Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Whoa--didn't like THAT book!

BookOver the weekend I read a book by an author I admire. I've read just about every book she's ever written.  I've loved just about every book she's ever write, but not that one. In fact,  I could find very little to like about the book. And yet, I read it to the bitter end (and the ending was just that--bitter; it left an unpleasant tang on my tongue). So, am I going to run to Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com to write a scathing review?

Not on your life.

This author is big, much BIGGER than I will ever be.  She writes women's fiction.  She makes mega, Mega, MEGA bucks. She's hit the New York Times bestsellers list (in hardcover) at least 16 times (and probably the USA Today top fifty as many times, too). So how could she write a book I didn't like?

Was the novel well written? Yes. Her gift for description is to die for. (Well, at least if you aspire to be an author.) Did she have a bad plot? Nope. She's written almost a score of books--she knows what she's doing. So what was the problem?

It just wasn't my cup of tea. It just didn't "sing" for me, but that doesn't mean it didn't hit the right notes for thousands (and we're talking HUNDREDS of thousands) of readers.  So why not go on a public forum and tell the world my opinion of this book?  Because it's not necessary. Would I have written a glowing review if I'd loved it?  Probably not, so why do it if I didn't enjoy the book?

Poison penWith the advent of social media, far too many people log on to review sites and vent their spleens. I've read some pretty nasty book reviews--and have been on the receiving end of them as well.  Will a nasty review keep this fantastically talented woman from making a living?  No. And she doesn't expect everyone will like her book(s).  But neither does she (or any author) expect to be trashed in a public forum.

We all have different tastes.  Not all books will appeal to everyone.  Will I warn others away from the book?  No. It's got quite a twist at the end that some (probably many) will find quite appealing.  Will I read her next book?  Probably. If I don't like it, then I will probably stop reading her work. There are plenty of other brilliant authors out there. But trash her work?  Never.

Have you ever trashed a book on an online site?  If so, why?  (Feel free to answer anonymously.)

Friday, July 27, 2012

A bad hair day gets better

Earlier this week I went to get my hair colored.  I used to do it myself, but last fall I botched it and thought to myself, you know, you've reached a point in life when you can afford to treat yourself to SOMETHING now and then.  My pals Patrica Ryan and Leann Sweeney had encouraged me to get highlights, and so I tried that, too.  Hey, Mikey!  I like it!  A LOT.  Of course I don't get highlights every month, but if there's a conference on the horizon, or I have to be somewhere and look presentable (that is, not in jeans and a T), I spring for highlights.

Bag over headOn Monday I arrived bright and early at the salon and to my dismay, my regular stylist had changed her hours.  Yikes!  I was in a hurry, so I settled on someone else doing my hair.  Big mistake.  I wasn't happy with what she had done the last time my regular stylist wasn't available.  The instructions for my color were on my customer card, so how bad could she mess things up?

BIG TIME -- that's how.  I came out looking like I'd stuck my head in a pot of very, very, very dark brown paint.

I had to go out of town and came back yesterday with a plan to hit the salon again this morning.  Sure enough, my stylist was there to make things right. Super highlights! And she did it for free.  Weeeee!  I look like (the new) me again!  I gave her a big fat tip, and offered her a part in my current book.  (As it happens, I'm writing a hairdresser.)  She was thrilled.

Thumbs upSo, when you get to Victoria Square #4 and meet Brittney, you'll know where she came from.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Praise oh praise this anthem generator!

Big generatorThe other day at a garage sale, I bought a second copy of the Yes CD Big Generator.  Love that CD.  (I'm a big Yes fan -- but only the albums with Trevor Rabin.  Sorry, I came in on his watch and that's all there is to it.)  I stuck it in the CD player and immediately thought of our foolish purchase last year.  Yes, we bit the bullet and bought a Big Generator.

"Ha!  What do you want to waste your money on that for?" more than one person asked me.  After all, how often do we have power failures?  Well, not three months after the generator went in, the power went out for a couple of hours.  What's a couple of hours?  Well, when it's COLD and DARK in December, it's a while.  We sat there at happy hour, listening to music and reading the newspaper by 150 watts of light, while the furnace happily chugged away.  Meanwhile, our neighbors were in the dark.

GeneracLast night we had a nasty thunderstorm.  Guess what?  It took out the power for three hours.  Admittedly, you don't need all that much power during the night.  But my clock has a battery in it.  It's not flashing this morning because 10 seconds after the power went out, Mr. Big Generac came on.

Already this summer too many of my friends have been inconvenienced for days, nearly a week, when a storm (and the power lines) took out their electricity.  We suffered a number of times with that ourselves, and we said, "never again."  The crazy way weather is changing makes me glad we sacrificed so we could buy that generator.

Thank you for being my friend, Mr. Big Generac.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Free, Free, Free -- Murder on the Mind is Free!

Oh yes it's freeI'm celebrating!  Murder on the Mind is FINALLY gone free for the Nook!

So let's recap.  Murder on the Mind, my first Jeff Resnick Mystery is now FREE for:

Kindle ~ Nook ~ Kobo ~ iTunes ~ Smashwords ~ Sony E Reader (And it's free for Kindle in the UK, too!)

So far, more than 117,000 copies of the book have been downloaded on Kindle alone.

What does that mean?

It means that FINALLY people will be reading my first mystery series.  The one I shed blood, sweat, and tears trying to find an audience.  Yeah, but they're reading it for FREE.  Where's the logic in that?

MOTM-ebook.sm-1A good number of those people have gone on to buy the rest of the books in the series.

(To refresh your memory they are:  Dead In Red, Cheated by Death and Bound by Suggestion, along with two short stories (Bah! Humbug and Cold Case) and a novelette (When The Spirit Moves You).

Suddenly my website numbers are five times greater than they were a month ago.  (Rats--and it's due for a refit NEXT month.  I would rather have had people see the new and improved site.) Not only do I hope the readers go on to find the rest of the series, but that when they visit the site they discover that I also write two other mystery series.

Won't you help me spread the word about the Jeff Resnick series?  Even if you don't have an e reader, download the book.  You can read it on your computer, your tablet, or smartphone.

What have you got to lose?  It's free.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What's on your summer TBR list?

I love cozy mysteries.  Next to decorating magazines, I probably read more cozy mysteries than anything else.  But sometimes I like a change of pace.

On mystic lakeFor instance, I'm a sucker for stories set on lakes, the ocean, or at cottages.  That's why I just finished reading Kristin Hannah's On Mystic Lake.  It wasn't exactly what I expected (I was hoping for more stuff on the lake to happen -- or maybe some DIY, I'm a sucker for that, too), and the ending wasn't quite as satisfying as I expected for a romance.  Maybe it's because I'm a writer, but I wanted to take a whack at rewriting that ending.  Still, overall I quite enjoyed it.  (At least four stars!)

Other "watery" books on my TBR list for the summer (since this is the best time of year to read them) Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews and Ann Rivers Siddons' Off Season.

ThresholdAnd then sometimes I just like to read something totally different.  Like Tales of Telenia: Threshold, written by a new voice in fantasy, Lee Barnett. It's kind of an adventure, space opera-fantasy, sf story all rolled in one, and lots of fun, with a bit of a cliffhanger ending.

When a spatial rift causes Amanda Shelton’s space shuttle to crash land on an unknown planet, she awakens to find herself locked in a cell with a tutor charged with teaching her an alien language. Crown Prince Paxdon is determined to scavenge not only her ship, but any technology he can squeeze from her brain to vanquish his enemies in a neighboring province. But just who is Amanda’s real adversary; the warriors in the north or the people of Telenia?

What's on your to-be-read list this summer?

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Cookbook With A New Look

Recipes_To_Die_For.smSometimes we make mistakes.  It's a good thing that some mistakes can be corrected.
For example, the cover for Recipes To Die For: A Victoria Square Cookbook.  The picture I chose for the original cover.  It was ... okay.  The cover designer did a great job with my poor choice.  She added a little noose to my name, she made a nice "sign" for the cookbook, but for some reason the whole thing just didn't "sing" for me.  But, up it went.  Sales have been lackluster.

I've been thinking about changing the cover for a long time.  What held me back so long?  The box of bookmarks I had made up.  You see, I've only used about half of them.  But finally I decided--the heck with that.  I want my cookbook to find its way into the hearts and homes of my readers, so I started hunting for a new cover picture.

To_Die_For.medI don't have the resources of a big publishing company.  They have a marketing department.  There's just me.  I don't have a marketing degree.  I don't have years of experience when it comes to marketing a book.  But I do know when it's time to change a cover.  I spent a couple of days going through stock photo sites, trying different keywords, until I came upon one that seemed to work.  Next up, getting Mr. L to play with the concept.

My second choice of cover was a purple-blue close up of a silverware pattern.  Mr. L said right off the bat, "I don't think that's it."  But he was game to try.  He was right.  He liked my first choice, and I think it worked out well.

It's already up on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords, and should eventually filter through to the other e booksellers.  The new cover should be up for the print version in a couple of days.  (It takes longer to do than an E cover.)

So, what do you think?  Do you like it better than the original cover?  Would you be enticed to buy the book with its new cover?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Easy to find me ... just click the link.

Sherlock & magnifying glassSo, where's today's post?

Over at The Cozy Chicks Blog.

The topic?  Earth-shattering.  World changing.  It's ... Jell-O!

(I kid you not.)

Go on, click this link, you know you want to read it.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Will you win the coveted Haven't Got a Clue mug?

Tricia's coffeemugToday Angelica Miles is 'guest blogging' at Dru's Book Musings.  What's she talking about?  Why, herself, of course.  (And maybe a little bit about my latest Booktown Mystery: Murder On The Half Shelf.)

Additionally, Dru is offering a HAVEN'T GOT A CLUE MUG.  All you have to do is leave a comment and you will be entered in a drawing.  But hurry!  The contest ends on Sunday.

Click here to find Angelica's post.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A leopard doesn't change its spots -- does it?

Doc MartinLately Mr. L and I have been enjoying the antics of Doc Martin.  What an odd duck.  I said, "this guy has to have Aspergers Syndrome."  Sure enough, by the second season he'd been accused of having Aspergers by someone sent to investigate him from (one assumes) The National Health.

Of course flawed characters are endlessly fascinating to me.  In fact, I'm getting known for writing believably flawed characters.  My Jeff Resnick character seems to carry the most baggage, with Tricia Miles coming in a close second, and Katie Bonner the sanest of the lot.  (Good old Katie.)

(By the way, the first Jeff Resnick book, Murder On The Mind is STILL FREE for Kindle, iTunes and Smashwords (and if you've got a Sony E Reader, Kobo, or Nook, get it from Smashwords--and of course if you don't have an e reader, you can still download it to your computer or tablet via Smashwords.  Hey, free is free, after all--and this offer won't last forever).

While watching an episode of Doc Martin, it suddenly occurred to me that I needed to wrap up a subplot that's been building in the Booktown Books.  I gave it a lot of thought over the next couple of days and yesterday I wrote the scene where Tricia learns a devastating truth about her past.  (Boy, that was fun!)

DoormatMore than one person as told me that Tricia is a doormat and they are annoyed by the way she puts up with Angelica.  I posed these questions to the latest person who said that:  Have you got an older sibling?  Have they changed that much since childhood?  If they annoyed you then, do they annoy you now?  Have you ever had the upper hand?  Do you just abandon your sibling and walk away?

Do you hear the sound of crickets in the background?

Is the situation between Doc Martin and Tricia the same?  Not in the least, but his situation got me thinking about her situation (and the fact that it needs resolution). Will this big revelation change the relationship between Tricia and Angelica?  Probably not.  As their grandmother was famous for saying, "a leopard doesn't change its spots."  You are what you are.  Angelica is always going to be the bossy older sister, and Tricia will put up with her for one reason and one reason only:  she loves her.  And when you love someone, you love them--warts and all.

We're only halfway through the episodes.  I can't wait to see what other adventures await crabby old Doc Martin and the people in Port Ween.  And, as I write the 8th Booktown Mystery, I can't wait to see what else befalls Tricia and Angelica.  It's gonna be a bumpy, but fun ride.

MurderOnHalfShelf.smP.S.  Don't forget -- the latest Booktown Mystery is now out.  Murder On The Half Shelf.

Monday, July 9, 2012

My new-to-me- desk

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a new-to-me desk off of Craigslist.  For the past few years, I'd been working off a farm table and it was ovbious to me that it wasn't working well.  I had nowhere to store my stuff.  So everything was piling up on the table, giving me nowhere to put my work.  So, the desk hunt began.

I was very impressed with my pal Ellery Adams' workspace, which I saw back in March.  She works in a huge living room that's tastefully decorated with antiques and a lovely old desk with lots of drawers.  Aha!  The secret to a tidy desk had to be drawers where you could stuff everything.  (And, no I did NOT peek in her drawers -- that would be rude!)

So I went on the hunt. I scoured antique stores, yard sales, and finally hit gold on Craigslist.  Is my desk as nice as Ellery's?  No. Is it what I really wanted?  No. It was less money than I anticipated spending (always good) and it had been recently refinished, so it still has an odor of polyurethane, but for the time being, it's working out quite well.  I've kept the top of it cleared off,and I still have two drawers that aren't yet filled.


New desk cropped
So, what do you think?

And in case you forgot, Ellery and I have new books out.  Get them while they're hot!

Murder on the Half Shelf & Pies and Prejudice.

Pies and Half shelf picture

Thursday, July 5, 2012

No audio for you (or me, too)!

MurderOnHalfShelf.smIt's no secret that some of my readers are very unhappy that Murder on The Half Shelf was not published as a mass market paperback.  I say it's no secret because I posted it up on Facebook.  (You can't get much more public than that.)  And, my very good friend Julie Hyzy wrote a blog called "What Readers May Not Know About Book Publishing," which is very thoughtful.  (Bet you didn't now how little control authors actually have over their work when they sign that coveted publisher contract.)

I'm not badmouthing my publisher.  Far from it.  They delivered a beautiful hardcover, they hired a fantastic cover artist (who has done all my Booktown mysteries--and right now is in the process of creating another wonderful painting for Booktown #7 "The Chamber Plot"), and they have treated me very well indeed.  I have a marvelous editor, and the staff at Berkley Prime Crime has worked very hard on my behalf.

So what's the point of this blog post?  As if the whole hardcover vs. paperback debate wasn't enough, and as three of my readers have already asked and discovered ... there will be no audio edition of Murder On The Half Shelf.  Why?  Not enough people downloaded the audio versions of the previous five books.

Listening mp3Am I heartbroken by this turn of events?  No, but I am quite disappointed.  Can I blame my publisher?  No way.  I'm  extremely grateful that they took a chance and made the first five books available as audiobooks.  I do wish they'd made the books available on CD, too, because I know a LOT of people don't have an MP3 player.  Hey, until Christmas, neither did I.  I still prefer to listen to audiobooks via CD ... but then, that might be because I haven't tried it on my MP3 player.  (I think I'd have to get a second one.  Mine's all clogged up with music.)

I was soooo looking forward to hearing what the narrator (Cassandra Campbell) would have done with one of my newest characters, Pixie.  In fact, when I was writing her part of the story, I had Ms. Campbell's voice in my head as Pixie delivered her lines.

Do I think audiobooks were expensive?  Yes.  If publishers priced them cheaper, the audio market would explode and authors and the publishers alike would make scads of money and our audio listeners would be ecstatic (the same with e books).  J.A. Konrath agrees, and recently wrote a blog post on the same subject.

Will my publisher ever put the rest of the books on audio?  My guess is no.  Not ever.  Don't even think about it.  That is ... unless there's a huge spike in sales of the first five books.

Well, a girl can dream, can't she?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Very Best Summer Beach Reads

The first Tuesday of the month means: NEW BOOK RELEASES, and this month I'm starting out with (drum roll) MY OWN!  Murder On The Half Shelf.

MurderOnHalfShelf.medStoneham, NH, is a haven to bookstores, including Haven’t Got a Clue, but is sadly lacking in bed and breakfasts. Pippa and Jon Comfort’s Sheer Comfort Inn opens its doors in a week and the couple has offered some locals a free night as a trial run. What should have been a pleasant overnight stay for Tricia Miles becomes a nightmare when she makes two startling discoveries: Pippa’s murdered body in the backyard, and that Pippa’s husband Jon is actually Harry Tyler, a man Tricia loved—and believed dead—for nearly twenty years. Now Harry is the prime suspect, but Tricia doesn’t believe him capable of murder. Even though Harry’s led a life of lies, Tricia’s learning that Pippa had her share of secrets that some people may have not wanted revealed…

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

Pies and PrejudicePIES AND PREJUDICE by Ellery Adams:  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.

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

Plotting at the ptaPLOTTING AT THE PTA by Laura Alden:  Bookstore owner, PTA secretary, and single mom Beth Kennedy has to fit a murder investigation or two into her schedule in Alden’s enjoyable if padded third PTA mystery (after 2011’s Foul Play at the PTA). When Beth discovers that a favored customer at her Rynwood, Wis., bookstore, Amy Jacobson, has died from shock after multiple bee stings, she believes Amy’s death was not the freak accident the police claim. Meanwhile, Beth promises an elderly friend to look into the death of her great-niece, Kelly, more than 20 years earlier, an apparent suicide by drowning. When Beth realizes that Kelly and Amy were close friends, she risks her own life to prove that neither the drowning nor the anaphylactic shock was anything short of cold-blooded murder. Digressions involving supporting characters mean the school year is almost over before amateur sleuth Beth is able to connect all the dots.

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

Red velvetRED VELVET REVENGE by Jenn McKinlay:  It may be summertime, but sales at Fairy Tale Cupcakes are below zero--and owners Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLaura are willing to try anything to heat things up. So when local legend Slim Hazard offers them the chance to sell cupcakes at the annual Juniper Pass rodeo, they're determined to rope in a pretty payday!  But not everyone at the Juniper Pass is as sweet for Fairy Tale Cupcakes as Slim--including star bull-rider Ty Stokes. Mel and Angie try to steer clear of the cowboy's short fuse, but when his dead body is found face down in the hay, it's a whole different rodeo.  With a vengeful murderer on the loose, the ladies are quickly realizing that while they came to save their business, they may have to save themselves--and that's no bull.
Available from:
Barnes & Noble ~ Amazon ~ Kindle ~ Nook
Books A Million ~ Indie Bookstores ~ Indigo/Chapters ~ The Book Depository

Happy reading!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Spread the word and win a cookbook!

My friend Ellery Adams and I would like to recruit you to spread the word about our July 3rd releases:

Murder on the Half Shelf: A Booktown Mystery - Lorna Barrett

Pies and Prejudice: A Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery - Ellery Adams

And as our recruits, we want you to have a little fun. Here's how:

If you tweet, blog, write a  Facebook post, or mention our books on any website, Amazon's Listmania, or anywhere else on the Internet and send us the URL, and include YOUR FULL NAME and email address at cozychicks@gmail.com, then you'll be entered in a drawing to win one of eight Cozy Chick Kitchen cookbooks (See the pink book on the bottom right with the cute girl holding the chocolate cake? Lots of yummy recipes are waiting for you).

Why do we need help spreading the word? Because this is my first time in hardcover and Ellery's first in an all-new series. Sometimes, these "firsts" could benefit from a little help. Help in getting pre-orders, help in going viral, help in creating that necessary buzz.

So many of you do this for us on a regular basis and we're super grateful, but why not win a prize while you're helping out this time?

Can't think of what to say?  Here's a sample tweet--just copy and past.  (But you can be as creative as you want!)

 Spread the word @LornaBarrett & Murder on the Half Shelf / @ElleryAdams and Pies and Prejudice & win a cookbook! http://tinyurl.com/mj2uk4

The contest ends on July 10th and you can enter multiple times as long as you submit a fresh entry each time.

Go on, start talking!