Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Thursday, March 31, 2011

If Publishing a Mystery Were Only as Easy as They Think

I'd like to welcome Peg Herring to my blog. She's a mystery writer and has successfully combined mystery with the paranormal, which is something I just love. So let me turn it over to Peg...

People other than published authors tend to see writing as a life of ease rewarded by huge paychecks, the adulation of millions, and one’s name on the NYT best-seller list every other year. Let’s talk about the life of ease part.


All my life I was told I had writing talent. I went to a good college and studied writing with excellent instructors. Then I spent three decades teaching others about writing. Despite all that apparent talent and actual experience, writing a book--at least a good book--is hard, very hard. It takes a long time, a lot of effort, a sense of organization, and a dedications to one’s readers that is hard to describe. They say everyone has a book in his/her head. Yeah, well, come and see me when you’ve got something on paper, and not just the first three chapters!

My April 1 release, THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY, took months to write and self-edit. (I have a system that is fairly complex, but it works for me:

reading for a single facet, like characterization, and then reading again for a different facet, like sensory detail). When I had done what I could for the time being, I had a couple of friends read the story. They loved the premise, the fun I had mixing life with afterlife. That was good, but they had suggestions, too, so I read it again, taking my friends’ comments into serious consideration. Then I had my son read the manuscript, because the setting is an investments firm and he is in that business. I wanted to make sure I didn’t say something dumb about a business I don’t have much experience with. That meant more changes, reading through the whole thing again and fixing areas he commented on.

Once the book was accepted by a publisher, it went through several more editions. The first editor and I haggled over terms (are they “slacks” or “pants” nowadays?) At her suggestion I expanded some characters and minimized others. She wanted more information on the setting, Grand Rapids, Michigan, so I had to do more research to make sure the details I added were correct. She helped me clarify my portrayal of the afterlife at the beginning of the book so the reader would not be confused later about what can and can’t happen there. All in all, that was three more edits, three more times through the story with a pen and a microscope.

Then the “big” editor took a turn through the book. She made suggestions to further clarify details. She asked questions about what my intentions were in certain spots. In short, she fine-tuned the book so that the humor comes through better and the reader never feels left behind.

Finally, the copy editor had me take a last look through to find the itsy-bitsy things that drive readers crazy: punctuation/spelling errors, extra spaces, etc.

Now the book is ready for release. My publisher is very supportive, and my editor arranged a Cyber-Launch on Author Island (authorisland.com: stop by and ask a question or make a comment!) for April 1. She also found a respected reviewer willing to read a book by a fairly unknown author, and the review is positive (YAY!). My part is to tell the world I have contact with about the book, hence this guest blog, a Blog Tour, a Facebook ad, and lots of trips/mailings to bookstores.

So where is this life of ease? Writing is work, real work, and promoting is work piled on top of the original work. Authors do not have it easy, although I don’t know a single one who doesn’t feel that it’s all worth it when just one person says, “I loved your book.”

People often ask me what it takes to get published. Unless you already have a platform (some sort of fame attached to your name), it takes

persistence: persistence to write the best book you are capable of, persistence to get it published professionally, and persistence in getting the word out that, among the million others out there, there’s this great little mystery called THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY.

Bio
Peg Herring is a Michigan author whose 2010 historical mystery, Her Highness’ First Murder, received very positive reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus, the Historical Novel Society, and BookList. Read more about Peg’s books at http://pegherring.com When not reading or writing, Peg loves travel and music. She and her husband also garden, mostly for the benefit of elk, deer, rabbits, and birds.

Peg’s April release, THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY, is available in print or e-book form at http://www.ll-publications.com/deaddetectiveagency.html and will soon be at most e-book retailers. Tori Van Camp awakens one morning on a cruise ship. She seems to be a welcome guest, and the ships offers anything she might require or request. But why does she have a clear memory of being murdered, and how can she find out why someone wanted her dead?

“The Dead Detective Agency combines belief in the afterlife with the paradoxical uncertainty of survival in the present, and is full of wickedly dark humor combined with regular laugh-out-loud moments.” —Sam Millar, New York Journal of Books

Thank you, Peg!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Guest Blog: Pamela DuMond

As most of my readers already know, I love humor, so I'm thrilled to have Pamela DuMond as a guest. She writes mysteries with a side of humor which are just my cup-o-tea, and her blog offers a taste of the fun in her books. A lot of writers (myself included) will wince as they read echoes of their own experiences in her path toward publication.


Stop The Presses!
Thanks Amy Corwin for letting me guest blog today. Looking for some fun reads? Check out Amy’s books here: http://tinyurl.com/4k5hvfx

Looking for another funny paranormal mystery? Check out Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys here: ttp://tinyurl.com/4ba5z75

And here’s the Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdijpPkuzeU

I thought you might enjoy a peek into my novel writing process. Probably many of you reading Amy’s blog are working on your own novels.

Here’s how it went for me in, ‘Newspaper Headlines’.

Pamela DuMond Attempts Writing Non-Fiction Books!
The Book on Goddesses disappeared into the ethers never to be seen again. The Travel with Your Dog book ate my homework, chased my cat and then ran away from home.

Desperate to Save her Marriage, DuMond edits Husband’s Books!
Well this was a lame idea, but therapy didn’t work either. At least I got two editing credits for my efforts.

DuMond Discovers and Pitches Erin Brockovich’s story to Jersey Films!
I was the chiropractor who thought Erin’s real life story would make a great movie. I introduced her to a producer at Jersey Films. You all know how that turned out.

DuMond Finally Published in Soul Moments edited by Phil Cousineau!
I submitted two articles about synchronicity. Officially published. Yay!

Screenplays Written by DuMond go Nowhere!
Once the Brockovich thing happened, I decided I was going to write some screenplays and go Hollywood. Spent heaps of money taking screenwriting classes at UCLA. Wrote a bunch of scripts ranging from pretty bad to somewhat okay. Realized this was a long slow road to Nowhere-ville.

Pamela DuMond Decides to Write a Novel!
I knew a woman who got a hot three book deal with a big publisher based on a really fun script and three chapters. Hmm. I wrote my first novel. A bunch of patient people read it and gave me multitudes of notes. I wrote about ten more drafts. Then sent out queries to agents and got enough rejections to wall paper my house. I edited my ms again as well as the query letter. And…

DuMond Scores Literary Agent at Very Reputable Agency!
Got the phone call from a newly minted young hungry agent at a top agency She was smart, loved the book and had plans. This was so exciting!

