Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Take a trip back in time ...


My latest story is a bit of a departure for me as it's a police procedural. I hope you'll give it a try.

Off-script-medOFF SCRIPT:  It’s 1979. Before cell phones. Before computers. Before the World Wide Web. LA Detectives Robbie Howard and Danny Wallace solve crimes the old fashioned way, by relentless legwork. Multiple deaths on the lot of a movie studio look like your average murder-suicide. At least that’s what someone wants everyone to think. It takes dogged determination for Howard and Wallace to write off a Hollywood killer.

Available for:
Kindle | Kindle Worldwide
iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Smashwords

If you like it, I hope you'll consider reviewing OFF SCRIPT on your favorite online review site (or two)!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Cupcakes for everybody!

Hey, today is my character--Jeff Resnick's--birthday. I've written twice about his birthday, and neither day was happy for him. So today I'm wishing him a happy birthday with his family, his girlfriend, Maggie, and a big slice of cake (or at least a couple of cupcakes).

Happy Birthday, Jeff

Monday, May 16, 2016

Change of address, anyone?

My last several day jobs revolved around numbers. Be they catalog numbers or numbers used internally to track vendor MSDS (material safety data sheets). To other people, it was the most boring job in the world, but I didn't mind it. Mostly because I only had to use part of my brain on the job and could use the rest of it plotting stories.

I guess I'm good at that kind of data collection because I still do it--only now I do it for not only me, but the Cozy Chicks, Ellery Adams, Leann Sweeney, and Mary Kennedy. (No paycheck involved, darn it.)

I handle both snail mail and email.  Holy cow, you wouldn't believe how often people move or change their email addresses and forget to tell us. It gets a little pricey when scores of emails bounce and when hundreds of postcards get returned as "return to sender" or "not deliverable as addressed."

In fact, that just happened this week. It was startling to see how much mail came back with and without forwarding addresses--but mostly without.

But surely I could find these people on Facebook to ask them if they've moved, right?

Not exactly. Even if you think you have a unique name -- chances are there are at least 20-30 people with the exact same name.  (Last time I looked, there were at least twenty Lorraine Bartletts.)

Another problem? If you message people you aren't somehow connected with (say friends, or friends of friends), your message goes into a mailbox that most people don't know about. (The fact that they keep changing the name of it might be part of the problem.)  I know about mine, and do I ever think to look? Nope. Also, if you message too many people you don't know, Facebook will suspend you. I was once locked out for three weeks because I couldn't identify pictures of my friends.  Since I have over 3,000 friends, it's not surprising I don't recognize everyone by their faces ... or a picture of their cat, dog, child, or grandchild.

 I've put together a list of names of people whose addresses have changed and we have no idea how to find you. After our next newsletter, I'll put together a list of people whose email addresses have bounced (or are deliverable).

So, are you, or someone you know, on the list?  You can check it here.

(P.S. This is a private page and only available by the above link.)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Your taste buds will love this!

Back in March, one of my readers posted a video blog (vlog) talking about making fried rice. I knew back then that I would HAVE to make the "recipe" for myself some-when soon. But first I had to have the main ingredients on hand to do it.

Well, that happened this week. Mr. L and I bought a very nice pork roast last week, but we knew we couldn't eat it right away, so off to the freezer it did go.

We come from families who used to have a big Sunday dinners, so we waited it for Sunday and roasted it. But since I knew we'd have a TON of leftovers,and I remembered Loremil's fried rice recipe, I decided to make a big pot of basmati rice the same day. You see, fried rice "comes good" when the rice has been made the day before.

So, I tossed a cup of rice into two cups of water, brought it to a roiling boil, and let it sit there for three full minutes. Then I turned off the burner, covered the pot, and let it sit for about 45 minutes.  (You don't even need to let it sit that long--30 minutes usually does it, but I had other stuff to do.)

Once the rice cooled a bit, I put it in the fridge and forgot about it ... until the next day.

