Kindle Scout book coming-Forgotten Body

Forgotten_ebook final coverNovember 14, 2015, is the big day! I just got word this morning (the 12th). My next mystery, Forgotten Body, will be on Kindle Scout.

Okay, you want to know exactly what Kindle Scout is? It’s partly a choose-your-own-read, in that anyone can nominate books they would like to read. After giving the reading public thirty days to choose a book, Amazon decides which ones they will publish in e-book form. (Part of their decision is based on the book’s popularity.) The best part for the reader: You receive a free e-book copy of each of the books you nominated. Okay, that’s only true if they decide to publish the book. (If not, they tell you where it is available.) As a reader, I’ve nominated many books I’d like to read. (They allow three nominations at a time.) Several have been published by Kindle Scout, so I’ve received free e-books. They were all great reads. They earned four or five stars when I placed my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. (Since I know those reviews help the author and the reader, I try to review every book I read.)

Of course, there’s good news for the author too. The Kindle Scout program offers a favorable contract with advance and royalties, as well as publicity.

The Kindle Scout site for Forgotten Body will include the one sentence teaser, the blurb, and almost all of the first two chapters. It will even tell you something about me and ask me questions. (I answer, of course.) Meanwhile, I’ll tell you Forgotten Body is a sequel to Yesterday’s Body. Jo Durbin, my amateur detective will do her thing (along with that elusive, imaginary cat) at a reenactment of the War of 1812. On Saturday the 12th, the whole thing will go live here. So visit, and if you like what you see, nominate. If you have any questions, ask here.

Do You NaNoWriMo?

nano_logo

I should, I really should. NaNoWriMo, I mean. I’m between books, I have a pretty good sized kernel of an idea, and…it is the season. But, I probably won’t.

Make that, I should, I really should. I can do it, I really can. Fifty thousand words toward a new manuscript. How appealing is that? A big boost on creativity. And…it is the season.

But, I’m in the midst of working toward getting the completed one published. I’ve just committed to a rejuvenating critique group. I’m finalizing a couple of short stories. Thanksgiving is coming. November is a short month as it is (by one day, but who’s counting).

Maybe I can get all that done next week and start NaNo late. (You know, do the Scarlet option and think about it tomorrow.)

The first time I NaNoed I piled up just over the fifty thousand words.

Yeah, but the second time I really tanked.

But, but, that idea didn’t really pan out. And I successfully completed a mini-NaNo last July. Doesn’t that count?

At this stage, I must admit, I start all over at the top with the same arguments.

I think I’ll stay in Scarlet-land for a while. After all, it is a whole two more days until November.

How about you? Will you NaNoWriMo this year?

Letters to the Editor

Years ago a local woman regularly contributed to our newspaper’s11-15 writing letters page. Her pieces were well written and thought out. She wasn’t political or addicted to any organization or movement. She looked around, listened, made decisions and shared her viewpoint. If she missed a week, other writers wondered what happened to her. Definitely an institution, and the readership mourned her death. Sometimes a new scribe turned up, but it isn’t the same. For one, now the paper won’t publish any one person more than once a month. There must be other reasons. Perhaps they have other avenues of expression. Perhaps some are now bloggers with followers.

Sometimes I write to my newspaper. Once it was about a way out-dated front-page piece on medical procedures. (Something about it made me look up the original report cited. I learned it was compiled seven years before from queries compiled in the previous ten years and included the comment that it was deemed unreliable.) Some years ago it was more apt to involve absent coverage of our local school district activities (where my children were involved, naturally).

Not often, but occasionally, I’ll comment on something political. If I do, I’ll sign my name differently than I sign anything to do with my writing. That’s because, with the internet picking up everything, I once discovered my comment over a local issue right there, with my name, for everyone with a computer to see.

Okay, that’s good, right? Get your name out, can’t be bad. Except, the way I see it, our country is almost evenly divided, and very partisan. In fact, I see the same division within my friends and family. We all know which is which. We might even discuss our differences amicably. But that never happens in print. Don’t know why. Maybe it’s the newspaper with their unfunny cartoons lampooning both sides. It drives a wedge through a country that calls itself United. And, viewing all that angst, people take sides. They could easily say, “If she thinks that, I’m certainly not going to buy her books.” And who wants to alienate half of their possible readership?

So, do you write letters to the editor? Actually, I still do. Not often, I have other writing that calls me.

Twittering Memes

I’m twittering memes, even though I’m not sure memes is the word I want.  According to the dictionary a meme (meem) is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture”. So, I can only hope my memes will fit that description.

And why do I hope that? Because I’m using them to advertise on Twitter. I’m hoping the countdown project I’m running for one of my books this week will catch some attention, and some purchasers. What do you think? Some of them are below. (Successful promotion for the self-published is just another writing skill. Hope I’m accomplish

And, by the way, you may have noted this Monday post is not my usual review of a five star book. (Tune in next week when I’ll be back on schedule.)

Cherish countdown meme 1

Cherish countdown meme 2 Cherish countdown meme 4

A Good Writing Day

Breakthrough! This morning’s writing gave me the ending for my short story. Needs fine-tuning, of course. It is a little different than I usually write—historic, long short, if that makes sense. You see, Forgotten Body, the sequel to Yesterday’s Body, takes place at a reenactment of the War of 1812 on Chesapeake Bay. The amateur sleuth in the story, Jo, wonders what her life would have been like in the nineteenth century. She’s in her late fifties, an unmarried survivor of two bad marriages. Would wife and mother have been her only options? Of course not, but what else would she do?

Originally, I started putting little snippets of an historic story in the larger mystery. But, they really didn’t fit. So, you might say, what I was working on today is an out-take of the book, rather like the out-takes they often show from movies or TV shows. And, for a while there, the story didn’t seem to have a future. Today was the breakthrough that I needed. I now have an historic romance (not mystery) of around 20 pages. A bit long for the usual short story, but I have plans for this one and another long-short I’ve completed—a prequel to Yesterday’s Body that is a mystery.

So, short story-long, it’s a good day in my world.

I’m on the Hen House Blog

The years my husband and I spent sailing on Chesapeake Bay and beyond contributed to my mystery writing. For one, I found a couple of boats I wanted to include in my stories. One, a small lobster boat converted to a live-aboard cruiser, is front and center of my second published mystery. Here’s the picture, and here’s the resulting cover.

Snapdragon1

HotChickSmallerFrontCoverThat’s just one of my stories. As one of the contributors to the Sisters in Crime Writes of Passage, today I visit the Hen House Blog. Come read my story and see a couple of pictures of why I place my mysteries on Chesapeake Bay.

 

Name That Character

No, it’s not a game show, but it is a game all writers play. And, it does remind me of a game show—What’s My Line from the 1950s and 1960s. In fact, that’s another game writers play—giving their characters a job. But, back to the names. How does that work?

Bit player—needs an ordinary name. John Smith. Nope, too ordinary. Mary Martin. Nope, a big star already owns that name.

Player that must be overlooked until the dénouement—needs a distinctive name, I’d say, with his information seeming to be slight. Fane Olivetti. Nope. A bit too distinctive, and probably comes from two different parts of the world.

You get the idea. And that goes double for main characters. I once wrote a young adult story with a hero named Jasper. Never heard of it, except for the name of a city. Forgot the story for years. Took it out to rewrite, and discovered that Jasper was a main character of a new, wildly popular YA book. Okay, he needed a new name. Would you believe Fred? In fact, Fred’s name was really Friedrich due to his German heritage. However, shortly after WW II, the war with Germany the enemy, that name contributed to someone’s paranoia, and added a whole missing element to the plot. (Yes, serendipity exists.)

So, how do writers come up with names? Some keep lists. I do. I have three alphabetical lists that I add to constantly: male, female, and surnames. I may add notations: top ten in 2002, Hispanic, Japanese. But often, I choose names not on that list. Or, don’t choose them.

There’s a name I haven’t used, but I remember it. When I was a child a neighboring family had immigrated from somewhere. The pregnant wife decided to name her child after the ship’s captain. But since the child was a girl, she was named after the ship. Yes, her name was Uladia. Haven’t used that name yet.

I always search the name I use on the internet. (That alerts me to names of real people I don’t want to use, but there are always real people by the name. I just pick one without someone famous or notorious.)

Other people search names as well—their own names. One surprise was when one woman with the same name as one of my main characters found my book—and bought it! Wow! And, it wasn’t a common name at all. In fact, she e-mailed me to say she knew of no one with that surname but her immediate family. Hmm. Maybe I should use those more common names. (Just kidding.)

Question for readers: How do the names affect your immage of a book’s characters? (Writers want to know.)

Question for writers: Do you have a special way you choose writer names? (This writer wants to know.) Okay, I should put a happy face here, or one of those, um, whatever they are called.

Covers

All of my covers have been designed by one of my daughters while she was grossly underemployed. Fortunately for her, that is no longer the case. Unfortunately for me, I have to rethink covers. I want to go GREAT. I want to go PROFESSIONAL. I want to go with a cover that says, “BUY ME!” So, of course, I’ve asked a pro whose covers are striking and versetile to design the cover of my upcoming mystery.

In the meantime, I’ve been writing  a couple of short stories that I intend to offer for free—to further encourage readers to buy my new mystery. So I’ve been diddling with canva.com. I have used it to make a small design to put on Twitter, promoting one of my books. (Don’t know if it actually works, but…it looks good.) I’ve tried a lot of different designs using a variety of free and personal photos. This is what I’ve come up with so far.

HIDDEN BODY cover B

Deserter cover 2Tell me, what do you think? Good enough? Or not.

Art In The Attic

A son visits his father.

A son visits his father.

The drawings on the wall of a third floor storage room have been there for over one hundred years. As the house passed through different owners, one promise was made—leave the pictures alone. They are pencil drawings, made by two boys who lived with their mother in the rented house. Some of them depict their older brother, Leo Hauck, who was a champion boxer.

How did this all get on the front page of my local newspaper? The current homeowner was curious. She asked questions and discovered a few amazing connections. Three of Leo’s children survive and live locally. Peggy, age 100, and Eddie, age 94, didn’t walk up the stairs to see their father as a young boxer. Joe, age 80, lives less than a mile away. He and his daughter visited the third-floor drawings and were amazed.

As a writer, I always think, what if? What if any one of the owners of the house had painted over those pictures? What if, the house was remodeled and windows replaced a wall? What if the area had been zoned for renewal and the place torn down and became a parking lot? What if none of those happened, but the connection was never made?

Joe Hauck was thirteen when his father died. He knew he’d been a fighter. He’d known those uncles who drew the pictures as children. He knew his father started boxing as a flyweight at age fourteen. He knew he was known as the “Lancaster Thunderbolt,” and often as Leo Houck due to a misspelled promotional piece. Joe’s father, who successfully boxed in every weight up to heavyweight (as he grew) is named in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Now Joe knows a bit more.

To see more pictures and the complete article, check out this link in LNP Newspapers.

Discovering Character-And Other Things

I should know Jo, my main character by now—I’ve just completed final edits of the second mystery, plus a short story prequel. But she continues to surprise me. I’ve been resisting.

Why? Hey, she and I started out the same age with the same childhood memories, but our personalities and life experiences are different. Over the years that I wrote and rewrote that first mystery, I aged, while Jo kept getting younger. By the time a small press said, “Is your manuscript still available? We want it,” I was nearly eighty and she was somewhere in her late sixties (never specifically stated).

As I started the sequel, I thought, 61. Yeah, sounds about right. But, as I wrote, I decided, maybe late 50s. That’s old enough to have the history I’d supplied. Some of those memories could be from Grandma, or a parent. Or, she’s into old stuff. Then I added a TV reference I remember watching with my kids. My kids are mostly in their 50s. So I wrote away, deciding she was that age. But, I still  had those ‘old’ references. Jo described herself as old in a variety of ways. I do not think of my 50s daughters as old. They do not look old. Perhaps—I just didn’t think.

Until, I saw an article about Valerie Bertinelli with her cookbook.8-13 Bertinelli cover She’s 55. Yoiks! How can that be? I remember her on TV as a teenager. I’m realizing that fifty is definitely the new thirty. Finally, I have an image of my fifty-something Jo—maybe not a beauty, definitely not a Valerie twin, but certainly not a hag. And a whole new image of my market. And the possible cover. And possibly a redo of the first cover. And, definitely, a redo of Jo’s attitude. She’s been much too laid back about the guy who’d like to know her much better. I mean, let’s have a little chemistry there.

And maybe I’ll try Valerie’s recipes. (I do love to cook!)