Friday, June 29, 2012

My Guest Blog for Peeking Between the Pages...AND a Giveaway!!

Check out my Guest Blog for Peeking Between The Pages about my inspirations for my newest book, FRAMED...and click HERE to enter into a Giveaway for a FREE copy!! 

I grew up with books. Summertime found me curled up with my latest literary love on the back porch swing or the crook of a large branch of the silver maple out front. I clearly remember my thirteenth summer when I was physically living in suburban Illinois but mentally inhabiting the Smokey Mountains alongside Catherine Marshall’s remarkable Christy. That may have been the year a little part of me started to feel the writer’s itch.

Fast forward to my adult years, when raising three extremely energetic boys left me with little free time to read but badly in need of some sort of escape! That’s when I discovered mysteries. I love all kinds, from the classic Agatha Christie to Robert Parker’s wise cracking tough but tender Spencer. I’ve devoured enough installments of Sue Grafton’s books to make alphabet soup! The most challenging mysteries came from the pen of P.D. James. That gal knows how to plot! But I also enjoyed the fun escape of the cozy-style mystery-though I hate that term, since murder is hardly something to cozy up to!

I’ve heard that the term comes from the tea cozy, a snug wrap of sorts designed to insulate a teapot. I suppose it implies you should be drinking a proper cup of tea while reading such a book, but since these are often devoured on beaches or at pools, in airplanes, or late at night after the kids are in bed, you might prefer anything from iced tea to a nice Pinot. I know I would!

In my mind, the genre’s traits include a non-professional sleuth; no private eyes or CIA operatives here. Our hero…or more often heroine is more likely to be carpooling kids or sorting mail in a post office or perhaps even a young woman whose aunt is a ghost! From Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldie Schultz culinary mysteries to Rita Mae Brown’s Mrs. Murphy mysteries to Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity series, there is quite a variety of heroines and locales.

In general, the crime is a little less graphic than Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta investigates. And the sex, while certainly implied, is nothing as graphic as some of the Harlequin romances! It’s the everyman-or woman-aspect of these mysteries that makes them so appealing. It could be your neighbor, your relative or even YOU that stumbled across that dead body or accidentally picked up that bloody knife. It could be YOU trying to prove your innocence before the law arrives to take you away…or the real murderer decides you’re too much trouble alive!

Of course, authors often weave aspects of their own lives into their writing, but finding my protagonist and crafting my plot took some thought. I didn’t have any ghostly relatives hanging around-not even a legend of a ghost! I could cook up a culinary murder…but then my relatives might hesitate to come for Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t deal in a profession that sees a lot of violent crime. Unfortunately.

However, I do have a background in construction and real estate and if ever there was an environment ripe with emotions that was it–a tale with deadly intentions wasn’t all that hard to imagine! Add in soccer moms (and dads), single parents, attractive sub-contractors, best friends, secret affairs, the PTA, a puppy with a sixth sense and a heroine with a tendency to daydream and Framed was born.

Of course, I had way too much fun writing this book…and I may have made my family a little nervous reading up on the finer points of murder, but in the end I think it’s a book anyone would love to tuck in their beach bag or pull out after the kids are in bed. My heroine, Kay Conroy, turns out to be a decent sleuth. However she couldn’t have done it without the help of her best friend and Supermom, Maddey.

Friendship–that’s one of the other things that cozy style mysteries are so well known for. Kay wouldn’t have gotten near so far without Maddey’s tenacious friendship, not to mention a very handy gym membership, to spur her on. Likewise, a love interest might come in handy when your life’s on the line. And yes, I do admit that a certain landscaper was modeled after actor Sam Shepard. He fits the laid back, effortless masculinity of Sam Barnett to a tee!

Ultimately, I think it’s the relationships that make the book. When you reach the last page and close the cover I hope you’ll miss the world that Kay, her friends and family inhabit. I hope you’ll come back for the next Kay Conroy mystery–beverage optional!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

FRAMED is Published!!

I'm so excited to finally say that Framed is published! This is the first installment in my Kay Conroy Mystery Series. Prior to publication Framed received honors from both the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and the Pikes Peak Writers associations.

You may be thinking I'm getting to be an expert at the process by now, but it sure doesn't feel like it! Despite the fact that I've done this once before with The Shell Keeper,it seemed I had to learn all the steps over again!

The Indie Pub. industry is really growing, but the reality is that, for most of us who write, only a small portion of our time is normally spent in the actual publication process. Actually, that's probably how it should be! We're writers, after all, not professional publishers!

But the new age of publishing is making the majority of new authors into well-rounded experts in all facets of the industry whether they care to be or not. On any given day I'd far rather be immersed in the worlds my characters inhabit, transcribing their adventures onto my keyboard than formatting for an e-book!

Still, I need to surface and enter the publishing world if I want to share their stories with my readers. This experience has given me new respect for both internet gurus and copywriters! But it also gives me respect and gratitude to my fellow writers who are so often there helping me through all my stupid questions (html, e-pub, Word 2010-don't get us started on that one!, formatting, etc.!!). To all of you who have donated your time and knowledge to my process, I can't thank you enough and only hope I can help others in return!

So-I hope you'll check out Framed-it's a fun book and a great summer read! Here's the blurb:

When housing contractor Kay Conroy finds her son’s soccer coach dead on his kitchen floor, her well known dislike for the man soon turns into a motive for murder.

Now, anxious to aim the finger of guilt elsewhere, the quick-witted but daydreaming single mom must squeeze her own investigation in between car-pooling her son and overseeing the construction of a home for a local socialite.  The evidence she discovers puts her at the top of the suspect list even though she knows she's being framed. Meanwhile, there’s an attractive landscaper she'd like to know better and an amorous CEO she’d like to lose.

With the aide of her salty-tongued best friend and the sixth sense of her puppy, Kay digs for dirt.  What she finds are broken hearts and bottom lines...not to mention danger!

Find the link to the right on this blog...or click HERE!

Happy Reading!! 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Libraries That Linger in My Mind...and Heart

I am a lover of libraries so it was a pleasure to read about a book that explores their architecture. I think most avid readers have fond memories of their favorite libraries. It's called Library Architecture + Design (yes, the plus is in there in place of the word and) written by Manuela Roth. 

My favorite library had a classic Gothic feel and came by it honestly as it was built in the 1800's. There were deep stacks to wander and lose yourself in...and maybe run into a ghost or two! I know I always expected it, but all I really got were chills up my spine! Once I'd found my books (using the good old-fashioned card catalog, of course!) I found a place at one of the many long wooden tables stacked down the center of the main rooms. I sat in a solid, heavy-wooden chair and read by the light of green shaded lamps that ran the length of each table. 

This love of libraries began long ago in a Carnegie library with it's classic architecture:stone steps topped by columns, century-old wooden floors that creaked with each step, and a musty smell that only compulsive readers could love!

Now, I'm not saying a library has to be verging on decrepit to earn my affection. One of my college libraries, at the University of Denver (DU), was brand new and cutting-edge modern. It had the oddest little orange cubicles just big enough to sit in with your books and a contraband soda. Drinks in the library were frowned upon then...I wonder how libraries feel about it in this Starbucks age where it's hard to put down your latte just to pick up a book. 

One of my sons is at DU now and, unfortunately, he arrived just in time for a two year renovation of the library-just the amount of time he'll be attending.  In the meantime, students have access to books at another location, possibly waiting a day or more to have the book they want brought in from storage. 

I'm hoping that when the new library is unveiled we can go, together, to stroll it's stacks and test out what I'm sure will be a cutting edge internet version of the voluminous card catalog. I wonder if it will smell musty in there...or maybe like a double mochachino!

