Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Well, I'll be Skyped!

SkypeA couple of months ago, a librarian asked me to talk to her library group about the Booktown Mysteries.  The only thing was, they were out of state.  What's a person to do?

Skype!

For several years, I've offered to talk to reader groups via Skype, and no one has taken me up on it.  I kind of forgot about it, so it was a bit of a shock when I got approached to talk to the group in February.  The day they were meeting, I was scheduled to be out of town.  I didn't want to take a chance on iffy Internet connections, so we rescheduled for this week.

This week is here.

I didn't have Skype, either.

I do now.  And thanks to my pals, Ellery Adams and Julie Hyzy, I tested it and had two very nice long-distance discussions, and I got to see my friends, who I haven't seen since last April.  Weeee!  This is fun!
Skype&computerNow the real test comes on Friday when I fire up my laptop and talk to that library group.  Gulp!  I'm off to go get beautiful!

Do you use Skype or a service like it?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hauntingly similar, eh?

Hauled out the suitcase ... getting ready for my trip to Charlottesville, Virginia next month and the Virginia Festival of the Book.  Uh-oh ... who (what?) does my suitcase remind me of?

Bag1.tiny Easter island head

Monday, February 27, 2012

My book on the Silver Screen? Could it ever really happen?

Okay, I did NOT see any of the films in this year's Oscar race.  Not one.  I heard about all of them.  I saw clips on all of them (even three of the short features), but time to go to the movies?  Fuggetaboutit! I didn't even get to see the last Harry Potter on the big screen.  I was busy writing. (The last movie I went to see was The King's Speech.  It was good!)

MOTM-ebook.sm-1But last night I had a bit of a fun time on Facebook.  I posted that I thought it would be cool if one of my books made it to the movies, and I picked Murder on The Mind, the first Jeff Resnick book.  One of my readers suggested one of the Booktowns would make a good movie, but while my readers might be happy, the coveted 18-49 male demographic would never tear themselves away from their video games and Youtube to make it to the theater.  (But they'd probably do really well on TV. How about the Hallmark Channel?)

Bradley cooperSomeone suggested that Bradley Cooper play Jeff Resnick, the hero of Murder On The Mind (and the rest of the series).  I must confess, I never even heard of Bradley Cooper. (Writers don't get out that much.  I mean, I make it to the grocery store once a week, and that's about it.)  I looked him up on Google images and -- hot damn, he's good looking.  He's got mesmerizing blue eyes.  Jeff has muddy brown eyes.  I think I could overlook that tiny imperfection in the actor.

Phillip Seymour HoffmanI've always thought that Phillip Seymour Hoffman would be terrific as Richard.  (He'd have to dye his hair brown -- but actors do that a lot.  Maybe he could lose a few pounds, too.  (Couldn't we all--or at least a bunch of us--do with that, too?) The fact that Mr. Hoffman is a Rochester, NY Native (okay, Pittsford--let's not quibble) would make it even better!

Jennifer HudsonFrom the first time I saw Jennifer Hudson (and I don't even remember where that was), I thought she'd make a terrific Brenda.  (She doesn't have to sing for the role!)  Can't you just picture her bossing Richard and Jeff around?

Gates mcfaddenI haven't given much thought as to who could play Maggie.  When I picture her as I'm writing the character, it's Gates McFadden I see, but she's too old for the part now.  Still, 15 years ago, she would have made a fabulous Maggie.

Is there a chance in hell this book would be made into a movie?  Well, a production company did request a copy -- but they never optioned it.  (I have a friend who's had a book optioned.  So far ... no movie.  But they keep renewing the option, so there is hope.)  Of course if you know someone at a production company, hey--mention Jeff's name, willya?

So, what do you think about my casting?  Disagree?  Who do you see playing the major roles?
 .

Friday, February 24, 2012

The first signs of spring . . .

The other day it snowed overnight.  (Is that an oxymoron?  Anyway, it did.)  The snow was the wet, heavy spring type snow.  And it melted by lunchtime.

