Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Excerpt from Murder at Magic Lake

To celebrate the release of Murder at Magic Lake today, I'm going to share a short excerpt with you. This is about a third of the way through the book and shows the main character, Abigail, properly meeting her sidekick, Sherlock:

* * *

Grandma preferred to visit other people instead of inviting them over. As I scanned her living room, I could see why. This apartment appeared larger than Sandy’s, but it was cluttered. Stacks of magazines filled the chairs. Suits and dresses that had been fashionable before I was born hung on a stand on wheels. Bins of yarn balls in all sorts of colors surrounded her recliner. Scattered about were various handmade blankets, hats, and even tiny creatures like bears and dogs. While there was plenty of cover for an intruder to hide behind, I couldn’t see how anyone could squeeze behind Grandma’s things in the first place.

“Hello?” I called. Smart one, Abigail. Let the murderer know you’re here. Maybe the call for help I’d heard earlier was a trap. The murderer could be hiding in the kitchen or bedroom, waiting for me to come closer.

“Over here!” the voice called. It sounded like it was coming from the area around the recliner.

I looked around for something I could use as a weapon. The best thing I could find was an umbrella. Good for both jabbing someone and whacking him or her over the head. Was that bad luck?

Holding the umbrella above my head, I advanced on the recliner. The empty recliner. Maybe I’d just heard the TV. I checked it, but it was off.

The yipping came from under the TV remote, which had pinned a little fox made from yarn. Grandma kept it on a high shelf on the other side of the room; how had it gotten down here? The detail on the fox was exquisite. He had tiny beads for eyes and threads for whiskers. His ears were tipped with black, and his tiny white paws had claws stitched in the same color. White accented his muzzle and the tip of his tail. It couldn’t have been a more perfect rendition of a fox if someone had taken a live creature and shrunk it down.

It waved its paws, trying to free itself.

I let out a cry and dropped the umbrella. The fox froze, its paws stuck at odd angles. Then it slowly turned to stare at me. 


* * *


Murder at Magic Lake will be available at a special introductory price of  $0.99 through September 22nd. It's available in eBook and paper from Amazon and eBook on Google Play, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Apple.

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Continuity Crises

The final eBook of Murder at Magic Lake is due Saturday for Amazon. My proof copy arrived last week, right as work got extra busy. I finally finished reviewing the proof last night. As you can see from the photo below, I have quite a few corrections to make. 

Besides catching typos and tweaking phrases, I also use the final draft to catch continuity errors. For example, did I spell a person's name the same way throughout? Did I change a description or number from one page to the next? These may be small details, but they're noticeable, whether the book is traditionally or independently published. If you're not careful, details can change between book to book, or even in the same paragraph.

When I first started writing, I kept most of my world-building details in my head. These days, I try to be more diligent about writing them down in a separate document. When all else fails, I'll search my story if necessary to make sure my details are consistent.

What's the strangest or funniest continuity error you've noticed in a book, either in your own or in one you've read? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

IWSG: Writing Success

How is it September already? It's not only time for apples, fall, my wedding anniversary, and Homecoming, but also the monthly blog post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Learn more about them on their website, Facebook, and Twitter. Our hosts this month are Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie.

Here's our question for September: How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

I think the definition of success is specific to each writer. I've held my books in my hand and had a few short stories published, but I can't say I've made much money from my work. While I would like to make more of my work available to readers (and get paid for it), true success for me is about connection with other people. I'd like people to identify with my characters and worlds--and even better, tell me about it. There are plenty of ways to gain money and fame, but communication is at the heart of writing. Communicating with someone across space and/or time, as writing allows us to do, is pretty amazing when you think about it. The more reach my writing has, the more successful I am as a writer. But even moving a single reader is significant and successful.

What is your definition of being a successful writer? Feel free to share your thoughts or link to them in the comments.


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Murder at Magic Lake--Pre-Orders Up!

 I've taken the plunge and set up pre-orders for Murder at Magic Lake. The official publishing date is September 15th, three weeks from today. Pre-orders are currently only available for the eBook; I'm still waiting for the paperback cover from the designer, but it should be ready soon. Since this is a new series, I'm running a special promotion price of $0.99 through September 22nd. Click here for the universal book link. The eBook is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, and Google Play. Here's the blurb:

After losing her job, twenty-nine-year-old Abigail Ritter isn’t looking forward to returning to her hometown of Magic Lake, Wisconsin, for her grandmother’s birthday party. All she has to offer her family is her own special fruit juice and tea blend. But when Grandma suffers a fatal accident in her apartment building, The Grand, Abigail’s cousin Brian is blamed. Abigail will have to step up and investigate with the help of her best friend Sam, an intriguing detective, and a magical stuffed fox named Sherlock. Abigail’s got a plan for the Grand and its shuttered restaurant, but will she solve the case or drown in a sea of suspects?

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Cozy Fantasies and Cozy Mysteries

If you've been following my blog for a while, you may have noticed that although my prime reading/writing genre for a long time was fantasy, lately I've been reading and writing more cozy mysteries than anything else. A lot of it has to do with the "cozy" part. In these unsettling times, the main emotion I want to experience in my reading is comfort; warm things like books, tea, food, and crafts; and a sense of community. However, I've been drawn to comfort/cozy books for a long time. One of my first favorite fantasy series was Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series. For a fantasy world, Haven felt like a very comfortable place, with creature comforts like heated baths being readily available. Some of M.C.A Hogarth's Pelted Alliance books also feature comfortable settings, but some of them go to surprisingly dark places. Then there's hopepunk like Susan Kaye Quinn's When You Had Power. I recently read Becky Chamber's A Psalm for the Wild-Built and found it as comforting as a cup of tea. Both of these books are science fiction. It seems like this trend may transcend genres, though there are many genres incompatible with coziness.

Do you like cozy settings, or do you prefer other genres? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Mid-Month Mysteries: Murder at Magic Lake Cover Reveal

I've had the eBook cover for Murder at Magic Lake for a few weeks, but I think it's finally time to reveal it. I went through this time since I was able to get a sale: only $100 for an eBook and print cover package. I think they did a great job of creating a cover that fits with the cozy mystery genre:

In addition to the covers, the package also included a 3D image and a social media banner that I'll use on my website and perhaps a Facebook page for the series when it's more established. In the meantime, I'm doing another edit on the book. I'm a little nervous about publishing something in a new genre, so I want it to be as good as I can make it with the resources I have. Once the preorders are set up on all the eBook stores I use, I'll announce it here and on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

IWSG: Favorite Writing Books

It may be August, but with kids heading back to school this month, it feels like fall and summer are butting heads. Hope you're enjoying the month no matter what type of weather you're having.

With a new month comes another edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Learn more about them on their website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. Our hosts this month are PK Hrezo, Cathrina Constantine, PJ Colando, Kim Lajevardi, and Sandra Cox.

Here's our question for August: What is your favorite writing craft book? Think of a book that every time you read it you learn something or you are inspired to write or try the new technique. And why?

It's been a long time since I've read the Writer's Digest books, but as you can see from the photo below, I have several of them in my library. Some of the books that I learned the most from are Dibell's Plot and Orson Scott Card's Characters & Viewpoint. These are books I read when I was just starting out as a writer, so they helped me with the basics. I also recommend The Heroine's Journey by Gail Carriger as a counter to the traditional hero's journey popularized by Joseph Campbell. 

What are your favorite writing books? Feel free to share them in the comments.


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