Friday, July 29, 2011

More Good Reviews for Deadly Currents

Most of the reviews for my Deadly Currents mystery novel came out before or around the time of its release in March. However, some good ones have trickled in lately, and I can't help bragging about them. :)

The first is in the Summer, 2011 issue of the Mysterical-e ezine, an excellent collection of mystery/suspense/thriller short fiction and nonfiction. Go to the website to read the whole review, but I loved the last two lines:

"There’s lots of suspects, plenty of excitement, and even some time for romance. Groundwater knows her business and has made this not only exciting but also realistic."

Also, the Mild to Wild blog, a (Rafting) Guide's Life Blog, had these words of praise for the book:

"The Mild to Wild staff has discovered a great new book release called Deadly Currents. Combining murder mystery and the adventure of whitewater rafting in Colorado, we found this book to be a great read in the comforts of our beds, sitting around the campfire, or in on a cot and under the stars!"

Follow the link to read the rest of the review, and if you've got a hankerings to ride the rapids of the upper Arkansas, this outfitter is one of the best.

Lastly, avid mystery reader and reviewer Kari Wainwright posted the following review on the DorothyL mystery discussion email list:

"Deadly Currents by Beth Groundwater

Running the Arkansas River rapids in the Colorado Rockies is not for the meek. A Class V rapid can toss a raft and its riders head-over-heels into the foaming water and turn them into human debris dodging rocks and other dangers in the whitewater.

Deadly Currents protagonist, Mandy Tanner, has left her river guide job to turn to law enforcement as a river ranger. In her twenties and new to the profession, she has much to learn, both on the job and in her personal relationships. But she is gutsy and hardworking, so the reader feels she can tackle any task she takes on. Except for one. Struggling to rescue two whitewater “swimmers,” she’s only able to save one. The other, Tom King, dies.

At first, King’s death looks like possible negligence on the part of the rafting company, owned by Mandy’s Uncle Bill. She’s grateful to learn that it wasn’t Bill’s fault because King was murdered.

Even though Mandy is warned to stay out of King’s death investigation, the young woman gets involved with the possible suspects, stirring up more turmoil than even a Class V rapid can cause. King, a rich developer, had no love for the river or the natural beauty near Salida, Colorado, which earned him enemies. He also had business rivals. Plus a wife, a mistress and a son, who all had problems with him. There’s a virtual plethora of people who could have wanted him dead. And some of them don’t like Mandy asking questions.

The author creates colorful characters to people this small Rocky Mountain town. My only dislike with characterization was that sometimes Mandy’s reactions to her boyfriend and brother were on the immature side. On the other hand, that makes her more human and leaves her room to grow in future books.

Groundwater has definitely done her research in the world of rafting on the Arkansas near Salida. She brings it to a frothy, churning life, which is one reason I loved the book. My husband and I have rafted the Arkansas through the Royal Gorge twice, having exciting incidents happen each time, once culminating with my husband becoming a “swimmer.” Even though Mandy wasn’t there to pull him out of the water, he survived. Deadly Currents makes me wish I could go again, but with a bum knee, that’s out of the question for me. So when I get the urge to go for another wild ride, I’ll just have to pick up a Mandy Tanner RM Outdoor Adventure Mystery."

Many thanks to Kari, the Mild to Wild rafting guides, and Mysterical-e!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Fun Fish Tales Quiz

As many of you know, I have a story in the short story anthology published by the Guppies chapter of Sisters in Crime that is titled Fish Tales The Guppy Anthology. All of the mystery stories selected for the anthology had to involve fish or water or both. It's been fun working with the other story authors on promotion events and ideas.

The latest promotion idea is a quiz that the group put together for Goodreads. Anyone who is a member of Goodreads can play and test their knowledge about the anthology--or just have fun guessing while learning some things about the stories. Here's the LINK to the book on Goodreads. Page down until you see "Quiz Question" and click on the "Take this quiz ..." prompt. Good luck and have fun!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Could the Ebook Revolution Lead to Buyer Confusion?

