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Showing posts from 2021

The Week in Review

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As I wrote last month, I was starting a new proposal for a new book and new series. On July 5, I turned those three chapters and a synopsis in to my agent. By the end of that week, she returned them to me with edits. Early this week, I sent the corrections to her along with the other assorted material needed for her to create her query. On Tuesday, she started sending it out to our first tier of editors.   Which places me back in the position of waiting for the new round of rejections to roll in.   Now you may think I’m sounding defeatist. In truth, I’m anything but. What I am is a realist. I’m shooting for the stars with some of the publishers we’re targeting. This isn’t my first rodeo. I know the story and/or my writing won’t appeal to everyone. There’s no avoiding it. There will be rejections.   However, there are a few of those publishers that keep me crossing my fingers.   The other thing that kept me occupied this week was More Than Malice, a virtual conference or

Mental Health Day, July 2021

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Following up on my previous post, I completed the three chapters and synopsis for another new series proposal and just clicked "send" so it will be waiting in my agent's inbox when she returns to her office tomorrow.  Saturday, I took another mental health day. I can't even disguise it as a research trip. My husband and I took a day trip east to the Laurel Highlands' Amish Country.  We did a little shopping and then turned south into Maryland. We had lunch at Penn Alps and then wandered around a while. It was odd that this is a place I had visited once long ago for a quilt show, but he had never been there. Often, we think there isn't any place within a two-hour drive we haven't seen. More than once.  We thought wrong.  After a full day of seeing new sights, we came home exhausted but relaxed.  Now I'm buckling down to finish another round of revisions on the next Zoe Chambers mystery. And somewhere in the back of my mind, I'm noodling over the plo

Always Beginning, Never Ending

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Any time I've been asked to give a keynote address or inspiration talk or been asked for my advice to beginning writers, I've always said the same thing.  Finish the book.  So many aspiring novelists get a great idea and start writing. A few chapters in, they get bored or bogged down. Maybe they fall out of love with the idea and come up with a better one. They put the project aside and start a new one. A few chapters later, they encounter the same roadblock to completion.  These aspiring novelists can have several partials sitting on their computer, but they never reach THE END. And guess what. If you don't have a completed manuscript, even a crappy one, you have nothing to polish and nothing to submit to an agent or editor.  Hence, FINISH THE BOOK. Now, eleven published novels in, I've encountered the other side of the coin. As a proven author, all I need these days is a proposal. Three chapters, a synopsis, and a marketing plan.  For my first couple of proposals, I t

On the Road Again...Sort of

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The last time I traveled was to Dallas in late 2019. While I had plans for lots of trips in 2020, we all know what happened to those. I had a list of things I wanted to do and places and people I wanted to visit as soon as it was possible. Now that we're fully vaccinated, I've been checking those items off.  One of the places I longed to return to was Lake Erie and Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA. I had enough points earned for a free night in a hotel. I made my reservations. Plans started looking hinky a week ago when Hubby came down with a cold. I was on the verge of canceling, but by mid-week, he was feeling much better. He wanted to go. So I packed.  Friday, friends we were supposed to meet up with for Saturday dinner got called away on a family emergency.  Still, we went.  The weather was lovely.  There was a Hudson car show in our hotel's parking lot.  I want one.  Another friend had arranged for me to meet an Erie detective and tour the police department. Since I

Gardening

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As I write this, it's chilly and rainy outside. But for a few days AFTER the dove family moved off my porch and BEFORE the weather turned ugly, I jumped in and got some outdoor work done. We lowered the porch swing and power-washed it, the porch, and the other outdoor furniture. It looks good if I do say so myself! I also hit the greenhouse and bought some herbs and veggies...and a few flowers.  The gutters had fallen off our old horse barn. Rather than scrap them, my husband and I came up with the idea of using them for my herb garden. We spray-painted them copper and nailed them up on the framework of the side porch. I planted oregano, thyme, dill, cilantro, parsley, and two kinds of basil. I need to get more dirt to finish filling the gutter/planters, but so far, so good. In my cold frame, the lettuce is about ready to be harvested and the spinach will be ready in a few more weeks. My husband planted tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and beets in the regular garden

