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Back in October, a week after I returned to Massachusetts from my 50th Class Reunion in Delaware, I tumbled from my bicycle into some frightful bushes edging a bike path and broke my wrist in three places. This injury put a big dent in my plans to place Gwen’s second story into the hands of readers.

Burdened with a purple cast, a swollen hand, and not a little pain, I chose to cancel three author events in November with great sadness. One of them will be rescheduled. The other two were unfortunately one-time events.

My cast is now gone, and I’m regaining strength and flexibility in my right hand. I’m finally able to grasp a pen, although a signed autograph still appears a little funky with the restriction of three stiff fingers.

For those of you who enjoyed Gwen’s debut mystery, ‘The Uninvited Guest’, you may want to follow her next adventure in ‘Where There’s Smoke, There’s Trouble’, which takes place the following spring. As the story creator, I imbued Gwen with my personal dislike of cigar smoke and built a story around that aversion.

Here’s a link for your convenience:

Thanks to all of you who continue to support my writing journey!

Debi Graham-Leard

 

 

 

 

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scaredy-catDuring the Cape Cod Writers Conference, I attended a class to learn about various Social Media as they relate to writers. One such outlet is an Author Page on Facebook.

Back home, I managed to register my author portrait and also a collage of the book cover from ‘The Uninvited Guest’ as the header image. But I need more content before I ask my regular FB ‘friends’ to like my new page.

The instructor emailed the link to my Amazon page, but I have yet to attempt the registration of the link.

All right, I admit it… I’m a Scaredy-Cat!

Fortunately, I discovered that the Ames Free Library in Easton, MA, offers one-on-one workshops with patrons who are seeking a comfort zone for FaceBook. I’ve signed up for a session next Thursday, and hope to come away with enough confidence to complete the set-up and release my Author Page to the world.

 

 

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book club at tableAfter the successful author talk and book signing with the local garden club, the Ugly Dog Bookstore, and a private Girls Night Out last month, I dove into chasing down additional events. Friends were anxious to advise their connections of who to ask and where to go to share my story! Most organizations need a speaker for an upcoming meeting, and have been glad that I dropped into their laps!

To entice the program director of non-bookstore organizations to schedule me into her events calendar,  I offered 15% of books sold during her event. Not only will I cost them nothing as a speaker, but they will receive a small donation as a result of their book sales!

Not every contact gets back to me on a timely basis, requiring a follow-up email or phone call. But the results have been quite satisfactory. Here’s a list of interviews/author talks/book signings scheduled for the coming weeks:

Feb 26… ‘Books and the World’ cable interview, Cape Cod, MA

March 16…Allentown Public Library, Allentown, PA

March 19…Brandywine Community Library, Topton, PA

March 22…Kutztown Community Library, Kutztown, PA

March 31…Ames Free Library, Easton, MA

 

Am I supposed to be having this much fun?

 

Happy reading and writing!

Debi

 

 

 

 

 

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hands on keyboardThis past weekend, I attended Crime Bake in Dedham, MA. Sponsored by Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, this conference is always inspiring, but not without its disappointments to a budding author.

First, there was the ‘First Page Critique’ session after lunch on Saturday. When my first page was read, only one agent defended my efforts because she has seen my progress. But neither she nor the other four agents raised a hand to indicate they would read further.

Second, my pitch to an agent, hoping to hook her into asking for my first three chapters, fell on deaf ears. This could be my fault, because I decided to change my genre from mystery to romantic suspense after the pitch practice session on Friday night. I’m going back to mystery genre.

Third time was a charm! My manuscript evaluation was provided by Ray Daniel, a Boston author. He pointed out that although my writing is good, and my verbs are strong, I’m asking my reader to hang in with me for a third of the novel before we find out that there is a body. Over the months, I’ve changed my opening scene too many times to count, but Ray’s words made sense to me. I finally got it!

So I flew out of bed early on Sunday morning, rushed to my computer and opened a new file. I pulled Chapter 12 forward, did a bit of tweeking and printed off a new page one. When I arrived at the Dedham Hilton for the final day of the conference, I bumped into Ray within minutes and asked what he thought of the new first page. He gave it a thumbs up…yea!

My writing days will now include not only regular revision, but a re-sequencing of my chapters to move my suspects into the middle.

But, oh,  how exciting this is!

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three women sepiaAn email arrived inviting me to choose my top three agents for the pitching session at the Crime Bake Conference, sponsored by Sisters in Crime New England and Mystery Writers of America during the weekend of Nov 8-9-10.

This year, the organizers are offering eleven agents and editors for our selection process. Bios for them all are provided on the Crime Bake website.

And so my analysis began! I read each bio to discover what sub-genre that agent is seeking at the moment, and their experience in the publishing industry. A follow-up exploration of each corporate websites with a browse through their most recently published authors solidified if they seem to be a good match for my mystery/romance story.

I settled on my top three, registered my picks via the online form, and will now wait until I register at the conference to find out which one is my assigned agent.

The pitching session will take place on Saturday afternoon during the conference weekend. Those authors who are participating will be collected outside the pitching room, and herded in as a group to spend our five minutes in front of the pour assigned agent. If all goes well, and my pitch includes enough of a hook, the agent may request more of my story. Wouldn’t that be encouraging?

Cross your fingers!

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imagesWell, today was the deadline to submit 15 pages for a manuscript evaluation at the upcoming Crime Bake Conference, sponsored by Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

After several revisions, I managed to condense the first 13 pages of my story to end with Chapter 2 where the initial hook hopefully sinks in. The first page was a cover sheet, and the second a one-page synopsis. How difficult was that to write??? All the broad strokes on one page!

My submission will be assigned to an agent, an editor, or a published mystery writer for evaluation. I’ll find out who when I register on November 8.

The two of us will find a quiet corner in the Hilton Hotel and spend fifteen minutes together. She will tell me what she thinks of my story and my writing. It will be a nerve-wracking experience, but a necessary evil. After sending my story through two separate writing groups, eliminating my original opening chapters and many unnecessary scenes, plus rewriting the first page a gazillion times, I can only hope that my evaluator thinks my story is in pretty good shape.

During this conference, I will also pitch my book to the attending agents. Maybe I’ll finally get a bite!

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I key-stroked “The End” on my first mystery months ago, but continue to revise, revise, revise. Sending chapters through two different writing groups always elicits valid comments. Although the story reads easily with active verbs and definitive description, there might be a glitch with a chunk of dialogue or a mis-match of logic to previous clues. It all needs attention.

And so I’m nervous about sending a query to a publisher who requires that my novel be finished and POLISHED. Will my story ever REALLY be polished enough to submit? I’ve heard it said that we could revise our story forever if we choose to do so. At what point do we stop? I suppose the fall-back position is that even if I think it’s done, my agent–if I ever find one–and the editor at the publishing house—if they ever hold my manuscript in their hands–will have their own ideas about sections that need revision.

Actually, to put a little pressure on myself to finish the first novel, I have begun my second. Not very far in, but I know who is done-in, and who-done-it. The inciting incident has been established. I’m wrestling with the reason behind the crime. Several possibilities are floating around in my head. I just have to pick the one that seems most logical and can be justified to a degree that is believable.

Well, that’s enough moaning and groaning for this morning.

 

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