Monday, June 29, 2015

Weekly Deets -- 6.29.15

Did I skip a week? Yes, I think I did ... oh boy. How time gets away from me. I spent a lot of it rethinking new projects and old. I've decided to change my most current MS from 3rd POV to 1st. Why? It's the only way I seem to be able to get inside her head and give her a fuller voice. It's going to take a lot of work, but I have to believe it will be worth it. Next up, I start with this idea from the MSWL, aka agent manuscript wish list on Twitter and tweak it a bit. Take a Veronica Mars like character and plunk her down in Louisiana, then create a mystery full of voodoo and murder. We'll see what happens. But I'm definitely liking it so far! And .... next! Still working to finish writing my romance dashed with a bit of mystery. I'm maybe a third of the way through. It's a seat-of-my-pants approach where I really have no idea how it will end! How do writers do this? Oh, I use to, but it's scary after all my recent work done from planning and outlining.

And on Friday I got pulled into another Twitter contest -- #writepit. Yes, I'm addicted. It's fun and like fishing, I sometimes get a nibble or two. This time my catch included two publishers and one agent. I'm slow, but I'm beginning to think this is me just wanting positive strokes. Tell me you like me enough to want my work and I'll be proud as a peacock! Geesh! The real problem with Twitter pitches is just that. It's a 140 character pitch. How can anybody tell what the writing is going to look like based on a skimpy pitch? I'd guess their acceptance rate is about a gazillion to one. Still, it's lots of fun to do and you can make great Twitter friends. In the meantime, never know when you'll be that one in a gazillion!

Okay, enough about me and all this writing stuff. Well, sort of. This is more like a footnote. Do you folks who write ever need some kind of outlet? You know, a hobby, recreation, or whatever that distracts you from writing and helps you stay sane? I bought a needlepoint kit. Sad, right? I'm thinking I can needlepoint while plotting in my head. Yeah, that's not really a distraction from writing, but at least I will have a needlepoint creation :-) 

One more thing ... I said I would update about my True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse observations. I am on season 5 and just started reading book 1. The show is so creepy and disgusting with all the blood and gore, but that makes me want to watch it even more! The book is, well, I can't really say too much yet. The writing is simple, but in that way probably appeals to a wider audience of readers. I will have more on that later. 

Alrighty then. That's it for the week. I will try to do better next time and be on time. Happy Fourth of July! Enjoy your freedom, your family, your friends. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Weekly Deets -- 6.16.15

                                                      It's been a busy week ... but not with writing :-( I spent time with my hubby up at the family cabin in Pennsylvania this past weekend. It was relaxing and fun. Nice to see the surrounding sites and have them remind me of years gone by, AND picturing them as scenes in my WIP. That's an interesting experience, thinking of the characters as they act out a particular scene in a place I'm visiting. Over all, it was a relief to unplug and not worry or stress about writing or getting work published. Always wise to put that into the equation once every so often!

New experience -- I have never really liked vampire stories, aka, NOT a Twilight fan, and don't agree to recommendations of said topic. However, my daughter suggested I might enjoy the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. And this is how she peeked my interest: interesting, entertaining characters. Yep. One comment on how these reminded her of my story characters, or at least some of them, and the MC's bold, independent, sassy ways led me to check it out. Well, sort of. I took a sneak preview of the HBO series, True Blood ... and I love it! Although it's sometimes a bloody, gory vampire mess, the characters are engaging, warm, and entertaining. AND it takes place in Louisiana! BAM! Bonus points! Seriously, I will start reading the series -- always like to compare book to tv, movie versions. And I'll get back to you with comments later on. 

All of this reminds me of how important characters are when writing. I like to create ones that are unique in at least one or two ways, I mean extremely unique. Like Louise Picault in my Dying to Dream who's a spry eighty-year-old loaded and ready to zap you with her voodoo and Cajun powers. Or Kooky Colonel Crockett in Lilly M's Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes, an eccentric, somewhat crazy neighbor who thinks he's Davy Crockett protecting the frontier with his gun, Betsy. They are secondary characters, but they are what make the story colorful and pull you into their world and keep you there until the last page! 

Sure, the plot drives the story but it's the characters who make it interesting enough to stick with it and set it apart from the million other stories out there. Anyway, it was nice to be reminded of that. Thank you, Charlaine and Sookie! 

