Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gifting E-books

Not very long ago, or so the story goes, (my apologies if this is simply hearsay) a major Christian publisher decided to have a give-away. The prize was an e-reader loaded with books from that particular house. They promoted and people signed up. It was a highly successful promotion.

Until it came time to give away the prize.

And they discovered it was nearly impossible to give away ebooks. They were tied to the buyer's account. If someone loaded a Kindle and charged the books to his account, the new owner would be able to perpetually buy books using that account. But once the account was removed from the device, the books would disappear as well!

But those days are history--gone the way of the rotary phone and the Walkman.

Now, Amazon at least, allows the gifting of ebooks. (And as the proud author of an ebook, I think that's a very good thing.) If a reader likes a book, he could always recommend it to his friend. But now he can go a step further--and actually BUY the book for his friend.

Here's how that's done:

Go to the Amazon page for the KINDLE edition of the book you'd like to give. You'll have to have an Amazon account and be logged in to make a purchase, of course. For a purely hypothetical example (wink), here's mine: Gold, Frankincense, and Murder.

Once there, find the "Give as a Gift" button. Click away.

On the next page that comes up, you'll have the option of typing in the email address of the recipient and the date you want the gift delivered. Consider how handy that is for giving e-books for special occasions.  Graduations, birthdays, weddings--that parenting book for a baby shower. And, oh yeah, A HOLIDAY ROMANTIC MYSTERY NOVELLA FOR CHRISTMAS. Yeah, what a great idea!! And you can have it arrive promptly on December 25th. How convenient is that! Especially for those people who are getting a new e-reader for Christmas, and don't know it yet. Shhhh....

You can also elect to have the email delivered to you instead, so you can send it yourself, or hand deliver it on a plate of snickerdoodles.

You can also type in a personalized message. Hats off to Amazon--they've created a great system here.

Now that you've seen how it works, why not practice sending Gold, Frankincense, and Murder to a friend. You might need to send it to several friends to make sure you've got the hang of e-book giving. Practice makes perfect. ;)

E-books make great stocking-stuffers, since they leave plenty of room in the stocking for things like candy. And they are ideal for the last-minute shopper. An inexpensive e-book, such as a 99 cent holiday novella, would be perfect as a special little something for your friend, spouse, brother, sister, son, daughter, aunt, uncle, mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, cousin, child's teacher, school principal, Sunday school teacher, pastor, paper delivery person, hair stylist, gardener, snow plow operator, and first responder. You can even print out extra to have on hand to give to neighbors who drop by, carolers, and the harried waitress at the local diner.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How You Can Read Gold, Frankincense, and Murder

If you have a Kindle:

You can order from, and have it downloaded to your device.

If you have a Nook:

You can order from Barnes and Noble and have it downloaded to your device.

If you have another e-reader that uses epub format: (Such as Sony)

You may order from a number of sources, including Barnes and*, and Bookstrand. Download the file to your computer, and then load it to your e-reader using your USB cable.

* For some reason, Christianbook is now saying GF&M will be released on the 15th of December. Not sure what is going on there, but will keep you posted.

If you want to read from a computer or other device:

Kindle format: If you would like to download a free Kindle reading app for your computer or other device, check availability here: Kindle Reading Apps. Then order from Amazon.

Epub format: You may already have an epub reader on your computer or other device, but if you don't, you can download a free Nook reading app from Barnes and Noble. Then order an epub version from one of the sellers listed above.

PDF format: You can also purchase Gold, Frankincense, and Murder in PDF (Adobe Acrobat)  format from Bookstrand and Pelican Book Group.  PDF files can be read on most computers. If you need a PDF reader, you can download one for your particular operating system from Adobe.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments. I'll help if I'm able!

Happy reading!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Interview with Lilly Maytree, Author of Gold Trap

Where are you from?
I’m not at liberty to mention it, although I will say it was one of the most beautiful places in the world, at the time, peopled with more creatives per acre than possibly anywhere else on the planet. Sometimes, imagination rubbed off just bumping into them. You can’t go back there, anymore, because it isn’t the same. But when I was growing up, it was still golden. Oh, dear, now, I’ve probably said too much. Maybe we should go on to the next question.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Everything. Absolutely everything. Which I wasn’t allowed, so, there was the angst. Still, that was probably the very reason I came away with such an active imagination.

