Friday, December 29, 2006

Holiday Snowstorm #2

For those who read my last post, yes we made it to Breckenridge just fine and had a wonderful time skiing. There were no lift lines because a lot of skiers' air trips to Denver got cancelled or they were stuck in Denver. The stories from those who DID make it were pretty interesting, showing their resourcefulness in getting around the travel snafus.

Anyway, the second snowstorm of the holiday season moved into town yesterday morning, and we're socked in again. A fresh 8-10 inches of snow is on top of what hasn't melted from the previous storm and dreary gray skies are spitting more flakes down on us. I'm staying inside with my cup of hot chocolate, thank you very much.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A blinding blizzard and a Farsi translation

What a title, huh? Denver and Colorado Springs are socked in, all roads closed due to a blizzard that arrived yesterday morning and 3000 people are stuck at the Denver airport. I went out in the storm in the morning to take my son to a doctor's appointment, and it was much worse coming home than it was going out. The driving was slow due mostly to poor visibility. My studded snow tires had no problem with the road surface, but I saw other vehicles spinning their wheels and going nowhere. I was glad I had no reason to go anywhere after that. This afternoon, though, we hope to drive to Breckenridge for a few days of skiing before returning home to celebrate Christmas. Hopefully by then most of the storm will have blown through and the roads will be plowed.

Now, the Farsi translation, you ask? My "Biscuit Connection" short story, which won the fall contest for Mom Writers Literary Magazine, is now up on their website, . It's a nice little holiday story, so if you have a chance, please read it. A few days after it appeared, I received an email request from a translator in Iran, asking for a photo and bio to appear with a Farsi translation of the story in the Iranian publication, Atiye, which means Future. Cool! This will be the first translation of one of my stories into a language other than English (that I know about). The translator will ask the publisher to mail me a copy or two of the magazine issue that will contain my story. I'll have a blast showing it to my writer friends!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Fourth and Fifth Winners!

I awarded gift baskets to two more randomly-chosen folks who signed up for my email newsletter. That means I have over 500 members! The December winners are Anne J. from Stoughton, Wisconsin and Barbara from New Jersey. They both chose the mystery lover gift basket. I hope to collect some postcards and bookmarks from published members of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America at their meeting tomorrow evening to enhance future mystery lover gift baskets. It should be a fun meeting--they're putting Santa on trial for operating an illegal sweatshop!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Advance Review Copies Arrive!

Much excitement today--the doorbell rings, the dog barks, and a large package is dropped off by the UPS man. The box contained my shipment of the Advance Review Copies (ARCs) for A Real Basket Case. These are trade paperback versions of the book stamped "uncorrected proof--not for sale" that go to reviewers. My publisher, Five Star Publishing, had already sent about two dozen directly to their list of standard reviewers for their mystery line. My copies are for reviewers at ezines, reviewers at newspapers in cities where I'll be conducting signings, and for bookstore POCs when they request a copy of the book to review prior to booking a signing.

I spent a couple of hours writing letters to a half dozen ezine reviewers and packaging up those books. I'm sure the demand for the ARCs will outpace my supply, so I'm trying to choose where I send them wisely. Now, here's hoping I get some good reviews!

Friday, December 08, 2006

I Won a Short Story Contest!

Hey everyone,
Here's a lesson about retargeting a story you wrote for one market to another. I wrote a story for my local newspaper's short story contest last Christmas and it lost. The first sentence had to be "Samuel didn't know how his tie got stapled to the wall." and the last one had to be "All that was left to do was sit down and eat that biscuit."

Since then, I've edited the story and sent it to a few places, such as religious magazines. I also entered it into the no-fee quarterly short story contest run by Mom Writers Literary Magazine ( and it won the Fall contest--a $100 prize! That has to be better that whatever the newspaper was offering. My story will appear in the December 18 issue of their ezine.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Celebrating Page 200

I just finished page 200 of my WIP, which equates to about 55,000 words. I'm celebrating, even though I'm behind schedule to finish the rough draft by the end of the year. Not by much, though. I'm in Chapter 17 of a total of 21 planned chapters. My rough drafts tend to be spare, and I go back and add internal thoughts/emotions, deeper/more descriptions, and missing research after the first draft. So, if I come in at over 65,000 words, I'll be happy, because I'll be able to pump that up to 75-80,000 words during editing.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Chocolate Tasting

Are any of you familiar with the Slow Food Movement? I found out about a Chocolate Tasting that the local "convivium," as they call the chapters, was having and said "That's for me!" My hubby and I went this afternoon. After a brief talk about the varieties of cacao trees and the process of making chocolate, we had a tasting where we sampled a half dozen different kinds of chocolates. The beans were grown in different countries, and the chocolate was manufactured in different countries. They were all dark chocolates, from 53% to 75% cacao. My favorite was a 70% cacao chocolate made in Belgium by the CacaoBerry company from beans grown in Saint Domingue, S.A.

After the comparative tasting, we feasted on desserts including a beautiful Bouche de Noel chocolate log complete with merengue mushrooms and chocolate curls, polenta cookies with chocolate nibs (raw ground cacao beans), truffles, chocolate cake, etc. This wasall served with a fortified red dessert wine from France. Lovely! I actually couldn't finish my plate of desserts because it was so much chocolate. Needless to say, this chocoholic was in hog heaven.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bylines Writers Desk Calendar Submittal

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! I submitted the following entry for the 2008 Bylines Writers Desk Calendar, but you get to read it here first. Hopefully the calendar editors will find my words to be sufficiently encouraging for writers to include them in the calendar.

Contrary to popular belief, being a successful writer is not a solitary pursuit. Yes, only you alone can plop your butt in the chair and pound out those words on the computer, but what happens when you lose your motivation? What happens when you think you're ready to sell that finished manuscript? You need to network with other writers to gain encouragement, set goals, get critiques from knowledgeable sources, find out about the screwy publishing business, and learn which publications, agents and editors are the right ones for your work.

I'm a consummate networker, being an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, The Short Mystery Fiction Society, Romance Writers of America, Pikes Peak Writers, and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Through the contacts I've made, I've found markets for my short stories and made connections with agents and editors. And I had to make a lot of those connections, because my novel manuscript was rejected almost ninety times before I found my agent and publisher six long years after I started writing seriously. Without encouragement from my writing buddies, I would have given up long before then. So, don't be a loner!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Cover Art and Third Winner

Five Star sent the final cover art for my book, which makes the reality of seeing my novel in print that much closer. Click on "Beth's Web Page" under Links to see it. I didn't like the first cover they proposed, and this one is MUCH better. The bow makes it look like the book itself is a gift basket, and the gun is there to show that it is a murder mystery, after all.

Also, I just picked the third winner in my email newsletter gift basket contest. He is J. Tucker from Elgin, Illinois, and he chose the mystery lover basket. I selected some mysteries for him that I thought a man would enjoy, with one by Tony Hillerman, a fellow Western writer. I'll be drawing a fourth name in December. Keep those entrees coming!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bands of America Nationals Competition

Last Wednesday - Sunday, my husband and I were chaperones for my son's high school marching band on our trip to Indianapolis for the Bands of America (BOA) Nationals Competition. It was the first time the band had performed in ANY BOA event, and they made it into the semifinals round, ultimately coming in 27th place out of the 92 bands there. On Wednesday, we took school buses to the Denver airport, flew to Chicago, and rode charter buses to Indianapolis, then did the reverse on the way home Sunday. The kids practiced and performed on Thursday, toured the Speedway and NCAA Hall of Champions on Friday, performed Saturday morning and watched the finals competition that night.

Besides the 154 students, 18 chaperones, 11 staff members and the principal, there were around 100 parents plus brothers & sisters, grandparents and friends cheering on the band. It was an enormous logistical undertaking, but we didn't lose any kids or have any disasters--just a misplaced cell phone and a stolen backpack. We were SO grateful no one got sick or hurt. The group went 5 nights with 5-7 hours sleep each, so everyone was exhausted by the end, but also very happy with the outcome. Inbetween laundry loads, I'm trying to catch up on my writing work now.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

PPW Character Development Workshop

Yesterday was Pikes Peak Writers' fall workshop, The Overnight Guest: Learning Your Character's Personality by Sue Viders and Becky Martinez. Along with Barb Nickless, PPW's Workshop Director, I organized this workshop. I was in charge of the Continental breakfast, so Friday, I shopped for pastries, fruit and paper goods, and spent the evening cutting up melon and washing grapes and strawberries. Everyone seemed to enjoy the breakfast, and the workshop itself. Sue and Becky make it interactive and fun and ended with a brain-storming game that got everyone laughing. Quite a few of the participants bought one of their books or the brainstorming card game.

For the exercises, I worked on defining the personality of my current protagonist's male love interest. I always have a harder time getting into my male characters' heads than my female characters. I learned a lot about good old Rob yesterday, things I hadn't known about him before!

This was the first workshop that Barb and I organized together. We are so pleased it was successful, and we even made a small profit. Much better than losing money! On to the next one...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Second Gift Basket Winner

I'm pleased to announce that Shannon Scott from Decatur, Georgia won the second gift basket in my email newsletter sign-up contest. She chose the mystery lovers theme. Too bad my book's not out yet to include in it! She'll get some special treats from mystery author friends of mine, though.

My list reached the second hundred mark must faster than the first hundred mark and is marching steadily toward three hundred. I can't wait to award that third basket! I'm very pleased that so many members of the DorothyL and CozyMysteryKorner email loops have signed up for my newsletter, as well as friends, neighbors, writing pals, and the ever faithful Sisters in Crime. What would I do without you all?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone is enjoying this magical, spooky day, a favorite of those of us in the mystery/suspense/thriller/horror genres and those who like to try on a new new personality when we put on that costume. As usual, here in Colorado it's below freezing. The trees are white with icy frosting blown in on the mist, and a few snowflakes have been falling from the sky. So, yet again, I expect the typical "costume" I will see at the door will be a snowsuit with the flutter of a cape or princess skirt peeking out from underneath the thick jacket.

We usually don't get many trick-or-treaters at the house since we live on a hilly street. Trudging uphill in below-freezing, windy weather is not most kids' idea of fun. For those who do make the trek, I try to have a big treat so they feel the effort was worth their while. The full-size Nerds ropes go over well, and I throw in a sheet of Halloween stickers, too.

Enjoy the mystery of Halloween and stay warm!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Website Updates

I handed my dear hubby a list of website updates last week, and he's been hard at work implementing them, so click on the link to my website and check them out. You'll see changes to the Books page (read the excerpts!), Press Kit page, and a new list of Appearances. Also, I've added a FAQ, a photo with my acquisition editor, a recipe for a mystery lover's gift basket, and a cover photo of the Map of Murder anthology in which I have a short story. I'm still waiting anxiously for the cover art of A Real Basket Case!

About a week ago, my email newsletter list reached 100 addresses, so I picked the first gift basket winner. I emailed her to ask what type of basket she would like and if I could publish her name. She chose the chocoholic basket. My kind of gal! The winner is:

Karen Duvall from Bent, Oregon

Now, those of you who did not win, DON'T DESPAIR! You still have many more chances to win a gift basket. When my email list reaches 200 addresses, I will draw a random number from ALL the addresses, so the first 100 will have another chance. Same goes when the list hits 300, 400, 500, and so on. So, by signing up early, you get more chances to win. Encourage all of your mystery-reading friends to join to increase your odds. The sooner they sign up, the better their odds are, too!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

State Marching Band Champion!

My high-school-aged son plays percussion in his school marching band, this year the bass drum and gong, at the same time. His marching band took First Place in the Colorado state 4A competition yesterday, but not without having to surmount some difficulties. The roads were icy when we left the school at 6:45 am to head for the CSU stadium in Ft. Collins, 2+ hours away. Just south of Castle Rock, the caravan of 4 school buses, 2 trucks, 2 RVs full of food supplies, and many families in cars got stuck behind a serious accident on I-25 that involved a jack-knifed tractor trailer, a snow plow, and a panel truck. The driver of the panel truck had to be extracted with the jaws of life, while we sat on the highway for 1.5 hours.

Our band director was able to contact the competition officials and get our performance time switched from before the lunch break to after. However, we arrived with just enough time for the kids to sprint to the port-a-potties after being on the bus 4.5 hours, get in uniform and march in, with no practice or warm-up. They still managed to score second place in the semifinals and advance to finals.

After a good lunch and practice time, they were back to their award-winning form for their 7 pm performance at finals and took first-place. However, more trouble greeted us on the return trip. One of the 4 buses wouldn't start, so kids were crammed onto the remaining three for the cramped journey home, starting after 11 pm. Then the liftgate of the rented truck that my husband drove, which held the percussion instruments, broke when we got back to the school. So, heavy xylophones, bells, etc. had to be hand-lifted down. And, the broken liftgate motor drained the power from the truck's battery, so he couldn't return the truck last night. My son and I got home at 2:15 am, my husband at 3 am after the other truck driver took him to the U-Haul place to pick up his car. I'm moving slowly today, but I had to share my excitement!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Five Words

I recently heard about a contest asking authors to summarize their latest novel in 5 words or less. That got me thinking--very hard. It's almost impossible to distill a complex story down to so few words, but my attempt to describe A Real Basket Case is below. I couldn't help but alliterate!

Massager Death Murders a Marriage.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Rejection Party

Last night I hosted a rejection party for my local chapter of Romance Writers of America. It was a "whine, jeeze, and chocolate" party, where I provided the wine and guests brought cheeses and desserts to share. We had categories for prizes, such as newbie (got the most recent first rejection), old hand (had the most rejections--that was me!), quickest (mere hours for an email submittal), slowest (3 years for an anthology submittal), smallest, snarkiest, kindest, etc. The prizes were inexpensive things likes chocolates, small stuffed animals, and vibrating lips (this WAS an RWA party!).

We had a great time laughing and commiserating with each other as we read out loud our rejection letters that were in the running for prizes. The sting of those negative words was magically swept away. Those who were new to the process found out what the stock phrases were for turning down a submittal, such as "I just didn't fall in love with the work." The whole point was to embrace rejections as part of being a professional writer, to realize that every writer receives them, and we shouldn't take them personally. I highly recommend every local writing group have a party to celebrate rejections!

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Day with Mysteries

Last Saturday was another event of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Sisters in Crime, A Day with Mysteries in Longmont, CO. I woke at 5 am to meet three other Sisters at 6 am to form a carpool to drive to Longmont. Two hours later, we arrived and helped with setup, so we were first in line for the Continental breakfast at 8:30 am. Linda Berry started the festivities with a raucous Mystery Trivia game. Prizes were Hershey kisses tossed by Linda to those who first guessed the answer to each set of clues.

I was the moderator for the first Author Panel, the Many Faces of Mystery, with Kathy Brandt, Carol Cail, Carol Caverly, and Troy Cook. This was followed by a workshop, Shortcuts to a Bestseller, given by editor/book doctor Jennifer Knight. After lunch, Jennifer led a second workshop, Crafting the Mystery Hero, which was followed by an author panel on Characters that Count. I served on this panel with Linda Berry, Ann Ripley, and Margaret Coel.

The event wound up with a booksigning. I had no books to sell, but I handed out a list of online short story market databases and order forms for the upcoming Map of Murder anthology that will include my short story, Murder Cache. I had a great time meeting some of my northern Colorado chapter sisters and chatting with writers about our shared love--the mystery novel.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Firearms Familiarization Class

Last Friday I attended a Sisters in Crime-sponsored Firearms Familiarization Class, and had a blast (pun intended)! I got to shoot a 9 mm handgun, a 357 Magnum, a civilian version of an M-16 rifle, and an AK-47, among other things. Our instructor discussed classes of firearms, types of ammunition, and firearms safety, and demonstrated how to disarm an assailant. The seven students, all mystery writers, learned a whole heck of a lot, and we all loved the experience. If anyone living in Colorado is interested in taking the class, go to:

Carol Hightshoe is a local fantasy writer, and her husband, Tim, who taught the class, is with the El Paso County Sheriff's Department, is a weapons trainer for the Colorado Air National Guard, and at one time was rated #2 in the US for combat pistol. He KNOWS his firearms. He brought a collection worth over $15,000 for us to see and feel and fire, from a flintlock rifle to a modern day scoped sniper's rifle. I can still smell the gunpowder...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Open Critique

Last night my critique buddy, Bob Spiller, and I served as guest author critiquers for the Pikes Peak Writers' Open Critique meeting. I worked with four short story writers, and Bob reviewed a children's picture book and the first chapters of young adult, mystery, and fantasy novels. A universal problem with the short stories was not getting off to a fast enough (and interesting enough) start. Hopefully the advice I gave each writer was helpful, because I saw some real potential in their manuscripts.

Both Bob and I thoroughly enjoyed our time with the group and hope to do it again someday. And, the four short story writers I met with exchanged email addresses and plan to form an online critique group to review each other's stories. What a terrific outcome!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Celebrating Page 100

I passed the page 100 milestone in my WIP on Saturday and promptly went shopping to celebrate. It's important for writers to reward ourselves when we meet our self-imposed goals! I bought a lovely outfit to wear for the Rocky Mountain Sisters in Crime "A Day with Mysteries" workshop in Longmont, CO October 7th, where I'll be speaking on a panel and moderating another panel.

That 100 pages means I've written over a third of the manuscript, and I hope to pass the midway point in October. I'm still aiming to finish the rough draft by the end of the year, but it's going to be close!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Staying Motivated

I don't have much interesting news to report--just chugging away writing pages of my new manuscript--so I thought I'd talk about a subject suggested by a reader. If you'd like me to discuss something in my blog, please go to my website and click on "Contact Me," like this reader did, and I'll address it. So, the subject is how to get and keep that motivation to put your butt in the chair and write. Prepublished writers don't have editors and deadlines to hound them, only their own desires. All of us have gone through those phases of feeling depressed and unrewarded and wanting to give up on the whole publication dream. But, as was the case with me, when you're feeling the absolute lowest and wondering if you'll EVER get published, that's usually right before you get THE CALL. Or the email, or the letter that says something you submitted was finally accepted. You're feeling that way because deep down you know you're stuff is publishable, but it hasn't crossed the right person's desk yet who wants it.

Here's what I did, and still do, to stay motivated while waiting for the good news. You need a support system. Join a critique group, a goal-setting group, a group of local writers. Misery loves company, they say, but don't just kvetch with your fellow writers. Encourage each other and set goals. I'm in a weekly online goal-setting group where we post goals and report on them. Often, for me, that means rushing to my writing chair on Friday and Saturday, after dilly-dallying Monday - Thursday, to write those pages I said I would before I post my goal report on Sunday. So, yes I procastinated but not through the whole week. Also, having a deadline to submit something to critique group twice a month keeps me on task. Breaking my goals up into small bites really helps, like "I'll just write two pages today and three pages tomorrow" instead of "I've got to finish my novel by the end of the month." Schedule a block of time to write at least five days a week and announce it to your family, so they know, and you know, this is your time. Everytime you sit down to write, the next time will be easier. Happy writing!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Great Fun at the Colorado Gold

The Colorado Gold conference was a wonderful experience, as usual. I came home both exhausted and energized with ideas to apply to my WIP and my promotion efforts. I was very pleased with how my "Top Ten Rules for Networking as a Writer" workshop turned out. I had an exercise at the end, where I paired up audience members with someone they didn't know and asked them to find out from each other: 1) name and what you write, 2) some information about an interest/hobby/day job, and 3) how you could help him/her in some way. I was very pleased when most pairs found some way to help each other, even if they wrote in different genres or were in different stages of their writing careers. The ways included providing an information source, a signing opportunity contact, a possible critique partner contact, an online review, agreeing to critique something of each other's, etc. etc. A great illustration of the power of networking!

My panel, "It Could Happen to You" also went well, and I hope the four of us who made our first novel sale in the last year provided useful information to the audience. I was thrilled to accept my published author pen award at the Saturday banquet and to cheer for my critique group buddy, Bill Mason, who finaled in the Science Fiction/Fantasy category of the writing contest. I talked to a number of published authors about the possibility of presenting workshops to the Pikes Peak Writers. I furiously wrote notes during the Agent Panel, so I could pass on the information to the agent questors in the Sisters in Crime Guppies online group. I learned some techniques for injecting humor and rhetorical devices into my writing and how to write faster. I enjoyed getting together with my acquisition editor, John Helfers, and with the ten other Five Star authors in attendance, to swap information about the publishing process and promotion techniques. And, of course, I made lots of networking contacts and renewed existing ones!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Off to the Colorado Gold Conference soon

My relatives (parents and sister) left for Moab, Utah this morning, and the washing machine has been chugging away ever since. We had a nice visit that included two booksignings: Susan Wittig Albert at Book Sleuth in Old Colorado City (my sister is a huge fan), and my critique group buddy, Bob Spiller, with his first published mystery, The Witch of Agnesi, at Black Cat Books in Manitou Springs. Unfortunately, the hot air balloons did not launch the morning we went to the Colorado Springs Balloon Classic.

I attended my first Board Meeting of the Pikes Peak Writers last night, and the outgoing VP (who I'm replacing), Charlie Rush, brought me three copies of Frontier Airlines' Wild Blue Yonder magazine containing my short story, Power Play. What a sweetheart you are, Charlie! I was able to give a copy to my parents as a result. Friday morning, I'm driving up to Denver to attend RMFW's Colorado Gold conference over the weekend. In the meantime, I'll be practicing my talk, gathering my materials, and trying to figure out what to wear! I'l report in on the conference after I return.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A New Position and A Published Website

On August 3oth, my husband finished putting the final tweaks on my website and published the full working version. It was just in time, because my short story appeared in Frontier Airline's inflight magazine September 1st. I'm very pleased with the website. It will change a bit when I receive my cover art from Five Star and as I schedule booksignings and conference appearances, but the gist of it is there. Please click on "Beth's Web Page" and explore it. Be sure to sign up for my email newsletter to be entered into a drawing for a free gift basket.

Also, the latest issue of the Pikes Peak Writer newsletter officially announced that I have accepted the position of Vice President of Pikes Peak Writers. In that capacity, I'll primarily be working with my good friend, Barb Nickless, the new Workshops Director, on organizing non-conference events, including Workshops and the monthly Write Brain meetings. I'm excited about becoming more involved with PPW, but also a little nervous about the extra work it will bring.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Writing Again and Cover Art Problems

It feels so good to be writing again! I added 19 pages to my WIP (work-in-progress), and am now up to page 66. I hope to reach at least page 80 before my parents and sister arrive on the Thursday before Labor Day weekend for a week-long visit. Who cares if the house is clean! Well, I do, actually, especially if my mom is visiting, and I probably will be running around with the vacuum cleaner a few hours before they arrive.

We'll be taking my parents and sister to Memorial Park downtown at o'dark thirty Saturday morning to hopefully watch the hot air balloon launch for the Colorado Springs Balloon Classic. I say "hopefully" because the launch is always dependent on weather, especially winds. When they do launch, they launch in "waves" of 25-30 balloons, since there are nearly 100 total. A beautiful event to watch and photograph!

