Monday, May 30, 2011

Two Fun Weekend Signings

Over the Memorial Day Weekend, I had two fun signing events for Deadly Currents, the first book in my new Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventure mystery series. The first, on Saturday afternoon, was at Black Cat Books in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

The weather was beautiful, and the streets were full of strolling families and couples enjoying the eclectic mix of artsy shops and touristy restaurants. Black Cat Books has a wine bar, so I brought some cheese and crackers and we billed it as a wine & cheese signing. I enjoyed chatting with friends and fellow writers who stopped by and making new friends with tourists in town who opted to buy the book. The photos below are from that event.

The second event, on Sunday afternoon, was in Buena Vista, Colorado, during their annual Paddlefest whitewater festival. After driving out there, my husband and I took a break at a coffee bar in town and stretched our legs by walking to the riverfront park to watch some kayakers playing in the waves. Then I set up my table outside Colorado Kayak Supply to sell books through them. Again, the weather was gorgeous.

Many local whitewater enthusiasts were enthralled that a mystery had been set on the upper Arkansas River and featured local attractions and the local "river rat" community. I sold quite a few copies there, and others took my bookmark to look up the book on their e-readers. One rafting guide told me that she'd taken a road trip recently with some other guides and they'd read my book aloud to each other to pass the time. I was thrilled when she said they'd all really enjoyed it. The photos below are from that event.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Headshot Poll

Last year on the Inkspot blog, where I post about once a month, I conducted a poll on variations of author headshots, both indoor and outdoor. The most popular outdoor headshot became the one that appears in Deadly Currents and is now my default promotion headshot. No one liked any of the indoor headshots, though.

For the re-release of A Real Basket Case, the first book in my Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series, I need a new indoor headshot. The outdoor one of me wearing a PFD (personal floatation device) and holding a kayak paddle just doesn't fit this series! So, my husband and I went to work this week on creating a new indoor headshot, using the suggestions we received from the last round. Those included to wear one solid color and to turn to the side more.

Below are the three we liked best. Which one do YOU like best and why? I'd really appreciate some outside feedback. Thanks!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Multitasking on Books

With my current production schedule, I no longer have the luxury of focusing on one book at a time. I still only write the rough draft manuscript of one book at a time, but I'm having to overlap most of the other phases of book production. Thank goodness I've always been a multitasker and I used to be a project manager! As an example, here's what's going on this week with my various books:

Deadly Currents, the first book in the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventures mystery series, released March 8th:

I'm in the promotion phase for this book. This week I finalized a future signing, sent out event notices & invitations for two signings I'll conduct this weekend, arranged a future book club visit, and tomorrow I'll mail a copy to a conference committee to use as a prize.

A Real Basket Case, the first book in the Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series, to be re-released in trade paperback and ebook November 8th:

My husband and I worked today on producing a new headshot for this book, and I sent an updated biography to the copy editor.

Wicked Eddies, the second book in the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventures mystery series, to be released next May:

Anytime now, I'm expecting to receive the copy-edited manuscript for this book to review and revise. Also, I'm expecting to see a mockup of the cover art soon.

Basketful of Troubles (tentative title), the third book in the Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series:

I'm editing chapters 17 and 18 based on critique group feedback, and they have the last two chapters, 19 and 20, to review for our next meeting. Also, I sent some scenes involving immigration issues to an immigration lawyer to get his expert opinion on them.

Cataract Canyon (tentative title), third book in the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventures mystery series:

I'm developing the initial concept, throwing ideas for characters, setting, scenes, etc. into a file, so I can construct a detailed outline in June and begin writing the rough draft of that book this summer.

All this, and I signed a short story publication contract, went to my son's college graduation, and hosted my daughter and her boyfriend for a visit! And, of course, there's the on-going social networking.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A New Short Story Contract

I'm very happy to announce that I recently signed a contract with Sniplits for them to produce an audio version of my comedic mystery short story, "Flamingo Fatality," that first appeared in the Manhattan Mysteries anthology in 2005.

In "Flamingo Fatality," Diane, a vegetarian farm market worker in beef-eating Manhattan, Kansas, discovers the body of a dead flamingo, a former resident of nearby Sunset Zoo, while taking a hike. She uses the phone of a nosy retired police dispatcher to call the police, then becomes embroiled in solving the crime and dealing with a growing attraction for the handsome cop assigned to the case.

Sniplits professionally produces MP3 audio short stories by known and new authors, read by professional actors and voice talent. They have hundreds of short stories available for purchase on the site, in all genres, from mystery to romance, western to speculative, and more.

"Flamingo Fatality" should appear on the Sniplits website sometime in June. In the meantime, if you'd like to hear another audio short story of mine, go HERE. Sniplits has already produced two of my mainstream fiction short stories, "Biscuit Connection" and "Covered Dish Casseroles." I've been very pleased with the quality of the voice talent for both of those stories and am looking forward to listening to their production of "Flamingo Fatality."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Promotion in a Parade

I have thrilling news! I've been asked to be the VIP in the parade for a well-known Colorado whitewater festival. For the full details, go to Inkspot, the blog for Midnight Ink authors, where I tell all in my scheduled post.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An Interview with the Dames of Dialogue

Today I am a guest on the Dames of Dialogue blog. They presented me with their "Dames Dozen" interview questions, and I had a fun time answering them. They had some atypical questions such as how my husband and I met and about my pets. I hope you'll take a look at my answers there. I'll be responding to comments there today, so feel free to ask me some questions of your own in the comments!

Also, a librarian from the High Plains Library District interviewed me for their website. You can read it HERE. Page down to "Meet Colorado Author Beth Groundwater" and click on the "Meet the Author" link. Being a Colorado library, they were interested in how/why I became a resident of the state, of course.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Family Milestone and Happy Occasion

This week, I'll be putting writing concerns aside, for the most part, to focus on a family milestone that we plan to celebrate in style. My son and youngest child will be graduating with a bachelor's degree this coming weekend from college. And my daughter and oldest child is flying in to stay with us for a week and join in the celebration.

We will attend the morning commencement ceremony, have a brunch party with relatives and close family friends at a nearby restaurant, then return to the house where my son lives with three roommates to watch him open gifts. After a dinner at the house, the "older adults" will gracefully leave, so the beer keg graduation/birthday party can commence (my son is turning 21 today, too).

What makes this occasion even happier for my husband and me is that our son has a full-time job waiting for him in the career field of his choice. In these economic times, that's truly something to be grateful for! In fact, both of our children are gainfully employed, though our daughter is planning to return to school next fall to further her education, with our blessing.

I plan to sip on some bubbly to celebrate the successful launch from college student into full-fledged adult life for our youngest and to savor the moment. Knowing how emotional I can get, I'm sure I'll shed some tears, but they will be tears of pride and joy.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Large Print Books

I received two nuggets of information about large-print versions of my books today. The first piece of news is that Thorndike Press will release a large-print version of Deadly Currents on July 27th. The Amazon preorder page for it is HERE. I'm glad that I can now give a definite date to readers who have been asking me when a large-print version will come out!

The second nugget of information was a terrific royalty statement (with a large check attached) summarizing the large-print sales of To Hell in a Handbasket in the last half of 2010. The Amazon page for that book format is HERE. I'm so very pleased by how well the large-print version has sold, which to me is an indication that libraries have gotten their hands on some book-buying money again. Libraries provide such a service to those readers who are vision-impaired by making large-print and audio book formats available to their patrons!

And this is a reminder to writers that the subsidiary rights (large-print, audio, foreign, etc.) for your books can be very valuable and should never be given away for nothing. This is where a good literary agent can help you.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Today's Mystery Author Guest: Dorothy St. James

As promised yesterday, fellow mystery author Dorothy St. James is visiting my blog today. To read her bio and see her photo, please page down to yesterday's post. Above is the cover photo for her May 3rd release from Berkley Prime Crime, Flowerbed of State.

In the book, Cassandra "Casey" Calhoun's passion for gardening has carried her to President's Park on which sits the White House. But when she finds a dead body in a trash can, Casey has to root out a killer before she ends up planted herself.

Below is Dorothy's guest article:

Thank you, Beth, for inviting me to your blog. I’m excited to be here. Writing a book is a long process and, amazingly it’s not over even after the book has been published. Some may even say that that’s when the real work starts. Promotion.

Why, oh, why isn’t “promotion” a four-letter word? It leaves a foul taste in my mouth. I’d much rather get a root canal—another should-be four-letter word—than try to convince someone to buy my book.

The only job I’d ever been fired from was a telemarketing position. I didn’t even last a full day before being asked to leave.

Writers spend most of their lives tucked away in front of a computer screen, listening only to the whispering voices in our heads. And then we’re expected to burst from that safe, comfortable cocoon as an experienced marketing maven fluttering around like social butterflies.

Not fair. Not fair.

I’ve never longed to be a butterfly. Their lives, while beautiful, are too dang short.

But I digress. I DO have a book out this month, a book that I’m mighty proud of. So I’m not even going to blush (much) as I tell you a little bit about it.

Flowerbed of State (Berkley Prime Crime), a lighthearted adventure at the White House, is the first book in the White House Gardener Mysteries. Casey Calhoun’s passion for organic gardening and an eye for detail have carried her into the most important patch of land in America—the President's Park, on which sits the most important home in America: the White House where she stumbles into a plot that has nothing to do with gardening and everything to do with murder.

I promise you, it’s more fun to read than a tax bill. The book’s even garnered some blush-inducing reviews (see my bio below).

Now, it’s time for me to beat the drum and stand on the highest mountain, shouting into the wind that “Flowerbed of State came out this month!” To that end, I’ve been visiting every blog where I can inveigle an invitation. In addition, I have a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter presence. But that’s not enough.

I’ve also:
1. Placed ads on reader-oriented websites, such as The Romance Reviews.
2. Talked about my book with newspaper editors/reviewers.
3. Mailed out bookmarks.
4. Visited online book chats.

But is that enough?

If you’re a writer, what do you do to get the word out about your books? If you’re a reader, how do you find out about new books?

Okay, everyone, please chime in with your answers. And, if you have a question for Dorothy, please ask it. Lastly, if you've read her book and want to lavish praise on her about it, I'm sure she'd appreciate it!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tomorrow's Guest: Dorothy St. James

Tomorrow fellow mystery author Dorothy St. James will be a guest on my blog. Dorothy St. James was born in New York but raised in South Carolina. She makes her home on an artsy island community in South Carolina with her husband, tiny little dog and fluffy cat. A wildlife biologist and paper pusher, Dorothy is the author of the White House Gardener Mysteries with Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series, Flowerbed of State, has been called "spunky" (Library Journal), "fast-paced" (Publishers Weekly), and "it quite simply blew me away" (Criminal Element).

In her guest post tomorrow, she'll compare promotion to getting a root canal! She has questions for you, my readers, about promotion, and I hope you'll tune in tomorrow and provide some answers. Plus, feel free to ask some questions of your own.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Yet Another Great Review for Deadly Currents!

The spring issue of Mystery Scene Magazine arrived at my house today, and I was thrilled to see that it included a wonderful review of Deadly Currents! I'd been crossing my fingers that one would appear in the magazine ever since the reviewer, Leslie Doran, caught me at the Left Coast Crime conference in Santa Fe in March and introduced herself. She asked me to sign her ARC (Advance Review Copy) of Deadly Currents, told me she enjoyed reading the book and had just sent in her review, though she couldn't guarantee it would be accepted.

Thank goodness it was accepted! Leslie's review appears on page 59, right after the review of Michael Connelly's The Fifth Witness. Great placement! The last line of the review makes a beautiful pull quote:

"The amiable cast, along with Groundwater's fascinating firsthand knowledge of rafting, makes this a series worth watching."

((blush)) Thanks so much, Leslie! I hope my blog readers have a chance to get their hands on a copy of Mystery Scene and read the review for themselves. It's a great magazine for and about the mystery community, and I always look forward to reading the issues--even when there's no mention of me and my books. :)

Monday, May 09, 2011

Final Stops on my East Coast Book Tour

After my Tuesday stop in Charlottesville, Virginia, last week to visit my sister and sign at the Barnes & Noble store there, I drove down to Hampton, Virginia to spend four days with my parents. I used their home as a base of operations for various events in the Tidewater area of Virginia. The photo below was taken at the William & Mary Bookstore. They are excellent hosts to alumni who have published books!

The next photo is of participants in my workshop to the Hampton Roads Writers on "Realistic and Effective Dialogue in Fiction." I'm goofing off taking their photo while they're hard at work on an exercise. It was a great group, with lots of interesting and intelligent questions.

This last photo was taken of my parents' good friends, Bill & Judy, at the Newport News Barnes & Noble store. Unfortunately we caught Judy with her eyes closed, but I like her smile.

I arrived home just before dinner on Mother's Day. My wonderful husband cooked me a filet mignon dinner while I sat with my feet up and sipping limoncello. Yes, I'm keeping him and you can't have him!

Today, it's back to reality, with laundry, grocery shopping, and piles of mail and email to catch up on. My next event is a signing at the Chapel Hills Barnes & Noble store in Colorado Springs on Saturday, from 2-4 PM. But I have no promotion events scheduled for the next weekend, because that's when my son is graduating from college. I'll be too busy celebrating that happy milestone to think about writing or promoting.

Friday, May 06, 2011

A Charlottesville, Virgina Booksigning

After the Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, Pennsylvania on Monday, I drove down to Charlottesville, Virginia for a signing at the Barnes & Noble bookstore there. I stayed with my sister that evening. The next photo shows me with her, between my former sister-in-law and her daughter. The next two photos show me with women who bought copies of my books. It was a busy event, with lots of chatting, and I enjoyed catching up with my sister afterward.

The last few days of my tour will be in the Tidewater area of Virgina, and I'll post photos of those events most likely after I return home on Sunday. It will be nice to be back home on Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Annapolis and the Festival of Mystery

Continuing on with impressions and photos from my east coast book tour, five of us mystery authors sneaked out of the Malice Domestic conference closing tea a little early to pile into cars and drive to author Marcia Talley's beautiful home in Annapolis. She showed us to our rooms and we relaxed a bit before heading over to the Annapolis Barnes & Noble bookstore for a panel discussion and signing. The photo below shows us: Kristy Montee (half of the P. J. Parrish writing team), Rhys Bowen, Marcia Talley, me, and Elaine Viets.

After the signing, we went to dinner at Cantler's, where I indulged in one of my favorite meals, Chesapeake Bay blue crabs (see photo below).

We returned to Marcia's house for the post-signing pajama party and watched President Barak Obama present the news of Osama Bin Laden's death before heading off to bed. The next morning we drove in two cars up to the Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. The rest of the photos below are from that event.

Below, I'm with Annette Dashofy and Daryl Wood Gerber (Avery Aames). All of us have short stories in the new anthology, Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology.

Here I am with Mary Jane Maffini and Nancy Martin.

The next photo shows me with Rhys Bowen, who was my roommate in the hotel that night after the author pizza party at the Mystery Lovers Bookshop. She also rode up to Oakmont with me in my car, and I had a great time getting to know her better--turns out our husbands are very similar in many ways. :) Isn't her jacket smashing?

Below I'm with Leann Sweeney and Marcia Talley.

And here I'm with Elaine Viets and Wendy Lyn Watson.

This last photo shows me with Tara Whittle and Lois Winston. Many, many other authors were there, but I was too busy to catch photos with ALL of them!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Malice Domestic 2011 - Report Two

I finished the first report on the Malice Domestic conference in Bethesda, Maryland with the Guppies lunch Saturday. After that I listened to Nancy Pickard's interview of Carole Nelson Douglas and the panel of nominees for the Nonfiction Agatha Award. Then I got dressed for the banquet and met the "Mystery Babes" at the bar. Con Lehane, standing behind Meredith Cole in the first photo graciously took the second photo--and many others. He and I also had a conversation about social networking at the pre-banquet reception, and we're now Facebook friends.

The following photos were taken at the pre-banquet reception, which got very hot and stuffy before the doors to the banquet room were thrown open. The first shows me with Linda Randig, the second shows Midnight Ink authors Kathleen Ernst, Deborah Sharp, and Alice Loweecey with editor Terri Bischoff (second from the left), and the third shows Midnight Ink authors Lois Winston, Jessie Chandler, and Jess Lourey.

The next few photos were taken at the banquet. The first shows my roommate Vicki Doudera with Alice Loweecey, the second shows Best First Novel Agatha Award nominee Alan Orloff with his wife, and the third shows our complete table.

Sunday morning, I attended the Sisters in Crime breakfast, then rode the Metro down to National Airport to pick up a rental car and drive it back to the hotel. I got back in time to check out, have lunch with my editor Terri Bischoff and some fellow Midnight Ink authors and attend the closing tea. The photo below shows some of my tablemates at the tea.

More events and more photos to come!

Malice Domestic 2011 - Report One

I finally have a day without an event (just driving) in my east coast book tour, so I'm posting my impressions and photos from the 2011 Malice Domestic conference in Bethesda, Maryland. Friday morning, I took the Metro from Alexandria, Virginia, where I'd spent Thursday night with friends, and arrived at the Hyatt about an hour before Malice-Go-Round. I stowed my luggage, registered, and met up with my pitching partner, Five Star author friend Michael Allan Mallory. I gave a glowing blurb to his wonderful second book with co-author Marilyn Victor, Killer Instinct. He's with me in the photo below, and was a great pitching partner.

Worn out after Malice-Go-Round, I forgot to take the camera out for the rest of the day. I heard Louise Penny's delightful interview of Janet Rudolph and Dan Stashower's of Donna Andrews, and attended the Opening Ceremony and Reception. After dinner with some fellow Five Star author pals, I listened to the Best Novel panel, then collapsed in bed after chatting with my roommate, fellow Midnight Ink author Vicki Doudera.

Saturday began with the New Authors Breakfast, then I schmoozed until my morning panel, "Shot At, Robbed, Hypothermic and More: Travails Authors Endure to Get it Right." The photo below is from that panel, which included moderator Toni L.P. Kelner, Sandi Ault, Joanna Carl, Vicki Delany, and me. I decided I wanted Joanna's research gig--chocolate! The second photo shows me at work in the signing area, courtesy of Michael Allen Mallory.

Then came lunch with the Sisters in Crime Guppies chapter, and the remaining photos are from that. What a fun time that was!

Monday, May 02, 2011

A Fundraiser Booksigning

Thursday, April 28th, on the first day of my 9-events-in-10-days book tour, One More Page Books in Arlington, Virginia, hosted me for a fundraiser booksigning for American Rivers, a river conservation nonprofit. The first photo below shows me with store owner Eileen.

It was a fun event with a mix of conservationists, river paddlers, mystery writers and readers, friends of mine from when I used to live in Northern Virginia, and a niece and her boyfriend who attend nearby George Mason University.

Wilke Nelson, the Deputy VP of Resource Development at American Rivers, began the evening with a brief overview of American Rivers and what they do (he's with me in the first photo below). Then I talked about my former days as a "river rat," the research I did for Deadly Currents, and what the book was about (second photo below).

After that, we opened the floor for a free-ranging Q&A discussion that ranged from my writing process to the water rights subplot in the book, to characteristics of the paddling community.

After the Q&A session, we socialized over coffee and snacks and I signed books. What an interesting evening! It was a great kick-off for my tour, the store donated 10% of their sales that evening to American Rivers, and I bought some local Virginia wine and gourmet chocolates to give as bread-and-butter gifts to my future hosts on the trip.

My niece and her boyfriend are in the first photo below. followed by other attendees in the next two photos.

Here's the friendly staff of One More Page Books.

And here's a view of the bookstore, as the event wound down.