Zillions of Book Editors Reject DuMond’s manuscript!
Hey wait a minute. What do you mean the mystery editors passed? Hold on – Women’s Commercial Fiction editors didn’t like my novel either? Re-write it as more of a Romance? Sigh. Okay. Fine. I’d sex it up and we would re-submit to Romance Editors.

Agent Disappears from Agency and DuMond is Agent-Orphaned!
This could be a whole ’nother blog post right here. Suffice it to say, my agent was ix-nayed and because I hadn’t sold yet, I was ix-nayed as well. Bereft, nauseated, I decided to write a new novel. But first I called my writer buddy, Julie, to cry on her shoulder.

Mystery Novelist Julie Smith Dolcemaschio to the Rescue!
Julie called her editor at Krill Press. He was closed to submissions but said he’d take a peek at three chapters. Then he asked for the whole ms.

Krill Press Loves the Novel - Offers DuMond Publishing Contract!
Yikes! Excited, happy, grateful. Many more steps thereafter.

Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys Published – November 2010!
Yikes again!

DuMond up to her Chubby Behind in Marketing Confusion!
The realization sets in that in order to sell a book, a newly minted author who No One Knows must find ways to market said book. Let the mayhem ensue. (Most of it good!)

While I continue to spread the word about Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys, I’m finishing a draft of my next novel, a YA, as well as plotting the second in the Cupcakes series. And I’m hoping the next headline will be in my near future:

DuMond’s YA Nabs New Agent and Publishing Houses Go Wild!
Thanks all! Now go read a good book and tell someone you love about it.

Best,
Pamela DuMond


Thank you so much! And good luck, though I doubt you'll need it! You may be the next Amanda Hocking!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Guest Blog: Rosemary and Larry Mild

I'm absolutely thrilled to have Rosemary and Larry Mild visit my blog today. They've written some terrific mysteries set in Hawaii and ever since I saw Hawaii Five-0 and Magnum, P.I., I've loved mysteries set in the islands. I've had one trip to Hawaii and didn't spend nearly enough time there and I sincerely hope to visit again.

Please welcome Rosemary and Larry!


A Murder in the Family

By Rosemary and Larry Mild

We work at dueling computers in our home office in Severna Park, Maryland. But only seven months of the year. During the winter, we write back-to-back in our Honolulu apartment, on the island of Oahu. We just published our fourth novel: Cry Ohana, Adventure and Suspense in Hawaii. Murder, extortion and passion thrust a Hawaiian family (ohana) into the tentacles of Honolulu’s dark side. “Death of a Rainbow,” the first chapter, opens with a picnic at a waterfront park. A rainbow arcs overhead, but breaks up, foretelling a succession of tragic events.


In lieu of giving readers a Cry Ohana cover blurb, the Pualoa children choose to tell the story from their own points of view. Had they known of blogging, this is what they’d have to say.


Kekoa’s Blog


My name is Kekoa, Kekoa Pualoa, and I’m a Hawaiian teenager, the main character in Cry Ohana. Ohana means “family” in Hawaiian. My story is all about family—how I lost it and my search to regain what’s left of it. I’m supposedly descended from the alii, Hawaiian royalty.


As an island group in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is the most isolated place on earth from any mainland. That’s why we’re so into family and aloha closeness. Kekoa means “warrior” or “fearless one.” Oh, you needn’t worry—I speak plenty good English with an occasional Hawaiian or pidgin word tossed in like a jalapeno for flavor. I’m tall for my age, thin, gangly, with sun-dark island looks, and dark hair that just won’t behave.


The Milds’ story plot leaves me without a mother or father before the age of two. My grandmother, Tutu Eme, takes care of my older sister, Leilani, and me for the next eleven years. Then bad things happen. Man, you wouldn’t believe how bad. They all begin when I witness the bludgeoning murder of my uncle—my dad’s brother, Big John Pualoa. The killer knows I saw him and he wants to silence me. You know what that means. I’m on the run from him throughout the story. My friends, other kids, they’ve all got a life: school, girls, skate boarding, fishing, the beach and boogey boards. I’m caught in the tentacles of a giant squid— Honolulu’s dark side, I mean, squeezed in and out of harm’s way.


I’m thrown into a number of diverse cultures—Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean and hauoli (Caucasian). Luckily, I get to make some pretty exciting friends: homeless Ol’ Chou and Mrs. Raggs; Andy Ballesteros and his sweet sister Maria; Sam and Mauro Osaka; the mysterious Hal; and my Black Lab, Ilio (“dog”).


I’m itching to tell you the whole story, but the Milds won’t let me—especially who wins the courthouse shootout. They threaten to take away my loco moco if I do. That’s two sunny-side-up eggs on top of a huge hamburger amid a whole plateful of white sticky rice, all immersed in dark brown gravy. Yum!


Leilani’s Blog


I’m called Leilani, “heavenly one” in Hawaiian. Not only has Kekoa disappeared. Uncle Big John went missing around the same time. We’ve tried everything to find them, even calling the police twice, right up until Tutu Eme died a year ago. I was sixteen and alone, so I was forced to live with a foster family, the Wongs. Paul and Masako Wong are teachers at a private school where I go now. Bummer! I mean, it’s okay, but I miss my own high school friends. Numi Wong is my age and wants me to be the sister she never had. Her gorgeous hunk of a brother, Alex, wouldn’t give me the time of day when I first moved in. Now—well, things have sort of happened.


I have an oval face with large brown eyes and shoulder-length dark hair. I’d be considered beautiful if I just could lose a skosh of my roundness. I have a hair-trigger temper and am totally outspoken on Hawaiian issues. Don’t get me started. I miss my brother terribly. Will I ever see him again? And where is our dad? I think he’s abandoned us. I wonder if I’ll ever find the love I need. I can’t tell you any of that or Rosemary might cut off my supply of mochi, a sweet rice dessert.


I’m grateful to Rosemary and Larry for their efforts to portray the struggles of our Hawaiian people, the loss of our precious kingdom, our heritage, our ways, and the importance of maintaining the aloha spirit. After all, Hawaii is the melting pot of the Pacific. I’m a budding artist—talented, I’m told. My dream is to create huge paintings of my Hawaii. And become famous, of course.