I received my cover art for A Real Basket Case a couple of days ago. I was jumping with excitement when I saw the email, then opened the jpeg file and sat stunned in disbelief. My suggestion for a cover was to show a wicker/straw basket flipped over on its side, with a hole in it and blood dripping out of the hole, and a smoking handgun lying nearby. Instead, the cover showed a woman's hand holding a shopping basket, and a kid's dart gun with stick-on darts scattered about. Huh? Well, after I recovered from the shock, I sent a detailed email outlining my concerns to Tiffany Schofield at Five Star, and she replied that she had sent a request for revision to the cover designer. Thank goodness! That means the cover won't be ready to display on my website when it goes public September first, but I prefer a late cover to the one I saw!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Copy Edit Complete

I finished reviewing the copyedited manuscript of A Real Basket Case yesterday and mailed a 3-page file with my comments off to the Senior Content Project Editor at Five Star Publishing. I was amazed that I caught not only nits, but two "continuity" errors that had made it through previous edits by myself and the editor at Tekno Books. Both were due to making a change early in the book and not carrying it all the way through to a later reference. One was a disconnect on the clothing worn by a character and the other on what a character was carrying in her pockets. Can't have those things morphing on their own! As for nits, I'm sure I missed SOMETHING, but I really tried to comb through the words carefully since this will be my last chance to make changes. I even found a backward quote!

We put our French exchange student on a plane Wednesday and heard from his family yesterday that he made it home safely. With him gone, my youngest back in high school, and this copy-edit done, I can finally get back to work on my current manuscript, now stuck on page 47. I would really like to finish the first draft this year.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Champagne, Chocolate and Casino Games

That was the title on the invitations to my 50th Birthday Party, which happened last Friday night. We had a Blackjack table in the living room, a Roulette table in the family room, and Poker and Pool tables in the basement. The garage was full of displaced furniture. I splurged on a caterer, who provided desserts and a bar with champagne, wine, beer and sparkling cider. Food was an International Cheese Board in the kitchen, a Gourmet Pastry Tray in the basement and a Chocolate Fountain with dipping goodies in the dining room. Boy, did that room smell good!

The invitation said formal, and I got a lot of phone calls beforehand, mostly from the men, asking what exactly that meant. Coloradoans aren't known for dressing up, and the men were leery that I was asking them to rent tuxes. No way! Coat and tie was enough, but the women had fun going all out with cocktail dresses and floor-length gowns. It was fun to see everyone all dolled up and complaining that their formal clothes had shrunk in the closet since they last wore them years ago. :) A great time was had by all, especially the Birthday girl.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Summer Speed-up!

The day before I left with my family and French exchange student for a 4-day vacation in Breckenridge, CO, Five Star sent my manuscript file for copy-edit review. Yikes! I downloaded the file onto the laptop computer and took it with us. I participated in the daytime activities: Breckenridge's Peak 8 Funpark, Copper Mountain's putt-putt and lift chair ride, a pontoon boat ride on Lake Dillon, and hiking to Mayflower Lake. However, in the evenings, when the rest of the gang was watching movies on TV, I was glued to the computer. I'm about a third of the way through the manuscript now, but I returned to over 100 emails!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Summer Slowdown

I now have three teenagers in the house, with my daughter home from college, and a French exchange student, who arrived last Saturday. Keeping them happy, healthy, fed, and (in the French student's case) entertained has REALLY cut into my writing time. Right now, I'm sitting very gingerly at the computer with a sunburned back, from taking six teenagers to Water World today. I have to admit I had fun, too, though. Love those water slides...

Still, I'm feeling very guilty about not touching my work-in-progress since before the Alaska trip. I did, however, review the edits on my Murder Cache short story for the Map of Murder Anthology. I answered the editor's questions, made a few more edits, and sent the story back. So, that's one writing task done. Summer is always this way for me, busy with the kids but guilt-tripping and feeling anxious that I'm not doing more writing. Sigh!

Monday, July 17, 2006

A BIG Short Story Sale!

I signed a contract a couple of days ago with Wild Blue Yonder, the inflight magazine of Frontier Airlines, to publish a short story in their September/October issue!! With this sale, I've hit the BIG TIME for short stories, with more than 10 times the pay I've gotten for any other story and a huge potential readership, who will all read in my biography about my mystery novel coming out in March. :)

This same story appeared in the Kansas Writers Association's Words out of the Flatlands anthology. In that anthology, the story was titled "Global Domination," but the folks at Frontier wanted a less terrorism-related title, so it will be retitled "Power Play." It's a story about a mother who uses playing a game of Risk to resolve some issues in her family. I'm almost as excited about this as when I got my book contract!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Back From Alaska

My family returned from Alaska the day before yesterday, and after slogging through laundry, mail, and email, I'm ready to hit the blog again--and to start dieting! My husband took a photo of our table on the cruise ship with 6 desserts for 4 people. My daughter and I had a thing for those souffles! Hubby can't complain, though, because one night, he ate 2 entrees: crab legs and lamb chops. We saw lots of 4-legged wildlife in Denali (moose, caribou, dall sheep, grizzly bear sow & her cub, fox with an arctic hare and a squirrel in its mouth) and sea wildlife in Prince William Sound (seals, sea lions, whales, sea otters), and glaciers calving into the sea. My son loved the stay with my husband's cousin in Valdez, who let my son ride his ATV, shoot his guns, fish for salmon on his boat and shoot $30 worth of fireworks off at the bay near his house. A real macho experience! The romantic moment for me was on the last night of the cruise, sipping a bottle of champagne (won in a trivia contest) with my hubby in a hot tub on the stern of the ship and watching the beautiful mountains, glaciers and waterfalls slide by as the ship sailed from College Fjord into Whitter.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Fourth Blurb and Off to Alaska

Maggie Sefton sent my fourth and final published author blurb yesterday, a really good one. They're all posted on the Books page of my website now, and I mailed them off to Five Star, so hopefully they'll appear on my cover, too.