DaffydillsThe daffodils are up by several inches.  Now we're waiting for the snowdrops.

It's been a mild winter, but it's still winter.  I'm ready for warm weather.  Zephyr breezes.  Planting my snow peas (and I'll do it on time, this year).

I'm ready for spring.  How about you?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Scared of crossing genre lines?

by guest blogger Kelly McClymer

Dick and janeI started reading with Dick and Jane. Kids today have many more colorful options, but Dick and Jane gave a big advantage to this budding book lover: they made everything else I ever read seem interesting and fun. I felt there was no boundary too far to run from Dick and Jane. And Spot. Mars? Sounds like a grand time. A little house on the prairie? I’m there. A windswept Prince Edward Island in the early 1900s? Sign me up. Narnia, or a time warp? Oh yeah.

Which brings me to my pet peeve (thanks, Lorraine, for letting me vent today): people who are afraid to cross genre lines. They make seemingly reasonable statements like, “I only read cozies.” Or romance. Or thrillers. Or Oprah picks. Or more inflammatory statements like, “Romance is brain fluff.” or “Science fiction is about ideas and I like books about people.” In some quarters, them’s fighting words.

Sometimes I wonder if I may have been afraid to cross genre lines at some point if my parents had not bemusedly encouraged my vacuum-cleaner-like book choices (start at the beginning of one library shelf, and work my way across, down to the next shelf, and the next, and the …). That kind of reading history inoculated me from believing any common genre prejudice.

Science fiction is not about people? Of course it is. I knew that because I ran across John Brunner’s classic The Sheep Look Up on my uncle’s living room end table when I was 12. That book is all about people, and science (and how corporate greed is toxic to the people – and it was written in the 70s).
Brain candyRomance is brain fluff? Snort. I’ve been married for over 3 decades, and there’s many a romance (and a few science fiction, mystery, thrillers and fantasies) that’s helped me through the minefield of the romantic relationship many a time – and entertained me along the way.

Fiction gives me insight into human beings (even when they’re disguised as robots or vampires). I need that insight, because – as I discovered while raising a son on the autism spectrum – I’m really not good at picking up people clues in the real world.

I’m proud to say I’ve never met a genre line I was afraid to cross. Some I like more than others, but every genre out there offers me some new perspective on people, life, living, and myself.

Which brings me to my secondary pet peeve: publishers’ fear of genre mixing in anthologies. When you find an anthology, it usually has similar genre stories (maybe a publisher will be daring and mix in some romantic mystery, history, suspense…maybe). But usually they stick stories into same genre boxes.

At Backlist Ebooks, we thought outside the genre box for our anthology of backlist tales. Our stories cross all the lines: mystery, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, contemporary, horror, you name it. After all, our authors have backlists in multiple genres. Many of our individual authors cross genre lines within their own backlist. I write historical romance, science fiction, YA (fantasy and contemporary humor), and whatever else strikes my fancy.
Tales from the backlistThis anthology, Tales From the Backlist, is a work of hope by the members of Backlist Ebooks. We want to support our fledgling backlist author platform. And we hope that readers may dare to cross a genre line or two and find a new genre playground or two that satisfies the reading itch. Take a chance and cross the genre line with our short stories. I dare ya.
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Kelly McClymer has one foot in traditional publishing, with her YA series The Salem Witch Tryouts, and one foot in the indie publishing world, with her backlist Once Upon a Wedding historical romance series. To scramble things up further, her Tales from the Backlist story "Diapers, DIshes, and Demons" is a literary fantasy about a woman for whom post-partum depression is a very real -- and annoying -- demon. You can find Kelly at her website http://kellymcclymer.com, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

 (P.S. Lorraine has a story in Tales from the Backlist, too.  It's my Jeff Resnick story, COLD CASE.)
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gonna Visit My Uncle Sam -- who has his hand out

Tax timeDon't you just LOVE to spend hours pouring over a spreadsheet adding up each and every trip to the post office, counting the miles AND the postage?  Well, that's how I spent yesterday.  I spent nearly $3,000 in postage in 2011, and will probably spend as much if not more in 2012.  All part of my job of promoting my books.