* * *

A review of Cry Ohana by Tanzey Cutter in Fresh Fiction for Today’s Reader says: “I loved this story! The authors write with such eloquent detail, you can almost feel the island breezes and see the breathtaking scenery. I’ve been to Hawaii numerous times and lived there as a child, so I was familiar with the places described. This is an uplifting story of family and love, as well as an extremely suspenseful novel with a very satisfying ending.”


How can we write about Hawaii with such authenticity? Honolulu is our second home so we can spend time with our daughter, Chinese son-in-law, and two college-bound granddaughters. They live deep in a rain-forest valley behind Diamond Head. Huge mango and avocado trees surround their house. They have to be quick about snatching the ripe fruits off the ground. Otherwise, the feral pigs get there first in the middle of the night.


How does the actual writing process work? Rosemary says: “Larry conjures up our plots and writes the first draft. Then it’s my turn. I breathe life into the characters, intensify scenes, sharpen the dialogue. Sometimes I throw a new trait into a character. In Cry Ohana, Larry created a gentle, no-stress romance for Leilani and Alex. But I’m a combative sort, so I made her feisty to give her scenes more conflict. Of course, changing a character has consequences; it can actually derail the plotline, so I have to watch out.”


Then, with sleeves rolled up, we “negotiate.” Here’s our typical scenario.


Larry: You cut that whole paragraph! It’s cruel, operating without anesthesia.


Rosemary: Just a little judicious pruning, dear.


Larry: But it took me hours to create those metaphors.


Rosemary: It’s too much already. Less is more.


Larry: Talk about overdoing. Your description of Mrs. Raggs goes on for a whole page and she’s just a walk-on.


Our jousting is short lived. We resign ourselves to the compromises required. Maalox helps, too. We relish the writing process, but we have to take Stephen King’s advice: “To write is human. To edit is divine.” And Harlan Coben agrees: “If someone tells me he doesn’t rewrite I don’t want to party with him.”


In 2001 we introduced our mystery series with Paco LeSoto, a dapper retired detective, and Molly Mesta, an eccentric housekeeper/cook. Molly whips up the English language in her own special stew that the authors call “Mollyprops.” She’ll criticize a villain for his “defecation of character.”


In Locks and Cream Cheese, mayhem erupts in a mansion on the Chesapeake Bay. Hidden rooms, locked doors and dead bodies embroil Black Rain Corners in scandal. Paco and Molly expose the mansion’s lurid secrets—and fall in love. (Available in paperback and on Kindle and Nook)


In Hot Grudge Sunday, Paco and Molly are married. They’d rather smooch than sleuth. But conspirators and thieves derail their honeymoon bus trip out West. Not even the Grand Canyon can suppress the out-of-control passions and quest to kill. (Available in paperback and on Kindle and Nook.)


Boston Scream Pie returns readers to historic Annapolis and southern Maryland. Young Caitlin Neuman hires the sleuths to decipher her nightmares of a lethal car crash. They lead to a harrowing tale of twins and two families plagued with jealousy, hatred—and murder. (Available in paperback.)


* * *

Rosemary reports: At Left Coast Crime on the Big Island in 2008, we took part in a panel and I confessed: “Larry and I work at different speeds. I’m the tortoise.”


Larry chimed in: “There isn’t a hare of truth to that.”


The night we met, on a blind date, he slipped a pun or two into our dinner conversation. I retorted, “I bet you pun in your sleep.”


“Sure,” he said. “I was born in the Year of the Pun. That’s the thirteenth sign of the Zaniac.”


His puns still make me laugh. I’m pretty sure our marriage depends on it.


Visit us at http://www.magicile.com/. E-mail us at roselarry@magicile.com to buy autographed copies from us at big discounts.

----
Thank you, Rosemary and Larry!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Guest Blog: Gwyn Ramsey


I'm very pleased to have author Gwyn Ramsey with me this evening to talk about writing. As everyone has heard me say before, research is key to great fiction so for the last few blogs, I've been concentrating on that and asking other writers about the research they've done for their books. Gwen was gracious enough to answer a few questions about her career and writing.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING?

I decided in 2000 to become a writer. I walked into the front room one night and announced to my husband that I was going to write a book. But it took me three years of research and learning the writing process in order to finish my first book, Journey to Tracer’s Point. The other three have taken a year each, so I must be getting a little more organized with my thoughts and story ideas. I joined Romance Writers of American (RWA) and eventually Women Writing the West (WWW) and Western Writers of American (WWA). These organizations have been very helpful in my writing through workshops, conferences, and Internet loops. I also belong to a critique group that helps me hone down my manuscript in better form.

WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?

I write historical family sagas. My first book of the Anderson Chronicles, Journey to Tracer’s Point, begins in 1849. This book is followed by Winds of Change, Bound for Texas, and the next one out this fall is Trails of Destiny. There are many changes in the family structure in all four books as they travel, develop homesteads, search for lost members and work getting back together again. Since I’m a genealogist, I enjoy putting people together. But unfortunately I also have a way of doing away with them.

WHERE DO YOU RESEARCH?

I use the Internet, my personal and home town library, plus inter-library loans from other areas. I am a researcher and carry a card for the Library of Congress (LOC) in DC where I do some work about once a year. What a marvelous place to be. The Jefferson Building is fantastic with its Italian Renaissance style. You can almost hear Jefferson offering his personal library to the LOC or see J. F. Kennedy sitting at the slanted 1800 century desks with a small lamp lit. The library is regal and awe inspiring. So doing research at the LOC is more than worth the trip to DC to feel the ambience of the Jefferson room.

HOW DO YOU DO YOUR RESEARCH?

Writing is very personal. So is research. Every writer has some type or degree of research they need to do for their story. But if you write any genre that isn’t present day, there is loads of work to do and you have to get it right. I usually begin with the internet, then I check out books on the subject from my library, and eventually make a to-do list when I go to the LOC in DC. Take the Comanche Indians that I am presently working on. I want to be sure that information is correct in my book, but not to the point of over educating the reader. So I pick out maybe how they are dressed, what they eat or even how they sit, or what their teepees are like. The Comanche were grouped in bands, not a tribe. Different than the Arapaho or Sioux. Sometimes the Indians paint themselves for different ceremonies. Each item I select makes my character three dimensional. That is important for the reader to love or hate the character, to be able to feel his pain or happiness, or just to come to understand the character’s actions within the story.

