Thursday, May 31, 2012

They aren't reading my books in Germany . . .

Before I was ever published, I joined a romance writers group.  Back then, I was in awe when my pals Paticia Ryan (who also writes historical mysteries under the name P.B . Ryan) and Kathryn Shay would bring in copies of their books that had been translated into different languages.

Deb's Japanese bookBack then?  I'm still in awe.  Many of my cozy mystery author friends have had their books translated in Japanese (off the top of my head I can name Leann Sweeney, J.B. Stanley, and Hannah Reed ... and I know there are many, MANY more.)  Lorna Barrett or Lorraine Bartlett?  Fuggetaboutit!

Okay, I admit it.  I'm jealous.  I want my books translated, too.  My agent says, "Be patient." She also tells me that other countries look for different things in their cozy mysteries--not booksellers.  I had hoped my Jeff Resnick would have sold to the German market, but I fear my lack of sales here has killed that dream.  : (

Recipes_To_Die_For.smSo I was thrilled this morning to check my sales for my print books and find that a copy of Recipes to Die For had sold somewhere in Europe and I was going to get paid for it!  It wasn't translated, and I don't even know what country it sold in, but it sold for Euros.


The truth is, I'm waiting for more and more countries to get on the ebook bandwagon.  It won't mean my books will get translated, but there are a lot of English-reading people out there.  Currently my books are available online in countries like France, Germany, Italy and Spain.  The sad thing is, how many people in those countries have e readers (Kindles in particular).  I know I sell quite a few stories in Australia (thank you, Apple), and sales for Kobo readers have picked up a tiny bit, but I'd love to find a much bigger--GLOBAL--audience for my work.

Any ideas on how I can spread the work about my books to foreign countries?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Why can't I figure this out?

Some people are born with a brain that can understand techno-ese and some aren't.

Guess what category I'm in?

You'd think that a person who could construct a novel could figure out how to turn an excel spreadsheet into a word document for labels.  Not me.  I've tried.  Thank goodness I have friends who are a lot smarter than me in that respect.  I wanted to target libraries in New Hampshire and New York for my upcoming Booktown Mystery MURDER ON THE HALF SHELF, so I separated them out of my list and ... then what?

Thank heaven my friend Dru came to the rescue, or I'd be cutting and pasting for a million years.  (Surely you've heard of Dru Ann Love -- she not only has her own blog, but she reviews mysteries with the Cozy Chicks every 15th of the month.)

BartlettL-PC-MOTHS-120525-5-frontLast week I discoverd that I hadn't ordered enough postcards, so back to the printer I went.  But this time I had them change it.  I thought the original (which was REALLY BROWN) was a little dark, so I had them redo them with a peach colored background.  

Now ... to print out the new labels and stick them and the stamps on the postcards.  I've got my DVDs out and I'm ready to go.

Check your mailbox in about three weeks for your postcard!  (And if you aren't on the list, you can sign up right here at this blog. Just scroll down a bit for the sign-up form.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It's summer. So why are we living like moles?

Room darkening shadeMy office is on the west side of the house.  This time of year (and awfully early this year), it gets hot from the late afternoon sun.  (Used to be I didn't have to worry about this until July ... but this year ... Whoa!)  So, down comes the shade on the window overlooking the back yard.

Since we cut down a tree that was hanging over the pool (autumn leaves in a pool is a gigantic pain in the butt), our family room becomes an oven in the afternoon.  We suffered through it for a couple of years, but it really puts a strain on the central air conditioning.  So last week we put up drapes on the biggest window.  It doesn't completely darken the room, but now we can't see outside during the prettiest time of the day.

Closed curtainsAll these lowered shades and drapes mean we're living a pretty insulated life.  (Especially in my office, because it's a room darkening shade.)  Okay, so we had a charmed (almost snowless) winter, but still, we wait for gorgeous summer days to enjoy warm breezes and the pretty flowers in our garden.  This year, we're going for cool.

All this shade lowering has kept the house about 5 degrees cooler, which doesn't sound like much, but when Mr. AC is chugging away for more than 20 hours a day, 5 degrees less means it shuts off sooner.

We have faced the fact that our house doesn't have enough insulation.  So we're going to have to do something about it.  What, we're not yet sure . . . It's a crap shoot.  If we don't spend the money on insulation, 'we'll spend more trying to cool it down in the summer.  (And heat it in the winter.)
In the meantime, we'll keep shutting the drapes and lowering those shades.

What's your summertime beat-the-heat solution?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Kirkus Likes Murder On The Half Shelf!

No doubt about it, a good review can put you in a good mood.  Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.  In fact, a bad review can land you in the dumps for weeks, haunting your thoughts and cause you to lose confidence.  I speak from experience.

But yesterday I got a good review and that put me in a good mood (which I hope will last a couple of weeks ... especially in case any more bad reviews come in).  It was from Kirkus.  As far as I can recall, I've never been reviewed by Kirkus.  I'd heard that they could be ... well, mean is putting it mildly.  So I ws delighted that they liked Murder On The Half Shelf.  They said:

MurderOnHalfShelf.medWhen a mystery bookstore owner and her ambitious cookbook-writer sister accept a free pre-opening night room at the Sheer Comfort Inn, they walk right into murder.

Cooking maven Angelica, who’s won the room for the night, not only invites Tricia to come along, but insists on sneaking in her dog Sarge. As Tricia is walking Sarge, they discover the body of Pippa Comfort. Tricia recognizes Pippa’s husband, Jon, as Harrison Tyler, author of a famous mystery novel and her former boyfriend, who was supposed to have drowned in a boating accident 20 years before. The alibi that Harry Tyler claims now puts Tricia squarely in the sights of her current boyfriend, Police Chief Grant Baker. Because Tricia is divorced from her wealthy former husband and has seen another romance go sour, she feels hurt by Grant’s efforts to be objective and treat her as just another suspect. It doesn’t help that Tricia’s already known as the town jinx, since Pippa’s is not the first body she’s found (Sentenced to Death, 2011, etc.). Now she realizes that she’s going to have to investigate the latest murder, if only to clear her name. Stoneham, N.H., may seem like a quiet, quaint little town, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes, and Tricia’s sleuthing may lose her more than some friends, since a desperate killer will do anything to stay free, including killing again.
Barrett’s sixth Booktown mystery features a quirky collection of characters, a mystery that keeps you guessing, and some appealing appended recipes. 
Of course, it's the last sentence that will be used in blurbs and on websites and such.  
I'll take it.
Murder on the Half Shelf will be released on July 3rd.  (Just in time for the holiday and a beach read!)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Doc Martin and other things to watch

Let's face it, repetitive tasks are a little boring.  So what does one do when they have address stickers and stamps that need to go on over 2500 postcards?  Why, put on a DVD and watch a little telly.
Doc martin movies
This week, while getting sticky fingers, I've watched the two Doc Martin movies, and Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown.  Loved Doc Martin ... Mrs. Brown ... didn't NOT love it, but it was sad.  : (

Of course, now that I've seen the Doc Martin movies, I feel the need to watch the TV series.  I already know it's different from the movies.  The character is more morose; instead of being an obstetrician, he's now a former surgeon.  And he's a lot crabbier.  (I got that just from watching the commercials for it on my local PBS station.)  But my Mom and my pal Ellery Adams are nuts about the show, so I figured, what the heck and ordered the first four seasons.

Queen victoria & John BrownAfter watching Mrs. Brown, I got on the computer and read all about Queen Victoria.  Hmm...didn't know much about her after all.  Through the movie, everyone thought John Brown was nuts worrying about the Queen's security, but when I read how many times people tried to assassinate her, well, his concern seemed justified.  And he personally saved her from being shot at least once.  Good show, John Brown.

