Monday, June 25, 2012

Is it time to get a new computer?

Thank goodness people live longer than computers.  I mean, even the Ocompa live longer than your average computer.

Dying computerTwo of my computers are living on borrowed time.  The one I use the most, my trusty e Machine, is 7 years old.  It has been a good friend, but is no longer reliable.  It freezes up, it has EATEN several of my manuscripts (which results in wailing, gnashing of teeth, and the air around me turning blue), as well as my mailing lists (several times).  Thank goodness for Drop Box, where I keep my backup files.

My Acer laptop and I have been wary friends for nearly 6 years.  There's something wrong with it.  The cursor jumps all around if I try to use its keyboard, so I've had to lug around an auxiliary keyboard for years.  (Finally got one that fits in my computer case.) And ... it's Vista.  (I hate that you can't see thumbnails of your pictures.)

Computer crashAfter this latest manuscript meal, I've decided it's time to bite the bullet and buy a new computer.  But I'm not sure what to get.  Do I really need a new laptop right now or should I just get another PC tower and hold off until the Acer starts coughing up blood? I don't know.  But no matter what I do, I've got to upgrade my ancient software. (Yup, I'm still running Word and Excel 2000.)

I'm really depressed about the whole situation.  I'm comfortable with both these computers.  I know how they work.  I know where all my files are.  I hate starting fresh and the whole learning curve and all that tommyrot.

I guess bottom line:  I HATE CHANGE.

Any helpful pieces of computer advice?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Incredibly cute cookbook could be yours ....

CC_Cover.smMy friend Ellery Adams and I are running a contest to get the word out about our upcoming releases.

What's in it for you?  Maybe a free copy of The Cozy Chicks Kitchen.

To find out more, check out today's post on The Cozy Chicks Blog.

See you over there!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pimping for Pie Pops!

By Guest Blogger Ellery Adams

Sophie & JennMy sous chef and I have had such a ball using this cute kitchen appliance. It works like a charm too! We've made cherry pie pops, apple pie pops, s'more pie pops, grilled cheese pie pops, shrimp and cream cheese pops - the list goes on and on!

So how can you get one? Easy! Just talk up my latest releash PIES AND PREJUDICE somewhere in cyberspace. Iit doesn't matter if it's on Twitter, Facbook, Google+, Goodreads, a Listmania List on Amazon, a blog (other than the two where I blog), or a website. Everything's game!

Send the URL of your post to my email (elleryadams(AT)verizon(DOT)net) and you're entered in the contest! You can enter multiple times as long as your post doesn't occur more than once on the same day.

Apple pie popsSo no purchase necessary my darlings, but if you are so smitten by PIES AND PREJUDICE that you pre-order, I'll be smiling right up until July 3rd!  I will email 7 winners on July 1st.

Happy Pimping!

And in case I haven't enticed you enough, here's the blurb for PIES AND PREJUDICE:

Pies and Prejudice"When the going gets tough, Ella Mae LaFaye bakes pies. So when she catches her husband cheating in New York, she heads back home to Havenwood, Georgia, where she can drown her sorrows in fresh fruit filling and flakey crust. But her pies aren't just delicious. They're having magical effects on the people who eat them--and the public is hungry for more.

Discovering her hidden talent for enchantment, Ella Mae makes her own wish come true by opening the Charmed Pie Shoppe. But with her old nemesis Loralyn Gaynor making trouble, and her old crush Hugh Dylan making nice, she has more than pie on her plate. and when Loralyn's fiancé is found dead--killed with Ella Mae's rolling pin--it'll take all her sweet magic to clear her name."

Preorder the book from:

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Books A Million ~ Book Depository ~ Indigo/Chapters ~ Indie Bookstores
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Even though I can't reach the thousands . . . you can help.

Lately I've had to face a very sad truth.  Most of my Booktown mystery readers are NEVER going to figure out that Lorna Barrett is also  Lorraine Bartlet and L.L. Bartlett. They love my books, they read them, they never check out my website. How do I know that?  I have counters.  Every week I get a summary that tells me how many people looked at my websites.  They're always in the same ballpark--by maybe 10-20 hits.  (Mostly the lower end.)

Bookboostericon 2I belong to a number of author newsgroups/information loops.  We trade what we're learning about the big, bold world of indie publishing.  The most important key to sales on Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com is REVIEWS.  If you like a book, not just mine, any author's book, PLEASE REVIEW IT.  I've even got a section on my Lorna blog for people to read about being a Book Booster, but I doubt that page is ever looked at.

Reviews not only tell other readers what you liked about a story (and please, if you do write a review, don't just say you liked the book--tell the next potential reader WHY you liked it; the story, the characterization, the setting, the way the author used weather to help tell the story--anything that caught your eye while reading), but gives them an idea of how much they will enjoy it, too.  But please, PLEASE don't give away the ending and/or reveal who the bad guy is.  That will spoil the suspense for those who haven't yet read the book.

