Do you like SWAG? by Paty Jager

While I enjoy writing my books more than promoting or marketing, I do enjoy coming up with items to give away as swag. S.W.AG.= Something We All Got. I had to look that up! LOL I didn’t realize it actually meant something.

Anyway, as I chortle over the definition… With the new series I needed bookmarks. My awesome daughter to has designed most of my covers and all of my bookmarks and swag, came up with this design for my Spotted Pony Casino Mystery bookmark.

And because I’m headed to Bouchercon this month and wanted items to give away during the event, she also designed these chocolate poker chips I’ll be handing out. I wanted something that said “Casino Mystery” and was lucky enough to find a promotion site that made custom chocolate poker chips.

The one on the left is fuzzy due to the setting on my camera.

For my Gabriel Hawke fans, I ordered these fun flashlights for Bouchercon last year. A conference that never happened. Good thing flashlights hold over well. 😉 Worried about transporting this on the plane, I asked a security person when we took our grandson to the airport if they would be allowed and he said, “yes.”

Over the years I’ve given away ereader covers I made, Dream catchers I’ve made, and I hand out small tote bags with purchase at the Sumpter Flea Market twice a year. The bags do help. I had one woman tell me that seeing someone carrying one of my bags reminded her she needed more of my books. I am finding out that while I’ve picked up swag over the years that didn’t move me to purchase a book, it does seem that a bit of the freebies handed out do help to sell the next book by an author.

For Bouchercon, I also made a 4″ x 6″ chap book with the first chapter from each of the first books in my mystery series and my Romantic Suspense trilogy. I’ll be handing those out during my “Speed Dating” event. I’ve made several of these over the years that I hand out at conferences. I have one that is the first book of my historical western romance series. One that is the first chapter of the first book of my trilogies or series with Native American elements. And one with the first chapters of my mystery books, like this one, only minus the new mystery series.

As an author what are some of the things you’ve given away over the years? As a reader what are some of the items you’ve received that you kept? Did that every remind you to look for a book by that author?

SINCE WRITING THIS POST BOUCHERCON HAS BEEN CANCELED. So the swag will have to wait for another conference.

MISSED WRITING OPPORTUNITIES AND WHY by Marilyn Meredith

Not too many years ago, when our chapter of Sister in Crime and many who wanted to be mystery writers and a program chair who brought in great speakers, not only did I get some great ideas for plot from them, but also was asked to write a book for them.

One would have really been fun. Our chapter went to the nearby airport and heard and viewed all about the police and sheriff’s helicopters. We heard exciting tales about what they did and arrests they’d made. One of the police pilots seemed to focus on me while he was talking. Afterwards, he came and asked if he could speak with me.

He wanted me to write a book about him and all of his exploits. He offered to take me on “fly-alongs” so I’d know what it was like to fly all over the big city and spot criminals, and sometimes actually land to arrest them. Believe me, I wanted to do it. I took his card and told him I’d get back to him.

At the time, I owned and operated a licensed home for six women with developmental disabilities. My husband and I ran it together. The big city where the police officer and his helicopter were stationed was about an hour and a half drive from my home. Though truly torn, I knew it wouldn’t be fair to my husband or the women I cared for to be away as much as giving a book like this justice—so I turned it down.

The second opportunity was when our SinC chapter had a police detective from the coast who told us all the details about a horrible murder of a teenaged girl, by three teen boys. Afterwards, he asked me if I’d co-write a true-crime book with him about this horrendous crime. Again, to do the job right, I’d have had to be away from home far too much. However, that wasn’t the real reason I turned it down. The thought of interviewing the parents of the dead girl and those of the boys was not something I wanted to do. I know all of their hearts must be broken.

And I’ll close with the one opportunity I accepted and wished I hadn’t. I accepted the job through a ghost-writing company that I’d worked with before, to write the story of a big time but supposedly reformed drug dealer. I didn’t have to meet with him in person; we did everything through email. His story was fascinating. He managed to avoid being caught while selling to some of the most influential people in a wealthy beach community in southern California, and then his change of life style when he moved to Hawaii.

We seemed to get along fine. He was happy with what I’d written until it was time for him to make his final payment. He became verbally abusive, told the company I worked for I hadn’t written anything the way he wanted. The worst of his emails came when I was at the Public Safety Writers Association’s annual conference. I sent him an email telling him where I was and who I was with: all sorts people from different law enforcement agencies from police, FBI, NSA, etc. and I planned to seek their help. That stopped him. I never heard from him again. I have no idea if he published his book—and frankly I don’t care.

I’m not quite sure why those memories popped up, but I thought you might find them interesting.

Have any of you ever turned down a writing opportunity?

Marilyn

New Year, New Chair by Paty Jager

I’m starting this year with a new desk chair and a new perspective of my writing.

The chair. My old chair would make by backside numb when I sat for any length of time in it. I tried one of those egg crate things and it didn’t seem to help either. Not that I sit for long periods of time. With two dogs who seem to think they need to go in and out of the house every twenty minutes, I get up and down plenty during the day. But by mid-afternoon, I couldn’t concentrate because of pain down there.

My new chair in the corner.

I went to a chain office products store and sat in every chair, no matter what the price. I wanted a chair that would be comfortable and I could sit back and type with out hunching over the keyboard or desk. I found the perfect chair…I thought.

It has thick padding, arm rests that fit me just right, and a little bit of a rocking motion. I like to gently rock. Especially when I’m thinking. 😉 Which I do a lot while writing a book, as we all know.

I brought the chair home and it barely fits in the area behind my desk. That’s my fault. I like to be in the corner and look out the window to the front of the house and the door into the main room of house. Which limits me of space because of 1) my husband’s desk and file cabinet. (He rarely sits at his desk. He just stores things on it…) He packs whatever he’s working out out to the nook table early in the morning and does his paperwork there.

Behind my desk looking out.

But I digressed. I love the spot where my desk sits. It makes squeezingh into the chair interesting, but once I’m there, I can put my feet up on a little stool under the desk, pull the keyboard out or set it on my lap, lean back in the chair, and type to my heart’s content. This is the most comfortable I’ve been typing a book since I started writing!

New perspective on my writing. While I tried to limit my goal on the books I plan to write this year, I also gave myself permission to not meet that goal if life intervenes. In the past if I didn’t get books out regularly, I would beat myself up and make myself miserable, pushing to get more written and put the book out there because the reader wanted it.

Now, I write the books I want to write and I still try to keep a new one in each mystery series coming out every 6 months, but I’m not as driven to make sure every genre I write has a book coming out. That was driving me insane. I’m sticking to the genre that has always called to me- Murder mystery.

I’m super excited about the Gabriel Hawke book I’m writing right now. I finally connected with someone who knows a lot about the topic in the book and feel I have enough information to make this a good solid book to help showcase a cause and epidemic that needs more attention. I’ve never considered myself an activist, but I have always been driven to write books about justice. And everyone deserves that.

Next month learn about my decision to end a series and how I hope I didn’t disappoint readers.

Guest Blogger- Reggi Allder

Hi Ladies of Mystery, thank you for having me.

I write in two different genres, suspense and contemporary romance. Years ago, I found an old romantic suspense novel in a friend’s basement and read it. I was hooked and thought what could be more exciting than combining the thrill of falling in love while wondering if you will solve a mystery and stay alive. So, I wrote my first romantic suspense, Shattered Rules. My current suspense is Dangerous Web

After spending a great deal of time with the villains in my suspense books, I needed a change of pace and decided to write a contemporary romance and so, Her Country Heart a Sierra Creek Novel was written. I now look forward to spending time in my imaginary small-town of Sierra Creek, California where strong men and determined women intersect. If you love cowboys and independent women check out Her Country Heart.

I’m a pantser rather than a plotter, though I don’t work backwards, I often know the end of a book before the beginning. Whether I’m writing a suspense or a small-town romance, I begin the first chapter even though not all the characters and the plot twist are understood. Still, I have visualized the ending, sometimes writing the last scene first.

In both my suspense and contemporary novels, the characters have difficulties to overcome. The males are strong but may be a wounded hero. The women are determined to make changes in their lives in order to manage their future. All my characters must cope with their passion as each fight to discover a hidden strength and work their way toward a lifelong goal.

My Suspense Series: Dangerous Web, coming next Dangerous Money and Dangerous Denial.

Dangerous Web

A web of intrigue brings the reader into the world of black ops, mystery, and desire.

Emma lives a quiet life. When the past returns to threaten her present, is the key to her safety the man offering protection? Does he have secrets that will put her in greater danger?

Webb lives undercover and never lets anyone get too close. However, in his current perilous situation, Emma is the only one he can trust. Still, if he accepts her aid, he might be putting her in jeopardy. Can he justify involving her? Will he be able to manage his growing desire for Emma? 5.0 out of 5 stars Amazon  A non-stop suspense from the first chapter until the end!

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XXNBDXV

Reggi studied creative writing and screen writing at University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and was a past chapter president of Romance Writers of America (RWA).

When she is not writing, she enjoys viewing romantic movies with her hubby and searching antique shops for vintage tea cups and saucers. Her dogs make sure she gets exercise by going on long walks with them.

She enjoys hearing from readers. Follow her on Bookbub, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, allauthor.com

A NEW IDEA

copy        Left Coast Crime, the conference in Phoenix, was a lot of fun. From what other attendees have told me, it always is. LCC in Portland last year was my first, and I had a great time. This time, as I told you in my last blog, I wasn’t on a panel, which was disappointing. Instead, I had half-an-hour to myself to talk about whatever I wanted, but I was the one who had to attract an audience, and that was scary. I had visions of sitting for half-an-hour alone, looking lost and unloved.

I devised a plan. First, I decided on a topic. I thought I might attract visitors if they knew what I was going to talk about. My topic, announced in the conference program, was “You’re Never Too Old.” A good friend did a poster for me, although there was nowhere to post it except inside the room.POSTER__72ppi

At the conference, I talked to everyone I knew and lots of people I didn’t know and invited them to come and see my presentation. To my dismay, I found that the rooms allocated to the single presenters were located at the very end of the meeting rooms, so it would be unlikely that I would attract a casual visitor. Someone would have to come looking for my presentation room.

I felt like a huckster, saying to everyone I met, “Remember. Come hear me 9:30 Saturday morning in Russell B.” But it worked! I got twelve or fourteen people to attend, many of whom I knew but at least four attracted by my topic. Yay!

I talked about my childhood desire to write, and the way my ego was squashed when I wasn’t accepted for the high school magazine. Although I majored in English Literature and minored in Philosophy (not good choices for a future career), I didn’t do any creative writing until many years later, when I took an interesting course which asked the participants to write an early memory in the voice of the child to whom it had occurred.

CAROLE Speaking    It was an interesting experiment and proved to be life-changing for me and for others in  the class. Many broke down in tears when they wrote a painful memory–and most were painful–in the voice and as the child to whom it happened. class.

Soon after that I joined a group of friends in reading THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron. We read a chapter a month and did the exercises. I bogged down when I was supposed to spend a week without listening to television, radio, or music or reading a book or newspapers. I couldn’t do it. A week of living in my own head was impossible.

One exercise stayed with me for a long time though. First thing every morning I wrote three pages without thinking and without stopping. The pages were garbage, and I eventually threw them out, but they were very freeing. When I was still working, at a job with long hours and a long, traffic-filled commute, I got up at 4:30 in the morning to do my “morning pages.” These experiences were part of my journey to the dream of being a writer.

A woman who came to see my presentation suggested that I carry the theme, “You’re Never Too Old,” further, inspiring other older people–and there are lots of us–to realize their dreams of writing and publishing their stories, their memories, and in my case, my mystery novels. She suggested I write a self-help book for guidance, and I think I’ll do it.