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BB&B front cover croppedSo excited to open my inbox yesterday and find an email from my editor/publisher Stephanie Blackman, owner of Riverhaven Books in Whitman, MA! As scheduled in our contract, yesterday was the due date for her to provide me with suggestions to fine-tune ‘Bed, Breakfast,  & Blackmail’.

So far, her suggestions have been small adjustments, with no major changes to plot, characters, or basic writing technique. My plan is to continue the review process through the weekend, and zip this file back to her bright and early on Monday morning.

After she finalizes the adjustments, she’ll request the galley copy which I will need to review with the proverbial fine-toothed comb before advising any final changes. Steph will then upload to Amazon and order printed copies from the local print shop on my behalf.

Looking forward to the day when I hold the actual book in my hands… nothing more satisfying for an author!

And then the marketing efforts begin!

 

 

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Wordcounter logoAs I approached the final edit of ‘Bed, Bath, & Blackmail’, I loaded my manuscript into a website called ‘Wordcounter.com’, a most useful tool.
This website came back with a list of my most-used words, along with their quantity. Imagine my surprise to see how often I used ‘when’, ‘about’, ‘back’, ‘down’, and ‘time’.
This tendency to use the same words over and over is a trap that writers groups won’t catch, because they see only a chapter or two at each meeting.
Most often, these redundant words … and the phrase that goes with them … can simply be eliminated. On occasion, another word brings more clarity to the context. My total word count for the story has been reduced by 3,000 words, resulting in a tighter story.
For the writers reading this post, I encourage you to give wordcounter.com a try. You’ll be amazed at the result!

Holiday Craft Fair

2018 Mansfield Craft FairThere is nothing sweeter than setting up an author table at a holiday craft fair, then waiting for the browsers to wander past, stopping to chat about my characters, the setting, the storyline.  If the two of us connect over my mystery series, another reader will  walk away with one of my books, anxious to meet my amateur sleith Gwen Andrews.

Such was the case when I purchased a table for the 4th Annual Craft Fair in Mansfield, MA, this past Saturday. Although my spot in the second room placed me away from the entrance, many shoppers made their way into my section. Young and old, male and female, mystery lovers come in all shapes and sizes.

The first story in the series ‘The Uninvited Guest’ outsold the second ‘Where There’s Smoke, There’s Trouble’, simply because readers were new to the series. Several purchased one of each as a Christmas gift set. Several accepted my bookmark as a reminder to link to my Amazon page and download the eBook version.

At the end of the day, I was pleased to realize I had placed more books in the hands of mystery lovers than in any previous single event… yea!

 

 

The 3rd story in my 4-book series is approaching the final scenes. I expect to turn it over to Riverhaven Books for editing after the holidays and subsequent publication in 2019. This installment in the Gwen Andrews mystery series is titled ‘Bed, Breakfast, & Blackmail’.
Without giving away the plot, I’ll simply tell you that this third story occurs just before Christmas and is centered around the fictional Harbor Falls Bed & Breakfast. Of course, Gwen will again become entangled in a police investigation, but this time with a twist!
During the research phase, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was indeed a B&B type of establishment across from the Norton Common in my town. It was called ‘Wheaton Inn’ and served as a hotel for many years before being torn down in the 1960s.
Blackington Inn threeAs the author, I developed my B&B replacement based on a 3-floor center hall colonial design. I’m thrilled that the Colonel Blackinton Inn has given me permission to use a photo I snapped of their establishment to represent my B&B in the cover photo. My publisher will adjust the sign to read ‘Harbor Falls Bed & Breakfast.’
If you’ve never tried your hand at writing fiction, I’ll just share with you that it’s a wonderful way to keep your imagination active!

aus books - smallThere is nothing more satisfying than to walk into a bookstore and see both of my mysteries displayed on the shelf in the local author section.

I’m referring to An Unlikely Story in Plainville, Massachusetts. Children’s book author Jeff Kinney of Wimpy Kid story  fame, built his unique bookstore on the site of the historic Falk’s Market at the intersection of Rt.106 and Rt.1A. Some of the shelving and stairs to the second floor were built using the floor boards from the old market… truly a nod to the past.

When my debut mystery ‘The Uninvited Guest’ was published,  the Strong Women Book Group at An Unlikely Story chose it as their book of the month. I joined them at their follow-up discussion for an enjoyable question and answer session. I’ll be suggesting the second story titled ‘Where There’s Smoke, There’s Trouble’ and ask them to choose it as an upcoming monthly selection.

And it’s time to contact the venues located in the area around Largo, Florida. Last year, when I arrived in January as a first-time snow-birder, I was too late to be included in their calendars. Many suggested I touch base this fall as they’re preparing the calendar for 2019, promising they’d do their best to assign a date for my Author Talk.

About the daily writing efforts … re-sequencing is the word of every day as I continue to create story #3. ‘Bed, Breakfast, & Blackmail’ takes place during the days leading up to Christmas. After attending a 3-day forensics class at the Cape Cod Writers Conference last month, and then discussing the nitty-gritty details with my local police detective, I found I had to re-shuffle many activities one day earlier than I’d written them. Doing this is not as simple as it sounds. By moving a key piece of the investigation to the previous day, it impacts conversations between characters, where they go, and what they do. My opening chapters are now interspersed with green text to signify it’s been moved, and red text to signify re-writing is required. Chapter numbers are also changing as the quantity of pages in each ebbs and flows.

And so, I chug along each morning, knowing that one day, I will type ‘The End’ … and mean it!

 

 

 

 

 

hands on keyboardAs I’ve been penning the third story in my four-book mystery series, it occured to me that the first two stories were told strictly from the viewpoint of my amature sleuth Gwen Andrews. I wondered if transforming certain scenes to the viewpoint of another major character might add texture and depth to the story-telling.
And so I saved my WORD file under an adjusted title and gave this idea a try. The emotional impact within both main plot and sub-plot are becoming a more interesting page-turner for my readers. After all, it’s my readers that I need to satisfy!
The process of recreating those scenes from another POV will no doubt extend the time it’ll take me to reach ‘The End’, but I’m convinced this plan of action is worth the extra effort.
Which character was chosen for this second narrator? You’ll have to be patient as I fine-tune the dialogue and internal thoughts to solidify the logic and plot progression. I won’t be passing this third story to my publisher Riverhaven Books until I’ve exhausted my editing and polishing tasks.
Stay tuned!

imagesA few months ago, I was contacted by the host of “Be My Guest”, an interview show on the Upton local cable station and scheduled for May.

The show’s host … Jan Miller … is a delightful woman who asked pertinent questions about the creation of my two published mysteries, ‘The Uninvited Guest’ and ‘Where There’s Smoke, There’s Trouble’. Jan also asked about my writing process and work in progress, which is titled ‘Bed, Breakfast, & Blackmail’. In addition, she touched on my volunteer effort as an audio book narrator for Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown.

The half hour flew by, and we said goodbye much too soon. She invited me to come back when my third story is published.

A delightful activity, and one that every author should pursue. Here is the link if you’d like to have a listen to the interview: