Tuesday, April 18, 2017

More Eclipse Glimpses

I’ve been revealing the stories of Day of the Dark, bit by bit, in much the same way that the moon will reveal the sun after it has devoured it. It will take about 45 minutes from start to total eclipse on August 21st. Then 45 more minutes for the moon to move out of the way and let the sun shine again. If you’re in the path of the total eclipse, you’re very lucky! Or maybe you plan to go where it’s total. You’ll see a partial eclipse from many other places.

Here’s something else that will happen. This sky map shows you what will appear during the eclipse—4 planets that are usually only seen at night.

Today, I’m giving you another illustration of how varied the 24 stories are. As I’ve noted before, Wildside Press will release the book July 21st, a month before the coming total solar eclipse in North America. We should have a cover sometime in May, which I’ll definitely post here.

“I’ll Be a Sunbeam” by M. K. Waller features a gentle, gentile killer, if you can imagine such a thing, and takes place in Killburn TX.

“Ocean’s Fifty” by Laura Oles, lets us see a unique swindle in Port Aransas on the Texas coast.

“The Devil’s Standtable” by Melissa Blaine thrills us with the supernatural in southern Illinois, near where I grew up.

“Date Night” by Cari Dubiel, takes us on an unusual journey, involving more than traveling through space.

All of these involve solar eclipses, some total, some partial. If you’ve been following these reveals, you might be seeing a pattern by now. I’m laying the stories out in roughly the path the eclipse will take across the US. I’m very excited to see what kind of cover Wildside will give us! I’m not sure I’ll post next Wednesday, since I’ll be busy with Malice Domestic, but will be back with more previews for sure in May.

photo by blondieb38 from Morguefile

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

SQUEEE, as they say

I can finally announce this. OK, I could have announced it earlier, but I’m superstitious about not telling people about things until they’re all set up. On Monday I received the counter-signed contract from Kensington for a new three-book series!!! I’m VERY excited about this.

It will kind of replace the Fat Cat series that got dropped by Berkley Prime Crime when they mostly got out of the cozy mystery business last year. I had worked on this proposal off and on, but put it away when I got the Fat Cat series. That lasted for three books and gained me national best-seller status and a whole bunch of cozy/cat fans. I’m hoping for carry over to the new series.

My agent, Kim Lionetti at BookEnds, liked my idea of setting it in Fredericksburg TX. It’s a cute German tourist town in the Hill Country. It has lots of wineries in the countryside around there, very cute shops that draw shoppers, diners, and just plain tourists. There’s also an intriguing natural formation outside town, Enchanted Rock, which I intend to make use of.

Here’s a little personal story about the town. One Thanksgiving, it happened that all of our kids were due to spend the holiday at the inlaws’ places. Hubby and I were on our own! We decided to make a break for it and head out to do something we had been thinking of—a wine tour. We booked a B&B, drove from Dallas (where we lived at the time) stopping at wineries along the way. We had Thanksgiving dinner at a wonderful German restaurant and I did a bunch of Christmas shopping. I fell in love with the place and am so happy to be writing about it.

I had proposed a cupcake/candy shop set there, but Kim and Jessica Faust felt there were enough cupcake cozies either out or coming out, so they suggest Vintage Candy. Meanwhile, we moved to Austin and I dropped in on an actual vintage candy shop to acquaint myself with the stuff. It was wonderful—Clark Bars, Zero candy bars, all kinds of things I hadn’t had in years.

So I morphed the project into a vintage sweets themed series, rewrote the proposal, and Kim sent it out.

The upshot is that REVENGE IS SWEET will be the first book. I’m about 1/3 done with it, so I have a lot of work left to do.

One more thing—I’m going to give my main character, Tally Holt, a Maine coon. I hope all the cozy/cat lovers will like the new series. I’m having great fun writing it!

Maine coon photo from morguefile by katmystiry

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

More Eclipse Glimpses

As the moon starts its journey, the journey that will eventually completely cover the face of the sun, you can watch the light dim around you, so very gradually. If you’re watching the sun and the moon, be SURE to wear eclipse glasses. ($5 at Earth and Sky

Also be sure to visit here every Wednesday so you’ll catch the cover reveal for Day of the Dark, 24 short stories centered around eclipses, mostly solar, but some lunar. There’s sure to be something for everyone here with some of the stories as different as night and day.

Wildside Press will release the book July 21st, a month before the coming total solar eclipse in North America. I gave you a bit about 4 of the stories last week. Here are some samplings of 4 more:
“Torgnyr the Bastard, Speaker of Law” by Suzanne Berube Rorhus takes place in ancient Norse times, a political Norse historical using a solar eclipse

“An Eclipse of Hearts” by Dee McKinney, a dark supernatural tale taking place in Canada with a penumbral lunar eclipse

“The Baker's Boy” by Nupur Tustin, a murder in Vienna, long ago, featuring Joseph Haydn

“Black Monday” by Chéri Vausé, another dark one, psychological suspense in Terlingua TX where the eclipse is partial

The four above are medium to dark, traditional to supernatural, and modern to ancient, spanning the globe. Total solar eclipses occur anywhere on our earth, of course, but this one will be special for me because it will be total where I live. I think the air will be cooler for the couple of minutes the sun is completely gone, but this should begin about 45 minutes before that as the sun begins to dim. Some have reported that it’s very quiet, too, as all of nature senses something extraordinary going on.

lunar eclipse photo from Morguefile

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


I’ll bet you’ve heard something about a total solar eclipse in North America this year. Science museums, observatories, many cities in the path, and even the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are gearing up for celebrations.  Yes, a total solar eclipse, but something else, too! An anthology of short stories to celebrate this rare occasion. The anthology is called Day of the Dark and contains 24 short stories, all of them with an eclipse theme, and all of them completely different.

To entice you, I’ll dole out something about each story, bit by bit on this blog over the next few weeks until July 21st, the day Wildside Press is releasing the book. That will be, not coincidentally, exactly one month before the eclipse on August 21st.

Here’s a sampling to whet your appetite for this delicious volume of light and dark:

“The Dark Side of the Light” by Carol L. Wright, set in California, and playing off the possible dark power of the eclipse

“Chasing the Moon” by Leslie Wheeler, set from OR to SC along the path of totality and telling four light-ish stories about how the event affects four different groups of people

“The Path of Totality” by Katherine Tomlinson, an enjoyable political satire set in OR

“Blood Moon” by Paul D. Marks, a very dark tale with a lunar eclipse in Los Angeles

These four go from dark, to medium, to light, and back to dark, much like the earth will on August 21st in the path of totality, which is the area where the sun will completely disappear in the middle of the day for one to two minutes or so when the moon moves between the earth and the sun and blocks the light, the warmth, the life-giving rays of the sun.

 photo from Morguefile by steffenbuss

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Guest post from Kathleen Kaska

Please help me welcome Kathleen to my blog today! Her latest mystery was released yesterday, the first in a brand new series--how exciting! Here's a bit about her, an excerpt, and a synopsis leading into the story.

Now, here's Kathleen Kaska:

My new release, Run Dog Run, was the very first mystery I wrote. I finished the first draft fifteen years ago. It came close to being published several times, but no cigar. I finally put it on the back burner and let it simmer for a few years. The manuscript has been revised and updated so many times I almost have the thing memorized. Two years ago, I updated it again (for technology changes faster than automobile designs) and sent it out. Black Opal Books sent me a contract, and there you have it.

The story takes place in the Texas Hill Country west of Austin. If you’ve never been there, you should treat yourself to a trip in the springtime when I wildflowers are in bloom.

Excerpt from Run Dog Run:

She’d been foolish and gone off alone, now she might have to pay the ultimate price…
The rocks along the bottom of the creek bed seemed to disappear. Kate felt the ropy, gnarl of tree roots instead.
The cedar break. She was approaching the road and soon the water would pass through the culvert. She knew that she would not make it through the narrow tunnel alive. Her lungs screamed for air. With one final attempt, she grabbed hold of a long cedar root growing along the side of the creek bank and hung on. Miraculously, it held. She wedged her foot under the tangled growth and anchored herself against the current. Inching her way upward, she thrust her head above water and gulped for air. But debris in the current slapped her in the face, and leaves and twigs filled her mouth, choking her. Dizziness overcame her ability to think—exhaustion prevented her from pulling herself higher.
She must not give in. Fighting unconsciousness, Kate inched her way up a little farther, and at last was able to take a clear breath. Her right arm hung loosely by her side, the back of the shaft had broken off in the tumble through the current, but the arrow was lodged in her arm. Numb[KK1]  from cold water and exhaustion, she lay on the bank as the water swept over her, and then, as quickly as it had arrived, the flow subsided and the current slowed. If she could hang on a few moments longer, survival looked promising. As thoughts of hope entered her mind, Kate feared that her pursuer might not have given up the chase. Perfect, Kate Caraway, just perfect. You screwed up again, she chided herself as the lights went out.

After five years in Africa, researching the decline of elephant populations, Kate Caraway’s project comes to a screeching halt when she shoots a poacher and is forced to leave the country. Animal rights activist Kate Caraway travels to a friend’s ranch in Texas for a much-needed rest. But before she has a chance to unpack, her friend’s daughter pleads for Kate’s assistance. The young woman has become entangled in the ugly world of greyhound abuse and believes Kate is the only one with the experience and tenacity to expose the crime and find out who is responsible. On the case for only a few hours, Kate discovers a body, complicating the investigation by adding murder to the puzzle. Now, she’s in a race against time to fine the killer before she becomes the next victim.
Animal rights activist Kate Caraway travels to Texas for a much-needed rest. But before she has a chance to unpack, her friend’s daughter pleads for Kate’s assistance. She has become entangled in the ugly world of greyhound abuse. On the case for only a few hours, Kate discovers a body, complicating the investigation by adding murder to the puzzle. Now, she’s in a race against time to fine the killer before she becomes the next victim.

Kathleen Kaska is the author two awarding-winning mystery series: the Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series set in the 1950s and the Classic Triviography Mystery Series, which includes The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book. Her first two Lockhart mysteries, Murder at the Arlington and Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queen Book Group, the largest book group in the country. Her latest Sydney Lockhart mystery, set in Austin, Texas, is Murder at the Driskill. When she is not writing, she spends much of her time with her husband traveling the back roads and byways around the country, looking for new venues for her mysteries and bird watching along the Texas coast and beyond. It was her passion for birds that led to the publication The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story (University Press of Florida).
Run Dog Run Kathleen’s her first mystery in the new Kate Caraway animal rights series.

Books are available through Black Opal Books, Kathleen’s website, and Amazon.

Saturday, March 11, 2017


I learned of yet another writer whose tax preparer gave her wrong information! It's a shame that ignorance of what taxes mean to writers is so widespread.

So, once again (sorry it's a little late this year), I'm posting to inform all of you writers that you CAN deduct expenses--and for many, many years. Below is my standard post and at the bottom is a link to changes for this year.

I put the topic in caps because this is important! You don’t want to miss out on what is, as Lucy says, “only” your “fair share”.

Some writers, even a lot of tax accountants, think the IRS hobby rule applies to writers. It doesn’t have to, if you’re serious about your writing.

To begin with, take a look at this IRS publication: http://www.irs.gov/irs/article/0,,id=186056,00.html
If you’re starting out as a full-time writer, you don’t have to declare income 3 of the last 5 years if you satisfy some requirements.

The important points from this article are, for you, as an unpublished writer (not making any money), or even a published one whose income doesn't cover expenses:
**Does the time and effort put into the activity indicate an intention to make a profit?
**If there are losses, are they due to circumstances beyond your control or did they occur in the start-up phase of the business?
**Do you have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business?
**Do you expect to make a profit in the future from the appreciation of assets used in the activity?

You can report losses on a Schedule C for quite a few years before the IRS will take a look at you. See this article, which elaborates on the above:

It’s important to be keeping records of submissions, classes, time spent, and to conduct writing as a business in every way you can. Also, of course, keep track of what you can deduct. Write down your mileage every year on January 1st!

This article goes into exquisite detail: http://www.eclectics.com/articles/taxes.html
This one includes some forms to help you keep track if you don’t already have some that you like: http://www.artstaxinfo.com/writers.shtml

AND, changes for this year: https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/2016-tax-changes
The main points for me are that the filing date is 4/18 and the mileage is 54 cents/mile.

I hope this helps. Don’t lose out on loss deductions that you’re entitled to. And may you someday be declaring a profit! I made my first profit after filing as a writer for 12 years. A whole 3 figures.

Image from static.irs.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mystery Thriller Week and My Sad Valentine

This is my first post of 2017. We’ve been having a rough time over here. Hubby, who has Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, two conditions that no one on earth deserves, had a major setback in January. He grew so weak from malnutrition, due to his swallowing difficulties, that he had to have a feeding tube put in. On Friday the 13th of January, of all days. The 13th has always been our lucky day as we were both engaged and later married on the 13th. Our luck isn’t holding lately. The hospital stay did a lot of damage and he’s now having to learn to walk again. He had home rehab for awhile, my choice, so he could collect his mind, bring it back to wherever it had gone in the hospital. That happened and he’s now in a rehab facility. I’m not liking any of this.

There are a couple of bright spots keeping me going—and distracted from all this.

Mystery Thriller Week

I’m not doing as good a job promoting this as I could if I weren’t spread thin right now, but consider this an attempt! I’m doing 3 Power Hours, beginning today. Each one is 10-11 am Eastern Time and each one involves a giveaway from a different series. Today is CHOKE, the 16th is EINE KLEINE MURDER, and the 17th is DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE. I would love you to come chat!

Here's a great place to sign up to win prizes!

I’ve also been lucky enough to net a ton of reviews and interviews. Here are most of them:

DAY OF THE DARK anthology: Eclipse Stories

I got a ton of excellent submissions for this. Too many, in fact. I had to turn down some very good stories so that the paperback will be printable. Wildside Press will get this out before the August 21st total solar eclipse. I’ll keep you up to date on this.