Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Waste not--want not!

RECYCLE Ever since our county initiated its recycling program they have taken glass bottles, newspapers, cans, and plastic that's labeled 1 and 2.

That all changes on Wednesday.  As of June 1st, they will now allow you to toss out ANY plastic.

Yea!

As it happens, because of the Memorial Day holiday, our garbage, which usually goes out on Tuesdays, will be picked up on Wednesday:  June 1st.

Ever since I heard of the new ruling, I've been saving all my other plastic.  Why let it go into the landfill when in two weeks it would be recycled.

Does your county recycle all plastics?
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Friday, May 27, 2011

Spying on the new neighbors

We have some new neighbors.

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Of course, in this next picture, you can see that there are actually four babies.  (Notice the one sitting behind Mom's neck.)

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I'm looking forward to watching the babies grow.  They truly are lovely to watch.  And when they take flight ... magnificent!
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Don't look for Booktown Mysteries in the Buffalo Libraries

Central-Library-NY-Buffalo When my Jeff Resnick series was published, I was really proud that so many libraries in the Buffalo, NY area carried the books.  Of course the books are SET in Buffalo, NY -- so that helped.

So I was puzzled when not one library in Buffalo carried my Booktown Mysteries.  Oh, I know that a lot of library systems don't catalog paperback books, and the series is in paperback.  But I looked up other cozy mystery authors on the website for the Buffalo Erie County Library System, and their books are there.

Did I offend the acquisition librarians in Buffalo?  I mean, I've sent them a postcard for every book in the series (and for A Crafty Killing, too.  It's not there, either).  And they haven't purchased the other two books in my Jeff Resnick series, either.  : (

B&N I know I have at least three readers in the greater Buffalo area  because they've signed up for my newsletter.  I can thank Barnes & Noble for the only readers I have in the Buffalo area.  (THANK YOU, BARNES & NOBLE!!!)

But for some reason I can't seem to make a crack with the acquisition librarians.

I know there are other libraries in big cities that don't have the books, either--but for some reason I feel hurt that the Buffalo libraries have snubbed Tricia and Angelica.  (And Katie, too.)  They embraced Jeff (in hardcover--but not trade paperback).  I just don't get it.

So, the question is, should I throw away money by sending all the libraries a postcard for Sentenced to Death?

What do you think?
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How NOT to plant potatoes . . .

Yesterday I worked in the garden for a little while.  I planted my potatoes.

Potatoes 7-7-08 For the past few years, I've been planting my seed potatoes in a big blue tub.  Not this year.  The yield was too small, so back in the ground they go.  I have limited garden space, so they're going in behind the black-eyed susans.

Unfortunately for me, the phone rang in the middle of planting.  Since we have a wireless landline (yes, we're still dinosaurs and haven't gone totally cell yet ... maybe not for a long time), Mr. L brought the phone out to me and I had a rather long conversation with my brother.

I continued to plant my potatoes, which was rather awkward to say the least.  Everything was okay until bedtime when I realized "Ouch, my back hurts."  Only in one spot and I think it's because I was holding the phone in an awkward position for about ten minutes.

All I can say is, those potatoes better grow.  (Or maybe next time I should just call my brother back.)

Have you planted anything in your garden this year?  (The annuals go in next week.)
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Not such an ordinary week . . .

We're all in a tizzy because we've got a house guest arriving later today. My sister-in-law is coming for four days. I wish it was for a happy visit, but she and Mr. L will be looking at assisted living centers for their mother.

FishFry1 When company comes you have an opportunity to do things that aren't in the usual routine.  We rarely go out to dinner, but SIL wants to go out for a real Western NY fish fry. She'll probably stock up on Western NY goodies (and ship them home--she's traveling light with just carry on luggage).  Things like Zweigel's hot dog sauce, Webber's mustard, etc.

Meanwhile, I still have a few things to do before she arrives tonight.  Like finish cleaning the guest room.  It really only needs to be dusted and the bed made, but that's something that's not on my usual Tuesday list of things to do.  (Thank goodness the cleaning ladies came yesterday.)

So while I'm sad about the reason for the visit, I'm glad to have a chance to connect with my SIL.  She lives so far away that I've only seen her 6-7 in twenty years, and our phone conversations have been brief.

Have you got a house guest coming to visit in the near future?
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Monday, May 23, 2011

Should L.L. be offended?

Report card Like clockwork, every Monday I get a report on my website hits.  I'm not sure websites do as much as they used to in terms of readers visiting them, but we all have them just in case new readers want to know more about us, our books, and our characters.

If you're a practicing schizophrenic--that is, as an author I have three names--you get three reports.

We're number 1 My Lorna website report always comes in first.  Every week that site gets the most hits.  And it's consistent.  The same amount, give or take 10-20 hits either up or down.

My Lorraine website report shows interest in that name and work has been steadily growing since A Crafty Killing came out in February.  True, most Booktown Mystery readers haven't made the connection that Lorraine and Lorna are the same--even though I've been screaming that fact at the top of my lungs for almost three years . . . but I'm very hopeful.

Unsmiley Then comes my L.L. Bartlett report.  There's one word for that:  pitiful.  It's less than half of what Lorraine gets, and only a quarter of what Lorna gets--despite the fact that I've been writing under that name for three years longer than I have the Lorna name.
I don't know what to do about the fact that people don't know that Lorna/Lorraine/L.L. are the same person.

Skywriting?

I don't know what to do about pumping up those numbers, or finding more readers for Lorraine and L.L.

I wish I did.
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Friday, May 20, 2011

When you hate your word processing program . . .

I've been scarce this week.  Why?

Word.  Microsoft Word.  It ate my mailing list.  Luckily a few days before I had printed out labels for my postcards, but while I was updated the list, Word hiccuped as I was saving it and it was gone.  GONE.  And the last time I had backed up was in January.

Woman_crying2 Well, there was more than just the gnashing of teeth, let me tell you.  I've been working for TWO days to try to reconstruct it from various other lists, and I still have another 3-5 hours to go, and am missing over 300 addresses.

I also color code my list, so I know where the addresses came from.  Now I'm wondering if the that was too much. 

A long list + color coding = disaster?

So I'm going to break the list in half by zip code and back it up every night from now on.

I had hoped to get some serious writing done this weekend.  Now . . . hello list building.

What important file have you lost on your computer?

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's Not Just A Big Day . . .

By guest blogger Kelly McClymer

Thanks for inviting me to share a pet peeve for Pet Peeve Thursday, Lorna! I have so many (for example, you cannot crumble a piece of paper without a lot of effort, but you can crumple it easily enough: why do writers not know this?!?).

Wedding_cake But my big pet peeve right now revolves around weddings. I love to attend weddings, but not because of the big fancy cake or band or dancing (well, okay, I do like the dancing, even though I dance like Elaine on Seinfeld). No, I love the way family and friends circle the couple and support the big step into marriage. It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes family and friends to remind a couple that the wedding day is the beginning of a (hopefully) long and rewarding journey.

My pet peeve is that all the hype around having a perfect wedding day misses the point: this is the beginning. One day of many, many days, if you're lucky. You need some ... ummm ... interesting ... things to happen so that everyone in attendance can laugh about it as they share the memory around holiday dinners and anniversaries.

StarCrossedBride But no. Everyone wants the perfect dress, the perfect cake, the flawless ceremony. I know this for two reasons: 1) my daughter recently got engaged and has begun trying on wedding gowns and thinking about when/where/how; and 2) I'm releasing my out-of-print historical romance Once Upon a Wedding Series in ebook format and I've been looking at wedding photos non-stop in order to find images for the covers. The artist and I finally decided (after lots of dresses, veils, flowers, etc.) to focus on cakes. There are some awesome (and no doubt expensive) wedding cakes out there, let me tell you. Including chocolate cakes. Chocolate. Cake.

By the time I was finished looking at all these images, even I was beginning to think about how to make my daughter's wedding perfect. Fortunately, I came to my senses by laughing with my husband about how our low-key ceremony, where a friend took photos with our not great camera, and my dad played bartender, was perfectly almost perfect. So I think as we head into June, the wedding month, it is a good time to use my guest Pet Peeve post to remind people that the wedding day is one day and perfect is the enemy of good stories to tell around the holiday table.

Can't you just see Wills and Kate laughing with their grandchildren over how Wills had to give that ring a good push to get it on Kate's finger? I can.
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FairyTaleBride Kelly McClymer started her career writing short science fiction, but then switched to historical romance for the happily ever after. Currently, she writes young adult novels (The Salem Witch Tryouts series, Must Love Black). Her backlist Once Upon a Wedding series is fatefully being released in ebook form just in time for a promotional effort to help ensure her daughter's wedding has plenty of family and friends to gather around the couple...and make sure there are some memorable flubs to talk about over turkey. And maybe a chocolate wedding cake. You can read the latest news at http://kellymcclymer.com/wordpress

Monday, May 16, 2011

And CRACK--they were gone!

So far this May we've had one lovely (warm) day.

That was Friday.

Saturday wasn't horrible, but it wasn't warm and sunny either.

Broken_finger_nail Yesterday--fuggetaboutit.  It was COLD.  I realized the screen on the back door had been left up and went to put it down and CRACK!  Gone were the tips of three of my fingernails.

Now, I've probably lifted and lowered that screen a hundred times, so why would it decide to eat three of my fingernails right there and then?

It seems like every time my nails get long enough for nail polish something like this happens.  (And I have a signing on Sunday.  They won't grow much before then.)

So, what annoying thing happened to you over the weekend?

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

About that contest . . .

Victoria Square logo Okay, yesterday I was supposed to announce the winner of the NAME THE THIRD VICTORIA SQUARE MYSTERY.
As contests go, this was very successful.  I had over 90 suggestions from more than 30 entries.

I kept two lists.  The first was everything:  who suggested the title and the titles themselves.  The second list had just the titles.  I didn't pay attention as to who suggested what.  That way I figured everybody had a fair shot at it.

So, I sorted through the list and picked out my six favorites.  Then I narrowed it down to one.  Great title: I wrote to the winner and said--YOU WON!!!  Then I told Mr. L the winning entry.

"Isn't that a book by Dick Francis."  Oops.  No wonder I liked the title.  I went to Amazon and sure enough, there were at least four other booths with a variation of that as a title.  (Dead Heat.)

Clearly, I wasn't as good at this as I thought.

Oh well, I sent off all the titles to my editor.  I figured he'd pick a good one.  And I went back to Amazon.  Sure enough, there were variations of ALL of them.

Woe is me.

NO! My editor shot back an email saying he didn't like ANY of the titles.
Woe is me times two.

Oh well.  I'll just award a prize to the person who suggested MY favorite title.  But, oh!  It's my friend Dru-Ann Love.  Dru reviews cozy mysteries each 15th of the Month on the Cozy Chicks blog, of which I am a member.  It might look like favoritism.  (Although Dru never reviews any cozy chicks book on our blog as it might look like favoritism.) AND Dru already gets books from my publisher TO review, including Sentenced to Death--the prize in this contest.

Okay, so I had to go back and look at the list and pick out my next favorite title on the short list, even though it will NOT be used on the book.  (Marketing is going to name this one--just like they named A Crafty Killing (don't tell anyone but I loathe that title--but hey, as long as the checks keeps clearing, I'm good with it).)  I'll give her a gift certificate to either Amazon or Barnes & Noble because I know she has both a Kindle and a Nook.

So, the runner up title in the contest is PLAYING WITH FIRE by Michelle Fidler.  I'll be popping that ARC of the book into the mail either today or tomorrow.

Whew.  Glad that's over with.  I might think twice before I do another contest.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Just another way to go crazy

Chart Several months ago, Amazon started sharing Bookscan numbers with authors.

According to Wikipedia:  Nielsen BookScan is a data provider for the book publishing industry, owned by the Nielsen Company. BookScan compiles point of sale data for book sales.

Bookscan doesn't track ALL books sold, but it can give you an idea of what and where you're selling.

Of course, like the Amazon rankings, it can drive you crazy as you watch your numbers go down every week.  (On Amazon that's good.  On Bookscan that's bad.)

BOUND_BY_SUGGESTION_sm The Jeff Resnick books have been available for well over a month now, and they've suddenly shown up on Bookscan.  I hadn't been expecting this.  So far 9 copies have sold.  That means that BOOKSELLERS are selling copies of the books!!!  I'm astounded and extremely happy.  (I just wish the numbers were a heck of a lot better.)  Most of my sales have been from Amazon, which don't show up on Bookscan.  And since I lowered the price to $11.95 (just a week ago), they've been selling quite a bit better.

(So if you've been holding off--quick!  Go buy copies of the books.  Do it now.  We'll wait.)

Sentenced.sm Sentenced to Death comes out in four weeks.  It'll be interesting to see if the sales of the rest of the Booktown Mysteries pick up.  (And why doesn't Bookmarked for Death sell as well as the other books in the series???)

Okay, I admit it, I'm a numbers freak.  I love my spreadsheets and I work on them every day.  It's fun.  It's frustrating.  It's anal.  But I do it anyway.

What do you do that's fun, frustrating and anal?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Title Contest--win a free book!

Diner lunch So, I had several lovely chats with my editor last weekend, one of them over lunch, and one topic of conversation concerned Victoria Square #3. I'd been calling it "A Hot Time In The Old Town."  My editor shook his head.  "Too long.  Got anything else?"

Uh ... no.

But I'll just bet you guys can come up with something.

Okay, not to give away too much of the plot, but the story has two major themes:  the crime is arson (and a murder) during a prolonged heat wave.

What can you come up with for that?

The Deadline?  Monday, May 9th (winner to be announced on May 10th).

Sentenced to death The prize?  An Advance Review Copy of SENTENCED TO DEATH (which is the next Booktown Mystery and will be available on June 7th.)  I'll also toss in a goody bag of author swag.

Send your entries to contest @ LornaBarrett.com (and close up those spaces so this email address works).  Don't forget to include your snail mail address.

So, bring on the great title ideas!

Thanks!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

To Tweet or not to Tweet--that is the question

Twitter-follow If everybody I know tweets, how come they haven't found me and I haven't found them on Twitter?

Okay, I admit it.  I just don't get Twitter.  I mean, I've been on it for like two years, and I don't get it.  I've even taken an online class about it and still haven't picked up the intricacies.

Shakespear on twitter I use Tweetdeck, which seems a lot more coherent than just a plain Twitter account, and this way I can coordinate my various personas.  Nice.  But what am I supposed to tweet?

And it seems like almost all my followers are other authors.  We're all telling each other about our books and not selling any of them.

I find people who tweet constantly to be a real PITA and I unfollow them as soon as possible.  I mean, do I need to know every time they burp or take a sip of Diet Coke?

I'm not saying I'm going to pitch Tweetdeck any time soon, but I don't even log on every day.

If you use Twitter, what do you think the greatest benefit is?

BTW, if you WANT to follow me, I'm @LornaBarrett @LorraineBartlet @LLBartlettbooks

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

There's no place like home!

Dorothy's heels I'm home at last after being away for six days and five nights . . . and all I can say is "There's no place like home."

Am I sorry I went away?  Heck no!  I loved seeing my friends, meeting readers, and talking with my agent and editor.  But it's too bad you can't just beam in for the festivities and beam back home to your own bed at night.

I love to go out to lunch, but I like eating breakfast and dinner at home.  Going out to eat for all three meals of the day gets tiresome.  And the portions at restaurants are way too big.  As a kid who grew up cleaning her plate, it's hard to leave something behind, but I'm learning.

"Being on" is very tiring.  I was working on the outline for a new story (that may never see the light of day), so I could retreat to my head on various occasions when things got to be too much.  And since I NEVER work from an outline, this was a new experience.  At least if I never finish the story, I know how it ends!

Rain on the roof Weather can be your friend when it's nice, and your enemy when it stinks.  I had stinky weather on the trip home.  Continuous rain and some pretty nasty fog.  So much fog, that I pulled off I-90 and drove the back roads until I was far enough away from Lake Erie that the fog had dissipated.

There is no place like home.  After being on the road, I pulled up the driveway and saw my cat Fred's little face peering through the front door to make sure it really was me.  *Sniff*

Okay, so I now have no plans to travel again until next April for the next Malice Domestic conference.  That makes me sad . . . I like the journey and I like the destination . . . I just hate the travel home.

What's your favorite part of a trip?

(P.S. As soon as I download my pictures, I'll post them on my Facebook page.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How To Insult An Author

Ugly baby If you want to know how to insult an author, call her baby ugly.

That happened to me twice over the weekend while I was at the Malice Domestic Conference and at the Festival of Mystery.

Friday, I met a couple of friends at one of the VERY FEW seating areas at the Hyatt Regency in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Note to hotels:  If you host conferences, please add more groups of seats to your common areas so people who visit your hotel and have a need to network have somewhere to do it.)  One of the women sitting there (a stranger to me) called out and said, "I LOVE your books."  What author doesn't like to hear that (and beam with pride)?

So I said, "Thank you.  Have you read my Jeff Resnick books?"

The woman's smile disappeared, a her lips pursed, and she said, "I don't read THOSE kinds of books."

Maybe if I had had a decent night's sleep during the preceding 3-4 weeks, I might have handled her comment in a better way.  But it was the way she said it.  Suddenly I was my character Jeff Resnick, someone who has been beaten over the head and made to feel small, insignificant, and struggling for acceptance.  I've felt that way a LOT since November 18, 2005 -- the day the book first came out.

Of course, THOSE kinds of books contain a paranormal thread.

No vampires Now by paranormal, I don't mean Vampires, Zombies, Werewolves, Shapeshifters, yada yada yada. The paranormal element in my Jeff Resnick books concerns him being a tad psychic--that because he was mugged and suffered a head injury, he has become a little bit psychic.  He doesn't solve crimes BECAUSE of this ability.  Jeff is a former insurance investigator. He has experience solving crimes.

Most readers are unaware that I write more than just cozy mysteries.  Say, Fantasy?  Science Fiction, a little Romance.  Women's Fiction.  I ain't no one-trick pony.

My Jeff Resnick books can either be billed as psychological suspense or paranormal thrillers.  But the one thing they have in common (and I like to think all my work has in common) with my Cozy Mystery series is heart.  The only way I know how to convey heart is through characterization.  I've been told I do it pretty well.

So if you're one of those people who "doesn't read that kind of book," would you insult the author by calling her baby ugly, or would you simply smile and say, "No."

If you said no, I would have handed you a bookmark and said, "I hope you'll give it a try."