HOW DO YOU HANDLE ALL THE PAPERWORK FOR YOUR RESEARCH?
Paperwork can be overwhelming. During the writing process of the current book, my office looks like a hurricane hit several times. Books and papers are strung out all over the table, my desk, and the floor, not to mention maps, calendars, etc. My filing cabinets hold most of my information so that I can quickly obtain the information. I keep present papers close at hand. I can tell you truthfully, filing really piles up and it’s not my favorite thing to do. I would rather keep writing than file, but someone has to do it and since I’m the only one in the office, well….it becomes my job, eventually.

HOW IMPORTANT IS RESEARCH?
Research is top priority in writing historical fiction. Out there in your readership, there are experts who will write to you if your information is wrong. Besides most writers feel that the information he or she puts into the book much be accurate. You never second guess the information. I use whatever I can to get it right. Since I’m also a genealogist, I sometimes use Rootsweb.com or Ancestry.com to pull up information on families. I use diaries, language books, whatever I can get my hands on. I have books on poison/potions, non-poisonous remedies, some very old health books, cowboy slang, and a book by a writer friend (Marilyn Kelly) entitled Eleven Senses, Who Knew. A very interesting book.

ANY OTHER BOOKS THAT WOULD BE HELPFUL TO HISTORICAL WRITERS?
There are many but depends on the century you might be writing about. Some books that I use are: Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey by Schlissel, Everyday Life Among the American Indians by Moulton, Everyday Life in the 1800s by McCutcheon, Indian Talk by Cody, and last but not least Everyday Life in the Wild West by Moulton. I am sure there are many, many more that your readers could share with me and I would welcome the suggestions.

ARE THERE PITFALLS WITH RESEARCH?
Oh, yes. A writer has to be careful how much of his research he is going to use. There is no way to use everything you come across. The information is what makes or breaks a story. Too much info is overpowering and not enough makes a story dull. So new writers, be careful. Use enough to give your reader a feel for the situation or enough to make your characters come alive. Keep the rest file for another date or time, maybe for another book along the way.

Thank you, Amy, for having me on your blog. It’s been an interesting venture. I do hope some of your readers will enjoy the information.

Gwyn's Bio
GWYN RAMSEY was born and raised in Jennings, Missouri. The library became her favorite haunt and reading her most cherished passion. She attended the Florissant Valley Community College, pursuing a career in computer applications. She is the author of a historical series, Journey to Tracer’s Point (2008), Winds of Change (2009), and Bound for Texas. Her next book in the series, Trails of Destiny, will be out late fall 2011, published by Treble Heart Books.

She is a member of Women Writing the West, Western Writers of America, Romance Writer’s of America, and Tampa Area Romance Authors. A former executive secretary for the Army, Gwyn resides in Florida with her husband. When not writing and time allows, she enjoys researching genealogy and tap dancing.

Gwyn has participated in writer's workshops, seminars, conferences, and school presentations. She is on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Goodreads, My Space, just to name a few. Come visit her blog at http://www.gwynramsey.blogspot.com/


Thank you so much for joining me, Gwyn, and giving us more insight into the research that goes into your books! It was fascinating.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Guest Blog: Frank Scully

After much banging, disk swapping, and resetting, I finally got my computer running again so that I could post this blog. It's late and should have been posted first thing this morning, but I had a series of glitches that resulted in me putting up a temporary posting until I could pull it together.

I'm relieved and happy to present mystery writer, Frank Scully, author of Resurrection Garden. He's been kind enough to bear with me with good grace and a sense of humor. Therefore, I won't waste any more time. Here's Frank!

Two things really intrigue me - History and Mystery. The history doesn’t have to be ancient, it can be just yesterday or last year. The mystery, of course, has to be full of dire consequences and danger.


When I started writing, I had so many ideas for stories floating around in my head I had to somehow sort them out and decide which I would work on first. It turned out to be a mystery set in 1957 in the Midwest. The second was set in 1995 in California. The third was in 2004 in Europe. And then I wrote Resurrection Garden set in 1904 in North Dakota. I began to see a pattern here. Murder mysteries set in different decades and locations.



And thus was born my Decade Mystery Series. At least one book set in each decade from the beginning of the 20th century to current time set in different locales with both continuing and new characters. There is something unique in each decade that marks it as separate from what went before or what follows. Decades can take radical shifts. The 50’s was the era of the grey flannel suit and the 60’s had the tie dyed hippies. I like to research and explore aspects of what is unique as it is expressed in the locale chosen and how it affects the culture, characters and the tenor of the times and yet also see the common humanity that never changes. While the larger characteristics of the decade provide the background against which the story is told, I like to find certain lesser known events and circumstances that signal significant shifts around which to build the plot.



Resurrection Garden is not a western, nor is it a Victorian mystery. The North Dakota prairie was almost the last frontier for homesteading. Immigrants were arriving daily looking for their chance at the American Dream. Land of their own to farm, to prosper and raise a family. It was hard, rough work in a harsh environment and many failed, even died, in the effort. Communities were new, yet people relied on one another and on the law.

In writing Resurrection Garden, I wove into the story many snippets I culled from my research. Stories straight out the newspaper of the time became part of the backdrop to the mystery and to life as depicted in the novel. Since my own grandparents were settlers in North Dakota in the 1880’s, I also had personal history to draw on for background.

Resurrection Garden Blurb:

Jake Turner, a scarred veteran of the charge up San Juan Hill, has been a lone drifter through much of the settling of the west. Opportunity was growing out of the newly turned sod of the North Dakota prairie in 1904 when he stopped to take a part time job as a Deputy Sheriff, expecting to move on again when the dark parts of his past catch up to him.

An investigation into a murder of a man hated by everyone has threads that lead to his best friend, Isaac. Jake is ambushed and almost killed, but is nursed back to health by Isaac. While Jake follows the clues into a labyrinth of hatred, sordid crimes and missing money he becomes attached to an eight year old orphaned boy named Andy and falls in love with Isaac’s sister, Alice. After being alone for so long with no hope or care for what tomorrow might bring, Jake finds it difficult to accept these new emotional attachments.

Jake believes in Justice, but before he had only his own life on the line. When Andy is kidnapped and almost killed, Jake knows the killers will do anything to stop him. In order to protect Alice and Andy, he must break their hearts and leave them and North Dakota behind.

Jake knows he’ll be back. So do the killers. Trap and counter trap are laid. Jake knows there will be graves. He just doesn’t know who will be in them.


ISBN: 978-1-926931-04-3
Available from the publisher at:
https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/
Also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other online eBook retailers.


