Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Cover art!

Well, I finally have cover art for Murder on the Rocks... and an author photo. Which is a good thing, since the web site is due to launch in ten days or so. The kids are off for Turkey Day, and we have a lemon meringue pie and a pecan pie to make by tomorrow, even though my kids appear to have been possessed by demons while I wasn't looking. And no, I didn't get my 1K words in today... tooth abscess intervened. (My daughter's.) Maybe I'll set an alarm for tomorrow...

Anyway, here are the images. Happy Turkey Day!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Getting the words on the page

When I was first starting to think about writing, I read lots of books on the process (I highly recommend Lawrence Block, by the way... his Writing the Novel and Telling Lies for Fun and Profit are fabulous). Somewhere, though, I remember seeing a quote that was an eye-opener. I don't remember it exactly, but the root of it was, what aspiring writers should be interested in is not so much how writers write as how often.

If I told you it was easy to write a book in three months, you'd think I'm nuts. But I'm not.

If you write a thousand words a day (which is my target) five days a week, at the end of twelve weeks -- that's a meager three months -- you will have written a 60,000 word book. Most people view book-writing in the same vein as marathon-running. The difference is, when you run a marathon, you have to do it all at once. A book requires determination and staying power, too, but nobody's going to know that you only did a half a mile -- or a page or two -- a day. Heck, even at a page a day -- a measly 230 words -- you'll still churn out a 350+ page book over the course of a year (assuming you work weekends). And writers who turn out a book a year are considered prolific. Go figure!

So for all of you aspiring writers, go out there, shoo off your inner editor (you can call him or her back later), and start putting the words on the page.

And if you don't know where to start? Check back soon, and I'll talk about figuring out what the heck it is you want to write.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Writing? What's that?

For all my constant talk (just ask my writer friends) about sitting down and just working on your book every day, I've been awfully lax this week. In my defense, though, I have been doing a lot of work on materials for my publisher, Midnight Ink, putting the finishing touches on my web site copy (including some new recipes), and this morning, I went for...dum, dum, DUM...the dreaded author photo shoot.

Of course, my three-year-old had to come with me, since he's sick, so we showed up at the photographer's front door with me dressed in a scratchy wool sweater (although it's in the high 70s) and Ian in glow-in-the-dark fire truck pajamas, holding a bagel. Well, the first thing that happened was that the photographer's gigantic dog Jake grabbed Ian's bagel from his hand and ate it. Which made him burst into tears and throw himself into my arms, coating me liberally with cream cheese. Fortunately, the photographer produced a lollypop, I got most of the cream cheese off, and he spent the rest of the time sucking on candy and playing with little cars while I sweated in front of the lens.

So that's over with, and I think it went well. We'll see the results next week. And at least I'm in good company; she did an author photo for James Michener once (for all you Texas authors, her name is Colleen Stroup, and she's lovely).

And I'll be having breakfast with Susan Wittig Albert soon, which is also exciting. I love her series: she's prolific, talented, and an amazing marketer. What a role model!

I am closing in on the big finish of Dead and Berried, and will be refining recipes soon. I am *always* looking for recipe contributions, so if you have any good ones, please send them along! You might find them on my web site... also, stay tuned for the Muffins are Murder cooking contest, for innkeepers and readers! The prize winners will find themselves -- and their recipes -- in the next Gray Whale Inn mystery!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Maggie Sefton was here!

Gosh... things are chugging along! Murder on the Rocks will soon show up on Amazon... I'm putting the last touches on my web site, will be up December 1st, and working hard on Dead and Berried (as well as a few other secret projects)... Watch for lots of new, exciting things!

Author Maggie Sefton came and stayed with us this week. She's the author of the knitting series, which is from Berkley Prime Crime, and another book called Dying to Sell (Five Star). What an inspiration! She wrote for twenty-two years -- at least a million words of fiction -- before 'breaking out' with Knit One, Kill Two. And now, nothing can stop her! (You should definitely watch her series for her mint chocolate fudge recipe; I ate a pound of it this past week, which is a bad thing, because my author photo shoot is tomorrow. I am *not*, repeat *not* trying her cinnamon roll recipe. I'll have to wedge myself through the front door!)

She had some words for aspiring writers that I thought were wise, and I agree with entirely. Seek the company of other writers; and go to workshops, conferences, etc. where you can learn about craft. I've got more books in the hopper right now than I know what to do with (stay tuned), and right now I'm floored by Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. I'm going to dissect her love scenes to see how they work; she's a master!

So for all you writers, keep reading, keep finding other writers... and keep the faith!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Halloween and old gravestones

Halloween has come and gone... my daughter was a hula girl this year (the only cold Halloween in 8 years here, of course) and my son was a firefighter, both swept up in the magic of the night. While my husband takes the kids door to door, I set up a cauldron with dry ice and water, with the candy bowl at the top, and don a black cloak and battered witch's hat (too many years in the dress-up box) -- the kids have to stick their hands into the smoke to get their treats! Our front walk is ideal for Halloween; a creaky wrought-iron gate that's perfect covered with cobwebs, a plastic skeleton hanging from the tree, and my hubby added the extra innovation of a fog machine to scare the tweens a few years ago. We've been telling stories about Babushka the witch this past week... although the kids slept too hard to notice when she came to give them a ride on her magic broomstick, she did leave each of them a magic charm... (Of course my daughter had to take hers to school to show her class. Although I wrote an explanatory note to her teacher, I'm hoping it's a FLEXIBLE Episcopal school!)

Halloween is such a magic time of the year, and those fairy tales we heard as children touched something deep inside all of us. I, for one, would love to believe that just beyond the veil of what I can see lies a magic world of witches, leprechauns, and fairy dust. In medieval Europe, Halloween and Easter (the autumnal and vernal equinoxes) were the two times of the year when the veil between the worlds was supposedly thin... In Germany, Walpurgis night (which is right near Easter) is considered the spookiest night of the year! (That's when the witches meet on the famous Brocken, in the Harz mountains.)

Speaking of spookiness, there's a bit of a ghost story in the book I'm working on now (Dead and Berried). While I was writing this morning, Natalie wandered through an old churchyard on Cranberry Island, and my mind was brought back to a cemetery I used to walk through when I lived in Bethel, Connecticut, and a particular stone that always brought me to tears. The stone in question marked the graves of at least 6 siblings, all of whom died in childhood... although I didn't have children at the time, I remember how horrible that must have been for the poor parents. None of their children survived to adulthood.

Although bird flu and God knows what else is lurking out there, we need to remember to stop and remind ourselves of how fortunate we are to live in a time with antibiotics, good nutrition and access (hopefully someday for everyone) to medical care... and hug our children, if we have any!