Here you can follow the blow-by-blow account of my attempt to transform myself into a (regularly) published author.

Like the Anastasia Raven Fan Page!
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Monday, December 17, 2012

Glynis Smy authors Maggie's Child

Author of Ripper, My Love, Glynis Smy, is celebrating the launch of her second novel today. Maggie’s Child has been born into the world of ebook and paperback.

When farmer’s wife Maggie Sawbury gives birth to her fifth child, the only one that has lived and the result of an extra-marital affair, she is heartbroken and desperate. Maggie knows her joyless life with a bully of a husband is not one a child should endure, and she leaves the baby at the roadside to be found by passers-by.

Her money-driven husband announces he has found her another job in the village of Redgrave, aside from the many tasks she has on Windtop farm. He is totally unaware the position comes with a secret. One that frightens and yet brings joy to Maggie. She is to become wet-nurse to her abandoned child.

Love, and the possibility of incest, threaten to open old wounds, and Maggie has several decisions to make. However, will they be the right ones? If she tells all she knows, it will bring about the destruction of three families. Equally, her silence could be just as destructive. She shares her secret with another, the result changes her life, and a death brings with it more secrets. Will Maggie stay or will she walk away and find the love she craves?

 The ebook will be available at a Christmas - New Year price of 99c via
Amazon, (and other Amazon outlets around the world).
Want to win a paperback copy
If you can tell Glynis the name of the prostitute friend in her novel, Ripper, My Love, you will be put into a draw for a prize copy of Maggie’s Child in paperback format. The email address you need to send the answer to can be found in the sidebar of, NEW BOOK BLOGGER.


Glynis Smy, (nee Honeycombe), was born and raised in the coastal town of Dovercourt, near Harwich, in the county of Essex, England.

She married her school sweetheart, Peter, in 1979 and they produced three amazing children, Darren, Nicola, and Emma. The long hours of a nursing career, and running two pharmacies ended in 2005, when she and her husband moved from the UK to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

Glynis spends her time writing historical novels, poetry and various other projects. When she is not tapping at the keyboard she makes greeting cards to sell for charity, or enjoys a spot of cross-stitch on the back porch. Failing that, she and friends sit chewing the fat over a glass of village wine.

To purchase Ripper, My Love in various formats: Books by Glynis Smy

Meet and Tweet with Glynis ... Ghunibee

Facebook Page: Glynis Smy

Author Blog: Glynis Smy

Thanks go out to Talli Roland, Len Lambert, Jen Moon and Dieter Moitzi for their support with this novel. Also to all those who are hosting the launch event.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chapter 10 - Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp

Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp
Chapter 10 is done. This is a transitional chapter, moving the story forward in time and letting the reader know that the initial mystery has almost become a cold case.

An excerpt from Chapter 10:
    “Jerry!” I said. “You scared me.”
    “I see that,” he said. “Are you feeling guilty for shopping outside Cherry Hill?”
    “No. Not really.” I looked around for a way to escape. “Maybe a little.”
    Jerry also had a shopping cart. I noticed he had picked out several bottles of regional wine and some expensive cheeses.
    “Let me guess. You just didn’t feel like talking to Adele any more today.”
    “Sometimes I do feel a little overwhelmed,” I admitted. “What are you doing here?”

You can find the first three Anastasia Raven Stories at Smashwords or Amazon

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chapter 9 - Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp

Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp
Somehow, I never posted the fact that I wrote Chapter 8. Be assured that I did... I did not magically skip from 7 to 9!.

In fact, I wrote Chapter 9 twice. Somehow when I was backing it up I managed to lose the whole thing. Still have no real idea how that happened, but it did.

So, instead of taking Chapter 9 to my writers' group for feedback, I stayed home and wrote it all again. The final word count was within 100 words of the original, so I think I managed to recreate most of it. I don't think the second try was as good as the first, but hopefully editing will improve that.

This chapter is more about character development than direct plot movement.

An excerpt from Chapter 9:
    “How about that rowboat?”
    I laughed. “It’s too rotten to be any use in the water. But I like the atmosphere.” The overturned boat’s faded and peeling red paint contrasted nicely with the green leaves, and blue-gray water.
    Chad started a fire, and after a few minutes we had threaded hot dogs on peeled sticks and were holding them over the crackling flames. The river gurgled quietly against its banks as it flowed from our right to left. Sparrows twittered amongst the maple leaves which were shivering in the slight breeze. The earth smelled warm and damp, and the hardwood smoke tickled our nostrils.
You can find the first three Anastasia Raven Stories at Smashwords or Amazon

Friday, October 12, 2012

Chapter 7 - Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp

Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp
For some reason, I had a hard time writing this chapter. It didn't feel smooth to me, and because it's a different pace from the opening (this book opens with more of a bang than the others), it was hard to see if it fit well.

I took it to my writers' group expecting to have it torn to shreds. Instead, they pretty much thought it worked well. They pointed out some tweaks that would help, but it was not the crashing disaster I thought it might be, requiring an extensive re-write. I sure hope they are right! Usually, these folks are not afraid to be honest, so I trust them to tell me if something isn't working.

Some important pieces of information are revealed, and hopefully in a natural way. That's always a bit tricky when a story is told in first person.

An excerpt from Chapter 7:
    The yellow plastic tape was completely blocking the public access to the river. I was willing to bet that wasn’t making the [canoe] livery owners happy in August. We pulled slowly past the access, and as we crept by I had a glimpse of two divers wading from the water. I also caught site of a solid man with short grizzled hair and a scowl on his face, Detective Milford. He wore a tie, but no suit coat, and his sleeves were rolled part way up his arms. He looked hot and frustrated.
You can find the first three Anastasia Raven Stories at Smashwords or Amazon

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cover for Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp

It's possible there might be some tweaks, but here is the prototype cover for Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp.

cover for Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp

Is it mysterious? Boring? Does it make you want to buy this book?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Four Mistakes Mystery Writers Make

alt text at the Blood and Tea mystery writers' conference, L-R D.E. Johnson, Aaron Stander, Elizabeth Buzzelli, Lev Raphael (photo by jhy)

There was lots to take in and think about at the recent Blood and Tea mystery writers' conference in Ludington. Four Michigan mystery writers led workshops, and participated in two panel discussions.

The writers were D.E. Johnson, Aaron Stander, Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli, and Lev Raphael, seen left to right in the picture.

The conference was nearly over by the time this discussion was held, and we'd all become friends, so there was a fair amount of joking and teasing going on.

But, when things settled down, here are the mistakes these successful mystery writers noted:

D.E. Johnson- If you want to make money (as opposed to writing for yourself out of a need to do so), you have to pay attention to the market, and know what is selling.

Aaron Stander- Not being careful about details. If there is too much suspension of disbelief it will stop the reader cold. Make sure that you haven't said something totally ridiculous.

Elizabeth Buzzelli- Not having the courage to confront a major dramatic scene. Don't avoid including a good conflict where one naturally seems to fit.

Lev Raphael- In mysteries, deaths often don't have enough emotional impact on the protagonist or other characters, or just expressing the impact in cliches (they throw up).

Over the next few days, I'll try to share some of the other things from workshops that had an impact on me. It won't be comprehensive. Most of my notes are focused on things that caught my attention, rather than an overview or class-notes as if there were going to be a test.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chapter 6 - Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp

Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp
Sometimes more complex is just that: complicated. This book is the most tangled I've ever tried to write, and sometimes I'm not sure which piece should come next.

One night earlier this week I had trouble getting to sleep, so I pondered "what next" for Bury the Hatchet. I realized quite quickly that I didn't really need any continuing description of the events that began in Chapter 5.

Sometimes writing a story is just as much about what to leave out, as what to put in. Sure, I could have spun out those events, but it wasn't necessary, and one sentence covering the outcome was fine, less boring, and moved things along.

Instead, Chapter 6 goes in a completely different direction. In fact, the reader might think the plot isn't being advanced, but that it only serves to develop characters. Hopefully, it does some of each.

An excerpt from Chapter 6:
    My brain was seriously foggy, and I might have dozed off because I jumped at the sound of a knock at the door. I hadn’t heard anyone drive in.
    The knocking was repeated, more insistently, and I hurried to the door. Whoever was out there was standing to the side, out of sight. I couldn’t see anyone through the old wavy glass door panels, and no vehicle was within view.
    “Who’s there?” I called.
    There was no answer, but a squareish shoulder eased into sight and the person knocked again.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Keeping Web Sites Up to Date

One of the biggest killers of interest in your work is having a web site with wrong information on it- usually because it's out of date.

I'm guilty of falling behind sometimes, too. But it does hurt. I just did some updating on my publishing site Books Leaving Footprints, and I've added two ways to get to know me better to the sidebar here. I've also added them to this blog post.

Here's an author interview with me on "A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book," an excellent show by Jennifer Walker.

Listen to internet radio with Jennifer Walker on Blog Talk Radio
And here's a news video created by the Petoskey News-Review of the day I completed my 4400-mile hike on the North Country Trail.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Chapter 5- Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp

Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp
This chapter was fun to write in one way. I've always admired authors like Ngaio Marsh and some others who can handle a whole room full of characters, keep them straight, make something important happen, and befuddle the reader enough that a major clue is slipped in right under their noses.

