Monday, September 30, 2013

Bouchercon in Albany

This is my third year attending Bouchercon, which gives me the chance to visit cities that may or may not have been on my radar. So far I’ve been to St. Louis and Cleveland and got to see their main tourist attraction, that being the Arch and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

This year, Bouchercon was in my home state and its capital, Albany. I’ve never been there and I was excited to see the governor’s mansion and the state capital building. I suspect their main attraction is the EGG, which is part of the Empire State Plaza.

Friends: As always, it is great seeing old friends and meeting new friends face-to-face. The power of social media makes this happens. I’ve also stopped saying “I’m a just reader” when asked what am I. Now I say, “I’m a blogger, reviewer and a reader” as I have been told.

Panels: There were so many panels to choose from attending several of the panels that were offered. One panel had Brad Parks turn from book author to Superman Parks. Another panel talked about big city crime. Then there was the panel where attendees had to guess what food product was featured in which author’s book. That too was fun. One panel was popular by the time I got there it was standing room only. Then there was the panel that talked about how far could you go in a cozy. Then there was panel about being a private eye and the panel about being a writer with no room service. Overall, I had a good time at the panels that I attended.

Books: What can I see, one of the things I like about attending these conferences is what books will appear in your goodie bag, what books will I buy and what books will I get as free giveaways. This is my biggest haul of books I’ve gotten autographed and standing on line was worth it. I was most happy with my copy of W for Wasted by Sue Grafton and I knew no matter how long, I will be standing in that line to get my book autographed.

Authors: Harlan Coben called me a troublemaker. It was great talking with authors that I’ve work with on my blog and those I friended on Facebook. These conferences allow a face-to-face meeting and it’s great. It also gives me the opportunity to meet other authors that I have not come across in my regular reads. There’s a couple of new authors who debuts their new books in 2014 and I look forward to reading their work.

I was lucky to get the opportunity to take a tour of the New York State Trooper facilities. It was cool. We got to see their headquarters, their gym, their dorms and when we saw a training that involved German Shepard dogs.  We also got a chance to go into the indoor firing range where I imagine myself shooting a bulls-eye in dead center mass. 

I'm an introvert but when I am in my element, that is being around authors, fellow readers and books, I’m not as shy. Thank you for letting me know that reading is good and hanging with the authors and fans is Awesome.

Am I'm going to the next Bouchercon? Yes I am and I can't wait to hit the town of Long Beach. Who else is joining me?

Some photos from Bouchercon.  What excited me most was finding a phone booth with a working phone and a seat where you can close the door.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Brooklyn Book Festival

I’m finally back in Kansas City from the Brooklyn Book Festival. More than 45,000 people attended the festival, and 200 stalls sprawled across three blocks in the heart of downtown Brooklyn, representing a cross-section of independent bookstores, independent presses and magazines. At times, the crowd was so packed it was difficult to move. New York City's largest free literary event offered a long list of lectures, conversations and presentations at fourteen different locations. Sunday afternoon presentations included famous authors with Brooklyn connections, such as Edwidge Danticat, Pete Hamill, and Colum McCann.

After a weeklong series of over 60 “Bookend” events from Sept. 16 – 22, the Brooklyn Book Festival consisted of 90-plus panels, readings and workshops spread across 14 stages. Among the venues were Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza, Columbus Park, Brooklyn Law School, St. Francis College, the Brooklyn Historical Society, and St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church.

I wasn’t sure I’d make it safely to the festival from my Brooklyn hotel since my cab driver couldn’t find the address and ended up driving while wearing his reading glasses so he could decipher his cell phone’s GPS. But he managed to deliver me safe and sound to St. Francis College where my 10:00 a.m. panel was to take place.

On the panel called “Six Degrees of Separation,” Meredith Walters of the Brooklyn Public Library moderated Brooklyn poet laureate Tina Chang, novelist Ray Robertson, memoirist Leigh Newman, and me as we read from our work and discussed the similarities and differences of between the different genres of writing. The conversation ranged across the topics of voice, setting, and characters/personae and found us agreeing with and learning from each other as we examined the process of writing.

