Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Guest today, Brad Smith, Accidental Author

My guest today is Brad Smith, husband of mystery and screen writer Nancy Raven Smith, and an author himself. Although he swears it was an accident. Please enjoy this charming post.

My First Book was an Accident
by Brad Smith

My wife, daughters and I were writing a memoir, a light-hearted love story about early years of my marriage with a wife, two youngsters, 26 horses, 12 cats, 10 dogs, and a cow, plus 2 suburban teenagers. I read that to get an agent and attract a traditional publisher, we would need a large online platform to help market the book.

So about five years ago I found myself in a social media class thinking through an assignment to start a blog. Now I come from an engineering background and like the idea of passing along some of the things I’ve learned to others, but where could I find content that would be useful to a reader. Being a jewelry teacher in the Santa Monica adult-ed school, I opted to document many of the little pieces of advice I give my students. These are solutions to common problems you run into when fabricating jewelry and tips that help to increase productivity or show how to avoid accidents. I called it the BenchTips blog.

I vowed to post short tips to the blog twice a week, and it turned out to be quite popular. BenchTips was hosted as a Facebook page and was adding followers at about 120 per month. I was amazed at the reach that social media could provide. Part of me kept polishing our farm life manuscript, doing research for the book proposal, and learning how we could find an agent while the other part of me was reading about the exciting world of ebooks and self publishing.

As my followers on the blog approached a couple thousand, I started thinking about publishing the bench tips as an ebook - first because there was an eager audience, second because there were few competing books, and third because it would teach me a lot about publishing in the rapidly changing book market. I read all I could on how to create an ebook and discovered there were print on demand companies like CreateSpace that would let me put out a paperback as well. So why not do both?

Editing the blog material into a book format took about two months, mostly for learning how to use Word functions like styles, page breaks, page numbering, and generation of TOC and Indexes. I also had to re-shoot a lot of the photographs, resize them, and adjust their resolution - there were 82 in the Bench Tips book. I shot my own cover, went over the proofs, made final changes, and OKed the paperback for release to Amazon. It was September 2012, and the realization hit me - I was actually an international author, published on Barnes & Noble and eleven Amazon country websites. I had learned a lot about publishing, but it was not with the book I had started to write.

But I now had what it would take to publish my full length, true love story “The Reluctant Farmer of Whimsey Hill” and I’m excited that it is currently in Kindle pre-sale and will be available in paperback and ebook formats on June 29, 2016. Catch it on Amazon - - or read a sample chapter at

Here's a bit about the book:
We all know the saying—opposites attract. But the real question is how long can such a relationship endure? That’s what troubles animal-phobic, robotics engineer Brad about his recent marriage to animal-lover Nancy. According to the Meyers-Briggs Personality Test, their union is doomed. There’s only one problem: they took the test after the wedding.

Whether he’s chasing a steer named Pork Chop through the woods with a lasso, locked in a tack room by the family pony, or trying unsuccessfully to manage their barn using his robotics experience, the odds are stacked against him.

Come enjoy the warm, unique, and hilarious stories of Brad’s early marriage and the bumpy road from his robotics lab to rural Virginia.

Bio for Brad Smith:
Smith’s early professional career with the U.S. Navy and the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. focused on manufacturing technology and computer-aided design. The resulting technologies developed by Smith are now widely used in the aircraft and automotive industries worldwide. He helped write numerous industry and government publications, and has presented speeches all over the world. As an adult school teacher, he has self published two how-to-books to support his students.

While his work environment was highly technical, his home life was not. With his family, he built and managed Whimsey Hill Farm. Smith partnered with his wife in a horse show business which included annual sporting events with over 1000 equine competitors. The couple was frequently featured in equestrian-related magazines, newspapers, and local publications. Smith says that the contrast between the farm and technology gave him the best of both worlds.

Please visit Brad at

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

REQUIEM IN RED giveaway!

3 copies to give away on Sunday!
Just comment below with your email address, please.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Do Writers Make Good Friends?

Awhile back, in December of 2015, this post included this graphic, stating 8 reasons writers make good friends. It got me thinking. Do we? Really? I’m not so sure. Let me see how I would refute these points.

(1)Writers are knowledgeable
Yeah, we are, in a few areas—like language usage, and we cringe when see people misspell things and use bad grammar. Some of us won’t say anything embarrassing, but many of us will.

(2)Writers are great plus-ones at dinner parties
The contention here is that writers always need a good meal and don’t turn down invitations. Unless there’s a deadline looming. Or unless we just met a deadline and are too exhausted to move. Or unless a new story idea just occurred to us and we’ll have to spend the next 48 hours trying to see if it will amount to anything. Or unless we just got a rare royalty check that’s enough to buy a meal for ourselves.

(3)It’s hard to bore a writer
That’s true. However, if you’re telling the writer your idea for a terrific best-seller and want to go halves in the profits if she just writes the idea down, don’t expect much. Don’t tell a writer what her next book should be either, or how she should have written the last one. Guaranteed to bore us is asking us where we get our ideas. There isn’t a person on the planet who hasn’t already asked us that. And there isn’t any answer. However, you may be giving a mystery writer an idea for the victim in the next book.

(4)Writers ‘get’ rejection
We sure do. When we go out for a good time, that’s not what we want to talk about.

(5)You might get a character named after you
This isn’t necessarily a good thing.

(6)Writers are low maintenance
Hey, that’s no excuse to serve the cheap wine.

(7)They’re great party planners
Especially if your party includes a table where our books are for sale.

(8)Writers are good looking
Okay, I’ll give them this one.

Please notice my tongue firmly in my cheek for the above and don’t hesitate to invite me to your party! I’ll behave.

Photos above from Memes from someecards.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Requiem in Red Puzzle

The word search I posted last week got a lot of traffic here, so I want to try another one from my most recent release, REQUIEM IN RED, this week. (I know, I did one with this book recently, but I think they're fun!) I'll admit that I have an ulterior motive. This book had gotten some lovely reviews on Goodreads, but none on Amazon! I don't know if this word search, based on the playlist from this book, will entice you to review it or not, but that's my hope!

(If you haven't read it yet, look for it at these places:

“Kaye George plays a twisting score in Requiem in Red, conducting us through intrigue and murder in two church musical communities to a surprising and suspenseful climax. You’ll love this new Cressa Carraway mystery.” — Edith Maxwell, Agatha-nominated author, Quaker Midwife Mysteries and Local Foods Mysteries
Now, here's the puzzle!


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Word Search for DEATH ON THE TREK

This book will be released June 13th, so I'd like to get you into the mood. Here's where it can be preordered if you're impatient:
(Let me know if you see it for preorder in other places, please.)


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

GUEST TODAY: Journey by Debra H. Goldstein

I'm happy to introduce my good friend, good writer, and guest today, Debra H. Goldstein, a genuine retired judge who is having success as a mystery writer. She's got some crazy travel plans, too!

Visiting Travels with Kaye is perfect because I am in the midst of an arduous journey. There have been airplane delays, lost luggage, hotel rooms that weren’t feather free when I arrived, and angst over whether a cab or Uber was the better choice in a given city. The few down days scheduled to be home in Birmingham went by the wayside when my son had unexpected surgery in Denver. More travel plus nursing and shopping duties topped off by a reminder, as the plane was de-iced because of a sudden April 28th snowstorm, why I live in the South.

It is a tiring time, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I am loving every moment of the launch of my new book, Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery.

Signings and talks scheduled for the next few months have me criss-crossing Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan, and Florida. Conferences I’m participating in have added trips to Maryland (Malice), Florida (Sleuthfest), Tennessee (Killer Nashville), Minnesota (Police Writers Academy), Louisiana (Bouchercon), Massachusetts (Crimebake), Georgia (Decatur-Atlanta Constitution Book Festival and Atlanta SinC Chapter Short Story Workshop), and of course, Alabama (Murder in the Magic City, Murder on the Menu, and the Alabama Writers Conclave). Don’t worry about this blog revealing my crazy travel plans – Joel, the kids, and other friends will be minding the house. Joel is super supportive, but not into writing conferences. Consequently, no worries about things back home. Instead, I have the freedom to savor Should Have Played Poker’s entry into the world.

When my first book, Maze in Blue, a mystery on the University of Michigan’s campus, was published a few years ago, I didn’t smile. I was so busy doing PR while trying to learn the ropes of the publishing business that I didn’t know which end was up, let alone what day it was. It was a thrill to hold a book with my name, but I didn’t take the time to savor the joy of that accomplishment. This time, I’m doing more PR but I’m staying in the moment. I’m not thinking about the next speaking engagement or the next blog that is due. Instead, I’m focusing on the people I’m meeting and the happiness that comes from writing, good reviews, and positive feedback. I’m thankful for the people who come to my signings and particularly am intrigued by their diversity. So far, I’ve signed books for members of the clergy and fellow judges, downhome friends, and a group of tiara crowned Sweet Potato Queens.

The range of folks invigorates and delights me. It is nice to know Should Have Played Poker or any of the stories I weave are read by so many different types of people because that is what writing is about. Touching others. If my words can give a reader a few hours of fun or distraction, I’ve done my job. Not a bad end to a trip I once only dreamed about.

Thanks for posting today, Debra! Good luck on your travels.

Readers: Ready to read Should Have Played Poker

Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery (Five Star Publishing – April 2016) and the 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue, a mystery set on the University of Michigan’s campus. Her short stories and essays have been published in numerous periodicals and anthologies, including Mardi Gras Murder and The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fourth Meal of Mayhem. Debra serves on the national Sisters in Crime, Guppy Chapter and Alabama Writers Conclave boards and is a MWA member. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, Joel, whose blood runs crimson.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Brief Malice Domestic Recap

It was exhilarating and exhausting, as usual. This year I was there to let people know about two new books of mine that both came out in early April.

Here’s me at Malice Go Round, giving one minute of information on each book. This is an event described as Speed Dating, But with Authors. A pair of authors visits 20 tables of 8-10 people each, staying for 4 minutes and taking 1 minute to change tables. We tell the listeners about our books and give them bookmarks and sometimes other things so they’ll remember us. I paired up with Jim Jackson, James M. Jackson is his author name. His newest book is ANT FARM, in his Seamus McCree series. My new ones are FAT CAT TAKES THE CAKE (by Janet Cantrell) and REQUIEM IN RED (by Kaye George). This event was Friday morning after I checked in Thursday night.

This picture was taken by Patti Phillips when I was at her table.

After Malice Go Round, I walked over to Booeymonger’s with Judy Penz Sheluk, who was at Malice for the first time. This sandwich and salad place is where the Guppies have gathered for lunch ever since the convention moved to Bethesda from Crystal City in Virginia. I got to chat with several Guppies there.

Later that afternoon, I met with my agent, Kim Lionetti. This is the only time I see her face to face, once a year. That night Berkley, my Fat Cat publisher took us out to dinner at The American Tap Room.

Early Saturday, 7:30, was the Sisters in Crime breakfast, where all the Guppies wear boas or reasonable facsimiles. Jan Rubens, who came with Jim Jackson, took this picture of ALL the Gups that attended. After I wore a feather boa one year and threw it away the same day, I wear my chartreuse scarf.

I admit I deflated a bit and stayed in the hotel for lunch, then went to my panel, “Death for Dessert: Sweet Murder” in the afternoon. Our admirable moderator was Nancy J. Parra and the panelists were Kathy Aarons, Maggie Barbieri, me, and Jessie Crocket/Jessica Estevao. We all write cozy mysteries with dessert recipes in the back. We discovered that Jessie is actually the only one of us who is a good cook. 

This photo was shot by Julie Hennrikus.

I raced to the wine and cupcake reception given by my agency, BookEnds, guided by Terrie Moran, who had also guided me to the dinner the night before. If these people keep guiding me, I’ll never learn how to get anywhere. Actually, I may not anyway, so I’m grateful for that!

Our panel signed books soon after that, then we did a cocktail or so, then the Banquet with the Agatha Awards.

I highly regret that I wasn’t able to make it to the New Authors Breakfast the next morning at 7. I chalked it up to getting older, but I came down with a cold and bronchitis as soon as I got home, so I’ll blame that instead. I’m making plans to hold a mystery conference/convention where nothing starts earlier than 10.

My own camera, as usual, stayed safely tucked inside my suitcase for the whole trip. Someday I’ll take pictures!

Another fun time talking to and seeing so many of my online pals!