Tuesday, December 25, 2007
I wanted to wish everyone Merry Christmas today, and for those of you who don't celebrate the holiday, Season's Greetings!
I was in Cancun, Mexico December 16-23 with my family soaking up the sun before returning to snowy Colorado for the Christmas and New Year's celebrations. We had a great time there, but there's nothing like being home for Christmas with those you love around you.
Yesterday, I opened a lovely Christmas card and letter from my friend Julie who is disabled with lupus. Even though her health took a downturn this year, her letter is full of gratitude and praise for her daughter, son-in-law, and three grandchildren with whom she lives, and for the friends in her life. I feel really blessed to have Julie in my life, because her deep faith and attitude of thankfulness have been eye-opening to me. I have so much more than her to be thankful for in my life, particularly my health. Julie's optimism is a shining example for me of what I should strive for in cultivating a feeling of gratitude and banishing thoughts of what I should have or should have been or should have done.
I recently read an article in Reader's Digest how research has shown that grateful people are both happier and healthier than ungrateful people. They are also more generous and willing to help others. So, I encourage all of you to thank God, or whoever you pray to, for the blessings you have in your life. No matter what your troubles are, there's always someone in the world who is worse off than you are. When I'm feeling down, I think of Julie, confined to her bed and in constant pain but who can still feel such tremendous gratitude for her life, and say to myself, "What do you have to complain about?"
Julie, I hope you're surrounded in that bed by grandchildren, cats, and loving arms offering you lots of hugs. Here's one from me.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Unfortunately, a snowstorm blew in that morning, and we awoke to treacherous roads--a layer of icy sleet/slush that fell before the temperature dropped, covered by Colorado's infamous champagne powder. I made it to the school all right to be there for my 9 am - noon signing time, but we had a much lower turnout than expected. I still managed to sell three books before I took a break to do some shopping of my own at the market. By then, with snow continuing to fall, there were very few customers. Bummer! You can't fight Mother Nature, though.
And tomorrow, when we have our Write Brain meeting scheduled, and I'm on the panel talking about Brainstorming Techniques, ANOTHER snowstorm is predicted. We plan to decide in the early afternoon whether or not to cancel the event. Winter weather requires nimble planning!
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Calcat.org reported today that A REAL BASKET CASE is available in 300 library systems accessible to its search engine. So, I'm going to celebrate crossing the threshold of 300 library systems. As I've said before, I'll use any excuse to eat chocolate. :-)
Friday, November 30, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Sandra is my second agent. My first, Barret Neville, had to drop his mystery clients and focus on nonfiction only due to financial considerations. I understood the decision, and he helped me in my search for a new agent by referring me to some other mystery agents he knew. My need to find a new agent only a year and a half after signing with my first one after a 2-year search was discouraging for me. It was so hard to find the first one, then I had to turn around and start looking again so soon. However, the second search went much quicker (about 7 months), and I had to query fewer agents (8 versus 90) to find one who fell in love with my writing.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Also, representatives from Borders manned a booth in the vendor area, offering a corporate/library discount program and selling keynote speakers' books and a variety of other books they thought might be of interest to librarians. I asked if they'd take a box of my books to sell on consignment and they agreed. I signed six at the conference and they kept another six. I also connected well with their two sales account managers for the northern CO & Montana region and the southern CO & New Mexico region, and I hope to be able to arrange some personal and/or PPW signings through them soon.
I made a lot of great contacts at the conference, including the new librarian at my son's high school, who gave me a card for him with a note offering a free coffee at the flavored coffee/cocoa bar she's instituted to attract students into the school library. And this conference had the BEST afternoon snack--Dove chocolate covered ice cream bars. Librarians were humming in universal ecstasy as we massed in the lobby and savored the snacks. All-in-all a great way to spend a Saturday!
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
The four segments of the workshop were designed to teach attendees how to:
Recognize the different ways in which horror, suspense, and crime fiction utilize suspense (The Rules of Writing Suspense in Different Genres)
Take the components of a suspenseful, page-turning story and put them all together (Pacing and Structure, or Don’t Go Into the Basement Alone!)
Use language and imagery to create suspense in your reader (Language, Image, and the Atmosphere of Suspense)
Look at creating suspense from the perspective of character (Who’s Scaring Whom? The Importance of Character).
The 28 attendees all left satisfied that they'd learned some things they could apply to their own writing, regardless of the genre. And Barb and I left satisfied that we'd found a work-around for our speaker illnesses, the microphones worked, we didn't lose money on the workshop, and everyone got a lunch they were satisfied with. There are so many little details that have to be managed even for a "simple" one-day workshop. We're happy to take a breather now and focus on our own writing before our next big PPW event--the spring workshop in February/March.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I usually open it up to questions right away or soon after an initial introduction because these folks who love to read are brimming with curiosity. I get some questions about the book itself, such as how I defined characters, researched settings, and decided on plot twists. But I also get a lot of questions about my life as an author, my writing schedule, what my family thinks of my writing, and so on. I'm happy to answer all questions to the best of my ability. Hey, what could be more fun than talking about yourself and something you created?
I'm finding these book club visits to be a lot more fun than standing in a bookstore and hawking my book, because these are people who love reading as much as I do. We invariably end up talking about our favorite books and trading recommendations. And I don't get asked where the restroom is or where the history books are located!
So if you're interested in having me visit your book club either via phone or in-person, click on "Beth's Web Page," and once you're there, click on "Contact Me." I'd be happy to set up a visit.
