Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Events Every Author Should Attend At Least Once

Whether you write science fiction or mystery, poetry or romance, ultimately you will have something in common with writers of different genres: the need to promote your work. While the Internet has opened new avenues of marketing to authors, from websites and blogs to social network hubs, there is still something to be said for meeting the reading public where they can be easily found. Some of the best places to meet readers, editors, and booksellers are book conferences and conventions.

Conventions are held around the world, all year 'round. Many of the larger, more established expositions are normally scheduled around the same time each year, allowing authors who attend multiple events to plan accordingly. Some conferences may include panels and seminars on the craft or on marketing, while others are strictly venues for authors to read and sell works. Some allow writers and industry professionals to connect, and others are geared mainly for readers wishing to socialize with their favorite authors. Some are held in an afternoon at a public library, others sponsored by colleges over the course of a week, and still others held in large exhibit halls. Regardless of size and name recognition, any book event is worth attending for an author looking to promote a book.

Any author serious about learning more about the industry, learning what readers want, and reaching readers and booksellers should consider making time to attend at least one book festival, fair, or conference a year. Some may require travel and other expenses - booth rental, promotional materials, accommodations, but in the end the spending can be justified with the opportunity to expose your name and work to a new audience. You may not sell out at every event you attend, but you have at least the chance to imprint your work in the minds of interested readers. A simple bookmark handed over to a passerby may yield a future sale. Word of mouth remains on the most powerful marketing tools for writers - and you have to go where the mouths are.

That said, here is just a short list of recommended events I think every author should attend at least once. Some are expensive, yes, but worth the time to travel and stay. Many are genre specific, but the conferences and seminars offered at some may be applicable to any writer trying to make a sale. Consider planning a vacation around one of these events, and bring business cards. You never just may meet your future agent in an elevator at one of these events.

Book Expo America - One of the largest publishing trade expos in the world. This 3-4 day event is usually held in late May, early June in a major US city (2006 was DC, 2007 is NYC, 2008 is LA). Here all the major book pubs (and a good number of small presses) display their forthcoming catalogs to reviewers and booksellers. Lots of big names come to this event.

Romantic Times - One of the largest book conventions dedicated to the romance genre and sub-genres, a fantastic place to meet readers and industry professionals alike. This event is usually held in the late spring, April or May, and also travels (2006 was in Daytona Beach, 2007 in Houston, 2008 in Pittsburgh). The Saturday book fair exposes authors to hundreds of readers.

Bouchercon - The oldest and perhaps most influential mystery convention, a great place to meet mystery authors, publishers, specialty booksellers, and others involved in the genre. This travel also (2006 in Madison, WI, 2007 in Anchorage).

Malice Domestic - Another, smaller mystery convention with a focus on the cozy genre. This one is always held in the Washington, DC area around the spring, April or May, and distributes the annual Agatha Awards.

DragonCon - DragonCon is not strictly a book convention, but very book friendly. DragonCon celebrates science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and everything in between. This con is held annually in Atlanta, usually around Labor Day.

RWA Annual Conference - The annual RWA conference brings in the heavy hitters of the romance industry: agents, editors and publishers. If you are a member of Romance Writers of America it is a great place to network.

EPICon - A small but growing annual convention, EPICon's focus is electronic publishing. Here you can learn about the growing industry and meet eBook publishers, and attend the annual EPPIE Awards. This con travels and is usually held in the early spring (2007 in Virginia Beach, 2008 in Portland, OR).

Remember, too, for every con you attend you can write off your promotional expenses!

Kathryn Lively is the author of Dead Barchetta, a Lerxst Johnston mystery.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hot Hot Hot Book News!

First things first, feast your eyes on the cover for the audio version of Daringly Delicious. That's right, I'll soon have two Dareville stories available for your listening pleasure. Remember, you can still get Truth or Dare through Audio Minx, and Delicious should be available to download in July. I'm really excited to be building up audio versions of my works. In addition to the few pieces I have up in German, I'm looking forward to taking more advantage of my subsidiary options.

I am thinking, though, I may try to record some of my own stuff. While it's great to sign a contract and have others do the work, there is a great satisfaction with taking charge. We'll see.

Now, on to my second bit of news, I am finishing up my latest work, which should be ready for release late summer / early fall. Sheer Bliss is a story I've been working on for a while. It is the first in a trilogy of shifter stories, and I'll have more details as we get closer to release. It feels great to have something new to share, especially since I haven't had a true, original release out since Silver Wings, and I didn't have a story in that work.

More later, always later!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Excerpt Tuesday - Jack of Diamonds

This week's excerpt comes from Jack of Diamonds, the second in a short series of M/M paranormal stories. A third was planned, and I still would like to write it. Just need the idea to come.


Jack Thurmond leaned his cheek against the window and looked skyward, blinking with each droplet of rain exploding on the glass before his eyes. Ashen cirrus clouds swirled in the dark gray, slow to move and somber on this November afternoon. Outside the air was thick, and threatened to suffocate pedestrians if they inhaled too deeply. This was why Jack was inside...sitting alone in a secluded pâtisserie and hotel owned by an elderly expatriate, a woman named Flora who had yet to emerge from the kitchen and acknowledge his presence.

He sighed. The real reason he was here in a foreign country and not home, having feigned a lengthy illness from work, was because a psychic had strongly suggested it. Just like him, Jack mused, to embrace spontaneity and do such a thing. It was the sort of behavior that led him to a number of failed relationships and job changes over the years, so by that logic heeding a stranger's speculation and cashing in his savings for a plane ticket was nothing.

The only rational thought Jack harbored through life was the belief that vampires and monsters and such didn't exist. Then on Halloween, one in the guise of his dream lover sucked his cock...and stole his heart. Jack could only hope if he found Lars here, as the psychic predicted, the vampire would take the rest of him as well.

If not...Jack shook his head. He hadn't thought that far ahead, and didn't want to.

"Lars, are you here?" Jack muttered, looking about the deserted café. Hand painted teapots and chipped bone china lined counters and shelves, and the sticky sweet aroma of caramel and cream cheese icing hung in the air. Jack could feel the enamel on his teeth dissolving, just by breathing through his mouth.


Jack's head snapped away from the window. From the back bustled a grandmotherly figure in a blue dress, wrapped in a yellow gingham apron. She had the look of a cartoon mascot just stepped from a box of biscuit flour. To that effect, white dust trailed her like a dissolving halo, and patches of baking residue clung to the hands that poured Jack tea from a fine china pot.

It could only be Flora, the woman Miss Ruby said harbored vampires in a safe house environment situated somewhere in the hotel. Exactly how they were accommodated Jack didn't want to know. He pictured a line of coffins arranged in a dark, dank cellar and cringed to think of his lover lying there, cold and alone, when he could be in Jack's warm bed.

Assuming Lars wanted to be in another man's bed, Jack mused sadly. He had to know; the manner in which Lars left after their only night together was so open-ended. He needed to know if Lars wanted him, or if their one night together was nothing more than a failed attempt to recapture what Lars had lost two centuries ago with Jack's previous incarnation.

"I'm sorry, I'm American. English, Anglais," Jack responded to Flora's rapid, unaccented French.

The woman paused, her expression momentarily puzzled, then laughed gaily as she patted his shoulder. "Oh, forgive me. Force of habit," she said. "I don't find many tourists here, what with the house being so far away from all the usual attractions."

"I know." Jack tried to smile, but instead did his best to discreetly brush away the crumbled sugar and butter crumbs from his sweater.

"First time in Paris?" When Jack nodded, she continued, "I do hope you'll enjoy your stay," she said. "Of course, you can tell easily I'm not a native," Flora's ample chest shook with quiet laughter, "but the city is more my home than my actual hometown could ever be. I don't think I could ever leave, I have so many friends here."

