5th Week Frenzy

I just noticed that there are 5 weeks in May and we only have 4 weeks scheduled with our regular bloggers so…. any mystery writer so sees this, post your latest release or a book you have at a reduced price.

Please follow this format.

  1. Title
  2. Author
  3. Tagline of book
  4. Price
  5. buy link

I’ll start here to show you:

  • Fatal Fall
  • Paty Jager
  • Shandra Higheagle becomes wrapped up in another murder when the doctor is a no-show for her appointment and his elderly aunt has a fatal fall.
  • $0.99 till May 29th.
  • https://www.books2read.com/u/bQZ5d7

 

 

 

Posted in mystery | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Solving a Puzzle to Escape

Fun and something we’d never heard of before.

On a recent trip to visit our eldest daughter and family, she arranged for us to visit, Get a Clue, an escape room in Temecula.

Everyone said, “Oh, Mom will be good at this being a mystery writer.” I certainly hope I would and I started out great guns. We had one hour to solve the puzzle. I immediately found several pieces to a large cardboard puzzle, and spotted what I thought were clues.

The other rushed around doing other things. There was a great variety of objects that could be clues, or maybe not. I won’t tell much more in case you have the opportunity to go to this one. What I will tell you was that I wasn’t nearly as smart as I thought I was. The younger brains did much better than hubby and I.

We had one hour to solve the puzzle–and we went one minute over.  We also had extra help from the owner of the Get a Clue. Despite not finishing in time. we had lots of fun.

If you love mysteries, especially the puzzle kinds, try one of these escape rooms, they are popping up all over. If you are in Temecula, try Get a Clue with a few of your friends.

In the photo left to right, is middle daughter Lisa (our faithful driver), me, eldest daughter, Dana, Mike, Dana’s hubby, and Hap, my hubby.

 

Escape Room 2017

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Did You Like It?

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If you follow many authors on social media or through their newsletters, then you’ve probably seen a request for readers to post reviews. These days, for whatever reason, reviews are king!

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It’s not a new concept. Even before the internet (remember that time?), I valued getting opinions from friends or family about books, movies, new exhibitions, whatever form of entertainment I might be considering. Who wouldn’t want to know if an experience would be worth the time and money you put into it?

These days, those reviews tend to come from anonymous strangers. The concept is the same, the implementation is quite different.

Does it matter if you’re taking the advice of a stranger as opposed to someone you know? Yes, I believe it does.

StarTrek Review Meme

I had an uplifting conversation yesterday with someone who is a fan of my books. She told me how much she enjoyed the level of detail I included — just enough to paint a picture, to draw her into the story. She related on a personal level to my characters and couldn’t wait to find out what happened to them in future books. You won’t be surprised to hear, I enjoyed getting her comments!

But I couldn’t help but remember, even as she spoke, that just that day I’d noticed a negative review posted to one of my books on Amazon. The reviewer found the characters to be flat. The level of description slowed the story down. Hmph.

Two different readers. The same details. Two completely different reviews. Reading, like so many other things, is subjective. What works for one reader will fail for another.

There’s not much we as writers can do about that. We write the books we want to read. We write the books we think readers will enjoy. Then we sit back and take the lumps with the praise.

Review Meme

None of which changes that fact that reviews are — still — king. A growing number of marketing opportunities are limited to books with X number of reviews or a certain rating level. So we writers keep asking our readers to post reviews! Share your thoughts! One sentence or a few paragraphs! Good or bad, every review helps!

Then we step back, grit our teeth, and get ready to take our lumps.

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To learn more about Jane Gorman and the Adam Kaminski mystery series — and to leave a review — visit her website at JaneGorman.com, her Amazon page or follow her on Goodreads, Facebook , Instagram and Bookbub.

A Blind Eye, the first book in the Adam Kaminski mystery series, is now on sale for 99 cents.

Posted in Jane Gorman, mystery | 1 Comment

Christmas is Coming

by Janis Patterson

For once I’m way ahead of a deadline. It’s a situation that doesn’t happen very often, and I’m going to enjoy every bit of it!

A couple of months ago a couple of mystery writer friends and I were having lunch and somehow the subject of holiday anthologies came up. They seem to be a popular genre and – as all of us are always interested in upping our sales – the idea of us doing a Christmas anthology of murder mystery stories appeared (sorry, gang – I don’t remember whose idea it originally was) and everyone loved it.

My mind – like most writer’s – is a strange and fearsome place. Immediately a story began forming in the swirling and dangerous depths of my imagination and in spite of a looming book deadline, a much-looked-forward-to and lengthy trip to Atlanta to the NRA convention coming up and a vicious case of food poisoning (the worst I’ve ever had) I started writing immediately, much to the detriment of my current work in progress. Some stories just need to be told immediately.

Christmas is supposed to be such a happy time of family and presents and religious devotion, but it seems like I remember reading somewhere that more people commit suicide at Christmas than any other time of the year, which is horrifically sad. Even though I can’t call up the statistics, it seems I also remember there is always a jump in murders and assaults during the holidays as well – which is sad too, but it makes the season a natural for tales of murder and dark deeds.

I have always believed that stories should be just as long as they need be to tell the story. Our group had decided on novellas rather than full novels, and as novellas go, mine is short – truly a novelette (does anyone use that term any more?) at just over 15,000 words. But the story is a very small slice of time and a very concentrated tale with a sparse cast of characters, so that’s all it needed. I could of course pad the word count, but that would dilute the story.
The story? It’s a delicious mix of a family Christmas in a snowbound mansion and a horrible relative who is found dead on Christmas morning. He has been stabbed… and garroted… and poisoned. I have always believed in overkill. The title is, appropriately enough, KILLING HARVEY.

Anyway, the story was finished before we left for the NRA convention – for which I’m glad, as the convention gave me so much information and so many story ideas that my head is about to explode.

If all goes as planned, our anthology should be for sale online sometime mid to late November. If the project falls apart, I’ll release the story by myself. So – be warned : either way KILLING HARVEY will be available, so please plan to buy lots of copies. It will be the perfect virtual stocking-stuffer.

Now as my original deadline approaches with the speed and grace of a runaway train, I must get back to my work in process.

Posted in Janis Patterson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Fingerprinting by Paty Jager

canstockphoto17652788My current work in progress has been interesting and fun. I’ve had numerous conversations with forensic and law enforcement employees about fingerprints.

While the fingerprints on an object doesn’t help find the killer in my book, the illusion they are important draws the reader into a speculation of what-if and hopefully lets an important piece of the puzzle become a throw-away thought.

What I discovered while asking questions about how fingerprints are stored and who might have access to the fingerprints came from a variety of people and, not surprisingly, they all had a bit different take on it all.  Which led me to believe, I could do what I wanted in discovering who had their hands on the weapon. 😉

When I looked up fingerprinting, I discovered there are many jobs where fingerprints are required.  Medical, educational, and of course law enforcement. But also, companies that contract government work.

What I wanted to know dealt with my medical examiner, a local doctor given the honorary title and honor of pronouncing people dead, and a person who came from another country but had gained U.S. citizenship thirty years ago. Would they have fingerprints in “the system”? The answers were varied on the M.E.. Yes, most would have had their prints taken, but they wouldn’t be held in a local police database or AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System). They also said my new citizen would not have had fingerprints taken unless arrested or had a job that required it, and they would only be in the system if arrested.

So millions of people have their prints taken for jobs. What happens to those prints?

According to the law enforcement people I contacted, the employees either send the prints to a local print collection business or they are sent to AFIS. If the prints come up clean, the ten-print cards are then either put in the employees file or trashed. They don’t go into a national system.

So, if you haven’t done a crime and you are fingerprinted, you have nothing to worry about. And your prints shouldn’t wind up in any databases. But what if you had a crooked person running one of the databases, and they did keep your prints to use when committing crimes????

That just may be another book!

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photo source: © Can Stock Photo / peshkova

 

Posted in mystery, Paty Jager | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

When a book festival isn’t so festive

The fact that the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is America’s largest literary event doesn’t necessarily make it the best.

Each year my Sisters in Crime chapter rents a festival booth where members can sell their books. I hadn’t gone in past years because I don’t drive in L.A.’s notorious bumper-to-bumper freeway traffic, but this year the Friends of the Moorpark Library chartered a bus for anyone wanted to ride to the event. Since I could travel stress-free to the USC campus, the site of the event, I signed up.

The bus dropped us off at the festival entrance, thus sparing us a long hike from the distant (and pricey) parking garages. The “booths” were white tents with the vendor’s name and the booth number professionally printed on the tent flap, making identification easy. Most of the booths were set up along a walkway running the length of the campus from north to south. Other booths branched off along east and west walkways, some easier to find than others. Since the campus lacked a large central grassy area for staging such events, the booths were spread out so much that one needed to walk a lot.

And walk I did, in 90-plus-degree temps and bright, blinding sunlight. My bus arrived at 10 a.m. and by noon I was sweaty and tired and I’d only seen half of the booths. Had the festival been set indoors in air-conditioned comfort, I would have fared better; I don’t function well in heat.

The vendor selection was disappointing. Most of the booths contained self-pub authors with works of dubious quality, gritty/underground niche publishers or local indie bookstores. Other vendors hawked publishing (vanity presses) or editorial services.

Some of the better companies specialized in comics or children’s books—I got a kick out of the reissues of the Little Golden Books for kids. Besides Sisters in Crime, several other organizations were present for horror, romance and mystery writers as well as small presses.

Several booths promoted Islam; New Age groups and Atheists United were present. But in the second largest city in American, not one booth represented Jewish or Christian publishers or bookstores. Go figure.

I wanted to check out the old and antiquarian books, but to do so I had to enter a stifling hot booth and move along aisles only wide enough for one person. Since I was toting a heavy shoulder bag (I didn’t know what I’d need, so I packed everything), squeezing through narrow aisles and dodging other people didn’t seem doable.

At least the Vromans (a large indie bookstore in Pasadena) booth had a fan, which made browsing enjoyable. Barnes & Noble was not present.

