Mystery author Beth Groundwater writes the Claire Hanover gift basket designer series (A REAL BASKET CASE, 2007 Best First Novel Agatha Award finalist, TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET, 2009, and A BASKET OF TROUBLE, 2013) and the RM Outdoor Adventures series starring river ranger Mandy Tanner (DEADLY CURRENTS, 2011, an Amazon bestseller, WICKED EDDIES, 2012, finalist for the Rocky Award, and FATAL DESCENT, 2013). Beth lives in Colorado, enjoys its outdoor activities, and loves talking to book clubs.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Book Promotion Ideas
During my chat stint in the EONS Book Gallery Meet The Authors event, a fellow author asked for book promotion suggestions other than signings. I realized that my reply might help other authors, so I decided to copy it here:
There are lots of ways to use the Internet to promote books, as evidenced by this EONS Meet the Authors event! You can choose a few social networks that are likely to contain your reader population and join them and join the relevant groups in them, start making comments in those groups, and start inviting people to be your friends. I joined Eons, because people who read cozy mysteries also tend, by and large, to be older and to be female. I also joined the ning group "Crimespace" since I write mysteries, and Facebook (tends to have older members than MySpace) and Goodreads (a book discussion network).
You can also search for topics related to your book in yahoogroups and join groups containing folks you think might be interested in your book. I'm a member of three or four mystery-reading yahoogroups and try to contribute to the discussions every now and then, so when I have an announcement to make about a book release or some such, the members already know who I am. Also, find online ezines in your genre and contribute stories or articles and ask to be interviewed. And, if they have book reviewers, ask if you can send a copy of your book to them to be reviewed. You can also ask to be a guest on blogs written by authors in your genre.
For in-person event possibilities, I suggest contacting local libraries to arrange talks with their book clubs or writer groups or to participate in their local author days, if they have them. And, find nearby fan conferences for your genre and talk to the program chair about getting on one of their author panels. For instance, in the mystery genre, there's Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime, Malice Domestic, and the Mayhem in the Midlands conferences, to name a few. The science fiction/fantasy genre has World-Con, Mile-Hi Con, and lots of others, the romance genre has the Romantic Times convention, etc. You can often save costs by finding a conference within driving distance then carpool with another attendee, and share a hotel room with another attendee.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Meme: I've been tagged!
Apparently there's a new blog-tagging game called Meme going around, where each taggee has to write six book-related things about him/herself, then pass the word by tagging six other bloggers. I was tagged by Christine Duncan and her Rule of Three blog at http://globalwrite.wordpress.com/ and you can read her answers in her September 29, 2008 entry titled "Meme?". Here's my six book-related facts:
1. My TBR pile includes lots of mysteries, but also some literary, women's fiction, romance, and short story anthology books.
2. I'm in a book club that meets monthly to drink wine, eat dessert, gossip, and discuss that month's book.
3. I took a speed-reading class in elementary school, so I can read pretty fast.
4. My favorite children's picture book is Possum Come A Knockin'. My kids tired of it long before I did. It's hilarious!
5. I suck at writing book reviews, so I don't do them, and having to write a back cover blurb for someone else makes me break out in a sweat.
6. I did indeed read Nancy Drew when I was young, but my favorite mystery writer in my teenage years was Edgar Allan Poe.
Here's the rules of the game:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on the blog.
3. Write six random bookish things about yourself.
4. Tag sixish people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know he or she has been tagged.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.
In the original post, I tagged six other mystery author friends. If you're reading this post now and have a blog of your own, consider yourself tagged :) and post your six book-related facts. And now here's a seventh fact about me, just to keep this post fresh:
7. Visiting book clubs is my favorite kind of author event, because I not only get to discuss my books with the members, I usually come away with a few new book suggestions to add to my TBR list. If you want me to talk to your book club, either in person if you meet near Colorado Springs or via speakerphone, contact me at my website.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sniplits -- An audio market for short fiction
Many months ago, I submitted a short story to Anne Stuessy, editor and publisher for a new website called Sniplits. Her plan was to present short stories for sale in an audio format, for download onto MP3 devices. The website is now up and running and includes a wide variety of short fiction in many genres read by trained voice talent for only $.88 each. My story is "Covered Dish Casseroles," found under "C" under the "Stories" heading. I hope you enjoy the site!
Since this original blog post in May, 2008, I have sold another short story to Sniplits, a Christmas-related story titled, "Biscuit Connection," which is also available for only 88 cents. Some longer stories cost a little more on the site, but all are very reasonably priced. Almost 100 authors have contributed short stories in 16 different genre categories. Many of the authors, including me, have fan club pages at the site where readers can ask questions and find out more about us.
