Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

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

Watta Ya' Know, I'm a Mid-list Author!

Joan Reeves, on her Sling Words blog ( http://slingwords.blogspot.com/ ) talks today about mid-list authors, what they are and how difficult it is for them to get public notice. Then she lists a few examples, and I'm included in the list for my debut mystery, A REAL BASKET CASE. I've read books by many of the other authors on the list and recommend them. What Joan has to say is definitely food for thought.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Holiday Market in a Snowstorm

Last Saturday, Cottonwood Artists School in Colorado Springs, where we hold our Pikes Peak Writers meetings, hosted a Holiday Market all day. They invited PPW to run a bookstore during the event and the Colorado Farm and Art Market to bring their food/produce vendors. PPW had recently been given two large donations of used books from a library and a used bookstore that is moving to Atlanta, so we set up many, many shelves of used books available for donation. We also had new books about the writing craft and by PPW member authors for sale.

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

A REAL BASKET CASE in over 300 Library Systems!

Today I checked calcat.org, the California interlibrary loan system that reports a book's availability in both California and "worldwide" library systems. The system doesn't lists all the libraries in the USA or the world, because not all libraries participate in the interlibrary loan system searched by the website. However, you can get a feel for your book's availability from the website.

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

A No Show Event

Tne life of an author is not all fun and roses. I had a minor set back last night. A local library booked me for an event to demonstrate how to make gift baskets for the holidays, and by-the-way talk about my book, which features a gift basket designer sleuth. The library promoted it in local newspapers, on the local NPR radio station, with fliers at the library and on their website. They advertised hot drinks and goodies and frequent prize drawings. I came early with two huge bags of baskets, gift contents, and decorations and set it all up on a worktable in the main room. Then the librarian and I waited, chatted with each other,...and waited, sipped tea and hot chocolate while the hot water pot perked,...and NO ONE came. Bummer! I don't blame the library at all. They did a great job on promotion. As I told the embarrassed librarian, it's just one of those things that happens in the life of an author. We've all got to get used to occasionally having those events where no one shows up, for who knows WHAT reason.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Recent Short Story Successes

The online Crime and Suspense magazine recently accepted my short story, "The Extra Gift", for their January/February issue that has a celebration theme. Also, Colorado Homegrown Tales, a performance group in Denver, selected another of my stories, "Biscuit Connection", to be dramatized by an actor at their holiday program in late December. I haven't had time to write any short stories recently, but I occasionally have been submitting ones I've already written to various markets, and these two just happened to hit around the same time.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pre-Turkey Day Research

For the week of Thanksgiving I went to Breckenridge, CO with my husband and son for a vacation. The skiing was the worst of any Thanksgiving since we moved to Colorado in '92. Most resorts only had a few runs open with man-made snow and the lift lines were HUGE. So, I drove down to Salida, CO the day before Thanksgiving to complete research for my whitewater river ranger mystery manuscript. I had four locations I needed to check out--a beauty parlor, a particular spot on the Arkansas river, an upscale neighborhood south of town, and the new medical center under construction. All are included in scenes, and I had made guesses about them from websites or other research sources. It was a good thing I made the trip, because I discovered information that means I will need to make changes to all four scenes now!

Friday, November 16, 2007

I Have a New Agent!

I'm pleased to announce that Sandra Bond, Bond Literary Agency, has offered representation and I have accepted. She read my Wicked Whitewater manuscript and says its ready to submit to publishers as is (I have my critique group to thank for that), so I'm anxious to see what kind of reception it will get from editors. Sandra will also be working on selling audio and paperback rights for my Five Star books after she markets WW. I've met her in person and had a few phone call conversations with her, and I'm very excited about working with her. I think we've hit it off well.

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

Murder on the Air...and at Sea

Last weekend L.C. Hayden and her husband, Rich, drove up from El Paso, TX to speak to my local Rocky Mountain Chapter of Sisters in Crime. They spent Saturday night at my home and treated my family to lunch before the Sunday afternoon meeting in my living room. L.C. has published seven novels, the latest of which is WHY CASEY HAD TO DIE, which was nominated for an Agatha Award and features geocaching. Eleven of us sat in rapt attention as L.C. Hayden regaled us with fascinating and funny tales of her life as an author, as an interviewer for the phone-in Mystery Writers of America talk show she hosted, Murder on the Air, and as an "Author at Sea" for the cruise lines. We felt very privileged to have this delightful speaker drive such a long distance to speak to us. L.C. gives workshops and presentations on writing across the country and can be reached at her website, lchayden.freeservers.com.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Colorado Association of Libraries Conference

Last Saturday, I attended the Colorado Association of Libraries Conference in Denver. I presented a workshop on "Arranging for Authors to Speak at Library Programs." I could approach the subject from two perspectives, as an author and as someone who also has to arrange for authors to speak at programs as VP of Programs at Pikes Peak Writers. The librarians who attended my workshop were complimentary and especially appreciative of the handout I provided that listed writing organization contacts around the state.