Monday, October 22, 2007
My friend, Robert Spiller, has his audience busting their guts in his "Writing Humor: The Art of the Funny Bone" talk, and my "Mystery Through the Ages" panel with Bob and fellow mystery authors Mike Befeler and Linda Berry was well-received. I enjoyed chatting with participants during the conference and encouraged many aspiring writers to join Pikes Peak Writers as a way to further their career goals. The conference was capped off with a Saturday afternoon mass book signing by the speakers with cookies and musical accompaniment. This was a very well-organized conference, given that this was only its second occurrence. I'm looking forward to attending next year!
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
We were escorted by three FBI employees, all support personnel versus field agents, but they had secondary duties that involved evidence collection at crime scenes and so on. One had visited the Body Farm in Tennessee, which started an impromptu discussion of decomposition in different soils. One of our escorts always took the rear position to make sure none of our group wandered away. They were all very friendly, though, and tried their best to answer our questions. Susie, the main guide, said we were the most inquisitive bunch she's every escorted through the office. That's a characteristic of writers!
The tour included an explanation of the 10 Most Wanted List, the memorial board of fallen agents, and the bureau seal, all of which were posted in the lobby. Then we visited the gun vault, where the weapons instructor gave us an overview of all the weapon systems and body armor used by field agents and SWAT teams. He also discussed the weapons training requirements. All field agents must retest every two months and SWAT members even more frequently. We saw the polygraph room, an interrogation room, the radio room, the fingerprint room, the offices of the "Special Agent in Charge", and the situation room, which will be manned during the Colorado Rockies-hosted World Series games and the Democratic National Convention, among other events. A very exciting and informative tour, all-in-all, and one we were disappointed to end.
Who knows, there may be a spate of mysteries involving FBI agents produced by Colorado mystery authors in the near future!
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Anyway, I was on my home turf, Wilson being my church, so the large majority of buyers were folks I knew. But I'm still immensely pleased with the result. I brought 15 books with me and sold out! Should have brought more... I had a good time catching up with Kathy on what's happening in her writing life, visiting with friends who stopped by, and buying a few craft items myself. All in all a pleasant way to pass a Saturday, and a nice first "outing" at a craft fair.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Monday, October 01, 2007
Will Thomas, the manly librarian who writes mysteries and studies the self-defense arts, was a smooth and competent toastmaster. And local Kansas notable mystery author, Nancy Pickard, was her usual charming and gracious self. Susan Smily, with her beautiful bald head resulting from breast cancer chemo treatments, and her writing partner Honora Finkelstein were great fun as usual, even in the midst of this health challenge. They are such a friendly, upbeat pair that they make everyone around them smile. And Patricia Stoltey made for a wonderful roommate. I'm looking forward to sleeping with you again, Pat, at Left Coast Crime! :-)
I could go on and on about the friendly mystery writers and fans I met at the conference, but I'll end with saying that if you missed it this year, you should really try to make it next year. Many thanks to Marolyn Caldwell and her energetic committe for a great weekend!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The September newsletter should be going out in the next day or two, so look for it in your email. If you haven't signed up yet, go to my website, www.bethgroundwater.com , click on Newsletter, and fill out the form. You'll automatically be registered for the contest for free mystery books.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I'm really looking forward to the conference. I went to the first two and thoroughly enjoyed the friendly, home-town feel of the small gatherings. I missed the third one last year, due to having to chaperone a marching band event for my son, and I can't wait to catch up with folks I haven't seen in two years. I'm also looking forward to rubbing shoulders with Diane Mott Davidson and Nancy Pickard again. I just loved Nancy's Virgin of Small Plains novel, and Diane gave me some very useful promotion advice a year an a half ago at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. Serving on the same panel as Diane will be a milestone in my career.
If you read this and plan to attend the conference, please come up to me and say hi!
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Then, I returned to my hotel room, sat on the end of one of the beds to remove my shoes, and Bam!, the bed collapsed. The cross-frame at the foot of the bed was no longer attached to the rest of the frame. I slept in the other bed that night and called the desk the next morning to ask them to fix the bed or get me moved before noon. Then I spent a pleasant 90 minutes in the exercise facility chatting with Jeff Shelby while on the elliptical machine, lifting weights, swimming a few laps in the outdoor pool, and "hanging" in the hot tub with other conference attendees. I returned to the room to find the bed still broken. After numerous phone calls, I was moved to another room, just in time for my incoming roommate, Ann Parker, to find a horizontal bed waiting for her vs one sloped at an angle.
After a couple of Friday afternoon sessions, I was one of the helpers who assisted Pam & Laura of the Author, Author! bookstore make the mad-rush move to transfer books to the back of the ballroom and set up signing tables for all the authors in attendance. Dinner and an inspiring kick-off speech by C.J. Lyons was followed by the mass signing. I had good results at the signing and sold 9 books. Then the Five Star gang met with acquisition editor John Helfers in the bar. He told me that my To Hell in a Handbasket manuscript was in the acquisition process for first quarter 2009 (he passed it on to Deni Dietz, who edited the first, for her opinion) and I should hear from him within a few weeks. I've got my fingers crossed that a contract will arrive in the mail soon. Time to celebrate--off to the hospitality suite I went!
Saturday morning I pitched to agent Natanya Wheeler, and she requested a partial submittal of my Wicked Whitewater manuscript. For the lunch break, my roomie and I took a half-hour stroll to get some fresh air, then dined at Panera Bread with Pat Stoltey and her critique group. After some more sessions, two of which I moderated, and schmoozing, Ann and I got dolled-up for the banquet and cheered for the writing contest winners. Unfortunately, I didn't win the simile contest. My entry was probably too gross to read-aloud at the banquet. :) I really enjoyed Bob Mayer's speech comparing a writing career to a Special Forces jumpmaster getting his team ready to parachute out of a low-flying airplane on a night mission. Then it was off to the hospitality suite again, but I didn't indulge in alcohol that night since I was presenting an early morning workshop the next day.
Amazingly, 15 people made it to my 8:30 AM Sunday morning workshop on tools for getting to know your characters and gave me good feedback. Then Ann and I checked out of our room--she was a lovely roommate! Worn out with sessions, I chatted with folks in the lobby, then helped Pam & Laura breakdown the bookstore. After lunch and a rousing go-forth-and-write speech by Joan Johnston, I climbed into the car for the drive back to Colorado Springs. Soon after carting my bags inside the house, I was snoozing in the Lazy-boy.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Also, I guest-blogged on Sunday about the usefulness of online goal-setting groups on the Little Blog of Murder. To read my post--and comment on it, if you wish--go to: www.thelittleblogofmurder.com and scroll down to September 16th.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
The editors were even so kind as to include links to authors' websites, including mine. I do have scenes in the book in the Garden of the Gods park and some of my favorite local restaurants, and an important event occurs at the 5-star Broadmoor Hotel. However, some of the locations in the book, where bad stuff happens, were made up or based on an amalgamation of real locations, so don't go looking in Colorado Springs for Graham's Gym or the auto shop or apartment complex mentioned in the book. They don't exist! What fun. I'm so thrilled that Southwest Airlines gave a nod to A REAL BASKET CASE!
Friday, September 07, 2007
I've learned not to push when my body and my muse tell me it's time to focus on other aspects of my life outside my writing life. So, these last few weeks I've been concentrating on getting back into an exercise routine and trying to lose those extra pounds I gained while eating out so much on the promotion trail this spring. I've also been enjoying those books and movies! When my friend has her comments ready on my manuscript, I'll tackle those edits, then hopefully, once that baby is put to bed and I've refilled the well of creativity again, ideas for a new project will start appearing in my dreams.
In the meantime, I'm preparing my talks for the Colorado Gold writing conference and the Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave this month. I'm looking forward to both and to reconnecting with a lot of old friends.
Friday, August 24, 2007
The Summit Daily News in Colorado ski country included an artist profile of me in the Arts & Entertainment section of today's newspaper. The link to the article is:
Also, I was interviewed by Lillian Cauldwell of Internet Voices Radio. The interview was recorded and is available in their archive at:
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Next was a workshop on new and different ways to help you define characters, like assigning them a Native American animal totem and the characteristics that come with that, or giving them psychology personality tests, or doing a Tarot card reading for them. I spent about half an hour after the workshop going through the books the presenter brought and generating ideas. Then it was time for lunch and socializing with the other volunteers. It was really nice to be able to chat in a relaxed setting, versus when we're hauling furniture, registering attendees, or whatever. Before heading home, I picked up a book on mystery writing from the craft book exchange table. Relaxed and renewed, with a new book and a new set of characterization tools, I headed home ready to tackle my next writing project.
People came and went throughout the day and engaged in workshops on plotting, beginning lines, query writing, read & critique, improv writing and more. What a wonderful way to be thanked for our service to Pikes Peak Writers!
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
That evening my son, who wants to be a pastry chef, cooked dinner: homemade crepes filled with a chicken, mushroom, and swiss cheese sauce, fresh asparagus, and for dessert, puff pastry tarts with a dark chocolate filling topped with fresh berries and a sauce of sour cream mixed with cassis. Yum!
Monday, August 06, 2007
Thanks Conde Nast!
This is a huge thank-you for the top North American spa resort trip I won as a result of the 2006 Word Trips puzzle contest. My husband and I chose the Kahala Hotel & Resort (www.kahalaresort.com) in Honolulu, Hawaii, and we just returned from our early August visit. We had a wonderful time biking & hiking to the top of Diamond Head, snorkeling the reef & watching the dolphins at the Kahala, meeting a friend to take an outrigger canoe ride and eat sushi, toasting the sunset with Mai Tais at Duke's on Waikiki, and indulging in lots of lounging on the beach at the Kahala. The service and accommodations at the hotel were superb, and the whole atmosphere exuded relaxation. It was a wonderful way to decompress after a busy season of promoting my debut mystery novel, A REAL BASKET CASE. We returned with smiles on our sun-kissed faces. Thanks again for the lovely trip. Now, on to solving this month's Where Are You? contest!
The friend we met up with was Debby Turrell Atkinson (www.debbyatkinson.com), author of the Storm Kayama mystery series set in Hawaii and published by Poisoned Pen Press. Her latest, Fire Prayer, is due out next week, and I can't wait to read it. Many thanks to Debby and her husband Bob for their hospitality!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Sunday afternoon, I hosted the Rocky Mountain chapter of Sisters in Crime for a potluck picnic on my shaded deck. The weather was lovely, but the company was even better. The eleven of us talked about our writing projects and successes and planned some future programs.
Tonight is the Pikes Peak Writers monthly Write Brain seminar, with Kay Bergstrom discussing dialogue. As VP, I help the Workshops Director organize these Write Brains, so I'll be there early to set up and late to clean up. I'm looking forward to hearing Kay's talk. She's always a hoot.
On Thursday, I'll be hosting the on-line PPW Write Chat, which is free and open to anyone. You don't have to be a PPW member. Just go to ppwc.net, find the announcement of my program, and click on "PPW Chat Room" to get directions for how to join us. It's really easy. I'll be talking about "How Networking Will Help Sell Your Book."