Excerpt:

The Sheriff joined me in my contemplation of the body. It wasn’t pretty. Thor had never been handsome, and the ravages of being frozen under the snow for the winter and having birds and other animals picking away at the skin as the snow thawed and exposed the body made what was left of him downright disgusting.

One thing was evident though. He didn’t die easy. Freezing to death is relatively painless. Wander out in the cold, get lost, fall asleep, and don’t wake up. That wasn’t what happened to Thor.

“What do you think? Shotgun, maybe?” the sheriff asked.

“At least,” I answered. The hole in his chest was big enough to put a fist through. “But why? He musta been dead already when he was shot.”

“Yeah, first someone beat him to a bloody pulp then gutted him and slashed his throat. And then shot him. Ain’t that what you said, Doc.”

“Looks that way to me,” Doc answered. “Can’t tell you much more until he thaws out all the way.”

“Somebody wanted him deader than dead.” The sheriff shook his head.

“Takes some hate to do all that,” Doc commented. “Got any suspects?”

Doc and the Sheriff both turned to face me.

I let out a deep sigh. “I suppose you want me to find out what happened to him.”

“Seems as how you should. After all, you found him, and you’re my deputy up there,” the Sheriff answered.

I stared at Thor and wondered when I would be able to sit down.

Doc came up behind us and commented, “Jake, you might ought to get some new britches or something. You’re hanging out your back end. Probably scare the ladies and kids if you went out in public like that.”

I reached around and felt bare skin crisscrossed with stitches. “Damn, just got these new this Christmas.”

“I’m sure one of the widow ladies you’ve been helping out will be happy to lend you some spare pants.” Doc grinned. “And I’m sure these new scars will get you lots of sympathy and special care.”

“Speaking of widows,” the Sheriff interjected. “You’ll need to tell Mrs. Thorsgaard we found her husband.”

And that’s when the real pain started.

Frank's Bio:


Frank Scully was born at the end of World War II and grew up in a small town in North Dakota. He remembers a time when radio provided the entertainment and then along came TV with very few channels. While in college getting a Bachelor’s degree in History and a Juris Doctor in Law, TV graduated to color, the Beetles landed on the Ed Sullivan Show, Kennedy was assassinated, and Armstrong walked on the moon. He served in the U.S. Army as a Judge Advocate General Corps officer in the U.S., Vietnam and Thailand before getting his Masters in Business Administration from the Thunderbird School and embarking on a business career. Currently he is a Contracts Manager for a major aerospace and defense manufacturer.



Website: http://www.frankjscully.com/

Blog: http://frankjscully.com/blog/

Thank you, Frank! (I remember when we got our color television set and we saw Bonanza in color for the first time!)

More Statistics on ePublishing

For those who follow the trends in publishing, you may have seen the latest statistics on the trends from our last holiday season (Dec 2010/Jan 2011) in Publishers Weekly ( http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/financial-reporting/article/46510-january-e-book-sales-soar-top-hardcover-mass-market-paperback.html ).

To summarize the article: predictions about ebook sales taking off were well-founded. Sales of e-readers during the holidays exploded, resulting in equally high sales of ebooks. Some estimates from the Association of American Publishers show that ebook sales went up almost 116% ($69.9 million in January). (Of course $1 million of that went to Amanda Hocking, but that’s another story. LOL)

Sales of mass market paperbacks, on the other hand, slipped nearly 31% lower. In fact, mass market paperbacks sold $30 million LESS than ebook sales. Sales of other “physical” books also fell.

Over the last few weeks, I know a lot of authors have seen similar information because there has been an explosion of “indie,” i.e. independent authors, publishing their backlists on the Kindle and in other epublishing arenas. For an established author, the question isn’t “should I accept the stigma of being an indie author?” but how “fast can I get my backlist shaped up and available?”.

If you’re not a NY-published (i.e. traditionally published) author, then there’s still something to consider. If you’ve been published by small press and have been unhappy with lackluster sales, and you think you might be suffering from a poor cover, uneven editing, or just a slightly too high price, you might want to consider getting your rights back and republishing the book on your own.

Are you insane?

No. I don’t think so. But then again…crazy people are the last ones to know that they’re crazy.

But the thing is this: you can re-edit your book, create (or buy) a better cover, and control the price. Looking at Konrath’s experiences with changing prices and going from $.99 to $2.99 and then back up to $.99, and the differences the various prices have on sales, well… I suggest that you may want to seriously consider this.

Small press are caught in a bit of a pickle at the moment. They have to charge more than the $2.99 price because they have to pay cover artists, editors, and generally pay for their publishing operation. An indie author doesn’t have this overhead and therefore can set whatever price their little heart desires. Astute authors will note I’m completely disregarding the fact that indie authors do have costs, i.e. overhead, in the form of computers, software, Internet connection costs, marketing, and any artistic (cover art) and editorial (hiring an editor) assistance they need. But they may have more leeway in deciding the price they wish to set because they may be paying for these things out of other pots of money.

My own experience with The Vital Principle seems to be supporting this theory. I elected to independently publish this historical mystery and while it hasn’t broken into any of the “top 100” lists yet, it is doing much better than all of my small press books. There are consistent sales. Right now, I have it priced at $.99, and we’ll see how well it continues to sell at that price.

I’d love to hear from readers and authors on their experiences and thoughts about this “brave new world” of epublishing.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thoughts on ePublishing

The publishing industry continues to ravage itself. Borders is closing 200 stores and considering whether to close 75 more. For those who travel a lot, the good news is that so far, they say they are trying to keep their airport stores open.



With more and more bookstores closing, it seems like the game is changing in favor of mass market outlets like Wal-Mart, Target, and other discount stores. Category romance books from industry giants like Harlequin will therefore continue to have strong sales as they’ve always maintained a strong shelf presence in those spaces. Likewise, bestseller authors with traditional companies should continue to do well as they’ve always received shelf-space in those stores.


If you’re a mid-list author (or lower, non-existent/small-publisher-list like me) you can pretty well forget about sales except through Internet store-fronts like B&N and Amazon.


But it’s not all gloom and doom out there. Just a lot of turmoil. A lot of authors are finding success with the rise of ebooks. Most people are familiar with the mega-success of Amanda Hocking and J.A. Konrath, who have been talking about the glories of epublishing for a couple of years now. Even Bob Mayer in his recent blog http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/i-was-wrong-konrath-was-right has turned the corner on accepting epublishing as a viable route for new and mid-list authors.


As Mayer points out, mid-list authors get virtually no marketing/promotional assistance from their publishers, anyway, so it’s up to the author to market his/her work.


