Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Finding My Way to the Right Side of the Blanket

One of the wishes of many indie authors (myself included, if I'm going to be honest and quit trying to be funny) is to be taken seriously. Most authors work hard at improving their craft -- regardless of how we choose to publish. We want to give our reader our best -- stories they'll remember, characters they'll love and a world they can get lost in until the final page is read.

And, we want to be recognized for our efforts. We want to be seen as "legitimate."

Readers help us out by looking for more of our books, writing reviews and telling their friends.

But, often times the degrees of separation are such that reaching new readers and convincing them your work is worthy is like whistling in the wind.

Yes, there are contest to enter, and we authors flock to these -- not just for the accolades, but so we have another opportunity to stand out from the ever-increasing crowd of published works and catch the eyes of new readers.

None of this is easy. If you're an author you know all about the degree of difficulty. Hey, even the Russian judge would give us all 10s for the effort we put into marketing.

So, when something comes along that helps in our quest to find readers AND to have that stamp of Legitimacy I, for one, am all over it. I submit, wait and pray to the god of book marketing. I also make sacrifices, but we won't get into that......

And, guess what?

I can now proudly display the seal at the top of my anywhere I choose (I'm thinking of even having it embroidered on a baseball cap) -- except, apparently, the body of this blog because of some weird software issue.

Both Death by a Dark Horse and BushWhacked have been accepted into the Library Journal's curated SELF-e collection! That means both books are featured selections and will be shared with libraries all over the country. Talk about a long reach! I am delighted, no, jazzed beyond belief to have this opportunity to reach new readers. Many many thanks are due to the wonderful folks at Library Journal who have recognized that indie authors have worthy books to share and deserve readership.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Not at my Usual Haunt ...

If you're looking for me -- and you should be -- get yourself over to MISTERISTAS. 

It seems I've seen a ghost!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Great News!

EPIC -- the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition -- has notified me that SHOOTING TO KILL is a finalist in the 2015 EPIC Awards Mystery category! You can see the list of finalists in all categories here.

I am thrilled, which is no surprise, since the award is prestigious and being a finalist is, well, pretty darned cool!

Winners will be announced at EPICon in San Antonio, Texas, on Saturday, March 14, 2015. Wish I could attend. Maybe I'll dress up and have a glass of champagne at home to toast all the finalists and winners!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Free! FREE! Yes, Free!

The e-book edition of Death by a Dark Horse is FREE! 
That's right, the first book in the Thea Campbell Mystery Series is ...

And, on EVERY e-book platform; Nook, iBooks, KoboBooks, Smashwords, Kindle and the rest (if you can't find it on your favorite site, check out Smashwords -- they'll have the perfect fit for you).

And don't worry -- this is NOT a limited time offer. Tell your mystery-loving friends!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Hey! Where are we?

Setting. That Place where the book sends you, where -- if the author is fortunate and talented -- you want to stay. It's vivid and evocative and necessary to the story.

If you're a writer, one of the things you learn is how to create a setting that serves as a vehicle for visual and emotional impact, that helps define characters, that subtly influences the opinion of the reader.

If you're a reader, stick with me. This isn't just about writerly tips, but about how understand a bit more of what the writer does can add to your enjoyment of their work.

When author Joyce Yarrow talks about setting, she talks about the "Place of Place." It has been inspirational to her body of work. She bought a ticket and followed her P.I. protagonist from New York to Moscow, and from that experience populated her novel Russian Reckoning with fascinating characters as well as evocative surroundings. 

Author Jeanne Matthew as purchased several tickets -- from Austrailia to Norway to Greece and more -- and used the knowledge she gained to give purpose and depth to all her characters, not just her cultural anthropologist protagonist.

Kait Carson stays closer to home with her Florida-based novels, using setting as a character that can turn from benign and beckoning to dangerous. Her characters must learn to cope.

Author Lisa Stowe pulls the setting even closer -- within the confines of a valley in the mountains of Idaho -- to build tension and danger while showing the reader the worth of her characters. 

These authors (click on their names to find out more about them and their work) all make setting do "double duty" by being a character in and of itself, by showing aspects of their characters that make them more real to the reader, and to influence the opinion of the reader. 

Yes, we're a sneaky lot. We use sight, sound, touch and smell to access the reader's emotional triggers and draw them to a character or push them away. Dialog and action can sometimes be too obvious or overused.

So, how do we do it? I'll tell you my process. The authors above aren't much different -- I know because I've talked to them all about this very subject. 

I start with each scene and ask myself what it should accomplish. Are the characters in that scene brave, bored, excited, in love, frightened? A combination? Are the words coming out of their mouths truth? When I can answer that question for each character, I can then decide how to let the reader know. Their reactions to their environment can help me do that. When Thea walks into the cavernous archives at the Burke Museum (Levels of Deception), we learn a lot about her by her overwhelmed reaction and then resolve to figure out how to accomplish her task. Oh, and by the way, the reader has also been handed a gift: the scene is a foreshadowing the nature of the conflict yet to come and how Thea will tackle it. Cool, huh?

I can also use setting to show a character's comfort or discomfort level. Every time Thea goes to the barn and methodically goes through her riding routine we are reminded of how she reestablishes her own sanity. Paul Hudson feels at home getting his hands dirty on a paleontology dig. One wouldn't expect him to be comfortable in a billionaire's home. However, when we see him there we also see how he's comfortable enough in his own skin to not be overly impressed or be swayed from his goal. Good for him. We like him for that!

A character's "world view" is going to be reflected by their interaction with setting. Someone whose work, traditions and habits center around, for example, roaming the city streets in the week hours is going to have very different observations and feelings than a character whose work and habits have him frequenting the servant's domain in Downton Abbey -- even if they are both up to no good. 

Setting can show us a character's strengths and weaknesses, comfort and discomfort, motive, desires ... all without a single "tell". If you're a writer, make setting work for you. As a reader, you can smile when you catch the author being clever. A good writer won't mention anything that doesn't have a purpose. Setting is one of those things.

I highly encourage everyone, be you reader or both reader and writer, to check out the authors I've mentioned. They are talented women with wonderful stories, all there for your enjoyment. Catch them at being clever!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Kudos for Saving the Queen of Diamonds!

 Indie Book Of The Day has awarded my sixth Thea Campbell Mystery it's top prize for November 7, 2014! I'm thrilled, and seriously wasn't expecting it. It's especially good news because it means all of the Thea Campbell Mysteries will be reaching a wider audience -- and that's the real goal of every author, reaching readers who will enjoy their work.

Indie Book of the Day website is an excellent place to look for new books to read. They have a "Past Winners" list that can help you pick some more excellent books!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Meet My Character -- Blog Tour

I've been asked by author Kate Wyland, who writes wonderful romantic suspense novels, to participate in the "Meet My Character Blog Tour". You should pop over to her blog -- when you're done here, of course -- and see what she has to say about one of the characters she writes about. However, since you're here, allow me to introduce you to Thea Campbell, the protagonist in my mystery series.

1. What is the name of your character?
Thea Campbell ... unless you're her mother. Then her name is Theodora Bernadette Campbell. Big name for a little person.

2.Is she a fictional or historic person?
Totally fictional -- I swear.

3. When and where is the story set?
The setting is not fictional. It's present-day, in the real-life town of Snohomish, Washington -- at least in most of the books. Thea also will find herself in Montana, Issaquah, WA, and Seattle.

4.What should we know about her?
She's 29 when the series begins and single, owns her own accounting business that she operates out of her small Craftsman style house, and owns a horse she rides dressage. Her younger sister Juliet lives in town, too, as do her great aunt and uncle. Her sister is a bit of a wild-child, so Thea feels responsible for her (not an easy thing). Her aunt and uncle are transplanted Brits, and lend support to both the young women when trouble comes their way -- and her uncle (a former Olympic dressage rider for Great Britain) coaches Thea in dressage. I probably should mention, too, that Thea's horse seems to have a psychic connection with her.

5. What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?
In the first book, Death By A Dark Horse, Thea's horse is stolen and the thief is found murdered. The supposed thief also happens to be Thea's uncle's start student and Thea is suspected of offing the young woman. 

6. What is the personal goal of the character?
Thea believes she has her life all planned out. She likes her nice predictable life. A lot. She throws her energy into clearing herself of suspicion of murder. In the process more pieces of her life start to shift and fall out of her control, including her love life. Sure, she has a boyfriend ... a nice, safe (is he really?) attorney who doesn't inspire her. She doesn't expect to be blindsided by a paleontology professor with intense blue eyes and a tendency to wade into the middle of trouble.

7. What are the other books in the series?
Death By a Dark Horse is the first. In order are ...
Levels of Deception
An Error in Judgment
Shooting to Kill
Saving the Queen of Diamonds
and ... brand new, not a mystery, but a romantic comedy ... Carried Away

Next week look for Kait Carson, who writes mysteries set in the hot tropics of Florida, and Lisa Stowe whose mysteries are set in the beautiful but dangerous mountains of Idaho.