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

Scaring Your Readers

As some of my blog readers know, I am the Second Vice President for Pikes Peak Writers, and in that capacity, I work on organizing non-conference programs with the Workshops Director, Barb Nickless. Our fall workshop on Saturday, November 3rd, was "Scaring Your Readers," in honor of Halloween, one of my favorite holidays. Horror/fantasy authors Carrie Vaughn, Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnick Tem gave presentations at the full-day workshop and signed copies of their books for attendees. Tom Piccirilli was originally scheduled to join them, but due to an illness, had to back out two weeks prior to the event. Ed Bryant graciously agreed to take his place on short notice, then had to cancel the day before, also due to illness. At that point, Barb was afraid to ask any other authors because that position seemed to be jinxed!

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

Book clubs, book clubs, book clubs

I've been having so much fun talking to book clubs lately, both in person and over the phone. Some sample clubs that I've met with include a library branch-based mystery book club, a mother-daughter book club, my aunt's book club in Georgia via phone, and my across-the-street neighbor's book club. The neighbor's group was fascinated that they could look out the living room window and see the house where a real-live author lives. Tee hee. :)

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

The Author Fest of the Rockies

This wonderful little conference was held last weekend at the historic Cliff House in Manitou Springs, CO to benefit the Manitou Springs library, one of the original Carnegie libraries in desperate need of expansion and overhaul. The Friday keynote speaker was Joanne Greenberg, author of I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN, and she was informal, witty, and thoroughly delightful. The Saturday keynote speaker was Connie Willis, winner of numerous Hugos and Nebulas for her science fiction writing. I love her annual Christmas stories. Connie's talks were well-researched, humorous, and very inspiring to the writers in the audience.

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

First Royalty Check

I just deposited my first royalty check in the bank today. It arrived along with a royalty statement for January-June, 2007 showing my sales figures during that time period for A REAL BASKET CASE after its March release. The check meant I earned out my advance on royalties in spades and in three months, with more income to come for continuing sales on the hardcover edition and on the January release of the large-print edition. The advance a publisher gives you is an indication of their expectation of your sales, and it's always nice to beat expectations!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Visit with the FBI

Yesterday twelve members of the Rocky Mountain chapter of Sisters in Crime visited the Denver Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a tour. We scheduled the tour weeks in advance and had to submit names, birth dates, etc. so they could check us out beforehand. We were not allowed to take any electronic devices, including cell phones and cameras, on the tour. After receiving a visitor's badge to get into the federal building and going through the metal detector and purse-sniffer, we headed up to the 18th floor, where we relinquished our photo IDs at the FBI reception desk in exchange for a second visitor's badge for just the FBI portion of the building. All the check-in procedures took about 45 minutes.

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

My First Craft Fair Signing

Today I shared a table with Kathy Brandt, author of the underwater diving mystery series, at the Wilson United Methodist Church's annual craft fair. Many folks who stopped by our table were surprised that the actual authors who wrote the books were there in person to sign them. Who else were we supposed to be? Weren't the crafters behind their tables the one who had made their quilts, vases, soaps, statues, paintings, and what not?

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

Trying Audio Books

Usually I share long car drives with my family or, if I'm heading to a conference, with another author or two. I pass the time with conversation. However, on the drive from Colorado Springs to Manhattan, KS and back for the Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave, I was on my own. So, I tried two books-on-CD and thoroughly enjoyed both. I picked light, humorous stories to keep me awake on the long drive, and they did the trick! They were BLUE SHOES AND HAPPINESS by Alexander McCall Smith and TISHOMINGO BLUES by Elmore Leonard. Not only was the text of the stories terrific, but so were the readers and all the character voices they could portray. However, I realized that a large fraction of my attention went to following the story versus what was happening on the road. So, I only listened to the CDs while on the highway and turned them off when I was in towns/cities and needed to focus on looking for street names, making turns, stopping for red lights, and such.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave

I returned last night from a friendly little mystery conference, the Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave in Manhattan, KS. With less than 100 attendees, we all could chat and get to know each other. Diane Mott Davidson was the Guest of Honor. She had us howling with laughter at the banquet with tales of horrid folks who wound up being treated to such-deserved deaths in her novels. The well-planned dinner featured delicious recipes from her novels. I was honored and so pleased to serve on a panel with Diane, since I'm such a fan of hers and she has provided me with great promotion advice.

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

New Review at Over My Dead Body

When I was working on my September email newsletter, I realized I forgot to post news on my blog about the new review for A REAL BASKET CASE written by Shirley Wetzel and appearing at the Over My Dead Body website. My favorite two sentences are, "Claire is an endearing, kinda klutzy, amateur sleuth, and her gift basket business is a fresh and interesting facet of her character. A REAL BASKET CASE is Beth Groundwater's debut mystery, and a fine one it is." To read the whole review, go to www.overmydeadbody.com/basket.htm .

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

10,000 Goggle Hits

Back in January, I was impressed when a search in Google on "Beth Groundwater" produced 1,000 hits. Now, it produces over 10,000! Back then, I would occasionally search for my name to find reviews I may have missed. Now, I'm trolling for the many author/mystery community websites in which I'm registered, to make sure my appearances lists, etc. are up-to-date. I also enjoy finding recommendations for my book on reader's blogs and in library newsletters--gives a little lift to my days. I have a Google alert turned on to tell me when a new reference to my name and my book title appear, but it doesn't find everything, and it won't alert me when I need to make updates to existing references. Thus, the need to go trolling. Darn! :-)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Driving to Manhattan--Kansas, that is

On Friday, I'll hop in my fuel-efficient Prius for the day-long drive across eastern Colorado and most of Kansas to the lovely college town of Manhattan, KS, where I'll be attending the Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave. Normally I try to carpool with someone on these long drives, but my roommate at the conference, Pat Stoltey, decided that she's going to fly instead (and save her butt from getting sore!). So, instead of chatting with a friend to keep me awake on the journey, I've checked out a couple of books on CDs from the library to listen to. The books are funny mysteries by Alexander McCall Smith and Elmore Leonard, so they should keep me laughing and alert on the long drive.

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

Large Print Edition of A REAL BASKET CASE

I received good news recently that Wheeler Publishing, an imprint of Gale that is a sister to Five Star Publishing, will be releasing a large-print edition of A REAL BASKET CASE in January, 2008. I'm excited, because this will mean more library sales for me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Striking Gold at the Colorado Gold Conference

What a fun weekend at the Colorado Gold conference! I arrived at the hotel late Thursday afternoon, checked in and freshened up, then drove to RMFW President Linda Hill's lovely home for a dinner for conference volunteers. Serious schmoozing with other authors, invited agents & editors, and fellow volunteers commenced. I snuck out around 8 PM to catch the tail end of a SWAT team presentation to the Rocky Mountain chapter of MWA at the Denver Press Club.

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

A New Review and Guest Blog Post

A REAL BASKET CASE received a favorable review from reviewer Cindy Chow on the No Name Cafe website run by author Lorie Ham. My favorite sentence is, "What Beth Groundwater achieves so successfully is conveying the hopelessness and desperation felt by a woman who fears that her marriage is over and who must learn to fight for what she truly wants." To read the whole review, go to: www.lorieham.com and click on "click here for the no name cafe". My book is first under the Book Reviews list.

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

Off to Mine for Colorado Gold

I'm heading north to Denver today to attend the Colorado Gold writing conference hosted by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. I'll be presenting a workshop on character development techniques, moderating two other workshops, and helping to set-up and break-down the bookstore. In between, I hope to network with new and old writer friends and maybe even learn something new. The hard part will be staying on my diet--esp. when a lot of the socializing and business takes place over drinks!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A plug from Southwest Airlines' Spirit Magazine!

I just found out that this month's issue of Spirit Magazine, Southwest Airlines' in-flight magazine, has an article on "Put the Mystery into your Travel," about mystery novels set in real locations that serve as entertaining destination guides to those locales. My book, A REAL BASKET CASE, is listed for Colorado Springs, Colorado. To read the article online, go to: http://www.spiritmag.com/2007_09/features/ft3.php , then click on "Click here to discover even more mystery travel locations and books" to see the full list of books, including my debut mystery.

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

A Writing Lull...and Balance

A couple of weeks ago, I finished incorporating all the suggested edits from my critique group that I agreed with into my latest manuscript and gave it to another author friend to read cover-to-cover and give me feedback. That left me with no current writing or editing project to work on. I soon realized that I wasn't ready to start a new project. My muse protested, said she wanted to read some good books, watch a few good movies, get outdoors and get some exercise, etc. The well was dry and needed to be refilled.

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

Two Interviews in One Day

Today was a red-letter day for interviews for me, with two interviews, one in print media and one on Internet radio. You might think I was a famous author or something. :-)

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

Relaxed and Renewed after a Writers Retreat

Yesterday, the President of Pikes Peak Writers held a Volunteer Appreciation Retreat for all the volunteers who've put in a lot of hours on the spring conference or year-round on other activities. She provided breakfast and lunch at her home in a lovely forested area and organized a series of writing workshops, solitary writing exercises, and social times. Since I couldn't stay for the afternoon, I arrived first thing in the morning to participate in a "Sun Salutations" yoga class. We greeted the sun as it rose above the hills while learning a few yoga moves. After breakfast, five of us went for a brisk walk around the neighborhood to get the blood pumping. Then I participated in two guided meditation exercises, a clearing meditation to open creative pathways and a "celestial library" meditation to inspire us with the ideas our library held for us. Both the yoga and the guided meditations were new experiences for me and left me feeling refreshed and open to new possibilities.