(photo courtesy Deering Library, Northwestern University)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kindle Select vs. Nook First vs. My Readers--Oh My!

There’s a lot of buzz these days about special e-pub options thrown out to authors from Kindle and Nook. Both require that your e-book be published exclusively with them for a particular period of time before you can open it up to any other e-pub site. Both have pros and cons…but those cons are really generating a bad vibe in the writing blog-o-sphere.

Kindle Select requires a 90 day commitment-that’s three months during which your book can only be purchased in e-format as a Kindle product. Great news for Kindle readers…a long wait after the initial launch build-up for everyone else. For this commitment Kindle will promote you in their lending library and…well…not that much else, as far as I can figure.

And believe me, I’ve tried! The contract is daunting, to say the least, and I write contracts in my ‘day job’! It’s full of lots of ominous CONS. There are a few other minor perks, hardly worth mentioning, and in return you give Kindle/Amazon, well, let’s just say by the time I finished reading the contract I was scanning back for the ‘First Born’ clause-certain I must have missed it as it seems they want everything else!

Who’s this one for? Not the Indie Author. It’s clearly the multi-published well-known author who gets a bump here and, generally, this is what I’m hearing from those who have tried it. If you are tempted, just be certain to read all the fine print and follow the rules-or else! Oh, the PRO is that you can hop onto Kindle Select at anytime-not just when you first publish. So maybe it helps when the doldrums hit. The jury is still out there.

Now, Nook First DOES require just what it says-you e-pub with them first, when you initially launch the book. They get exclusive rights to your e-pub for the first 30 days. Not as bad as Kindle’s 3 months, but this is a program that apparently makes it worth your while. I can’t tell you what the contract is like, because I haven’t made the cut yet. While anyone can do Kindle First, you have to submit your book to a panel for the Nook First program. They determine if it fits the needs of their particular promotions at any given time.

I contacted the Nook First administrator via a contact from an acquaintance. I have no idea how you would do so otherwise-I couldn’t find any contact info on my own. The plot thickens, eh? But if I ever do get a book accepted, I probably will participate in this program. It’s all about featured promotion on their website and emails-for 30 days I don’t think you can lose, assuming there’s no First Born clause!

Of course, in the end either of these promotions will cause some of your readers to find themselves out of the loop and unable to access your book for the duration. Yes, they can always buy a paperback-those aren’t affected. But will the initial flush of excitement to read your latest offering wear off by the time they are able to do so?

No Kobo, Sony, Smashwords, etc. access either. As you can imagine, this is leaving authors with a tough choice: enhanced promotion vs. readers. The problem is that the promotion part remains a rather elusive item-stats are unreliable and the buzz is bad. 

Our readers, on the other hand, are often loyal and true. In general it seems that, for now, authors are erring on the side of loyalty. Here’s hoping that in the future e-pub companies can find a way to bring the best of both options together.  

(photo courtesy of GETTY)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Note to Self: Publish in The Fall!

I kinda sorta get why so many books are published in the fall. Well, I'm sure marketing whizs have better reasons beside the October book shows, but from an Indie Publishing viewpoint, it's all about the summer slump!

It's not that I don't WANT to work on my launch of FRAMED, and certainly not that I don't want to hang out with the girls of THE SHELL KEEPER while rewriting the sequel. It's more that life seems to fill up with activity and obligation in the summer. More family hanging out, more BBQ's to make potato salad for, more day trips to the mountains. (Okay, so I'm planning more day-trips to the mountains!) How's a girl supposed to find the time to write!

Yes, yes, my writer's conscience...and fellow writers are telling me it's all about the placement of my posterior in front of my laptop followed by the tap-tap-tap of my fingers on the keyboard. And it's true, it's really that simple!

So...summer threw me a little there at the beginning, but I'm beginning to get the hang of its ways and next week is gonna be a fresh start!

Note to Self: review this post when the holiday season arrives!

(photo courtesy of