Thursday, February 26, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY -- Unbelievability in fiction

My guest today is Vicki Delany, author of the Constable Molly Smith mystery series from Poison Pen Press.

Cosby show Remember the Cosby Show? Mom was a lawyer and Dad was a doctor and they were inevitably at home at three o’clock when the kids came in from school. I would point out to my children how unrealistic that was. Eventually one of them said, “You always ruin it, Mom.”

I’m still ruining it. But these days I only ruin it for me. I was born without the suspension of disbelief gene, I guess. I don’t go to the movies or watch TV much because I find myself pulled out of the story every time something unbelievable happens. (I do better with Science Fiction, for example I watch Battlestar Galactica. I guess if the premise is totally unrealistic then it’s okay for the plot and the characters to also be so.)

I prefer to read. And when I read, I demand that things be reasonably plausible, allowing for some literary license. If the heroine goes up against a gang of machine gun wielding bad guys, I expect her to either get shot, or be saved by an bunch of machine gun wielding good guys, not scamper off while the bullets kick up the dust at her delicate feet, because for some reason all the guns issued to the Russian army/Nazis/street thugs/drug dealers/mafi a hitmen don’t shoot straight.

I expect the novelist to have done his or her homework and to know something about forensics/science/location/history/geography and, most importantly, human nature and human physical limitations. I can accept a coincidence or two, for the sake of moving the plot along, but too much or too many and I’ll put that book down. Fortunately a lot of readers are just like me and we don’t have to suspend our disbelief – too much – to enjoy a great book.

And what's bugging YOU?
----------------------
Valley of the lost
Valley of the Lost, the second in the Constable Molly Smith series by Vicki Delany, has just been released by Poisoned Pen Press. For a sneak peek visit Vicki's web page at www.vickidelany.com, to read the first chapter or watch the exciting book trailer. Vicki also blogs on Type M for Murder.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Please don't put me on the spot

It didn't take long after announcing that I've hit the New York Times Bestsellers list for unpublished authors to pop out of the woodwork and ask for my help to get them published.

Who's your agent?

It's not a secret. If you know how to google, you can find out who my agent is. (Tip: she isn't taking on new clients.)

Can I tell her you recommended me?

No. If I have never read your work, I can't recommend you. And don't send me anything; the last thing I want is to be accused of stealing some unpub's work. And for the record, I don't need to steal anyone's ideas--I have enough of my own, thank you. And if you tell her I recommended you write to her, she will know you're a liar, because if I was going to recommend anyone (and I have), I would tell her first.

Why won't you help me?

A.) I don't know you.
B.) I know you're eager to be published, but you really have to pay your dues.
C.) Paying your dues means it's extremely unlikely the first draft of your first book will ever see print.

I know what it's like NOT to be published. It took me eleven years for my first book to see print.

My best advice? Join a writers group. If you write mystery, join Sisters in Crime (and in particular, their Guppies Chapter). If you write romance, join Romance Writers of America. If you write SF or fantasy, join Science Fiction Writers of America.

Don't waste money on book doctors. Join a critique group. Write, write, write. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Learn everything you can about the publishing industry. (How to write a good query, how to write a good synopsis.)

The economy is really BAD right now. Publishers are slashing their lists and shedding their employees. Take this time to polish your work so that when things are better you'll be ready. Your book will capture the attention of an agent or editor and you'll be on your way.

For now, sadly, you'll just have to wait your turn.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

WANTED: Shopping pal

Years ago, I had a friend and we did lots of cool stuff together. This friend--oh, let's for the hell of it just call her Judy--and I used to go to the movies, attend local meetings, and SHOP.

Then she moved away. Although I've made other friends, none of them have been shopping buddies. I miss that. I miss going to look at dishes, and furniture, and BOOKS, and office supplies, and music and stuff. And the thing is, while I still love to window shop for these things, I hate doing it alone.