But that's not a beef.  Honest.  And it really didn't take all that long yesterday because my figures, when broken out, added up with the total at the bottom of the spreadsheet.  Usually I screw up with my formulas and have to go over the figures time and again.  Yesterday?  Not at all.  But then I realized there were missing items.  Like my new keyboard.  I couldn't find the receipt and I couldn't find item listed on my Visa bill (because I couldn't remember the date I bought it).  So ... that didn't get counted.  I know there were others, and I try to be meticulous about keeping receipts and adding the totals to my spreadsheet. Must try harder this year.

Small notebooksKeeping track of my mileage is the worst.  This year I did a better job, but still missed writing down the mileage for my stock signings.  Oh well.  I should keep a special notebook in the car and take down the beginning and ending numbers on those trips.  (Betcha I forget to do that!)

No turbo tax for me.  I go to an accountant.  Are you kidding?  The IRS makes authors jump through hoops.  We're self-employed.  We have to pay estimated taxes quarterly.  Schedule C for me!  I supply the numbers, my accountant puts them in his spreadsheet, hits, a button, prints out the tax forms, and the estimated tickets and envelopes, and I'm done for the year.  Unless I make a LOT less or a LOT more and need to adjust my 4th quarter payment, which has happened in the past.
Tax time is not fun time.  But tax time means Spring is on the way.  Hey, I have to find something positive about the experience, don't I?

How about you?  Expecting a refund this year?  (Sadly, I'm not.)
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

And since we're on the subject of covers ....

One of the great things about being an indie author is that if something isn't working, you can fix it--or at least play with it.  That goes for your title, your book/story description, and covers, too.

One of my favorite short stories hasn't done all that well.  Okay, so it's kind of a romance, but it's got a lot of heart and for a long time I was disappointed that it didn't sell.  Not for lack of trying.  I submitted the story four times and they asked for three rewrites.  But we just couldn't come to an agreement on certain aspects of the story.  In the long run, I'm rather pleased that I have full control over it.  And although it's not a huge seller like say ... oh, I don't know -- A Crafty Killing and The Walled Flower , in the 18 months it's been available, it has earned me more than I would have gotten at 6 cents a word way  back when.

I changed the cover for the 3rd time last year about this time. I also changed the title for the third time.  So you see, this little story has been around the block a few times, trying to find its way and its audience.

OnlySkinDeep.sm Sex-Stranger_cover.sm
Unconditional.SM Unconventional Love#4.sm

The story has done best as "An Unconditional Love."  I liked the image, but it wasn't working.  That cover was kind of done by committee.  I asked for ideas on Facebook and a bunch of readers weighed in. But it was my Cozy Chick sister Heather Webber (also known as Heather Blake) who found the image that was perfect for the story.

DESCRIPTIONA one-night stand changes Leslie Turner's life forever when she discovers she's pregnant. Keeping the child means losing her business. Even more devastating, the baby is born with a disfiguring birth defect. Her carefully planned life falls apart . . . until years later when she once again meets her baby's father. Can they ever be a family?


Here's a short review by  Dru Ann Love of Dru's Book Musings"What happens when your friend's widowed husband comes into your bar and drowns out his sorrow? You drive him home and that one night of unexpected passion changes the course of your life. This was a heartwarming and tender story of one woman's journey of love and forgiveness."

Will this variation of the old cover work?  Who knows.  But it's kind of fun to try.  I might be doing more of it in the near future, too.

So, which cover do you like best?
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Monday, February 20, 2012

What's wrong with my series?

