Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Need a Shot of Pepper?

The newest Pepper Martin Mystery, "Tomb with a View," comes out in less than a week. If you can’t wait for your Pepper fix until July 6, stop by today and check out

"Dead Man Talking," book #5 in the series, is today’s Fresh Pick and there’s an excerpt there from the book to get you started on Pepper’s adventure.
Enjoy!


PS, remember how last week I talked about how I thought cemeteries and books were a perfect combination? Well, how’s this for a headstone? Found it at Woodland Cemetery in Cleveland when I attended Living History Day last Sunday. Yes, it is as large as it looks.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dead or Alive?

Okay, I'm stealing this from my agent. She has a post up on Facebook today that asks the question: What four authors dead or alive would you want to have lunch with?

I really had to think about mine - do I go literary or who would I really like to sit down and have cheeseburger, er - salad, with?

Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite romances of all-time and I'd also love to ask her just what it was like to be a writer back when women didn't do that sort of thing
Stephen King - His book On Writing is amazing and full of fantastic stories. I want to hear a few more.
Anne Rice - Her books hooked me on vampires, witches and things that go bump in the night. Plus, I've read articles by her and she's a fascinating person.
Mary Janice Davidson - Her books make me laugh so hard that it hurts. I'd love to buy her lunch and tell her that.

So who would you pick? And thanks to Jessica Faust for making me think.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

History is Alive in Cemeteries

Even before I started writing my Pepper Martin mystery series, I liked to hang out in cemeteries. In fact, it was in a cemetery that I got the idea for Pepper, a tour guide at a historic cemetery who solves mysteries for the ghosts there. Book #6 will be out soon, but some things never change. I still hang out in cemeteries.

I’m going to be doing just that this coming weekend, and I invite anyone in the northeast Ohio area to join me. This Sunday, June 27, is Living History at Cleveland’s Woodland Cemetery.

From 1-4 pm, you’ll have a chance to stroll the grounds of the historic cemetery and hear from guides about the interesting people who are resting there. Travel back in time and see a 1938 Packard, a 1948 Cadillac hearse, and even an antique fire truck that once carried caskets.

Learn about Civil War heroes, fire captains, a governor, and even a Gypsy king who are buried at Woodland. I’ll be there, greeting visitors and signing books. Boy, talk about a dream come true . . . books and cemeteries all in one event!

Our old cemeteries are truly museums without walls. Those of you who don’t live in the area, look around. I’ll bet you’ll find a few gems in your own hometown. And those of you who are in Cleveland, join us.
The cemetery is located at 6901 Woodland Avenue and there is a per person charge of $10 ($25 for the entire family) to help support the Woodland Cemetery Foundation.

See you there!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

True Blood is back!


True Blood is back and I am so happy. Not only do I get my Sookie, Bill and Eric fix from my "keeper" books (and yes, Charlaine Harris has been on my keeper shelf since the Aurora Teagarden mysteries), but now we get to see just how HBO twists the books. I think one of my favorite parts about the TV adaptation has to be the vampire Jessica.

It's ironic because when she first came into being, I remember saying to my husband, "She's not in the books. That's not how it's supposed to be in the books." He gently reminded me that we were, in fact, watching HBO and not reading. Still, it was tough. I wanted to see what I'd expected in Sookie's world. But Jessica is so much fun. She's the only non-cool vampire on the show. She's figuring things out, and making mistakes and discovering just how she's supposed to live now that she actually has a real life.

I'm also enjoying Sam's new storyline, because I don't remember much backstory on him from the books. In fact, I'm assuming that would be pretty hard considering the books are only from Sookie's point of view. In the series, we get to see things as the other characters do. And don't get me started on Lafayette. What a stellar character. And he's getting better and better every season.

Is anybody else a True Blood watcher? If so, who are some of your favorite characters? And what do you think the show is doing right/or is there something else you'd like to see happen that hasn't unfolded yet? Inquiring minds want to know.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fearsome Quotes

Jess had a terrific post this week about fear and I thought I'd add my two cents worth.