Lots of times I'll think about going to mall to look at china Dinnerware
(not to buy, I already have a beautiful set of "good" china) and glassware. I love walking through Macy's Home Center and seeing all the pretty patterns and baubles. I love looking at the Egyptian Cotton sheets, and all the wonderful small appliances that I don't need or have room for in my tiny kitchen. But I don't have anyone to share that with.

I love to go in Michael's or Joann's and look at the material, the crafts, the pictures frames, the stickers, and the candles, but usually I'm with my hubby who can't get in and out of those places fast enough. (He can't stand the ever-present scent of potpourri.)

The only thing I don't like to shop for is clothes -- or shoes. That's just painful.

Sometimes when my friend Coop comes home to visit, we go to bookstores, but often we just sit in a restaurant and gab for hours. We need to so some serious shopping when she comes back in April.

Until then, I'll just think about shopping. If nothing else, it saves money.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Delightful Leftovers

It must be something in my genes that makes me cook gargantuan amounts of food. There's just the two of us (and our four cats, and they prefer Friskees -- go figure!), but you'd think by the amount of food we prepare that we were contemplating feeding an army.

I've got a couple of really good crockpot recipes that I got from my Writers Plot friends Leann Sweeney and Jeanne Munn Bracken. Hubby makes a mean chili, and a fantastic sausage/pasta/cheese/broccoli rabe concoction that is out of this world. The problem is, these dishes also make tons of leftovers. Now I happen to like leftovers. I like them for lunch, dinner -- and a time or two, I've even eaten them for breakfast. Hubby will eat leftovers once, then it's up to me to finish them off. Hey, I'm brave and strong. I can handle that.

Lasagna
Last week I had a hankering for lasagna. This time, I made it in two separate pans so that I could give a third of it to my parents (so they wouldn't have to cook), and we had two dinners ourselves. And we froze two more. Ahhh, nothing like homemade lasagna.

I love it when we have roasted rotisserie chicken, because you can make so many Chicken
second and third meals out of it. There's just plain cold chicken; chicken pot pie; tika masala, and my favorite, chicken salad on a bed of lettuce for lunch. We have had chicken tacos, but not often enough. (Note to self ...)

And of course, my favorite leftover of all is turkey. Turkey soup
Since my family members aren't big turkey fans, every Thanksgiving I can count on getting the carcass. I can make all the same food I can with leftover chicken, plus the added bonus of turkey soup. (And have you ever had turkey waldorf salad? Yum!)

You won't find me ever trying a recipe for just one or two people. Nope, bring on the chuck wagon, folks -- I'm making enough for everybody.

Friday, February 20, 2009

BRANDED!

I've been talking to a lot of people about branding lately, and mostly in relation to web sites. It's time for me to do some web site revamping, and I have no idea where to begin.

The new banner here on Dazed and Confused was a good first start. It's colorful and confusing -- perfect for Dazed and Confused. And now it's time to make my site more sophisticated. But where do I start?

The site was based on the first book cover. The wooden sign with the iron work, the blue hue, the brick. But now the second book cover is PURPLE! And goodness knows what color the next book cover will be -- it probably hasn't been conceptualized yet, let alone painted, so I've got some time to figure out what I want next.

Cup_sm3In the meantime, it bothers me that there aren't many graphics on the site. So I asked myself, what do I think of when I think about Tricia's Haven't Got a Club bookstore? COFFEE! And what do people drink coffee out of? A disposable cup. And isn't it handy that my husband happens to be a former graphic designer? And doesn't he just LOVE to please me by acting on my crazy ideas???

Bookstorelogo.sm2
You'll be surprised to know that the coffee cup logo for Haven't Got a Clue (in perspective) actually came BEFORE he did the flat version. I love it because it picks up on the green walls in the description I've given the store.

As I said, they drink a LOT of coffee at Haven't Got a Clue And now when I write about it, I'll see the coffee cups in my mind. And now when readers go to the web site, they'll see a brand associated with Tricia's store, too.

Cool, huh?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY -- No problem!

Today's guest is Rosemary Harris, master gardener and the author of the Dirty Business Mystery series.

I have a problem with “no problem.” When did these two words become an appropriate response to everything from “my pasta is cold” to “you’ve canceled my flight and I’m stranded in Abu Dabi?”

Sometime in the last ten or so years, “no problem” has proliferated and replaced “I’m sorry” or the even more retro “Let me see what I can do.” I’d love to find a way to blame Disney for this – Hakuna Matata, anybody? But it may predate them. My husband claims it started in the Caribbean where for various, uh, botanical reasons, everything really was No Problem even if there was a problem

I suppose it’s better than “un-hunh” which was pervasive in NYC in the early nineties. I can only hope the rest of the country was spared . Few salespeople knew how close they came to bodily harm by saying “un-hunh” to me after I had been nice enough to thank them for taking my money.

I wouldn’t hate “no problem” so much if it didn’t pop up precisely when, THERE IS A PROBLEM. Can you imagine someone having said to Jim Lovell, “No problem!”

I’d love to continue this rant but I must go – I’m on hold with Cablevision, they’ve assured me that my call is very important to them…

And what's bugging you today?
-----------------------------------
The Big Dirt Nap
Rosemary Harris is president of Sisters in Crime New England Chapter and a board member of MWA-NY Chapter. Her first book, Pushing Up Daisies was a Mystery Guild selection and was named to Library Journal’s Best First Fiction List 2008. The Big Dirt Nap was released just this week by St. Martin’s Minotaur.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

GIFTS FROM THE MAILMAN

I'd always heard of celebrities getting gifts from fans, but I never thought it would happen to me.

Okay, for one, I'm not a celebrity. For two, what a surprise and delight it was to come in from grocery shopping last week and find there was something waiting for me on the counter. Fred2
Carol in Utah (who has read all my books) had sent me a gift: a watercolor print of a cat that looks suspiciously like my Little Prince, Fred--the only difference: Fred has white whiskers. It's adorable and I can't wait to frame it.

Carol had seen pictures of Fred on my web site and MySpace pages. Who knew readers paid so much attention to those things. I mean, I know they like to see pictures of authors pets -- that's why I put them up there, and I've actually received comments from my readers about my cats, and they've told me about theirs.

Cool, huh?

What is it about grocery day? Yesterday I came home from the store and Frank was bouncing up and down like a yo-yo (hard to do when you've got a bum knee). "Come see, come see!" he called before I'd even gotten one bag of groceries in the door. There on the counter top was a HUGE box with the word FLOWERS in big type.

Who in the heck would be sending me flowers? If Frank bought me flowers, he'd have gotten them from Aldi -- not paid for Fed-X. My brother gave me a single peachy rose on Valentine's day. To hell with the groceries, I immediately opened the box, and inside were 18 perfect pinky/yellow roses.

Again: who in the heck would be sending me roses?

Roses_1They were from my agent, in honor of making it to the New York Times Bestsellers list. To say I was flabbergasted is putting it mildly. Flabbergasted and utterly delighted. I can count on one hand the number of times I've received roses -- and the color was perfect. It's like she read my mind.

I could get used to this.
----------------------------
BTW, today I'm guest blogging over at The Diva Dishes, talking about DogZymes. Don't know what they are? Check it out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The call I never thought I'd get

Last Wednesday night, the telephone rang. ShockedIt was my Berkley Prime Crime editor with news I never expected to hear.

Bookmarked for Death will appear on the New York Times Bestsellers Extended list for mass market paperbacks at #33.

Can you say SPEECHLESS???

My poor editor was sick with the flu, and after hanging up I wondered -- uh-oh, what if he made a mistake. What if he made the call during a fever-induced hallucination? Luckily, his assistant e-mailed me the next morning and assured me it was indeed true -- and she attached the evidence to her note.
Yee-ha!!!!!

A friend of mine was told by his editor that he would never become a bestselling author because his books were less than 100,000 words. Well, I'm the Queen of short novels, so there's no way I ever thought New York Times Bestseller and my name would be uttered in the same sentence. And yet ... there I am--or will be as of February 22nd.

Then, to up the ante, on Saturday I got an e-mail from my friend author Toni L.P. Kelner, telling me that Bookmarked for Death had debuted on the IndieBound (Booksense) Bestseller list at #18.


SnoopyhappydanceI've been doing the happy dance for days now. New York Times Bestseller. It's unbelievable.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wishful thinking ...

I've blogged before how absolutely GREEN with envy I am about author Mary Kay Andrews' new beach house, The Breeze InnThe Breeze Inn (which is nearly finished--don't you love those colors?). It's bad enough she has access to her place 12 months of the year -- but now I have to get brochures in the mail, telling me how I can make our family cottage available to me 12 months of the year.

I didn't recognize the name of the address on the hand-written envelope that arrived the other day. Was it a fan letter from someone who'd tracked me down? Nope. It was from a construction firm. Do I want to just rent their equipment to do the job myself? Foundation(Can you see me driving a mini dump truck or an excavator, because I sure can't.) If not, then I could hire them to jack up the cottage, dig a foundation and the next thing you know, I've got a million dollar house on the water. (Without the million dollars to pay them to jack the place up -- dig a very big hole and put in a foundation.
Or--why don't I hire them to put in a new breakwall. We really need one -- but then I don't own a boat. We didn't even put the dock out last year.

Would I like to do this? Yes. Is it ever likely I'll do this? No. Our neighbor took a cottage and converted it into a year-round home. He told us it was the biggest mistake of his life. He told us what he should have done is tear down the place and start from scratch.

I wouldn't want to do that. I have nice memories of our little cottage, of parties and picnics, hot summer days, cool clammy nights. But the thought of being able to spend winter weekends there is really, REALLY appealing.

Luckily I don't have the kind of money to even consider it. Instead, maybe I'll buy a new kitchen trash can.

With a foot lever. It's almost as good, right?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bookmarked.smYesterday I got a lovely review from librarian/reviewer Lesa Holstine, of the Lesa's Book Critiques blog. She said, among other things:

Barrett avoids the Cabot Cove syndrome in this enjoyable mystery, with a victim from the outside. She has all of the elements essential for a strong entry in a cozy series: family, a little romance, recipes and food, a cat named Miss Marple, books, and a little humor. In this case, the humor comes about through a problem that is actually serious, protected Canadian geese taking over the town, pooping on the sidewalks. Tricia is doing a little better overcoming the long-held rivalry with her sister, Angelica. Angelica still has work to do on her domineering habits. And, Tricia has some insecurity to overcome, after her divorce. This is a cozy series with developing characters.

But even lovelier is the fact that based on the book, Lesa has changed the signature line on her e-mails:

"Libraries are the best value you can get for your tax dollars."
-- Lorna
Barrett, Bookmarked for Death

Whoa, is that cool, or what? (And more importantly--it's true!)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

PILLOW TALK

PillowsLast fall I bought myself a new pillow. It was soft and squishy and really quite marvelous ... and, unfortunately, it didn't last.

Just last night I laid my head upon what was, only a few months ago, a big, fluffy pillow and it was flat and ... really quite horrible.

My mother has always been of the opinion that down pillows are the best. I beg to differ. Down pillows tend to "wad up" and to me are extremely uncomfortable. And, being an organic object, in an environment where heat is not available 24/7 (think winter), they tend to get ... (iky and) musty, too.

That said, there's a big difference between a good synthetic pillow and a bad one.

Sleeping peacefully
Sometime in the past, my mother bought a really, REALLY nice synthetic pillow for the cottage, and I use it when there. It's MINE. It 's fluffy and bouncy and something you can nestle your face into and fall into a deep, comforting sleep.

Okay, I don't always fall into a deep sleep when I lay my head down upon that particular pillow...but during the last few months without that pillow I have not slept well. I could have brought it back home when we closed the cottage last fall--but I didn't. Sometimes I think I was a fool to leave it behind, and sometimes I think--wow--I can't wait to go back in the spring and be reunited with the pillow of my dreams.

When I've tested pillows at J.C. Penney and Sam's Club and everywhere in between--I've often thought that "this is the pillow of my dreams" but...they aren't, either.

Let's face it, a pillow is a pillow is a pillow. Something to raise your head above the mattress. There should be no emotional attachment to an inanimate object. And yet ... on the many, MANY nights when I can't get back to sleep, I think back to hot summer nights lying under a slowly rotating ceiling fan in that celery green bedroom in the town of Huron and think of my squishy, sort of foamish pillow and wish I had it under my head.

I'm spoiled...and I like it. And why shouldn't I?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A LOVELY REVIEW

Reading the fine printYesterday I received the contract for the next three Booktown mysteries. Now to sign on the (un)dotted line and mail the copies back to my agent.

Contract negotiation time is when you really, REALLY love your agent. No doubt about it, lawyers write contracts so that a non-lawyer can't understand them, and often head for the closest wall to bang his/her head against.

I read through the entire 14 pages of the contract and by the time I finished, my pupils looked like pinwheels. The most interesting thing(s) to me were the things my agent found unacceptable. The contract still retains the original wording, and now there's a line through the unacceptable wordage, and the new wordage is in boldface. Wordage that benefits me instead of the publisher.

I can't get into what she had them change -- it's just too complicated. Suffice to say it's good. And let me say it again. I really, REALLY appreciate my agent!

And best of all -- I have a month longer to finish the book than I thought I had.

Ahhhh...life is good.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It seems like I never get invited to parties. California postcard And when I do, there's usually a reason I can't go. Lately, I've received a number of invitations to speak and/or sign books. Just yesterday, I got asked to participate in a library event -- in CALIFORNIA! (Only 3,000 miles away.)

Um...I don't think I'll be accepting that one.

I got invited to speak in Vermont, which is at least drivable--but it was for this month. This week, in fact. How did I know back in October that we'd have a thaw? If I'd known, I would have jumped at the chance to go--because I love New England. But battling the winter winds? Uh-uh. (Hey, I don't even want to drive a mile to the grocery store when snow is falling.)

It seems like having a new book out makes you a more popular guest. In the past week, I've received three other invitations--almost. One is a "I'll poll my writers group and if they're interested MAYBE we'll invite you." This group had invited me to speak last year -- and then canceled when most of the group decided to be snowbirds and fled the Western New York winter for Florida. Last fall, another member of the group invited me to speak and said she'd get back to me. (Do you hear the sound of crickets in the background?)

The second of three invitations was from a reader group. Except--they want me to talk about the first in the Jeff Resnick series, not the current (HOT!) Booktown Mysteries. Go figure! (I've already penciled it in.)

The third is a from a library about 50 miles from here. It's a great place--and they've made me welcome three times in the past, so it was a no-brainer to accept that invitation. They provide food, and a lot of people show up at their events. A true win-win situation. (And why can't my local libraries invite me? I've let them know I'm available.)

The invitation I'd really like to accept is to a lovely tea. Teaparty2(Except I refuse to wear a dress--sorry, my days of struggling with pantyhose are over.) A tea with linen tablecloths, bone china teacups, scones, petit fours, and delicate little tea sandwiches (sans crusts). So far, no one has invited me to such an affair--but if it's in the Rochester area, I'm available. Just ask.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Why is it some appliances you buy are just crap from day one? FridgeOur refrigerator is a prime example. The fridge that came with the house (and our then-30 year mortgage) dropped dead and suddenly we needed a fridge. So off to the appliance store we went.

We bought a name brand, but because it was just the two of us (and four tiny cats) we decided we didn't need a full-sized fridge. It looks full sized, it's just not as tall as a BIG fridge. Consequently, it doesn't hold as much. But that wasn't going to be a problem, right?

Wrong! Not only do we collect hundreds of Peanutbutter & jelly jars of condiments (that we might use again), but when we cook--we make enough for an army. Hubby doesn't like to eat the same food every night, so three or four times a week, we fill the fridge with bowls and plastic containers, and then we have leftovers for lunch for days and days on end. (Or at least I do.)

We figured we'd live a happy life with our name brand (not mentioned for fear of lawsuits) fridge. But we have NOT been happy. First the gasket on the door began to shrink, so we have an energy loss. Second, no matter how many times we lower the temperature, something freezes. Currently I've got a half gallon of 2% milk that's more slush than milk, frozen leftover tika masala, and a frozen bottle of lime seltzer. I'm afraid to dig further. One consolation--if it's frozen, it has a longer shelf life, right?

We need to buy a new fridge. We don't want to buy a new fridge, although I will admit, every time I go to a place that sells appliances (think Home Depot, Lowes, etc.) I look at the fridges, look at the price tags, and cringe.

I hate my fridge and I'm probably stuck with it for a couple more years. What lousy appliance are you living with?

Friday, February 6, 2009

And the Bragathon continues . . .

Four
Yesterday, I heard from my friend Marilyn Levinson who was bouncing up and down with happiness for me. Seems she'd found the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association's list of Bestselling Mysteries for 2008.

Guess where Murder is Binding ended up on the mass market paperback list?

MartiniYes, Yes! Martinis for everyone!

Also, if you're in the Rochester area, tomorrow I'll be at Barnes & Noble, the Mall at Greece Ridge, from 2-4 (or until they kick me out) to sign copies of Bookmarked for Death. I'd love to see you there.

P.S. I'll also be guest blogging tomorrow on Poe's Deadly Daughters.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY

Today's guest blogger is New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Karen Harper -- and Karen has several things on her mind.

OSUAs a former high school and university (Ohio State--"Go Bucks!") English instructor, a lot of my pet peeves are related to the demise of proper English, but I won't bore you with that, except for my #1 hit pick. No one needs to say "the reason why" to explain something. Reason and why are redundant. Just say "the reason is" or use the word why alone. Yes, I realize I've got to get over it that the English language--which is always evolving--has left that behind. (Sigh)
Newsanchors
Actually my #1 real-life pet peeve right now (besides being rear-ended by a woman who was on a cell phone) is TV news anchors or reporters who may look great but who have grating-on-the-ear voices. Don't the TV stations partly hire people for a good voice, or is that discrimination in hiring these days? This occurs mostly on regional stations, not national news and seldom on radio. Don't they realize that listeners don't want a too guttural or piercing or baby girl voice delivering the news? It's disturbing enough by itself, so at least we ought to have a reassuring, calm voice relating it to us. Count yourself fortunate if your local TV stations hires anchors and reporters with modulated voices. (Hm, I just gave three pet peeves here, so I hope Lorraine doesn't notice. Thanks for letting me vent!)

And what's bugging you today?
-------------------------------------
Mistress shakespeareNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Karen Harper has a new book out today! It's Mistress Shakespeare (and isn't that cover just gorgeous?). Karen writes contemporary and historical fiction. For more information about Karen and her books, please visit her website.

Also, Karen will be giving away a free copy of Mistress Shakespeare when she guest posts on the Writers Plot blog on Valentine's Day. Stay tuned for more information.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Props

Drama
When I was a freshman in high school, my best friend decided we should join the Drama Club. Being painfully shy (at the time, I wouldn't even answer the phone) it was torture for me to get up on that stage--as an extra--and learn the chorus parts of the musical OLIVER. I definitely did NOT have acting in my blood. And--thanks to a cast member telling my friend that she had NO acting talent just a week or so before the first performance--she decided that WE would QUIT. Boy, was I relieved.

Still, the world of props has always fascinated me. I use them in my writing. Either I have some tchotchke that inspires me, or I'll go out and find something I've written about.


Cocktail shaker
My husband collects barware. For years we scoured flea markets, antique shops and garage sales for vintage barware. Was that the reason I made Jeff Resnick a bartender or was that just a coincidence? I'm not sure anymore.