My good pal Pat Ryan did a gorgeous cover for my fourth Jeff Resnick book.  Heck, she did gorgeous covers for the whole series.  But for some reason the short story that inspired the book, COLD CASE, outsells the book like crazy, even though there's a commercial FOR the book at the end of the short story.  The short story's picture relates to the opening of the book. The book's cover picture relates to the stunning ending. I love the way the rope (BOUND) is pulling the word "suggestion down."  It's a wonderful cover and one of Pat's favorites.
ColdCase.sm
BOUND_BY_SUGGESTION_sm


When Mr. L and I put the cover of Cold Case together, we had a hard time finding the picture.  Neither of us was happy with it, and yet ... apparently it works because that short story outsells the novel by 60%.
That's a HUGE, WHOPPING DIFFERENCE.

Math-chalkboardI had a discussion with another of my indie publishing pals who's doing quite well.  We looked at my numbers for the whole Jeff Resnick series and had to shake our heads.  Why isn't that puppy finding an audience?  It's got great covers, great reviews, and EVERY WEEK readers write to beg me to finish the next book in the series.   Just not ENOUGH readers.

My friend's analysis:  I need to find that series a new audience. But that's been the problem all along. I don't know WHERE to find that audience.  Clearly a huge chunk my cozy readers aren't interested in trying something a little edgier. Or maybe they're put off by the word "paranormal" thinking it'll involve vampires, werewolves, and/or zombies.

No.  My stories are and always have been CHARACTER DRIVEN. There's a paranormal element, but it's not a cheap gimmick. It's just part of who Jeff is.

But back to the question of finding that audience.  I've tried.  I've lowered the first book to 99¢.  Heck, I've even given away more than 26,000 copies for free.  I've priced it at $1.99 and I've priced it at $2.99 and $3.99. (It's currently $2.99)  For those who say they will never buy an e reader, the books are available as a trade paperbacks.

Monkey ponderingWhat's it going to take for the books of my heart to find an audience?
I sure hope you've got ideas, because I'm fresh out.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Happy Birthday to my Dad!

"Nothing on earth can make
up for the loss of one who
has loved you."
--Selma Lagert

I lost my Dad in October of 2009, just as Lorna was starting to see some success.  He never knew most of the Lorna triumphs.  Hitting the New York Times bestsellers list--not just the extended list, but the REAL list (so far three times).  He never saw the third book in the series.  He never knew it was nominated for an Agatha for best novel of 2009. He never knew I sold another series under my own name -- the one he gave me.

Yesterday I learned I hit the New York Times bestsellers (extended) list for the first time under my own name for The Walled Flower.  And guess what, I hit higher than Lorna did on her first time. #25.

Yesterday would have been my Dad's birthday.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

HBDad

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Join me on my blog tour!

One of the things that happens around the time an author puts out a new books is ... they're suddenly in demand! Since The Walled Flower came out last week, I've been all over the place.  Did you miss some of my posts?

They were/are:

Feb. 6th  ~ Dru's Book Musings. (Where I talked about Katie's home search.)

Feb. 13th ~ Authors Are People, Too (Interview -- some real oddball questions, which made it fun!)

Feb 15th  ~ Escape with Dollycas Into A Book (Where I talk about bridesmaids)

And Sunday I'll be at Mystery Lovers Kitchen with a great new recipe!

See you there!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

To celebrate this day of love . . .

First off, Happy Valentine's Day!

Couple-valentines-dayMay you and the one you love have a wonderful, sweet, day.  Mr. L and I always celebrate with a Valentine's tea.  This year will be no different.  I'll make the scones, the dainty sandwiches, and haul out the good silver and dishes--while he gets to eat the bounty.  : )

In case you've got extra time on your hands today, maybe you'd like to check out Lauren Royal's blog AUTHORS ARE PEOPLE, TOO.  Here's an interview where there's no talk of writing--just oddball stuff that authors do.  Lauren thought some of my answers were pretty oddball indeed.  Maybe you will, too.
Check it out.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ouch! Get a band-aid for my fruit!

By Guest Blogger Lucy Arlington (aka Sylvia May)

Big bananaI love fruit. Apples, oranges, bananas, berries, pears, kiwis--you name it, I love every kind.  But I’m persnickety about when they’re at their best. Take bananas, for instance. I prefer them just on the edge of ripeness. Not so green and hard that they feel funny on your teeth, but firm enough that someone like my hubby might say, “This banana is not quite ripe.” But any riper and I find it too mushy with too strong a flavour. Another example is my favourite apple, the Golden Delicious, which, in my opinion, is at its best when it’s still a tad on the green side. More yellow and it tastes too mealy to me. And, oh, pears are so wonderful when they’re crunchy!

Considering how finicky I am with regard to my fruit, you can easily imagine how I might be choosy about selecting the ones I bring home. At the market, I carefully look for a bunch of bananas at just the right state of green-ness, I press gently into apples and pears to see that they’re hard enough, I sniff and knock on melons.

Making sure they are carefully packed into my reusable bags, I set the bags carefully into the trunk of my car and at home I gently place them on the kitchen counter. Still, when I take out my bunch of perfect bananas, there, right along the edge of the curve, is a brown spot. And some of my pears have dents in them.

Does that bother you too? The damage inflicted on fruit as it is transported from the grocer’s shelf to your kitchen? How do we avoid that? We can hardly keep a supply of bubble wrap in our reusable grocery bags!

Little fruit bowlSo I put up with the odd bruise and eat my slightly injured perfect-to-me fruit anyway, savouring its deliciousness. Life is like that too, isn’t it? We put up with a few bruises along the way but savour it nonetheless.
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Lucy Arlington is the nom de plume for the writing team of Sylvia May and Ellery Adams. As an amalgamated personality, she is an avid reader, cook, and gardener. If she had her way, she'd divide her time between preparing delectables in her kitchen, traveling the globe on her scooter, and sitting in a comfortable chair with a cup of coffee and a paperback until her legs cramped. Lucy is devoted to her husband and children - especially when they ply her with chocolate and gift cards to bookstores.


Lucy's first novel, "Buried in a Book," a Novel Idea Mystery, has just been released. Visit her website at www.lucyarlington.com

Sylvia May is the author of The Unraveling of Abby Settel. Visit her website at 
www.sylviamay.com.


Ellery Adams is the author of Books By the Bay Mysteries and upcoming Charmed Pie Mysteries. Visit her website at www.elleryadamsmysteries.com

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

At the top of my To Be Read List is . . .

Buried in a book.medOops -- in my excitement in announcing that The Walled Flower was now available, I forgot to mention that my pal Lucy Arlington has a new release as well.  It's Buried in a Book.

See if this tickles your fancy (I know it tickled mine -- I preordered it for my Kindle):

After losing her job as a journalist at the age of forty-five, Lila Wilkins accepts an internship at A Novel Idea, a thriving literary agency in North Carolina. Being paid to read seems perfect to Lila, although it's difficult with the cast of quirky co-workers and piles of query letters. But when a penniless aspiring author drops dead in the agency's waiting room--and Lila discovers a series of threatening letters--she's determined to find out who wrote him off.

You can get it from:  Amazon ~ Kindle ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Nook ~ Books A Million ~ Indigo ~ The Book Depository ~ iTunes ~ Independent (US) Bookstores


Old HauntsAnd don't forget my pal E.J. Copperman's latest in the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series:  Old Haunts.

The ghosts haunting Alison Kerby's Jersey Shore guesthouse are sad. Maxie wants to know who murdered her ex-husband, and Paul pines for his still-living almost-fiancee. The only one who isn't missing her ex is Alison-because The Swine just arrived on her doorstep...

Amazon ~ Kindle ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Nook ~ Books A Million ~ Indigo ~ The Book Depository ~ iTunes ~ Independent (US) Bookstores







CamembertAnd Clobbered by Camembert by Avery Aames, the third Cheese shop Mystery,

Cheese store owner Charlotte Bessette is setting up for the town's Winter Wonderland fair. Then, when an old friend is found dead in the cottage of Charlotte's assistant Rebecca, a suspicion falls on Rebecca's boyfriend, a honeybee farmer. While the town buzzes with gossip, can Charlotte catch the culprit without getting stung herself?

Amazon ~ Kindle  ~  Barnes & Noble ~ Nook  ~  Books A Million  ~  Indigo  ~ The Book Depository  ~ Independent (US) Bookstores

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ding-Dong the book is out!

Throw the confetti high, because the second Victoria Square Mystery, THE WALLED FLOWER, is officially released today!

NYC-new-years

TheWalledFlower.smAnd just where can you get the book?  Why, click any of the links below.

Amazon ~ Kindle

Barnes & Noble ~ Nook

Books A Million

Indigo

The Book Depository

Independent (US) Bookstores

iTunes


I'm REALLY proud of this book.  If you intend to buy it, please do so this week.  If it hits the NYTimes bestsellers list, there's a chance Lorna's readers might find out we're one and the same author.  (And maybe one day the publisher will make my name on the cover large enough to be seen without a magnifying glass, too. <g>)

In any case, thank you all, my wonderful readers, for your letters, support, and most of all for reading my books.  You're the best!
 -----------------------
P.S.  Today I'm being featured on Dru's Book Musings Blog where I'll be talking about one aspect of The Walled Flower:  Katie Bonner's home search.  Don't miss it!
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Monday, February 6, 2012

You can have a copy of my book ... just not this one

By guest blogger E.J. Copperman

Old HauntsI don't often deny my daughter, now a sophomore in college, much of anything I can afford to give her. For one thing, she doesn't want all that much, and for another, she's my daughter. So she was surprised when I told her she couldn't have the copy of my new book I had just handed her for inspection.

"But I haven't read this one yet," she protested. "Why won't you let me read it?"

I told her I was perfectly happy for her to read OLD HAUNTS, the third in the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series. In fact, i'd have been disappointed if she didn't want to read it, as I truly value her opinion (especially since she loved the first two books in the series--the girl has good taste). But I remained adamant; she couldn't have that book.

I have a few rules I apply to myself. I always skip the second step when climbing stairs (don't ask me why--I'm pretty sure even I don't understand that one). I always put on my socks before anything else in the morning. (TMI?) I always cross off the "Down" clues on the New York Times crossword puzzle as I decipher the answers, but not the "Across" ones.

And I always--always--keep the first copy of one of my books for myself, and nobody else.

There's something about that first copy, the one the publisher sends an author before the number of copies for "promotional purposes" they send because it's stipulated in the contract we sign. It's a reminder that this was a dream job, something I aspired to for years and years before gathering the nerve to even try it. It brings me back to the first copy of the first book I wrote, the way I felt when I was holding it in my hands for the first time. That's a sensation that doesn't get old. It represents effort and luck and joy and hope and a thousand other things I can't necessarily articulate.

And it's a feeling that doesn't ever go away.

So on a shelf in my office is the first copy I received of each of my books, in any edition and all configurations (large print, etc.). As the shelf becomes more crowded, it becomes a source of pride and memory. It's the kind of thing that strokes an author's ego for the right reason; it's not about money (because the money actually would take up less room on the shelf, even in singles), it's not about "fame," however incongruous a term that is for what we do. It's not about being lucky that an editor liked your writing and took the time to read your book when she could have read someone else's. It's not about beating out another writer for a space on that shelf; competition in this business is a ridiculous concept; we're all in it together.

Seeing those books, those first books, is a reminder that it took hard work to get there, and that other people helped along the way. It's a feeling of real gratitude and pride, and I look at that shelf every once in a while when things are going other than great, to remind myself that maybe I don't have it so bad after all.

So I'm sorry, honey, but you can't have that book. Instead, I'll pre-order one from a bookseller and have it sent to your college P.O. box.

You don't ever turn away an interested reader. I'm not crazy.
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 E.J. Copperman is the author of the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series, which continues Feb. 7 (Hey, that's tomorrow!) with OLD HAUNTS.

The ghosts haunting Alison Kerby's Jersey Shore guesthouse are sad. Maxie wants to know who murdered her ex-husband, and Paul pines for his still-living almost-fiancee. The only one who isn't missing her ex is Alison-because The Swine just arrived on her doorstep...

