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: http://www.carolhightshoe.com/DeHLTA.html

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...