However, unlike Konrath, I’m not as sanguine that new authors won’t get lost in the huge tidal wave of backlist books by established authors with well-developed fan bases. Literally hundreds, if not thousands, of excellent, well-edited books coming out as folks upload them into various ebook outlets such as Amazon.com.


I’m hoping, however, that there will still be room for small press and independent authors. It will be a challenge to find an audience when you’re one tiny voice amidst thousands, but I feel sure at least some will make a success of it, like Amanda Hocking.


There are some lessons learned, however, that are particularly relevant here.


• Amanda’s success grew gradually, over the course of 8 books. That’s right, it was her 8th book in combination with 30 or so reviews that tipped the scales toward success. The lesson here is two-fold: a) the chance of having a hit on your first, indie ebook are very, very slim; and b) you’re going to have to work like the devil to socialize your books to garner enough reviews and attention to attract sales.


• Editing, cover art, and pricing are critical. Most indie sales occur at the $.99 price. But now that everyone has learned that lesson and is offering their books at $.99, you’re going to have to have an even better product and work even harder to socialize it to beat out well-known authors like Konrath. That means, your cover art and editing have to be top-notch. Some recommend buying professional editing and art work.


• This isn’t a competition…or is it? There are only 100 books in the top 100 list for any genre. Amazon doesn’t list all books for every genre when it offers suggestions. Like it or not, you’ve got competition for the reader’s dollar.


There are reasons for optimism, even heavily tempered with the harsh realities of the marketplace. Much as we might like, we can’t all be Amanda Hocking, J.A. Konrath, or Bob Mayer, but at least if we work really, really hard and then harder still, and are willing to edit the heck out of our books, we can get them in front of readers.


In my case, I’m ecstatic that The Vital Principle, a historical mystery has sold well over 100 copies in the first two weeks. It’s a start and a good one.

Guest: Sylvia Ramsey - A Passion for Writing

I am honored to host author Sylvia Ramsey today and have her talk about her journey as a writer. It's an inspiring story and one I know you will enjoy.

Sylvia Ramsey

Writing has always been a passion of mine. I began writing news and feature articles for a small town newspaper in Southeast Missouri at the age of nine. Because of the nurturing and encouragement by the news editor, I developed a love and a need to write.

Poetry has always been a very special and personal experience  whether writing her own, or reading works of another poet. Creating poetry has provided me with insights and an understanding of how to navigate the many peaks and valleys that are traveled along life's pathway. I was especially delighted after Pulse Points of a Woman's World was published and nominated for the Georgia 41st. Annual Author of the Year Award.

Ideas and Stories:


The ideas for stories all come from my life experiences and knowledge I have gained along the way. The book, An Underground Jewell, spawned from a short story that was written about a Christmas Eve in the distant future when life on earth had changed drastically. That story was written in 1989. The idea to create a novel originated because I let imagination loose to wonder about the possibilities of this story.


I first began by creating a character who would write the story, and the reason why she wrote it. At that point, I began to develop other characters and a plot. I finally began writing the book. At one point, I had to stop writing because my husband became very ill, and I became his caregiver. At the same time, I was diagnosed with T3 bladder cancer. To add to the delay, my computer crashed and I had to start over. I was lucky that I had part of it printed out. After my husband died, I began writing again. Finally, 20 years later, it was finished and published. 

Now, I serve as the Vice-President of the American Bladder Cancer Society because I know the importance of support for those who have experienced this cancer, and how important it is to create more awareness around the world. Because I truly believe in this cause, all of my royalties go to the American Bladder Cancer Society

I am currently working on two books; one is a collection of short stories that may be titled, Squirrel Tales and Other Stories. The other book is a fantasy book that is a more adult story that was more or less spawned by the children’s book.



What is your most recent published book?


Merchild Land is a newly released children’s picture book. It is a perfect bedtime book for small ones that is illustrated with soft pastel illustrations of the ocean, seabed, beach, and merchildren. They explore the sea, clean the seabed, gather shells to put on the beach for children to find, and when evening comes they sail the on moonbeams in the sky to visit magical places while they dream.


How did the book originate?


The idea for this book originated, “In my earlier years of teaching, my eldest granddaughter rode to her school with me, and she always wanted me to tell her stories about mermaids. Later, I wrote a poem about childhood and mermaids (which I have included in the back of the book), and that was the beginning of the book. I wrote it for my granddaughter, who is now grown, but I wanted her to have something to share with her children. The color scheme is related to my childhood, and a book that I had as a child that has been kept and cherished over the years. My wish is that this book will be one that some other children will want to keep and cherish.”


What experiences have you had since the book was published?


Recently, I visited the Cancer Center at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, GA, and I discovered that several of my children’s books had been placed in the children’s section of the center. What an honor! Maybe, for just a few moments when the book is read to them, they will escape the nightmare in which they live.


Do you have any other published books?


I have two other books published. One is a book of poetry, Pulse Points of a Woman’s World, that evolved over the years. Many of the poems in the book had previously been published in literary magazines. The book is divided into four-sections which are: Youth, Love, Reality, and Wisdom. The poems in the book are illustrated.



The other book, An Underground Jewell, is an espionage/mystery novel set in a possible
near- future. The story revolves around the power of language and how it can change the way a society thinks and acts. One reader's review said: "An excellent read for all. Though a fiction it smacks with a lot of truth of what the future may bring. As one reads, it becomes rather apparent that this could all happen, and the last page says it all. I enjoyed reading and had a hard time putting it down." 

The story is set in the near future when man is living as much underground as above. All things are controlled by a central computer system. There is no such thing as "printed" material, it is all digital. The main character in the story, Elizabeth Jewell a sage and well-known author, finds herself caught up in a plot of intrigue. She decides to become her own sleuth to clear herself of all accusations, and in the process discovers there are multitudes of mysteries to solve.


Thank you, Sylvia, for sharing your journey with us. You have inspired all of us

Monday, March 14, 2011

The publishing industry continues to ravage itself. Borders is closing 200 stores and considering whether to close 75 more. For those who travel a lot, the good news is that so far, they say they are trying to keep their airport stores open.


With more and more bookstores closing, it seems like the game is changing in favor of mass market outlets like Wal-Mart, Target, and other discount stores. Category romance books from industry giants like Harlequin will therefore continue to have strong sales as they’ve always maintained a strong shelf presence in those spaces. Likewise, bestseller authors with traditional companies should continue to do well as they’ve always received shelf-space in those stores.