PromoteOf course, not all reviews can be five star.  We realize this, but there's a big difference between not enjoying a story and posting a nasty review that attacks the author, not the work itself.  I've seen far too many of them.  Or one-star reviews that trash the third-party seller and not even mention the story.  If you're tempted to write a bad review just remember one thing:  your review might impinge on someone supporting his or her family. I always remember what my mother taught me:  If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.  (The entertainment field is the only one I know where complete strangers can criticize you on the job.  Imagine if someone did that to you.)

Even if you don't want to write a review, you can still click the LIKE button near the title on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Why is that important?  These big online companies pay attention to how many likes a book receives.  They have algorithms they use to decide what books (and authors) to promote and what to never pay attention to--EVER.

Another thing that was brought to my attention just yesterday. Now Amazon has a like button for author pages.  Here are mine for Lorna, Lorraine, and L.L. Bartlett.

SoapboxOkay, I'll get off my soapbox now.  But if you have the time, I hope you'll click on a couple of the above links to check things out, and click the LIKE buttons (especially for any of my indie projects--you can find a list of them on the Backlist Ebooks website). You may not think that your one LIKE will count, but it helps.  The more likes, the more chances a story (or the author) has of being noticed by these large companies.  Your one vote/like really CAN make a difference.

Thank you!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Maybe I SHOULD wear neon green nail polish ...

The last time I got my haircut, the stylist asked, "Do you want me to cut the front to frame your face?"  Hmm...doesn't Jennifer Aniston have her hair framing her face, and doesn't she (always) look (incredibly) cute.  "Sure," I said.

Big Mistake.

Do you think Jennifer spends 90% of her time wearing a pony tail?  I'll bet not.  Guess what?  I do.  It's a lot cooler when there's no hair hanging on your neck, and it's out of your way so you don't end up with it in your mouth on a windy day.

Bobby pinsSo I dug through the bathroom closet and found my bobby pins.  Just one thing.  I've changed my hair color.  I'm no longer dark brown. (Hey, the package said lightest golden brown, but it always looked DARK on me.)  I'm now a kind of a redhead (moving to strawberry blonde).  That means black bobby pins looks STOOOPID with reddish hair.

Neon green nail polishOff to the store I went.  Don't you just love going to the hair products aisle.  Man, if I was a kid, I'd be buying colorful scrunchies, headbands, pink barrettes, and all kinds of stuff.  But that day I just settled on bobby pins.  Don't tempt me with the nail polish aisle, either.  Although the last time I looked, they were featuring neon green nail polish.  I guess I'm a little too conservative for that.  White, pink, and maybe silver is about as adventurous as I go.

What have you bought lately from the grocery store hair aisle?
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Friday, June 15, 2012

It's a REAL hardcover!

The other day I got a couple of sample copies of Murder On The Half Shelf.  Woo-hoo!  They're beautiful!

MOTM-Five Star coverIt wasn't the first time I'd held one of my own books, in hardcover, in my hands. I had that honor (?) back in 2005 when Murder On The Mind was published. I can't say it was one of my happiest experiences.  For one thing, it arrived with the world's ugliest cover (and still holds that honor).  It was yanked from it's comfortable March publication date and thrust into a very unfriendly November timeline. The review copies went out late, and since that publisher targeted libraries who buy books based on reviews, the book was doomed.  It would have been kinder to just bury the thing in the backyard with an RIP wreath.

MOTM-ebook.sm-1Luckily, the book had a second life as a mass market paperback.  (Although for some unknown reason, the cover was of a brown leather chair, a cold fireplace, and a open book.  Still scratching my head over that one.)  Finally, the book has an even happier life with a wonderful cover (done by my good friend Pat Ryan) as a trade paperback and an e book.  (Now, don't you have to agree that this is a marvelous cover--and speaks directly to a scene in the book--um, my favorite as it turns out.)

To make up for the nasty first cover, my publisher redeemed themselves by giving me a spectacular cover for Murder On The Mind's sequel, Dead In Red (also in hardcover).  Sales were still lackluster, and so once I had the rights back, I self published it as a trade paperback and an e book.

MOTHS.cropWhich brings me up to Murder on the Half Shelf (or, MOTHS--great acronym, huh?).  Look at that cover.  Isn't it lovely?  As pretty as it looked in a j-peg photo, it looks spectacular with REAL printing on the dust cover.  And look!  The title is embossed in gold (which also isn't in the j-peg).

I'm really happy with that dust cover.  My publisher was gracious enough to add a box on the back flyleaf that notes my website address, facebook author page, and twitter handle.  I hope a LOT of my readers will feel motivated to check out all three -- and then maybe they'll find out about the Victoria Square and Jeff Resnick mysteries.  One can but dream!

Now, to see if readers (and libraries!) will embrace this story.  I've got my fingers crossed.

Murder On The Half Shelf will debut on July 3rd.
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Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Frog Went A Courtin' ...

Hey, it's mid-June -- that means it's time to open the money pit, er, our in-ground pool.  We've never felt competent to do it ourselves (uh, we experimented closing down the cottage once ourselves.  Can you say burst pipes and an emergency call to the plumber?), so we know when we're licked.  Still, there are a number of jobs one has to do before Pool Man comes in June.  The snow and rain accumulates on the top of the pool cover and it's our job to get that water (and all the leaves and other crap) off, as well as raise the water level.

We've been dilligent about keeping water off, and this year, have kept nearly all the crud off, too.  However, there are little bits and pieces (and lots of pine needles) that are difficult to retrieve.  And then there are the frogs.

PolliwogsThe top of our pool is like a motel that rents rooms by the hour.  Frogs, frogs, frogs there for one reason:  sex.  And polliwogs!  OMG--back in May, we had a gazillion of them.  But nature took care of that.  No rain, the pool cover dried completely, and no more polliwogs.  (Birds find them tasty snacks, you know.)

It rained a lot during the past week, so it was time to get out the submersible pump and get the water off.  Only...there was a BIG Frog in there, and I didn't want it to get sucked into the pump.  (BTW, I am AFRAID OF FROGS, but I regularly save them from drowning.)  So, out came the skimmer, only ... this wasn't one big frog, just one good sized frog with a another on its back--certainly nothing I've ever seen before.

Frogs with pump

Okay.  Were they just friends?  Man and wife?  Man and husband?  (Hey, NY state doesn't discriminate.)  We considered throwing a bridal shower, but hey--maybe this was just yet another hook up.

Or maybe not.
Frogs full face

During the 2-3 hours we pumped off the water, the frogs were removed FOUR TIMES and the kept coming back.  We even removed them to the far corner of the yard and ... boom, twenty minutes later, back they came.  After a while, we said, "The hell with you!"  The pump was removed and the last we looked they were still underwater just ... sitting there.

So, anybody have any ideas about this odd frog behavior?
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My little part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee

Queen on Barge.I wasn't able to make it to England for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.  It would have been nice to see the flotilla on the Thames, but I did get to see a bit of it on TV.  What was priceless was seeing the Queen smile as she waved to her subjects, and all those people waving the Union Jack.  Everybody looked happy.

Cool!

I collect royal family memorabilia, and have since I was a teenager.  It's not that easy to come by around here.  I'm going to Canada later this year, and hoped I could get a couple of pieces while there.  Of course, by then the Jubilee would be old news, and maybe they wouldn't have any mugs or cups in stock.

Worry worry.

But then ... NOT to worry!  My aunt Michele sent me a beautiful Diamond Jubilee mug.  Don't you just love it?  And, even better, it arrived during the Jubilee.

Jubliee mug.sm
As it turns out, Amazon has a slew of Diamond Jubilee souvenirs, but nothing as nice as my mug.  And even better, mine was a gift from the heart.

Thank you, Michele!
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Monday, June 11, 2012

Way to go, Julie!

Julie & wingsI'm absolutely thrilled that my pal Julie Hyzy has once again been nominated for the prestigious Anthony Award for her White House Chef mystery BUFFALO WEST WING.

Woot!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ucoming story teasers . . .

Monkey typewriterI have two books to write in the coming months.  This is the week I've set aside to write the synopses.

I hate writing synopses.

For one thing, I'm a pantster.  That means I write the book by the seat of my pants.  I figure if I know everything about the book before I write it, I'll get bored.  I like being surprised by the characters and events.  It's a PITA when it comes to rewrites and continuity, but it's a lot more fun.

But, I have to write them anyway.  Usually the main story idea stays, it's the little details that change.  Like the murderer.  I can't tell you how many times I've thought, "this person did it," only to hand the book in with another killer all together.

Right now I'm stuck on the murder in the Booktown #7, but I have all the juicy subplots figured out. (They're the most fun for me.)  I've spent a lot of the past few days thinking about Victoria Square #4.  I know how it opens, I know who dies and how, but I haven't figured out whodunit.

One thing's for sure, I'm going to have some fun writing both.

Spoilers?  Let me just say that Victoria Square opens up on a beautiful day at the new marina.  Katie has gone sailing with Seth.  On the dock, she meets up with an old acquaintance, who will later be found dead on Victoria Square.  (Don't they always?)  You would be right if you think the marina will be one focal point in the story.

Interested so far?

And just to tease you a little ... what do you think of the cover of One Hot Murder, Victoria Square #3?