Next for me came a reading with other great Latino authors at the Las Comadres/La Casa Azul Bookstore booth in the small city of vendor booths that had sprung up on the Brooklyn Borough Hall plaza. A lovely crowd gathered and grew as the reading progressed. The crowds moving among the stalls warmed my heart—so many readers and booklovers.

All too soon in midafternoon, I had to leave the festival to make the trip down the Hudson River to the Hudson Valley Writers Center, a beautiful restored train station, to give another reading with the incredibly talented Sergio Troncoso. This center is located in Sleepy Hollow, New York, one of the loveliest towns you’ll ever see.

All this whirlwind of activity was bookended by a grueling road trip from Kansas City to New York City and back. Now, all I want to do is sleep. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, though. 

Do you like to attend book festivals or writers conferences? Do you return energized or drained?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sometimes it pays to be lazy

by Maria Geraci

Yesterday, I was sitting on the couch catching up on the shows on my DVD when I decided to get something out of the freezer. Okay, I'll just get this out of the way and admit it was ice-cream. An ice-cream Snickers bar, to be exact.

So I got my ice-cream Snickers bar and put the box back in the freezer, when something horrific happened. I couldn't shut the door back again. It was stuck. Like something was in the way. Only I couldn't easily find what that something was.

Let me give you a little background on this fridge. It's old. Like 20 years old. But it still runs perfectly and with 2 kids in college I'm not replacing my fridge anytime soon unless forced.

So with my rapidly melting Snickers bar in hand and the rest of Chicago Fire to catch up on, I was faced with a dilemma: Take the time to figure out what was causing the freezer door to stick, or enjoy my ice-cream and my show.

Anyone who knows me, knows I choose Option B. Yes, I have always preferred instant gratification.
Now, I will preface this to say that I didn't have anything expensive in the freezer. No big cuts of meat or anything. As a matter of fact, probably the most valuable thing in the freezer at the time was the rest of those ice-cream Snickers bars.

So I enjoyed my ice-cream and my show and by the time I got back to the freezer some of the stuff in the bottom drawer had began to melt. I went to the garage and got the biggest trash bag I could find and began tossing stuff away, which mainly consisted of countless bags of tired looking frozen vegetables and other semi-frozen products of questionable origin. Once I had that bottom drawer cleared, a miracle happened. I was able to close my freezer drawer. Mystery solved!

But of course, I couldn't stop there. I emptied out the rest of that freezer, scrubbed it down with soap, rinsed it out and now it shines like the top of the Chrysler building. I was on a roll. So I figured why stop there?

Next, it was the oven. Yes, it's self-cleaning, but hey, someone has to push the button to start the process.

The microwave and stovetop came next.

Then my pantry.

My husband came home from work to find me in a flurry of kitchen activity. Not exactly the activity he would have preferred at that point (which would have been me cooking dinner) but hey, I now had a near spotless kitchen. With a freezer door that easily opens and shuts and lots of room for more stuff.

I'll be honest. If I had chosen Option A, I would have quickly discovered I had too much stuff in the bottom drawer, rearranged a few frozen vegetable bags, been able to close my freezer door and gone back to my cozy couch and my tv. I'd also still have a messy kitchen.

The moral of my little story? Sometimes procrastination wins the day.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How to Cut?

by Bethany Maines

On my first novel, Bulletproof Mascara, my agent strongly recommended removing a few chunks of the manuscript that she considered extraneous to just about everything. This was a complete misperception. Those chunks of writing were vitally, vitally important to the entire fabric of book. Although, to be honest, I now don’t remember what those vital chunks were, and the book is undoubtedly better off without them. At the time, however, the advice was very difficult to hear and I resisted it mightily. I also remember that as she recommended painfully amputating these important bits she would say, soothingly, sadly, sympathetically, “I know, but maybe you can use them in something else.”