That's about it for this week. On professional notes: 1) I sent out Grave Maker Blues to Carina Press. Another 12 week wait, I'd guess. But it's doing something, and I'm all about that!; 2) The Lilly M cozy series is making waves on Amazon. I priced #2 for free in Kindle and it's pushing sales for the other two. Weee!; 3) A Deadly Deed Grows is moving slowly, but it's being checked out at local libraries which means gathering new readers! Always a plus and I love sharing what I write. Next book signing -- July 6th. 

Take care and happy reading!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Weekly Deets -- 6.9.15

A little behind, I know. However it's for a very good reason ... maybe :-) I had my first book event for A Deadly Deed Grows Monday evening. I thought it would be nice to wait until afterward to post my weekly comments. So of course, it's two days after! Procrastination strikes again. All in all, it was a fun and entertaining time. For those authors who wonder what exactly should they do and talk about during a book signing/author visit ... I'm still searching for ideas, and I've done this a few dozen times already! 

This one went pretty much the same. It's basic stuff, not so creative. (I'll leave that up to the more experienced.) Regardless, this is my take on it. Give a little bio -- don't ramble on too long about it because it will bore them. Trust me. Then talk a bit about your current book -- again, don't drone on and on. Give your guests a chance to ask questions. And obviously you want to save some time to sell books if your host will let you. (Libraries can get quite picky about such things. I've always been lucky enough to have permission to sell.) But that's not all I did or do during my visits. It must be the teacher in me never wanting to die despite retirement. This time I gave them a fun quiz. Yep. How cruel is that?! Actually, it was fun. Seven facts about my story's setting -- those beautiful spots along the Florida Panhandle: Cape San Blas, Port Saint Joe, Apalachicola. Some true and others false. (Hey, if nothing else it's a way to switch up the activity so people aren't anxious to bolt out the door! Yeah, it's another teacher thing to change activities frequently) 

Like I said, everyone enjoyed it. Or at least that's the way I'll remember the evening. Bonus? I sold a few books and gained a few reader fans. 

In the meantime I'm slugging along with my WIP. And when I'm not doing that, I'm watching the NBA playoffs with our home team, the Cavaliers. Go Lebron! Go Delly! Go Cavs! #ALLinCLE !!!

Have a great week and happy reading and writing!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Weekly Deets -- 6.1.15

It's Monday, the first day of June and dismally cloudy to start. I feel sorry for the kiddos on having such a cold and dreary day, their first day of summer break. Hopefully we'll snap out of it. 

I had a revelation of thought about my recently finished mystery -- Grave Maker Blues. I decided revising it into first person POV might make a difference. AND IT DOES! Not to mention that this way I will find it easier to add more internal thought. First person does that, at least in my experience. Anyway, it's worth a shot. I'll wait and finish the revisions this way, and then start querying again.

Meantime, I'm slugging along with my WIP. I keep wanting to turn it into primarily a mystery rather than the intended romance. My brain. My habit. *sigh* I should take time, now, to make an outline, but I'm so determined to let my emotions carry me along, develop as I go, let the characters lead the way. Crazy? Maybe. Trudging onward! 

Only a week before my first author/book event for A Deadly Deed Grows. Nervous? Excited? Anxious? I should be all of those, but I'm not. Worried? Oh, yes. That I am. I always worry that no one will show. I'll be talking to chairs rather than people. (haha) Seriously, I believe the first one will be fine. And the second -- that one is in my hometown -- because people will want to come right away. After that ... maybe not so much. That's why I decided not to over-do. I've only scheduled six for the next several months. Four libraries, one bookstore, and one multi-author book fair at a college.

I'm working on an idea for a future project. It is a cozy mystery series about a group of women who belong to a film club. In book one a murder occurs and as details are revealed they find the killing is a copycat of a movie plot they've seen. They begin to suspect one another as the possible murderer. That's what I have so far. Interesting, or no? Tell me what you think. 

That's it for the week. Not very newsy, but who knows what next week will bring! 

Happy reading ... and writing, all!

A Deadly Deed Grows

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Weekly Deets -- 5.24.15

Thought I'd try something different, something fresh, something that may flop ... or not :-) I'd considered a daily one, but I will be lucky to make it once a week! So, here goes ...

#1. This week I've been doing my agent query thing -- does this make everybody anxious, insecure, and all the troublesome bother that comes along the way to make you want to cry uncle? -- and sent out a half dozen more, a half dozen hopeful requests. This will be a total of 52, I believe. Not sure if that's good or bad. My goal is 100 and then if I get no takers, I'll pick a few indie publishers to query. (Some days I feel my decision-making is like I'm in a thick fog, not finding a true path, wandering aimlessly.)

