Friday, June 29, 2012

Do You Like Me?

Many of us are familiar with the Like button on Facebook, which you can press on a Page for a business, nonprofit, author, etc. to indicate your support of that entity. You can't "Like" personal profiles, however, and since I prefer to make friends with my readers versus have an impersonal Page on Facebook, you can't "Like" me there (though you can send me a friend request).

Amazon, however, picked up the idea of the Like button and has placed it on book and author pages on its site. So, you can "Like" me and my books on Amazon. How does that benefit you? Amazon will use your likes to recommend similar books to you, like my future releases, or other outdoor-oriented mysteries. How does it benefit me? First, it's an ego boost, and I can use all of those I can get. ;-) Second, if Amazon recommends other books of mine to you as a result of you using the Like button on one of my books or my author page, you might buy one of those recommended books.

So, I hope that my blog readers will Like me and my recent books on Amazon (and maybe even buy a few)! Here are the links:

Beth's Amazon author page

Wicked Eddies Amazon page

Deadly Currents Amazon page

A Real Basket Case Amazon page

To Hell in a Handbasket Amazon page

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Today's Mystery Author Guest: Tom Schreck

As promised yesterday, fellow mystery/thriller author Tom Schreck is visiting my blog today. To read his bio and see his photo, please page down to yesterday's post.

The first photo above is the cover for Tom's recent May release, The Vegas Knockout, which is part of a series. Duffy Dombrowski just accepted a dream job: chief sparring partner for Russian heavyweight contender Boris Rusakov in Vegas. His obstinate basset hound, Al, and a few friends join Duffy for the ride—but before Duffy knows it, his trip turns into a nightmare. Someone’s killing local Mexican workers, friends and relatives of Duffy’s gym buddies. And to make matters worse, Duffy’s got Boris’s Russian mobster pals chasing him with murder on their minds. Quirky characters, rapid-fire dialogue, and nonstop action propel The Vegas Knockout into the sphere of gritty thrillers that hit with astonishing power.

The second photo above is the cover for Tom's upcoming July release, Getting Dunn. When TJ Dunn enlisted in the US Army, she knew the risks. And not just the combat risks—six years earlier her father, an army veteran, killed himself. But TJ is tough, determined to carry her own weight as a soldier, and she subsequently earns a spot as an MP. Everything changes when her team is ambushed during a mission in Iraq. As the only survivor, TJ is left both physically and psychologically traumatized. Yet even as she struggles to come to terms with the loss of her friends, she receives another devastating blow: her fiancé, stationed in Afghanistan, has taken his own life.

Discharged from the army and back home in the States, TJ drifts from one dead-end job to another, unable to reconcile the senseless losses of the people she loved. Just when she thinks she’s reached her limit, an anonymous phone call shocks her back to life. The caller alleges that a top military official is executing soldiers and masking their deaths as suicides, all for the sake of covering up an elaborate heroin-trafficking operation. Determined to avenge her fellow soldiers, TJ vows to bring the traitor to justice, no matter the cost. Getting Dunn is a tension-filled military thriller, a captivating novel that takes a hard look at the horrors of war and the burdens borne by returning soldiers.

Betcha' can't read just one!

Below are Tom's answers to my interview questions. Please leave a comment for him, and if you have a question of your own for him, ask it!

1. Who or what inspired you to start writing and when did you start?

 I have always respected writers.  My first love was POV essays from writers like Bob Greene, Art Buchwald and Tony Kornheiser. Then I picked up a John D. MacDonald Travis McGee book because it was thin and I thought I could finish it. I fell in love and wanted to be Travis. Then, when I read the 22 book series I found Spenser and did the same thing.

I kept writing for magazines but I never wanted to be the bore at the cocktail party talking about his unfinished novel. I liked the idea of being a working writer who wrote an assignment and got a check. After seven years of being on the newsstand every month (uninterrupted!) I felt I deserved to try to write a mystery. That was in 2005.

2. What tools and process do you use to “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?


My head.

My dreams.

My characters are the people I know and me, twisted, distorted, amplified and reduced. I have a masters degree in psychology and spent 15 years as a therapist and that helps. I’m also a bit neurotic and I think about thinking way too much. I spend a lot of time in other people’s heads whether I’m writing or not.

3. How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?

I’m an in-betweener. I heard Chris Grabenstein once talk about it and how four times a book or so your plot has to turn sharply. I’ve also read that every scene a character’s position has to change, like from happy to sad, sad to happy, excited to bored, bored to excited etc. So I try to make every scene count.

I have an idea where I’m going and then I backtrack to make sure I set things up correctly but I don’t produce more than two pages of notes when it comes to setting out and starting. I like how plots surprise you and come out by themselves—that’s when this crap gets really fun!

4. In the age-old question of character versus plot, which one do you think is most important in a murder mystery and which one do you emphasize in your writing? Why?

I love reading about people. When people get thrown into adversity I love seeing what it does to them. To me, you have to care about the character first. Of course you have to then do something interesting with him or her to bring the nuances of their character out.

5. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?