Then, on Saturday, July 21st, I'll take my turn on the Summer Mystery Reading Challenge on the reviewedbyliz.com blog. I'll check in periodically during the day to answer questions and chat on the blog about A REAL BASKET CASE and my writing life.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
My seven events in the last eleven days of June started with a panel appearance at the Louisville, CO library on the evening of Wednesday, June 20th. I and three other mystery authors talked about our books, characters, careers, and writing styles, then chatted with the patrons and signed books. On Friday, I had a lovely visit with the Teen Writing Group at the Rockrimmon branch of the Pikes Peak Library to teach them how to write query letters. I sat in on their critique group afterward and was impressed by the talent exhibited by these young writers.
Saturday, June 23rd, I had back-to-back signings at Murder By the Book in South Denver and the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Highlands Ranch. The first event was a proxy signing for Elaine Viets, a mystery writer who is recovering from a stroke. Since as a result, Elaine was unable to tour for her new release, panels of mystery authors around the country are promoting her books as well as our own. This is a great example of the camaraderie of the mystery-writing community! The second event was four of the "Five Stars from Five Star" discussing and signing our mystery and romance books.
On Sunday, I served on a promotion panel with Lise Fuller and Karin Huxman for the local chapter of RWA called Pikes Peak Romance Writers. We had a tough time cramming in a discussion in one hour of all the ways authors can promote themselves these days on-line, in traditional media, and in person at conferences, signings/readings, book clubs, and library events.
Thursday, the 28th, I had a signing on the covered porch of Hamlet's Bookshoppe in Breckenridge, CO. A brief thundershower with high winds played havoc with the books and fliers on my table during part of the event, but being outside where I could greet the tourists strolling by on the sidewalk was where I needed to be. Then last night, I finished off the month with a signing at Poor Richard's Bookstore in downtown Colorado Springs. Of course, I couldn't resist buying a few books of my own there. They are a great source for used short story collections, which I love.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Also back in April, I did an Internet radio interview with Jeannette Cezanne on her World of Publishing show on the World Wide Artist Internet broadcasting site. It took awhile for the recording to be put on their archive, so it would be available for folks to listen to after the fact. I don't know how long it's been there, but I just ran across it today.
To listen, go to http://www.worldwideartist.net/sound-2.htm and click on "Track 7/Live Recording" that's labeled "Beth Groundwater." Probably because the interview was conducted by telephone, my voice is softer than the interviewer's, so you may need to turn up the sound on your computer. Let me know what you think!
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Worldcat lists 177 library systems that have 1-12 copies of A REAL BASKET CASE, and Calcat lists 221 library systems. So, I'm going to take a rough average of the two and assume I've crossed the threshold of 200 library systems. Time to celebrate! (I'll use any excuse to eat chocolate.)
I'm trying to make sure at least one copy of my book is in all 50 states and I have 4 to go: Hawaii, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Vermont. If you live in one of those states, please request my book at your library, then let me know the name of the library by clicking on "Contact Me" at my website, www.bethgroundwater.com . If the book is already in your library, let me know that, too, so I can cross the state off my list. My next goal will be all the provinces in Canada!
Monday, June 18, 2007
The signings weren't terrific, just a few sales for each of us, but we enjoyed talking to customers and left signed stock on the shelves at both stores. And, we had a great time bonding with each other, discussing this funny business of writing and promoting books.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Highlights included: Getting to know my roommate, Sunny Frazier, and liking her even more. Chatting with Bruce Cook and Robert Fate about Capital Crime Press at the Barnes & Noble mass book signing Friday evening. Hearing the tales from Bruce Cook, Robert Fate, Ken Sherman, Gammy Singer, and Robert Crais about what a messed-up place Hollywood is. Sharing with my panel-mates, Sunny Frazier, Ken Kuhlken, Conda Douglas, and Michelle Winkler, our love of the short story form. Catching up with L.C. Hayden, Honora Finkelstein, and Susan Smily again and swapping road tales. Laughing uproariously at the hilarious stories told by my table mates after the final reception. Sampling Basque food with our gracious local hostess, Joanne Pence. Meeting some new writer friends--both published and unpublished, and strolling the picturesque streets of Boise's downtown.
To top it all off, I volunteered to be bumped from my flight home in exchange for a free round-trip airline ticket. (We authors who have yet to make the NYT bestseller list need to save $ any way we can!) I only arrived home two and a half hours later than originally scheduled. Today, it's back to the butt-in-the-chair routine in front of the computer. Many thanks to whichever Murder in the Grove attendees are responsible for the bump in the Amazon rank of my book, A REAL BASKET CASE, today!
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
But, I had to skedaddle at 2 PM to drive to Manitou Springs, CO for a 3 PM book signing at Black Cat Books. We billed it as a "Wine and Cheese" signing, because the store has a wine bar, and the Manitou Springs wine festival was held in a park a few blocks away that day. I brought crackers and cheese, and the store provided fruit. My husband joined me there to hand out fliers to passers-by and encourage them to come inside the bookstore and "meet the local author." A few friends dropped by and bought books, and I managed to entice a few tipsy wine festival goers to buy copies also. All-in-all a very enjoyable and successful day.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
It will take quite some time for the manuscript to wind its way through the publishing process, but once I know a publication date, I'll let the world know!
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
For my "In the Bedroom with Colonel Mustard: Sex and the Traditional Mystery" panel on Saturday, author Carl Brookins brought props: feather boa, whipped cream, honey, and silly string. I cracked up the room with my mention of being an unwilling observer of kangaroo sex. In my "Light at the End of the Tunnel--And It's Not a Train!" panel, I and my fellow panelists discussed light mysteries both in tone and weight (ie short stories). The gut-splitting dinner mystery play on Saturday evening, Murder at Rick's Casablanca Cafe, should have been billed as a comedy, and I learned SO much from Nancy Pickard's interview of Margaret Maron at the brunch on Sunday.
I am best buds now with my car mate and roommate, Patricia Stoltey, author of THE PRAIRIE GRASS MURDERS. Eighteen hours of on-the-road closeness is bound to make you hate or love each other. I'm so glad I've found a new friend in Pat.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
As Tony said, asking established writers for blurbs is an imposition on them, a request for a huge chunk of their time to read your manuscript. The best way to help this process along is to start doing favors for the authors you want to approach. Show up at their signings and buy their books. Post complimentary reviews of their books on bookseller websites and mystery discussion groups. Do other favors for them, such as putting them in touch with experts they need for their current research project, volunteering to help on their latest MWA or SinC project, etc. That way, you've established a professional networking relationship with them, and asking for a return favor is not such an imposition.
Also, don't assume or imply that once they read the work, they should think it worthy of a blurb. When I asked my established author contacts to blurb my book, I asked them--in a professional letter--if they would be willing to read the manuscript and IF they liked it, to consider giving me a blurb. I asked them all at least 6-8 weeks before the blurb was required by my publisher and stated the deadline clearly, so they could determine if they had time in their busy schedules to read my manuscript. Afterward, I thanked them--in writing--for their efforts and gave them each a small gift basket (since my protagonist is a gift basket designer).
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Also, Janet Cearley sent the following email recently:
"Just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed your book. I ordered it through our local Borders and when it came the book was bound upside down. You have no idea the sort of looks you get when you're seen reading a book upside down in public. I especially liked that the characters seemed so real. Rather than the perfect friends and family, they had flaws and traits that are all too human."
I'm glad Janet wasn't upset by her upside-down book. To thank her for alerting me and for her kind words, I sent her a signed bookplate. She'll have to decide which direction to place it in her book! I have found one upside-down bound book myself, and a Five Star author friend found three of hers bound that way. If anyone else runs into the problem, let me know, please. Though, it may be a bonus rather than a problem. Those books COULD become collectors' items. :)
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
The store had scheduled a discussion, which meant my sister and I chatted with her friends and anyone else who showed up and I answered questions about the writing process. What made this event special was my first "groupies"! I had met two lovely ladies at the Malice Domestic conference, and when I found out they were from Charlottesville I asked them to come to my signing so I'd have an audience. They did come and talked one of my sister's friends into attending Malice next year. I really appreciate the favor, gals, and you made me feel so special!
The next day I drove to my parents' home in Hampton, VA and loaded their washing machine because Thursday was going to be a busy day. My mom and I worked my noon - 3 PM signing at the College of William and Mary (my alma mater) Bookstore. She stood by front door and handed out fliers, suggesting a mystery novel made for a great Mother's Day gift. (Thanks, Mom!) My good friend, Grace, stopped by and bought copies, then made me look popular enough that other folks came by and bought also. I told her she was my good luck charm. At 2:45, my mom plopped down in a chair next to me. When I asked her if she needed a rest, she said, "No, a boy threw up on the sidewalk right outside the front door, and I don't want to look at it."
After a laugh, we made bets on which store employee would draw the short straw and have to clean it up. A short while later, a man hustled by with a full package of paper towels. After that auspicious ending, we had just enough time to pick up my dad and drive to the Newport News Barnes & Noble bookstore for the second event of the day. I had a lovely dinner with their Mystery Book Club, then signed from 7-9 PM. My dad took his turn at the door with my fliers, announcing that a new mystery author was signing today, then leaning over and adding, "And she's my daughter." That sentimental approach made quite a few sales for me. (Thanks, Dad!)
After a restful Friday, I drove up to Richmond for a joint signing with Agatha-award-winner Sandy Parshall at the Creatures 'n Crooks bookstore. My ex sister-in-law and niece surprised me by driving down from Crozet to have lunch with me and buy copies. Boy, it sure is nice to have relatives around at signings! And chatting with Lelia, the owner, who's so knowledgeable about the mystery business, was a pleasure. Then it was on to Ashburn to stay with friends before getting on a plane and flying home. They took me to the fancy new $28 million Clyde's restaurant complex there and wheedled a tour out of the manager for the "famous visiting author." (Thanks, Dave!)
I returned home on Mother's Day to flowers from my college-aged daughter and a homemade chocolate cake (and trashed kitchen) compliments of my high school son. What a wonderful ending to a wonderful trip.
Monday, May 14, 2007
And Mary Alice and Richard know how to treat authors. We had a lovely tea at the Oakmont Library with local librarians before the festival and a pizza, beer, and wine party at the store afterward, where the authors could relax and socialize. And what a thrill it was to be asked to autograph their bathroom wall, along with all the "big name" mystery authors. You know you've arrived on the mystery scene when your signature is on the bathroom wall at the Mystery Lovers Bookshop! I will definitely return for this event.
Friday, May 11, 2007
I was dreading Malice-Go-Round, the speed-dating gauntlet for new authors at 12-2 on Friday, where teams of 2-3 new authors rotate among 20 tables filled with mystery readers and give a 90 second pitch to each one. Luckily, I paired up with Liz Zelvin, a fellow Guppy (Sisters in Crime online group for unpublished members and recent "graduates"). Her brisk New York style created a nice contrast with my laid-back Colorado style, which we both felt made us stand out more.
I spent the rest of the afternoon trolling for Guppies at the silent and live auctions and the opening reception and was thrilled to match faces to names of so many online friends. I sat in awed fascination through the presentation by Lucy Zahray, the Poison Lady. By then, I was numb with exhaustion and skipped the radio play (though I HATED to miss it) and crawled into my bed at my friends' home.
Saturday morning, I pitched A REAL BASKET CASE at the New Author's Breakfast and had a chance to meet Kate Stine and Brian Skupin of Mystery Scene Magazine and thank them for running my New Books essay in their latest issue. Then I rushed over to my 9 AM panel about "Not Too Old to Tangle: Older and Better Insured Lady Sleuths." The other panelists and I had a great time, and hopefully the audience did, too, as we discussed out mysteries. Gayle Wigglesworth and I, both with protagonists named Claire in their 40s, didn't fit the definition of "Older Sleuth," but we made the best of it.
The Guppies lunch at noon in the Underground food court, with over 20 of us, was a lovely get-together with lots of photo-ops. The interview of Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Carolyn Hart, by Nancy Pickard, was charming. After a day full of panels, signings, and chance meetings in hallways, I changed into a skirt in L.C. Hayden's room, and went off to the Agatha Awards reception and banquet. Sandy Parshall graciously introduced me to her agent, Jacky Sach, even though I'm sure she was nervous about the upcoming awards. I sat at Nancy Pickard's table, because I had gotten to know her when she was on the editorial committee for MANHATTAN MYSTERIES, the anthology in which my "Flamingo Fatality" story was published. I was thrilled when she won the Agatha for Best Novel and celebrated with her table. Also, I was SOOO happy for Sandy when she won for Best First Novel!
Sunday, after more panels, I stopped by the booksellers. Kathy Harig of Mystery Loves Company had sold out her stock of 10 copies of my book, and Tom and Enid Schantz of Rue Morgue Press had sold 3 of the 5 consignment copies I gave them. Not a bad showing, given all the other authors who had books to sell at the conference. Thanks to everyone who bought a copy!
The closing tea was delicious, and the hat contest was a riot. I got some nice photos of the two "chef ladies" who took the runner-up awards in the Most Beautiful and Most Creative categories and of L.C. Hayden, who won the Most Creative award. The day ended with a lovely dinner at my friends' home, who invited L.C. (who was driving to Pittsburgh with me the next morning) and other friends over.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
A REAL BASKET CASE
By Beth Groundwater
Beth Groundwater has penned a keeper in her entertaining page-turning novel full of mystery, intrigue and suspense. It is a story of friendships and hardships. While Claire’s marriage is not on the high road, she was not prepared for the many incidents that would send everyone on ventures right up to the last page. The twists and turns spin all over the map in one’s mind.
I would highly recommend A Real Basket Case as a light, fun, suspenseful read. But be prepared, you will not want to put it down; save a day for reading.
Monday, April 30, 2007
My website master & dear hubby posted a photo from the Launch on the "Author Photos" page of my website, accessible from either the "About Beth" or "Press Kit" pages. You can see from the photo that I brought snacks and a balloon bouquet to jazz up the signing, and I collected names for a gift basket drawing. The snacks, napkins, tablecloth, and balloons were color-coordinated to my book cover colors. I ended up selling out the stores' stock of 35 copies and brought in 5 of mine to leave as signed stock.
Sunday was my second "Mystery Through the Ages" panel at the Reader's Cove bookstore in Ft. Collins with three other debut Colorado mystery authors. We had a nice crowd, even with the lovely weather that was driving folks outside. I sold 7 copies and left 3 for signed stock. A photo of the panel in action (look who's got her mouth open) is also on the "Author Photos" page of my website.
And the Woodmen Edition, the neighborhood weekly newspaper, was kind enough to coordinate the timing of the publication of an interview with me for the Friday before these events!
Saturday, April 28, 2007
"Ms Groundwater has written an amateur sleuth mystery with a gutsy heroine. The situations that she manages to get herself into as she tries to uncover the truth will have readers chuckling, gasping, and turning the pages. Readers will be kept guessing to the end in the best fashion of a good who-done-it."
-- Love, Romances and More, April, 2007
"At first, I feared that Claire would be a character I couldn't relate to, let alone like. But it's clear from the first few pages that this is simply a woman at a crossroad in her life, and with one mistake, that life, and the lives of others, are now in peril. Many wild scenarios run rampant throughout Beth Groundwater's book, and the author has successfully mixed humor with the macabre. An enjoyable mystery that will weave its way into your psyche, A REAL BASKET CASE should not be missed."
-- Courtney Michelle, Romance Reviews Today, April, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
After sleeping over at Mike's home, I did the following Wednesday:
- met with a gift basket business owner, who took 3 copies on consignment for "Mystery Lover's" themed gift baskets
- two stock signings at B&N bookstores
- a pitch to the Westminster acquisition librarian to buy my book
- a visit with a Book Club (wine & food included) who had bought & read copies of A REAL BASKET CASE
I even got some shopping done at the Flatiron Crossing Mall! If some/all of my signed stock sells, the trip probably netted me 30-45 direct sales and hopefully more word-of-mouth sales. This weekend is my Book Launch at a local Barnes & Noble in Colorado Springs on Saturday afternoon and another "Mystery Through the Ages" panel signing at Reader's Cove in Ft. Collins on Sunday afternoon.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
This was a milestone conference for me--getting to sign copies of my debut novel. Thanks to everyone who bought one! That's a feeling that I hope every aspiring author will have the pleasure of experiencing. As I was talking to Bill Reed, I told him how each PPWC was a different experience for me as I moved through the phases of my career, from my first one in 97, when I hadn't written any fiction yet and just came to learn, to my second in 99 when I entered the Paul Gillette writing contest, got lousy scores and realized I had so much more to learn, to my third in 2000 when I found my critique group buddies, to my fourth in 2001 when I placed third in the Paul Gillette, etc.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I'll try to report on the conference soon after, but I might need a recovery day Monday after such a high energy weekend. Along with trying to attend a few sessions, I'm manning the registration desk part time, helping with the Newcomer's Orientation, talking to prospective Sisters in Crime at their host table, trying to recruit speakers for future PPW monthly Write Brain meetings, etc. etc.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
I've also been publicizing whatever reviews, interviews, and profiles I've been able to get to online email loops. The latest news is:
I have a blog at the Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper that points to this blog.
Also, I am the featured author this month of the Houston, TX chapter of Sisters in Crime: www.thefinaltwist.com/bookclub.htm .
And I appear as a guest blogger on the Killer Hobbies blog. Go to http://killerhobbies.blogspot.com/ to read about my killer hobby of making gift baskets.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Now, how is WorldCat useful to authors? We can use it to see how many libraries have copies of our books in stock, which gives us an idea of our library sales. Not ALL libraries participate, but enough do to make the search worthwhile, especially for authors whose publishers focus on library sales, like Five Star Publishing does. When I searched for my book, A Real Basket Case, today, I found that 46 library systems have copies and some of those have multiple copies. I consider this to be good news, given that my book was only released on March 21st.
Monday, April 09, 2007
"Read the book through. Every time I thought about laying it down, I'd get caught up in it again. You needed a diagram to keep everyone straight.
That second chapter is a teaser."
Hee, hee, hee! We authors LOVE it when we make a reader miss their bedtime!! JB, thanks so much for the praise, and I'm so glad you enjoyed A REAL BASKET CASE.
Friday, April 06, 2007
Thursday, April 05, 2007
April 20-22 Pikes Peak Writers Conference, Colorado Springs, CO
Saturday, 4:50 PM, What are Niche Mysteries and What is their Appeal panel
Sunday, 8:30 AM, After the Call workshop
May 4-6 Malice Domestic Conference, Crystal City, VA
Saturday, 9:00 AM, Not to Old to Tangle panel
May 25-26 Mayhem in the Midlands, Omaha, NE
Saturday, 1:30 PM, In the Bedroom with Colonel Mustard: Sex and the Traditional Mystery panel
Saturday, 3:00 PM, Light at the End of the Tunnel--And It's Not a Train! The Lighter Side of Mystery panel
June 8-9, Murder in the Grove, Boise, ID
Saturday, 3:00 PM, Mysteries in Brief: Short Stories panel
and more to come...
Monday, April 02, 2007
Doing an Internet interview was a way for me to ease into the live interview process before trying to break into the "big time" of on-air radio or even, horrors, TV! I asked Jeannette for feedback, so I can learn from the process and hopefully improve my "stage presence" for the next time.
Saturday, March 31, 2007
This leads to the topic of ezine promotion. When you're trying to find places to review your book or run an interview with you, check out online magazines and the popular blogs. I've been able to get reviews in four ezines so far and have been interviewed in two ezines and a blog. All I had to do was ask--politely, of course, then respond quickly with ARCs or answers to interview questions when the editors responded.
Locally, the Thursday "Your Hub" section of the Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper included an article written by me about how an author promotes her book. And I was interviewed by a reporter of the local monthly newspaper, Life After 50, for an article about writing as a
second career that will appear in the April issue. The promotion engine is chugging along...
Friday, March 30, 2007
And to add to the excitement was a box holding my "I'm a Real Basket Case" buttons that will go to people who buy the book from me. Also there was a box holding my Book Launch invitations that I'll be passing out and mailing to neighbors and friends. A red-letter mail day!
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
When the box(es) of my books actually arrive, and I can hold them in my hands and smell them and turn the pages, THAT'S when I'll feel the excitement. So, I sit at my computer with my ear tuned for the USPS/UPS/FedEx trucks. (I don't know how Five Star is shipping the books to me.) It's a competition between the dog and me as to who gets more excited when the trucks come up the street. ;)
Today, my hubby and I have been working on my email newsletter and my "I'm A Real Basket Case" buttons (idea courtesy of Diane Mott Davidson). I also made an appointment for a luncheon interview tomorrow with a reporter for the local "Life After 50" monthly newspaper, sent information about my book for the Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave newsletter, and sent a blog update to the Mystery Lovers Corner blog.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
I'm very pleased to announce that my March gift basket winner is Valerie Holst from
The next issue should be going out shortly. It will announce an extension of my preorder promotion through the end of March.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
My first interview is out in this month's "Mouth Full of Bullets" ezine at:
Also, Kevin Tipple has posted his complimentary review of A REAL BASKET CASE both there and in the "Mysterical-E" ezine:
More to come in Spinetingler, Crime Spree, Mystery Scene and other fine mystery-related publications...
Friday, March 02, 2007
A mystery fan reads a few of my emails on DorothyL or cozymysterykorner and says to herself, "that new author seems like a nice person." Then she reads a complimentary review of my book in a publication she trusts, like Booklist or Kirkus Review, and says "oh, I've heard of her, and her book sounds interesting." Then she visits a favorite blog site and reads my interview or guest blog and thinks, "so-and-so blogger likes this author,too." Then she reads my upcoming article in the April Mystery Scene and says, "wow, this author's getting a lot of press." She goes to my website to read a couple of excerpts from my book and check out my appearances list. There, she finds out I'll be appearing a mystery conference she's attending, like Malice Domestic, Mayhem in the Midlands, or Murder in the Grove. Finally, at the conference, she listens to a panel I'm speaking on, and says to herself, "I think I may buy her book." At the conference signing, she visits my table, we chat, she gets a good vibe, and she makes the decision to have me sign a book for her.