I've still got a lot of stickers and stamps to put on postcards, and up next is The Young Victoria (why not find out more about her life, eh?)  And if I'm not done with the job after that, there's always Star Trek Voyager to lean back on.  (Hey, it'll only be my 5th time through the entire 7 seasons.)

It's going to be a bummer next week when I have to give up watching DVDs and go back to writing.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cover Dilemma -- from great to horrible to "eh"

Well, nobody tells the author much of anything.  Turns out Sentenced to Death came out in large print on May 7th.  Did anybody tell me?  Nope.  Did I even know what the cover looked like?  Well, yes--I got an copy of it over a month ago--thinking the book had been out for months.  Maybe it'll (eventually) go up on Amazon.

These large print covers are hit and miss.  I'm either mildly pleased or extremely upset.

Wouldn't you be upset if your beautiful Berkley Prime Crime cover went from this:
Bookplate_Special.sm2 to this: Terrible cover

To be fair, after I protested, Wheeler, the large print publisher, did change it to this:

(Otherwise known as Barbie at the Soda Shoppe.)  Still, they never bothered to change it on Amazon or any of the other online bookstores, or WorldCat (library site).  Needless to say the book was not a big seller in large print.  : (

On a happier note:  guess what?  My publisher has decided to put out an omnibus edition of the first three volumes of the Booktown Mystery Series.  It's called Murder In Three Volumes and it'll be 888 pages and sell for $16 list (but Barnes and Noble and Amazon are already offering it for $10.88.)  I don't have a cover yet -- they aren't going to pay big bucks to commission a new one.  They'll use one of the existing covers and put some new type on it. I'm hoping it'll be the Murder is Binding cover.  I'm sure it'll be available for e readers, too.  It'll be out on October 2nd.

Gold canineBut in the meantime, it's only 42 days until Murder on the Half Shelf comes out, and I have to admit I'm pretty nervous.  It's a HUGE step going from paperback to hardcover (especially in these times).  So all I can do is cross my fingers and hope that everyone loves my new (and old) characters.  Here's a hint of something to come.

Care to speculate?

Monday, May 21, 2012

A yard sale treasure

As many of you know, I'm a die-hard yard sale person.  I love them!  And I've found all kinds of nifty stuff at them over the years.

Lap deskMany years ago, my mother bought me a lap desk.  It had little Styrofoam beads in it's cushioned underbelly and it was kind of small.  I must confess, I never used it much because it was just too tiny.  It looked a bit like the one pictured on the right.

Last summer I saw a "lap desk" that was quite a bit bigger.  Someone had obviously taken a tole painting class and had used it for a project.  Not the best roses I've ever seen, but I bought it as a working tool, not a thing of beauty.  But  what a beauty it has turned out to be.

Lapdesk in actionI have a distinct lack of working/flat surfaces in my office, so this lap desk comes in handy.  I can sit in my computer chair and stick stamps on postcards, or labels on envelopes.  I can take it into the living room and use it when I watch TV. (As you can see by the picture, I'm getting packages of bookmarks ready to go out to booksellers.)

Best of all, it cost me a buck.

Amazon has several that are sort of like this, and I'm tempted to buy one, just so I can have it stashed in another part of the house or at the cottage.

Or maybe I'll get lucky at another yard sale.

What little thing has made life in your home office easier?

Friday, May 18, 2012

I like my highlights

Hair w highlightsEarlier this year, I got my hair highlighted for the very first time. I liked it, and got a lot of compliments.  But honestly,  it's really rough on my hair--and it takes a LONG time, and it ain't cheap.

Now when I wash it, I not only use special shampoo for colored hair, but a special conditioner.  Then I squirt on something that supposedly stays on it. Finally, when it's dry (and frizzy), some kind of smoothing stuff (that the hairdresser said, "don't get it near your roots, or your hair will look greasy").

I'm thinking about forgoing highlights until my next big speaking gig (in the fall), but I really like them.  I was thinking of using a product like Sun-In.  I remember it was a BIG scandal in high school when one of the Sun-ingirls came back from summer vacation and her formerly brown hair was blonde.  She said it was from swimming in her family's pool, but we all knew she'd been using Sun-In all summer.  Another friend of mine used it every day during the summer and her dirty blonde hair went to platinum blonde.  (She was really fair-skinned, so it actually suited her.)

So, what's the low-down on Sun-In -- will it take the place of the expensive highlights at the salon?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Is Tai Chi For Me?

Boy am I stressed out.  I thought once I handed in my (overdue) manuscript that things would magically smooth out.  But then we had a guest come, which means cleaning the house from top to bottom, and put on a big holiday dinner, and then I got a couple of nasty "fan" letters. So instead of mellowiing out, my nerves are taut and about ready to snap.

Tai chi for beginnersYesterday I ordered a tai chi DVD.  I've been thinking about this for a long time.  I like the idea of slow, measured moves that are supposed to bring tranquility.  I hope that if I jump off the Internet and do the moves before breakfast, I will have a much more peaceful and focused day.

Anybody out there do tai chi?  And if so, what were your results?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The mysterious, disappearing ink

Hp inkSo there I was, in the middle of a BIG project, which included printing out pretty pictures on my inkjet printer, and ... didn't I run out of ink right in the middle of the print job?

It's working fine, it's working fine, it's working fine -- MY GOD, THE BLACK INK IS NOW GRAY.  Which means the color picture is going light, too.  Ugh.  And, it was too close to dinner to drop everything and run out to the office supply store (where I just was on Saturday).

Of course, this is an old printer.  Seems to me they look at their stock for older printers and go, "Hmm...Lorraine needs this.  Let's jack up the price by 50%."  Growl.  I could buy it cheaper online, but then I'd have to wait a week to get it.  I want to finish this job today.

So guess where I'm going as soon as the store opens this morning?

Does this always happen to you, too?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Free at last ... sort of

MurderOnHalfShelf.medOkay, I'm not really free at last, but I did have a huge burdon of guilt lifted when I handed in the manuscript for THE CHAMBER PLOT, my title (which may not last when Marketing hears of it) for the 7th Booktown Mystery.  Can't tell you about it now.  I'll talk about it later this summer ... after Murder on the Half Shelf comes out.  (That's July 3rd for those of you who like to mark your calendars.

I must admit I dragged my feet a bit about finishing the book. There's a new character (who first shows up in Murder On The Half Shelf) that is such a delight to write, and I never know what's going to come out of her mouth next.  I'm looking forward to finding out what she'll be doing in the next book.

Speaking of which, during the next few months I'll be working on the 8th book in the series (no title yet), and on the 4th Victoria Square Mystery.  (No contract yet--but it's in the works.  Best to start now just in case I have to turn it in earlier than I thought.)  But honestly, first I'm taking the rest of the month off to do administrative stuff.  Like send out bookmarks to independent booksellers (and if you're one and would like some--please ask!), and get my postcards ready for readers and libraries.  This effort requires sitting for hours and hours on end sticking down labels and stamps -- usually in front of a TV set with DVDs.  Hey, it's a difficult job, but somebody has to do it, right?

BartlettL-PC-MOTHS-120223-frontWhere do I get my addresses from?  Why people who sign up for my e newsletter.  There's the option of adding your address, and if you do, you'll get a postcard.  Also, I'd love to know if there are libraries out there who would like to be notified of my new books, and/or if they would like signed bookmarks to hand out to patrons.  So if you haven't already signed up, do it now--there's a sign-up form right on this page--scroll down if you don't already see it.  (But look for a confirmation email to follow--it might end up in your spam folder. and, BTW, I don't share or sell addresses.)

Off to work.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Will Love Heal?