Loremil’s Fried Rice
1 cup basmati rice, cooked and set aside for a day
3 eggs, beaten well
Vegetable oil
1 large carrot, diced (optional)
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Steak seasoning or garlic-pepper seasoning
White pepper (optional)
½ cup diced ham or pork
1½-2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup frozen peas (peas and carrot, or mixed vegetables)

Put day-old cooked (basmati) rice in a big mixing bowl and break up. (Wet your hands before breaking it up or use a spoon.)

Whisk the eggs and cook them in a fry pan with a little vegetable oil. Season with the garlic salt, steak seasoning, and white pepper.  When the eggs are half done, turn them over.  When thoroughly cooked, cut up into strips or snip with cooking shears.

In another fry pan, add a little vegetable oil and brown the pork or ham until crispy.  Add the carrots, onions, and garlic. Stir, but don’t let them burn. Add seasoning to taste. Let the vegetables cook until the onions are translucent but still a little hard.

Add the rice and more seasoning to taste.

Combine the rice, the vegetables, and the eggs. Add the soy sauce.  Add the frozen peas and stir.

Lower the heat.  Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes. Then raise temp to med-high for 5-6 minutes to brown and crisp everything up.

Serve as a main or side dish.

I must admit, this was the BEST fried rice I've ever eaten in my life (and I've eaten a lot), and I think it was because I may have put a tad more garlic in it than most restaurants use.

Okay, it's a little fussy to make, but the results will be well worth it.

If you'd like to see Loremil make this dish, just click this link to see her video.

What's your favorite "ethnic" recipe?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The best big sister

Angelica -- love her or hate her, she's here to stay.

Who?  Angelica Miles from the Booktown Mysteries.

When I started the first book, Murder is Binding, I had no idea Angelica was going to show up and be a perpetual thorn in her sister Tricia's side from then on.  I thought I had an idea of who Tricia would be, but Angelica continues to not only surprise Tricia, but me, too!

The Miles sisters carry a LOT of baggage.  They come across and two pretty straight forward people (except for the fact Tricia seems to stumble over a lot of dead bodies while running her vintage mystery store, Haven't Got a Clue).  The issues started and seemed to be on the way to being solved, but then more kept popping up.

Like the secret life Angelica led for many years.  The things she'd kept from not only Tricia, but other members of their family.

Tricia always thought of her sister as a bullying narcissist. But that wasn't true at all, and with every book, Tricia's awe in the things her sister can do continues to grow. You see, she always thought she was the "good" sister. These days, she's not so sure.

One of my favorite aspects of Angelica's personality is her love of cooking. She's changed my life. You see, before I started writing the Booktown books, I didn't like to cook. Tricia and I seemed to have a lot in common.  Then my editor asked for recipes. Uh-oh!

Let Angelica loose in the kitchen and suddenly she's cooking for friends and family. He desire to feed the world grew to the extent that she felt the need to open a restaurant. But she didn't want it to eat up her whole life -- so Booked for Lunch only serves ... lunch!  But even that wasn't enough.  She wanted to become a cookbook author.  She worked hard and voila! She became a nationally bestselling cookbook author. (All the recipes in all the booktown books are available on my website. You can find one from every book here.)

Now, like Angelica, I find myself chopping carrots, onions ... whatever, and enjoying myself. Something I never had the patience for has suddenly become fun. And I'm cooking from scratch.  Yesterday Mr. L and I decided what kind of cake he would like for his upcoming birthday. He said, "you can buy a spice cake mix."  I don't think so.

Sometimes when I'm in a fix, I say to myself, "What would Angelica do?" (She's really much, much smarter than me. Well, than just about everyone.) She's got a big ego, but she's also got the biggest heart. t's never more apparent than in the next Booktown Mystery, Title Wave.

Tricia and Angelica leave Booktown behind for some much needed R&R. Naturally they choose a Mystery Lovers cruise, where they can ponder whodunnit in deck chairs while sipping colorful drinks and soaking up some rays. But the fun is cut short when a fellow passenger is murdered for real. Is the killer a famous mystery author, one of her fans, or a member of the ship’s crew? As Tricia tries to find the killer before they reach port, she may be cruising for a bruising...

It comes out on June 14th in hardcover, ebook, and on audio, and is available for preorder now.  Click here for links.

What would you like to see Angelica do next?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Look out, Telenia: Amanda Shelton is on the loose!

I'm a mystery writer.  I write mysteries ... except when I don't.

I've also written sweet romance, women's fiction, and sorta kinda action/adventure/fantasy. The latter would be my Tales of Telenia series.

This week I'm happy to relaunch the series, which has been on hiatus for several years. I kept putting off writing the third book because, let's face it--the first two weren't doing all that well. Why? Is it because they're bad books? I don't think so--and apparently neither do the (extremely) small but vocal audience begging me to write the next book. So it's a series in search of an audience. (And if you can help me find it, I would be truly grateful.)

As part of the releaunch, I decided to get new covers. I also decided that the name of the first book wasn't exactly helping sales. Threshold? What did that mean? To me, it meant that crash-landing on a gray and orange rock known as Telenia meant that my heroine, Amanda Shelton, was on the threshold of a new life.  But after talking to my "focus group," I thought STRANDED was a better title (and hope you do, too).

They new covers are up with all the ebook online distributors. Next up, changing the print and audio covers. (For audio, we have to re-record the opening and closing on Stranded. And if you haven't heard Steven Barnett's wonderful performance of Stranded and Journey, you're missing out on something good!)

You can find out about all the books by checking out my website.  Click here.

And even if you don't like adventure-fantasy -- please try the sample chapters available on all the ebook retailer sites. You just might like Amanda!

Friday, May 6, 2016

When I want to lose weight -- I eat this for lunch

For many years I practically bragged that I didn't like to cook. I'm rather impatient and cooking takes time.  I did like to bake, but cooking?  Not so much.
And then my father passed away and my mother stopped cooking for herself.  She would eat a microwaved poached egg and toast, or heat up a frozen fish fillet in the toaster oven, and that was about all. It was up to my brother and me to make sure she was eating something with nutrition. It turns out that my brother is a pretty darn good cook. I needed to step up to the plate.

Something my Mum liked was egg drop soup from the Chinese take-away around the corner. I shudder when I think of that container of greasy goop that passed for egg drop soup. I needed to find a healthier recipe.  The one I now use takes about five minutes to make and is practically fat-free. (The time sink is getting the chicken stock up to a boil.)
4 cups chicken broth or stock
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
salt, to taste 
2 green onions, (spring onions, scallions) green parts only, thinly sliced

In a saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the sugar, salt, and the rice wine or dry sherry if using. Cook for about another minute. Remove from the heat. Gradually stir in the egg white, stirring in one direction only. Chopsticks work well for this if you have them. Garnish with the green onion and serve.

Yield: 2-4 servings
I make this for lunch several times a month. It's very low in calorie (I don't even put the sugar in it--instead using more of the rice vinegar).

Do you have a fast, easy recipe you use on a regular basis?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Welcome to Stoneham, NH

Stoneham, NH is the setting for my Booktown Mysteries. It's a very pretty little village very close to the New Hampshire and Massachusetts state lines.  Back in 1822, the village was founded by Hiram Stone, who owned a granite quarry. 

The village was falling into disrepair until Bob Kelly, the then-president of the local Chamber of Commerce, recruited a number of used booksellers to come to the village. Among them, was Tricia Miles, who opened the vintage mystery bookstore, Haven't Got a Clue. It was Bob's vision that Stoneham should be known as BOOKTOWN.

Hay on Wey mystery bookshop.

What's rather odd about that is that Bob was never a big reader. What he was is an operator. He saw an online story about Hay on Wey, a little village in Wales that is full of bookstores (and antiques and other charming shops). Bob also became romantically involved with Tricia's sister, Angelica ... but that's another story.

The Chamber of Commerce has always been behind the village's rebirth, and that continues even though Bob is no longer its president. That job fell to Angelica Miles after a bitter election (and after she and Bob broke up).

For years, Stoneham was known as the "safest village in New Hampshire," but that changed when prosperity arrived--soon after the bookstores opened. A lot of people say that changed once Tricia Miles arrived. You see, she seems to have a knack for finding the recently deceased (and in some cases, the just-about-to-be deceased). After Tricia found her second body, she became known as "the village jinx," a title she loathes.

Since crime picked up, it was decided that Stoneham should try harder for another distinction: Prettiest Village in New Hampshire. Should being the operative word. That should be an easy title to win, considering how lovely the shops are, and all the beautiful hanging baskets of flowers that line Main Street (as well as the urns in front of every store) every summer. However, one year, someone was determined to make sure the village wouldn't be in the running.

Despite the bodies piling up, Stoneham really is a very nice place to visit. There are restaurants (The Bookshelf Diner, Booked for Lunch, and the Brookside Inn), a pub (the Dog Eared Page), and of course, many bookstores.

If you haven't already visited, try reading Murder Is Binding.  The village welcomes all new visitors.

If you have visited, what's your favorite thing about Booktown?

Friday, April 29, 2016

If you have a cool (or cold) night--this is perfect.

While we're already deep into spring, Mother Nature doesn't seem to have noticed. We had frost earlier this week, which gave me a hankering for some good English comfort food.  I read a bunch of recipes for Shepherd's Pie and Cottage Pie and US recipes just weren't going to cut it, so I went to the BBC to find 3 different recipes--and all were quite different. I picked one and had to make some adaptations.  (Example:  Finding ground lamb around here was going to be a BIG problem, so I decided to go for Cottage Pie, which uses mince ... er, I mean hamburger.)

Last summer I found a really cool, OLD casserole dish that I knew would be perfect for this dish.
Casserole dish Here're the ingredients:

 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
 1 large onion, finely chopped
 2 medium carrots, diced
 2 stalks celery
 1 cup frozen peas
 1 pound hamburger
 1 tablespoon plain flour
 2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
 3 tablespoons tomato puree or sauce
 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
 16 fluid ounces of or beef stock
 salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the mashed potatoes
 1½ pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into halves or quarters
 ¼ cup milk
 2-3 tablespoons butter
 1 egg yolk
 In a large frying pan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and fry the hamburger, stirring, until browned all over. While the meat is frying, break up any lumps with the back of the spoon.  Add the flour and stir. Mix well and add the thyme, Worcestershire sauce and stir. Set aside.

 Boil the potatoes.
 Deglaze the hamburger pan with a little stock. and saute the onions, carrots, celery, and stock. Cook until the onions and carrots are soft.  (About ten minutes).  Add the peas and the tomato sauce.

 Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Add the cooked hamburger to the veggies and bring to a high simmer, adding a pinch of salt and pepper, stirring regularly.  Once it's all heated through, put it in the casserole dish.
For the mashed potatoes, boil the potatoes until tender (about 10 minutes). Drain, add the milk, butter and egg yolk, then mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
 Spread the mashed potatoes on top, smooth over and drag a fork over the top for decoration.
 Put the dish into the oven and cook until the surface is golden-brown. (About 40 minutes.)
 And here's a picture of my dinner.

 Serves 4 good sized portions.  Yum!  Enjoy! (And you just know this recipe is going to end up in one of my books, right?)

 What's your idea of comfort food on a COLD day???

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How I got me a couple of horses

A running gag in the Booktown Mystery series I write (as Lorna Barrett) is that the protagonist, Tricia Miles, is a jinx. She keeps finding dead bodies, and some bad luck, too, and the nickname has stuck.

Could I be a jinx?  Maybe ... I'll tell you why. But first, a little history.

My aunt and uncle are animal people.  For as long as I can remember, they have always adopted pets nobody wants--usually old dogs, cats, and in the past--and present--they have also sponsored retired racehorses. They donate monthly to Redwings Horse Sanctuary.  (You may already feel you know my aunt.  She's become a character in my Booktown Mysteries:  Michele Fowler.)

Having read just about every book Dick Francis wrote about horse racing, the idea of helping retired racing horses fascinated me.  We have a couple of race courses near where I live, and I know that the life of a horse who isn't in the running for the Kentucky Derby can be pretty miserable. That's why I so liked the idea of sponsoring horses who have worked hard and deserve a rest.

I recently got the Cracker Box Palace (Farm Animal Rescue and Sanctuary) newsletter (you can read it here). I've been donating to them for quite a few years now, watching as they started out as a small rescue entity, and growing until now they are able to do a lot more good work. Unfortunately, there are far too many animal cruelty cases in Wayne County, NY, but Cracker Box Palace always steps up and takes as many of the animals as they can. Not only do they have horses, but pigs, goats, chickens, rabbits and often end up taking in cats and dogs, too.

The last newsletter had pictures of a couple of older horses. Tuna and Buddy. When I saw Tuna's picture, it was love at first sight.  His owner had died and he and a bunch of cats and dogs ended up at Cracker Box Palace. I knew when I saw Tuna's picture that I had to sponsor him.  I was feeling flush that day (had just gotten paid my twice-yearly check from my publisher), so I decided to not only sponsor Tuna, but Buddy, too.

Tuna was 24 years old and had a heart murmur. I figured that because he was so old, maybe nobody would want to sponsor him. So I wrote the check and sent it off.  My family's cottage is just a few miles from the farm, so I figured I might buy a big bag of carrots and go visit my horses next month.

But I got a phone call from the director of the farm on Tuesday saying that Tuna had passed away on Saturday, which was a shock to all since he was doing well. He was gaining weight and had just had his hooves trimmed. It broke my heart to hear the news. They have a horsey graveyard and Tuna was buried there.  : ( 

Hearing this news got me to thinking. Am I like Tricia? Was my sponsoring poor Tuna  the kiss of death? (I sure hope not.)

Fortunately, Buddy is doing well, and they will transfer my sponsorship to another horse. His name is Amp and he's a retired racehorse. His windpipe collapsed and he could no longer race. (Horses are a lot more delicate than most people think.) Because of this, he can't "ney!" Cherie said it sounds funny when he tries. I am happy to help Amp have a happy retirement. Too many former race horses end up as horse meat in Japan. (I kid you not!)

So, now my job is to find a place that sells carrots in bulk. I will try to visit my horses next month, and when I do, I'll take pictures and share them with you.

Have you ever thought about sponsoring a horse?  Do you donate to animal rescue sites?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Need an easy appetizer?

I must confess, that I have never eaten a fresh apricot. They just don't seem to be available where I live (or if they, the grocery stores hide them from me), but I have eaten dried apricots.  (Yum!)  And here's a nice recipe you might want to make for a Happy Hour snack. I've included it in my cookbook, RECIPES TO DIE FOR: A Victoria Square Cookbook.

Apricot-file641340001417-smallerBacon-Wrapped Apricots
1 package (14 ounces) dried apricots
½ cup whole almonds
1 pound sliced bacon
¼ cup apple jelly
2 tablespoons salt-reduced soy sauce

Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC, Gas Mark 5). Fold each apricot around an almond. Cut bacon strips into thirds. Wrap a strip around each apricot and secure it with a toothpick.  Place on two foil-lined ungreased baking trays. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until the bacon is crisp, turning once. In a small saucepan, combine the jelly and soy sauce and cook and stir over low Recipes-To-Die-For-smheat for 5 minutes. Remove apricots from the baking pan and set on paper towels to drain. Serve with the sauce for dipping.

Yield:  Approximately 4 ½ dozen

Do you have a recipe using apricots you'd like to share?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Bet you didn't know I could write one of these ...

It's a fact: 2015 was not a good writing year for me. In fact, it wasn't a good year at all. (The end of 2014 wasn't much better.)  My mother got sick and died. That put a huge crimp in my writing life, and she would have been appalled to know she was the cause. Every day she would ask me: "Did you get your words today?"

So, this year I've been busting my buns to turn that around. So far this year I've finished a couple of writing projects, and I'm currently juggling two others, with two more on the schedule to be finished by year''s end.

What's my latest?  Off Script, which is currently up for pre-order and will be available on May 24th.
This is something I'm not known for writing: a police procedural.

It’s 1979. Before cell phones. Before computers. Before the World Wide Web. LA Detectives Robbie Howard and Danny Wallace solve crimes the old fashioned way, by relentless legwork. Multiple deaths on the lot of a movie studio look like your average murder-suicide. At least that’s what someone wants everyone to think. It takes dogged determination for Howard and Wallace to write off a Hollywood killer.

iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Smashwords
Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide

I hope you'll give Robbie and Danny a chance.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Don't miss this terrific giveaway!

To celebrate spring, I’ve teamed up with Storytellers Unlimited and over 35 fantastic mystery authors to give two readers more than 35 cozy mysteries, and a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner!

 I’m giving away my book . . . With Baited Breath.

Spring INto Mystery WBB graphic

Tori Cannon and her grandfather return from her grandma’s funeral to find a body jammed in one of their derelict motel units. The victim had no enemies except for maybe the rich woman who wants to level his eyesore of a home, a resentful daughter, and friends who were anything but. Tori’s BFF, Kathy, arrives to help spruce up the place and they are soon mixed up in the deadly consequences that murder entails. Can they save the business and find a murderer or will they, too, sleep with the fishes?

 Enter the promotion by clicking here

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Happy Book Day to my friends!

It's always a happy day when friends have new books out.

Breach of crust-smBREACH OF CRUST by Ellery Adams
Plate up another slice of Southern magic and mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Lemon Pies and Little White Lies . . .


Ella Mae LeFaye’s delicious pies are still drawing long lines—as well as the attention of Beatrice Burbank, president of the Camellia Club, a philanthropic organization comprised of high-society Southern ladies from the charming and affluent town of Sweet Briar, Georgia. To ensure the success of their centennial dessert cookbook, Bea hires Ella Mae to teach the tasty tricks of her trade to the club’s members at their annual retreat. Eager to work on new recipes for customers with food allergies and dietary restrictions, Ella Mae readily agrees.

But when Ella Mae finds Bea’s body floating in Lake Havenwood, she wonders what she’s gotten herself mixed up in. Someone certainly wanted Bea to eat humble pie, and the retreat offers no shortage of unsavory characters, including Ella Mae’s longtime nemesis, Loralyn Gaynor. Ella Mae definitely doesn’t need magic to tell her she must find the killer before someone else gets panned.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | Kobo | iBooks

Breaking for bodies-smBREAKING FOR BODIES by Duffy Brown
Evie Bloomfield puts the pedal to the metal—in the latest Cycle Path mystery from the national bestselling author of Geared for the Grave.

Moving from Los Angeles to small, picturesque Mackinac Island to work in a bike shop might seem crazy, but Evie knows it’s the best decision she’s ever made. That’s not to say she’s gotten rid of all her stress; after all, the upcoming Lilac Festival has everyone in town riding in circles.

But things really go downhill when a ferry full of tourists—including Evie’s friend Fiona’s former boss, the editor of a sleazy rag in LA—arrives on the island. No one knows why Peephole Perry came all the way to Mackinac, but things aren’t looking good for Fiona when Peep is found dead. Now Evie has to gear up and get a grip on the truth if she wants to clear her friend’s name...
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook
Kobo | iBooks

Friday, April 1, 2016

Need a focus group

I'm so lucky to have good friends. My Storytellers Unlimited colleagues, Kelly McClymer and Shirley Hailstock, are just as concerned as me that my Telenia series isn't doing well. First of all, much as I love these books, my usual audience isn't as enamored, so I definitely need to target a different demographic.  (Makes me sad, but it's the truth.)

They think I need to get new covers, and I agree. I'm just not sure where to go.

Shirley is pretty darn talented with Photoshop and did a mock up of the cover. (Of course, if we go with it, the sky would be green and the vegetation would be rust-colored.)

Shirley's mock-up is on the left and the original cover is on the right. What do these covers say to you? If you don't know the background of the books, what do you think is happening? (If you click on the pictures, you'll see them full size.)

I really appreciate your input. Thanks!

Shirley's take on Telenia THRESHOLD-med

Friday, March 25, 2016

Keeping me company

Things are winding down at my mother's house, who passed away eight months ago. (Why does it seem like just last week?)  As her executor, it's up to me to settle the estate.

My Mum was a bit of a pack rat, so there were a LOT of papers, boxes, and closets (you can't believe how many closets that house has) full of stuff to go through. But as I mentioned, it's starting to wind down. I have a few more boxes to pack, one more yard sale to run (in April), and the inside of the house is pretty much done.

It has taken many, MANY hours to get this job done. Since my brother works two jobs, it's been pretty much me.  But I've been kept company by audiobooks.

I love to be read to. Mr. L often starts the day reading the news to me while I get breakfast going and feed cats.  I make green juice for myself, enough for two days, and it's time consuming. At least 20 minutes spent slicing and chopping before the veggies go into the Nutribullet. Often he'll pick a more entertaining story, rather than yet another article on misery somewhere else in the world.  It's nice.

But at my Mother's house (and in my car), I like to hear a more involved story. I'm currently listening to my own book, With Baited Breath, the first full-length novel in my Lotus Bay mystery series.  Why listen to my own stuff? Because I'm trying to figure out the plot to the next book and don't have time to actually READ the book. And Heather Masters did a wonderful job narrating the book.

Sorting and cleaning don't seem so boring when you're listening to a good story.  (Okay, I happen to like my own stories ... that's why I write them.)  I like to listen to audiobooks when I fold laundry, too. Is there any more boring task than folding laundry and pairing socks? (I have enough socks that I only have to wash them every 5-6 weeks...that means it takes a l-o-n-g time to pair them.)

If you like audiobooks, maybe you'd like to listen to mine.  You can check out my website pages under my various names: Lorraine Bartlett, L.L. Bartlett, and Lorna Barrett.

Do you have a favorite audio narrator?  (I may be prejudiced, but I really enjoy listening to just about anything my own narrator, Steven Barnett reads. Just ordered a BIG fantasy novel he read. I'll probably start that tomorrow.)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

When Characters Start Demading They Be Heard

One of the great things about being a hybrid author (with one foot in the traditional world of publishing, and the other firmly planted in the world of indie publishing), is that you can write whatever you want. I'm under contract for the Booktown and Victoria Square Mysteries, but I also have three other series under my (various) names:  the very successful Jeff Resnick Mysteries, the (still wet behind the ears) Lotus Bay Mysteries, and the totally unsuccessful Tales of Telenia adventure/fantasy series.

Why is Telenia unsuccessful? It's not my usual genre. How many of my mystery readers want to read a book about a woman stranded on a strange, misogynist planet, where every day she seems to smack into yet another brick wall? A place with strange and deadly creatures. A place where the food is bad, the people unfriendly, and everything is alien to her.

Last week, my friends Kelly McClymer and Shirley Hailstock and I were talking about the books and why they can't seem to find an audience.  Kelly read my blurb and then asked me how I viewed the series. I pretty much told her what's written in the paragraph above. She said, "But that's not what your blurb conveys."
Here's my blurb for the first book (which is not the first blurb; I've worked it this several times). It tells the story, but doesn't convey Amanda's adventures (like capturing a giant spider, or being taken captive--and her struggles with Prince Paxdon):

Amanda Shelton is clever, adventurous, and tough--and she'll have to be, because she's crash landed on a world where her saviors might well be her enemies. It takes fierce determination to keep the people of this frightening and unfamiliar place from stealing her shuttle technology, or imprisoning her while they do it. Yet what she knows could save countless innocent lives--including those who keep this world safe. Facing this test of spirit will take everything Amanda has...if she survives at all.

Blurb writing is a skill--one I obviously don't possess. I'm contemplating hiring the Blurb Bitch to attack my description to see what she can do with it.

But when it all comes down to it, I'm a writer of characters, and it's my characters that attract my readers. Poor Amanda is alone in this book ... and then she makes a friend. And then another. (Think "Thelma and Louise.")

So what's the point of this blog post?

I've been stalling writing the next adventure because the first two have not sold well. It's been three years since I wrote the second book in the series, Journey.  Even though Threshold and Journey have not sold well, I can't abandon Amanda, Brannan, Dohmas, Wren, and Paxdon any longer. They are DEMANDING that I tell their story. It's all plotted. I've even got the dialog for a number of scenes memorized. (I've been thinking a LOT about this story.)  I have other commitments to write books that actually do sell, but I've decided to take an hour a day and work on Treachery. It's my gift to me.

But I do wish more of my readers would befriend Amanda. She's all alone in a place called Telenia. She could use a few friends.