Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Coronavirus Makes Many Changes

I read what I wrote the second Tuesday of the month, and so much has changed since then.

The two conferences I mentioned have been cancelled, as has the regular meeting of one of the writers groups I attend. And of course it all began with the cancellation of Left Coast Crime which I hadn't planned on attending, but was looking forward to hearing all about it via Facebook.

Now the big problem lies in taking care of oneself, trying to find toilet paper and food in the stores.

Though I'm in the group that's supposed to stay at home, I must venture out to try and find what we need to exist.

One thing about staying home most of the time is I'll get a whole lot more writing done. I've also done a lot more praying. I'm a praying person anyway, but now I have a new topic to pray for: the health of my friends and the end of this new virus.

What about the rest of you? What are you doing these days with all the new rules we all have to follow?


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The World Gone Upside Down

by Janis Patterson

I don’t know about you, but right now I don’t know if I’m on my head or my heels. I didn’t realize The Husband and I did so many things, had so many meetings, went to so many organizations until they started cancelling one after the other like a cascade of dominoes. A simple trip to the grocery store became a frustrating expedition, where the shelves were empty and the store hideously crowded with people. I spent two days and many stores getting sufficient supplies for some elderly (90+ years old) members of our family, an exercise that was annoying and time-consuming. Some of the overreactions of the shoppers could almost be regarded as amusing – as in two grown men fighting over a package of toilet tissue.
Then today (I’m writing this on Monday evening) everything doubled, trebled, then went right off the ‘scary weirdness’ chart. Our mayor announced at 5 pm that beginning at midnight all bars and restaurants would be closed except for car-side delivery takeout – no dine-in allowed. Not only that, but our school district is closed. No restaurants, no schools, no… I have no idea what’s going to be forbidden next. They even canceled the iconic St. Patrick’s Day Parade, for Heaven’s sake!
I am not going to touch on politics, but I’m of two minds about the way this situation is being handled. Yes, this virus is serious, but is it enough of a threat for such draconian measures? I don’t remember this much hysteria for the H1N1 (aka swine) flu a couple of years ago. We cannot just do nothing, so we must do something, but are we doing too much?
For example, I fear that a lot of restaurants and small businesses – which operate on narrow margins in the best of times – will fold permanently with an extended enforced closing. Worse, their employees – most of whom work for minimum wage and live paycheck-to-paycheck – will suffer almost immediately. One of my restauranteur friends is providing bags of rice and beans for his employees – boring fare, but nutritious, and at least they will be able to eat. And my worries are not limited only to food service workers or small store clerks. Far too many people in our society have nothing put by for a rainy day and are dependent on receiving a regular paycheck. Now it seems the monsoon is about to rage around us and it’s too late for many to prepare.
And there are other, less immediate but more personal casualties. Next month I was to go to the American Research Center in Egypt International Conference in Toronto where, in a first for both ARCE and me, naming rights for three characters in a novel I would write especially for ARCE would be auctioned off as a fund raiser. The international publicity had already started when – because of the coronavirus – the conference was cancelled. The auction… who knows? It’s dead at the moment. There is always next year, but by next year it will be old news, all novelty gone, and who knows what will happen between now and then? Even if it comes back next year, it can never be the same. This could have been a breakout for me, and I grieve for its loss.
We must realize, though, that it is indeed an ill wind that blows no one good. Bars and restaurants are closed. Schools are closed. In many places gatherings of more than 50 people are forbidden. Social interaction (in person, at least) is discouraged. People are going to be pretty much stuck at home. So what are they going to do? You can only watch so much tv, play so many board games, do so many chores. What’s left, that will entertain and yet not expose you to the dangers of public places? Books. Especially ebooks, which can be ordered over the internet, meaning more sales for more authors. In the long run, perhaps something good can come from all this. If it is allowed – Amazon has already announced that it is focusing on immediately need supplies such as food and medicine, and that books are way down on their priorities. We can only hope they mean physical paper books and not electronic ones, which shouldn’t present any shipping difficulties. It is Amazon, though, so who knows?
However – to drag this subject kicking and screaming back to the writing of mysteries – it’s a rare situation that a writer can’t use in some fashion. Just think of all the plots that can spring out of this flirtation with real-life dystopia. In a few months I predict a flood of books with plots that can be traced back to our current situation.
I just wish they were fiction.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Getting back to writing and promoting mysteries..

This has been a rough time, not only for me, but our whole community.

Nearly every time we go to the town of Porterville, we pass near the burned out remains of the library. I've taken two loads of books, including the complete works of Louis L'Amour, to the place where they are collecting books. I've hugged my favorite librarian.

As an added problem, my husband and I both came down with the flu. (And yes, we had our flu shots.) My granddaughter and her family who live with us came down with it first and shared. It was a wingdinger. Hubby spent several days mainly sleeping. I found I did better if I got up and did my usual.

My usual has been doing some writing that actually brings in money and when I had a break from that working on my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. It's been slow-going.

I have managed to get to my critique group finally. And I've attended my Sisters in Crime chapter meeting, as well as another local group of writers I belong to.  And that brings me to another topic, promotion. That groups is going to be discussing promotion at this month's meeting. We are all to share what we do.

Of course there are obvious things such as giving presentations. (I was supposed to give one this month at our library--now out of the question.) And going to book and craft fairs in order to sell your books--also writers conferences and conventions. (Some folks are staying home from these because of the new virus.)

Everyone should be promoting their books on Facebook. I've found that always results in a few sales. I only do one book at a time and try to find something new to mention about it. I post here twice a month, once a month on the Ladies of Mystery blog, and I have my own blog, https://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/. I love promoting others on my blog too. If you'd like to be on it, just let me know.

I have an email newsletter that goes out once a month, and to subscribe all you have to do is give me your email address. That's a fun one. Some of my subscribers respond back to me like I wrote the letter just to them.

I tweet occasionally but am not good at remembering to do it.

Upcoming are two writing conferences I'm going to: Writers of Kern Spring Conference where I'll have a table to display my books. (I'm mainly going because they have some great speakers.) And I'm also scheduled for the Central Coast chapter of Sisters in Crime, writing conference coming in May.
I'm helping with that one, and will also have books for sale.

How about sharing some promo ideas that have really worked for you?