In my case, I've found fear can derail creativity faster than just about anything. Jess hit it on the head when she pointed out the "damned if you do; damned if you don't" scenario. (Get a bad review and you're convinced you suck. Get a good one and you think 'great, but will they like the next one?' Can't win-either way, the potential to play a little (or huge, depending on the day) head game with yourself is always there. Been there, done that several times.

So how do I get myself past the fear? Well, like Jess, I try and concentrate on what I have, not what I don't. I know the sun will rise and the world will continue to turn, regardless of whatever it is I'm worried about. I've written seven books, working on the eighth, I can surely come up with at least one more plot, and as Casey pointed out, even if it means reinventing myself. I've always kind of thought of it as being like a "weeble-wobble" ("Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down!" And believe me, I've wobbled plenty!)

I also have a series of one-line quotes that help me keep everything in perspective. Here's a few of them:

"Quit whining about it, and just write the damn book!" (courtesy of my good bud Joanna Campbell Slan. She meant it in the kindest way, and you'd be surprised, when I thought about that statement, how fast it snapped things into perspective for me. It made me think about all of the energy I spent stewing about something when it would have been better used by simply buckling down and getting the job done.)

"Writers who stay in the biz are the ones who roll with the punches." (that was from my agent and kind of falls into the "weeble-wobble" category.)

"Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration." (Thomas Alva Edison. This is the one I use whenever I start getting scared that I can't do something. It helps convince me that if I try hard enough, I'll have a chance at succeeding.)

Then the above quote leads to:

"I'd rather be hanged for a deer than a hare." (If I'm going to blow it…blow it big. At least that way, I know I gave it my best shot. I'd rather regret failing than not trying.)

But here's my favorite whenever I feel the fear getting out of control-a little on the facetious side, but hey, humor never hurts, right? Works great whenever I start worrying about a book signing (will anyone come?); a speaking engagement (will the crowd enjoy my talk?); appearing on a panel (what if my answers sound stupid?).

The quote is as follows:

"If they can't kill ya and they can't eat ya, how bad can it be?"

Enough said!

Have a great rest of the week!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ideas?


I have a new book coming out in just about three weeks. "Tomb with a View" is the sixth book in the Pepper Martin mystery series, and like all authors with a new story about to be introduced to the reading world, I’m excited. And a little nervous.


Will readers like the book? Will they buy it? (Sure, it sounds shallow, but let’s face it, publishers aren’t charities, and without the sales figures to support them, many a series has been axed.)


All this, of course, has got me thinking about what I can do to make sure readers know the book is out so they can pick it up. That’s where you come in.


You see, I’ve got a few on-line things scheduled, and as usual, I’ll be sending out an e-mail newsletter the day of the book’s release. But after that, I’m stumped. When it comes to publicity, what works? What doesn’t?


So tell me...what makes you pay attention a book? Is it on-line chatter? A display in a bookstore? Blogs? Has there been any one thing that made you sit up and notice a book, even if it was one you hadn’t heard about previously?


What can I do to get "Tomb with a View" into the hands of every reader out there?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

We have a cover for Last of the Demon Slayers

Hey all, it's new cover time. This one is for Last of the Demon Slayers, which comes out on December 28, 2010.

Remember how we've talked about how little an author has to say about his/her cover? Well in this one, they used my idea. And if I sound unduly excited, I am!

I wanted Pirate popping up from behind a tombstone and voila. Pretty snazzy. He looks quite happy for a dog in a cemetery. Then again, nothing fazes Pirate.

This book was so much fun to write. In it, Lizzie, Dimitri, Pirate and the biker witches are back in full force on a cross-country road trip that surprised even me.
Here’s the blurb:
Lizzie Brown would like to have just one normal date. Instead, she gets a towering inferno with a message: her long-lost dad is a fallen angel in danger of becoming a demon. Not good. Especially since she’s a demon slayer.
Her grandma advises her to stay out of it. Her sexy-as-sin shape-shifter boyfriend would much rather she devote her attention to more carnal pursuits. And her dog’s one demand is for more bacon. After all, he can’t train his pet dragon on an empty stomach.
But Lizzie knows there’s no other choice than to hop on her Harley and help her father – even if the search for the truth brings a bad-boy slayer back into her life and leads her into the middle of a war to end all wars.
Also, I'm going to try and be a better blogger on my AngieFox.com blog. Yeah, yeah, you say. But it's true! And to prove it, I have a new post up today about what I did during a self-imposed two-week writing break. Check it out.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What Are You Afraid Of?

Hi everyone,

I just attended a great workshop this last weekend. A lot of what the speaker talked about was facing your fears in the publishing industry. At the same time, a friend of mine just sold, (Yay!) but was just beginning to feel the stab of terror that goes through you when it first sinks in that you are going to be published. It got the wheels turning in my head.

The truth is, published authors are afraid, more often than not. We live in a constant state of "What if?" and in our minds, the answer to that question is seldom good.

I wanted to explore some of those fears to see if we can shine a light into the dark corners of the publishing closet no one ever wants to speak about. Maybe we will discover the monsters there are really just an old pair of boots and a long forgotten teddy bear.

Fear: Now that I've sold, people are going to read this. What if it's not good enough?

This is a very real fear. Unfortunately, it is one that will haunt an author the rest of her career, because it doesn't go away with the next book. "Well, they loved that one, but now everyone is going to think this one is crap." And on and on it goes. Once a book is in print, it is fixed, and it is out there. You can't control how people are going to react to it. Some people will love it, others will hate it, and you have to live with the pressures of both reactions.

If we dig into this one a little, what we're really worried about are the people who don't like it. Why are we afraid someone won't like our book? I think the old, the book is a part of us, and therefore they don't like us, thing is a little too simple. I think this goes deeper than that. I've felt this fear. I admit it. For me, the deepest darkest pit of this fear is a fear of failure. You sink your heart and soul into writing, and to have others have a negative reaction to it feels like I've failed to do what I set out to do. That stings. Once the sting fades, it compounds.

What if a lot of people are having this reaction to the book? What if they start talking about it? What if that negative buzz undermines my editor or agent's faith in my work? What if they drop me? How will I start over if they do? And then we're a neurotic puddle of self woe crying on the phone to our critique partner about how our career is over.

Let's take a look at that fear for a moment. The terrifying thought, "My career is over." It seems like all publishing fear roads end at that one place. What a horrible place. Why?

For me, it's fearing that I'll lose something when I've invested so much of my time, and myself into it. People will say, "but you can always write." Yes, I can, but I will forever do so thinking that I couldn't really hack it. When I was toward the end of the long wait to get published, I nearly gave up. The only thing that kept me in the game was this mule-like stubbornness that insisted I would not throw away an eight year investment of my time and effort without it paying off. I knew the only way it would truly be over is if I quit.

When I think about the "My career is over," fear, I think about what it would mean to lose part of my self identity as an author. I aspired to become this. If it goes away, what then am I? Nothing?

That's terrifying.

But it isn't the truth. If we can conquer this fear, we can conquer all the lesser ones. So let's tackle it.

If this goes away, what then am I?

Well, I'm alive for one. I am kicking, I am breathing, and I'm pretty sure absolutely no part of the publishing process has the physical power to actually end my life, save winning the Rita, which would give me a heart attack.

I'm a strong woman who has had to face the potential loss of something far more precious than a publishing career. Some things in life just far outweigh all of this, and it's good to keep it all in perspective. This fear can never crush me, because I've faced worse, and I'm still sane and standing.

I'm still a creative woman with something to give, and so long as have the ability to improve and the will to fight, I have the ability to open new doors of opportunity for myself in any field I choose, including this one. My publishing career will never be over so long as I don't give up. Never surrender.

I'm happy. The flowers are blooming, I have enough to eat. I have a great family and good friends. So long as my belly is full and my feet are dry, I'll consider myself one of the very very lucky in life, and I'll appreciate it to the end of my days.

So armed with the knowledge that even if the publishing path takes me to that dark dead end. I've got the heart, the grit, and the resiliency to turn around and take another fork in the road. I'll try and try again, because in the end, I'm a writer. It's who I am, and what I do.

So I'll do it.

Fear won't stop me. It will touch me, but it won't defeat me.

That's a choice, and I'm making it.

How about you? What do you fear? How do you face it?

Let's turn this into a little non-professional therapy session. I've got a feeling we all need it sometimes.

Jess

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Touring Cleveland--Trolley Style!

It was a dark and stormy ni– er . . . morning.

You may have heard about the tornadoes that ripped through western Ohio last Saturday. The remnants of that weather system made their way through the Cleveland area Sunday morning–and I had a Pepper Martin Tour of Cleveland planned.

Yikes! When I woke to tornado watches, fat, black clouds, rain and wind, I was more than a little worried.

Fortunately, the weather gods smiled on us. By the time we arrived at the Parma Snow Road Library (a branch of the Cuyahoga County Library) for the 1 o’clock tour, the skies had cleared and the sun was shining. Good thing, too, because I had a trolley full of riders who were out to see the places mentioned in my Pepper Martin books.

And see them, we did.

As with other trolley tours I’ve conducted, we did drive-bys on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Science Center, the Cleveland Police Museum, Progressive Field. But this time, we also made time to see plenty of cemeteries. After all, it’s only natural since Pepper, my mystery series heroine, works as a tour guide in a Cleveland cemetery.

We drove through gorgeous Riverside Cemetery and I told riders the story of blues great Robert Lockwood, Jr., whose wife is buried there for a very specific reason. Why? The cemetery is on the route Lockwood took to get to his music gigs–and he liked to wave to her as he drove by.

After that, we visited Monroe Street Cemetery, scene of "Dead Man Talking," the most recent Pepper book. Aside from talking about the book, we made a special visit to the grave of Oliver Parker. His granddaughter and great-granddaughter were on the tour, and they’d never visited his burial site before. It was quiet a touching moment!

We drove by Willet Street Cemetery, the first Jewish cemetery in Cleveland, and through Erie Street Cemetery, where many of the town’s original pioneer settlers are buried. Our next stop was Lake View, the sort of grand, park-like cemetery I pictured when I invented Garden View, where Pepper works. There tour riders got a look at the Wade Chapel, designed and built by the Tiffany company, and the memorial where President James A. Garfield is buried. Since he’s the ghost in the book coming out in less than a month, that was a special stop for me.

One more cemetery stop on our way out of town, Woodland, where last fall, I participated in a paranormal investigation. All our other stops had included plenty of talk about history. This one was all about ghosts. I even showed off some of the misty, spooky pictures I took that night.

All in all, a fun and successful tour. I hope the riders had as much fun as I did. My thanks to Judy at the Parma South Branch for being the organizer, to Mary at Lake View for helping us out, to Alan from the Monroe Street Cemetery Foundation for sending the map that helped us find Oliver Parker, to Bob, our terrific trolley driver, and all the nice folks at Lolly the Trolley. And to all the riders–thanks for coming along on the adventure!

If you live in the Cleveland area and would like to schedule a Pepper Martin tour of Cleveland, contact me.
Life imitates art--here I am getting ready to be a tour guide, just like the
heroine in my Pepper Martin mysteries!

I always have a lot to say, especially at historic cemeteries.


A touching moment when Oliver Parker's granddaughter and great-granddaughter visited his grave for the first time.




Talkin' ghosts! This is the grave we visited on the paranormal investigation. In reponse to our questions, we heard tapping--from inside the glass!







Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kris Kennedy's 10 Reasons Why Romances Are Better Than the Real World

10 Reasons My Fictional Romances Can Be Better Than The Real World
Now, I'm not saying they are better, or not that it's always better. Just that there are ways in which, on certain days, there are moments when the romance story IS like Calgon, for the following reasons...

10. Characters don’t clean toilets. Seriously, how often do you read or write about that?

9. People generally fit into their clothes. Not always. Generally.

8. When someone does something ‘wrong’, it’s only to gear up for some great repartee between hero & heroine. Fascinating, clever, funny come-backs abound.

7. I decide who suffers, when, in what manner and for how long. Let me reiterate: I get to decide.

6. As a result of such suffering, they learn their lesson.

5. The sex is always great. Or darn close to always.

4. I get to say my best lines over and over, until I get them just right, zingers properly in place, lessons couched in amusing metaphors.

3. Information that is said once is general not repeated. There is no need. If it is repeated, it is generally done to some effect, for a purpose, rather than people simply not listening.