One_Hot_Murder(3)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New Books Are Out--and you're going to love them!

Don't you just love the first Tuesday of the month?  Well, if you're a cozy mystery reader you should, because that's when the new books comes out.

As it happens, two of my friends have books out today.  First up, Julie Hyzy.

Grace among thievesAs curator and manager of the Marshfield Manor, Grace Wheaton is delighted to be part of the estate’s magnificent history, but no one told her solving murder was in her job description…


When Grace’s former professor calls to warn her that there have been a rash of thefts at various historical sites, Grace isn’t surprised—because Marshfield Manor has been targeted, too. She wonders if it has something to do with the film crew roaming the grounds, digitally immortalizing the manor, but then she gets distracted by an incident much more dire: the shooting of one guest and the murder of another.

Grace does her best not to go looking for trouble, but with a murderer on the loose, she can’t seem to leave the dirty work to the cops—especially since the killer still seems to be lurking around town, waiting to finish the job of making Grace history…

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kindle ~ Nook ~ Books A Million ~ Indie Bookstores ~ Indigo/Chapters ~ Book Depository

P.S.  Julie Hyzy has officially joined The Cozy Chicks blog.  Look for her posts every Thursday!


Janet Bolin's 2nd Threadville Mystery is also available today.

Threaded for troubleWelcome back to Threadville, Pennsylvania, where crafts are king, and a “killer” sewing machine lives up to its name…


Darlene Coddlefield, the winner of a national sewing competition, has come to Willow Vanderling’s embroidery shop, In Stitches, to be presented with a top-of-the-line Chandler Champion sewing and embroidery machine as her prize. But Darlene’s triumph is short-lived after she’s found dead under her sewing table, apparently crushed by the heavy machine.

It soon becomes clear that this was no freak accident. Who had it in for Darlene Coddlefield? The long string of suspects includes Darlene’s fire chief husband. So Willow and her best friend, Haylee, become volunteer firefighters to uncover the truth. But when a second sewing machine sparks trouble, the friends realize they may have jumped from the frying pan into the fire…

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kindle ~ Nook ~ Books A Million ~ Indie Bookstores ~ Indigo/Chapters ~ Book Depository

Happy Reading!
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Monday, June 4, 2012

Someone stole our columbines! (Not that we wanted them.)

TrickortreatersOur yard is a work in progress.  We've been working on it for the past few years.  For a while, it was the scariest house on the street thanks to the overgrown landscaping.  We had that addressed last year, and it must not be scary looking anymore as we went from 1 or 2 trick-or-treaters to about 50 last fall.  Yup, the yard definitely looks better.

On this year's agenda is ripping out the last of the ivy that covered a big chunk of the front and back yard. Nice looking ground cover -- but it takes over and is extremely hard to eradicate.  Ask us -- we ripped out an area about 4 x 12 feet and nearly died of cardiac problems.  There's one left patch and we're paying for strapping young men to dig it out.  But the major reason for ripping it out is that it hides mice.  Lots of them.

CINDERELLA6I'm sorry, but real mice aren't cute.  They don't wear lederhosen and sing and help Princesses get the Prince.  No, they take up residence behind your dishwasher and poop on your dishtowels and silverware.  If that doesn't freak you out, I don't know what would.

But, as usual, I digress.  The guy came, gave us an estimate on the cost of ripping out the weeds and a lot of rogue columbines on our side yard (in addition to the ivy) and now we're waiting for the work to be done.  Except ... the day after the guy came, somebody came in dug up every last columbine.  Now, these weren't the pretty pink ones, these were plain old purple.  I mean, who'd want them?  It wasn't our neighbors.  We'd have seen them transplanted in their beautifully maintained yard if that was the case.

IMG_2204

So what gives?

And by the way, our neighbors have been systematically renovating their home since they moved in (we're talking new fireplace, new bathrooms, new kitchen, all new rugs and floors) and have a beautifully landscaped yard.  But they have one blind spot -- literally.  They have no window that overlooks their side yard that butts up to ours -- where we want the weeds removed and replaced with mulch.  They've had a dirt pile there for three years.

IMG_2205

The first winter it was there, they covered it with a big piece of plastic -- that flapped in the wind EVERY SINGLE NIGHT FOR FIVE MONTHS. How do I know?  Because I sleep by the window that overlooks that portion of their yard.  The plastic disintegrated long ago.  Half the dirt pile has blown away.  It's got weeds growing all around it. It's ugly!  I know they see it when they cut the grass -- why do they let it stay there???  (It is visible from the street.)

We're not on the kind of terms where you say, "Hey, NAME-NOT-GIVEN-TO-PROTECT-THE-GUILTY, when are you going to move that dirt?"  We nod and say hello, but that's about the end of it.

Maybe I should print out the above picture and mail it to them?  What do you think?
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