Available Tuesday from:

Amazon ~ Kindle ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Nook ~ Books A Million ~ Indigo ~ The Book Depository ~ iTunes ~ Independent (US) Bookstores

You can find out more about E.J. at www.ejcopperman.com
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Friday, February 3, 2012

Avery Aames has a pet peeve, too!

by guest blogger Avery Aames

Grocery_store_lineI’m sure someone has already groused about this already, but standing in line at the grocery store…  How is it possible that no matter what line I choose, it’s the longest? It  might look like the shortest, but lo and behold, it is not. I pull up my cart of a modest amount and start unloading, and the woman who has three things in her cart…can’t find her credit card…needs one more thing from the back of the store…the bag person decides he must help the other customer…the checker has to check the price on one of the items.  It never fails.  And then to make matters worse, the aisle next door opens up, but I’ve already laid out my things on the belt, and there isn’t a prayer in heaven that I can get those items into my basket and charge to the next line before someone—luckier than I—gets there first! 

Self-checkout-station1And don’t get me started about the self-check line. Sure, it works and can be great for moving fast unless you accidentally don’t place something in the bagging area in the allotted time, and then you need to have an attendant help you…except there are no attendants to be found!

What’s bugging you today?
======================
Avery Aames has a new CHEESE SHOP MYSTERY coming out Tuesday, February 7, CLOBBERED BY CAMEMBERT!

Cheese store owner Charlotte Bessette is setting up for the town's Winter Wonderland fair. Then, when an old friend is found dead in the cottage of Charlotte's assistant Rebecca, a suspicion falls on Rebecca's boyfriend, a honeybee farmer. While the town buzzes with gossip, can Charlotte catch the culprit without getting stung herself?

You can preorder:
Amazon ~ Kindle  ~  Barnes & Noble ~ Nook  ~  Books A Million  ~  Indigo  ~ The Book Depository  ~ Independent (US) Bookstores
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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Can I PLEASE just speak to a human being?

PubPinkby guest blogger Nancy J. Cohen

How often have you tried to reach customer service on the telephone only to be transported through multiple levels of automated replies? Not only does this take up your time, but it raises your aggravation factor tenfold. 

“Just give me a person,” you shout into the phone to no avail.

When that doesn’t work, you punch the “O” on your keypad. Instead of bringing up the operator, you get a message that says, “I’m sorry, I don’t recognize that response.” And the litany of automated choices begins again.

A while ago, I came across a post online that mentioned a website called http://gethuman.com. This useful site lists companies with instructions on how to bypass their telephone tree.

A miracle!

Of course, every time I want to call someone, I’m not going to look up this website, scroll down to the company, and read the instructions. Too much rigmarole. But the site does give some general tips that may be useful. For example, repeatedly say “Customer Service” or “Representative”, and you might get connected to a live person. Or push the zero key. As mentioned above, though, this may not get you the operator, in which case the automated choices are read to you again.

It’s just so annoying when we have to talk to a machine these days instead of a person. Trying to get hold of someone in your doctor’s office is probably the worst. You end up leaving a message, and if you’re lucky, you might get a call back by dinner time. The cable company? Forget it. We’d finally reached tech service and scheduled an appointment. The night before, we received an automated phone call that said the problem in the area had been fixed and our appointment was canceled. What problem in the area? I had to call up all over again and reschedule, then wait for two more automated confirmation phone calls.

Give me back the old days when real people answered the telephone.
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ShearMurder_(518x800)Nancy J. Cohen is an award-winning author who writes romance and mysteries. Her popular Bad Hair Day series features hairdresser Marla Shore, who solves crimes with wit and style under the sultry Florida sun. Here latest entry in the series is Shear Murder:  Who knew weddings could be murder?  Hairstylist Marla Shore is weeks away from becoming a bride herself when she walks down the aisle as a bridesmaid at her friend Jill’s ceremony. Things take a turn for the worse when the matron of honor ends up dead, the cake knife in her chest. Now what will they use to cut the cake? BUY NOW!

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