The process may happen differently for different readers. For instance, the last step may be my appearance at a local bookstore or with her book club or she remembers my book when she's putting together $25 worth of Amazon buys to get free shipping. :) Whatever the process, the important thing is to get my name out there in many different media. Now, if only I could book some radio interviews...
Sunday, February 25, 2007
L.C. Hayden, Best Novel, for her book, WHY CASEY HAD TO DIE
Sandra Parshall, Best First Novel, for her book, THE HEAT OF THE MOON
I'm so pleased for them, and I'll be rooting for them to win when I attend the conference May 4-6 in Arlington, VA. It turns out that L.C. and I will be driving together afterward to attend the Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, PA the next day, May 7th. The long drive and sharing a room will allow us to really cement our friendship. And, Sandy and I will conduct a joint booksigning at the Creatures 'n Crooks Bookshoppe in Richmond, VA on Saturday, May 12th. I'm hoping that some of the cachet from these two Agatha nominees will rub off on me!
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Friday, February 16, 2007
Here's praise from reviewers:
* "MAP OF MURDER is a fascinating and diverse collection of stories that takes you on a heart-pounding journey...From coast to coast and border to border, it's quite a trip."
- Donis Casey, author of THE OLD BUZZARD HAD IT COMING and HORNSWOGGLED: AN ALAFAIR TUCKER MYSTERY
* "Buckle up for a suspenseful road trip full of mystery and mayhem."
- Kit Ehrman, author of the Steve Cline mystery series
* "Wherever MAP OF MURDER takes the audience, one thing consistently occurs: readers will obtain immense pleasure from this well-written compilation."
- Harriet Klausner, reviewcentre.com
* "While each story occurs in a different location, each story features complex characters involved in complex cases that lead the reader through a delightful tale. The result is an excellent criss cross trail across America full of murder, deceit, and betrayal. Beth Groundwater weaves a twisting tale up into the Colorado Mountains in her tale 'The Murder Cache.' When you are a good parent, there isn't anything you won't do for your child."
- Kevin Tipple, kevinscorner.com
You can order the anthology from Red Coyote Press or at Amazon:
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Earlier this month, I awarded a gift basket to the eighth winner in my email newsletter contest. I realized I forgot to announce his name here. His name is Kevin, he's from Plano, Texas, and he chose the mystery lovers gift basket. I'll be awarding the ninth gift basket very soon. I'm very pleased with the number of folks who are registering for my newsletter. Very few have dropped off the list, so I hope to award one and maybe even two more gift baskets in March.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
I also wrote my February email newsletter and gave it to my hubby to send out. I also gave him a set of website changes that includes a number of booksignings that I've confirmed lately. My trip back east is almost set, with only one event still not firm. I'll be stuffing 7 events into 10 days, including the 3-day Malice Domestic conference. Whew! I also finished another email interview for the Mouth Full of Bullets ezine. And I wrote an article for Mystery Scene, but I haven't heard back from them as to whether or not they accepted it. More ARCs get mailed out today to reviewers. All that, and editing the manuscript I just finished is keeping me VERY busy.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Anyway, I also subscribe to Conde Nast Traveler magazine and work their two puzzles, "Word Trips" and "Where Are You?" every month. Each time you get one right, you're entered into a yearly drawing for a grand prize of a trip. Well, Conde Nast just notified me that I was the 2006 Word Trips grand prize winner! I won airfare for two and two nights stay at one of the top-rated North American spa resorts profiled in their magazine last year. Wowzer! My hubby and I are drooling over the websites of these exotic resorts. Choosing one is going to be hard.
Monday, January 29, 2007
During the lunch break, two of the presenters and four PPW crime fiction authors signed books. I signed copies of the Map of Murder anthology that includes my "Murder Cache" short story. The bookstore sold over $650 of books, including craft books about aspects of writing crime fiction. Everyone, presenters and audience members included, seemed to have a good time. I'm glad it went well and that we didn't loose money on the workshop, but boy, was it a lot of work to put together!
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
When I first started telling friends that a publisher had accepted my book, after asking when it would come out and what it's title would be, many of them asked if I was publishing it under a pseudonym. The question surprised me. Did they think I would be ashamed to put my own name on the book? I later realized that they simply wanted to know how to ask for the book when they went to their local library or bookstore. Many thought that using a pseudonym was a much more common practice than it is.
In my case, I have some real advantages to using my own name. There are very few Beth Groundwaters in the world, because Groundwater is an uncommon surname, and the shortening of Elizabeth to Beth in an author's first name is also not that common. So, when I type my full name in quotes into google, almost every single hit is about me. This makes it easy for people to find my website and my blog. And when A Real Basket Case is readily available at online bookstores, searching for the book by my name will probably be even easier than searching for the title.
Finally, I'm PROUD of my published works. I want people to know that I wrote them. :)
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Now comes the editing. I usually do a pass for each major character, to deepen the characterization and check for consistency. I'll also do a setting/description pass to make sure I've described all the locations, clothes, weather, etc. with enough detail for readers to develop a picture in their mind. As part of this, I check the five senses in each scene, to see if I'm appealing to all of them, if possible. Then I'll be checking my research, to see if I can weave any more in, and the plot, to make sure it keeps on moving at a good pace and that what each character (and the reader) knows at any given time is consistent with what they've known before and are learning in the current scene. And there's so much more.
Finishing the rough draft does not a polished book make, but it sure is easier to edit something that already exists than to create something from scratch. I'm excited about beginning the next phase of the process. Oh, and this mystery, tentatively titled Wicked Whitewater, has a whitewater river ranger as a protagonist. It was a lot of fun to research and write. Hopefully it will be just as much fun to read!