Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fresh start, February 2014

Tentative release date:
Nursing A Grudge, Gemma Halliday Publishing, summer 2014

Primary WIP:
Complete second draft of Seeing Red (cozy mystery, sequel to Nursing A Grudge)

Fun WIP (for mini vacations from more structured writing):
Victoria and the Vapors (homage to Sherlock Holmes)

Status of other Fiction WIPs:
A Four-Patch of Trouble (cozy mystery featuring quilt appraiser sleuth), on submission
Robbing Peter to Kill Paul (novella, sequel to A Four-Patch of Trouble), outlined
A Monkey Wrench In The Works (sequel to Robbing Peter ...), first draft about half done
Tree of Life and Death (holiday novella, sequel to Monkey Wrench), first draft done
A Stinkin' Plot (cozy mystery on garlic farm), complete
Plowed Under (cozy mystery, sequel to A Stinkin' Plot) outlined
Fatal Forfeit (legal thriller) 50+ pages of first draft completed), on hold
One Cat is Never Enough (post-apocalyptic cozy mystery series; 4 books outlined), on hold
Arresting Amelia (vague idea for cozy mystery set at general aviation airport)

Status of other Non-fiction WIPs:
Financial Planning For Authors (languishing in writers' block limbo)
Legal Research for Authors (non-fiction book, outlined)
Contracts for Authors (non-fiction book, outlined)
Estate Planning for Stashes (refers to collections of yarn, fabric, art, books, beads, Tardises, etc.): four-part series posted on blog, to be edited slightly and formatted into a free digital book on Smashwords.

Speaking appearances
May 2-3, 2014, New England Chapter, RWA "Let Your Imagination Take Flight Conference." Topic is estate planning for authors. More on the conference here.
July 23-26, 2014, Romance Writers of America national conference in San Antonio, Texas. Topic is estate planning for authors. More on the conference here

Guest blog posts
Ruby-slippered Sisterhood, on estate planning for authors, December 19, 2013

Saturday, January 25, 2014


Over at Reinventing Fabulous, we were challenged to come up with a word (or short phrase) that would be our motto or touchstone for 2014. I'd already made a resolution to have "more fun," so that's what I chose.

Except, if you've ever read Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, you might remember the scene where the four bikers of the Apocalypse have been joined by a group of tough-guy motorcyclists. They decide to adopt names comparable to the bad names of the four main bikers (Death, War, Famine and Pollution). One of the first guys to choose a name realizes he was a little hasty, and wants to change it after he hears someone else's choice, except they tell him he can't. So he becomes "Things Not Working Properly Even After You've Given Them A Good Thumping But Secretly No Alcohol Lager."

That's sort of what happened to me in the course of the ReFab discussion of our touchstones for 2014. I was really happy with my "more fun" until Jane Birdsell (go take a look at her photography!) chose "breakthrough."

So I printed out  my new motto and posted it on the wall next to my monitor:

It only seems appropriate to reveal my secret motto, now that I've made a breakthrough: My cozy mystery Nursing a Grudge (woman who's tired of being cosseted tries to prove that she could too have killed her much-hated visiting nurse, and catches the real killer in the process) has been acquired by Gemma Halliday Publishing, a "boutique publisher of light-hearted mystery, romantic suspense and romantic comedy."

Sunday, January 19, 2014

San Antonio!

I'm going to be doing a workshop on "estate planning for authors" at the Romance Writers of America national conference in San Antonio this summer.

The event is July 23-26 at the Marriott Rivercenter/Riverwalk. I don't know yet when my workshop will be scheduled. Generally, the workshops are taped and available for sale after the conference.

When I have more information, I'll post it. For now, you can read more about the conference here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Even shorter

Speaking of no longer writing short and pithy, there's a relatively new challenge for writers that would have been ideal for the old me, but not so much the new me: pitching stories via Twitter.

It's generally rude to directly pitch to an agent or editor via Twitter, but there are events, organized by extremely generous writers, where authors can Tweet a manuscript summary in 140 characters (including the relevant hashtag!), and agents can follow the hashtag if they wish.

I did a couple such events recently, and have to say it's a real challenge to come up with a Tweet-sized pitch. These are my best two attempts:

A Four-Patch of Trouble: "Cozy mystery: Antique quilts dealer is murdered. Quilt appraiser finds clues in the calico to ID killer, save accused quilter."

A Stinkin' Plot: "Cozy: Hermit techie inherits her aunt's garlic farm. Must get back to the land to bring in the harvest and solve her aunt's murder."

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A verbal diet

For years and years and years, everything I wrote came out short. Novels became novellas, novellas became short stories, short stories became single paragraphs.

Sometime last year, though, a switch flipped, and now I write long, while still writing lean. My goal for a cozy mystery is around 80,000 words. Anything up to about 100,000 words is an acceptable length. My last manuscript (A Stinkin' Plot) was 105,000 words before the revisions I'm doing right now, and the "short story" I wrote in December turned into a novella, which may actually become a full-length novel during the second draft.

I used to be a little skeptical (and a lot jealous) of authors who bemoaned writing too many words then struggling to cut them. I always wrote lean, and even then there was usually something I was willing to cut on every page.

Now, though, I'm having to eat my words (or at least my thoughts), as I struggle to find phrases and sentence and paragraphs that aren't absolutely critical to the story.

I wonder what it would be like if I could literally eat the words. With my luck, they'd probably be high calorie, especially the multi-syllabic ones. Maybe strong, active verbs would be the celery of word diets, and adverbs would be the full-fat dairy products. I'd gain weight while the manuscript shrank.

Maybe eating words isn't such a good idea. I guess I'll keep slogging through the pages with one finger on the delete key.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Snow day!

I suspected I had a feral kitty living in my (unheated, dirt-floored) basement, and now I've got confirmation. You can see the tracks leaving the cantilevered space of an addition (which is to the left), heading out to the right of the picture, only to decide Do Not Want all this cold, deep stuff. Kitty turns around, and  tries a new path, hugging the side of the building, where the snow isn't as deep, and there's protection from the wind.

And then this is evidence of how I have the best neighbors on the planet. It's like 5 degrees out, with a wind chill well under zero, and my neighbor has used his snow blower to clear the sidewalk for about five hundred feet in front (and side -- I'm on a corner lot) of my house, AND to clear the parking lot where the plow can't get up close to my car, and then he made a path from their yard to my yard, so we can get back and forth to each other's house. Oh, and this past summer he replaced the fence you can see between our two back yards.