The biggest challenge is dealing with the business of writing. Marketing, sales, agents, no agents, self-pubbing…I just want to write and connect with readers. The other stuff I can’t make much sense of for long.

And if you let it, it will break your heart. Then someone will write to you out of the blue and tell you how they enjoyed what you had written and it will make every second of it worthwhile.

6. What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?

I get up early and write before my day job. I also teach school at night, still freelance magazine stuff and travel around as a pro boxing judge. My best asset is my ADHD-like tendencies and that I prefer to write in short bursts.

I’m also good at doing a little consistently every day without missing a day. That’s really what it takes. 

7. What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?

Hmm…do it for fun but be business-like and learn how books get bought and sold, what the market will tolerate and what it won’t and treat it like a gig if you want to get published.

And if you just want to have fun—ignore the business side of it and write for the heck of it. Self-pub, do ebooks or give your stuff to friends. There’s no rule that says you have to do any of the business torture bullshit.

8. Now here’s a zinger. Tell us something about yourself that you have not revealed in another interview yet. Something as simple as your favorite TV show or food will do.

I’m often besieged with anxiety and self doubt about writing, inadequacy in all life areas and people not liking me.

9. What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?

I’m working on my fifth in the Duffy series and folding in the lead character of my forthcoming thriller Getting Dunn into the Duffy series.

10. Is there anything else you would like to tell my blog readers?

I’m giving away a Kindle Fire at my Facebook page. Go there and click on “Duffy Extras.” Also, please stop by my blog to learn more about me and my books.

Thanks, Tom! Now, who has a comment or question for him? 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tomorrow's Guest: Tom Schreck

Tomorrow, mystery author Tom Schreck will be a guest on my blog. Tom is the author of five novels, including On the Ropes and Out Cold. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame and has a master’s degree in psychology—and a black belt. He previously worked as the director of an inner-city drug clinic and today juggles several jobs: communications director for a program for people with disabilities, adjunct psychology professor, freelance writer, and world championship boxing official. He lives in Albany, New York, with his wife.

In his guest post tomorrow, Tom answers my interview questions, and I'm sure you'll be intrigued by what he has to say. Then, feel free to ask him some questions of your own in the comments.

Monday, June 25, 2012

I Suck at Picking Book Titles

Today I am blogging at Inkspot, the Midnight Ink author blog, about how I suck at picking book titles and about how others have pulled me out of the fire many times by suggesting alternative titles. Do you have a book title story to share? I hope you will, in the comments!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Two Denver, Colorado Signings

Tomorrow, Sunday, June 24th, I will be spending the day in the Denver area, signing copies of Wicked Eddies at two locations:

10 AM – noon
in the Murder By the Book booth
South Pearl Street Farmers Market
1500 block of South Pearl Street, Denver, CO 80209

2 – 3:30 PM
Who Else Books, Broadway Book Mall
200 S. Broadway, Denver, CO 80209

I hope to see some Denver friends and readers at both events!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Colorado Water 2012

Since Mandy Tanner, the whitewater river ranger heroine of my RM Outdoor Adventures mystery series, lives in Salida, Colorado, and patrols the upper Arkansas River, I'm always on the lookout for news items and issues related to water and river conservation in my native Rocky Mountains. Turns out, this past January, Colorado's Governor John W. Hickenlooper declared 2012 to be The Year of Water. All this year, special events are raising awareness of how precious fresh water is to our state, with the aim of increasing support for management and protection of Colorado’s water and waterways.

As the website for Colorado Water 2012 states, "What started as a small celebration to commemorate the major anniversaries of some of Colorado’s most important water organizations and legislation quickly grew into a statewide water awareness campaign called Colorado Water 2012.  Throughout the year 2012, Colorado Water 2012 will be connecting Coloradans to their water through resources, events, and activities created by seven Colorado Water 2012 Committees and by a coalition of over 200 volunteers statewide."

Part of the campaign is four traveling displays that libraries and museums in the state can reserve to educate their patrons about water issues. I've suggested to my local library, the Summit County Library, that they bring one of the displays to one of their branches. If you live in Colorado, check out the traveling display schedule at the Colorado Water 2012 website to see if one will appear near you soon. Also, check out the upcoming events in the events calendar. There are conferences, festivals, workshops, and speaker presentations scheduled all over the state!

I encourage all of my readers to go to the website and see what you can learn and how you can help this vital program.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Signing in Monument, Colorado

Today from 5 - 8 PM, I will sign copies of Wicked Eddies, the second book in my RM Outdoor Adventures mystery series, at the Covered Treasures Bookstore, 105 Second Street, Monument, CO 80132 during the town's monthly Art Walk. I hope to see some friendly faces there!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kirkus Picked Wicked Eddies!

I just found out that my Wicked Eddies recent release is on the Kirkus Book Reviews "Critics Picks in Mystery & Crime" list. They bill themselves as "The World's Toughest Book Critics," so I am especially proud!

Monday, June 18, 2012


I have big news to announce! The Kindle ebook edition of my mystery, Deadly Currents, the first book in my RM Outdoor Adventures series, went on sale June 15th at Amazon for the amazingly cheap price of $1.99. The sale only lasts two weeks, so hurry over to HERE to buy yours! I hope you'll consider picking up a copy of the second book in the series, Wicked Eddies, at the same time.

And, here's some more late-breaking news! Wicked Eddies is now available for the Nook. If you have a Nook, go HERE to buy your copy.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Salida, Colorado, Signing

Today I will appear at the First in Boating on the Arkansas (FIBArk) whitewater festival in Salida, Colorado, the locale for my RM Outdoor Adventures mystery series. I will sign copies of the recently released second book in the series, Wicked Eddies, at The Book Haven, 135 F Street, from 10:30 - noon after the conclusion of the parade. In the afternoon, I will sign copies at The Book Haven booth in front of the Boathouse Cantina near the FIBArk festival grounds from 1:30 - 4 PM. I hope to see some friendly faces there!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Photos from Ecuador - Part Two

Yesterday, I posted photos from the Ecuador half of my husband's and my trip to Peru and Ecuador. Today I'm posting the last of the Ecuador photos, mostly of wildlife in the Galapagos Islands. Enjoy!

First comes a sea lion montage. The second photo, or course, is not of sea lions, but is of two workers from the Discovery Channel recording underwater sea lion vocalizations.

This mother sea lion is nursing her pup, and the second photo shows a rare albino sea lion pup.

On to reptiles! The first photo is a land iguana in the process of shedding its skin, second is a lava lizard, and the third photo shows a mocking bird sitting on top of a marine iguana.

Now, the abundant bird life. The first photo is of a blue-footed booby, the iconic bird of the Galapagos Islands. Second is of a swallow-tailed gull pair and their chick. Third is of an albatross with its egg.

The bird hovering above me in the photo below is a frigate bird that stayed above our boat for awhile, tracking our progress. The next photo shows a pelican taking flight, and the third shows a Galapagos penguin.

Next up are some photos of sea life. First are some bright red Sally Lightfoot crabs, followed by two of the many types of fish we saw while snorkeling.

We also saw sea turtles, Eagle rays (not pictured) and stingrays (pictured), and even a shark (while we were on the beach--NOT in the water snorkeling).

Below is a photo of our guide snorkeling with a juvenile sea lion. This was a very special snorkeling session, because a whole group of curious sea lion youngsters cavorted all around us and stared into our masks to see what were were all about, as shown in the second photo.

On the island of Floreana, we stopped at Post Office Bay to see the impromptu Post Office (the barrel) where folks stuff post cards addressed to friends and family. The tradition is that you look through the plastic bags of post cards in there, and if you find one addressed to someone who lives near you, you should take it and hand deliver it.

Here's our group on the "flight school" cliff on the island of Espanola where sea birds learn to fly. The second photo shows a nearby blowhole. The third shows a view of Gardner Bay on San Cristobal island from an overlook. This island was our last stop, and the island from which our plane trip back to Quito began.

Back in Quito for one night before heading home, we visited the Ethnohistoric Museum of Handicrafts of Ecuador, where we were encouraged to touch the textiles, play the musical instruments, and so on. We ate our final dinner together as a group inside the museum, as shown in the last photo.

This was an amazing trip, and I hope you enjoyed the photos!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Photos from Ecuador - Part One

Last week, I shared some photos from the Peru half of my May top-of-the-bucket-list trip to Peru and Ecuador with Overseas Adventure Travel. Today and tomorrow, I'm posting photos from the Ecuador half of the trip. Enjoy!

Our first day in Ecuador was spent touring Quito. We stopped first for a music and dance performance by the Sinamune Disabled Children's Orchestra, ending with the students dancing with us.

Then we visited the French government's monument to the equator (La Mitad Del Mundo - the middle of the world), followed by a visit to the Inti Nan Museum of native cultures and their version of where the equator was (we are posed behind the marker in the second photo below). Neil's GPS said both locations were off, and the equator actually crossed the street near the museum. The shrunken head in the third photo was from the museum.

We visited Quito's central historic district next, and I caught Neil in the midst of a pigeon takeoff there.The third photo is of the front of La Compañia de Jesus, a Jesuit church built in the 1650s, with its twisted solomonic columns. We weren't allowed to take photos of its ornate interior, gilded with over seven tons of gold leaf.

These two guards are in front of the Presidential Palace. The second photo below is of a street scene in the historic district, and the third photo below is of half of our group with our local host family, who served us dinner the first night. The husband was a banker and we had an interesting discussion with him about Ecuador's adoption of the US dollar as its official currency and the economic impacts of that change.

The next day we flew to Santa Cruz island in the Galapagos Islands. We saw giant tortoises at the Primicia Ranch and the Charles Darwin Research Station there (next two photos). Then we strolled through the town of Puerto Ayora (see the third photo of me in the seaside park) before taking a launch to our ship, the Carina (fourth photo below).

The first photo shows most of our tour group in the lounge of the boat, and the second photo is of the dining area across from the lounge. The third photo shows our crew and the fourth is of the glorious sunset that evening.

I'll continue tomorrow with photos of more animals, birds, and sea creatures that we saw in the Galapagos Islands.