CHEATED_no_2.smWhat can I say?  There's a reason I hold contests to title my books.  I'm really NOT very good at it.  Okay, sometimes I get lucky.  I thought Dead in Red was a good name.  And Cheated By Death. And Bookplate Special.  Otherwise, other people have named my book. (Doesn't mean I always like those titles.  A Crafty Killing?  Come on.  (Thank you Penguin Marketing.  NOT.))

So when I uploaded one of my more romancy e stort stories I found myself looking at my original title (Valentine's Day) and grimacing.  So, after much soul searching, I renamed it Are You Lonely Tonight.  (And it's not the same as the Elvis song...just reminiscent of it.)

Lonely_smThe first cover was okay.  When we did it, that's the kind of cover people were doing (with the bands of color--or in this case black and gray).  I thought the woman looked wistful.  Maybe she looked like a bimbo, because the story didn't sell well.  (Of course, short stories aren't known to be hot sellers, anyway.)

Just last month we changed it to a color photo of a wistful brunette.  Guess what?  Sales still stunk.  Only one thing left to do.  Change the title.

So there we were, driving down the Pennsylvania turnpike last week, and I asked my pal and passenger Leann Sweeney what she thought.  (This, after giving her a brief description of the story.)  She thought about it for a moment and blurted:  "Love Heals."

Love_Heals.smWow.  Short, powerful, and it describes the story in a nutshell.  (She's good.)
So for better or for worse, Love Heals is now out there.  Now to see if this marketing ploy actually works.

In case you're interested, here's the blurb:  It's the most romantic night of the year and Diana Mason is alone.  She broke up with her boyfriend because he wanted a playmate not a soul mate, but it's someone else who haunts her thoughts on the most romantic of holidays.  Is there a chance he's thinking of her, too?

Kindle ~ Nook ~ Smashwords

So does this title (and cover) grab you?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I can hear perfectly fine--I'm just not listening

Ear trumpet I hear perfectly fine.  When I'm not in a crowded room, or if someone is looking at me.  The rest of the time?  Not so much.

What happened?

For more than 25 years, I wore earphones to listen to music.  When I went to concerts, I didn't wear ear protection.  (I didn't wear it when I cut the lawn, or in other noisy places, like working in a machine shop for 18 months.)  All that loud music had an accumulative bearing on what I can now hear.

I gave up earphones when I lost my day job.  No need to wear them anymore.  I do have an MP3 player, but usually I plug it into my little speakers, which don't play very loud--just loud enough.

RushWhen you're younger, you don't care about the long-term effects of noise.  Years ago, I remember going to a Rush concert, and when we came out my brother was rather proud of the fact his ears were ringing.  I was smart.  (I had put in earplugs before the concert began.)  Two hours of explosively loud music had damaged my brother's hearing just a little bit more.  Me?  My ears weren't ringing.  I went to one more concert after that, and since have been to none.  The music is just too loud, and I now value my precious ability to hear more than I value a couple of hours of listening to a favorite band live. (That's why they have live albums.)

I suppose eventually I'll have to get a couple of hearing aids, and I'm not looking forward to that day.

How about you?  Have you damaged your hearing?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Doesn't everyone need thousands of note cards?

ME thank youOkay, it's a sickness.  I'm like a hoarder, I guess.  But for some reason I cannot stop buying note cards.

I went to a sale at the local historical association over the weekend.  Guess what I bought?  Two bags full of blank and other cards.  It was the sympathy cards that suckered me in.  It seems that all too often I'm sending them these days.  I know how comforting it was to hear from friends when my dad passed, and I try to send out a card whenever I hear that a friend has lost a loved one.

One of the bags was chock full of thank you cards, too.  Very cute ones.  I send out a LOT of thank you cards, so this was perfect.

I must have spent almost an hour examining each and every card in those two bags.  The cost?  $2.  I'd say that was $2 well spent.

Yard sale season is on!  What will you be looking for?

Friday, May 4, 2012

One of the best gifts ever

IhomeMy brother gave me the BEST Christmas present ever.  An MP3 Player and a pair of tiny, battery-operated speakers.

First of all, this was the second MP3 player he's given me.  I was never able to figure out the first one, even though it came with directions.  Of course, he just gave it to me.  With this 2nd one, he actually came over and showed me how to burn my CDs to it.  Wee, cool!

But even more awesome, he gave me those tiny speakers. For years I'd been hauling around a BIG CD player when I went on a road trip.  Never again!  We took these on vacation (a cruise/train journey) and enjoyed them every day.

Caribbean nightsBut even more awesome, now I can save money when I buy my music.  Instead of buying my CDs through the mail, I skip the CD and the shipping charge and just download them to my computer.  I can still burn them to a CD if I want to, too.  (Like this last one I bought.)

Music is a big part of my life, and carrying a lot of it with me has become a lot easier.

What's made your life easier?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

No more burgers!

Burger and fries.Last week I went to the Malice Domestic mystery conference and the Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, PA.  That meant traveling.  Traveling seems to equal fried food.

Why is it you can't get a decent meal on the road?  I swear, if I see another burger and fries any time soon, I'm going to have hysterics.

The big treat of the Malice Conference is the publisher-sponsored dinner at a very fancy restaurant.  The food is impeccable, but it's terribly rich.  We waddled away from the table.  The one time I actually got to eat healthy was breakfast at the hotel.  I ordered the world's worst oatmeal.  Adding raisins, milk, and even brown sugar didn't improve it.  One of my table mates ordered a continental breakfast which came with a HUGE bowl of granola.  It was only sprinkling the oatmeal with the granola that made it edible. Consequently, I was glad to get home and eat real food.  (Dorothy was right.  "There's no place like home!")

CC_Cover.smSpeaking of real food, I came home with a few bags of author swag from the conference.  What's that got to do with food?  The Cozy Chicks are giving away their leftover swag (which is in my possession) to anyone who writes a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble for their cookbook, The Cozy Chicks Kitchen.  (Each packet includes bookmarks from all the Cozy Chicks, plus a bonus recipe and adorable teapot cookie cutter.)  To get your swag, you must email the Chicks at cozychicks(at)gmail(dot)com and tell them where the review is posted.  Don't forget to include your snail mail address.

Recipes_To_Die_For.smSince I've got author swag left over, too, I figured -- why not ask for the same thing.  Put up a review for my Victoria Square cookbook, Recipes To Die For, and email me at LLB(at)LLBartlett(dot)com and tell me where you posted the review and include your snail mail address.

These cookbooks are filled with wonderful recipes -- the majority of which do not include food being immersed in cooking oil.  If you haven't tried them, maybe now you will.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Products that actually work

All my life I have been afraid to read in the car because I'd get carsick.  I tried it a few times and became quite nauseous and got a splitting headache.

BonineI made a trip to VA last month and decided to try Bonine.  I'd been told it was terrific to keeping one from getting carsick.  Since I REALLY needed to be working on the WIP (work in progress), and it's a l-o-n-g drive, I gave it a try.  It worked, hey, Mikey!  But it did make me terribly sleepy.  My friend, author (and retired nurse) Leann Sweeney said, "Try taking half a pill."  It still worked!  But I was still sleepy and didn't get as much work done as I'd hoped.  Back to the drawing board.

So, I have just returned from Bethesda, MD (Malice Domestic) and The Festival of Mystery (Oakmont, PA).  This time I decided to try Sea-Bands.  I was on a cruise in January and saw a LOT of people wearing these little cloth bracelets with a plastic bead embedded, pressing on a pressure point.  SeabandGuess what?  It worked fine!  I managed to edit my entire manuscript during the drive, and edit the first half of another project.

Weeee!  No longer will I have to be bored during long drives.  I can work, or read, and not have to worry about projectile vomiting.  I'd say that's a huge improvement.

Have you ever tried Sea-Bands?"