Today I want to talk about a reaction I get to a certain type of shopping situation. I'm wondering if others have the same reaction and if this reaction could apply to the ebook marketplace. Let me explain.

When I go to a large street market in another country or a large flea market or farmer's market in the US, I'm confronted with an overwhelming sea of choices. In a crowded and noisy environment, there are multiple vendors selling the same thing. Is vendor A's broccoli really any different from vendor B's? And there's usually a huge variety of things for sale, from broccoli to beef, batik to baskets, bracelets to blouses, bike tires to buckets, you get the idea.

In such markets, especially in a third world countries, it's guaranteed that a lot of the merchandise will be cheaply made and of poor quality. But I'm not an expert buyer in all of those categories of merchandise. I don't know what distinguishes a poorly made basket or blouse from an expertly made one. So, not only do I feel overwhelmed by the choices, I feel like I'm almost guaranteed to make a bad one.

What's my typical reaction? Often I just give up and walk away. The stress of decision-making is too great, and the chance for reward is too small to be worth the stress. I close my purse, avert my eyes from the vendors clamoring for my attention, and escape. Do you ever feel the same way?

Now, let's look at the electronic book marketplace. Again, there's an enormous variety of choices, and again a lot of the books are of poor quality. Making a good choice and feeling like you're not wasting your money can be just as overwhelming. I must admit that I've yet to test the waters, that instead I read only paper books and only those that are recommended to me by readers (or writers) whose judgement I trust.

What about you? Are you closing your purse and walking away, too? Or have you found a way to wade through the morass and find the true bargains, the electronic book purchases that you will savor for years to come?

Thursday, July 21, 2011


What the heck is Spoilerville, you might ask. To find out, go to Inkspot, where I'm posting today and read all about it. :)

Monday, July 18, 2011


Last week I finished reviewing the final proof for the paperback/ebook re-release of the first book in my Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series, A Real Basket Case. This new release is being published by Midnight Ink and will be out in November.

You'd think that with two editions already published, the hardcover and large-print, that no changes would need to be made. How wrong you'd be! Here's where I marked changes.

First, the author blurbs. It's been almost five years since I originally requested them. The hardcover edition was released in spring, 2007, and I obtained the blurbs in late 2006. Those authors have gone on to publish more books and some have attained or re-attained New York Time bestseller status. So, I changed the blurb attributions to reflect their recent accomplishments.

Second, there's the copyright or "verso" page--you know, the one with all the small print gobbledygook. I had to correct the reference to the press that produced the hardcover version and check that the proper book designer, cover artist, etc. were listed.

Third, the dedication page. Previous editions didn't have one, and Midnight Ink gave me the option to include one. I decided to take them up on their offer and wrote a dedication. To whom, you might ask? It's a secret! ;-)

Fourth, the acknowledgements page. I rewrote most of this, primarily to list and thank those hard-working folks who toiled on this new edition. I also shortened and summarized my thanks to those who helped with the hardcover edition, because, well, they're thanked profusely there.

Fifth, the text itself. My new copy editor at Midnight Ink found a few things that she thought should be changed, and I agreed with the changes. Then I found a few more on my read through the whole book (which, by the way, was a pleasurable exercise, since I hadn't lived through Claire Hanover's first adventure in five years). Lastly, I found a formatting error that had been introduced in the new version. Yes, these were all small changes, but ones that I think will improve the product.

So, my feedback to the editor has been sent, and that was my last chance to make changes. Let the printing begin! And I'm on to my next writing task ...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Refilling the Well

I am in a temporary lull in activity for my writing career. July 2nd was the last public promotion event for my new release, Deadly Currents, the first book in my new RM Outdoor Adventures mystery series starring whitewater river ranger Mandy Tanner. My critique group has finished reviewing the manuscript for Basketful of Trouble, the third book in my Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series, and I'm awaiting expert feedback on some scenes before I turn it into my literary agent for review. And, I'm awaiting a contract offer on the third book in the RM Outdoor Adventures series, Cataract Canyon.

I'm generating ideas for Cataract Canyon and throwing them into an outline file, but it's hard to get motivated to start writing it in earnest without a contract. My muse is dragging her heels, saying she needs a break. She's urging me to read some good books, watch a few good movies, try some new experiences, get outdoors and get some exercise, etc. The creative well was drying up and needed to be refilled. So, I've been doing just that. The posts prior to this one show some of what I've been doing: bottling bourbon at the Breckenridge Distillery and sliding down the longest tubing hill in the world. I've also tried some new hikes and bike rides.

I've been doing a lot of reading, as evidenced by my Goodreads postings, and I've seen some of the new blockbuster summer movie releases with my husband. He and I are busy preparing for our move to full-time living in our Breckenridge home, and I've been having some fun planning future travel adventures for us. Lastly, I've put myself on a diet and a daily exercise regimen to lose the weight I gained while traveling--and eating out--to promote Deadly Currents. So, when I do go back to spending long hours in my writing chair, hopefully I'll be in good physical condition for it!

I've learned not to force myself to write when my body and my muse tell me it's time to focus on other aspects of my life outside my writing life. It's time for the scales to balance in the other direction for a while. As I said, ideas are already clicking for Cataract Canyon, and I'm sure that when the contract offer comes, I'll be ready to plunge into that whitewater adventure. In the meantime, I'm soaking up fun experiences that will replenish my creative juices.

What do you do to refill the well when you feel depleted, mentally, emotionally, and/or physically? Take a vacation? Spend more time sleeping? Make some other kinds of changes in your life? I'd love to see what others do to refill their wells!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Flamingo Fatality Audio Short Story Publication

I'm pleased to announce that my humorous mystery short story, "Flamingo Fatality," has been published in audio form by Sniplits and is available for purchase for only 99 cents.

"Flamingo Fatality" first appeared in print form in 2005 in the Manhattan Mysteries anthology, that came about as the result of a short story contest held by the Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave held in Manhattan, Kansas. All of the stories selected for the anthology had to be set in Manhattan, as mine was. In the story, Diane is just enjoying a simple lunch hour walk when she discovers a dead pink flamingo and is thrust into the mystery behind it--accompanied by an eccentric old woman and a very handsome cop.

I'm very pleased with the reading done by voice actress Kailey Bell, and I hope folks will purchase and listen to the story for a few good laughs. If you do, please let me know what you think of it after listening to it!

Sniplits has published two other mainstream fiction stories of mine, "Covered Dish Casseroles" and "Biscuit Connection," if you'd like to listen to other short stories written by moi. :)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Bottling Bourbon

My Tuesday blog was about one day of my memorable Fourth of July weekend in Breckenridge. Here's a report about what I did on Sunday.

First, I'll give you some background. My husband and are fans of the fairly new Breckenridge Distillery, the world's highest distillery. We've attended their grand opening and tasted and bought their products, which currently consist of bourbon and vodka, though they are branching out. I've got August marked on my calendar, when they will debut their spiced rum. They're a small craft distillery, but they are growing much faster than they ever dreamed they would.

So, when the distillery received a huge order from a distributor for 20 pallets (108 cases of six bottles each) of bourbon, they put out a call for help to the members of their email newsletter list. They asked for volunteers to man a bottling line in six-hour shifts in exchange for a meal, all the beer and booze you wanted while working, and a bottle to take home. How could we refuse!?

My husband and I signed up for the late Sunday shift, from 3 - 9 PM. After some initial training, we worked on the bottling line with about ten other volunteers. We took turns doing different jobs to avoid getting bored, and we got to know each other while we worked. The owners came around at various times with offers of beverages; to bring new supplies of corks, tamper-proof seals, and boxing tape; to bundle and move the completed pallets; and to fix any technical problems. They also kept lively tunes going on the stereo (probably designed to keep us moving fast!)

The various steps on the production line included:

- unboxing empty bottles that were shipped from the bottle maker in France in pre-printed, unsealed cases,
- rinsing out the bottles with "product" (bourbon),
- filling the bottles (see first photo below),
- corking the bottles,
- tamping down the corks,
- applying the tamper-proof seal so the distillery logo was in the center of the cork and the two sides of the seal strip were exactly vertical with the neck of the bottle (This was the most labor-intensive part, taking four people, and I did it for the first couple of hours.),
- repacking the bottles into cases,
- taping the cases shut, and
- stacking the cases on the pallet (see second photo below).

After we filled three pallets, we broke for a barbecue dinner of burgers, hot dogs, baked beans, various salads, fruit, brownies, and of course, samples of the distillery's products of vodka and bourbon or beer or water. After a rest while the owners worked to unclog a line, we were back in business. Well-fed and watered and experienced now at the production line, the team worked like a well-oiled machine to quickly finish off two more pallets.

I was the "Chief (only) Bottle Washer" during this time, as you can see in the two photos below. You put four bottles upside down on the wash nozzles, then tap down on the front left one to start the wash cycle of bourbon squirting up from the nozzles into the bottles. You have to put the front ones on last and take them off first if you don't want to be accidentally squirted with bourbon. I'm happy to say that I never messed up the sequence, but one volunteer got two bourbon baths early in the process.

The five pallets we finished were the last five of the twenty that were needed to fill the distributor's order. We celebrated a job well-done with shots of bourbon and collected our bottles to take home.

I've never worked on an assembly-line before, and it's definitely hard work, and you're on your feet the whole time. I had to soak my sore muscles in the hot tub afterward. But, it's hard to imagine an assembly line being any more fun to work on than this one! We'll definitely keep our eyes open for future volunteer opportunities.

And for those who might want to know, yes, the Breckenridge Distillery products make for some mighty fine drinking!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A Slippin' and A Slidin' and A Signin'

I had a great Fourth of July weekend, and I hope everyone else did, too. In today's blog, I'll share some photos of my Saturday. That afternoon was my signing for Deadly Currents at The Next Page Bookstore in Frisco, Colorado (see photo below).

The signing was a fundraiser for the Gore Range Chapter of Trout Unlimited. We actually had an attentive audience of about ten folks at the beginning who listened to the chapter representative talk about their activities and to me talk about myself and the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventure series then do a very short reading. (Since I'm a terrible actress, I don't read well and hate doing readings, so when stores ask me to, I make them very short.) Then the signing began (see photo below). By the end, the store only had two copies left, so I'm sure they were happy with the result. I know I was!

After the signing was over, my husband and I changed into casual clothes and headed over the to Peak 8 Fun Park at the Breckenridge Ski Resort. We had volunteered to pick up trash at the resort on Thursday morning in exchange for a barbecue lunch and a free ticket to ride one of the attractions. Unfortunately, it rained that afternoon, shutting down most activities, so we put off our ride to Saturday. We were anxious to try the "world's longest tubing hill." It's so long that you ride it in two segments, with a stop in the middle (see photo below, showing folks lining up to ride the second segment).

The ride was great fun, slidin' down the hill at high speed, as you can see from the two photos below. It was even fun slippin' around in the spring corn snow in athletic shoes while trying to walk out of the landing zone for each segment. If you want to try the SuperTubing Hill yourself, you'd better go soon, because the snow is melting fast. And here's a hint, either ride it first thing in the morning when it opens up and the sun hasn't softened up the snow much, slowing down the ride, or ride it in the last hour that the park is open (as we did), after the hill goes back into the shade and it starts freezing up again. You want the fastest ride possible, right?!

Friday, July 01, 2011

My Frisco Signing is Highlighted in the Summit Daily News

Today's Summit Daily News, the newspaper for Summit County, Colorado, featured an article in their Style Section today about my Deadly Currents signing in Frisco, Colorado tomorrow from 3-5 PM at The Next Page Bookstore.

The booksigning is a fundraiser for the Gore Range Chapter of Trout Unlimited, with the store donating 15% of the proceeds during the signing to the chapter. If you're in the area, I hope you'll come out and support this great cause. You could easily spend a fun day in Frisco, since an art festival is also occurring downtown and Founder's Day activities are going on all day in the historical park.

Whenever I can, I try to set up my signings as fundraisers for local river conservation nonprofits. If you're active in a river conservation nonprofit and are interested in talking to me about an event, please contact me at my website.