I won't be posting for the next three weeks, because I'm off on a family trip to Alaska tomorrow. We're spending three days in Vancouver, Canada, then taking an Inside Passage cruise from Vancouver to Whittier, with stops in Ketchikan, Skagway, and Juneau. After spending one night in Anchorage and visiting my mother's cousin, we'll ride the Alaska Railroad to Denali to spend two nights, ride the train to Fairbanks to spend two nights, then fly back to Anchorage. There we'll rent a car to drive to Valdez to spend four nights with my husband's cousin's family, then drive back to Anchorage to fly home. Whew! Lots of modes of transportation. We're all looking forward to the adventure and to getting out of this heat. Temperatures in the 90s are rare in Colorado, and are most likely in August, not June. Our house doesn't have air conditioning, because we usually don't need it.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

An ISBN, Short Story Contract, and Speaking Engagements

Wow. Lots of interesting offers and news have been popping into the email bucket lately. I've been asked to be on a Short Story panel for the Pikes Peak Writers in Colorado Springs in September and to be one of the workshop facilitators for "A Day with Mysteries" hosted by the Rocky Mountain Sisters in Crime in Longmont, CO in October. I also received the ISBN for A Real Basket Case from Five Star, which makes that book so much more real in my mind. Lastly, my short mystery story, Murder Cache, about a a man and his son hiking to a geocache with a murder theme that winds up containing more than they expected, has been accepted into Red Coyote Press's Map of Murder anthology, which will be published this fall.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Entered a Children's Book Contest

I just sent off my entry to the Women's Day/Scholastic children's book contest. I've had an idea for a children's picture book that I've been polishing for awhile now. But, if your name's not Madonna, it's awfully hard to sell a children's book these days. So, I thought this contest run by Women's Day might give my story a chance. The entry requirements were interesting: fold 8 sheets of paper in half and put them together into a 32 page pamplet, then handwrite the story on the 32 pages, leaving the first page for the title and your contact information. It was a good exercise that made you aware of the resulting layout and made you consider whether the text on each page created the opportunity for an interesting picture. Wish me luck! I'll find out how I did in January, 2007.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Third Blurb

Margaret Coel, author of the Wind River Reservation mystery series, sent me a wonderful blurb for my book today and said she enjoyed it a lot. Wow! As Kathy Brandt said, "FANTASTIC NEWS about the blurb from Margaret. I've had people say when they are considering buying one of my books: 'Well, if Margaret Coel recommends it then it must be good' and they buy the book!" I sure hope Margaret's blurb has that effect for me.

I went to Kathy's launch party yesterday for Under Pressure, the fourth mystery in her underwater diving series, and brought her an ocean-relaxation-themed gift basket as a thank-you for all her help in my writing career. I enjoyed creating it: main color was blue, of course, and I included ocean-scented bath salts, a relaxation CD of ocean sounds, and a floating candle set with blue stones and blue candles. Fun! This is what makes gift basketry special, when you really know the recipient and pick a great theme you're sure they'll like.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Another Blurb

Christine Goff, author of the bird watching mystery series, just sent me her blurb today for A Real Basket Case and said that she really enjoyed reading it. Now, if that doesn't make a to-be-published author's day, I don't know what does! To have not just one, but two multi-published mystery authors tell you that they enjoyed reading your story makes all those past rejections fade into the mist. Thanks Chris!

Now back to chapter two of that new mystery...

Friday, June 02, 2006

Money in the Mail

After getting home yesterday from a few days of vacation in Breckenridge with my hubby and son, I got a pile of mail today that included two writing income checks: my advance from Tekno Books and a check from the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities. I'm rich! The advance check was late because the first one got lost somewhere between Tekno and my agent, so this time Tekno sent it straight to me. When I agreed to give my talk to Harrison High School, they sent me a form to fill out for expenses, and I claimed $10 for gas money. That form got sent to the Endowment, and they threw in a speaker's fee, which I hadn't expected. Found money! Between that and my advance, I'm feeling flush, but both checks are going straight to the bank to fund my promotion efforts next year. Now, to plow through the emails...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Contact with Five Star Editor

I had a very nice phone conversation today with the editor at Five Star who is in charge of author relations. I had some specific questions about bookstore signing events I hope to set up, and I wanted to get a feel for when she needed things from me, schedule-wise. Two questions I had, one for the productions dept. and the other for the royalties dept., she asked me to email so she could pass them on for me. She was very helpful and friendly and told me that my package from Tekno Books was received by them on May 15, so I'm officially in the production system now at Five Star.

Also, I started writing my new mystery this week, after spending the last few months researching, plotting, and creating character profiles. Always have a story in the works!

First Half of May, 2006 News

May 16, 2006

Kathy Brandt, author of the underwater diving mystery series, just sent my first published author blurb, and it is SOOO cool! Many thanks to Kathy for making my day. Also, Andi Shechter, mystery fan, reviewer, and conference organizer extraordinaire, asked for a link to my author website, based on a couple of my recent Dorothy L postings. Thrilled to be asked, I said, it's coming, it's coming…

May 13, 2006

My husband is working on my website, and it's starting to take shape. He was slow getting started, but I think he's actually having some fun with it now. I can't wait until it's ready to go LIVE, and I can ask friends to try it out for me! I sent off a filled-in form for the Five Star Cover Art department to John Helfers yesterday, giving information to help them design a cover for A Real Basket Case. Also, from the fivestarpromo list, I've learned that cover art tends to become available about 5 months prior to publication and copy edits are done about 6 months prior to publication, so I'm looking forward to those milestones. I've also made some connections with other Five Star authors in Colorado/Texas with release dates close to mine. I'm doing some preliminary appearances planning and am trying not to go overboard with the travel.

May 9, 2006

Tonight, I spoke on a PPWC Success Stories Panel with fellow authors Karen Lin, Paula Reed, Angel Smits, and Bob Spiller. We had all placed in prior Paul Gillette Writing Contests, run in association with the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, and gone on to publication success. My critique buddy, Bob, with a YA mystery coming out in August from Medallion Press, had the room in stitches. The rest of us just tried to keep up. I brought 1/2 page handouts with short story market lists and sold one copy each of the two anthologies I brought: Dry Spell and Manhattan Mysteries. I call that a successful event!

April, 2006 News

April 28, 2006

On DorothyL yesterday, Lev Raphael said:

Actually, I can't get enough of author blogs. I want to know it all: early childhood fantasy friends, shoe size, addictions, gardening tips, alien abductions (real or hoped-for), secret network of wishes and fears, allergies, sleep preference (back? side?), opinions about flossing, favorite TV commercial, hiphop sex games. I'd rather read an author blog than read the books. Most authors blog better than they write.