"So many friends. I made a good friend not long ago myself." He reached into his pocket for the small trinket that had become his worry stone. He set the heart-shaped rose quartz on the table and spun it idly, watching the point and rounded curves blur into a perfect circle. "He gave me this."

Flora began to rattle off the current menu of dainty edibles and finger sandwiches, but stopped upon seeing the quartz charm. The knowing look on the stocky woman's face relieved Jack. At the very least, Miss Ruby hadn't sent him on a wild goose chase by picking a city off an atlas and a restaurant from an Internet search.

"I have the feeling," Flora said, taking the chair opposite Jack's, "what you want is not on my menu." Her eyes fixed on the spinning heart until it stopped, pointing directly at Jack.

Jack shook his head. Flora's smile bore a recognition of the jewel that rattled him. Even as this happened, he still couldn't believe it. He wanted to look around for hidden cameras.

"Trust me, as long I've been harboring them, I still have trouble accepting how integrated these phenomenal creatures are in our society. You," she pointed at Jack, "I already know, too, believe it or not."

Jack's heart lifted at that. She wouldn't know unless somebody had come to tell her. "That I'm the reincarnation of an heiress from the time of Louis XIV, Le Roi Soleil," he supplied. It felt weird to say, but at least the woman didn't laugh.

"You were Lila D'aubigne, the great love of Lars Ullsson."

I'd like to think I still am. Lars loved this woman, this Lila, and had waited centuries for her next incarnation. By logic, Lars should be in love with him. Jack certainly loved Lars, had done so for years before their first encounter, as Lars appeared often in his dreams to woo him.

Of course, those weren't really dreams, Jack knew, but memories of Lila's past. More and more, parts of Lila surfaced to meld with Jack's consciousness. Jack could understand Lars being confused with the gender shift in Lila's latest incarnation, but a part of him hoped Lars could look past it and see the soul and spirit of his true love, regardless of how it came packaged.

After what they shared on Halloween, Jack wanted to believe that could happen, that they could be together. Jack shifted his legs just thinking about how his cock had felt throbbing in Lars' mouth. Now, in this little shop, his cock twitched slightly in response.

"The story is quite the legend in these parts, her tragic death and his disappearance soon after," Flora was saying as she busied her hands smoothing the wrinkles from the tablecloth. "Lars courted Lila in secret, you know, as her family didn't approve of her consorting with a common foreigner. Lars wasn't a wealthy man, but he was handsome."

"Lars is handsome." Jack didn't look at her, but at the heart-shaped quartz. It hadn't cost Lars much, but Lila treasured it more than the baubles rained upon her by various suitors her parents deemed worthy. Lord only knew what had happened to those trinkets.

"Of course. Lila was to inherit a great sum of money and jewels, but marrying Lars would have left her cut off from the family. It's said Lars pressured Lila to elope, but she wouldn't live without money. It's said he killed her in anger, took the jewels, and fled the country."

"We both know that's not true." Jack retained Lila's memory of that tragedy, the blurred face of another vampire smiling wickedly as he slashed at her. Lila hadn't cared for wealth, only Lars. Lars tried to protect Lila, but she died trying to protect him. Her death devastated him, and haunted him for centuries.

Jack wanted nothing more than to take away that pain.

Monday, June 27, 2011

What I'm Reading - Wait(s) For It

Until I picked up Tom Waits on Tom Waits via NetGallery for the rock music book blog, my only true exposure to the singer had been through a film called At Play in the Fields of the Lord. I don't recall too much about his performance now, since I've only seen the film one time...and that was during the first run. My then boyfriend, now husband, had read the book and is a fan of the author, so that was one date night. Truthfully, all I remember about the story is that it takes place in deep Brazil and John Lithgow yells a lot.

Nonetheless, I've picked up this book because I am intrigued by the subject. I'm one of these that tends to discover artists late. I didn't get into Zappa and Zevon until after both died, and I'm sure to look up Waits while the book is read - though he need not worry about his mortality right now.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Guest Post: Amber Scott

Me Want Food welcomes Amber Scott! If you want to guest blog, just drop a line at kspatwriter at yahoo.

Before New Authors Self-Publish: 5 Considerations
By Amber Scott © 2010

With all the changes happening in publishing, many authors, both new and established, are considering Independent Publishing as an alternative to traditional houses who buy conservatively and take few risks. I recently published my romantic comedy, Play Fling, on Smashwords and Scribd as an experiment to compare and contrast this avenue with my epublishing experiences. As my journey culminates, here are five considerations I think every author should make before committing their work to this new trend.

Public Domain: The great thing about Independent presses like Smashwords is the author maintains all rights and can remove their product at any time without penalty or difficulty. But, once you publish your book, whether by traditional or non-traditional means, it has become public domain. Once a work is public domain, traditional houses will not be interested in contracting it. Unless you have out of the ordinary success, turning a self-published novel into a contracted novel will be next to impossible.

Quality: We are often too close to our work to properly judge it. One of the reasons self-publishing has had less respect in the past is the quality of the writing. It used to be self-publishing product revealed the author wasn’t at a traditional publishing level of quality. No more. With bestselling authors taking charge of their backlist and going it alone, the standard has been raised. So, ask yourself, is the quality of your work the very best it can ever possibly be? How do you know? How many manuscripts have you completed, revised, submitted? How much publishing experience do you currently have? Have more than one person and at least one professional, non-biased person, edited your manuscript?

Promotion: Though presses like Smashwords are getting great distribution potential by affiliating with Amazon and Barnes and Noble, the responsibility of promotion will rest squarely on the author’s shoulders. This means ads, blogs, book trailers and other inventive ways to build name recognition and thereby sales. It means getting your work to reviewers, making strong and sincere industry connections, and making promotion as important as the work itself.

Distribution: With Smashwords, in order to qualify for Premium Distribution to Sony, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc., the manuscript has to be properly formatted. This means you will need to follow instructions and invest the time to, again, submit a quality product. It took me no more than minutes to format Play Fling and it got approved quickly, in days. But, I consider myself technically proficient and have heard horror stories of formatting taking hours. Good distribution will vastly improve your chances at good sales numbers. But, in the best of scenarios, it will take time. Patience will be crucial.

Expectations: If you go in it, hoping, even the tiniest part of you, that your book will fly off the shelf, stop. Unless you already have a substantial following with hundreds to thousands of devoted fans, immediate, large sales volume is unlikely. Which is fine. Building a career, be it through traditional, non-traditional or both, takes time. If you enter into this avenue for the money, you risk serious disappointment unless you are already a midlist author such as JA Konrath who very generously and candidly shares his sales numbers on his blog. Be in it to build.

Overall, the most important lesson self-publishing taught me is that there is no magical formula, no fast fix, no loopholes. Success is a consequence, not a goal. I write because I love to. I publish because sharing my world with others is more fulfilling than words can express. Building a career takes time, patience, imagination and a lot of luck. Hopefully, being informed will make these choices easier and, thereby, will make your journey more fun.

Off the fence and in the indie field? Be sure to check out “Dollars & Sense: The Definitive Guide to Self-publishing Success” by Carolyn McCray, Amber Scott and Rachel Thompson. June 29th it’s just 99 cents for Bestseller For a Day!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Guest Blog: Augusto Pinaud

Me Want Food welcomes Augusto Pinaud to today's guest blog slot. If you are interested in contributing as a guest blogger, just send a note to kspatwriter at yahoo dot com for instructions. Thanks!

Readers of our books don’t want to know we are afraid
by Augusto Pinaud

Readers of our books don’t want to know we are afraid, the people that read our books, don’t want to know that we most likely stop writing those pages they are immersed on many times, they didn't want to know that we struggle with the story, that we doubt if people will enjoy them, and that we were afraid that we may never finish them.

They want to move trough the story, and they want to read the next story, and they want to read more, they want to cry with the character and fell in love, and wish, and dream and hope. It doesn’t matter if you write fiction, drama, romance or paranormal, the reader is looking for hope, and your job as a writer is to make it present, but not free, the reader wants to work for it, as much as you want to give the hope away, the reader want to work for it, want to find it, want to believe is not there, but before that last sentence, it wants to know it exist.

They come to your pages looking for something, if you are lucky enough you will be able to provide it for them, doesn’t matter how, they don’t care and you shouldn’t either, your job is only to tell the story, a story that you had learn to love, to care for, but that doesn’t belong to you, a story that you have put on words and nothing more, a story that you have bring to life, a story that, like it or not, will never belong to you.

We, writers, struggle daily, out job is to tell stories that aren’t ours, deal with our fears, deal with our insecurities, and bring to the reader a word that they can imagine, a place were they can search for what they need, a thing that will bring them back to a place they need to go, but your job is never to let them know that you are afraid, that you cared about the character that you just killed, or the lost love opportunity or anything else, your job is to give them hope, without the reader known that you are also giving it to you, your job is to let them know you are afraid, without they feeling the fear, your job is to make them feel special, even when you had never met them before.

Q) Thanks for stopping to chat! Please tell us a bit about your latest release, or what's coming up.

My first novel, The Writer, was just released, it's a fast paced triller. This is how the story is presented: George Mason published the three books that made him famous. His secret is that he never wrote any of them, and when a fourth one shows up he decides to destroy it. That generates an adventure of intrigue, crime and mystery. George runs to look for the missing clues putting his life and the life of those around him, in great danger. Will George succeed or be the protagonist of a fifth manuscript?

Q) How did you become inspired to write this work?

I knew I want it to write novel and be a writer since I was in school many many years ago. I quit the dream because I convince myself that couldn't be possible. In 2009 I decided to prove me wrong and I began writing again. One day day-dreaming the Idea of a Best Seller Writer that had never wrote a book came to me.

When I got this story the first time, I begin to type, I had many of the details about the story and the places. I finish the first draft and begin to read it, it was awful, so I did the only think I knew to fix it. Hit delete and begin again. 59,000 words later I finish the second draft. I was proud, begin reading it, hoping for this story to work, but it didn't, the story wasn't good, and I was really exited, I was a real writer, i hit delete and began again. This last story, was what after many drafts end up as 'The Writer', I said that even the actual book is less than 51,000 words, took me around 115,000 to find it.

Q) Did you have to do a lot of research to complete this work?

I did, there is guns, weapons, planes, fake id,s and more. The best story of my research was in a trip Los Angeles - Miami, I got next to. Pilot, and I was writing, so when electronics were order to be shut for the last part, I ask a question about the plane that I need for my novel, his answer make me smile to this day. If I answer that question, I need to report you to the Marshall and you will need to answer many many questions, but a soon as we land I will had a coffee, there I can answer your question, shutout calling the Marshall, and he did.

Q) What is a day in your writing life like? Do you have a set schedule?

I would love to have an schedule, I try to write and I should write much more, sometimes is early, sometimes is late. For me the important thing is to track how much, doesn't matter if it is 500 words, every weekday.

Q) Do you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser? Or maybe both?

I plot the big idea, the details came later, and I don't force them. When George is running from a killer in 'The Writer' he got in the car, but the route wasn't planned, and cause me to make another bunch of research that wasn't part of it, same as the end, he goes to a place, that I tough he was never going to return.

I plan the main idea, then enjoy the writing, try to allow the personality of the character to bring me to the next step, this sometimes create chaos in the story. For example, in the novel I am right now, the story is in a point that I may need to kill one character that I like, this is the problem of letting the story goes, but the little surprises make the process also incredible.

Q) Do you prefer to write one specific genre, or are you a bit all over the map? What is your favorite genre to write and why?

I am a writer, therefore I write, anything that I can, i write about technology & productivity, but I love fast paced mystery, trillers full of suspense, but if a romance shows and need to be written I will do it, no question about it, I am a writer, I write, not as must as I wish, but as most as I can.

Q) Do you own an e-reader, or maybe two? How do you like it?

I own an IPad (that is my main machine, I read, use the web, and do most of my writing on it) use to have a Kindle and my wife have a Nook, but I really like my iPad. I have been reading books since the Palm Pilot III (a device most people didn't even remember), so over the years, I have read many many eBooks.

Q) What do you have planned writing wise for the rest of the year?

I am revising the next book, that should be out in September 2011. After that will be the next statement on that story, that I guess will be out in 2012. I also post often on my blog as well as on a blog called MindLikeMonkey about Productivity.

Q) Do you have any social media profiles/pages where readers can follow you?

I am in Twitter (@apinaud) as well as Facebook (

Q) Do you have a blog/Yahoo group for readers to stay updated on your works?

I also blog on

Q) What was the last book that you read? What did you think?

Last book I read was Buried Secrets of Joseph Finder, it was a pre-release version, and the book was fantastic. I love to read, I track every book, and have a personal goal of read 52 books every year at least, and I have been working hard for many years into make sure that I made the goal.

Q) Who are your favorite authors in your primary genre?

I love Agatha Christie and Sir Conan Doyle, love Michael Connelly, love Joseph Finder, but I will read more if I could, I honestly wish I can have ten times the time to read but there is only the time I have, and I do the best I can.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Talk - The Booksigning in the Digital Age

I may have mentioned here before that I am giving serious consideration to cutting back on my appearance schedules going forward. When I say this, it doesn't necessarily mean I'll stop going to conferences and cons altogether. If I am asked to sit on a panel I will definitely make the arrangements if I can. Already I've been asked to return to Colonial Kink as a speaker. Hopefully, too, our MarsCon crew will get back on track for 2012.

As for events where I only need to sit at a table and hawk books, though...I may not do more of those. My decision mainly has to do with personal issues - I have a little one at home who isn't so little anymore, and the space I have allotted for storing books and materials is coming at a premium now. It's time to clear away some things, and it's partly why I'll be doing some Goodreads and ARe Cafe giveaways soon. Also, I do recognize the bulk of my sales are digital, so I am compelled to nurture that end of the business.

Now, recently at Balticon, I shared booksigning space with Alessia Brio, who inspired me to look at booksigning in a new way. The first time I tried to sell eBooks off site, I had burned files onto CD-ROMs and created my own labels. This was way before the Kindle was a glint in Jeff Bezos' eye, too, so you can imagine the funny looks I'd get. Once I sold a disc to a reader, who went home and put it in her stereo. Then she emailed me to complain that she only heard Shania Twain songs, where was the book? I had to explain the book wasn't in audio format. How far we've come since.

My idea for future events involves doing two things. One: I am thinking of setting up a table to offer nothing but promotional items. I'll have the free pens and business cards/postcards, a sign with a large QR code for people to scan, and a few display only copies of the book. I find that I see minor bumps in sales long after an event, mainly because somebody took promo and made the effort to look me up (thanks, if you do that).

As for selling digital books, I've discovered there are ways to do that without lugging around CD-ROMs, which I doubt people use much anymore, or going broke on flash drives. With the Square App for iPad I can take credit card information so people can purchase books, and with the Dropbox App I can store files and e-mail them directly to the reader. If somebody happens by my table I will have a sign ready with QR codes for what books I am selling that day. A person can scan the code and go right to the point of sale.

The only drawback is autographing. I know somebody invented a way to sign eBooks, so I'm looking into it. Other idea are having ready-signed bookplates for eBook readers, or embedding a digital signature on the books before I format them. We'll see. I'm sure by next week I'll have to adjust my plan again thanks to new innovations.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

There's an App For This?

I wrote Dead Barchetta primarily on my iPod Touch. I sh*t you not. I would be sitting in my car on an early Friday evening while little one was with her Scout meeting, and I'd be plucking away on this tiny-ass keyboard screen. Every free moment I found, I opened the Notes application to work more on the book. Now that I have upgraded to a tablet, I will likely use that for the sequel. In the meantime, though, I have two partial trunk novels written in longhand that I want to transcribe, and I fear if I spend time typing both (like I did for Pithed and Little Flowers - both of which I wrote longhand in the first draft) I shall go mad.

So I am experimenting this week with an app for Dragon Dictation. There is a software suite available for the computer, but I have enough loaded on mine that it runs slow as it is. The goal is to use voice recognition programs and hopefully get two trunk novels to see the light of day before the end of the year. One mystery, one general fiction. We'll see.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Excerpt Tuesday - South of Sundance

For Excerpt Tuesday, here's a sample of my most recent F/F story, South of Sundance. I had written this one after inspiration struck on hearing a friend's retelling of his adventures at a film festival. I've never been to one myself, but one day I'd like to head up to NYC for Tribeca and perhaps see some films that will never see the dark of my local theaters.

I enjoyed writing this piece, though it's not my biggest seller of my F/Fs. Nonetheless, I'd like one day to continue the theme. Already have another title in mind.


Bebe allowed her gaze to linger on her assistant’s profile as she steered the Dodge Ram past endless brush and sand. With no obvious signs of life before or behind them for miles, total concentration on the highway didn’t concern her. So long as their current route led them to their destination as her GPS promised, Bebe preferred to watch the animated smile play on Debra’s lips.
She talked to herself—a habit to which Bebe also admitted. The curse of the creative, she chose as their alibi, and when she failed to correctly read the other woman’s lips Bebe broke the silence.
“What is so damn funny?”
Debra Carrico, twelve years junior to Bebe’s thirty-five, with the flawless skin and soft brown hair to justify it, grinned and popped her gum. “I was remembering this show I watched on one of those oldies cable channels the other night,” she said, and Bebe rolled her eyes and returned her focus to the road.
Good thing, too, as she managed to avoid a slow-moving armadillo on a stroll. With traffic so rare in these parts, of course, why hurry? Bebe imagined the poor little animal forgot to check his calendar, else he’d know to expect a few more cars than usual, all heading this way for South of Sundance.
“Jesus, every channel is oldies if they don’t feature dancing Canadian idols stranded on a desert island and competing for the affection of some has-been sitcom star,” Bebe grumbled. What Debra considered vintage, Bebe had enjoyed at Debra’s age, and it irritated her to no end knowing that Debra enjoyed yanking her chain and pulling at the few gray strands already highlighting her dark auburn hair.
“It was Mary Tyler Moore,” Debra said with a laugh. “You remember that show, right?”
“Of course I do. That was the gig she had before she joined Wings.”
Debra ignored the crack. “The whole cast was gathered together singing this song. ‘It’s a long way…to Tipperary…’” Off-key notes filled the cab, and Bebe cringed. She willed a sign to emerge from the distant heat, and smiled on seeing they had only a few miles more to reach the town limits.
“…and I was just thinking that it’s not only a long way there. They should have renamed that song to Casa Rosa,” Debra finished, and leaned closer to Bebe. “Or maybe it seems so long because we didn’t take the interstate.”
Bebe didn’t like her assistant’s accusatory tone. “There’s less traffic on the state roads and highways.” Next time you drive, Magellan.
Debra slumped back against the passenger door, and bent her knee to brace her foot on the glove box. “I think you did it on purpose.”
“How observant. I do like scenery and fresh air.”
“Because you’re nervous.”
That quieted Bebe. They passed another sign. One mile to Casa Rosa, and true to Debra’s theory her stomach quivered. Soon they’d check into their hotel, then scout the festival for registration information, and look upon hundreds of faces who would see her film for the first time. Bebe didn’t want to think about the ensuing wave of reaction—a few hundred smiles falling into twisted frowns, or even a collective open-mouthed shock.
She gripped the wheel and heeded the GPS’s monotone instructions. The small town of Casa Rosa, New Mexico was laid out in a simple grid, permitting simple navigation. Large, rainbow banners hanging from lampposts welcomed visitors to the tenth annual South of Sundance Film Festival, arguably the largest lesbian and feminist film event in the country.
Hell, Bebe thought. This had to be the only such festival in existence. She’d attended more populated affairs at home in San Francisco, but most queer-friendly gigs included all manner of sexual orientation. South of Sundance, while not the behemoth party like its sort-of namesake held up north in Utah, still attracted an impressive crowd, among them some of the most influential women in the motion picture industry.
Despite her fluttering nerves, Bebe sensed a warmth spread from her heart through her veins. They drove past multitudes of women window shopping and enjoying lunch on sidewalk cafes. They held hands and cuddled—natural and free of disapproving stares. She’d heard the aptly named Casa Rosa, the Pink House, was a great gay-friendly destination for vacationers to the Southwest, but to see it unfold before her encouraged her sense of belonging.
The South of Sundance organizers deserved some credit for that as well. Of all the festivals to which she submitted Buzz, only SOS extended a guest invitation and a special screening.
“Over there! You missed it.”
“What?” Bebe snapped her attention to the right, glancing cursorily out Debra’s window. They passed the circular driveway of the Casa Rosa Inn, so Bebe executed a quick lap around the block and corrected the overshot. The small, stucco-covered inn reminded Bebe of the beautiful Spanish homes of her native St. Augustine in Florida. An elegant stone bird bath with a fountain sprayed water in the center of a tile-floored courtyard, which the two ladies walked through to enter a cool, spacious lobby painted a darker shade of pink.
Debra stood close to Bebe as they waited in line, pushing her rolling luggage to and fro. “Mah colors are blush and bashful,” she whispered with a quiet snicker.
No matter the location, leave it to her assistant to call to mind the appropriate movie dialogue. Lord, she hadn’t seen Steel Magnolias in years, too.
Bebe’s gaze panned the breadth of the lobby, taking in the vases of pink orchids, the mauve Queen Anne sofas in the sitting area, and even the pink lemonade in a clear pitcher on a credenza bearing other snacks. Heaven help her if she messed up her line—Debra wasn’t one to let things like that die.
“The entire sanctuary looks like it’s been hosed down with Pepto Bismol.”
That earned a generous laugh that rang too loudly, and when Bebe turned her attention back to the registration counter she saw everybody else had been served. An older woman in glasses, stern yet soft in an out of place green blouse, eyed them with unease.
“Can I help you?” she asked.
Bebe quickly composed herself and stepped away from Debra. Little hope of disassociating herself completely from the girl, but maybe the clerk hadn’t heard them joking. “Sorry, yes. We’re checking in,” she said, fishing in her purse for her license and credit card. “We had two rooms under the name Yasbeck.”
The clerk brightened. “Well, hell. It is you finally come.” The woman extended a hand and shook Bebe’s hard, jostling a shocked Bebe. “I am so glad to meet you, Miss Yasbeck. May I just say, too, I’m thrilled that you’re staying here for the festival.”
“Uh, thank you.” Bebe wanted to shrink into the pink; surely she flushed bright enough to match the décor. On her first film fest outing she encounters a would-be fan and what does she do but act like a cold fish. In her defense, with Buzz being her first movie—and an independently produced documentary rather than a summer popcorn blockbuster—she hadn’t anticipated recognition. Not even at a lesbian event, since she didn’t really consider Buzz a lesbian work.
Momentarily she wondered if the festival advertised it as such. Damn. Another thing to check on before she could truly relax and enjoy herself.
“Yes, ma’am, when I heard your film was showing here I got my ticket first thing,” the clerk rambled on as she gathered keycards for them. “Good thing I did, too. You know Buzz completely sold out in five minutes?”
“It did?” Bebe looked back at Debra for confirmation, but the girl shrugged her ignorance. The news sent her heart into overdrive.
“Yep. They had to add a second screening to fill the demand. Everybody is looking forward to it.”
“Well, uh, thank you.” What more could she say? True, the content of the film was bound to generate interest, but Bebe didn’t expect a mad box office rush. Fear and excitement intertwined into a thick sword and stabbed at her gut. Buzz described her film perfectly, as it chronicled a series of women exploring their sexuality through vibrating adult toys. Yet, despite the nature of the theme, the movie showed nothing explicit. Surely to God people hadn’t bought tickets thinking they were going to see some hot girl on girl action?
She wobbled in place, enough to catch a look of concern from the clerk. “I should get to my room,” she explained. “It was a long drive.”
“Oh, sure thing, hon. You both are on the second floor. Beautiful balcony view of the back garden. Elevator’s down the hall to your right.”
“Thanks.” Bebe hastened her exit before the clerk could volunteer any more platitudes. Debra nipped at her heels, her luggage squealing behind her.
“How in the hell did that kind of interest catch on?” Bebe hissed once the elevator doors sealed them from eavesdropping ears. “We’ve had zero publicity up until now. I haven’t even updated the website with a trailer yet.”
“I don’t know,” Debra squealed her defense. “It’s probably good word of mouth. You’re in a town full of dykes, and they all want to see women enjoying themselves. Maybe the festival’s playing it up.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Bebe said, wondering how much play the festival told viewers to expect, and would Bebe be allowed to play elsewhere if Buzz flopped.
“Don’t worry about it,” Debra told her. “Let’s get everything unpacked and settled, and we’ll do some recon work.”
Bebe nodded. How appropriate to begin her budding film directing career at a festival bearing the initials SOS.
She needed all the help she could to get through the weekend.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Guest Blog: Judith Gaines

Me Want Food welcomes Judith Gaines to this special guest blog segment. If you are interested in taking a guest here at my blog, please email me at kspatwriter at yahoo for details!

A Prize Every Time by Judith Gaines

When I met my husband, he made it clear early on that if I truly loved him, I would have to listen to a lot of Rush. Until then, my impression of the trio consisted of passive toe tapping and awareness that the “smart” guys in my high school liked them. I listened to Duran Duran & the Police.

I’m not sure how many hours of CD thumping or my husband’s guitar solos it took for the music to sink in, but I began listening to the message and appreciating the musicianship. I studied piano and music theory as a kid, and later freelanced with a sound company setting up audio gear for local rock bands. I’m not an expert at composing or playing, but I recognize those who are. Top that with lyrics that resonate over time and mature from vinyl to CD to mp3—canvassing more than 40 years. I call that impressive.

Neil Peart is a legacy drummer with style that continues to evolve. At a point in his career when he could sit back and relax, he still challenges himself.

Neil Peart is also a writer.

His recent release, Far and Away; A Prize Every Time, grew from his blog and allows us to see into his very private life. I’m floored at how personal this is compared to his other books. It is nonfiction, yet reads with the rich detail of…. well, I don’t have a comparison. I think of his early books as the Charles Dickens of motorcycle travel. This is something much more.

I find myself re-reading passages and thinking on the questions he poses and his observations. So much mirrors my own thoughts and experiences. The last chapter wraps a South American motorcycle journey around the concept of “magical thinking”:

“As stated at the outset, I believe that everybody has their own version of magical thinking. My own “dream, dare, hope” approach to life is not based upon reason; it’s a kind of faith—that I will be able to accomplish something about which I dare to dream.”

This is such a strong statement on faith, and I can imagine variations on this thought supported him during trying times. Faith and determination to move forward is what makes you get out of bed every morning willing to try something new.

I wonder if that's why he decided to detour from the current tour to appear on Letterman or to share his wealth of personal photos and thoughts in his book. Neil continues to step outside his comfort zone to see what magic will occur.

When you finished your day, what prize did you get? Did you dare to try something new to reach your dreams?

Judith Gaines writes suspense fiction, with debut novel Perfect Copy recently holding the #2 Best Seller position on Smashwords Suspense/Thriller list.

She alternates duties as a Media Producer for professional sports franchises and regional advertising, as well as co-coordinator for the 99¢ Network.

Follow on Twitter @jpg_writer | Follow online

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Guest Blog: Rachelle Reese

Me Want Food welcomes Rachelle Reese! If you are interested in doing a guest blog here, email kspatwriter at yahoo for details.

Nature's Inspirations for the Paranormal by Rachelle Reese

When designing a paranormal character, sometimes I look to nature to figure out how that character looks and moves. I have to look close. My best non-human characters emerge from studying a moth, a praying mantis, a hornworm.

The other day, a royal walnut moth happened into our house. I first saw her in the morning, clinging to a wall, asleep. Her furry bright orange head and legs were striking against her tan body. Her markings were cheerful, but when I looked close, I saw a king's crowned head imprinted just behind her own. A king or a demon? Hmmmm.

She rested on the wall all day. In the evening, she flitted about the room. My husband let her crawl onto his hand, where she stayed while we studied her and took her picture. At last, we decided to set her free. She didn't want to leave at first, so we walked with her until we found a tree to her liking. We left her there, clinging to the trunk of the tree, knowing she would live only long enough to lay her eggs.

As we walked away, we talked about where she fit in the Dime Store Novel world. You see, she does belong there – all of our fairies are modeled on moths and butterflies. We have some ideas about who she is, but none of them are concrete enough to share yet. She won't care, of course, about the character she inspired. Moths don't read (although some have been known to chew on paper).

Have you encountered characters that you think were inspired by insects? Or have you created some? Share your thoughts about how nature inspires the paranormal. If you want to know more about the Dime Store Novel world, visit our blog at

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Guest Blog: Terri Giuliano Long

Me Want Food welcomes Terri Giuliano Long! If you are interested in guest blogging, contact kspatwriter at yahoo for details.

Thanks for stopping to chat! Please tell us a bit about your latest release, or what's coming up.

Thank you so much for inviting me to visit, and allowing me to share my thoughts!

In Leah’s Wake, my debut novel, tells the story of a family in collapse. Sixteen-year-old Leah, a star soccer player, has led a perfect life. When she meets a sexy older guy, attracted to his independence, she begins to spread her wings. Drinking, ignoring curfew, dabbling in drugs—all this feels like freedom to her. Her terrified parents, thinking they’re losing their daughter, pull the reigns tighter. Unfortunately, they get it all wrong, pushing when they ought to be pulling, and communication breaks down. Soon, there’s no turning back. Twelve-year-old Justine caught between the parents she loves, and the big sister she adores, finds herself in the fight of her life, trying desperately to pull her family together. Will this family survive? What happens when love just isn't enough? 

Jodi Picoult fans often tell me the book reminds them of hers.
I’m not sure she – or I – would agree, but we both write topical family stories. And it’s a lovely compliment.

How did you become inspired to write this work?

Years ago, I wrote a series of feature articles about families with drug- and alcohol-addicted teens. The moms talked candidly about their children, their struggles. Their heartbreaking stories stayed with me. 
My husband and I have four daughters. When I began writing In Leah's Wake, they were teens. Most families experience conflict during their children's teenage years. We’re no different - though, thank goodness, ours were tame. We experienced nothing remotely like the problems and challenges the Tylers face in the book.
As a parent, I knew how it felt to be scared, to be concerned for your children’s future. Although I didn’t think about it at the time, I now see this as a primary force driving this story. My work with families, my personal experiences and core beliefs – all these things played on my conscious and subconscious mind, and ultimately emerged as this book. 

What is a day in your writing life like? Do you have a set schedule?

Ideally, I blog in the morning and either write or edit the novel I’m currently working on from early afternoon until dinnertime. This schedule doesn’t always work. During crunch time, when I’m busy editing and grading students’ papers, my own work falls by the wayside. For the last few months, marketing In Leah’s Wake, I’ve neglected Nowhere to Run, my novel-in-progress, and I’m eager to dig in again. Typically, when I’ve been away from my fiction, it takes a few weeks to catch up and establish a regular routine.
In the past, I insisted that students write every day. I now see rules as counterproductive. The right way to do anything is the way that works best for you. Life interferes with the best-laid plans. You can fight it or go with it. I try to go with it. That’s not to say I always succeed.

Do you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser? Or maybe both?

Writing the first draft of In Leah’s Wake for my grad school thesis, I was a pantser. I had no idea where I was headed– in writing programs, organic writing is usually encouraged. In the revision process, I looked for and developed themes. In Leah’s Wake is character, rather than plot driven; tight plotting would have produced a different book. For all of us, I think it’s helpful to have clear goals. The intent of genre fiction is to entertain; plotting helps maintain action and pace. For literary fiction, the goal is to develop and understand character. With In Leah’s Wake, I hope I’ve done that. I’m not saying we can’t break rules –write character-driven genre novels or plot lit-fiction. There are conventions. If we flout rules, we should be prepared for the consequences, which may mean losing readers.

My novel-in-progress, Nowhere to Run, is a psychological thriller, so I’m approaching this one differently. I’ve mapped out a partial plot and I’m using the points as markers, while writing organically. While I recognize the benefits of plotting, sticking too closely to plot feels limiting. Allowing myself some degree of freedom opens my mind to new ideas and possibilities. It also makes the writing a messier, longer and more painstaking process. At least that’s been my experience. While I lean toward pantsing, I now do some of both.
Do you prefer to write one specific genre, or are you a bit all over the map? What is your favorite genre to write and why?

Families fascinate me. While my stories differ—my novel-in-progress is a psychological thriller with a historical twist—they always tie back to the family, the ways we love, yet often hurt one another, the grief, the sorrow, the revelation, the joy. I think people connect with these stories. Many readers – family, friends, reviewers, readers I’ve never met - have told me that In Leah’s Wake feels real, the problems complex. They’ve been there – as a parent or a teen. They feel like they know these characters, and they care about them. This connection, for me, is by far the most important reason for writing.

Do you have any social media profiles/pages where readers can follow you?

I blog about writing, writing tips and inspiration, with occasional musings thrown in: Interested readers can find information about the book on my main site: I’m also active on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads:


Desert Island quiz: you can only bring one album, one DVD set for your favorite TV show, and one movie. What are they?

Tough question! Storyville, by Robbie Robertson, and Enlightenment, by Van Morrison. Cheating, I know – both recordings transport me. I couldn’t bear to leave either behind.

Although I don’t watch much TV, I’m hooked on Criminal Minds - especially the episodes edited by my immensely talented friend, indie filmmaker Nina Gilberti. If I could put together a custom DVD with all her episodes, I’d insist upon taking that.

My film list constantly changes. If I had to narrow to 2011, I’d choose Winter’s Bone.

Who are your favorite authors in your primary genre?

The short story writer Andre Dubus wrote some of the most thoughtful, moving stories I’ve ever read. Although my work pales in comparison, his stories influenced mine. Jessica Treadway, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction for her latest collection, Please Come Back To Me, writes haunting, stunningly gorgeous family stories. Primarily short story writers, both, in my mind, are grossly under-appreciated. Most readers I talk with don’t know who they are. That’s the business, unfortunately; still, it feels terribly wrong that such brilliant work reaches the hands of so few readers.

Although I didn’t care for Amy and Isabelle, her first novel, Elizabeth Strout hooked me with Abide With Me and Olive Kitteridge. I also love Susan Straight’s elegant work.

Do you have a favorite charity? How does it appeal to you?

The scholarship fund for the Woods College of Advancing Studies endows worthy nontraditional Boston College students. I married shortly after graduating high school. When I decided to return to school, the dean, the Rev. James A. Woods, S.J., welcomed me with open arms, supported, encouraged and mentored me – through college and grad school, and for the 15 years I’ve taught in the program.

To say the school changed my life is a gross understatement. My Boston College career shaped my philosophy, and made me the person I am. As a teacher, I’ve been blessed to witness a similar transformation in so many people. Students come to class, often after a full day of work. They’re juggling so many responsibilities and they’re often exhausted, but when class begins, you see the light in their eyes. They work hard and push beyond boundaries to achieve. Witnessing these life-changing moments is incredibly rewarding.
Without the scholarship, especially in this economy, many students would not have the opportunity to attend. I received this scholarship myself once, so I know how important it can be. As I’m sure you can imagine, the WCAS scholarship fund is dear to my heart.

Who do you like in the next World Series?

The Red Sox! No self-respecting Bostonian would root for anyone else. All over the country, whenever the Sox play in town, Red Sox fans fill the stadium. We’re rabid, and not always nice - though we haven’t trampled anyone, as far as I know. This year, in Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester, we have three ace pitchers. The current pitchers are young and less experienced than Schilling, Martinez and Lowe were in 2004, but they’re an impressive trio. It’s early, but five guys are hitting over .290. So I have hope!

Terri Giuliano Long grew up in the company of stories both of her own making and as written by others. Books offer her a zest for life’s highs and comfort in its lows better than anything else can. She’s all-too-happy to share this love with others as a novelist and as a writing instructor at Boston College. She blogs about writing and the writing life at Or connect on Twitter: @tglong







Terri Giuliano Long

Pages: 352

Format: Paperback, Kindle

ISBN: 1456310542

Publisher: CreateSpace

Website: In Leah’s Wake


Amazon Kindle:

Barnes & Nobles Nook:

Amazon UK:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Spring Into Summer Blog Giveaway Hop

Are you ready to spring into summer?! I can tell you my first-grader is. Today is the last day of school and the first of three months of chaos at Casa Ellwood. My blog hop giveaway was to have come with a bottle of vodka, but it's mysteriously *hic* disappeared.

Anyway, if you're still around, I still have a great deal for you: to enter my portion of the big blog hop giveaway, you just need to comment on this blog post. If you want to try for extra points and get your name in the hat a few more times, just tweet the following in your next Twitter status:

Hey! @LeighEllwood is giving away some great stuff on her blog this weekend!

Much obliged. Feel free also to follow me on Twitter @LeighEllwood or @MsKathrynLively - I follow back 99% of the time on the latter one. :) You have until June 21, 11:59 PM EST to comment/tweet for your entry to count.

So, here is what I'm giving away.

One (1) Small Assortment of Woobie's Cookies. These things are incredible. Organic, handmade, artisan cookies. If you like snickerdoodles you are going to love these things. Woobie's Cookies is a new company co-founded by a friend of mine who is amazing in the kitchen. Their cookies are really gaining a following and I want to help her spread the word. You'll get a package of eight cookies sent to your home.

Three (3) eBook downloads of your choice. You may choose up to three titles from the following book lists:
Mix and match, however you like. I have something for every reader here.

Thanks for stopping by, and don't forget to hop to the other blogs this weekend. Good luck!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Talk - Too Soon?

More than once I've had works orphaned, either by a publisher's implosion or by choice - sometimes you come to recognize a story has run its course at a certain place, but it doesn't necessarily mean the book should be sealed in a vault forever. Major media conglomerates recognize the value in their properties no matter their age. Ever wonder why Disney sends Peter Pan and Dumbo back to the untouchable mouse-eared archives every few years? It's not because there is content one might deem offensive - they're nurturing the demand for their product. I remember as a child watching these commercials they used to air:

You had your chance to purchase Sleeping Beauty on videocassette, and now it's gone. (Picture image of fading VHS case here.)

I'm sitting there thinking, HOLY SHIT!!!!! They're never going to release Sleeping Beauty on video again, and we don't have it. We have royally f--d up! (It didn't come out exactly like that; remember I'm probably about ten here.)

Then the commercial continued the tease to buy Pinocchio before it, too, was locked away. Right there, Disney has stimulated interest in two films, and sure enough Beauty gets trotted out every few years for an anniversary edition or HD rendering. I still don't have a copy.

So what does this have to do with eBooks? I can tell you now, no way in heck will I attempt a stunt like that. These days, I must rely on every release I have to keep my name out there. I doubt the vault-tease would work with my books. I could try, and maybe you all could comment and beg for the book's return. Please?

Okay, seriously now. I've seen where authors are taking their back list to KDP and PubIt and Smashwords, and that's great. I can also understand the desire to get the newest edition live as soon as possible to maximize sales. People have Kindles and Nooks now, and that oh so tempting instant click button grabs a commitment before a reader can go "Wait, what?" What I want to talk about now, though, is how soon is too soon to get your re-releases out there.

To determine a good date for re-release, check your contract if you book is still under one. Normally, your current publisher will have anywhere from 30-90 days to take down a title. This will depend largely on how a book is distributed. In the case of eBooks, it could be a few days before a vendor renders a title inactive. In some store databases, though, the eBook won't go away altogether. Here's why: if a customer buys your book from Small eBook House, the vendor may offer indefinite access to that book in the event the customer switches reading devices or accidentally erases a file. They can go back and get another copy of the book they bought. Of course, new readers won't be able to buy it because it's no longer on sale.

Some vendors will take longer to respond to publishers' requests for take down. I know - I have to deal with that sort of thing. It gets to the point where I'm like Bart Simpson, bugging the mail woman for his spy camera. You know the episode. If I'm lucky, the vendor complies in a timely manner; if not, lady, where's my spy camera.

If your book is in print as well as eBook, know that the process to make a book out of print is more involved. I've never had to do it myself, but I understand there are procedures to follow and, depending on the printer, it may take the full 60 or days to accomplish. Now, I can understand an author wants to re-release a work once the rights are fully retained, and it's frustrating to see an older edition of the work listed for sale past that point. Here is one thing I've learned about that:

Certain vendors like, when they list your print book, will order a few copies to have on stock for immediate fulfillment. When you list that book out of order, if Amazon still have copies in stock, the book will remain for sale until those copies are sold. Then, that edition's listing may remain, but the buy button will be gone.

Don't assume, therefore, that a remaining listing on a site means a publisher hasn't worked to take the book down. There's no magic light-switch to press - I wish there was sometimes. There's nothing more frustrating then sending an e-mail and not receiving an answer. I don't like acting like a pest, but I find I have to do it to avoid legal ramifications.

That said, if you're working to re-release a book, I would suggest giving it some time between the day of your official release from the publisher and the live date. This way you can confirm the old edition is down everywhere, and you can follow-up where applicable. In the case of prints, you may need to contact a vendor and find out what needs to be done. If it takes buying out those last copies to create the out of print listing, I would personally do it. I'd write it off as a business expense and give away the books. Your old publisher may also have inventory you can buy.

Take the time, too, to go over your book and proof for corrections. Also, check your contract. Some publishers may stipulate on release of your work that you cannot used the edition as edited by their staff. Either way, it's always a good idea to give your book a once-over before setting it free again. If you hope for sales the second-time around, give readers the best possible book.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Me Me Me Me Me, and Me

Happy Hump Day, everybody! I hope the blog title doesn't sound too egotistical, but I wanted to use the time I had today to let you know where you can find information on my books and events I'm planning. Recently I received notes from readers with questions, so I thought I should share the answers here as well, as a good future reference. Let's get started:

My Back List: I have a complete list of all my books on a special blog post right here. I will update it with every new release. As you can see, I haven't had anything out since February, but I hope to amend that very soon. So many open projects going on right now, and with little one going to summer camp I hope that frees up some time to write and finish up some stuff.

My Dareville Stories: If you want to read these stories in order, I created this spreadsheet to guide you. Bear in mind, though, I plan to add more to the series, and the books might not come in order. As each new story comes out, you can consult the spreadsheet to see where the story falls in the time line. I'll try not to confuse everybody too much, but I have a feeling with the next few stories I'll move forward more rather than jump back and forth.

Let's Gab! I am almost always on Twitter, so feel free to DM or mention me @LeighEllwood if you have a question or comment. I'm also on the ARe Cafe, too, so feel free to friend me there. I tend to respond to Twitter and Facebook queries more often than email due to the nature of my job, so don't be shy.

Giveaways! I am in the process of clearing out my print inventory, so look out on Goodreads for some giveaways, and I plan to coordinate with ARe Cafe and other places for contests, too. Space comes at a premium in my home, and as I intend to cut down on appearances in 2012 due to little one growing up (have to attend Scout functions and the like) there won't be a reason much longer to have so many books. I've found, too, readers are digging the Kindle and Nook, and I have a feeling that's where it's at right now.

Now, if you wonder which format to buy and where to buy, I say do what is best for you. You can search Leigh Ellwood at Amazon Kindle, B&N, All Romance,, and I think even Kobo and Books on Board. It's all good. Buy the print, buy the eBook, check the interlibrary loan (though I'm not sure how well I've populated libraries)...if you read the read the book and love it, thanks so much! I also very much appreciate with sprinkles on top if you click a Facebook like button or Amazon like button associated with one of my titles. Every little bit helps. :-)

So have a great summer, and don't forget to stop by the social sites and say hello. :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Excerpt Tuesday - Murder Most Trivial

So today I'm going to shake things up at a bit and excerpt one of my mysteries. I had written Murder Most Trivial many years ago and tried like hell to get an agent or traditional house for it. Letter after letter came back, letting me know that I had great characters, great dialogue, and great pacing...and they all passed. Maybe if I had made them all sparkling vampires I'd have gotten a foot in the door. Will have to remember that for the sequel.

One day I may write - I did outline at least two more books for Jason Greevey, the teenage sleuth. The second one would have him come into a new mystery many years older and wiser...and still in a heap of trouble.

Anyway, Trivial had come out in a previous incarnation before I decided to give it new life via DLP Books. So if you like cozy mystery, here's a cheap diversion for you. Only 99 cents in eBook.


Mitch and Jason arrived at Book Bonanza together, but Mitch was already clocked in and stocking shelves as Jason struggled with his locker combination. After three mistries, the small metal door finally squeaked open to reveal a photo of St. Therese of Lisieux smiling benignly over a bouquet of red roses. In silver ink somebody had scrawled a message over the top of her Carmelite habit: To Jason, keep on rockin'! Love T--
"Cute," he muttered, stuffing in his belongings and slamming the locker shut. As an afterthought he reopened the door and removed the magazine he toted around in his backpack and slid it inside his history textbook, away from other curious eyes and hands that knew his locker combination.

"Marcia did it yesterday, during study hall. I put it up last night before you came back to clock out," Mitch confessed when Jason joined him on the sales floor. "She thought you'd get a kick out of it. Everybody else in class did, even the ones who didn't know who St. Therese was," he added with a grin.

Jason palmed three thick Robert Heinlein titles and forced them into a cramped shelf in the science fiction section. "Anyone else get a kick out it?" he asked. "Like maybe the rest of the senior class?"

"Dunno. She was still manning the Xerox machine at the library when I saw her last." Mitch grasped hold of the now empty library truck and wheeled it back to storage, laughing all the way. Jason moved to follow when a cashier paged him over the speaker system.

Jason passed much of his four-hour shift escorting customers from the service desk directly to the books wanted or needed, at times racking his brain to decipher partial descriptions of books and their covers. Feeling frazzled after serving one particularly difficult customer, Jason sighed with relief when Mitch appeared at his side with a library truck brimming with more paperbacks to shelve. "Breathe," he instructed Jason.

Jason did as told, and Mitch chuckled. He flipped through a Carl Hiaasen paperback; a cloud of book dust floated in their faces. "Dude," he said, "you've got to learn how to hide from those kind of customers. Let Joycelyn handle them."

"Is that your policy for getting out of shelving, too?" Jason snatched the novel from his friend's hands and placed it with its twin on the shelf. At least ten more unpacked cartons of books awaited them in the back. Greta, the assistant store manager, wanted everything on the floor by shift's end to prepare for the usual weekend crush.

Splitting the books between them, they worked apart for the remainder of the business day, reuniting only after Greta shooed a few straggling browsers out the door and locking it behind her. "Oh, I'm glad that's over," she exhaled, her voice still lively despite the fact that she appeared dead on her feet. All three employees gathered around her, and Greta singled Jason out with a particularly tense smile. "Okay, Joycelyn and I will count down the drawer. Mitch, take the vacuum and Jason, take the restroom. When you're both done, get the Grisham display out and set it in the corner."

She pointed to an empty table by the store's large picture window, a space reserved for a mountainous display of hardcover legal thrillers. "Don't wait for one another, either, get started a-sap," she ordered, halfway to the office with little Joycelyn scurrying behind her. "Make it look nice, too."

Jason, weary and anxious to clock out and get something to eat, sped through his task. He swabbed the porcelain and swept the tile to his satisfaction; it looked like a restroom he would use, and that was good enough. Mitch had already begun to arrange copies of John Grisham's latest novel on the table when he returned to the sales floor. Mitch flipped through one copy and placed it carefully atop three others arranged in a triangle pattern.

"She wants something nice, Mitch," Jason joked. "Don't get too carried away. Greta's not giving out points for originality."

Mitch stood several books close together and gently pushed the stack backwards in a domino effect. "I think I'll write a novel. I could live with making crudloads of money and having a cutout photo of myself smiling in every bookstore across the country."

"Not everybody makes Grisham bucks, now. Grisham didn't even make Grisham bucks in the beginning. You'd be lucky to do as well as John Kennedy Toole."

"Yeah, but his books didn't get published until after he died."


Mitch threatened to nail Jason on the head with a book and Jason ducked behind a life-size cutout of its author. A shy tap on the glass storefront window startled them both.

"Hey," exclaimed Mitch as Caitlin Stevens and Mimi Washburn waved from the other side. "Are we being stalked?"

Jason waved back at the young ladies; Mimi whispered something in Caitlin's ear and the two giggled audibly.

"Jase, you think Mimi would go with me to the prom if I asked her?"

"You don't have a date?" Jason unpacked a box.

"Nope. You?"

Jason froze. All correspondence pertaining to the big event -- the flyers, memos about the photograph fee, order forms for the commemorative champagne flutes and t-shirts bearing the theme A Date with Destiny -- had all been stuffed into a binder at the bottom of his school locker. Out of sight, out of mind, he figured, but people kept bringing the subject to the surface and pestering him for details.

As far as destiny was concerned, Jason was doubtful any women would ever be a part of his, if his feelings could be trusted. That he was not planning to let his father and friends in on his thoughts right now was the only certainty; he did not mind so much being the butt of a joke as a trivia contestant, but this...


Jason snapped his head around to the picture window to see Caitlin pressed against the glass so that her otherwise pretty face looked like a horror movie prop. Mitch rounded the display and met her face with his own, prompting Caitlin to shriek back with laughter. Nobody saw Greta and Joycelyn emerge from the office.

"Nice, Mitch," Greta drawled. "I don't think we'll be attracting many customers tomorrow with an imprint of your mug on the window."

"But it's my good side," Mitch protested.

Greta said nothing, pointing instead to the front counter. Underneath the register was a storage shelf with a roll of paper towels and a squeeze bottle of window cleaner, which Mitch used hastily to erase his smudge spot. After Greta was satisfied not to see any streaking, she let the boys change into their jeans in the restroom and released them for the evening.

"So, what're you guys doing tonight?" Caitlin shifted her weight from foot to foot, swinging her thin-strapped purse. She cast an anxious glance at Jason.

Mitch unbuttoned his work shirt, revealing a bright swatch of white t-shirt as his hand traveled down his chest and abdomen. "We're getting some pizza at Fellini's with Gooch," he said. "Then back here for the 9:30 movie. What about you?"

"We're going to Rocky Horror tonight." Mimi crooked her head toward the Naro theater across the street. The old-fashioned marquee of the theater was alive with orange and white lightbulbs blinking in rapid succession, underneath which a small line of patrons was queuing up to purchase tickets for the seven o'clock showing of The Pink Panther.

"That's not for four hours," Jason said. "You two are gonna sit out here that long?"

"Well," Caitlin replied, still looking intently at him, "if a couple of guys asked to go to Fellini's for pizza, we suppose we might accept. To kill time, naturally."

"It's going to take a lot of pizza to kill four hours," Jason joked. Caitlin winked. "I'm hungry."

"Well, you ladies are welcome to come along." Mitch slung his duffel bag over his shoulder. "We're just waiting on Gooch. He should be here in five."

"Please," Caitlin scoffed. "Knowing Gooch, he's planning some grand entrance like a one-man motorcade down the street." She started back to her car, Mimi in tow. "We'll meet you there," she called over her shoulder.

"See you there," Jason called blandly after them.

Gooch's car eased around the corner from Shirley Avenue and paused alongside them. "Let's go!" he hollered from his open window. "Pizza!" Mitch locked up his car and the two piled in the back of Gooch's. It was easier to leave Mitch's Toyota where it was, as parking was a premium on Colley Avenue on Friday night.

They found Caitlin and Mimi seated near the bar, crowned by a cloud of smoke. Mimi's cigarette smoldered in an ashtray in the center of their table. Gooch, to Jason's relief, bounded straight over and stubbed the offending stick into ash.

"Hey!" Mimi nearly spat out a mouthful of water. "I wasn't done with that."

"Yes you were." Gooch eyed her sternly. "Pollute your lungs all you want, not in my space."

"Well, you didn't have to sit here," Mimi huffed, folding her arms.

"You didn't have to join us for dinner," Mitch jumped in, and Jason wondered if his friend was no longer entertaining thoughts of asking Mimi to prom.

Mitch drummed his fingers on the table, inching them closer to the open soft pack by Mimi's wrist; Mimi snatched it away before he could do the same.

"Look, I just wanted one lousy cigarette," she insisted. "It's not against the law." She looked Caitlin for support, but her friend was pretending to study the menu, holding it up to conceal her face.

"Hey, I prefer any pizza without the rich smoky aroma, thank you very much," Gooch said, "and I'm sure everyone else here agrees with me, right?"

"Right," Mitch nodded to the waitress, who approached with five glasses of water for the table.

"Jason?" Gooch prodded.

But Jason's attention was fixed upon the bar television, which flashed a late news tease with a photo of Bart Scarsdale, followed by a clip of a body covered in a dark tarp being wheeled into an ambulance.

Copyright 2002-11 LK Ellwood