2. Food does not spoil in the fridge, if there is a fridge. (a fridge would eliminate a great many historicals, but fortunately, NO food in ANY romances EVER spoils.)

1.
Suffering only happens to those who ‘deserve’ it: The bad guys get their just desserts, and the women get their man.
Big thanks for Angie for inviting me over, and to the other Wicked ladies for having me here! In my latest release, THE IRISH WARRIOR (June, 2010), all 10 of these are true. Check it out. ;-)

Kris Kennedy writes sexy, adventure-filled medieval romances for Kensington and Pocket Books. THE IRISH WARRIOR, winner of the 2008 Golden Heart® Award for Best Historical Romance, released June 1. Read a sexy excerpt here!
Stop by her website for news, to sign-up for the newsletter, or just drop her a line saying Hi!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Lori Foster Rocks!

And so does the Lori Foster Event.

I had a blast this last weekend at the Lori Foster Event just north of Cincinnati. Check out the link for some pictures. I didn't get the chance to take any pictures because, alas, I kept forgetting my camera. That didn't stop Angela James from snapping a picture of me trying to open the world's most stubborn bottle of wine with the worst corkscrew ever invented, then posting it on Twitter.

The event was a winner all around, affordable, fun, and friendly, I've never been to another get together like this that afforded more face to face time between readers and writers. I can't tell which group had more fun, because a great time was had by all.

I laughed so hard I cried, and I had some awesome discussions with people about just about anything and everything. Now I've got a little pressure on my shoulders because word leaked out that I post naughty haiku on Twitter. Now I've got to get my short verse writing skills back in shape. Fortunately my dirty mind hasn't gone anywhere. I've got new poems for crayons, hats, chopsticks, meatballs, and vestibules.

I'm definitely putting the event on the calendar for next year. I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Hope to see you there!

Jess

Thursday, June 3, 2010

To E-book or not E-book?

A recent article in "Publisher's Weekly" concerning Joe Konrath and e-books has generated a lot of chatter about the future of publishing on various message boards. Some feel that the death knell has been sounded; that once the price on e-readers drop to a more affordable level, e-books will control the market. It reminds me of a statement I once heard…it went something like this…that whenever a certain percentage (I think it was around 90%) of the population acquires a new technology, the industry that said technology replaces, starts feeling the effects. The example they used was the old fashioned "icebox". Back in the day when people used iceboxes to keep food cold, the iceman was a constant visitor in everyone's home, but once refrigerators became affordable, the iceman went the way of the Dodo bird. The industry died.

What do I think? Well, first let me say that although I love living in the Midwest, Iowa isn't exactly the hub of the publishing industry. We're known for producing corn and soybeans, not books. *g* All I know is what I read and what I hear, but here's my opinion, for whatever it's worth.

No, traditional publishing is not dead. Is it changing? You bet! But I do believe that there will always be a demand for "printed" books. Why? Based on my own feelings and the feeling of those I queried in the two little surveys I did a couple of months ago, there's more to reading than just the words. People like holding a printed book in their hands; they like seeing them lined up on their bookshelves; they like owning signed copies; and they like knowing those books will always be there for them to revisit at anytime-they'll never have to "delete" them to make room for more. And think about this-can you imagine sitting down with a little kid and reading them a story off an e-reader? I don't know about you, but it's always been my experience that kids like "touching", they love trailing their fingers across a brightly colored page as you're reading to them. It just wouldn't be the same on a screen.

Then what about e-books? Yup, they're going to be a bigger share of the market-all I have to do is look at my last royalty statement to see that trend. E-books accounted for a larger percentage of the sales than ever before, especially the first five "Ophelia and Abby's." E-readers are convenient, great to take along on a trip, and can provide instant gratification. (Why wait until you can get to a bookstore to buy that new release you've been dying to read…just download it now on your e-reader!) I also think they'll have a strong appeal to the "techo" generation-young people, like my twenty-one year-old daughter who goes into withdrawal when her IPod isn't working, who uses a computer for everything, from keeping a virtual "diary" on Facebook to shopping online, and who can text faster with two thumbs than I can type on a keyboard with ten fingers! I can also see where e-books might expand an author's readership. (They try your e-book, like it, and then buy your in-print books.)

So what does this to mean to me, as an author and someone who makes part of their living by writing? I think I need to eventually expand more into the e-book market by putting out some original work in that format. Do I want to go strictly e-book? No, but if the market's there, I think it would be smart to capitalize on it. But I have to admit the idea is a little scary. In a way, I kind of feel it's going to be working without a net, that net being my editor!! I really do rely on her to catch mistakes, holes in the plot, and any other issues that might make the manuscript a less than satisfying read. What if I put something out there that the readers won't like, will it end my career both in print and e-books? I honestly don't know, but my agent once said that authors who stay in the game are the ones who roll with the punches. And that's what I'm going to do…roll with it. All I can do is try my best, be as professional as I can be about it, then let the chips fall. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and all that. If I'd have let scary things hold me back, I never would've become a writer in the first place!!

I'll let you know how it works out!!! (Anyone else who wants to chime in, feel free!!)

That's it for now-have a great rest of the week!!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Weekend of Firsts!

What can I say about my first MARCON (Multiple Alternative Realities Convention)? I could talk about how a huge group of volunteers put on the most fun weekend I’ve seen in a long time. Or how great it was to meet so many readers and fans. I could talk about spending Saturday night in the hotel bar with the Enterprise crew, and Greek gods, and a whole lot of Steam punk afficionados.
Instead, I figured it would just be easier to post pictures of all this weekend’s first.

First time I've ever been around this many Star Wars characters. MARCON participants are rightfully proud of their costumes. They were amazing!

Is there something strange in your neighborhood? First time I ever met the Ghost Busters, that's for sure!

No tattoos for me. Not ever! But my first ever henna picture was fun. Don't worry, it will wash off in about a week.


The first time I've been in an inter-active murder mystery. I played a Hollywood star and yes, that's me holding my best supporting actress "Wasker." Too much fun, and thanks to Trina from the local Sisters in Crime dinner group. She loaned me that glorious caftan. Big surprise, I got a lot of compliments on it! And here I just thought I was being campy!


Yes, my first ever official MARCON t-shirt, but it gets better than that, because it's the first time . . .


. . . I've ever been honored by having my name included with the special guests. What fun!






Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday announcement time

Hey would you look at that? It's Tuesday and it only took me until 2:45 p.m. to figure that out. My mind is still in holiday mode. Now where is that leftover BBQ?

Oh but wait. You want a blog. You want announcements. You want someone to tell you how good looking you are. Well, my friends, here's the blog, you look fabulous and I do have something fun to tell you. I've just signed a new contract to write two new books that will both be out in 2011.

What? You say. Tell us more! Well, okay then. The first book is called So I Married a Demon Slayer. It's an anthology, so I'm only doing one of three stories in it. The others will be by Kathy Love and a new author named Lexi George. That's coming out in late summer of 2011, I believe. Cover and official release date will come soon.

The second book is a Halloween anthology called Were Wives of Vampire County. That's with Alexandra Ivy and a third author, not yet announced. This book will be a take off of the whole Desperate Housewives, and reality housewives shows, only with shapeshifters. Personally, I've had my suspicions about those reality show women for awhile, so this might not be entirely fiction. I think this book comes out in September 2011, but don't quote me. I'll be getting official information later.

Also out in January 2011 is The Last of the Demon Slayers, which is a continuation of the Accidental Demon Slayer series. I don't have a cover for that yet (boo) but I do have the blurb:

Lizzie Brown would like to have just one normal date. Instead, she gets a towering inferno with a message: her long-lost dad is a fallen angel in danger of becoming a demon. Not good. Especially since she's a demon slayer.

Her grandma advises her to stay out of it. Her sexy-as-sin shape-shifter boyfriend would much rather she devote her attention to more carnal pursuits. And her dog's one demand is for more bacon. After all, he can't train his pet dragon on an empty stomach.

But Lizzie knows there's no other choice than to hop on her Harley and help her father - even if the search for the truth brings a bad-boy slayer back into her life and leads her into the middle of a war to end all wars.

So don't say I didn't tell you anything today, even if the telling comes a bit late. Happy Tuesday!