I encourage everyone to visit the site and find some great stories to listen to. For those of you who write short stories, this is a wonderful paying market. Check out the Author's Room there to find out when they are open for new submissions.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Answer to "How do I get my novel published?"
Recently I was asked, yet again, that question that all published fiction writers are asked: "How do I get my novel published?" Contrary to the askers' hopes, there is no magic bullet, just a long road of hard work. Here's some general advice I give all writers. Networking is important in all careers, but especially writing. So is honing your craft. To do both, I suggest that writers join two professional writing organizations, first a nationwide one for your genre, such as Mystery Writers of America or Sisters in Crime or Thriller Writers of America for those who write mystery/suspense. Then, you should find a local writing organization that has periodic craft workshops and helps local writers form critique groups. Go to those workshops to keep on learning as much as you can and join a critique group, where you review and critique each others' chapters at usually-twice-a-month meetings.
Finishing the rough draft of a novel is a far cry from bringing it up to a publishable state, and getting others to tell you where the pace slows, the logic is flawed, or the characters are stale is the best way to take a good hard look at what needs to be fixed. When you get tired of editing your manuscript multiple times, you need to start trading information with other writers in your genre as to who the best agents are to query for the type of book you've written. And learn how to write a pitch-perfect query letter and have others review it.
Query a batch of 5-20 agents. Some will ask you to submit the first few pages of your novel with the query, some will ask for a synopsis, some will want both, some will only want the letter. If you don't get any requests for partial or full manuscripts as a result of those queries, you know you have some more work to do on your manuscript or your query letter or both. Go back and polish both again and get some fresh eyes to look at them.
In the meantime, enter some writing contests to get feedback and write some short stories in your genre and submit them to publications. Contest placements and short story publications are good milestones to put in your query letters. Lastly, realize this process can take years (5-7 is the average) and be very discouraging. That's another reason why you need to company of fellow writers--to commiserate with. Good luck! And realize that anything worth having is worth working hard to achieve.
Monday, September 14, 2009
My Golden Colorado Weekend
This weekend I attended the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Colorado Gold conference. I boned up on some law enforcement facts at James Born's "Realism and What Drives Readers Crazy" workshop, which I moderated, and Julia Hunter's "Behind the Badge" workshop. At my own "Networking to Further your Writing Career" workshop, magic again happened when writers spent five minutes talking to another writer they didn't already know and found ways to do favors for each other.
I did quite a lot of my own networking at the conference, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones, including my roommate, Rachel Hoff, who traveled all the way from China to attend the conference. The first photo shows me with science fiction author Laura Reeve, fellow Five Star mystery author Mike Befeler, "Writer of the Year" Mario Acevedo, and Warren Hammond, a future noir author who shared my table at the Friday evening signing.
I was very gratified by the fellow writers who bought copies of my books at the Friday evening signing, and I had a fun time chasing down authors of short stories in the new RMFW anthology, Broken Links, Mended Lives, to have them autograph their stories. These RMFW anthologies are always special, and I can't wait to read all the stories!
Besides moderating, my other volunteer duties included setting up the "Freebies" table where authors put out their bookmarks and other giveaways, and fetching Saturday lunch for the agents and editors. I highly recommend volunteering at conferences as a way to make more connections and get involved. Besides, it's fun!
I did sneak away on Saturday afternoon to conduct a signing at Murder by the Book and enjoyed chatting with some die-hard mystery fans there. For signings, the store always commissions a cake decorated with the cover of the author's latest book release, and I was thrilled to see mine, complete with 3-D skis. The second photo shows the cake.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
My Book Club
Tonight we discussed the nonfiction book, The Necklace by Cheryl Jarvis, about thirteen women in Ventura, California who decided to share an expensive diamond necklace, and how that decision changed their lives and those of people around them. Fascinating! Other books we've discussed this year that I have really enjoyed reading included: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond, The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, I See You Everywhere by Julia Glass, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Barrows and Shaffer, and The Mighty Queens of Freeville, by Amy Dickinson. Next month's book is Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. I recommend them all.
When it's available, the hostess will find and print out a list of discussion questions for that month's book, usually from Reading Group Guides, so we have a starting point, but we often come to the meeting bursting with opinions and ideas and just dive in. If you love reading, I hope you, too, have the privilege of participating in a book discussion group, either in-person or online. It will definitely broaden your horizons!
P.S. Tomorrow I head up to Denver for the Colorado Gold writing conference this weekend, and I hope to post a report to this blog after I return.
Monday, September 07, 2009
Book Bloggers Appreciation Week
The first Book Blogger Appreciation Week was observed in the fall of 2008 and occurs every September. The week spotlights and celebrates the work of active book bloggers through guest posts, awards, giveaways, and community activities. Book Bloggers are encouraged to register their participation for inclusion in a database of book bloggers. You can vote on your favorite book blogs at the website until September 12th.
Serena at Saavy Verse & Wit has been collecting prize books from authors to give away to these hard-working bloggers, and I donated a copy of To Hell in a Handbasket. I hope everyone who loves books and reading and writing them will participate in the event and check out the blogs of some book bloggers you haven't visited before. Who knows? You might find a favorite reviewer to follow.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
I just signed a new book contract!!!
Midnight Ink, however, was willing to take a chance on launching a new mystery series in this economy and offered me a two-book contract with first-refusal rights for subsequent books in the series. The books will be published in trade paperback and electronic formats.
My new series is set in Salida, Colorado and stars 27-year-old Mandy Tanner, an unmarried river ranger for the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA). The first book, Wicked Whitewater, is already written and will be released in the first quarter of 2011. When Mandy rescues a man who fell out of a raft on the upper Arkansas River in Colorado and he dies on the river bank, she feels driven to find out what—-or who—-killed him. The book takes place during the First in Boating on the Arkansas (FIBArk) festival that occurs every June.
The second book, tentatively titled Evil Eddies, will take place during a fly-fishing competition on the upper Arkansas River, which is why I've been researching that sport lately. ;-) It should be released in the first quarter of 2012.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
A new review for TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET
To Hell in a Handbasket, by Beth Groundwater
I’ve just finished reading the second Claire Hanover mystery, and I’d have to say Beth Groundwater’s main character really is strong enough to keep my interest through a whole series. A fascinatingly resourceful amateur detective, with the cleverness of Miss Marple, the sore knees of the middle-aged, and the physical prowess of an empty-nester who plans to keep skiing forever, Claire has the confidence to believe what she sees and to tell it like she sees it. Just because no one else saw the ski tracks doesn’t mean they’re not there. Just because no one else sees the danger doesn’t mean she shouldn’t protect her daughter. Just because…
So she walks into police stations and describes exactly the sort of details that someone unaccustomed to such places would notice—the presence or absence of family photographs, the pictures on the walls… She walks into a night club and learns the right words for the music by making mistakes—okay, so daughter’s embarrassed, but Mom’s taking charge. She leaps into action, rightly earning the nickname Mama Bear. And the reader follows along, all the time amazed and impressed and, if you happen to be me, just plain wishing I were more like her.
I guess Claire’s kind of a niche hero, perfect for us moms with kids fleeing the nest, and ideal for the recipients of gift baskets. She makes me want to ski again. She believes in ibuprofen. She’s real and she’s fun. And she’s more than capable of leaving me eagerly awaiting her next adventure.
Thanks so much, Sheila!
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
At Colorado Gold, I'll be signing copies of my books at the Book Sale 7:30 pm on Friday, and any other time you can catch me during the conference. Also, I'll be teaching a workshop on "Networking to Further Your Writing Career" at 9:30 am on Sunday. I'll be trying for some audience interaction with a fun exercise, so come and network with me if you're attending the conference!
At Bouchercon, I have a busy line-up. I'll be dining with the members of the 4MA mystery discussion yahoogroup Wednesday evening, participating in the Sisters in Crime librarian tea Thursday afternoon, and attending the Sisters in Crime breakfast Friday morning. And, of course, I'll attend all the social functions that are a part of the basic conference program.
On Thursday, October 15, 9:00 - 9:55 am, I'll be on the KILLER HOBBIES panel with four other crafty authors (Joanna Campbell Slan, Sally Goldenbaum, Margaret Grace, Betty Hechtman) to discuss the hobbies that drove us to murder. I'm familiar with Joanna's and Margaret's series, and I can't wait to dive into Sally's and Betty's.
Lastly, on Saturday, October 17, 10:30 - 11:25 am, I'll be conducting a workshop on making mystery-themed designer gift baskets. I'm hoping my sleuth, Claire Hanover, will coach me beforehand because she's much better at making gift baskets than I am! At least those who come will leave with a souvenir basket and a handout with tips for making future gift baskets. I'll be available to sign copies of my Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery books after both workshops and any other time you can snag me in the halls at the conference.