Even though my experience with twitter pitching and contests gave me a fantastic high, nothing came of it. I remained agentless. I still believe in such venues, because it's a success for many, just not me. Yet. (And yes, those eight or so agents are included in my query total, along with all those cold queries.)

#2. Writing has taken me in another direction as of late. About a month ago I started a romance novel -- I'm usually all about mystery -- and it's coming along. But darn if some mystery elements didn't start creeping into the story! Can't help myself. I have a feeling it will turn into another mystery with romantic elements before long. And yes, I didn't outline this time. Again, a departure for me. Oh, I used to dive into stories without an outline. All the time. Then when I'd reach around page 50 or so, it would click and I'd take a break to develop a chapter by chapter summary of the WIP. And you know what? I see why I finally began creating outlines beforehand! Painting myself into those writer corners is not a pleasant thing. :-(

#3. Planning my first author visit for A Deadly Deed Grows. It's in two weeks. Yikes! My procrastinating self will most likely take charge and it will be two days before the event when I start to panic and work like the devil to get everything ready. Online sales have been slow as a slug. Hopefully with a little more exposure and time it will do better. I'm thinking of a follow-up to this one. Series do tend to sell better than stand-alones. We'll see. A lot on my plate right now. 

Okay. Enough for now. Until next week! Have a great one!

A Deadly Deed Grows

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

White Hats vs Black Hats: It's a New World

Villains and heroes. They're timeless. In life and in fiction. Without them a story contains no conflict; life lacks success as well as tragedy and struggle. When reading a story or watching a movie or playing a video game everyone cheers on the good guys and hisses at the bad ones. Still, there are even moments when we root for the villain. That flawed individual who in some way has a vulnerable side, some quality we may relate to, making him worthy of our empathy.

And that timeless point I mentioned? Well, we can go back as far as we like in history to find our villains and heroes. And they don't have to be human. There are plenty of evil forces such as nature, and with the industrial age, one very common foe is technology and machines. Remember the old west? All those cowboy movies and shows? If you watch a western made in the fifties you'll notice the good guys wear the white hats while the villains are sporting black hats. And this brings me to my thought ...

You know white hats and black hats have a totally new meaning. Right? Stop picturing those cowboys, folks. Instead, let's talk twenty-first century and everything techie. Today we have white hats, i.e. the computer experts who are the ethical hackers hired by companies to run security tests on their information systems. And the black hats? You guessed it. They are the hackers who can ruin your life, or at least mess with it greatly. Identity theft is one way, and remember the Sony debacle that caused so many celebs' email accounts and personal info to be hacked? Yep. Black hats. It's a totally new world. So, get on board ... or go nostalgic and find yourself a John Wayne movie to watch. That's what I'd prefer. Popcorn, anyone?

Just my musing for the day. Cheers! Enjoy reading :-)

Kathryn Long
Author of Mysteries
A Deadly Deed Grows

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Traveling a Very Long Road

FLASHBACK: I finally received an email (after many emails, actually) from the publisher I'd submitted to for my mystery romance, A DEADLY DEED GROWS and the editor informed me that I was being offered a contract. Woo hoo! I was so excited. In fact, I was amazed that I could've gotten two books and two contracts in a matter of six months. Both were with small presses, one significantly smaller than the other. Still, I'd managed these on my own. Of course I want to get more, and more. We authors are a greedy lot :-) Anyway, I signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press in April of 2013. Yes, you heard me. 2013. 

FLASH FORWARD: It's now February, 2015, nearly two years of editing, revising, and editing and revising some more, but we (my editor Johanna and I) are finally getting there, i.e. a publication release. I'll admit, there were times I'd think, "maybe they'll decide not to publish it, put it on a shelf, and let it sit for an eternity". This, too, is the mind workings of an author. Lots of insecurity and doubt along the way, and it's a true roller coaster of emotions from highs to lows. But when you see the cover, then you know. It will happen. And it feels great! 

I haven't received a release date for the book yet, but I'm hoping some time this spring. In the meantime, I have my cover to keep me satisfied. And it's truly an awesome cover! Thanks Kim Mendoza! You rock! So, drum roll, please ..... brrrrrum ... Tada!  (UPDATE: Released March, 20, 2015)