I enjoyed posting the following response:

My addiction is chocolate--the darker the better, my childhood fantasy friend was a kind chocolate Easter bunny who let me nibble his ears, and my worst childhood fear was falling down Alice's rabbit hole and never having access to chocolate again. I'll never bungee-jump for the same reason. My secret wish is that I will inherit Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, which is my all-time favorite movie--the one with Gene Wilder, not Johnny Depp. More later, once my website is up and running.... ;)

April 24, 2006

Today is the day after the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, and I am exhausted but glowing. I volunteered to work at the Agent/Editor Appointments desk, so I spent the day checking in nervous writers, wishing them luck, celebrating with them when they got a submittal request, and trying to match turned-in appts with people on the waiting list or to facilitate appt. swaps. We were able to get all but two people on the waiting list in to see an agent or editor.

The highlight of the conference for me was sitting next to Diane Mott Davidson at lunch and picking her brain for promotion ideas for my book. She was a font of knowledge, overflowing with creative and helpful ideas and advice. I scribbled madly to keep up with her suggestions! I go to each conference with a goal, and this year's goal was to learn about promotion. Suzanne Strempek Shea's talk, Always Keep Five Copies in Your Trunk, was very useful, as was just brainstorming and networking with fellow authors.

April 19, 2006

Today I sent off spiral-bound copies of the manuscript I had made for four published mystery authors who live in Colorado and with whom I had developed relationships. I contacted them over the past week, begged them to read my manuscript and, if they liked it, to give me a blurb for my cover. Amazingly, all four agreed! I am truly grateful and awed by how helpful these and other published authors have been to me. This goes to show, start cultivating relationships with published authors in your genre BEFORE you sell your manuscript. That means buying some books! But reading examples of other work in your genre is always a good idea--and it's a business expense.

April 17, 2006

In my March 15 entry, I mentioned that I accepted a speaking engagement at a local high school for today, and friends had warned me that the school is a hotbed of trouble, one of the worst in town for gangs. The teacher from the school who made the arrangements said, "I love our student body and think they are all wonderful but I must warn you; we can have some hecklers. They are tough kids who will test what you are made of. Really obnoxious ones will be executed, I mean escorted out. However, it may take us a few minutes to target them, so be brave."

With all that buildup, I was expecting the worst, but the experience was wonderful. About 100-150 teens came to the presentation and were very polite. I even got some interaction from them--both in answering my questions and asking some of their own. And three teens stayed afterward to talk to me about their writing efforts. I'm so glad I didn't back out of this rewarding experience!

April 10, 2006

Big news today! Denise said she signed off on my manuscript, and it's on the way to Five Star Publications. Also, acquisition editor John Helfers emailed me that they were able to fulfill my request to move up my publication date from Summer, 2007 to March, 2007. Yippee! That means I'll have copies of books to sign for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference and Malice Domestic. Now I've got to get cracking on a list of additional reviewers (mostly for local newspapers) due Friday and asking my published author friends for blurbs. The blurbs are due by the end of June, but I leave on vacation mid-June, and I want to give the authors at least 6 weeks notice so they can fit reading the manuscript into their busy schedules. To work, to work!

April 7, 2006

Phew! I finished proofing the manuscript for A Real Basket Case and putting together an author requirements file (acknowledgments, blurb, teasers, cover art suggestions, etc) and emailed the whole package off to Denise Dietz. I made a few changes as a result of getting clarifications from retired police officers, Wally and Don, at the crimescenewriters yahoo group on a couple of police procedure questions, and I put back about 4 lines of dialogue that I considered to be important in a scene Denise cut by 1.5 pages (it needed cutting). Otherwise, I understood the reasons for her changes and went with them. Note to writers: if you can't give a damn good reason for NOT going with an editor's changes, accept them.

April 6, 2006

In critique group tonight, Bob and I did a happy dance together to celebrate that we're both on PPW's Success Stories panel, and he showed me the cover design for his YA mystery. It is SO cool. I hope mine will be as good. Another critique group member took first place in the Mystery/Suspense category of the local Paul Gillette writing conference, and a fourth announced the birth of a new grandchild. Good news all around!

April 3, 2006

I slogged through the first eight chapters of A Real Basket Case today, proofing my editor's edits. From Denise's comments about her corrections, I was expecting a lot of changes, but was pleasantly surprised with how few there were. Just goes to show how wishy-washy the definitions of "a lot" and "a few" are. I agree with 99% of what she's done, I'm working on answers to her questions, and I have made very few additional changes. I expect the work to get harder as I progress through the manuscript, though, because she warned me some larger issues cropped up in the last third of the book. I hope to get through 7-8 more chapters tomorrow, then I'll spend the rest of the week on the last third of the book. You know that old saying, BIC (Butt in Chair), meaning get to work on your writing? My butt hurts!

April 2, 2006

Yesterday, I accepted an invitation from Pikes Peak Writers to speak on a panel of "success stories" from previous year's conferences and contests for an open meeting of the organization. I won the Short Story category of the Paul Gillette contest one year and have taken third place in the Mystery/Suspense/Intrigue category two years. So, on May 9th, I'll be talking about my short story sales and sale of A Real Basket Case and will be signing copies of two of the anthologies my short stories appear in. Happily, one of my critique partners, Bob, will be on the panel, too, speaking about the YA mystery novel he sold to Medallion.

I also volunteered to moderate a session at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, in addition to my duties of manning the agent/editor appointment table. Performing these volunteer jobs in addition to judging short stories in this year's Paul Gillette contest should allow me to attend the conference for almost free. Next year, I hope to be a speaker!

April 1, 2006

It's April Fool's Day, but I have a real deadline now, no fooling. My editor emailed the edited copy of A Real Basket Case to me today and asked me to proof it by April 10th. I just got back home from a week of skiing over Spring Break with my family, so my creative batteries are recharged and I'm ready to go. But first I have to take my daughter to the airport for her return trip to college, do the laundry, grocery shop, and slog through the accumulated paper and electronic mail--all those post-vacation chores. It was fun seeing all the skiers dressed up in silly costumes on the slopes for April Fool's Day, though. Let's see, next year, which costume should I pull out of the Halloween box--the Barbarella-type space babe, the Statue of Liberty, or the giant carrot? Such choices!

March, 2006 News

March 16, 2006

I got an email from Joe Gouveia, a.k.a. "JoeGo", founder of the Biker Poets & Writers Association. He's putting together a biker anthology of poems, song lyrics, articles and short stories and wants to include my poem, Ride the Wind, about a motorcycle rider fantasizing he's flying alongside a hawk he spots. The poem took third place in the Mandy Poetry contest run by ezine Mindfire Renewed--even though I've never ridden a motorcycle! My work will be in the same book as the Holy Ranger, Rev. Martin Jack Rosenblum, official historian/poet laureate of Harley Davidson. This is just too cool!

March 15, 2006

Denise Dietz told me to expect to receive her edits the first week of April, so I'm busy clearing the decks for then, since she told me I'll have one week to proof them. Yikes! I finished up compiling my writing expenses and income for 2005 for taxes today. I also accepted a speaking engagement at a local high school for April 17th, and friends are now warning me that the school is a hotbed of trouble, one of the worst in town for gangs. Oh boy. What did I get myself into? At least, if I survive this talk, any other talk will seem like a cake walk in comparison!

March 9, 2006

I got an email from Denise Dietz today that she'll be my editor at Tekno Books. Yippee! I'm so glad I was assigned to her because we had a great conversation at Colorado Gold, and I feel we'll work well together. In the meantime, I've joined the Five Star author email loops and had some email exchanges with other Sisters in Crime members who have books coming out with Five Star.

March 7, 2006

Flowers were delivered today, and when I thanked my husband, he said they weren't from him. I read the note, and they were from my daughter, a freshman in college. Her thoughtful note brought tears to my eyes. Just so you don't think my husband didn't come through--he took me out for a lobster dinner with more champagne, and is my website designer. He's got a list of specifications from me that he'll start on soon. Right, honey?

March 4, 2006

On re-reading the contract cover letter, I saw the contract needed to have the final book title in it. I had some concerns about my title, since Carl Hiassen recently published a mystery titled Basket Case. I emailed my concerns to both John Helfers and Barret Neville with a list of suggested new titles. We all agreed on A REAL BASKET CASE. I amended and initialed the title change in the contract copies and mailed them off. In the meantime, I'm wallowing in the congratulations emails and generally enjoying the glow.

March 3, 2006

Four copies of the contract arrived in the mail for my signature today. Yippee!! My husband took a photo of me signing them (see it on my Photos page), with champagne bottle and glass at the ready. I called my mother, sister, and daughter and said, "It's signed. You can tell people now!" I started the emails to relatives, to friends, to all the email lists I subscribe to, to my book club, etc. etc. Then we cracked open the champagne--even my 15 year old son got a small glass! None for the dog, though. She just got a fresh rawhide chew.

February, 2006 News

February 26, 2006

Today was the monthly meeting of the Pikes Peak Romance Writers, a wonderfully supportive group who, along with my critique group, are the reason I haven't given up the pursuit to be published. At the "Nuggets and Noogies" portion of the meeting, where we list our accomplishments and rejections that month, I asked the President if I could go last. Then I announced my sale. The hugs, wows, congratulations and questions overwhelmed me. And I finally got my rose! (The group awards different types of artificial flowers for accomplishments--irises for contest wins, chrysanthemum for short fiction pubs, etc., with roses for books.)

February 24, 2006

Finally! A response to our proposed contract changes came to my agent a few days ago, and Barret emailed the new revised contract to me today. Our minor contract changes were accepted; a couple of others that were more substantial were rejected. I looked over the new version of the contract and emailed my response to Barret, mainly, "I'm ready to agree to this!"

February 21, 2006

I had to get a massage from the wife of one of my critique partners, an excellent Trager massage therapist, to work the tension out of my body. See, even good events in your life can be stressful!

February 16, 2006

I couldn't go through another meeting with my critique group without saying anything, so I spilled the beans tonight that I'd gotten an offer. Cheers all around. Again, I asked them to keep the news quiet, because I still felt there were lots of ways I could jinx this, and my active mind was keeping me up at night dreaming up dire scenarios.

February 14, 2006

Unable to stand the tension any longer, I emailed my agent, admitting I was getting antsy and asking if he'd heard anything. He emailed Helfers, who replied that a snowstorm had closed their offices, but that he'd get back to him soon. My fingernails are nubs now. Darn snow!

February 2, 2006

John Helfers answered the questions he could and said he could give me a contact at Five Star Publishing to answer the rest after contract signing. I'm getting anxious to hear what the response is to our suggested contract changes, and I'm starting to second-guess this whole thing now. What if he decides I'm too difficult to work with? What if he says forget the whole thing? I'm stressing too much, I know, but I can't help it.

January, 2006 News

January 24, 2006

My agent and I spoke by phone and divided up the work: I would email my remaining questions to John Helfers and discuss those directly with him, and my agent would email the suggested contract changes and handle that end.

January 20, 2006

I contacted a few published author friends, some of whom published with Five Star to get their take on the publisher, their reputation, and what it was like to work with the company. Again, I asked them to keep the news to themselves. I got lots of useful information, mostly positive, and decided to accept the deal. I purchased my website name. Also, my agent emailed answers to most of my questions to me today.

January 17, 2006

At 11 am yesterday I received an email from John Helfers saying Tekno Books would like to purchase my novel, Basket Case, for their Five Star Mystery line. I danced upstairs from my basement writing room and announced the news to my husband. After seven long years of pursuing a fiction-writing career, I'm finally going to be published in novel-length fiction! Then I called my mother, my sister and my daughter in college, who were all thrilled. I told them to keep quiet about it because I hadn't signed the contract yet. Today, I sent the contract attached to Helfers's email to my agent for review, along with a list of questions, and told John that I'd done so. Now I'm twiddling thumbs!

Note: I submitted Basket Case on November 30, shortly after signing with my agent, Barret Neville, and discussing the book with Tekno editor, Denise Dietz, both of whom I met at the Colorado Gold Conference in Denver, CO in September, 2006.