Due to the size of the tents, inventory was limited and I found little of interest.

A number of booths had pushy vendors who unloaded a sales pitch on any passer-by. I stopped making eye contact with dealers and avoided getting close to the booths.

The L.A. Times booth had some nice umbrellas that would have been helpful on the hot day. As I approached a woman staffer asked if I had a subscription the Times. When I said I subscribed to the L.A. Daily News, she spouted off on a loud, angry rampage. I walked away without an umbrella or a subscription.

One bright spot was the free health screenings offered by the USC School of Pharmacy. The young students were professional, competent and friendly, with no wait time for services.

My book signing lasted one hour and was uneventful (euphemism for no sales). L.A. is not a cozy mystery town. Many strolled by, but only a handful stopped by the booth and most of those people were friends of the other authors present.

When my time was up, I took my unsold books with me. My suitcase had wheels but it was still heavy and a bother to lug around, especially since I was trying to worm my way through the crowd. Now I know how a salmon feels swimming upstream.

Finding a place for lunch was challenging. I avoided the high-priced campus restaurant with a 30- to 40-minute wait time. After hoofing to the edge of the campus, I found a tiny coffee shop with no salads left and only two choices of sandwiches. Lunch was an $8 turkey pesto pre-made sandwich wrapped in cellophane. At least the building was air conditioned. 

 Later I discovered the campus also had a food court and some food trucks for the day. Where were they? I couldn’t find them on the map or by sight.

As for the restrooms: I could have used the restrooms inside the buildings, if I didn’t mind standing in line for 20 minutes. I settled on the Porta Potties with no wait time. In a pinch I can rough it.

I didn’t go to the panel discussions since I didn’t know the writers and from the titles of the talks, most of the panels seemed to have far-left bias.

 I saw few people carrying or buying books. Apparently most people came to the festival because admission was free and it was a “big event” and “something to do” on a sunny weekend. Or maybe they just came to listen to the outdoor band concerts or shop at the campus store. I didn’t feel much of a literary vibe or maybe I was just too hot and tired to notice.

 Will I go to the LATFOB next year? Probably not. But I did meet some nice people on the bus, and I got a nifty orange festival tote bag for free.

 

Posted in mystery, Sally Carpenter | 2 Comments

The Dunning-Kruger Effect and Writing

You may have heard of this phenomenon, but if you haven’t, here’s the short version: studies by Dunning and Kruger found that competence and confidence don’t always go together. Being a professor, I’ll give an academic example. Students who have the least knowledge of a subject often think they did best on the exam. They lack the foundation from which to question themselves and are amazed when they get Fs. Students who understand more of the material tend to be critical of their performance, in part because they assume others worked as hard as they did. Also, they know enough to know they aren’t perfect. Their sighs of relief when they get As and Bs are sincere. They had doubts. Confidence goes back up when students have real mastery, but not as high as the confidence of the truly ignorant.

What does this have to do with writing? I don’t know about you, but I had no idea how bad the first novel I wrote was at the time I finished it. The theme and the setting still speak to me, and the characters have potential. The writing, however, makes me cringe. I know enough to recognize its faults now and am glad I didn’t inflict it on anyone. Salvaging it would be more work than it’s worth.

Having reached competence but not genius, I’m now in the dip in the confidence curve. I’m stunned that my critique partners haven’t suggested major changes in my work in progress. They noticed places where I could improve it, of course, but I expected they would find problems in the plot, and they didn’t. They said the mystery works. Maybe it flowed well because it started with material I cut from an early draft of the book before it, Ghost Sickness, and because it deals with themes I care about: ethics, spirituality, health and illness, and the exploitation of desperate people.

Nonetheless, before sending it to the next set of readers, I’m going through it to see where it could tighten up further now that I’ve been away from it for a couple of months, drafting the book that follows. So far, I’ve kept myself from acting on the urges of the little demon in my head that’s telling me I should rearrange huge chunks and cut others. I can think of important scenes I almost cut from two other books, scenes which turned out to resonate deeply with readers, so I’m not giving in to the demon, but I wonder if I’ll be relieved or alarmed if the next set of critiques don’t tell me to tear it apart and start over.

Over the Easter weekend, I did my first ever book signing event. After ten years onstage acting and then twenty-odd years as a college professor, I didn’t have jitters about either the reading or the question-and-answer session. It was informal and enjoyable. I sold a few books and got feedback that I should narrate my own audio books, so I trust that my perception of success is not a Dunning-Kruger effect. I plan to try reading the WIP aloud after I complete the current round of revisions and see if it feels alive and ready for an audience. I’ve never done that as part of my self-editing process, but it may be exactly what I need. The actor in me may notice pacing and energy in ways the silent reader doesn’t. If I hear it and cringe as if it were that old first manuscript, I’ll know I have more work to do. If it plays, then it’s ready for the next beta readers, and I’m ready for whatever they tell me. The challenging thing about the Dunning-Kruger effect is that when it applies to us, we can’t tell. One of many reasons I can’t live without my betas.

Posted in Amber Foxx | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments