Thursday, July 30, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY -- INSOMNIA

Woman with insomnia I don't sleep well.  I wake up anywhere from two to four times a night.  Sometimes I only wake up once a night--and never get back to sleep.  On those nights, I toss and turn, I read, I get up and check my email . . . and sometimes I head to the kitchen for a nice hot mug of Ovaltine.  (Sometimes that does the trick--sometimes it doesn't.)

I hate those nights.  Thoughts circulate through my head over and over again.  I'll think about stupid (usually negative) stuff that happened when I was a child, at my first job, at parties--stuff I haven't thought about in YEARS.

This isn't something recent.  I've been like this all my life and I'm sick of it.  Anybody got any tried and true home remedies?

And what's bugging YOU today?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

DISTRACTED

Brain exploding I've got a LOT on my mind.  So much, sometimes I think my brain is going to explode.  

First off, the deadline to submit my next book is only FIVE WEEKS AWAY.  Actually, it's in pretty good shape, but pretty good is not good enough.  So I've got to really buckle down and polish, polish, polish.

Along with submitting the book, I have a synopsis to write for the fifth Booktown Mystery.  I think it's due 10 days before the 4th book is due.  But I lost my calendar, so now I have to dig up my contract and figure out where the clause is that tells me exactly what is due when.

I've got 5,000 bookmarks hanging around the office, waiting to be signed and mailed to booksellers across the US and Canada.  Do you know how long it takes to sign 5,000 bookmarks?  FOREVER!!!  But somehow it's got to be done.  Right now, I've got about 200 of them bundled in stacks of 25.  I've signed about 100 of them.  That means there's only 4,900 more to do.  Can you say WRITERS CRAMP?

Nagging woman I've got to nag Frank to: A) design postcards for Bookplate Special.  B) design a new cover for a short story I'm giving away at my "launch" for Bookplate Special.  (They'll only be available at my Rochester signings.)  Believe me, nagging is WORK!

My new website is about to go live.  I haven't even seen the whole thing yet, but it will probably be uploaded in the next few days.  When it is, I'll let you know.  BTW, I HAVE seen the front page, and I love it.  I'm very happy with what I've seen, and I recommend Glass Slipper Web Design.

I'm working on the next issue of my newsletter that will probably go out sometime next week.  In it, I'll announce the contest for three copies of the bound galley of Bookplate Special.  If you haven't signed up for my newsletter, please fill out the form on the left hand column of this blog.

In the middle of all this, we've had a family crisis, which I've been dealing with the best I can.  The "crisis" part is over, but the aftermath is still a part of my daily life and cuts into just about everything I do, which includes this blog.  (Hence, the sporadic posts.)  Hopefully, I'll find a way to better organize my time in the coming weeks and will get back into some kind of routine.  My eternal gratitude goes to everyone who's sent prayers and well wishes.  You guys are the best!

Friday, July 24, 2009

CREEPING UP TO PUBLICATION

It takes a really L-O-N-G time to see a book published.  When you have a multiple-book contract (in my case, three at a time), you're always somewhere in the process.  Finish one book, hand it in, start another.  Then while you're finishing up book 2, you get the copy edit or galley proofs for #1.  #1 is finally published about the time you're starting book #3.  And on it goes.

Right now I'm inching up to publication of my third Booktown Mystery, BOOKPLATE special.  I handed it in (well, actually before) February 1, 2009.  I took a month off, and then started the current book, Chapter & Hearse.  A while back, I got the copy edit for Bookplate Special--handed that in, and a few weeks later, got the galley proofs.  

ARCBooplateSpecial The other day, I got the bound galley proof, which is a trade-sized version of the book.  (The text, however, is still mass market paperback size.  Suffice to say it's because Print On Demand presses are used in the galley process--it's not cost-effective to use a paperback press for a small run, and bound galleys are usually under 2,000 copies.  In this case, the press run for bound galley was probably under 200 (and possibly under 100).)

I was spoiled with the bound galley for Murder Is Binding.  They decided to do the actual cover on it.  It was gorgeous--and actually a little different than the final version of the book.  I got five copies.  I never got to see the bound galley for Bookplate Special, nor did I get a cover flat.  (Bummer.)  So I was especially surprised and delighted to get nine bound galleys for Bookplate Special--although it had a plain salmon-colored cover.  But I did get two cover flats, and one of them is going to be framed.

Bscoverflat What I like best about the cover flat--besides the fantastic cover (it's my favorite so far), is the marketing information on the back.  It gave me a piece of information my editor hadn't given me.  Under Marketing Information, it says:  Print Advertising in mystery publications.

Whoa-ho-ho!  They're going to spend money on ADVERTISING the book.  Yee-ha!  Of course, who knows if that'll actually work, but I'm very happy to hear about that.  

So, what's going to happen with those nine galley proofs?

Well, one of them is MINE!  (Okay, I got mayonnaise on the cover and ruined it.  Yup, that's my copy.)  The other eight?  I have five earmarked for reviewers.  I'll probably do a contest to give them away before the book is available for sale.  (It's on sale as of November 3rd, but you can preorder online or at your favorite chain or Indie bookstore.)  Of course, these galleys are rife with typos.  Especially the name of Tricia's store.  For some reason, the copy editor deleted a key word, so through the first third of the book Tricia owns Haven't Got Clue bookstore (instead of Haven't Got A Clue bookstore).  

Okay, where can you find out about the contest for a bound copy?  Only from my newsletter.  How do you get my newsletter?  You sign up with the box right here on my blog (Scroll down to that box to the right), or you go to my web site's contest page.  (My next newsletter will be out in early August.)

If you haven't already signed up for my newsletter . . . what are you waiting for?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY: Nothing is Safe From Chester

I love my cats.  They are a source of constant joy.

They're also a pain in the neck.

Each of them have their little quirks.  Fred likes to chill out in his carrier during the day.  Betsy likes to "work out" (pretend to claw) your foot.  Bon-Bon likes to hear the sound of water dripping from the bathroom tap.  And then there's Chester.  Chester is a "wool eater."

Grooming According to the cat book, wool eaters eat fabric.  Chester actually doesn't eat wool, but there's no doubt about it--he's a "texture" fiend and fabric of any kind is his friend.  He likes to lick the kitty cushions under the big (200 watt) light bulb.  He'll lick the afghan on the couch (if we don't catch him), and he's very fond of all his fabric (including Beanie Baby) toys.

But he's also fond of MY STUFF.  NOTHING IS SAFE.  My friend Gwen makes lovely woven bookmarks, and I have been the happy recipient of many of them.  But I can't leave them laying around or else Chester (the nosy) will find them.  Then he'll "kill" them (with much yowling) and then carry them around in great triumph before presenting them to my husband or me.  We don't dare leave a pair of socks on the bathroom floor. Next thing you know, they'll be in the kitchen or the dining room.  I have a pile of beautiful linen napkins in a basket--all set for a charity auction.  They've been ending up all over the house, too.  (Back in the laundry they go.)  Same with a dresser scarf I bought last week.  You never know what treasure Chester is going to find and redistribute.

Okay, as peeves go, this is a small one--but it's still annoying.  (And cute at the same time.)

And what's bugging you today?

  

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

OUT TO LUNCH

I know I must have mentioned at least once how my favorite meal is LUNCH.  I love lunch.  It's always a surprise.  Do I have a sandwich?  Leftovers?  Open that packet of aloo matar and add leftover peas?

DenverOmlette02 I especially love to go OUT to lunch.  Then I'd have something I don't normally have at home--like an omelet, or a club sandwich, or sometimes I get wild and crazy and actually order a HAMBURGER!!!

I don't need a fancy restaurant, either (although I do love Tastings here in town).  Mostly we go to diners and family restaurants.  We rarely patronize franchise restaurants.  There's nothing particularly special about something a local teen has heated up in a microwave, or a tub of trans fat.  

Tuna salad Yesterday was our wedding anniversary and we'd planned to go out to lunch to celebrate.  Well, the best laid plans and all that.  First one thing and then another came up and the next thing you know, I'm eating a tuna sandwich at home.  (It was really good, by the way--I add lots of crunchies: celery, onion, and tons of lettuce.)  

We're still up in the air about lunch for today.  But I'm hoping.

What's your favorite meal to eat out?

Monday, July 20, 2009

ODDS AND ENDS

The day has gotten away from me.  But there's an interesting essay from former President Jimmy Carter, called:  Losing My Religion For Equality.  

Mystery lovers kitchen My chums Krista Davis, Avery Aames, and Julie Hyzy (along with Cleo Coyle, Lucy Lawrence, and Riley Adams)  have started a neat blog called the Mystery Lovers Kitchen.  Avery debuted today with a wonderful recipe for Artichokes & Taleggio (cheese).  Sounds heavenly.

What am I up to?  Getting bookmarks ready to mail to booksellers.  I know, I know--the book doesn't come out for over four months.  You can't get going too soon!

More stuff tomorrow(?).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

KEEP IT LOCAL

Here's a great little video in support of local independent bookstores.

ShopIndieBlu Don't know where there's an indy bookstore near you?  Then check out IndyBound.

Why should you support local businesses?  Because they keep your community alive! Buy local  Try that indie bookstore.  Go to that Mom and Pop diner.  Patronize your local farmer's market.  Keep the money local.  That keeps people in JOBS.  People with jobs contribute their $$$ to the local enonomy.  That keeps you in YOUR job.

In these troubled economic times, it's just the right thing to do.

Friday, July 17, 2009

White Bakery Bags

Yesterday, we made an emergency trip to the grocery store for ice. (Hey, you can't have happy hour without ice, right?)  On the spur of the moment, I decided to grab a couple of bagels for breakfast.  Some branches of this store have clear, plastic bags for their bagels--this particular store had white bakery bags.

Bakery bag To me, there's always been something mysterious about a white bakery bag.  You can't see inside.  It came from a bakery.  Bakeries have all KINDS of wonderful things.  Cookies, Danish, white mountain rolls, bagels, turnovers, cream horns, little cakes, cupcakes . . . the list goes on and on.

I used to come home from work for lunch several days a week.  Not my home, my parents' home.  And often there'd be a white bakery bag sitting on the counter.  More often than not, there'd be one of Jackson Bakery's little white cakes inside.  They were my favorite, and my Dad knew it.  Oh, what a delight after one of Dad's chicken salad sandwiches to have that little cake with a cup of tea.  I'd eat it in teeny tiny bites just to prolong the ecstacy. 

Coconutcake5-08 Jackson's Bakery is still around and they still sell those little cakes.  Our wedding anniversary is next week and I predict one of Jackson's little coconut cakes.  (This is last year's model.)  Okay, it doesn't come in a bakery bag.  No, it comes in a white bakery box tied with string.  Oh, the wonders that can be contained in one of those bakery boxes.  A dozen cookies.  Half a dozen Danish or apple turnovers.  Cakes.  Pies.  And the list goes on and on.

Ya think I have a sweet tooth?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY--Dust Bunnies and Hairballs

I love cats, but I don't like some of the things that go with them.

Dustbunnies We have a lot of beautiful, hardwood floors. We also have four cats who work extra hard to produce a LOT of cat hair. Therefore, we don't just have dust bunnies (made of 90% cat hair), we have dust DINOSAURS. They're huge! And they accumulate faster than you can shake a dust mop. I try to keep on top of it, but as soon as I put away the vacuum cleaner, there seems to be more of them.

Hairballs And if they're not producing hair, they're producing hairballs. And can they expel said hairballs on the nice ceramic or vinyl floor? Nooooooo, it either has to be on the nice hardwood or the carpet--or on the leather furniture.

What's bugging YOU today.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

THE NEW NORMAL

When my friend JC's father died in March, she said she and her family would have to get used to the "new normal." Her dad had been sick with cancer for a couple of years, and I suspect each and every day she and her family had to adjust to the 'new normal.'

Almost five years ago, my dad had a stroke, and since then, I, too, have had to adjust to the new normal. For it changed every couple of months.

When I lost my day job almost four years ago, I started taking my dad grocery shopping. Since he retired more than two decades ago, he became the main shopper for himself and my mom. At first, he could still walk pretty good. He would push his cart up and down the aisles of our local (small) grocery store and pretty much follow his list. We'd go to the local (Mt. Read) Wegmans, which was a lot smaller than most of their other stores--and was perfect for a lot of elderly people in the area.

Wegmans logo Then Wegmans decided to upgrade and demolish the old store. We were banished to the Britton Road store during the rebuilding, which was bigger and harder for dad to navigate. But, somehow we learned where things were and saw many of the same Mt. Read employees working there. And half-way through the rebuilding, we switched to the Latta Road store, and saw an equal amount of familiar faces there, too. (Not one of their employees lost their jobs during that time. Is Wegmans a great company (for keeping their employees during the LONG refit) or what?)

Mt. Read When the new Mt Read store opened, it was apparent that dad would never be able to navigate it with a regular cart--it was so huge. So, reluctantly, he agreed to use the motorized shopping carts. We soon developed a new routine. I could park in the loading zone, get a cart, bring it to the car, and he would climb onboard and proceed to the produce department while I parked the car. By then, I was handling his list. I even transferred it to a spreadsheet, and my mom and I would go over it before dad and I would shop. I got to know more about their eating habits than my own. Did they need more OJ? Raisin cinnamon bread? How about yogurt? Bagels? Stir-fry frozen veggies? Dog biscuits?

We started out shopping on Friday afternoons, but learned that Tuesday mornings were slower, less people--lots less traffic and waiting in the check-out line--and you didn't have to wait for an unoccupied, handicapped, motorized shopping cart, either.

I'd forge ahead and dad would slowly follow in my wake. (Soon after opening the Mt. Read store, they changed the cart speed from zippy to tortoise speed. Bah--humbug!) We'd make our way from produce to the bread section, the meat dept. to the organic section where they offered free samples of bloody-awful teas. (One of the employees got to recognize Dad and would say: "Is it tea time?" and he would answer, "Yes!") Then it was on to Dairy--then to household aisle to pick up items like cling wrap and paper towel, then the frozen veg section, to the dog and cat aisle. And on and on.

C.Bookmark No stripe For a couple of weeks in February, we checked out the book section, and low an behold they had my 2nd Booktown Mystery, BOOKMARKED FOR DEATH. Dad was really proud to see it there. But it only lasted a few weeks and when the four copies there sold out, they never restocked (Grrrrrr!)

In June, Dad went for treatments to inject artificial cartilage in his knees, so I went shopping alone. And then he got sick and ended up in the hospital. So that's why I cried yesterday as I did the shopping. We had become a fixture on Tuesdays. The girls in the pharmacy knew us. The ladies at the registers knew us. "Where's your Dad?" they asked, and yesterday, when our favorite pharmacy lady asked the same question, I burst into tears. She immediately came up with a fistful of tissues. She knew my dad. He'd been her customer for nearly seven years--two years before he had his stoke. She seemed just as heartbroken as I when I told her what had happened to him.

You'd think that a fairly big grocery chain would be pretty impersonal, but not my local Wegmans store. When I shop there, I know so many of the workers, they have come to be like close acquaintances.

Every week the new normal changes, but I feel like at least at this one store, there's some kind of ongoing stability. (Except they keep rearranging the bread section. Stop that, Wegmans!)

Sadly, that kind of personal service is lacking these days for most businesses. There's a reason Wegmans remains in the top 10 American businesses. They treat their employees well, and their employees treat their customers just as well.

Thumbs up May they continue to dominate the top 10 American businesses, because they employ the best people. I wish all firms would adopt their practices.

Friday, July 10, 2009

What's In A Cover?

It only occurred to me on Wednesday to think--oh, Bookmarked for Death is coming out in large print next month. I wonder what the cover looks like. So I went in search of it.

Mind you, when I saw the cover for the large print edition Murder Is Binding, I thought it was okay. Not as wonderful as the cover Berkley Prime Crime did for the mass market paperback edition, but not bad. After all, it was done by the parent company that did the cover for Murder On The Mind (horrible) and Dead in Red (which was fantastic). Of course, I have to remind myself that cover art--like everything else in publishing--is a crapshoot. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

Bookmarked.sm So, when I saw the large-print cover on Wednesday I must say I wasn't exactly impressed. The mass market paperback's cover represented the first chapter of the book, with the cake that looked like the guest author's book cover, the books themselves, and the open door to the washroom where the victim was found. The artist even included the tin ceiling! The artist must have at least read the synopsis and maybe even the first chapter. Could an author be more pleased?

Bookmarked_LP_cover.sm I found the large print cover on Amazon. To say it was a disappointment was putting it mildly. The cover artist decided to just do generic books on a bookshelf. Not very inspiring. Okay, large print editions don't sell all that much anyway, but surely the large print audience is just as interested in a beautiful cover as the mass market paperback audience. Then again, consumers BUY the mass market version (@ $6.99). Usually only libraries buy the large print edition (@ $25.99), and I don't think (at least I hope they aren't) as swayed by the cover art.

Authors don't make a lot of money on large-print editions. But what if the cover art was just as stellar--maybe more copies would be sold, which would benefit not only the author, but the publisher as well. At least, that's a theory I'm willing to embrace.

But the absolute worst thing about the cover: THEY SPELLED MY NAME WRONG!!! Note, there's only one "T" on Barrett.

UPDATE: Just after I wrote this, I heard from my Five Star editor. (Five Star is a division of Thorndike--the parent company, famous for their large-print editions.) I'd written to her to report the cover goof. She was AMAZING! Less than two hours later, the cover had been fixed, and she'd sent me a copy of the new cover. Also, they'd caught it in time because the books hadn't yet been printed. Whew! I feel a LOT better now!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY--TWEETING

By guest blogger Avery Aames

Twitter2 Tweeting. I get it, but I don’t. And what I don’t get isn’t making me tweet, it’s making me twitch. Yes, that’s right. I’m “nervous” about tweeting. I’m afraid I’ll do it wrong. I’m afraid I’ll miss giving all 200-1,000 of my nearest and dearest followers (depending on the minute) something worth following. Something pithy. You’ve got 140 letters to make a statement about yourself, about your work, about life. But you have to include some of those “tweeting” characters like # or @ or D. If you forget them, you can forget it. Your message won’t transmit. It will vaporize in the stratosphere. You won’t have contacted anyone. Not a soul! And now you’ve only got 136-138 characters to do the job.

Tweetdeck “Bleep!” said the little chickadee.

So, c’mon, spill. Who came up with tweeting and all the little doodads that one has to use to communicate? What do you bet it’s some cute little bird-beaked geek who is giggling his feathers off because he got all us dodos to tweet and think it’s something important? Does he care if he’s making money from the advertising? Probably not. He is rapturous with the power, the control, over all these people who think this new form of social networking is special, unique, necessary.

Next up: chittering. Like squirrels running from tree to tree to tell the latest gossip. And you can bet that everyone who leads a normal life, free of the internet, will think those who latch onto the latest and greatest form of social networking are nuts! What do you bet they’re right?

And what's bugging YOU today?
--------------------------------------
AveryAames Avery Aames is the pseudonym for Daryl Wood Gerber, writing The Cheese Shop Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, first book due to be released in July 2010. Visit Avery's web site, but you can also visit Daryl's site, too.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

WHAT'S WITH THIS WEATHER?

Every couple of years, we seem to have "the summer that wasn't." Two thousand and nine appears to be one of those years. We had a very nice, sunny, HOT week back in June, but it seems like a long, long, time ago.

Thunderstorm Blue sky? What is that? It's been gray and cloudy for weeks. The weather report seems to be the same every day: Cloudy, which a chance of thunderstorms.

Except for that really nasty hail storm two weeks ago, most of the thunderstorms have been pretty mild. Still, with that first crack of thunder, our cat Chester goes flying across the house to hide under the guest bed. This is actually the worst place he could go. That room has a skylight and when the rain beats down on that bubble of plexiglass, it sounds like Ringo Star banging on drums. My Mom and Dad's dog, Jessie, has recently developed a fear of thunder. I read an article in the paper not long ago about pets and thunderstorms. Unlike us, they would prefer NOT to be comforted, which is difficult for people like me who want to reassure my pet that things are okay and we won't let anything hurt him. But, he's a cat. To quote comedian Robert Klein, "he's got a brain the size of a walnut."

I don't ever remember a year when we had to turn the heat on in July. Hello! We've got the heat on in July! I think we've only run our AC once. (During that hot week I mentioned above.) Okay, we haven't had to water the gardens, but we have considered building an Ark.

Jane Jetson Unlike life for the Jetsons (remember, Jane would call handyman Henry who would raise the building above the clouds to give them a sunny day), you can't do anything about the weather. If I could, it would be perpetually 77 with low humidity, and blue skies smiling at me.

Too bad I don't have Henry to get us out of the clouds.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

THE BOOKS I BOUGHT

What's with the yard sales this year? Generally speaking--they suck warty pickles! With so many people in financial difficulties, you'd think that the sales would be full of stuff as people scramble to come up with money to pay their bills.

Apparently not so.

Farmer Boy But I did get a couple of good things this week--books, probably the last thing I need--but something I always want.

As far as I can remember, I only read one Little House book by Laura Ingalls Wilder. That was in third grade. While I remember liking it, I didn't know there were any more in the series (apparently our school library didn't have them), and I was clueless until the TV series. By then, I was more into mysteries than "family fare."

When I had my booth at an antiques co-op, I sold a LOT of used books by Ms. Wilder. They seem to speak to children, or at least to parents or grandparents who wanted to share those stories with another generation. But I never kept any for myself.

Saturday, I came across three of the titles for 50 cents each: Farmer Boy, The Long Winter, and These Happy Golden Years. I may not read them until I get the rest of the series and then read them "in order." But they are now in the To-Be-Read pile.

Nancy Drew book The other book I got was "The Clue of the Broken Locket" -- a Nancy Drew book, a 1943 edition with, alas, no dust jacket. (But I found a copy of it on Wikipedia--isn't it delightful?) Still, I'm gathering things for a charity basket for next year's Malice Domestic, and I thought that would make a great addition.

CONFESSION TIME: I have never read a Nancy Drew book. I may have to read this before it goes in the basket.

What's in your TBR pile?

Monday, July 6, 2009

CUPPA, ANYONE?

Analog TV Almost a month ago, Martha Stewart was making tea out of cow manure. I know it was before June 12th, because that's the last time I saw any daytime TV. You know, that's the day when TV signals went digital and that was the end of all my TV watching in the kitchen. (We do have a TV hooked up to cable, but we watch DVDs on that one.)

But I digress.

Cuppa I'd heard about manure tea for the garden, because my parents had done it years ago. (Here's how.)

(Have you heard the really old joke: Do you put manure on your strawberries? No, we put whipped cream on ours.)

My folks had some work done in the yard last year, and the workman just about killed their beautiful clamatis. So in an effort to bring it back this year, they gave it some manure tea. Hot-damn! It said, and did come back. My mother also put the tea on the coneflowers. Holy crap! Did they love that tea. (Have you ever seen 4 foot coneflowers before? I never have.)

Cow manure My bean crop is suffering. Between not enough rain, hailstorms, and too much rain, some of my plants are stunted.

Can you guess what is in their future? Yes! Cow manure tea! I'm also going to give my cosmos a shot, too. They've been in the ground for six weeks and they've hardly grown at all. Other people have cosmos and they're tall, willowy, and FULL of flowers. Not mine. Not ever.

Yup, today's the day for a nice cup of cow manure tea.

Friday, July 3, 2009

First Tomato of 2009*

2009_1st_tomato Oh, wow! My first tomato of the season. This is from the celebrity "vines." I have a bunch of flowers, but so far only this one little tomato, which is about the size of my thumbnail. But hey, they have to start small before they get bigger, right?

The heirloom "seedlings" took an awful hit with the hail storm last week, and I did lose one. The others are holding their own, but seem to be a bit soggy from all the rain. (They and everyone else.) But, hey, if I get just one tomato from that batch, I'll be ... well, not happy, but I'll accept it. (And it better be good for all the angst I've gone through.)

* No sooner did I type this, than hubby called me out to show me two more. (On different plants.) Yee-ha! I see many BLTs in my future.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY--How's the book doing?

Today's guest is Jeffrey Cohen, author of the Double Feature Mysteries.

"How's the book doing?"

People ask you this all the time when you've gone miles out of your way to let them know you have a new book coming out, or just out. They're showing interest in your work, your welfare, your career. It's a very kind gesture on their part.

It drives me nuts.

Duh See, I pride myself on my conversation. I like to be thought of as witty or at least interesting when I'm talking with or to other people. And a question like that--"How's the book doing?"--leaves me at a complete loss for an adequate answer. I've tried things like, "How's the book doing WHAT?" or "The book's just fine, and it was asking about you," but the fact is, I really don't know what to say when friends, acquaintances or perfect strangers drop that particular question in my lap.

How's the book doing? The fact is, I haven't a clue. I can look at the Amazon sales numbers, which are at once depressing and meaningless. I can gauge the number of reviews or Amazon mentions when I Google the book's title (and any author who says they don't is LYING!). I can count up the emails I get from readers or visitors to my web site (http://jeffcohenbooks.com). But assuming that the question "how's the book doing" refers to sales figures, it will be months before I have an answer. Publishers don't call we aspiring mid-listers with regular reports unless something highly unexpected (like people buying a lot of books) happens. We wait for accounting reports, which come months after the book is published, and even then, have to be read to me over the phone by my agent, because I don't understand one single digit listed on the page.

So when me meet, believe me, I appreciate your interest in my book. I honestly do. I'll talk to you for hours about my book if you don't shut me up, and I'll think you're a wonderful person for indulging my ego so selflessly. But please---PLEASE--don't ask me how the book's doing.

I really don't know.

And what's bugging YOU today?
----------------------------------------------
Jeff Cohen is the author of the Double Feature Mystery seNight at the operationries. His current book, A Night At The Operation, is third in the series and now available. Check out Jeff's web site. Jeff also blogs on Mondays at Hey,There's A Dead Guy In The Living Room (Mystery Publishing from Idea to Bookshelf).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

SUMMER FUN

We had a terrible thunderstorm with hail last Friday, which I wrote about in yesterday's Writers Plot post. (You can find it here.) The garden suffered a LOT of damage and we were pretty upset about it.

Flamingo3 So on Saturday, when I started out on my weekly Garage Sale Hunt, I wanted to find something fun to cheer me up.

I did.

As I walked back to the car with my wonderful find, my husband commented, "These are the things that cause divorces."

Okay, so a pink flamingo is a cliche (and this one is so pink it's almost purple), but after the angst we went through over the garden (which is bouncing back, thank goodness). I wanted it. I needed it. And at 75 cents -- what a bargain!