Empty Nester

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During a warm spell last month, I decided to get my front porch ready for outdoor living. We always load our outside furniture onto our oak porch swing up for winter storage and hoist it all up to the porch roof. When I stepped outside one spring day, a mourning dove made a dramatic exit from that stored furniture. Closer inspection revealed not only a hastily thrown-together stick nest but two eggs.  Well, crap. I couldn't very well disturb them. Even simply coming and going through our front door sent Mama screeching off the nest.  We started using the side door. Not really a hardship. It's closer to the garage anyway. And the spring weather gave way to a resurgence of winter and rain, so it wasn't like we were missing out on lovely evenings on the porch swing.  I kept an eye on the nesting mama bird, and she kept an eye on me.  The eggs hatched without my knowing, since I was trying to avoid scaring the skittish dove. Next thing I knew, there was a baby bird! But was the

Release Day!

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It's finally here.  Over the last few years, I've averaged a book release every 8 or 9 months. The time from story concept to publication has been reasonably short. My first published novel, Circle of Influence , took seven years to make it from me typing "Chapter One" to finding a publisher to hitting the bookstore shelves.  Death by Equine has languished for SIXTEEN years. I wrote it a couple of years before Zoe and Pete hatched in my brain. I signed with an agent for it. It didn't sell. The agent and I parted company. I put it aside, started, and completed Circle . Another agent expressed interest in Equine (although it was called something else back then. Even the title has been on a twisty path to publication). Zoe and Pete were shoved to the back burner while I revised Equine . Still nothing happened publication-wise. I put it away once again, found a publisher for Zoe and Pete, and never looked back. Sort of. Every so often, someone who'd read and/or

Books!

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The arrival of THE box of books--the first bulk order or the first shipment from a publisher--is always a reason for celebration.  Death by Equine is my eleventh novel, but this part of the process never gets old.  The official release date is less than a week away. If you haven't registered for my launch party, hosted by Mystery Lovers Bookshop on Zoom, you should do so now . You can order a signed or inscribed copy there while you're at it.

The Triple Crown

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For those of you who aren't familiar with horseracing, the first leg of the Triple Crown is tomorrow (Saturday, May 1). With the exception of last year, which was...after all...LAST YEAR...the Kentucky Derby is run on the first Saturday of May. It holds the distinction of being the longest-running sporting event in the United States, dating back to 1875. My personal history with the race doesn't go back quite that far. As a horse-crazy kid, I'm sure I've watched it every year since I was born, thanks to my dad, who was a sports aficionado. But my first memory of it was 1971 when a longshot by the name of Canonero II came charging from the rear of the pack to win.  Everyone thought it was a fluke. Until he repeated the feat to win the Preakness, which is the second leg of the Triple Crown and is run two weeks after the Derby. Not a lot of time for a horse to rest up between races. It had been 25 years since the world had seen one horse sweep all three races. I remember t

Party Time!

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It's almost time to celebrate the launch of Death by Equine ! The release date is sneaking up on me. May 11th! The party is being held on Zoom this time, so everyone can attend. Hosted by Mystery Lovers Bookshop , the event involves a discussion between me and my dear friend and longtime critique buddy, Donnell Ann Bell .  Donnell helped me create the earliest version of this book over a decade ago. When my first agent couldn't sell it, Donnell hounded me to do something with it. For a long time, I resisted, having moved on to my Zoe Chambers series. When the lull in the publishing action happened, and I decided to dust off, revise, and indie-publish Death by Equine , Donnell became the obvious choice to include in the launch party.  I haven't seen her interview questions yet but last I heard, she had something like FIFTEEN of them. Yes, I'm a little scared. Mostly though, I'm excited. I get to hang out with one of my dearest friends. Laughter is inevitable.  The p

Backstory

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If writing is your career, you're never really resting on your laurels. For instance, this week, I'm continuing to prep and format the print version of Death by Equine and juggle the marketing side of its impending release. I'm revising and rewriting a chunk of Fatal Reunion (the next Zoe mystery) following Sunday's meeting with my critique group. And I'm working on the first book in the new series, which my agent has out on submission.  The location of the new series "Working on" doesn't really mean "writing" at this point. Sure I have three chapters and a synopsis completed. Those are what are out on submission. I'm eager to pick up at chapter four and start putting words on the page. However, I'm not quite there yet. When I'm offering a critique on a new writer's first few chapters, nine times out of ten I find the story doesn't truly begin until page 25. Or page 30. Or page 50. Prior to that, the writer is laying out

Taking Care of Business

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Last week, I finished the second draft of Fatal Reunion AKA Zoe Chambers #11. Does that mean it's done? Oh, heck no. I have a critique group meeting this Sunday and they'll give me feedback on fifty pages of it. Next week, I'll work on their comments and make fixes as needed. But for the moment, Zoe and Pete and the gang are resting. I was supposed to teach an online writing workshop for a local library this Saturday, but it's been postponed. Happily, the reason for the postponement is the flipflop of last year's cancellations. We're putting it off until we can have the workshop IN PERSON, inside the library , later this summer. This makes me extremely happy. I love to teach, but much prefer seeing the looks of understanding or confusion on my students' faces, thereby allowing me to shift focus to keep everyone up to speed. That's nearly impossible when focusing on a shared-screen PowerPoint.  Which brings me to what my main focus is this week: Death by

2021 Pennwriters Conference

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My newsletter went out this morning. If you missed it, check your inbox. If you aren't a subscriber, you should sign up now . (There's a free short story as a gift for subscribing.) The real reason I mention the newsletter, though, is even if you did receive it, there was one topic I didn't cover. The 2021 Pennwriters Conference. There's a link to it on the Events page of my website, however.  I've long touted Pennwriters as one of the writing communities without which I'd never have been published. It's a multi-genre organization that offers networking, workshops, meetings, critique groups, and...yes... an annual conference .  This year's conference, like so many others, will be virtual. If travel, lodging, and the cost of all those meals have been your excuses for not attending in the past, here's your chance.  Check out the schedule here . I'm teaching two workshops on Friday. First is Red Herrings and the Moonwalking Bear. If the name makes y

The Return of Hope

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Last week, I experienced one of the high points of the last twelve months. Granted, I've had some wonderful things happen to me over the last year--a new agent and a new contract key among them. But last week, I got my first dose of the COVID vaccine. I broke down and wept when my husband and I received our appointment confirmations. I wanted to hug the gentleman who administered the shots. I didn't. Social distancing and all. But I thanked him profusely.  A weight has been lifted. There's a light at the end of this long dark tunnel. I have hope. Hope that I can spend time with my family soon. Hope that I can visit with friends this summer. Hope that I can travel and do in-person book events this fall.  Hope. And I hope, if you haven't already received the vaccine, you'll get it SOON. 

Continuing Adventures in Indie-Publishing: Available for Pre-Order!

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It's been a stressful week. After much procrastination, I buckled down and started the actual process of publishing Death by Equine . I confess my stress levels were off the charts. This was all new to me. I didn't know what I didn't know. Thankfully, I left myself plenty of time to allow for "bugs." And I have some amazing friends in the writing community who offered answers and advice.  My release date is May 11. My goal has been to have it up for pre-order by March 11 (TODAY), and I've met that goal. The part I hadn't anticipated is that I can only offer digital for pre-order. The print book is uploaded and ready, but when I clicked "publish," it went live! And the version of the manuscript is still in uncorrected proof stage! Ack! So I pulled the plug. At least I know it's ready to go once I complete my final proofread and make the fixes. Want to pre-order? For Kindle, click here . To order in one of the other digital platforms (Nook, App

