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.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My First Interview

Yesterday I received a list of interview questions from a writer for Spinetingler magazine and worked for a few hours on coming up with what I hope are interesting answers to them. Hey, what could be more fun than talking about yourself? The writer came up with some unique questions, some based on the biography that I posted on my website, so that was good feedback that media are looking at my website. My website guru and dear hubby mentioned that my bio hasn't changed since we originally put up the website in August and might need some freshening up, so that's on my ever-expanding To Do list.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Hitting the Streets

I realized that my recent blogs have all been about good news, not about the life of a to-be-published author. So, what have I been doing with my time between the celebrations? This week, I visited three local bookstores with ARCs in hand to line up booksignings with the proprietors or community relations persons. I also mailed an ARC to the book reviewer at the Boulder, Colorado newspaper, The Daily Camera. In the cover letter, I asked him to consider timing the publication of the review for the week before my panel signing with three other mystery authors at the High Crimes bookstore there.

My late April events are set now, including the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, a visit to a Book Club in Broomfield, my Launch Party at the north Barnes & Noble store in Colorado Springs, and two panel signings in Boulder and Fort Collins. Next, I'll start working on my May 3-13 trip back east. Along with attending the Malice Domestic conference from May 4-6, my goal is to arrange for a signing every day, to justify the expense of the plane fare and rental car. And I need to start begging friends and relatives for places to stay.

As for writing, I'm nearing the end of the rough draft of my WIP. I finished Chapter 20, the big climax, last night, and hope to finish Chapter 21, the last one, by the end of next week. The promotion work is crowding out writing time. I'm feeling a sense of desperation about finishing this project before if gets pushed aside by the "business" aspects of the writing business. Thank goodness I don't have a "day job" because I'm spending 30-40 hours a week now on my new extremely low-paying career, between the promotion, writing, and my work as Vice President of Pikes Peak Writers.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Another Big Review

I've been trolling the online bookstore websites, trying to find out if my book is available for preorder yet (it is at the publisher: Well, today I hit paydirt when I saw that Barnes and Noble had it up on their website, and they quoted the text of a review from Kirkus Review, which I didn't know about. That means two of the three big review publications thought enough of my book to review it. Most of the Kirkus review was plot summary, but the last line is: "A tense, exciting debut." I like tense. I like exciting. I'll take it!

For those of you on my email newsletter list, another newsletter is coming out soon, probably tomorrow. If you aren't on my list, you're missing out on the chance to win a great gift basket. The last recipient emailed me and said, "Thanks so much for the gift basket--it's awesome." I'm getting ready to pick another name VERY soon.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

My First Big Review--and it's Good!

I'm so excited! My publisher's author representative just sent me and fifteen other people at Thomson Gale the text of an upcoming Booklist review of my book, A REAL BASKET CASE. There are three big review publications (Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews) and just getting reviewed by one of them is a big deal, let alone getting a GOOD review. The full text is on the Books page of my website, but the last line is the one that jazzed me up:

“...This will appeal to Desperate Housewives fans and those who like cozies with a bit of spice.”

-- Barbara Bibel, Booklist Review, February 1, 2007

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

First Winner of the New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope your holidays were fun and you're all rested up and ready to plunge into fulfilling your new year resolutions. I've got a few pesky extra pounds to get off, so I hit the gym today and I'm chewing sugarless gum for my after-lunch dessert rather than raiding the kids' Christmas candy supply--which is VERY tempting.

Anyway, I've awarded my sixth gift basket to a fan in Chattanooga, Tennessee who chose the mystery lover's theme. I was waiting for the roads to clear up after our recent snowstorms to mail it, but now there's a national day of mourning for ex-President Ford. Tomorrow, the box goes in the mail for sure.