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

Working on my Birthday

Last Saturday was my birthday, and I had a group signing event with the "Five Stars from Five Star" at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Centerra. It was a 2 hour drive away--so, I drove two hours, signed two hours, and drove two hours home. The other ladies bought a sheet cake that we cut up & served to customers to make the signing more festive. It was kind of fun being the "birthday girl" and having customers give me their best wishes.

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

Free (almost) Hawaii Trip

In January, Conde Nast Traveler magazine notified me that I had won the 2006 Word Trips puzzle contest. The prize was airfare for two and two nights accommodation at one of the top 25 North American spa resorts, according to their latest poll. My husband and I dithered over which one to chose and when to go. We decided to go when my daughter was home from college for the summer, so she could keep our 17-year-old son company while we were gone. We wanted to go to an exotic locale, yet not spend forever traveling there, so we picked one of the Hawaii resorts. And, we splurged for a third night. Here's the thank-you note I just emailed to the magazine:

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

Pikes Peak Romance Writers

I love this group, even though I'm no longer trying to write romances! Our July monthly meeting on Sunday was a potluck lunch at a member's home, where those members who attended the RWA national conference in Dallas could pass on their post-conference glow to the rest of us. The chapter was well-represented at the conference. Pam McCutcheon was given the 2007 RWA service award for outstanding service to the romance community. Donnell Bell was a finalist in the Best Contemporary Single Title manuscript category of the Golden Heart contest. Laura Hayden designed and conducted the award ceremony, with the assistance of Allegra Johnston acting as "Vanna White" handing out the awards. Karen Fox serves on the national board as the representative of Region Four. And our chapter's Ways and Means committee sold out the plotting boards and writing clocks they brought to the "Moonlight Madness" sale. All our members who attended had stories of amazing encounters with agents and editors and informative and stimulating workshops. They were all bubbling with enthusiasm and recharged to plunge back into their writing careers. It was a pleasure to let some of that glow shine on me. Now, back to editing my latest manuscript!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Back from Vacation and Back in the Mix

I returned from my family vacation trip on Friday, July 13th, and jumped right back into writing activities with a signing at Book Sleuth in Manitou Springs, CO the next day. One of the store regulars had bought my book ahead of time, read it, and returned to have me sign it. When she walked in, I said, "Now that's what I like to see--someone carrying my book!" She was a pleasure to talk to, and she signed up for my email newsletter so she could find out when the sequel will be published.

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

Seven Events in Eleven Days!

The end of June marks the end of my big promotion push during the first three months after the release of A REAL BASKET CASE in late March. After that, I will be involved in one to four promotion events per month versus per week. So, I wanted to end the month with a bang! During July, I'll be vacationing with my family, so be forewarned--I won't be blogging much.

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

Colorado Springs Gazette Article and Internet Interview Available for Listening

Today the Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper finally published in the Life section Bill Reed's article on interviews about the writing business that he conducted at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in April. I'm featured along with agent Kristin Nelson, editor Steve Saffel, and author Robert Crais. I'm honored to be in such a group! As VP of Pikes Peak Writers, my hope is that the article will encourage local writers who are not yet members to join the group and experience the benefits of our programs.

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

A REAL BASKET CASE in over 200 Library Systems!

There are two ways authors use to check the availability of their books in library systems nationwide. First is worldcat.org, the nationwide interlibrary loan system. Second is calcat.org, the California interlibrary loan system, that also reports the book's availability in "worldwide" library systems. Neither system lists ALL the libraries in the USA or the world, but you can get a feel for your book's availability from them.

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

Author Sleepover Party

Last weekend was a lot of fun! The "Mystery Through the Ages" panel had two signings in southern Colorado in Pueblo on Saturday and in Colorado Springs on Sunday. Since my co-panelists Mike Befeler, Linda Berry, and Pat Stoltey all live in northern Colorado, I invited them to spend the night at my house between the two events. After the event at the Pueblo Barnes & Noble store, we drank the wines that Linda and Pat brought while chatting on my deck, ate a Chinese take-out dinner, then watched L.A. Confidential on my big-screen TV. Sunday morning, we ate a blueberry pancake breakfast then took a stroll through the Garden of the Gods park before heading to the Southgate shopping mall for lunch and our signing at the Borders store. The highlight was spotting some bighorn sheep in the Garden of the Gods.

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

Murder in the Grove

I spent this past weekend with Robert Crais in Boise, ID -- along with over a hundred other mystery writers and fans. :) T.L. Cooper and her committee really know how to put on a conference. As far as I could tell, every aspect of the event worked like a well-oiled machine.

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

A Library Book Club and Signing in One Day

Last Saturday, I crammed two events into one day. First I lunched with the "Tainted Tea and Titles" mystery book club affiliated with the Lake George, CO library then held a lively discussion at the library itself. These women were the most inquisitive and delightful group I've talked to so far. The questions came so fast & furious that I never had to wonder what I should say next. I only wish I could have spent more time with them.

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

TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET goes to the publisher

On Friday, I emailed the manuscript for the sequel to A REAL BASKET CASE to John Helfers, the acquisition editor at Tekno Books for Five Star Publishing. In the sequel, TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET, which takes place a couple of months after the first book, Claire, her husband and daughter go on a ski vacation in Breckenridge, where her daughter's boyfriend's sister is murdered on the slope. Claire's friends don't appear in the second book, but Leon makes a repeat appearance. I love writing Leon, so he HAD to come up and give Claire some advice. :)

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

Creating Whoopie at Mayhem in the Midlands

What a fun weekend I had in Omaha, NE at the Mayhem in the Midlands conference! I met lots of new faces, sold a few books, tried to appear astute at my two panels, and participated in the fun. At the Omaha Public Library benefit auction on Friday evening conducted by two very witty mystery authors (Donna Andrews and Chris Grabenstein), I "won" an Omaha steaks package that included a $50 gift card. I put in my order today.

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

Crime Spree Magazine review

The May/June issue of Crime Spree Magazine contains a review of A Real Basket Case by fellow Sister-in-Crime Judy Clemens that ends with the words, "Groundwater's characters, especially Claire, are sympathetic and interesting, and I found myself really caring about Claire, her marriage, and that justice be done. A Real Basket Case and its author are a welcome addition to the mystery genre." Many thanks to Judy for a great review!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Appearing in Mystery Scene

The latest issue of Mystery Scene Magazine, the one with Ian Rankin on the cover, includes an essay written by me in their New Books column. Titled "A Basketful of Motivation," it appears on page 57 of the issue. Take a gander and let me know what you think by clicking on the "Beth's Web Page" link and the "Contact Me" link there.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Asking an Established Author for a Blurb

I sent the following email to the Sisters in Crime loop and received feedback that I should share it with others. So here goes...

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

Local Bestseller and Praise from a Fan

I just found out that the Sunday, May 6th, issue of the Daily Camera, the Boulder, CO newspaper, listed A REAL BASKET CASE as the #6 local bestseller in hardcover. Must have been because of the "Mystery Through the Ages" signing at the High Crimes bookstore on April 24th, because a co-signer, Patricia Stoltey, was listed at #8. It's still a thrill to see my name on ANY bestseller list!

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

Four Virginia Booksignings

This is my last post on my VA/PA tour. The Tuesday after the Festival of Mystery, I dropped L.C. Hayden off at the Pittsburgh airport after rooming with her for the festival, then drove south to Charlottesville, VA. I arrived at my sister's house half an hour before she got off work and napped in the rental car while I waited for her. After a quick hug and change of clothes, we headed off to the Barracks Road Shopping Center for dinner and my signing at the Barnes & Noble store there. My beautiful college-aged niece passed out fliers at the front door, and my sister greeted friends that she had invited to come. It sure helps to have family do marketing for you!

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

Festival of Mystery

In another of my reports on my VA/PA book tour, I want to gush about the Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, PA on Monday, May 6th. Mary Alice Gorman and Richard Goldman of the Mystery Lovers Bookshop really know how to put on an event! They hosted 52 mystery authors in the Greek Orthodox Social Hall from 4 - 9 PM and sold over 1200 books in that time. Richard was an amiable and efficient interviewer, as he chatted with all the authors in 5 minute shifts before a rapt audience. I've never seen so many avid mystery fans in one place. People stood in the checkout line with arm loads or canvas bags bulging with books.

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

First Time at Malice Domestic

From Friday, May 5, - Sunday, May 7, on my VA/PA tour, I attended the Malice Domestic conference in Crystal City, VA while staying with close friends, Roy & Marti, in Arlington. The first day was a bit overwhelming for this first-timer, but I relaxed some once I understood the lay-of-the-land of the conference facility and got used to the crowd of around 680 attendees, about 200 of them mystery authors and the rest fans.

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.

First Stop on the VA/PA Tour: Reston

Thursday, May 3rd, I arrived at the Dulles International Airport in the afternoon, rented a car, and drove to the Barnes & Noble store in Reston, VA. I was amazed at the transformation since I'd last visited many years ago--from a sleepy suburban community to a booming metropolis, with skyscrapers even. I checked in with the friendly store manager there, Freddi, then had a leisurely dinner at Macaroni Grill before setting up for my 7-8 PM "reading." After waiting for 15 minutes or so for a small crowd of about six to gather, I read a couple of pages from A REAL BASKET CASE, then spent some time chatting with the attendees, many who drifted by later. Most were close friends that I've kept in touch with since moving away from northern Virginia, so I had a good time catching up with them, seeing photos of their kids, etc. Thanks to all of you for the copies of my book that you bought!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

My WorldCat count passes 100!

In a prior post, I described WorldCat, the world's largest network of library content and services at worldcat.org. Authors use Worldcat 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. Last night, the library count on the system for A REAL BASKET CASE passed 100. Not only that, but many libraries have multiple copies. I clicked through to a few libraries and saw that some of my books were checked out and there were hold requests pending on some. People are reading my book! People WANT to read my book!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

My Second Review from a Plain Ole' Reader

I LOVE getting feedback from readers! Here's a mini-review of my book from a member of the crimeandsuspense yahoo email loop:

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

A Launch Party and a Panel Signing

I had a busy but successful weekend. At my Book Launch signing at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Colorado Springs on Saturday, the Liberty High School Band was having a fundraiser across the aisle. The students serenaded me with lovely music the whole afternoon. I asked them if they would wear my buttons in exchange for me handing out their fundraiser coupons to folks buying my books. They were very appreciative of my help, given that my son is in a band that competes with them, and five of the Liberty supporters bought copies of my book!

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

Romance Reviewers like A REAL BASKET CASE

I've gotten a couple of reviews from romance publications on my amateur sleuth novel, A REAL BASKET CASE. It's heartening to read that reviewers in this genre that focuses a lot of attention on characterization enjoy my mystery. Here's an abbreviated version of the reviews:

"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

First Book Road Trip--in a Blinding Blizzard!

I just returned from my first 2-day, 1 night promotion trip, and I thought I'd tell you how I crammed in as much as possible--and how you can/should do the same when you promote your book. I drove north at 2:30 pm Tuesday and barely made it over very-scary Monument Hill in a wild snowstorm to arrive in Boulder at 5 pm for dinner with some members of the Rocky Mountain Sisters in Crime chapter there. At 7 pm was our "Mystery Through the Ages" panel signing at High Crimes bookstore (with fellow Five Star authors, Pat Stoltey and Mike Befeler), and I was heartened by the hardy audience that came in from the rain to hear us (since Boulder is at a lower altitude than CO. Springs, the precipitation was just rain there).

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

Pikes Peak Writers Conference

What a great conference! I had to do a lot of sleeping afterward to recover, but it was a good exhaustion. I sold 19 copies of A REAL BASKET CASE and 2 MAP OF MURDER anthologies, better than I expected. Whoo-hoo! Bill Reed, a reporter at the local Gazette newspaper, and I had a good discussion, so I hope he includes some of it in his article that he's writing about the conference. Thanks to an introduction by a good friend, Ronald Kovach at The Writer Magazine asked me to submit an article. And Eric Maisel, the creativity coach, was SO inspiring! Everything he said resonated with me. Folks seemed to like my workshop on "After the Call" and the "Niche Mysteries" panel I served on, because I received lots of compliments on them.

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

In a Cold Sweat

Why? I just finished up a 7 minute live radio interview on local station, KCMN, 1530 AM, with the morning show personality, Tron Simpson. I'd prepped what I wanted to say and managed to wedge in 4 of the 5 "talking points" I wanted to cover. Hopefully my voice wasn't too shaky, because boy, was I nervous! I'll have to get quite a few radio interviews under my belt before I feel confident enough to appear on TV without soaking my blouse. :)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Revving Up for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference

The Pikes Peak Writers Conference starts tomorrow at 11 am, and I am revving up for attending my tenth one. As a conference volunteer, I worked three hours this afternoon stuffing registration packets and arranging books on bookshelves. I've got my notes and "visual aids" prepared for my workshop, "After the Call," and panel, "Genre Mysteries" (with Chris Goff, Maggie Sefton, and Robert Spiller). I've got a box of A REAL BASKET CASE books and four copies of the MAP OF MURDER anthology ready to check into the bookstore tomorrow morning, and a supply of "I'm a Real Basket Case" buttons, business cards, and trifold flyers. Now, for a good night's sleep, so I can put on a happy smile and my comfy shoes and have fun!

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

Calling all Bookstores...

...and Newspapers. Now that my mystery, A REAL BASKET CASE, has been released, you may be wondering what I'm working on for promotion efforts. I've been checking in with the bookstores where I have signings planned to make sure that they've ordered books, that those orders have been filled, and that they know about my promotion activities in their area so they can plan accordingly. Also, I've been contacting newspapers to which I sent ARCs to see if they plan to run a review and if they'd like further information for a profile/interview article. This will continue throughout the summer, with me making the calls or sending emails 3-4 weeks before each event.

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


What is WorldCat? It's the world's largest network of library content and services, and it can be found at worldcat.org. Many libraries in the US make their card catalogs available to the WorldCat search engine, so someone looking for a rare book can find out what libraries have copies and work out an inter-library loan agreement with their local library to obtain a copy to check out.

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

My First Review from a Plain Ole' Reader

Friends and relatives who preordered my book online are receiving their copies and have started reading it. How cool is that? Anyway, this afternoon I received my first review from one of those friends who just finished the book. He's not a professional reviewer, an author, or anyone else connected with the world of writing. He's just someone who likes to read fiction. Here's what he had to say:

"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

Life After 50

For those readers who live in Colorado Springs, pick up the April issue of the "Life After 50" local monthly newspaper. There's a most excellent interview article with fellow mystery author Bob Spiller and myself about writing fiction as a second career after you turn fifty. I managed to get a plug in for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference and upcoming monthly Write Brain meetings in my portion of the interview. I'm very pleased with how my photo turned out and interviewer Jeanne Davant's prose.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Conference Panels

For those of you who are attending a mystery or writing conference this year, I thought I'd let you know what my panel or workshop assignments are so far for the ones I'm attending.

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

Jeannette Cezanne's World of Publishing

I just got off the phone after a lovely Internet radio interview with Jeannette Cezanne on her World of Publishing show on the World Wide Artist Internet broadcasting site. She made me feel so comfortable and at ease that the hour just flew by. We talked not only about my debut mystery book, A Real Basket Case, but also about writing and marketing short stories. If you're interested in listening to the interview, go to worldwideartist.net, click on "Sound Gallery" then on "World of Publishing" in the little box that appears. Scan down the list of recorded shows until you see my name. Since we just finished the interview, the show hasn't been posted to the "Past Shows" page yet, but it should be up there in a day or two.

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

An Interview and a Review

On a variation of the "four weddings and a funeral" theme, the editor of Spinetingler Magazine sent me a notice that the spring issue is online, and it contains an interview with me and a review of my mystery, A REAL BASKET CASE. Go to http://www.spinetinglermag.com/spring2007contents.htm to read them both.

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

Books in Hand!

After a lovely, physically exhausting, fun week of skiing in Breckenridge with my family, we came home today to a pile of boxes nicely hidden on our back porch by our friendly UPS man. Three of the boxes contained my own copies of A REAL BASKET CASE. It was such a thrill to smell, touch, and see my own books. To flip the pages and read my words in print. To see the photo of the author - Me! - on the inside flap. To re-read my acknowledgements to fellow writers who helped me along the way. Wow!

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

Official Release Date

Well, this is it. Today is the official release date of A REAL BASKET CASE. When I signed my book contract, I expected this to be a big day, that the earth would move or some such, but it's been a pretty ordinary day so far, filled with promotion and writing activities--and laundry. :) The release date just turns out to be a "line in the sand" when the publisher starts shipping the book to people and places who preordered it. Like me. I don't have my author copies yet.

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

Congratulations to my Tenth Gift Basket Winner!

I'm very pleased to announce that my March gift basket winner is Valerie Holst from Schenectady, New York. She chose the relax-a-bath theme, the second winner to do so. The basket is on the way to her now, and given the rate of new subscribers to my email newsletter, I should be able to award another gift basket in March. If you aren't a subscriber yet, check out the Newsletter page of my website: www.bethgroundwater.com.

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

Work in Progress

I haven't talked lately about the current novel manuscript that I'm working on. Titled Wicked Whitewater it's a mystery where the protagonist is a female whitewater river ranger in her late 20's. My planned schedule is to finish editing it and send it to my agent for review before I hit the promotion road for A Real Basket Case. With that aim, I've been pushing two chapters through my critique group every two weeks. Out of a total of 21 chapters, they have chapters 13 and 14 now, and I'll submit 15 and 16 next week. So, the end is in sight. Between chapter edits, I'm making passes through the whole text for character consistency, use of senses, passive voice, and other general edits.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Two Weeks to Release Date!

I've ordered my own first 50 copies of A REAL BASKET CASE and am anxiously awaiting the boxes. I can't wait to hold that final hardcover in my hands. These copies will be used for signing at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference the weekend of April 20-22, since that bookstore wants consignment copies. They'll also be backup copies for my Colorado bookstore signings in case a bookstore runs out. I'll be shipping another set of books to Virginia for my tour back east for the same purpose.

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

Promotion: Five-Seven Steps to Purchase

I've always heard that someone needs to hear about you and your book five-seven different times, on average, before they make the decision to buy it. Thus the need for many different kinds of promotion. This week I submitted an interview and guest blog to mystery bloggers as yet another way to make those five contacts. My hope is that the process will go something like this:

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

Congratulations to two Agatha Award Nominees

The attendees of the Malice Domestic mystery conference for fans of traditional or "cozy" mysteries award the Agatha prize, named for Agatha Christie, yearly to writers in various categories. Two fellow Sisters in Crime members, who have become friends of mine, have been nominated for the prize in two categories:

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

Four Weeks to Publication!

The final countdown to publication for A REAL BASKET CASE starts today, with four weeks to go to March 21, 2007, the official release date. I've been busy with preparations, and the excitement is building. I mailed off seven advance review copies to newspapers yesterday, made arrangements for an Internet radio interview, and finalized my last booksigning for my May trip back east. There's lots more to do, so in between chores, I'm trying to take deep breaths and savor the experience. You only publish your first novel once!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Congratulations to my Ninth Winner!

I'm very pleased to announce that Kathryn H. from Redmond, WA is the ninth winner in my email newsletter gift basket contest. She's the first one who picked the relax-a-bath theme, so I had a lot of fun constructing her basket. It's winging its way to her now. The newsletter list is rapidly approaching 1000 email addresses, so I should be able to award another gift basket in March. There's nothing I like better than giving away prizes, so if you're not receiving my email newsletter, sign up! Also, I announced a Preorder Promotion in my February newsletter. If you want to read about it, go to my website by clicking on the active text to the right, then click on Newsletter on my website to get access to past newsletters.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Short Story Anthology available!

Way back in June, I announced that Red Coyote Press ( http://redcoyotepress.com/ ) accepted a short story of mine for an anthology. They just published that anthology yesterday! It is a collection of mystery short stories called MAP OF MURDER. My story, titled "Murder Cache," is about a man and his son hiking to a geocache with a murder theme in Colorado Springs that contains more than what they expected!

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."

* "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

Happy Valentine's Day and Eighth Winner

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! I hope you all have a sweetie to celebrate with. My hubby and I went on our Valentine's date early, last Friday, to avoid the crowds. We saw a late afternoon movie, then ate a Mediterranean meal at a local restaurant. This morning was the traditional exchange of chocolate treats. Then, we donned our coats to shovel snow off the driveway, what's becoming a very frequent chore these days!

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

Promotion Work

What have I been doing the past few weeks to prepare for the release of A Real Basket Case? I've created a tri-fold brochure to include with the next mailing of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers "bluebook" of information about books from their published authors to 400 bookstores in the Rocky Mountain region. I sent the file off to an Internet-based copy firm to get copied and folded. I received them a couple of days ago, and they look great.

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

Profitable Puzzles

How's that for a title? I am both a contest nut and a puzzle addict. I enter about a dozen Internet sweepstakes a few times a week, and I work either the sudoku or crossword puzzle in the newspaper every day over lunch. Makes sense for me to write mysteries, huh?

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

Crime Scene Investigation II Workshop

I'm just now recovering from planning and running this all-day workshop on Saturday with my friend, Barb Nickless, the Workshops Director for Pikes Peak Romance Writers. We had six presenters teaching an audience of almost forty writers about crime scene investigation. The presenters included a Deputy Coroner Investigator, a Private Investigator, a retired lawyer who talked about testifying about investigations, a Homicide Detective, a Crime Scene Reconstruction Specialist, and a Firearms Instructor, who brought about two dozen weapons.

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

To pseudonym or to not pseudonym

That is the question...

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

Finished Rough Draft of WIP!

Late last week I finished the rough draft of the mystery that I've been writing--slowly--since last summer. It's 21 chapters, 249 pages, and almost 70k words long. I would like the final manuscript to be about 75-80k words long, but I usually add about 10% to a manuscript during the editing process, so I'm confident I can get there.

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!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Seventh Newsletter Winner!

Congratulations to Mary Martinez from Magna, Utah who is the seventh winner in my newsletter subscriber contest. Mary chose the chocoholic gift basket, and it will be on its way to her tomorrow. I'm very pleased to have so many subscribers, enough to award another gift basket in February. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Over 1,000 Google Hits

Every now and then, I google my name in quotes ("Beth Groundwater") to see how many hits I get. This morning for the first time, I crossed over the 1,000 mark with 1,070 hits! Nowadays, I'm mostly looking for reviews that I may have missed, but this morning I discovered a number of other writers had mentioned me on their blogs, for which I'm very grateful. Exposure is the name of the game in this business. Most of the hits are at online bookstore sites for the Manhattan Mysteries anthology in which my Flamingo Fatality story appears, so I'm hoping once the Map of Murder anthology and my A Real Basket Case book make it into the online bookstores, I'll have many more hits.