In the first Booktown Mystery, Tricia acquires a little gold scatter pin. A few years ago, I bought a box lot of jewelry for $15. At the time it seemed an exorbitant amount of money. In the end, I think I sold most of it for about $150 in my both at an antique co-op. Not a bad investment, but I kept the most valuable piece--the gold scatter pin, for myself. I've never worn it, because I tend to lose things far too easily, but it has sat on my computer keyboard for a couple of years. And every day I look at it and admire this lovely little pin and remember the history I wrote for it.

Menorah
I've collected other things that have/or will some day appear in a book. In the third (so-far unpublished) Jeff Resnick mystery, Jeff learns about the paternal (Jewish) side of his family. For years I searched for just the right Menorah. It now sits on one of my bookshelves. Not that a Menorah is mentioned in the story--but once I
decided to write about Jeff's extended family (in the month of December), it became important for me to find that Menorah.

Cori2
I suppose one of the most tangible things I've incorporated into my work is my cat, Cori. She's been dead for almost a decade now, but she came back to life for me--and lives on as Miss Marple, Tricia's cat in the Booktown Mysteries. I wish the cover artist would have contacted me before she did the wonderful painting for Murder Is Binding--I would've gladly sent her pictures of my beloved Cori-Belle. And yet, Miss Marple on the Bookmarked for Death cover is much prettier than the one on the first book--but she still isn't half as beautiful as my Cori.

If I gave it more thought, I'm sure I could come up with a lot more examples of things I've borrowed from my life to inject into my fiction. These pieces of flotsam and jetsam are pieces of me I embed into my work. For some reason, incorporating these things into my
fictional worlds make them more real to me--and hopefully to my readers, too.
------------------------------
By the way, today I'm guest blogging over on The Diva Dishes.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A NEW LOOK!

I hope you've all noticed the new look to the blog. My new banner was made by Janet Koch of Deepwater Web Design. It's a new business and Janet is looking for customers. Take a look at her web site to see what she can do for you.

Janet also makes booktrailers. She made both of mine. Find the book trailer for Dead In Red here. Find the book trailer for Bookmarked For Death here.

So, what's the significance of the mugs, glasses, and teacups?

Coffee for Tricia.
Bourbon for Jeff.
Tea for me.

So, what do you think of it?
--------------------------------
And on another subject:

Bookmarked.sm
Happy Bookday to me,
Happy Bookday to me,
Happy Bookday Dear Bookmarked for Death,
Happy Bookday to me!

Monday, February 2, 2009

GROUNDHOG DAY!

Groundhog
Well, by now old Phil (of Punxsutawney) has come out of his hole and seen his shadow. Six more weeks of winter ... yada yada yada. (I hate the little bugger. Yeah, the calendar tells me there's still at LEAST six more weeks of winter, but couldn't he at least boost our hopes and predict an early spring just for the hell of it?)

Groundhog Day means two things to me. A.) My friend Lee Shackleford's birthday (Hi, Lee! Have a Happy!) and B.) The movie with Bill Murray.

Ground hog day movie poster
I'm a BIG fan of Lee Shackleford. Not so big a fan of Bill Murray. But I do love the movie Groundhog Day, and I suppose it's because of Bill Murray that I watch this movie so many times. He starts out a complete ass, and after reliving the same day over and over again, learns to be a great guy with a heart of gold. But it takes reliving that day hundreds of times for him to get his life in order.

My favorite part of the movie (aside from him shoving an entire piece of angel food cake into his mouth--and Andie McDowell's reaction), are the parts where he (SPOILER ALERT) makes good use of this repeating day and does good deeds, learns to play the piano, make ice sculptures (with chainsaw and knife). The scene at the party makes a great crescendo.

Skullhead's veil
If there was one day I could live over again, it would be my wedding day -- or maybe Christmas 1991, the two happiest days of my life. I'd get married in another venue (my brother's backyard on the water -- and hire a tent and a different caterer) -- and for Christmas: that one was almost perfect. I think I'd leave that one alone.

What day of your life would you live over?