Sunday, November 29, 2009

Two Talks Coming Up, On-line and Live

This week will be a busy one. Along with getting my broken refrigerator repaired, putting the Christmas decorations up, and trying to pound out 1100 more words tomorrow to meet my NaNoTryMo goal, I have two promotion events.

On Monday, November 30th, from 4:00 - 4:30 pm MOUNTAIN STANDARD TIME, I will be interviewed by Sylvia Dickey Smith on her blog talk radio show, Murder She Writes. Please listen in, either live during the show or afterward. Of course, live is more fun!

On Tuesday, December 1st, from 1:00 - 2:30 pm, I will discuss my writing with the public and the members of the Rockrimmon Fiction Book Club at the Rockrimmon Branch of the Pikes Peak Library District, 832 Village Center Drive, in Colorado Springs. I'll be signing copies of A Real Basket Case and To Hell in a Handbasket afterward, if you have a mystery lover (including yourself) on your gift list.

After that, I'll be writing again, either drafting my family Christmas letter or another chapter of my first draft of Evil Eddies, or both, I hope.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm thankful for two wonderful bits of news

I hope everyone is enjoying that special lethargy that comes from consuming waaay too much turkey and enjoying being with family and/or friends this Thanksgiving. I'm resting my full tummy while catching up with some on-line networking, and I wanted to share with my readers two bits of writing-related news I received lately, for which I'm very grateful.

First, Sniplits has chosen my holiday story, "Biscuit Connection," as one of their featured audio short stories this week. For just 88 cents, you can listen to this touching story I wrote about a modern-day Scrooge who learns the true meaning of Christmas from an unlikely source. I hope many of you will become members on Sniplits (for free) if you are not already, download my story and listen to it! I'd love to get some feedback on it from you, too. While you're there, check out all the other excellent stories they have to offer. I can't think of a better gift to give an avid reader than a basketful of Sniplits audio short stories.

Second, Virtual Tales has (finally) set a publication date for my science fiction novella, The Epsilon Eridani Alternative, about space colonists wrestling with the moral dilemma of using alien stem cells to extend their human lives. The date is December 8, at which time the novella will be for sale in eBook and paperback form. For your chance to obtain some sample chapters and an offer to buy it at 40% off list price, you must sign up for a trial subscription with Virtual Tales at the website BEFORE December 8. There's no obligation to buy after you read the sample chapters, but I sure hope you get hooked by the story and want to finish it!

I hope you all have as many things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving as I do!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Two New Reviews by T.L. Cooper

T.L. Cooper, a writer friend living in Oregon, has posted reviews of my two Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery books, A Real Basket Case, and To Hell in a Handbasket, at her website. I found her reviews of both my books and others she has reviewed to be thoughtful and enlightening. At her TL's Picks page, you'll find not only book reviews, including of books about writing, but also reviews of places she has visited. And, while you're at it, take at look at her writing!

If you're interested in purchasing A Real Basket Case or To Hell in a Handbasket, I'll tell you that Amazon currently has them both on sale, matching the Barnes & Noble member price for To Hell in a Handbasket and beating it for A Real Basket Case. You can also order the books from your favorite local bookstore. Got a mystery lover on your holiday gift list?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Botany and Homicide, a presentation by Jane Bock

This past Thursday evening, I went to the meeting of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America to listen to a very interesting presentation by Jane Bock, Professor emerita at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She talked about her work in forensic botany, helping homicide investigators with her expertise in botany and testifying at murder trials.

In one example case, Jane examined slides of a victim's stomach contents and identified kidney beans and cabbage, not the fare she would have eaten at McDonald's, her last known meal. The investigators used this knowledge to discover that she had eaten a meal with her killer before she was murdered. An interesting fact Jane passed on to us is that the pyloric sphinctor at the base of the stomach closes at death, sealing in the contents, and plant cells inside can be used to determine time of death as well as the contents of the last meal.

In a "Black Widow" case in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Jane determined that potatoes and onions were in the victim's stomach, an indicator of the hash he ate for breakfast, versus the dinner that the widow stated she fed him before he died. This discrepancy was enough evidence for the police to obtain a search warrant for the home and find the shovel that was used to hit the victim on the head and the stun gun that was used to stun him before he was shot. The widow had been married 11 times to 9 wealthy men, some of whom died, and two of whom were "slow learners". :-)

Jane has also examined botanical evidence from the cars and clothing of suspects to identify the species. In a case in Longmont, Colorado, she identified bits of plants from a man's car that only grow at the high elevation where his wife's body was found, and not at their home. Jane said plant evidence can be found in windshield wiper wells, the front of the radiator, the undercarriage, the grooves of the pedals, and on the floor mats, so a crook needs keep his car awfully clean! In a Colorado Springs case, leaves and grasses from the burial site of a victim (that did not grow in the suspect's yard) were found in a washing machine after he called his ex-wife from jail (where inmate calls are monitored) and asked her to wash his clothes.

Jane is often asked to determine the makeup of suspicious powders and fluids in envelopes confiscated by the Post Office, assists in finding victim graves with Necrosearch International using her botanical expertise, and has offered her botanical expertise to crime investigators in many other ways. Her talk was absolutely fascinating, and if you ever get the chance to hear her speak, I highly recommend you go!

One interesting tidbit is that Jane is an avid reader and collector of Nero Wolfe mystery novels, but she said the author, Rex Stout, constantly messes up the Latin names of the orchids that Nero Wolfe collects and shows. Jane is working on a mystery manuscript of her own, and I can't wait to read it once it's published!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

All Quiet on the Home Front

If any of my blog readers are wondering why I haven't posted anything lately, it's because I've been busy writing scenes for my current manuscript, the second in the Mandy Tanner river ranger series that I sold to Midnight Ink. Tentatively titled Evil Eddies, Mandy investigates the murder of a fly fisherman during a fly-fishing tournament on the upper Arkansas river in Colorado. I'm about a third of the way through the rough draft.

I'm focusing on getting as much of this rough draft done as possible before the edits arrive on the first manuscript, Wicked Whitewater, sometime in January. To motivate me, I'm participating in Pikes Peak Writers' NaNoTryMo program, a variation on the NaNoWriMo effort to encourage writers to draft a new 50,000 word novel in the month of November. For NaNoTryMo, PPW is encouraging their members to set realistic goals on their current works-in-progress and provide mutual support in reaching those goals. My goal is to add 20,000 words to Evil Eddies in November. I'm about a third of the way to that goal and feeling good about my progress. So, you won't be seeing many blog posts this month.

If you're working on a NaNoWriMo or NaNoTryMo project of your own this month, I wish you luck and smooth writing. Full speed ahead!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Blogging about Libraries

Today is my day for blogging over at InkSpot, the blog for Midnight Ink authors. I talk about supporting your local libraries and I list some ways in which I think both readers and authors can help. In these tough economic times, libraries are providing essential services to communities that are available nowhere else, and they're having to deal with increased use while their budgets are being decreased. Please took a look at my post and add your ideas to help libraries and experiences in doing so with your local library.