turned back to scribbling out short stories, my first love. I got one published that was twisty, but not too dark. However, the more short stories I wrote, the darker they got. Some slipped over into noirishness. In fact, when I decided to gather my short stories together in one volume, I was at a loss as to what to call it, how to market it. There's everything in there from light and fluffy to deep and dark. When I was casting about for something to tie the stories together, for days, I spied the baby quilt a friend had made for my first baby. I was in the process of mailing it to my daughter for her baby and took a few pictures to remember it by. A light bulb went off. My collection was a patchwork! (Hence the title, A PATCHWORK OF STORIES.) One of those photos became the cover, too.

Why did my short stories get so dark? Maybe it was frustration at writing novels for years and not getting them published. Or maybe that's a part of me that I only want to explore in small doses. The dark side is there in all of us, of course, even if some of us can't access it very well. I think it's healthy to acknowledge it, though, and feel lucky that, as a writer, I have a good, harmless way of doing that.

I don't think I want to dwell there too long, though, so I'll stick to humor and traditional in my full-length mysteries.

Friday, October 26, 2012

An Interview with Kaye George



by Jean Henry Mead

Kaye George is a short story writer and novelist who has been nominated twice for Agatha awards. She's the author of three mystery series: the Imogene Duckworthy humorous Texas series, the Cressa Carraway musical mystery series, and the Fat Cat cozy series with Berkley Prime Crime. Her last two novels will debut in 2013. Kaye's short stories can be found in her collection, A Patchwork of Stories, as well as in Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology, All Things Dark and Dastardly, Grimm Tales and in various online and print magazines. She reviews for Suspense Magazine, writes for several newsletters and blogs, and gives workshops on short story writing and promotion. Kaye is agented by Kim Lionetti at BookEnds Literary and lives in Texas, near Waco.

Kaye, how do you manage to write three mystery series?

With a great deal of difficulty right now! I fell into all three at once, but parts of them have been written over the last four years or so.

Please describe each one.

The Imogene Duckworthy series, of which I have three out, is a humorous mystery series set in west Texas. Immy lives with her retired librarian mother, Hortense, and her small daughter, Nancy Drew (nicknamed Drew), in a single-wide in Saltlick where as the series starts, she's waiting tables for Uncle Huey. She wants, more than anything, to be a PI, but that's the last thing her mother wants for her, since Louis Duckworthy, Immy's father, was shot and killed as a police detective a few years ago. I'm self-publishing these after the first was published by a small press with which I've parted company. (These three books are complete and published.)
The Cressa Carraway traditional amateur sleuth series will follow classical musician and composer as she pursues her dream to become a conductor, encountering bodies along the way. The series, so far, takes place in the Midwest, but may branch out to just about anywhere. The first of these will be published next spring by Barking Rain Press. (The first in this series is being edited.)

My agent, Kim Lionetti at BookEnds Literary, got me the contract for a three-book cozy series with Berkley Prime Crime, called the Fat Cat mysteries. (BTW, I snagged the agent by submitting my novel, CHOKE, the first Imogene Duckworthy book to her agency, but that's not the usual method.) Chase Oliver, co-owner of a dessert bar shop in the Dinkeytown area of Minneapolis, has a cat named Quincy who is pudgy. He dislikes his diet cat food and, being a clever feline, escapes to lead Chase to dead bodies and clues. The first of these, as yet untitled, will be out next fall, tentatively. The publication dates are not yet definitely set, nor is the name I'll write them under, since these will require an author name specific to the series. (The first in this series is being written.)

I'll add that I may have another coming out, a Neanderthal mystery. It's being considered by a publisher now and I should know soon. (This book is finished, unless some editing is desired by the publisher.)

As a Suspense Magazine reviewer, what turns you off about current books in general?

About the only mysteries that I can say turn me off are a few that have run on too long. I'm sure the authors are only producing books in old, tired series at the behest of publishers, but some of them need to be retired.

And what makes you want to review another book by the same author?

If I get a good feeling, some sort of satisfaction, I'll want to read more by an author. Usually this is because I've connected with the characters and want to spend more time with them. Sometimes, as happened with Hillerman's books, it's also because I love the setting and want to be there.

How important are organizations such as Sisters in Crime to both fledgling and journeymen authors? And how long have you been a member of SinC?

For much of the last 10 years, the length of time I've been writing full-time, I haven't had access to other mystery writers in person, so the online groups, Sisters in Crime and Guppies, have been my lifelines. It's so important for humans to connect with each other, and also with others who think the same. Only other writers completely understand each other, I think. Online contact is the next best thing to getting together with a group of other mystery writers for a good chat.

What’s the most important way for a mystery writer to promote a novel? And the worst?

I sure wish I knew that! I'd be selling tons of books if I knew better how to do that. I just try things that I see others doing, things I see suggested, and do as much of it as I can. I have no idea what matters and what doesn't, but, on the chance that one of the things I do is the deciding factor--facebook, twitter, blogging, conferences, book club and library talks--I'm compelled to continue all the promotion I can fit in.

Which do you enjoy writing most? Short stories or novels?

Definitely short stories. Novels are work for me and short stories are play. I relax between heavy novel-writing sessions with shorts. I think writers tend toward one or the other. What I like about a short story, being a simple-minded person, is that I can hold the whole story line in my head while I'm setting it down. With a novel, I have to keep track of things. Like where was this character yesterday, and what kind of car does that character drive, and is the sleuth wearing the same thing every day?

Who influenced your own work?