What inspired you to write your first book?
The longing for those adventures I couldn’t have. Not only was writing my escape, but the words themselves enchanted me. I was fascinated with their ability to evoke emotions and create worlds. In fact, I was a collector of them long before I learned how to weave them into my own stories. But once I discovered the thrill of that, I never quit. My first book was a south sea sailing adventure I never stopped changing. I grew up and learned my craft writing it. I still take it out from time to time, thinking I might polish it up and do something with it. Might very well be my “magnum opus” (great work), the beginning and the end, as I will have had a lifetime of learning when I come to that place. But it isn’t time, yet.

What are your current projects?
Right now, I’m working on an adventure called THE PANDORA BOX. It’s about a young newspaper reporter who befriends an old man in a state hospital she is investigating, who tells her about a fortune in diamonds he hid during the war. So, she sets out on the adventure of a lifetime to find them, without knowing the CIA has been following the case for many years, and there is much more to be recovered than diamonds. It’s the second in my “women of adventure” series, that links a true-life heroine out of the past with a contemporary story of today.

Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I have always been enamored with heroes, and you find them in all races, ages, and time periods. I am especially interested in ordinary people who are molded by experiences that lead them to do extraordinary things. I believe there is a “hero spark” in all of us that could easily be fanned to flame in the right place and time, and I greatly enjoy telling stories about those kinds of people. I’m a bit unusual in my methods, though, as I like to build the story around interesting quotes from the real heroes. Of course, the adventures, themselves, are pure fiction.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I suppose for GOLD TRAP it would have to be that not only does God have a plan for our lives that is better than anything we could dream up, ourselves, it is also something we will love doing. Because He has created and equipped us for that very thing. “Divinely appointed,” you might say. A lot of us have a hard time believing that, though. But when you think about it, what could be more wonderful?

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
GOLD TRAP was inspired by the true-life adventures of Mary Kingsley, who survived some of the most incredible experiences in Africa. Much wilder than my character, Meg, went through. You couldn’t get away with putting such things in a novel, though. Which is another proof for that old saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

What do you think makes a good story?
A good universal concept or premise. Because they give you a jump start on your story by having already built-in emotional responses for the reader. Like a free ticket for a ride they already want to go on. After that, I think you have to have characters that people can get attached to. There are a lot of characters people can relate to because they see themselves in them. But they don’t always like themselves.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
The kind of traveling I like to do for my books is my own version of time traveling. This because many of the people and places I write about are no longer there to travel to. I do travel in more conventional ways, as well. My husband (who is an adventurer by nature), and I, travel several months out of the year. Right now, we are busy planning a “Mystery Tour” for GOLD TRAP that will begin sometime in the spring. I can only tell you that we’ve got some very mysterious stops scheduled, already. Of course, I will be documenting our travels for my readers, and taking enough friends along that it’s shaping up into quite the traveling show. But that’s all I can tell you about that, right now.

If you could be any character in fiction, whom would you be?
Mary Poppins. Definitely.

Thank you, so much, for having me over for a visit, Barb!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Interview with Jayne Self

I'm glad to have Jayne Self here today. I recently interviewed Jayne about her writing and her new mystery, Murder in Hum Harbour.

Tell us a little about yourself and where you're from.

I am Canadian. I’ve lived coast to coast (Vancouver Island to Labrador) so it’s hard to say where I call home. I’ve been at my present address in southern Ontario for sixteen years—the longest I’ve lived anywhere. Our house is a two-storey, red-brick, century home, adjacent to the church my husband pastors. My upstairs window overlooks the church’s stone wall and the old apple tree in the back yard. Very inspirational.

My life experiences are as varied as the places I’ve lived. I’ve been a chambermaid, a telephone operator, a nurse, grocery clerk, pastor’s wife, mom and, most recently, a grandma. Through it all, I’ve written. And I’ve dreamed of the day I’d have books published.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Although I had difficulty learning to read, I’ve always loved story. As a teen I fell in love with Lloyd C. Douglas’ The Robe, and decided to write my own sequel. The project never made it past four foolscap pages of character names, but I think that’s when God planted the vision in my heart.

Years later, I struggled with the teaching that imagination is wrong (2 Cor 10: 5) and set the vision aside. It was a difficult period in my life, characterized by an emptiness I couldn’t understand. It wasn’t until God reignited His call, confirming imagination was His gift to be shared, not buried, that I started writing seriously and the emptiness fled.
I am so thankful.

What inspired you to write your first book?

1998—I’d been toying with a time-travel idea that revolved around the millennium. Now seemed the perfect time to put that story on paper. I bought a dozen little hard cover books from the dollar store and began writing my epic. By hand. I wrote and wrote until I ran out of ideas. I attended Christian writer’s conferences, made contacts, sent out queries, amassed rejections. Some were quite lovely, but they were still rejections. I’ve rewritten that book a dozen times, though I can now type. Each draft gets better and maybe some day that book will be published. As, I hope, will the four other novels I have filed away on my computer.
Murder In Hum Harbour is the fifth novel I’ve completed and the first to be published. I guess God rewards persistence.

Tell me about the book.

I set out to write a cozy mystery for a specific publisher who was looking for cozies.
Reviewing my previous novels I recognized some commonalities. My stories were set in small towns. The main character struggled to belong. There was always a health-related subplot. And there was humour. With those in mind, I created my amateur sleuth, Gailynn MacDonald, my setting, Hum Harbour, and my cast of quirky characters.

Unlike many mystery series, I want my protagonist to develop over time. I believe growth is at the heart of our Christian faith. Any characters who don’t grow through the challenges they face, aren’t a helpful reflection of a follower of Jesus. Does that mean my characters intuitively avoid mistakes, making only Spirit-inspired choices in their march toward ever-growing maturity? Hardly.

For me, that’s one of the “funnest” parts of story writing. Creating disasters that teach.

Is Hum Harbor a real place? If not, where did you get your inspiration?

As for Hum Harbour, I created the fiction village from a composite of Nova Scotian communities. (We have summered in Nova Scotia for over twenty years.) The village’s name is derived from the HMS Humphrey which ran aground in 1779  while transported a motley group of Scotish settlers to the new world. The survivors waded ashore and went no further. Like Hum Harbour, the HMS Humphrey is fiction, derived from fact.

Nova Scotia, one of Canada’s ten provinces and three territories, is known as Canada’s Ocean Playground. Although the province is only 357 miles long (smaller than West Virginia), it boasts 4,600 miles of spectacular shoreline. Its rolling, sometimes mountainous countryside is mostly forested; its people are down-home friendly. Culture flourishes in Nova Scotia. Her people are fiercely loyal, and their art and music reflect the provinces strong Celtic and Acadian roots.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?

I write from an outline. Before I begin each scene I copy the scene’s goal, conflict, and disaster, from my outline cards to the top of the page. The outline keeps me on track, but is thin enough to allow discovery as I write. Sometimes, if I venture too far from the original plan, I have to redo the outline. But it’s important for me to do the plotting homework before I start writing. I find if I don’t have an outline, I stall. If I ignore the scene goals I write myself into implausible corners. Then I have to start all over again.

I don’t insert chapter divisions until the manuscript is completed. Once the first draft is finished I pass it along to a trusted reader who vets the plot, pointing out the inconsistencies and errors. I rewrite, making the necessary changes, and repeat the process.
Sometimes I grow weary of the details but I never tire of the process. I love writing.

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Three words that describe me? I polled my family on this one.
Caring, said one son.
Light-hearted, said another.
Smart, said my husband.
I’ll add short. Although, perhaps I could all be summed up in one word, with all its connotations: blonde.

You can learn more about Jayne's book and read my review on today's Inkwell Inspirations blog.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Treadmill Desk

I have a confession. I've been coveting a treadmill desk for some time now. Spending a lot of time on a computer (for work and recreation), it seemed an ideal way to get a little more exercise in. But the cost seemed prohibitive. So I designed my own.