Distractions

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I had hoped to have Death by Equine ready for publication by now. I had hoped to be able to list it available for pre-order by the first of next week. Alas, I'm running behind. My reasons (excuses) are numerous, beginning and ending with yet another round of Covid Distraction.  A year ago, when the pandemic began, I lacked focus, motivation, and creativity. Lots of us were in that boat. By autumn, I'd regained my ability and passion to write. Lately, it's once again become a struggle. Add Cabin Fever and Spring Fever to the mix and you have one frustrated author.  I have moments of eagerness and hope. A third vaccine. Lower case numbers. Maybe my husband and I will get our vaccinations sooner rather than later. Part of my brain begins to plan trips in anticipation.  Even a weekend at Lake Erie, a mere 3-hour drive, sounds amazing. But I can't let myself get too excited. Focus. I must focus.  That means continuing to run through one more round of revisions on Death by E

The Next Great Adventure

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I started writing Death by Equine back around 2005. I landed my first agent with it, but it never sold. The agent and I parted company a couple of years later.   Fast forward to last spring. I'd completed Til Death , my tenth Zoe Chambers mystery, and had reached the end of my contract. I wasn't sure what was next.  I dragged out that 15-year-old manuscript and run it through my critique group to determine if it held up and was worth revisiting. They liked it, so I decided to delve into the world of indie publishing.  I contacted a cover artist and sent the manuscript to my freelance editor. Within the last two weeks, I received the results from both.  So far, nothing has been that far from my previous experience. Yes, I had a lot more say in the cover, but I've worked with my editor for most of the Zoe mysteries and her comments came as no surprise. (What is always a surprise is how I miss all that stuff!) Going forward, though, feels like entering a strange new world. Wh

Caregivers Guilt

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If you've known me for any length of time, you probably know that the character of Harry Adams ( Lost Legacy , Uneasy Prey , Cry Wolf , Til Death ) is loosely based on my dad, who had Alzheimer's. And you might also know that my mom later was diagnosed with vascular dementia.  The topics of caregiving and especially caregiver's guilt, of which I'm well acquainted, are near and dear to my heart.  I was honored (and quite frankly, a bit terrified) to join my dear friends Bobbi and Mike Carducci on their Rodger That podcast to share my experiences with the topic. It's one of the hardest interviews I've ever done. Click here to listen. 

Coming May 2021!

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If you're one of my newsletter subscribers (who actually opens and reads them), you already know about my next book, coming May 2021. But if you aren't (or haven't), here's a little bit about it.  Death by Equine Veterinarian Jessie Cameron agrees to fill in for her mentor, Doc Lewis at Riverview Racetrack so he can take a long-overdue vacation. When he's tragically killed by one of his equine patients the night before he's supposed to leave, Jessie quickly suspects the death is anything but accidental. Her search for the truth is thwarted by everyone from well-meaning friends to the police, including her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Undaunted, she discovers layers of illegal activities and deceit being perpetrated by the man she thought of as a father figure, creating a growing list of suspects with reason to want Doc dead. Too late, she realizes that her dogged quest for the truth has put her in the crosshairs of a devious killer desperate to silence her. Permanentl

Looking Ahead...2021

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I gave up making resolutions decades ago. Those wishes that sound good on January first but that have no solid plan to accomplish. "I want to lose weight" or "I want to get published" just don't work without hard work and deadlines. Last year, I made plans and goals and...well...we all know what happened there too!  This year? I have a combination of concrete goals and hopeful plans. My goals look like a production schedule.  January - send manuscript to freelance editor, start drafting new manuscript, contact cover artist about the manuscript being edited, continue second draft of the next Zoe mystery. February - receive manuscript back from editor and begin final rounds of revisions, continue drafting new manuscript and second drafting next Zoe mystery, solidify cover art, begin putting marketing plan in place. I was going to go on, but frankly it's boring. Besides, you get the idea. Concrete goals are the things I know I can do to move the process ahead.