O. Henry and Mark Twain, for stories. Dame Agatha, Nero Wolfe, and Dick Francis were early influences for mysteries. I discovered Dorothy Hughes fairly recently and love her noir writing.

Advice for novice authors?

Read a whole heck of a lot, and write all you can. It doesn't hurt to get advice, take classes, and get critiques. But be careful of rewriting to suit someone else. You need to write your own voice, and it won't be like any one else's.

Your social media links.

Since you asked (told you I'm trying to do a lot):

Facebook author page: https://www.fa

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What’s a Blog Hop? Social Marketing 101 Series

No Bunny Hop - Blog hop is a different animal.

(First a teaser – Laura Bradford, writing as Elizabeth LynnCasey, will be my guest on November 13th.  Her latest Southern Sewing Circle Mystery, Let it Sew, a holiday story, will release November 6th.)

Social Media is an uphill learning curve.  Marketing isn't for sissies.  Or a one-time check off your list action. You have to get your name out into the universe. Richard Bach said (Paraphrasing here…) writers are just amateurs that didn't give up.  So I keep going.  Just when I get a handle on how to schedule and complete a blog tour, I’m confronted with this new animal.  The Blog Hop.

Mostly a blog hop is a group of authors who band together to promote a theme across a variety of websites.  I've signed up for hops with themes like Autumn, or Black Friday, or even the one I've just finished as this blog runs, The Alpha Male Blog Hop.

I wonder if this is more a romance writer’s tool.  I haven’t seen a Black Friday Noir Hop, or a Kill Your Favorite Mystery Character, or Cozy Cookie Exchange Blog Hop, although these would be kind of fun. Maybe I’m just not on the right loops.

Setting up a blog hop is like herding cats as my Crimson Romance author group found out earlier this month.  First, you can’t do anything that will please everyone, so make a decision and go with it.  We tried making group decisions on the yahoo loop with little success.  Finally, we appointed a group of three authors to spearhead it, gave them our proxy to make decisions, and they came back with a great button, dates, process and a handy ‘how to’ sheet. 

Each author sets up a blog hop button (or widget – I won’t get too techy here because I’m already in technical deep water for me…) Then on the first day of the hop, participating post a blog that relates somehow to the theme and hopefully to their books.  This is a marketing tool. The blog host gives away a small gift (I like to do $5 Amazon cards because it’s easy.) And usually there’s a large giveaway from the hop organizers.  Again, the power in this is numbers.  At a $5 donation from each author, the prize can be pretty amazing, without a huge investment from an individual author. 

Blog readers go from one blog link to the next, reading and commenting, to increase their chances at winning a prize.  The more comments, the higher your chance to win.

But what’s in it for the authors who are participating in these blog hops?  Hopefully promotion and sales. You can check out my web page for examples of blog hop buttons here.

Bottom line, I’m out $10 and had to post and monitor my blog for three days.  Hopefully, I’ll see sales from the effort.  As I write this today, it’s early.  But I’m getting people to my blog which for me is great.  I’m new and I don’t have a lot of traffic, unless I beg.

What about you?  Have you participated in a blog hop either as an author or a reader? 

(Off Topic - A Member of the Council, a paranormal romantic novella, and my 2nd release ever - comes out November 5th. - I thought I'd share my cover, just in case you haven't seen it.) 

Lynn

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mystery Author Guest, Carlene Rae Dater, Offers Promotion Tips


About Carlene Rae Dater

Carlene began her writing career as a journalist writing hard news, feature articles and humorous essays. She sold short stories to magazines in the horror, confession, religious and humor markets. To date she has published nine novels, three novellas and a non-fiction book about her adventures as a volunteer at the San Diego Sheriff’s department. 

She has two more books coming out in 2013, both mysteries and one is the beginning of a series. She teaches creative writing classes at Southwestern Oregon Community College where she currently lives in Coos Bay, Oregon with her husband, two huge Labrador Retrievers and Ebony, a small rescue dog they just added to their pack.                          

And Now, Carlene Offers Tips on Book Promotion:

How I promote my books - 

Like so many authors before me, I thought all I had to do was write and publish a book, then sit back and wait for the money to roll in while I wrote my next masterpiece. As we all know, the reality is quite different. To get name recognition, I have a website, several blogs, I blog on other blogs like this one, I Tweet, I write on Facebook and write free articles for E-zines. Still, it isn’t enough. So here are a few things I do to get name recognition for my books.

First of all, I carry business cards with me – everywhere. Business cards are the cheapest form of advertising you can buy. I’ve had several conversations while walking my dogs in the park or at the beach. Somehow, the fact that I’m a published author always comes up. Yes, I’m a pushy broad, but no one is going to toot my horn for me. I whip out a card and press it into their palm. Of course I have memorized an elevator pitch for each one of my nine published novels because the first question I always get it, “what do you write?” I start reeling off the genres, mysteries, humorous mysteries, romance, humorous romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romantic suspense until their eyes start to glaze over. The minute the person says, “Oh, I love mysteries.” I rattle off titles and taglines. Does it help? I think so. Right now all I have on my business cards is my name, address, phone number, websites and blog. I’d really like to come up some something humorous because, humor sells.

When my husband and I started a business and were about to get business cards, he said that he would be president (of course) and did I want to be vice president? Secretary? I thought for a while and then told him that, no I wanted to be Supreme Commander. I was the Supreme Commander for 22 years and, while people would forget the name of the company and my name, they never forgot the Supreme Commander.

Another thing I’ve done that gets my name out is to do author talks at libraries. We moved to a small town in Oregon three years ago, and the first thing I did was drive around to all the small town libraries and sell them my books. Yup, name recognition. Librarians love to have books by local authors in their stacks and of course I put “Local Author” stickers on the covers. I also informed the librarians that I would be happy to give a free author talk any night they wanted me. Once we set up a night and time, I politely asked if I could sell my books from the back of the room and they all said yes. So far, I’ve done talks at two libraries and have another scheduled for early 2013 when I have two more novels coming out, and have sold quite a few books. As an added benefit, I get students for the classes I teach through continuing education at the local community college.

How did I get that job? I’m not a trained teacher and don’t have a teaching certificate but my husband (he’s the smart one – I’m the pretty one) saw an ad in the local paper that the college was looking for people with life experience to teach classes. Because I’ve been writing and publishing for over 30 years, they were happy to have me teach classes and I found out I loved teaching and am still teaching writing classes two years later.

Those are a few of the things I do to try and sell more books. If you have any other good ideas, please leave a comment and share them. I’m always looking for new ways to get my name out!

If you enjoy reading humor, you’ll love my mystery, Roman Circus. Here’s an excerpt:
Monday I dashed out of my apartment wrapped in a towel after my shower to get the newspaper. My cat, named Cat, closed the door, locking me out. I was late for work.
Tuesday my office computer crashed. Unfortunately, I had neglected to back up my work for a while - I think it was a year. My boss was not happy.
Wednesday the Number Ten bus flattened Cat. After corpse retrieval and burial arrangements, I arrived late for work. 
Thursday, my car died. I had to take the Number Ten with all its horrid memories. I was late for work.
Friday, I got fired.
Saturday, Eric, my boyfriend of two years, broke up with me after he decided he was still in love with his college sweetheart, Bruce.
Sunday I picked up the classified section of the newspaper and saw this ad:
               
               “Life treating you badly? Ready for a change?
                 Run away with us. Come join the circus.”
            So I did.

Chapter 1
  Monday morning my fingers were slick on the phone and the breakfast coffee gurgled in my stomach. I had to dial three times before the call went through. I took a deep calming breath and listened to it ring. I was either embarking on the adventure of a lifetime, or I’d wind up as a bag lady – maybe both.
“Hello.” The voice was gravely, deep and very masculine. My creative mind conjured up the image of a tall, dark-haired man with piercing blue eyes, dressed in a red ring master’s coat, carrying a whip. A butterfly of excitement fluttered in my chest. 
“Yes, my name is...
            “Hold on, hold on, the friggin’ phone’s ringing off the hook.”
The line went dead and calliope music filled my ear. Before I could identify the melody, he was back.
            “Yeah, okay, what?”
            “Uh, the ad in Sunday’s paper, I’m applying for the...”
“You’re applying for the job, yeah, yeah. How much do you weigh?”
            “Ah...” the words stuck in my throat. How on earth did he know I was on a diet?
            “Come on, come on don’t be shy, how much? I gotta tell you, if you’re one of them skinny women under three-hundred and fifty pounds, we can’t use you.”
            “Three...,” sweat dotted my forehead and I automatically reached out to stroke Cat until I remembered. I wiped my hand on the nubby fabric of the couch instead. “The ad I read didn’t say anything about being, f..., ah, heavy.”
            I heard the rustling of paper and the man let loose with a string of very creative curse words, some of which I’d never heard before.
            “Sorry, little lady. I forgot we got two ads running; one for an advance publicity person and one for a fat lady.”
Publicity? My mind took a short vacation while he babbled on. Publicity for a circus, how hard could that be? I could give up my apartment, travel to all kinds of exotic locales, buy a new car, and meet the man of my dreams. The rusty voice intruded on my fantasy.
“Friggin’ phone’s been ringing off the hook, but you’re the first one for the advance job. Didn’t realize there were so many porkers in the world. Can you come in for a meeting today? We borrowed an office to do the interviewing, one on the first floor with wide doorways, if you get my drift.” His rusty laugh sounded like pebbles in a tin can. “I can’t friggin’ think straight here.” More rustling of paper and he rattled off an address in downtown San Diego. “Can you be here at one o’clock?”
“Yes, of course.” I couldn’t find anything to write on so I scribbled the address in the coffee table dust.
            “What’s your handle?”
“Huh?”
            “Sorry, professional habit. Name, what’s your name?”
            “Harmony Jane Jones.”
              He was quiet for so long, I thought he’d hung up.
“Are you kidding me?”
“No, unfortunately I’m not.” I silently cursed my parents for my weird name, again.
“Okay, kiddo. I’ll see you at one.”
“Wait! What’s your name? How will I know you?” But the line was already dead. Well, he sounded very tall, and with that deep masculine voice, probably handsome. I was nervous, but looking forward to meeting the man. ……

Find Roman Circus at at: http://www.nobleromance.com and http://www.amazon.com
Find Carlene at: www.carlenedater.com
Twitter: @CarleneRaeDater

Please welcome Darlene Rae Dater to Make Mine Mystery by leaving a comment.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Genesis of a Character

A couple of my colleagues here have been talking about characters. They are the building blocks of a story. Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes may make for excitement, but it's how people react to such phenomena that we enjoy reading about. I know some authors who tear pictures of people out of magazines and post them near the computer to model for their characters. Others base characteristics of their creations on people they know.

For the most part, I create my characters from scratch, giving them traits and history that blends in with their role in the story. I literally build them as I go, adding to the characters as the story develops (I don't outline or plot the book in advance). When I began writing what became my first published mystery, Secret of the Scroll, book one of five in the Greg McKenzie series, the tale I had in mind required a retiree with investigative experience. Since I had an Air Force background, I decided to make him a former Office of Special Investigations agent. And since I had gotten involved in the new Scottish Society of Middle Tennessee, I gave him a Scottish name and heritage.

As I said, that has been the case with most of the characters who people my books. However, there has been one striking departure. It involved the first novel I wrote when I turned to fiction in earnest back in 1989. That time, also, I needed a man with investigative experience. But in this case he would need a background that would allow him to have worked in the past with a CIA officer. As I thought about it, I had the perfect fit in a former FBI agent I had first met during my days as editor of Nashville Magazine.

I discussed the man whose background formed the basis for my character Burke Hill on this blog last April in The Story Behind the Story. I didn't use his physical characteristics for Hill, and I did a bit of tweaking with his backstory, shifting the timeline and fictionalizing his activities following the dismissal by J. Edgar Hoover. A tale about Burke working with his old CIA buddy in Mexico isn't part of the story related by my ex-FBI friend, but he did tell me about a wild concoction produced by a lab at Dugway Proving Grounds.

Hill is the central figure in my trilogy of Post Cold War political thrillers, which had different literary agents when written in the early nineties and wound up in the manuscript pile on my office floor. The first, Beware the Jabberwock, was finally published this year and is available on Amazon in ebook and paperback. The second, The Poksu Conspiracy, will be in the Kindle Store by the end of this month.

Burke Hill's character is further fictionalized in the second book with the revelation of a son by his first marriage. But the basic story of his FBI career, starting with his job of delivering documents to Hoover's home, follows the account the agent told me in interviews.

The other characters in both books are figments of my imagination. Incidentally, I haven't mentioned the former agent's name, but if you're curious, take a look at the dedication in the print version.

Visit me at Mystery Mania

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

To Self or Not To Self: That is Indeed a Question


I am definitely on the side of ambivalence.
I sold my first novel in last flickering blaze of the good old days. Publishing was a gentleman’s game. The corporation-eat-corporation feeding frenzy of the 1980s was still a few years in the future. All books were paper, of course, though there was a distinct hierarchical divide between paperback and hardback. Publicity was, for the most part, the publisher’s responsibility and editing was both expected and rigorous.
No, it wasn’t a perfect world. Beginning authors such as I – and, I expect, every author who wasn’t a certified bestseller – had little to no input into covers or design. Asking for sales numbers or distribution was unheard of. Our clout with editors was zilch. Publishers had certain niches with a definite slant to their publications, a rigid Procrustian formula.
On the other hand, most of the big publishers – and there were a lot of them in those days – maintained a slush pile to which anyone could submit. Agents were not necessary to get a book in the door; they had not yet attained the sanctified status of gatekeeper they enjoy now. Publishers looked for talent themselves.
There were, though, mavericks even then. Books that were repeatedly rejected by the big publishers had no place to go once the last submission was made. A thriving business grew up supporting vanity presses. A vanity press is one that will print just about anything if their exorbitant rates are paid. Sometimes a meager editing is included – most times not. This kind of press makes no pretense of quality – its purpose is to pander to the vanity of the writer. Some are still in business, and still – in some applications – have a purpose. If someone who is not a writer wants a nicely bound book of family history, or special recipes, or something related to their business, vanity press was and is the way to go.
Vanity press used to be considered the kiss of death for fiction. The main difference between vanity press and publishing is distribution. A publisher would get your book into bookstores across the country. A vanity press would dump however many thousand books you ordered in your garage and you would have to do whatever you wanted to do with them. And let’s face it, most vanity press fiction was so bad that legitimate retailers wanted nothing to do with it.
The internet changed all that. Distribution is now world-wide with just the click of a mouse. Self-publishing is gaining respectability – and money – in leaps and bounds. Instead of having to accept whatever the publisher says is a good cover, the self-publishing author has control. The self-publishing author has the final say over whatever editor she hires. The self-publishing author gets between 35% and 70% royalty on average, instead of the old 6-8-10% publishers used to offer. Most publishers never did do much publicity except for runaway bestselling authors. Now most do none at all. The self-publishing author is responsible for everything with no guarantee of financial return.
Of course there is still bad, unsellable fiction being sold out there on the net. There was bad fiction sold by publishers, too, though not, I believe, so much nor so truly terrible. Most self-published fiction, though, is at least pretty good. A surprising amount is spectacular, both from known and unknown authors.
So do I believe in self-publishing? Yes… and no.
In the days of the gatekeepers there was a more reliable product, but in the days of the gatekeepers there was less variety and choice. As an author, I would prefer just to write – not to have to worry about choosing editors and cover artists and (my particular bĂȘte noir) doing endless publicity. However, these days even publishing with the big six too often the majority of publicity falls squarely on the author’s shoulders, which is wrong. Writers should write. Publishers should publish and sell and distribute, which includes doing the publicity. If publishers are going to take the majority of the money from a book, they should do the majority of the work.
That said, I enjoy the control of choosing covers and writing my own backcopy. I also enjoy the much higher royalty rate. I do not like paying for editing and covers out of my pocket before any revenue at all is coming in. That, however, is the cost of freedom. Freedom has obligations and risks, and if I want to be my own boss and reap fair reward for my labors, that’s just part of it.
I self-publish. I also publish with traditional/legacy (the nomenclature is changing so quickly I can hardly keep up with it!) publishers. Say what you will, there is still a cachet to publishing with one of the big houses that self-publishing, however much more profitable, cannot give you.
At least for now. Everything changes.

Commercial : my new cozy mystery, BEADED TO DEATH, came out on October first from Carina Press. (Carina : http://bit.ly/SjFrXM , Amazon : http://amzn.to/O2j3pJ ) Bead artist Lilias Ruiz returns home from a craft fair to find the body of a man she has never seen before in her living room. From there her life spins out of control as she becomes involved with drug smuggling, an FBI agent who may or may not be rogue and a 7’3” nephew on the run from an unwanted basketball scholarship. It’s a fun read.

          Janis Patterson is a seventh-generation Texan and a third-generation wordsmith who writes mysteries as Janis Patterson, romances and other things as Janis Susan May, children’s books as Janis Susan Patterson and scholarly works as J.S.M. Patterson.
          Formerly an actress and singer, a talent agent and Supervisor of Accessioning for a bio-genetic DNA testing lab, Janis has also been editor-in-chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups as well as many other things, including an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist.
          Janis married for the first time when most of her contemporaries were becoming grandmothers. Her husband, also an Egyptophile, even proposed in a moonlit garden near the Pyramids of Giza. Janis and her husband live in Texas with an assortment of rescued furbabies.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Off on Anothr Writing Adventure...

Not having enough to do, she said with tongue firmly planted in cheek, I've decided to put an older, out of print book of mine on Kindle.

Previously, I swore I'd never do it because I hate learning how to do new things to do with formatting etc., because I usually foul things up and have to do it all over, and over, and over. But I kept hearing what great results people were having, how many books they were selling etc.

I have two books that have been sitting dormant with a publisher and at first I thought I'd ask for the rights back, but then I remembered I had another novel with a publisher who has gone out of business (For very good reasons) and I could start with that one.

It took a while to find the book on my computer--it was in a Word Perfect program and I have three versions. When I did locate it, I copied it to Word. When I started looking it over, I realized it needed some major editing. First, because there were some errors that came to surface by just doing the spell and grammar check. Second, once I got into it, I saw it needed some updating with things like computers and phones that aren't attached to a cord, and of course cell-phones. I've only gotten to about Chapter 8 as I write this, so no telling what else I'll run into.

What's interesting about this book, is it began as a Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery--long before I knew it would be a series. And as I kept writing about Tempe in subsequent books she changed. Another thing about this particular story is rather than being a mystery it's more of what I call Christian horror. Horror because it is really scary--with definite Christian elements. It could also be called Supernatural Horror--because it's  full of the supernatural--the scariest kind.

So way back when, I knew it didn't fit with what Tempe had become (it took me several books before I found the first publisher for this series) and so I made some drastic changes beginning with the location of the book. It's still in the foothills of the Sierra, just farther north, above Modesto in an imaginary town. The names and descriptions of the characters changed--though not the two major characters occupations. There are still a lot of similarities which Tempe fans will recognize, but the main theme of the book is much different and I think will appeal to a different audience.

I really need to be writing my next Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel which I've started--but I'm going to finish this project first. I have someone who will format it for me and a cover artist lined up, so I'm committed.

So, if I don't turn up in my usual haunts, you'll know I'm submerged in fixing this scary book for Kindle.

Marilyn

Monday, October 15, 2012

DANGEROUS RELATIONS Is Out!




I’m delighted to announce that my first romantic suspense, DANGEROUS RELATIONS, is now out with Uncial Press. This was a fun book to write because it’s a murder mystery that includes a passionate love affair and explores a slew of relationships.

Manhattan lawyer, Ardin Wesley, has returned to her New Jersey hometown to move her mother into an assisted living facility when her promiscuous cousin, Suziette is murdered, ensnaring Ardin in a web of suspense, family secrets, and romance.

Thornedale is the last place Ardin wants to be. Her childhood was not a happy one, and she is still haunted by her brief but abusive marriage to Corey MacAllister that has her convinced marriage and family life have no place in her future. Then Brett Waterstone, Suziette’s widower, asks Ardin to help him with the legal procedures involving his adopting Suziette’s 4-year-old daughter. They were stalled by Suziette’s refusal to identify the child’s biological father. Ardin finds herself the little girl’s caretaker. As she and Brett start a romantic relationship, she secretly makes plans to adopt the child herself and raise her in Manhattan.

While trying to find her cousin’s killer, Ardin discovers the identity of some of Suziette’s lovers. The murderer nearly succeeds in killing her in a blazing fire. (Hence the cover.) To Ardin’s great humiliation, she hears from Corey’s own lips why he married her. Later on, she gathers up her courage and confronts him. Her relationship with her mother also undergoes a radical change. The book is chock full of secrets and curves.


Bec of The Romance Studio gave DANGEROUS RELATIONSHIPS Five Hearts. She says:
“Firstly, I'd have to say that this was an incredible book that had many interesting parts to it that bought this story all together and made the plot amazing. There was suspense, adventure and romance at various times that kept me on the edge on my seat and had me turning pages eagerly until I was at the end.”

Check out DANGEROUS RELATIONS for yourself at Amazon: http://amzn.to/Qa1Fvy   Barnes & Noble, KOBO, and All Romance eBooks.




Saturday, October 13, 2012

Self publishing paperbacks

by Kaye George

I spent my last blog here talking about self-publishing, but really only talked about e-books. To me, they're simple compared to paperbacks. I've done a few, but felt like I was starting over from scratch every time. Therefore, when I did the next in my Imogene Duckworthy series this month, I took careful notes. Then, since I wanted the somewhere I could find them for next time, I added them to my booklet, THE ROAD TO SELF-PUBLISHING.

Now that I'm using a cover designer, it's not hard to do the cover at all. I just email Karen Phillips, give her the back cover copy, and ask her to do it. Then she tells me she needs the page count, which I've forgotten, and I go format the dang thing so I'll know the page count. The page count is needed so she'll know how thick the book is, how big to make the spine and how big to make the print it.

I use Createspace. That's the only company I have experience with, so it's the only I can speak about. The most important thing to remember is time! It takes way longer than you ever think it will. You should start this process at least a month before you want the book to be available--two months if you can manage that.

When I did the cover myself, for my short story collection, I realized too late that I should have done the paperback cover first. If I had done that, it would be simple to take an e-book cover from that. Creating the paperback cover from the e-book cover proved beyond me and I had to start over. The titles for the two versions don't match on that book, but the background photo is the same. When you do covers using Createspace templates, there is one that allows you to load an already created file, but I always forget which one it is.

Moving on from the cover (at which I was no help, I realize), the formatting is done using their internal templates. I use the "guided" process, but if you're a whiz, you may be able to bypass that.

The page size default is 6x9, but I use 5x8 since that seems a little large to me. You may have to play around with the margin settings, but here's what I've used: top and bottom .25, left and right .5 and a gutter of .75. My gutter size may be on the large side, but if it's too small, you won't pass through the processing step and will be outside the margins they allow.

When you've loaded your whole product, it will take a couple days for approval. This is just the beginning.

You should now order proof copies. I order the max, 5, and send those to reviewers. In a little over a week, you'll receive the proof copies. Now you can see if you've made major errors. If you have, you must correct your files and load them up again, taking 2 days for approval and over a week for proof copies again. I urge you NOT to skip these steps.

When you like what you've received in the mail, you can order actual copies to sell. This, of course, will take another week or so.

All the mailings can be expedited, but it costs quite a bit, so start early and give yourself plenty of time.

If you'd like to see the detailed instructions, they're in the 99 cent booklet mentioned above. Links to it are at the bottom left of my homepage, http://kayegeorge.com/

Good luck!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mixed Messages


Cincinnati, Ohio, resident, Patricia Gligor enjoys traveling and photographing old houses, especially lighthouses. Her debut novel, Mixed Messages, was released in April of this year, the first in her Malone Mystery series. Her second, Unfinished Business, is with her publisher.

Pat, tell us about Mixed Messages.

There’s a serial killer on the loose on the west side of Cincinnati. It’s the week of Halloween and Ann Kern struggles with several issues. Her primary concern is her marriage which, like her neighborhood, is in jeopardy. It seems to Ann that everyone she knows or comes into contact with is sending her mixed messages.

Ann dismisses a psychic’s warning that she is in danger. But, when she receives a series of ominous biblical quotes, she grows nervous and suspicious of everyone, including her own husband. As the bizarre and frightening events unfold, Ann discovers a handmade tombstone marked with her name, pushing her close to the edge. Will she be the Westwood Strangler’s next victim?

What prompted you to begin writing?

Jean, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write. Poems as a child and teenager, short stories for years and my first novel attempts in the early 90s but neither of the two books I attempted to write held my interest long enough for me to finish them. I first got the idea for my mystery novel, Mixed Messages, in 1995 and, this time, the characters and the plot wouldn’t let me go.

Why mystery novels?

I love a mystery! When I was a young girl, I read Judy Bolton and Nancy Drew mysteries constantly. We lived in a big, old house with a woods behind it and that fed my imagination. Also, there were several TV shows back then like “Checkmate” and “The Thin Man,” which encouraged my interest in the genre. So, it was natural for me to continue to read mysteries and, eventually, to write them.

Tell us about your protagonist? Do you share any character or physical traits with her? If so, what?

The only physical characteristic I share with my protagonist, Ann, is our dark brown hair. As to character traits, we both have a strong faith in God and are basically optimistic people. I really don’t see any other similarities. I think the short stories I wrote for years satisfied my urge to write anything autobiographical.

What’s the easiest and most difficult part of writing for you?

I’ll answer this question in reverse order. The most difficult part for me is creating beginnings that grab the reader. I have a tendency to want to tell my stories the way the children’s books were written when I was a child. I like “Once upon a time. . .” However, readers don’t. They want to be drawn into the story, to be “hooked” immediately. Figuring out how to do that is often a challenge for me.

Now for the easiest. Creating my characters. I take bits and pieces of people I know or have met and combine them to create unique fictional characters. That’s the easiest and the most fun for me.

Who has most influenced your own writing and why?

That’s a tough question. I think it’s a combination of many things. For example, I know that the early novels of Mary Higgins Clark played a part. My favorite is Where are the Children? Before I started writing Mixed Messages, I analyzed Mary’s novel to see what she did to make it work. I’ve always been an avid reader of mystery/suspense novels and I’m sure that my reading has influenced my writing too. Mostly, I have a story to tell and I can only write that story in a way that works for me.

How did you get into the resume writing business? And what’s the most unusual resume you’ve written (or humorous)?

When I was in my late thirties, I experienced burnout with the job I’d been doing for years but I didn’t know what else to do. (Keep in mind that I always wrote fiction while I was otherwise employed.) So, I went to a career counselor. She asked me, “What are you good at and what do you love?”My answer, “Writing and people.” I checked the Dictionary of Occupational Titles at the library and looked through various jobs that would satisfy that criteria. That’s how I decided to start my resume business, which I closed over ten years ago.

The funniest story about a resume client had to do with an ongoing disagreement with my ex-husband. He “suggested” I not claim resume proceeds on my taxes when I was paid in cash. I refused to do that. I knew I’d made the right decision when a man who worked for the IRS called for an appointment.

What advice would you give fellow mystery writers?

If writing is your passion and if being published is your dream, never, ever give up!

Thanks, Pat. You can learn more about Patricia Gligor and her novel at the following sites:
http://pat-writersforum.blogspot.com/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib9QTJItPA4&feature=youtube_gdata
http://www.amazon.com/Mixed-Messages-Patricia-Gligor/dp/0615603815/ref=la_B007VDDUPQ_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1341321179&sr=1-1

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Characters, can't live with them, can't kill them all...

Morgan's post yesterday about perspective got me thinking about my own characters and their unique perspective.

And, a lot of times, their perspective changes base on their age.  Or, for the politically correct, their generation.

In the day job, I work with a lot of different age groups.  One of the trainings given by our human resource people was on generational differences.  Of course, as I'm learning about Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials, I'm thinking about the characters in my story.

My small town stories tend to have a traditionalist character, usually the grandfather or father in law, who gives the main character stability and is loyal and hard working, and a little tech challenged. My grandfather never believed a man walked on the moon, especially after he visited Idaho's Craters of the Moon state park.

My main characters tend to fall into the Gen X generation.  Latch key kids who value work life balance, know their way around a personal computer, and don't worry about job stability, because they know it's a fairy tale.

Why is it important for you to understand the generations while writing your story?  Because these broad categories give your character a shared history you can tap into for material.  Ask who remembers where they were when the Challenger blew up.  What about when Kennedy was shot?  Or who liked Ike?

Your 25-30 year old character, probably can't relate to these events unless it's through a historical lens.  But they can give us an extensive list of The Simpson's episodes or where they were on 9-11.

So, are your characters acting their age?

Monday, October 8, 2012

All a Matter of Perspective

It's amazing how perspective can differ amongst people and even with myself.

On the way home from Wisconsin near Wausau
I got back from our North Woods vacation yesterday. Almost every day, the weather was my ideal - 60s and 70s. I know some people  would say that's not warm enough. They prefer at least 80s or 90s. That's them. I was happy.

So was the DH, who set out in his fishing boat almost every day to catch "The Big One." He tried, but never caught that elusive dream. Still he did pretty well, hauling in some keeper walleyes, bass and a nice-sized crappy. On the days he couldn't catch fish, he'd say, "I guess you can't have good weather and good fishing at the same time."

In past years, when we had no cable and no Internet in our cottage, the DH was fit to be tied if the fish weren't on a feeding frenzy. Now, he takes it in stride, and occupies himself in other ways.

Morgan's dog. Rascal
In the old days, without other entertainment except for eating binges at local restaurants, I went through many books, also lay out in the sun, weather permitting. I walked the dog, did crossword puzzles, and went to Bingo when I could. I worked full time then, and my vacations were relaxing. At times, I'd even go fishing with the DH.

Nowadays, on vacation I can watch TV, read on my Kindle, surf the net, and after walking the dog, I prefer sitting in the shade, while my dog lays in the sun.

I have no day job anymore, except writing. A bit of relaxation is fine and dandy, but I much prefer excitement and variety. Bingo is no longer enough, when the thrills of the casino beckon to me. I haven't fished in two years, and don't miss it.

I bet you're wondering what this has to do with writing. Well, I'll tell you.

To make your book characters come alive, perspective is important. Each character needs to be and see differently, even those who share some basic views or values. Notice that I and the DH both loved the weather and modern conveniences, but still differed in some ways as to our entertainment. Even minor distinctions between characters is important.

Readers should be able to distinguish each character, even without the author continually pointing out which one it is.

Be sure to include clues, even if they're physical mannerisms, such as lifted or furrowed eyebrows, smiles or frowns, or maybe trembling or firm hands. Age can also be a factor in a character's perspective, although you can have fun with that in a mystery by having a senior be spunky and a teenager timid.

When there's a murder involved, which is often the case in mysteries, you can have more fun by showing atypical reactions. A reader might expect an innocent party to exhibit sadness at the death of a family member, but that might not always be the case. Wrongs, either perceived or real, could hinder what seems an appropriate reaction.

You can also allow your characters' perceptions to change. Maybe after more evidence is revealed, the very person who despised the dead party, now feels saddened and guilty for prior feelings.

Lots of possibilities to play around with perspective. Have fun!



Morgan Mandel - http://www.morganmandel.com
Morgan writes mysteries, thrillers and romances
Her latest thriller: Forever Young: Blessing or Curse
Her current romantic suspense: Her Handyman
Her Amazon Author Page:
http://amazon.com/author/morganmandel

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Favorite Movie Quotes


FAVORITE MOVIE QUOTES
by Randy Rawls

        My Honey and I went to see the movie, Trouble With the Curve, starring Clint Eastwood. Excellent movie that I highly recommend. I walked out of there thinking it was the ultimate Father-Daughter movie.

        However, who can watch a Clint Eastwood movie without remembering his classic line, "Go ahead, make my day," from his 1983 film, Sudden Impact?

        From Trouble with the Curve, I liked, "If this is a robbery, take everything you want . . . except for my flat-screen. Take my flat-screen, and I'll kill ya." Of course, Clint Eastwood said it.

        That led me to wonder about other classic lines from movies, lines that live as long as, or longer, than the movie itself. So I began to search my memory (and the Internet).

        "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Clark Gable, Gone With the Wind, 1939. Allegedly, this foul word shocked the movie-going public. Hard to believe.

        "I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody." Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront, 1954.

        "Stella! Steeeeelllllaaaaa!" Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951.

        "Shane! Shane! Come back, Shane!" Alan Ladd, Shane, 1953.

        "Bond. James Bond." Sean Connery, Dr. No, 1962.

        "What we've got here is . . . failure to communicate." Strother Martin, Cool Hand Luke, 1967.

        "You're gonna need a bigger boat." Roy Scheider, Jaws, 1975.

And how can you do movie quotes without John Wayne?

        "And now you understand. Anything goes wrong, anything at all . . . your fault, my fault, nobody's fault . . . it won't matter — I'm gonna blow your head off. No matter what else happens, no matter who gets killed I'm gonna blow your head off." John Wayne, Big Jake, 1971.

        "You've caused a lot of trouble this morning. Might have got somebody killed. Somebody oughta belt you in the mouth, but I won't, I won't. To hell I won't." John Wayne, McClintock, 1963.

        "We're burnin' daylight." John Wayne, The Cowboys, 1972.

        "All battles are fought by scared men who'd rather be some place else." John Wayne, In Harm's Way, 1965.

        "Every time you turn around, expect to see me. 'Cause one time you'll turn around and I'll be there, and I'll kill you, Matt." John Wayne, Red River, 1948.

        An exchange from The Sons of Katie Elder, 1965. — "I'm going with you. I can draw pretty fast. We can be famous - like the Dalton Brothers." Bud Elder, younger brother (Michael Anderson, Jr.). "They're famous, but they're just a little bit dead. They were hung!" John Elder (John Wayne).

        I could go on for pages, just on John Wayne alone.

        Share some of your favorite movie quotes with us.
 
        Watch for HOT ROCKS, coming in November 2012.
 
 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Grammar Gripe

by Janis Patterson
Like most writers, I am an avid reader and, being a writer as well as daughter and granddaughter of writers, am more picky than most.
There’s something going on more and more lately that distresses me. In the last few books I’ve read there have been totally egregious errors that should never have made it past the first draft. This isn’t just badly edited indie books; some of the worst examples came from what I had thought were respected publishers, both small and large.
So what has me in such a tizzy?
First, as a charter member of the American Association Against Apostrophe Abuse, I start to hyperventilate at such elementary errors such as “… going to the Smith’s house…” when it should be “…going to the Smiths’ house…” if the writer is talking about an abode belonging to a multi-person family named Smith. There is a difference between singular possessive and plural possessive. Of course, if you’re talking in the vernacular about going to a blacksmith’s house, then smith’s would be the proper usage – in this case, smith would be a singular noun.
Just as bad if not worse is it’s and its.  When it’s is used as “…it’s a beautiful day…” i.e., “…it is a beautiful day…” that’s just fine. When used as “…it’s blue color was beautiful…” i.e., “…it is blue color was beautiful…” (which makes no sense) can make me violent. Its is possessive. It’s is a contraction of it is.
That isn’t too difficult, is it? Especially for people who write books and call themselves authors? Apparently it is.
What really sends me over the edge, though, is the homonymic mayhem that seems to be going through the land like a plague.
For example, I just read a book where the author described a bloody crime scene as ‘grizzly.’ It makes the mind boggle that he might think a gory setting might be described as gray/graying, an enormous bear or a mining screen, all of which are called ‘grizzly.’ Presumably the word he wanted was ‘grisly,’ which, according to the OED,  means causing horror or fear, or being horrible or terrible to behold. But if that’s what he meant, why didn’t he use the correct word?
Yet another author mixed up ‘broach’ (to open) and ‘brooch’ (a pin worn on a lady’s blouse), two words that have no relationship to each other and in juxtaposition are terribly confusing.
Another ghastly mistake made by too many is roil and royal.
Caul and cowl.
Bate and bait.
Pier and peer.
Foul and fowl.
Right and rite.
Pair, pear and pare.
Peek, peak and pique.
And of course, the classic trio – to, too and two.
There are many more, far too many to count, and far too many misusages of them, too. What I don’t understand is how people can dare to call themselves professional authors and offer their stories to the unsuspecting public when they let such terrible errors slide by. When you come down to it, writing is supposed to be about communication. As novelists we try to create a world, a separate place in time and space for our reader. Such errors as pointed out above rend that world, rudely jerking the reader out of the place we have so carefully created.
In a 100,000 word book we can overlook a typo or two and read right over them without a blip, but too many of them are as irritating as sand in the eye. Misused words are worse. They can turn what is a fairly decent story into a wallbanger more quickly than you can imagine. Why do writers not do their due diligence in word choice and correct usage?
It’s a mystery.
Now that’s out of the way, I have to brag for a moment. Monday, 1 October was the release date for my new lighthearted cozy mystery BEADED TO DEATH from Carina Press. It’s a fun read, all about a bead artist who returns home from a craft show trip to find an unknown dead man on her living room rug. Before long her life is taken up with drug smuggling, an FBI agent who may or may not be rogue and a 7’3” nephew who is on the run from an unwanted basketball scholarship.
And I most solemnly promise you won’t find any misplaced apostrophes or homonymic mayhem in it! (Unless the typo gremlins changed things after our final copy edit!)

Janis Patterson is a seventh-generation Texan and a third-generation wordsmith who writes mysteries as Janis Patterson, romances and other things as Janis Susan May, children’s books as Janis Susan Patterson and scholarly works as J.S.M. Patterson.