I puzzled over that phrase after I hung up the phone. Something else? What could she have possibly meant? Maybe she meant that I could use that scene in a sequel? But the situations were kind of specific – they couldn’t just be transplanted. And having snipped them out and written over them, they couldn’t be flashbacks. Maybe she meant that they could be used in another story – transplant different characters into those scenes. Now, that was a completely ridiculous suggestion. Those events happened to those people. You can’t just go plopping whole new people into those events. Which, frankly, is just proof that writer’s are one step away from having diagnosable mental health disorders featuring false realities and voices of people who aren’t really there.

Eventually, I decided that what she really meant was, “However, you have to wrap your mind around this to make it ok – do it, because it’s for the greater good of the book.” Of course, the idea that someone else might have a better grasp on what my story and book should be is also a hard thing for a writer to wrap their mind around. Eventually, I did come to peace with both concepts, but I find that as I help other writers through the editing process, that I still don’t know what to tell them when I advise cutting out favorite scenes. Should I suggest that they can “use them in something else” or do I just give it to them straight – your book is better off without this scene (even though you love it and sweated over it)? For all of you writers out there, what has helped you come to terms with cutting out beloved moments?

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery series and Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I am the world's worst blogger

by: Joelle Charbonneau

Is it Tuesday?  Which Tuesday is it?  Yikes!  I forgot that I was supposed to blog today.

Sorry!  I guess this confirms what I have always believed.  That I am the WORLD'S WORST BLOGGER.

I am.  I mean, part of that is probably to be expected.  Despite my understanding of when my deadlines are for my publishers, there are a lot of days where I am not technically certain what day I'm on.  Take yesterday for example.  Yes, I knew somewhere in the back of my brain it was Monday.  After all, I had just gotten home from Bouchercon on Sunday.  So, it would only make sense that yesterday was Monday.  And yet, all day I thought I was on Tuesday.


It was just one thing that set my brain reeling.  The lawn guys.

What lawn guys you ask?

Well, the ones that come and make sure my lawn doesn't look like a sore thumb next to my neighbors.  Every day this summer they came on Tuesday.  They're scheduled to come every Tuesday and make sure the bushes are trimmed, the grass doesn't grow tall enough to hide snakes and other small critters and the flower beds are edged.  They come on Tuesday like clockwork.  Except for this week when they came yesterday.

That's all it took.  One little thing that I knew was strange and unusual and yet made my brain fast forward to Tuesday.

Am I the only one that does that?  Do you think you are on one day while the rest of the world is marching along to another?  Or is it just me?

And let's hope next week this doesn't happen.  Tuesday is the pub date for the forth and final (for now) Rebecca Robbins novel.  So, if you remember what day it is and I don't please let me know.  I'd hate to miss it!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Pedaling As Fast As I Can

This has turned into a really busy September for both halves of Evelyn David. We're all about moving households, roof repairs, new appliances, audiobooks, babies, family obligations, and when we get a spare minute – writing.

Oh, and did I mention that I can barely type with my left hand because of shoulder pain or maybe it's more like arm pain since it starts at my neck and runs around my shoulder to just below my elbow? But my fingers and wrist are fine. So probably not carpel tunnel. Another few days of wearing a heating pad and walking around smelling of Icy Hot may have me visiting my doctor. I'm sure he's going to say stop using the computer for a week and then call me. Like that's going to happen. Almost everything thing I do now is done via a computer.

I've replaced a hot water heater and a washing machine this past month. I'm not sure what else can break down but with an old house, each day is an adventure.

Did I mention that I visited the dentist two weeks ago? I have a crown that he installed a couple of months ago that is very temperature sensitive. He x-rayed it and thinks "his crown" looks perfect.  He's given me 50/50 odds on the need for a root canal. Perhaps I have a hairline crack in my tooth? Right. I'm not feeling lucky. 

Thanks for letting me vent. 

Now back to the writing. My co-author and I are writing a new Brianna Sullivan Mystery – volume 11 of the paranormal mystery series. Despite all the things that are going on in our personal lives, I think we might be writing the best Brianna yet. If you haven't read Lottawatah Fireworks (volume 10 of the series) this would be a good time. The new book, untitled at this time, brings closure to a mystery introduced in an earlier volume.
For the next two weeks the e-book version of our stand-alone mystery Zoned for Murder is on sale for 99 cents.  Don't miss this bargain. 

Note: On a happy note, new episodes of Foyle's War are airing on PBS. It's my light at the end of the week!  

aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

Evelyn David's Mysteries 

Audible    iTunes

Audible    iTunes

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Missing in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Summer Lightning in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Fireworks - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Ghosts of Lottawatah - trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
Book 1 - I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries (includes the first four Brianna e-books)
Book 2 - A Haunting in Lottawatah (includes the 5th, 6th, and 7th Brianna e-books)
Book 3 - Lottawatah Fireworks (includes the 8th, 9th, and 10th Brianna e-books)

Sullivan Investigations Mystery series
Murder Off the Books Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback 
Murder Doubles Back Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Friday, September 20, 2013

Your Dream Room

By Laura Bradford

Fellow Stiletto Gang blogger, Maggie, and I are attending Bouchercon 2013 in Albany, NY at the moment. I'd hoped to have a picture or two from the conference to share with you today, but I haven't taken any yet...

So, while trying to figure out what to write, I quickly landed on the channel that Maggie always has on whenever we room together at mystery conventions. The first time she put on HGTV, I had little interest. But before that first conference ended, I was hooked.

I absolutely adore watching people look for homes, seeing the delight on the faces of those who come home to find their home has been remodeled, etc.  Sometimes, I imagine my own house getting a surprise makeover, or being on the hunt for a new place. The possibilities are fun to think about, you know?

So I thought it might be fun to pose the following question to all of you...

If you could add a room onto your existing home/apartment, what kind of room would you want it to be? Tell us how it would look--the must-have features, the decorations, etc.

Me? I'd have my own writing room...with a fireplace...and built in bookshelves...French doors that open to a balcony (if it could overlook the ocean, even better...if not, one that opens to a pretty patio like the one pictured here would work). I'd have a beautiful desk, cozy desk chair, and an overstuffed lounge type chair over by the fireplace for reading.

Nice, huh?

Your turn.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Being Tim Tebow

by Maria Geraci

Okay, so first off, don't run. This isn't going to be a blog about football or Christianity. This  is going to be a blog about inspiration. Something I seek desperately every day to get the thousands (seemingly) of things done I need to get done in my multiple jobs as author, small business owner (because let's face it, every author today is their own business,) nurse, mother, wife, and all around everything-else-I've-promised-to-be-to-everyone-else.

 Some days, my Catholic guilt really gets to me because on most days I think I really suck at doing it all. And it's on some of those days that I sometimes just give up and think, "If I can't do it all, then I might as well not do anything at all."

Those are the days I throw in the towel and flop on the couch with a tub of ice-cream to catch up on episodes of Breaking Bad (OMG, that's another blog entirely). But this sort of pity party only leads to more feelings of inadequacy with the only benefit being that I'm really glad I'm not in the business of cooking crystal meth.

But I digress.

So recently while in the aftermath of one of those pity parties, I opened up my computer to find that Tim Tebow had been cut from the New England Patriots. No big surprise there. The guy has been floundering in the NFL. I was never a college fan of Tebow's. He was the quarterback for the Florida Gators and being that I'm a die-hard Florida State fan, he was naturally, an enemy to my state. But once Tebow graduated college and went pro I wished him nothing but luck. He seemed like a nice guy and in NFL football these days, nice guys are hard to find.

Soon after the announcement from the Patriots, dozens of sports reporters began speculating on Tebow's future. Despite the fact that he was a Heisman Trophy winner and a star quarterback who led his team to a National Championship, he had "never been" NFL material. His style of football wasn't for the NFL. He wasn't good enough to be in the pros. Team after team tried him out, only to cut him in the end. But hey, the reporters said, Tebow is still a gold mine. He could make millions in other sports, like arena football, or NASCAR (yep, I actually read an article about that) or more likely as a motivational speaker. After all, his book was a national best seller. I still remember the lines of people standing outside Barnes & Noble waiting to get their copy.

This was Tim Tebow's response to being cut by the Patriots. "I will remain in relentless pursuit of continuing my lifelong dream of being an NFL quarterback." He also included some really nice stuff about the New England organization, thanking them for the opportunity they'd given him, etc...

I have to say at first, I shook my head. "Why doesn't he just give up?" "Why doesn't he take the countless other opportunities that are flying his way?"

Because those aren't Tim Tebow's dream. He stated his dream clearly. And frankly, I have to admire the guy. There is something so powerful about seeing someone struggle to achieve something that maybe they never will, but continuing on nonetheless. I really hope Tebow doesn't succumb to the pressure to give up. I hope he knows he's inspiring a lot of people out there.

My new mantra? "I will remain in relentless pursuit of continuing my lifelong dream of being a full-time writer."

There. I said it.

Thanks, Tim Tebow. Thank you for the inspiration.

Time to get off the couch and back to the computer.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bass Ackwards

I’m about 75,000 words into what will likely be an 85,000 word manuscript.  This is the second book in the Maeve Conlon series, still untitled, and still (in my opinion) without form. I kind of know what the mystery is (I’ve already killed someone and someone else is missing) but the “why” is still missing.  I’ll get it; the book is due 10/1 and if I learned anything from college it was that I was a great-under-pressure writer.

I was discussing fellow blogger Laura Bradford’s new book with her last week and she asked me about the mystery that will be the centerpiece of her upcoming installment in her very popular Amish series.  She wanted to know if it worked before she started writing.

I was astonished.  “So, you actually plot the mystery from start to finish before you start writing?” I thought but did not say out loud, afraid her reaction would be “well, duh.”

So, you have one author almost finished with a first draft and still writing around the mystery and another who hasn’t started yet and looking to nail down the details of the mystery.

I wish I were author #2.

But I’m not.  I never have been. I’m the author who picks up the lives of her characters where she left off, figuring out what they’ve been doing every day since she last wrote about them. Every time I start a new book, I promise myself that I’ll:

1.     Create a timeline.
2.     Figure out what the mystery is before I start writing.
3.     Write 1000-2500 words per day.

As this new untitled book is the second in my new series but the tenth novel I’ve written, you would think that I’ve done at least one of the things above before I got started.

I’m sorry to say that not a one has been executed.

Sure, I create a timeline but only after I have no idea how many days have passed since the book opened.

And sometimes I figure out what the mystery is but never before at least a couple of thousand words have been written.  (I have a vague idea but nothing concrete.  I have to let my characters act out first and then I figure out what happens and why.)

And most of the time, I work at the day job while fitting my writing in around it.  That makes for some days where I can write 7500 words (it happened once; an all-time record) and long stretches where the only thing I write is “Dear Author” to a recalcitrant writer who owes me something for work.

The good news is that I know my characters inside and out.  Sometimes someone does something to surprise me but most of the time, I know what they’re going to say and how they are going to react.  That in and of itself, is comforting.

It makes for some frustrating days, this bass ackwards process, but it’s mine and I’m sticking with it.  I do envy my pal Laura, though; I wonder what it would be like to have a plan going forward.  It works so well for her; if you haven't read any of her books, read one and see for yourself.

Tell me, when it comes to writing or just life in general, are you a seat-of-the-pantser or a planner?  A recovered seat-of-the-pantser or a die-hard one?  I’d love to know.

Maggie Barbieri

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Showing Off My Cover for Spirit Shapes

Don't you love it? The artist, Ana Winson, always seems to design the perfect cover for the book.

She explained that the light wolf stands for good and the dark wolf for evil. The spirit shape in the middle is key to the story, but you'll have to read it to find out why.

Here's the blurb:

Ghost hunters stumble upon a murdered teen in a haunted house. Deputy Tempe Crabtree's investigation pulls her into a whirlwind of restless spirits, good and evil, intertwined with the past and the present, and demons and angels at war.

I had a great time writing this book and now I'm busy planning the promotion.

I've been working on a blog tour, more later, and I've set up some in-person events.

The book isn't available yet, but will be soon.


Monday, September 16, 2013


By Evelyn David

My muse has taken a hike – like in the Himalayas. I've lost my MoJo, my ability to create murder and mayhem at will. It's not that I can't think of delightful ways to kill off villains – in real life and fictionally. But it seems I have misplaced my ability to create a coherent storyline, one that won't leave readers scratching their heads and wondering what the heck happened, if anything.

In my defense, I've got lots of good reasons why the muse went missing. Real life intruded and the poor thing probably felt neglected. No attention was paid to the tiny bursts of inspiration she'd proffer. "Hey, how about a story about a neighbor who was an Elvis impersonator. Or "How about a murder victim who mumbled 'Camelot' with his last breath." But after I'd ignored enough hints about getting back to work, I suspect my muse headed off to someone else who would appreciate a clever inspiration of whodunnit. Heck, she's probably feasting at Stephen King's house right this minute – and I don't blame her a bit.

The Master of Terror understands. Stephen King once said that the "scariest moment is always just before you start [writing]. After that, things can only get better." But of course, that assumes you can start. Sue Grafton, mistress of the alphabetic mysteries, was blunt: "I carry a notebook with me everywhere. But that's only the first step. Ideas are easy. It's the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats."

And Mary Heaton Vorse, activist and journalist, was even blunter: "The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair."

So I'm putting out the welcome mat, baking some chocolate chip cookies (for the muse and me), and following the immortal advice of James Thurber: "Don't get it right, just get it written."

Break's over; time to get back to work.

Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David

Evelyn David's Mysteries 

Audible    iTunes

Audible    iTunes

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Missing in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Summer Lightning in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Fireworks - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Ghosts of Lottawatah - trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
Book 1 - I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries (includes the first four Brianna e-books)
Book 2 - A Haunting in Lottawatah (includes the 5th, 6th, and 7th Brianna e-books)
Book 3 - Lottawatah Fireworks (includes the 8th, 9th, and 10th Brianna e-books)

Sullivan Investigations Mystery series
Murder Off the Books Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback 
Murder Doubles Back Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Zoned for Murder - stand-alone mystery
Trade Paperback

Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Mindboggling Goal of Perfect Timing

 By Laura Spinella

Are you a writer who sets goals?  I know lots of writers do this: daily word count goals, drop-dead date goals, NaNoWriMo inspirational goals. Right now, I’m more about the let-me-get-to-November-without-my-head-exploding goal. I’m seven weeks out from pub date, and if you’re an author, I don’t need to say any more. But in an effort to fill this box, allow me to elaborate.
            A year ago, I had a workable mental plan for the weeks leading up to PERFECT TIMING’S pub date—NOVEMBER 5th. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t a plan. Maybe it was more like…a vision. Yes, that’s what it was, a vision. A place in my mind where book bloggers would seek me out and drive my Penguin publicist nuts in anticipation of my sophomore novel, my inbox so filled with pre-pub requests and kudos that I could barely keep up. Fine. So it wasn’t exactly a vision either—it was, maybe, more like a fantasy. As the months have moved forward, the fantasy has faded.  The reality of having to haul ass myself to keep this book afloat has sunk in. Of course, I knew this would be the case. I did as much for BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, and while the book held its own, I wasn’t foolish enough to believe that Oprah or even the local library would come a-callin’, not without some serious effort on my part.
            As early as last spring, I had this future requirement, this goal, fixed in my head. It was about that time the novel I’d started writing late last summer took flight. You know how it goes. You knead and knot words, vacillating between love and hate—scraping dead-end ideas and pitching yourself fresh ones.  Brand new people arrive, like houseguests on an extended stay, people who, quite frankly, take over your life. Like real houseguests, they also don’t cook or clean. Characters are dropped like confetti into a whirlwind of circumstance, and as the days go by you fear any readable rational outcome will require an MFA (which I don’t have), a hundred years (which I don’t have), and a decoder ring to result in a narrative that resembles a novel. In the meantime, a few million other authors, all of them your closet Facebook friends, publish brilliant books, accepting a flood of adulation with poise and grace.
Suffice it to say it was a long spring and an even longer summer.
Then, around the first of August, I started to hear time tick. That pub date was creeping closer. Yet I couldn’t fathom abandoning my new novel—I love this story way too much. So much so that I couldn’t stop to pay attention to what now seemed like the old novel. I’d go to my little critique group, and they ask for PERFECT TIMING updates. I’d look at them, squirrelly-eyed, and say, “Yeah, I know… that’s coming up soon, isn’t it?” Then I’d hand them the next installment of my shiny new novel, anxious to hear feedback. (Tell me this is not a drug) I wrote harder and raced faster, making August 31st my drop-dead date. Come Hell or high water, on that date, I’d turn my new novel over to my agent.
Well, wouldn’t you know, August 31st was a Saturday. I mean, there’s no sense in emailing your agent on a Saturday. Everybody knows that. So here we are on Friday the 13th—  September 13, which might be a fun, fate tempting, sort of day to send a manuscript on its way. But everybody knows people in publishing don’t work on Fridays. What would be the point in sending a manuscript on a Friday?  On the other hand, I know none of these excuses will prevent Monday from coming. And I swear, on Monday, it will go. At least I think it will. As far as I know Monday isn’t a national or religious holiday. Realistically, I suspect as soon as it’s gone… out of here… on its way, things will smooth out and find a proper path. I know this because the way I feel about the new book was exactly the way I once felt about a story called PERFECT TIMING.         
Laura Spinella is the author of the award-winning novel, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER and the upcoming novel, PERFECT TIMING. Visit her at

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Book Covers & Boots

by Bethany Maines

Author's Note: I will not be writing about 9/11.  I think we'll probably see enough of that elsewhere today, so I will be writing about something much more fun - book covers.

Just as it is a truth universally acknowledged that a rich bachelor must need a wife, it also known that a book cover can make or break a book. But what makes a good book cover?cThe easy answer is that a book cover should clearly state the title, author, and give a visual impression of the contents in the simplest possible manner. Easily said, but not so easily done. Capturing the tone of a book, much less a central theme, and an idea of characters or plot, in one single graphic image is incredibly difficult.

As the release date for my new collection of short stories, Tales from the City of Destiny, approaches I find myself once again fascinated by book covers. From Romance novels with their assortment of bare-chested heroes, to the illustration covered sci-fi/fantasy novels (see examples below), to Contemporary Fiction with their photo based covers of women with no heads (yes, headless woman books are a thing – check out this slideshow) each genre appears to have their own language for how to speak to their audience. And that’s what I find interesting! All of these books have targeted a specific audience.

Ask an author who their audience is and nine times out of ten we’ll fumble around and say “lots of people.” If we’re really on the ball we can probably narrow it down to half the population – ie men or women. But in all honesty, authors write for an audience of one, themselves. Perhaps, afterwards, they’ll be able to narrow it down to a more specific genre, but thinking about our work like that forces us to turn our precious creative effort into a commodity, not just in the real world, but also in our own heads. Believing in the reality of our characters is part of what makes writing fun, and without that, what’s the point? 

And there’s the dirty little secret of writing: sometimes marketing kills the fun.  Which is why it’s nice to have someone else do it for you, or at least to have a team supporting you. So to all of those authors who grit their teeth, put on their big girl boots, and go out and market their books, I salute you!  And as I reach for my own boots, here is a sneak peak at the new book cover for Tales from the City of Destiny.

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery series and Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter.