Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Short News

I got a wonderful surprise Facebook message a few days ago! My short story, “Murder with Crow,” was accepted for an anthology called COOKED TO DEATH. No, my characters aren’t eating crow! Although the theme of the collection is cooking and murder. The recipe that goes with my story is a zucchini bread recipe, the best one I’ve ever run across. I’ve had it many, many years and it includes a secret ingredient. (I’ll post a picture of the cover as soon as I get it.)

This tale is much lighter than the one that’s in MEMPHIS NOIR. I got my 2 author copies this week! So I do have a picture of them. I got the best review I’ve ever gotten in my life of my story, “Heartbreak at Graceland.” That’s because the review is in Publishers Weekly and it mentions me! (a powerful and definitely dark narrative) Here’s a link

You can see my desk! That's because I put my Neanderthal research away, finally.

I have my short story crit partners to thank for polishing the Crow story, and the authors of HEARTACHE HOTEL, by Henery Press, for extra-special guidance about Graceland. 

I love how mystery writers never have to be alone—the most giving people ever.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Yay! Summer’s almost over!

I haven’t been posting here much, have I? There’s a good reason for that. Summer and I don’t get along. I hate being in the sun, hate being hot, hate sweating. It’s a good thing I have an indoor job!

I’ve been keeping cool by working on DEATH ON THE TREK, the 2nd Neanderthal mystery that takes place at the beginning of the last Ice Age. And I have a fan blowing on my feet.

It’s almost time to open up the windows, though. The bedroom window was open last night to a delicious 54 degrees, which brings the bedroom into the low 70s. Not much circulation in that room, I guess.

Right on schedule, I got a summer cold that worked its way into bronchitis. I think I’m on the mend. Wouldn’t you know, my favorite season, fall, is the one I’m the most allergic to. It’s guaranteed to be beautiful here in the foothills of the Smokies. Can’t wait for the leaves to turn. Some are tinged with color already.

Red tinge on our Japanese maple

Also, right on schedule, I hope to finish up my last edits before DOTT goes out to my readers, and just at about the same time I get my editor pages for the third Fat Cat book. I love it when a plan comes together.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Guest today: Linda Thorne!

I'm so pleased to welcome Linda Thorne to my travels. Speaking of travels, like us, she has moved around the country a LOT and has ended up in Tennessee. Small world! She's tackling the question that readers seem to love to ask us.

Where Do You Get Your Plot Ideas?

I remember reading an article by Lawrence Block years ago. Block heard that Don Westlake had written the beginning chapters of a book about a woman being raped on her wedding day. The woman and her husband then took off after the rapists to exact revenge. Block saw this as an interesting plot and, when he didn’t see any further development on the book, he contacted the author and learned Westlake had decided against writing it. Block then asked, and got approval from Westlake, to use his idea. He wrote the book and titled it, Deadly Honeymoon.

This fascinated me because I have so many ideas for books tumbling around in my head, I can’t imagine anyone needing to borrow someone else’s. Of course, I’m no Lawrence Block who has written so many books, but I still don’t think I’d run out of ideas.

And, I may not be alone. Three or four years ago at the Killer Nashville Conference there was a session called something like, “where to get ideas for your writing project.” I crossed that one off my program and circled a query letter session next door.

I was running late for the meeting and when I walked into what I thought was the right room, I noted only two other guests in attendance. One of the speakers mentioned how surprised he was more people hadn’t shown up since coming up with ideas was important in writing about anything. It dawned on me  that I was in the wrong place and hesitantly I raised my hand halfway, saying in a whisper, “Sorry, I thought this was the query letter session.” The man smiled and shrugged his shoulders. I think I bleated the word, “sorry,” once more telling the small group how bad I was at query letters. And, truth be told, if I hadn’t been so desperate to improve my queries, I would’ve stayed just because they seemed like nice people who were quite disappointed in the turnout.

I’ve never seen the topic on any Killer Nashville schedule since.

Just think about it. How many times do you hear someone say, “I should write a book.” Every unusual or meaningful experience we each have, news reports, things we witness, experiences and events every single day could be book topics, right?

What do you think?

About the book:

At long last, she lands a job with a good employer, but the trouble is just beginning…

Human resources manager Judy Kenagy hopes her days of running from bad bosses and guilt-ridden memories are over. But alas, she’s barely settled in when a young female employee is found shot to death, spinning her new workplace into turmoil. Small-town police chief, Carl Bombardier solicits Judy’s help in her role as the company’s HR Manager. While working with Judy, he shares his fanatical interest in a twenty-five-year-old double homicide he believes is linked to her last and worst bad boss. To make matters worse, the trusted assistant of her monster ex-boss starts showing up, keeping the unwanted connection going. When the pesky trusted assistant turns up murdered, Judy learns there’s a connection with the shooting death of the employee. She starts sleuthing at the crime scene and stumbles upon an important piece of evidence. Can she solve all of the murders with this single find? If she does, will she finally be freed from the demons of her past? Or are things not as they seem?

About Linda Thorne:

Linda Thorne began pursuing her true passion, writing, in 2005. Since then, she has published numerous short stories in the genres of mystery, thriller, and romance. Her debut novel, Just Another Termination, is the first in a planned series of mysteries that tell the story of Judy Kenagy, the first career human resources manager to turn sleuth. Just Another Termination was released by Black Opal Books last month. She is currently writing the second book in her series, A Promotion to Die For. 
Like her lead character, Thorne is a career human resources manager. She has worked in the HR profession in Arizona, Colorado, Mississippi, California, and now, Tennessee. She holds a BS degree in business from Arizona State University and has completed a number of graduate-level courses in her field.

Here's her book cover! Click on the link below to check it out (and buy it) on Amazon.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

FREE BROKE audio books

I’m very proud of the new audio version of BROKE! It was read by Veronica Newton, the same talented woman who did the first two in this series. The cover is also done by Karen Philips of Philips Covers, who is the same talented woman who did all the other Imogene Duckworthy covers.

We did this through Audible, which offers nice support. One of the things they do is to supply me with codes that I can pass along for a free download! I’d love to give some of these to my blog readers. Please leave a comment below with your email address and I’ll pick 5 people before next Wednesday, my regular posting day. (If a TON of you leave comments, I might give away more.)

I’ll email the winners complete instructions with the download codes. Let’s get started!

PS. A couple of other nice things happened last week that I want to tell you about. Two of my short stories were published!

Please give them a look and let me know what you think.

PPS. If you like BROKE, we’d love a review.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

New Audio Book!

The Imogene Duckworthy Trilogy is now complete in paperback, e-book, and audio! Many thanks to Veronica Newton, who has read all three. I think she did an especially nice job on this one, and while recovering from shoulder surgery. OK, maybe she was recovered by the time she was reading, but I’ve had shoulder surgery myself and know that it takes the stuffing out of a person.

I suppose I shouldn’t call it a Trilogy, since I do plan to write more of these, fitting in these self-published works between my contracted novels.

If you haven’t read BROKE yet, I’ll let you know that it steps almost over to the far side. I’ll let the reader decide whether it really does or not.

You can now get CHOKE, SMOKE, and BROKE, all on audio. I’ll mention that if you’re new to Audible and if you order one of these books as your first one, Veronica and I get to split a “bounty” and that’s a nice little bonus for us. Even if you’re not new to Audible, if you like to listen to books, I hope you’ll consider these.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Work Like a Dog

 This is national Work Like a Dog Day. It says so right here:

You may have noticed a notation that this should not be confused with Work-A-Holic Day, which was July 5th.

So are we all working like dogs today? Maybe you are, but for me--heck no! It’s way too hot! (Be glad you’re not in Iran where the estimated heat index was 165 this week.)

Me? I’m enjoying the sunshine that is outside my window. I’m also enjoying the AC inside my house. If the heat index were 165 here, or even 100 (it’s 97 right now), I don’t believe I would be able to write this, let alone the novel I’m working on.

I very much enjoyed writing DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE while we lived in hot, hot Texas. They were in a cold place, needing to flee from an approaching glacier. The wind blowing off the impending ice was frigid. However, in this novel, they actually are fleeing and they’re headed south. It’s getting hotter and hotter. I can no longer look up from my keyboard shivering when it’s in the 90s. I’m simpatico with them now.

Why would anyone put this day in the middle of the Dog Days of Summer?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Magic Number Theory

This theory, which I first wrote about in October 2009, is for writers who are submitting, either to agents or small presses. I stole this from someone and can no longer remember who, but if someone wants to take credit, I'll gladly give it. Any if someone else can state it better, that would be good, too. This is a little long winded.

First, I'm assuming your project is as good as you can make it. It's as good or better than what's on the market and it's ready to be published. You're sending out queries and collecting rejections and wondering if you'll EVER reach your goal.

As a querying writer you have your own, individual magic number. You don't know what it is, but it is written in stone somewhere. It's the number of queries you must send out before you land that elusive agent, the one who "falls in love" with your work and then manages to get it sold for you, or the publisher who eagerly accepts you into the fold. (An agent who can't sell your work, necessitating getting another agent, is a pre-agent, and doesn't count. Only your "real" agent, the one who sells for you.) When you send out the query with the magic number on it, you're set, done, reached your goal. (Until you go on to the rest of the stuff, which is just as hard, only different.)

The beauty of this theory is that you can regard each rejection as a step closer to your magic number. Another rejection? Okay, the magic number wasn't 17. A few more? Okay, it wasn't 28, or 52, or 77, or maybe not even 110. Each rejection is PROGRESS. You're getting closer to your magic number. If your number is 455, your 456th query will be The One that gets you published.

You may lose patience and try another route, self-publishing. Keep in mind that it may help to get the big agent and the big publishing house if you publish something with a good small press. That’s what worked for me.

Another writer, Lina Zeldovich, has a similar theory she calls Stairway to Heaven. Every rejection letter builds her stairway and gets her closer.

Either way, don't view rejection letters as marks of failure, but rather as marks of success.

I hung on for 10 years getting closer to my magic number. It turned out to be 468.