If you’re a mid-list author (or lower, non-existent/small-publisher-list like me) you can pretty well forget about sales except through Internet store-fronts like B&N and Amazon.

But it’s not all gloom and doom out there. Just a lot of turmoil. A lot of authors are finding success with the rise of ebooks. Most people are familiar with the mega-success of Amanda Hocking and J.A. Konrath, who have been talking about the glories of epublishing for a couple of years now. Even Bob Mayer in his recent blog http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/i-was-wrong-konrath-was-right  has turned the corner on accepting epublishing as a viable route for new and mid-list authors.

As Mayer points out, mid-list authors get virtually no marketing/promotional assistance from their publishers, anyway, so it’s up to the author to market his/her work.

However, unlike Konrath, I’m not as sanguine that new authors won’t get lost in the huge tidal wave of backlist books by established authors with well-developed fan bases. Literally hundreds, if not thousands, of excellent, well-edited books coming out as folks upload them into various ebook outlets such as Amazon.com.

I’m hoping, however, that there will still be room for small press and independent authors. It will be a challenge to find an audience when you’re one tiny voice amidst thousands, but I feel sure at least some will make a success of it, like Amanda Hocking.

There are some lessons learned, however, that are particularly relevant here.

Amanda’s success grew gradually, over the course of 8 books. That’s right, it was her 8th book in combination with 30 or so reviews that tipped the scales toward success. The lesson here is two-fold: a) the chance of having a hit on your first, indie ebook are very, very slim; and b) you’re going to have to work like the devil to socialize your books to garner enough reviews and attention to attract sales.

Editing, cover art, and pricing are critical. Most indie sales occur at the $.99 price. But now that everyone has learned that lesson and is offering their books at $.99, you’re going to have to have an even better product and work even harder to socialize it to beat out well-known authors like Konrath. That means, your cover art and editing have to be top-notch. Some recommend buying professional editing and art work.

This isn’t a competition…or is it? There are only 100 books in the top 100 list for any genre. Amazon doesn’t list all books for every genre when it offers suggestions. Like it or not, you’ve got competition for the reader’s dollar.

There are reasons for optimism, even heavily tempered with the harsh realities of the marketplace. Much as we might like, we can’t all be Amanda Hocking, J.A. Konrath, or Bob Mayer, but at least if we work really, really hard and then harder still, and are willing to edit the heck out of our books, we can get them in front of readers.

In my case, I’m ecstatic that The Vital Principle, a historical mystery has sold well over 100 copies in the first two weeks. It’s a start and a good one.

The Vital Principle
In 1815, an inquiry agent, Mr. Knighton Gaunt, is asked by Lord Crowley to attend a séance with the express purpose of revealing the spiritualist as a fraud. The séance ends abruptly, however, and during the turmoil, Lord Crowley dies. Gaunt is left to investigate not only fraud, but murder. Suspicion turns first to the spiritualist, Miss Prudence Barnard, but as Gaunt digs deeper into the twisted history of the guests at Rosecrest, he discovers more deadly secrets.  Inevitably, long-time friends turn against one another as the tension mounts and Gaunt is challenged to separate fact from fiction.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Guest Blog: Larry Karp

Please welcome mystery writer, Larry Karp! I particularly wanted feature him because his mysteries involve Ragtime, which has long been a guilty pleasure of mine. He was gracious enough to write a bit about the research he did for his ragtime series, so I'd better let him get on with it!

My first four mysteries (a medical standalone and a three-book series set among collectors of antique music boxes) required almost no research. I had it all in my head. But that situation changed dramatically when I set out to write a trilogy based in ragtime music.



The stories were to be called THE RAGTIME KID, THE KING OF RAGTIME, and THE RAGTIME FOOL, and they were to take place at the birth, death, and revival of ragtime: 1899, 1916, and 1951, respectively. The first and third books would be set primarily in Sedalia, MO, the second in New York City. My goal was to use unaltered history as a framework for murder mysteries, built around interesting occurrences at critical moments in those histories.


I also wanted to present the settings as vividly as I could.


I began by reading all the histories of ragtime and its pioneers that I could find; then I went on to articles in music (primarily jazz) periodicals. My bibliographies in each of my three books ran to some five pages.


Then I made multiple on-site visits to New York and Sedalia (at the time of that Missouri city's annual Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival), tough duty. Many of the buildings still standing in downtown Sedalia and Harlem were there at the time of my stories, including a couple of Scott Joplin's residences. I took multiple photographs. I also spent a great deal of time in Sedalia's beautiful Carnegie Library, perusing microfiche copies of newspapers from 1899 and 1951.


I was lucky enough to have been in Sedalia on a sunny, hot Sunday in June, when there was no traffic on the city streets, and the only sound came from church bells. Easy for my mind's eye to see the city as it would have looked l00 years before. And the temperature of 96 degrees with humidity to match brought this line into my head: "They say the devil once spent a week in Missouri in July, then went back and set up hell to specifications." You'll find those words on Page 49 of THE RAGTIME KID.


I had a great deal of help. Since I'm a musical illiterate, I interviewed ragtime musicians and historians, and attended master classes, where the pros taught youngsters the ins and outs of good ragtime piano. How else would I have known what Scott Joplin might have told Brun Campbell, the Ragtime Kid, in the course of the piano lessons he gave the boy.


My luckiest stroke might have been meeting Betty Singer, a local historian, in the Sedalia Library. Betty's family has lived in the Sedalia area since the 1830s, and as she told me, "I love doing research. I'm sure you'll go home and find you need a piece of information about Sedalia. Here's my email address." Over the six years of the project, I needed more than one piece of information, and Betty provided me every one. Without her help, I doubt I could have written the books.


I can say the same about Seattle genealogist Mark Forster, who not only introduced me to the internet game of genealogical research, but ran considerable interference for me. Thanks to Mark's help, and many hours of my own on line, I discovered so much previously-unknown material about the real-life Brun Campbell, I was able to present seminars at both the Joplin Festival and the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento. If you don't think it was a kick to present new information to rooms full of ragtime pianists, historians, and fans, think again.


During the course of doing all this research, I had a good number of adventures and funny experiences. We're running low on space here, so you can read about a couple of these on my two most recent blog posts (March 9 and March 2), http://www.larrykarp.blogspot.com/ And I'd be glad to hear from you: larry@larrykarp.com


Thanks, Amy, for inviting me to write this piece.

My pleasure!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Book Covers - Help Me Decide

I'm working on the second draft for a historical mystery in my Second Sons Inquiry Agencymystery series and I'm really torn on a cover image. The first book in the series is shown here. It's clean, simple, and the image is relevant to the book.


I'd found the cover image I wanted, an old-fashioned rose with a bit of blood spatter against a white background. It would go well with the first book in the series, which is a white candle with a trail of smoke against a black background.

But then I saw this other image and it was just so cool I'm having a hard time resisting it.

Now, I don't know if I should go for a "series look" the way I originally intended and use the "rose and blood" image or if I should just go with the cool picture because it's cool.

The rose image is probably more appropriate to the book, which is a mystery involving a killer who sends a rose as a taunt to the Second Sons Inquiry Agency each time he's preparing to kill someone. If they can identify the rose correctly, they might be able to identify the victim and save him or her. Hence the image of the rose. That is really what I had in mind as I was writing the book.

But as I said, it's so hard to resist when you find another bright, shiny object elsewhere. This last picture is just so evocative that it's hard for me to resist.

Maybe I should just save it and use it for the third paranormal book I'm planning to write at some point after my latest, A Fall of Silver, is released from The Wild Rose Press. Theresa Blackstone, a secondary character from both my first (Vampire Protector) and second (A Fall of Silver) paranormal romances will be getting her own book. Soon. I just have so many books in so many various stages of planning, writing, and editing that it's hard to keep up. Wish I wasn't wasting so much time on my day job. LOL

So help me decide! Should I stick with the original image and go for a "series feel" as it fits in with the first cover? Or, since the books really all stand alone and even have different characters (although Knighton Gaunt, the owner/founder of Second Sons does make an appearance in all of them) should I take a more individual approach for the images?

Which cover image would you go for?

Monday, March 07, 2011

Guest: Anne Patrick on The Importance of Research



My guest blogger today is Anne Patrick and she is talking about a subject that is near-and-dear to my heart: research and getting your facts straight. How many of us have started a book only to throw it across the room when we run into a glaring error? Obviously, none of us can get everything right--there are some honest mistakes and even historians have been known to argue about what exactly happened when, and to whom--but there are basics that every diligent author should get right.

But...I digress (since this is a favorite topic of mine). Here is Anne Patrick!

Get Your Facts Straight.


How many of you remember the drudgery of researching at your local library? Thanks to the internet, things are a lot easier now. I do my research, probably like most other writers: books and the internet. However, you have to be careful where you get your information and whether or not it is indeed accurate. Your best bet is to find someone in the field you are researching and ask them to lend their expertise. Most always, you'll find a willing participant—especially if you promise to acknowledge them in your book.


Through research is one of the most important steps you'll take in the writing process. You want to take great care in making sure you've done your homework, especially if you plan on doing any book signing or book club talks. I never will forget my first book signing. After I'd done the fun part of autographing all the books, I was asked to talk to a group of about twenty people. Now that in itself is pretty terrifying to me, but when they started asking research questions my anxiety level went up a notch or two. Thankfully, I had contacted a professional in the same field I'd placed my main character and I was able to answer all their questions. I even had a little pamphlet made up (just in case anyone was to ask) that I passed around describing how my forensic artist went through her creation process.

Another example is my novel Fire and Ash. Several months of research went into it's creation, involving books and the internet. To make sure I got my facts straight I enlisted the help of a wonderful man named Keith Tarbox. He is the fire investigator I corroborated with to make sure my fire scenes were plausible and that my character was believable. His help was invaluable. Not only did he take time out of his busy schedule to answer all my questions he read the manuscript and made some suggestions that gave the book more depth. His insights and the real life experiences he shared helped me to get inside Sadie's head and really get to know her. In all honesty, this books success is due largely to his willingness to help out a nagging author.

Last case in point is my short story Dangerous Deception, which is included in a mystery/suspense anthology that was released March 1st from Victory Tales Press. My inspiration behind this story came from reading about the civil war in Sierra Leone back in the nineties. When I first came up with the idea for this story a few years ago, I contacted two different pastors living in Sierra Leone who actually witnessed many of the atrocities that took place. Since my novel is a contemporary, it takes place in a fictitious country. The events I describe, however, were inspired from the stories I was told. This brings up another point you may want to watch out for, avoid using real names and places if possible.


I hope my post was useful to you. I want to thank Amy for having me today, and for the opportunity to share a little about myself. If you'd like to learn more about me and my books, please visit my website: http://www.annepatrick.weebly.com/ .
---

Thank you so much, Anne! I'm glad (for once) that I wasn't the one up on her hobby horse screaming that writers need to do the appropriate research for their books! I only want to add that I've noted that the best-selling authors have one huge thing in common: they always do their research, and then some.
 
Nobody gets everything right, but we need to all try to get most things right!
What is your opinion, readers? Do you care if authors go a little "off the tracks" when they right or do you prefer something as accurate as possible?

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Good News


Just got back from a business trip to Chicago and got the best news! My book, The Bricklayer's Helper, has been nominated for the best historical romance in 2010! Wow--I really can't believe it. I'm just thrilled.

But I need help to actually win, so if you'd like to lend a hand, you can click on this link: http://www.theromancereviews.com/bookvote.php  and vote for The Bricklayer's Helper. I'd certainly appreciate it.

I'm also happy to see that The Vital Principle, the first book in the Second Sons Inquiry Agency historical mystery series is now available on the Nook as well as the Kindle. It is selling steadily and already received a good review (5 stars and a lovely comparison to Amanda Quick's books), which I take to be an excellent sign.

Before I left, I may have mentioned that my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, has offered me a contract for my second paranormal romance and we have a title! Thanks to all my friends on Facebook who helped me weed through a list of possibilities, we finally decided on A Fall of Silver. I'm hoping it may come out late this year (2011) but you just never know.

Lastly, I may have mentioned that I'm looking forward to attending the Malice Domestic conference later this spring. I'll be part of a panel scheduled on April 30th at 4:10PM on making the past come alive. The moderator is Sally Fellows, and the panelists will include: Andrea Penrose, Elena Santangelo, Elizabeth Zelvin, and yours truly--Amy Corwin. I am so honored and thrilled about this. I'm actually more excited about hearing what the others have to say, because I always wrestle with historical accuracy versus the modern reader's taste, sensibility and knowledge. It's more of a pickle than you might think.

That's it for now from the odd world of fiction writing..