First, I took a look at the treadmill:

(Ignore the mess behind it.) But the first thing I noticed is that the side grab bars would make a good support. Only if you just rested a plank on top, it would be awfully low to set a lap top. So I needed a way to attach to these bars, but also raise the height.

So during a trip to the discount hardware store, I purchased the following:

  • 1 oak board, 1x12x3' (on clearance. I love clearance)
  • 1 oak board 1x2x3'
  • 2 pine boards 1x4x4'

(Ignore the floor--I've been meaning to replace it.)

And then I went to the larger hardware store, and purchased:
  • four round fittings from the plumbing department (larger in diameter than the grab bars)
  • a roll of self-adhesive weatherstripping--otherwise known as foam tape.

I already had an assortment of fasteners (screws, nails, wooden dowel pegs) at my disposal. Amount spent? Just over $25.00.

Step one: Using four screws, attach the 1x2x3' oak board to the 1x12x3' desk surface. this will form a lip to keep a laptop from sliding forward.

Step two: Cut the 1x4x4' boards into equal length sections, based on the length of the your treadmill grab bars. I cut mine to 9" lengths.

Step three: 1. Use two wood dowel pegs to join two 9" sections together, end to end.  Repeat four times.

2. Using four screws, join two of these sections together.

3. Using four screws, add the top to the T.

4. Repeat to make a second 'T'.

Step four: Using a coping saw, cut off part of each fitting so that it fits over the grab bar.

Step five: Drill a pilot hole at the bottom of each of the round 'feet'. (These will fit over the grab bar) Attach to T as shown. (Optional--add a scrap of wood to one side of each T to level the desk on the guide bar. Otherwise, it will be pitched slightly forward)

Add weatherstripping to the inside curve of each foot (to protect guide bar from scratching)

Step six: Place both assembled Ts (inverted) onto grab bars. Place desk top assembly on top. Make sure all pieces are level and square, the screw into T's from desk top using four screws. You can also add a strip of weatherstripping to the lip of the desk for comfort.

Step seven: (IMPORTANT) Add an anchor rope to the front of the desk. This will keep the desk from pitching forward.


This plan worked for me and my particular treadmill. You may have to make changes to the design based on your treadmill the height of the user.

And as always, I expect someone will read this and figure out a way to do it better (I'm not a carpenter). Please feel free to post suggestions in the comments.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Interview with Lillian Duncan

I thought it might be nice to pair my book review of Lillian Duncan's romantic suspense Pursued on Inkwell Inspirations, with a more in-depth interview on my blog.

Often mystery is pitted against suspense? Which is your first love? Which do you find more challenging/rewarding to write?

BOTH-I love to read books that have both elements in them. Figuring out the killer's identity is great fun but I also like the action that keeps me worried about the main characters.Most of my books start out as a mystery but then BAM, I throw the reader right into the suspense part of the book.

While Christian fiction seems to be all about the romance, you've chosen to work in a different genre. What challenges have you encountered?

Most men don't seem to want to read suspense from women writers-they assume it's all about the romance not the suspense.

When did you first know you wanted to write?

I think I always knew it, but I didn't actually start writing until I was forty. You could call me a late bloomer.

Research for mystery/suspense writers can be a little different. While my historical romance writing friends are researching Victorian underwear, I'm poring over autopsy reports. Where do you get your ideas?

Anything can set me off on a story line. It could be the news, a movie, a person walking past me. I never know when an idea will come to me. It's part of the fun of being a writer. One minute, I'm sitting there enjoying a cup of coffee and the next minute my adrenaline is pumping and my mind is racing.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Has your writing ever taken any twists that surprised you?

I am definitely a pantser so I get surprised-a lot!. I think outlining would make the writing process easier but it doesn't work for me.

What advice would you give to other upcoming writers?

Number 1-Join a good writer's group, such as American Christian Fiction Writers. They offer so much in the way of learning the craft of writing along with encouragement and support, they are invaluable.

Number 2-After you finish your first manuscript, find a critique group. Notice, I say after you finish your first manuscript. If you join a critique group before it's finished, you might find it too discouraging, you'll quite writing. I don't want that to happen.

To become a writer takes time. To become a good writer takes even more time. To become a bestselling novelist...well that's where God come in.

Any upcoming books? Works in progress?

PURSUED was released in July and I have another book coming out in the fall-DECEPTION. Both are suspense with a dash of romance. You can learn more about my books at or at my blog,

Thanks so much for having me here and letting me talk about my writing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Barbara the news (sort of)

I have to admit, I think I agree with whoever first said that authors should set up a Google alert on their name. For those unfamiliar with the term, a Google alert is an automated feature where Google sends you new results to a search. In this case "Barbara Early."

Now I can't say I've found too many people talking about me online. But I have had the added fun, since my last name is an adverb, of having totally unrelated news items sent to me--especially things that take place in Santa Barbara.

So here's what's new, in the world of Barbara Early:

" Lobbying for a foul, Barbara lay prone on the pitch as play continued on its opposite end. Concerns over Barbara’s vital signs were allayed, however, when the Maltese striker popped up and began yelling vociferously at the referee, the linesman, and the fourth official, and possibly a couple of ball boys, concessionaries, and the RailHawks’ mascot Swoops. It was harsh words hurled in the direction of RailHawks’ manager Martin Rennie, however, that immediately preceded Barbara’s early exit in the 77th minute, demonstrating that a two-goal lead is always a great opportunity for the coach to enforce a “Don’t Cross the Boss” policy."
Although I think "the Maltese Striker" would be a cool nickname to have.

As to the Google alert to television station's website that tied me to a string of break-ins into Santa Barbara CVS stores? All I can say is, I have an alibi. Um. When was that again?

And I do seem to hang around some big names these days. Another story, this time from Newsday, and unfortunately no longer available, seems to tie me in with the Kardashian wedding. I wonder if they saved me any cake...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Alcohol and Murder

I was doing some early research on the temperance movement and prohibition in the United States for a possible novel set amid the same conflict.

Still considering it. The time period is rife with change and conflict, the perfect backdrop for a murder.

But one recent statistic, tacked onto the end of a wikipedia article, jumped out at me:

In 2010, alcohol is a factor in over 23,000 motor vehicles deaths and over 50% of the murders in the country.

Those of us who write mysteries look for interesting cases--compelling motives, intriguing suspects. But the truth of the matter is that most murders, tragic though they be, are simple. Some fool got drunk and killed his wife, girlfriend, kid, landlord, cousin, fill in the blank.

Hmmm.... the temperate detective?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Watcha Callit?

Series arc maybe? I've been wondering what you would call a story line or subplot that extends over several books.

Whatever you call it, Victoria Thompson does a great job in her Gaslight series. Yes, each book is a stand alone mystery--complete with catching the villain. But there are other threads running through the series, compelling you to read just one more book. Who killed Sarah's husband? Will Sarah and Malloy get together? What have Maeve and Catherine been through and what will become of them? And what about Sarah's parents?

I'm not sure if I've spent more time enjoying them or studying them.

It's got me thinking about others who have done that well in books and television. Romances are popular in cozy mysteries. Then there's Monk's search for his wife's killer. The Fugitive's search for the one armed man. In Castle, Kate Beckett is searching for her mother's killer. In Bones, Brennan is looking for the truth about her parents. In Burn Notice, Michael Weston searches for who burned him.

And that's got my wondering what overarching story line(s) I could add for the cozy series I'm querying.

Do you know what to call this device? Do you have any favorite "series arcs" that drew you in?

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Forgotten Verse

When was the last time you heard this verse of the "Star Spangled Banner"?

Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand,
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with
vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Power that has made and preserved us as a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust";
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Have a safe and Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Using Facebook Lists

Writers love to network.

Since that includes Facebook, writers tend to have a lot of "friends," some of which they've even met. When the friends list grows longer, many start a fan or author page (nothing unreasonable about that.)

But since I've elected not to do that at this point, I utilize lists so my friends and family do not get buried in the deluge of posts.

How to create a facebook list:

1. In your newsfeed page, look on the left hand side. Click on "Friends."

2. On the top of your Friends page, click on "Edit Friends."

3. On the next page that comes up (also called Friends), click on "Create a list."

4. This will bring you to a pop-up page that has pictures of all your friends. Type the name of the list you wish to create. Then click on the friends you want to add to your new list. When you're finished, click "Create a List" on the bottom.

5. This will take you to a new page for that list. From here you can delete the list or add to it.

When you want to look at posts from only that list, go to your newsfeed page. Click on the little triangle on the upper right. It will pull up a menu of options you can view on your newsfeed page, including your friend lists. Choose the list you want to include in your feed.

So far, I've made lists for my friends and family, church, writers, and gamers (for those who play the same games as I do--they're addicting!). And yes, you can put people on more than one list.

You can also use these lists when posting. In game playing, for instant, I chose to post those pesky game requests (on the rare occasion when I do that) to only my gamers list, so they do not bother the writers or other folks who don't play.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Author Pages on Facebook?

I came across an author's blog, with an invitation to connect with her on facebook. All about networking these days, I clicked it. And was given, not the option of friending her, but liking her. A fan page.

Don't ask me why, but I haven't signed up for too many author fan pages. I have a number of authors as facebook friends, but being asked to be a friend and being asked to be a fan seem like two very different things. At least in my mind. Or do I need to rethink this?

Why start a author fan page?

Nathan Bransford, former literary agent and popular blogger, had this to say:

When fan pages were first created, I think people were kind of nervous to get started on them due to the whole "fan" thing. It seemed a bit presumptuous to have a fan page when one wasn't a celebrity. But Facebook pages are increasingly how people distinguish between their private and public networks. So even if you aren't (yet) a published author, I would definitely consider creating a page for yourself.(Whole article)

But here's the question in my mind. Do I really want to distinguish between my private and public networks? Facebook is a social networking site. If I want to network professionally, perhaps I should look into LinkedIn. But if I want to interact with people--author and readers--on a more intimate basis, wouldn't that be easier to continue with my profile page as it is, and freely allow new additions? It's not like I have any deep, dark or personal things going on in my facebook page that I need to hide.

And since facebook lists allow me to place my friends into categories, my personal friends don't get lost in the volume. I have a list for family and friends, and when I click on that, I get only their updates.

An author page would also be yet another page to monitor and keep updated. Which is an important consideration.

I do think, however, when it comes closer to the release date, that I might create a fan page for my book. The obvious advantage to this is that people can still be my friends while being fans of my book.

Now, should there ever come a day when I reach the upper limits on the number of facebook friends (yeah, right--but a girl can dream), I might revisit this question. But thinking on the authors who are my facebook friends--I may have never met them, but I kind of like being listed as their friends. Of seeing their posts on their daily lives. Finding out what they put on the grill. Sharing their recipes. Learning what they watch on television.

Yes, for now I think I prefer friends to fans. (Bites lower lip) Unless I'm missing something.

What about you? Do you 'like' author fan pages? Do you have one? Are there advantages to them that I'm missing?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Barbara the news

While puttering around on the internet, trying to build a web presence prior to the publication of my first book, I set up a Google alert for my name.

If you're not familiar with the term, a Google alert will allow you to enter a search term, and Google will email you a new occurrence of that search term. Not that I'm paranoid people are talking about me. I actually hope someday maybe someone will mention me in passing. In my wildest dreams the comment is even favorable.

Well, I got my first Google alert:

"Giada de Laurentiis will be cooking for Britian's Prince William and his new wife, Kate, when the couple visits Santa Barbara early next month for a polo tournament."

While Giada is lovely, Will and Kate's visit took me entirely by surprise. Since I don't want to disappoint the royal newlyweds, I must buy a new outfit and a hat. And probably a horse.

My sainthood? Was there ever any doubt? ;)

Oh, and Giada--I'm sensitive to onions and garlic and everything in the allium family. Looking forward to it.

I have a feeling I'm going to be quite popular in Orange County.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Editor vs. the Two-Year-Old

Just the other day I got a nice introductory email from my newly assigned editor at White Rose. I read it, send a note back. Everything seemed peachy keen.

Then at three in the morning (no lie), I woke up in a panic. I have an editor?!?

And then the anxious thoughts started, as I worried through a series of idiotic requests my sleep-hazed mind decided an editor might want. Yes, my inner two-year-old, the one who wants her own way and cannot work with others, had come for a visit.

So we had a talk:

Me: What are you afraid of?

2YO: Are you dense? Isn't it obvious? An editor is going to READ what we wrote!! (Yes, my inner two-year-old does help write. She can be fun at times and I help her with punctuation. She's overly fond of capital letters and exclamation points.) And she might even suggest we CHANGE things!!!!!

Me: Why would that be so bad?

2YO: Because then it wouldn't be the SAME!!!

Me: Do you think what we wrote is perfect the way it is?

2YO: Well, no, but...

Me: Don't you think having a professional look at it, give it a thorough read, and recommend improvements might be a rewarding and enriching process? One that makes the manuscript so much better? We've been to critique groups. I don't understand the problem.

2YO: Yeah, but in those crit groups we can always go home and make fun of their suggestions later.

Me: (blushing) We don't always do that. Not even all that often.

2YO: Yeah, but there were a few lunkhead suggestions. Like the one who told us we used 'said' too often, and suggested we be more creative. But an editor is different. You have a contract now. What if the editor makes lunkhead suggestions?

Me: Then she probably wouldn't be in the position she's in. I'm actually looking forward to seeing an editor's input in some places I think are weak. This could help advance my writing. And I do want my first sale to be the strongest it can be.

2YO: Can I go out and play now?

Me: Sure, I've got work to do.

Below are two online resources I'm looking at to learn how best to work with an editor:

Now if I can only keep my inner two-year-old occupied during the process. Maybe a nice summer camp...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saying Goodbye to KoKo and Yum Yum

This week the mystery writing community lost a legend. Lilian Jackson Braun died at the age of 97. But in her lifetime she authored 29 published novels and several short story collections.

It was shortly after my mother passed away that I read the first in the Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun. For those who might not have had the pleasure, it's worth the read. These are the books that spawned the introduction of a new sub-genre. Not just the cozy, but the cat sleuth. These book are not literary. They are often not page-turners. Sometimes they ramble like a comfortable old grandfather who can't seem to get to the point. But one thing they are: pure comfort.

Far from salacious, these family-friendly mysteries chronicle the abilities of two Siamese cats, Koko and Yum Yum, and their caretaker, (does one own a cat?) Qwill. Qwill is an intuitive journalist with a pepper and salt mustache that seems to sense crime as easily as Koko's whiskers. Together they solve murders in the quaint town of Pickaxe, 400 miles north of everywhere. It's a refreshing destination, for a heart-warming cozy. And they and the whole town will be missed.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Google as Evidence?

I was watching a story on the Casey Anthony case. If you need a brief recap, she's on trial for killing her young daughter, a case featured by Nancy Grace.

But some new evidence introduced at trial was her Google records, where she searched for neck breaking, internal injuries, how to make chloroform, and a few other heinous topics--several months before the child went missing.

Which makes me think, as a mystery writer, I'd be in serious trouble should anyone I know be murdered. Poisoned? I have a least one book on the subject. Shot? I have bookmarked a few sites on weapons. Bomb? Yep, Googled explosives. And I've read more than my share of online autopsy reports.

What could police learn from your Google records?

Stay safe, everybody!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New Design. New Focus

For those who have been following my blog, you know I've been promising a few changes. One of which is the title. Instead of "Cozy Craft" which focused on crafting a cozy mystery (but also led people to believe I was talking about knitting and cross-stitch), I've decided to broaden the focus, just a tad, to embrace more of who I am.

Faith. This doesn't mean future posts will all be preachy. But my faith is important to me and shapes who I am. Whether discussing my faith overtly, or whether it is in the background, inherent in my world view, faith is a part of everything I write.

Fiction. I'm still progressing in my pursuit of publication. (An announcement is coming soon.) And I expect more posts on the art and craft and business of writing fiction.

Felony. I love mystery. Mystery might be inspirational or mainstream, or it might include elements of romance or humor. Maybe I'll share things I'm learning from the mystery I'm reading and other resources where I find them.

Another change will be that my posts will be more frequent, more conversational, and shorter.

Hope you join me for the ride!