Well, I certainly didn't take on that big of a challenge. All I tried for was to have a room full of people, and have the scene make sense. Since I personally have trouble dealing with more than one or two people at a time, it's hard for me to write about crowds.

Tomorrow night, my writers' group will help me decide if I succeeded! Meanwhile, here's a sample:

An excerpt from Chapter 5:
    “Caulfield’s...” she began tentatively, but was cut off by Adele who swept toward us.
    “This is one sad day for our community,” she announced loudly, shaking her head.
    From a couple of tables away, a man yelled, “Where’s the Sheriff? It’s 6:58.”
    “Damn mysterious, if you ask me,” said a woman I only knew as a one of the Lutherans.
    People had continued to drift in, and now the room was packed. I saw Cora and her son Tom, but they sat down on the far side of the room, and didn’t even see me wave.
I wasn't sure when I began where this chapter should end. But when I got there, today, it was obvious!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Book Sales- August 2012

North Country Cache
  I've decided to post sales numbers for August, because if nothing else, I hope they will be a benchmark I can compare to later and see the growth.

My goal was to sell three ebooks a day, and I (or the books on their own merits) succeeded. Promotion is such a crap shoot, but I keep trying to get more links and mentions and reviews and...

With all venues together that I know about (North Country Cache is in a number of bookstores on consignment. I won't know those sales numbers for months), here are the August results. All the others are ebook sales.

North Country Cache (paperback only)- 7

Devotions for Hikers- 4
Get Off the Couch with Joan- 1

News from Dead Mule Swamp- 74
The Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp- 1217 (free)
Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp- 39

Total ebooks sold for money- 118

My goal was to have more than 3 sales a day. If I'd remembered to count in the Smashwords distribution sales I would have realized I was already close to that and might have chosen something higher. Nevertheless, I'm pleased. So the overall average of paid ebooks was 3.8/ day. I was thinking I should only hope for 3.5 for September, but now 4/day is looking very possible.

If you are a member at Smashwords, and haven't clicked me as a favorite author, I'd really appreciate it if you would. You can do that at my Smashwords author page. It only takes a minute!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chapter 4 - Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp

Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp
Chapter four begins to move the story along with a big announcement. But, hey, I'm not going to give that away here!

I think my writing is improving. I managed to show a lot more emotion than telling it in this chapter.

This is from one of the sections my writers' group especially liked last night

An excerpt from Chapter 4:
    Two cats watched me from the porch railing as I got out of the Jeep, and an aging beagle heaved himself from the grass and waddled toward me. “Ar-oooo,” he said, without much enthusiasm, but he had his duty to do. I reached down and scratched behind his ears.
    “Hello, Bub,” I said. Janice appeared on the porch. Her face was red, and she was wiping purple hands on a towel.
I'm forging ahead with this book even though I don't have all of the plot elements nailed down. Some people seem to write this way all the time. I guess I'll find out if I can do it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Lots of Writing, Little Inspiration

I wrote my monthly column for the Ludington Daily News this morning. It wasn't brilliant- pretty much a straightforward account of my recent hike.

I've written a whole lot of content articles for Textbroker and have about half the money I need to attend Blood and Tea.

Now, I'm trying to work on Chapter 4 of "Bury the Hatchet..." No inspiration. Will have to settle for slogging along. OK, back to work.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chapter 3 of Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp

Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp
This writing is moving very slowly, but it should start to speed up a bit soon. I've been having some trouble getting into the groove of this story.

However, I spent a lot of time on Chapter 3, and it paid off. I read it to the West Side Gang (my local writers' group) last night, and with a couple of places that need some tweaks, they greatly approved. I think that's significant since I was still doing a bunch of backstory and local flavor.

I've also heavily reworked the first two chapters, because they were, I have to admit, a bit shoddy. I wrote them in a hurry. No apologies- getting something down gave me a draft to improve on and got the story going.

Here's an excerpt from Chapter 3:
    A few other people were seated in the restaurant, but most of the breakfast regulars had left and it was still a bit early for the lunch crowd. Two older men nodded at us as we entered. The odor of grilled hamburgers and onions hung about the room, with overtones of black coffee.
    For the most part, the Pine Tree hadn’t tried very hard to keep up with the times. From past experience, Cora and I headed directly to the booth to the left of the door, but not the one by the window. I knew those vinyl benches had fewer duct tape patches than others, even though it only mattered when you slid in and out and the rolling corners of the tape caught against your pants.

Is the Pine Tree Diner in Cherry Hill like one you know?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Content Writing Again

This is a really tough way to earn money. Nevertheless, if I want to attend the Blood and Tea mystery writers conference, I have to come up with the money from somewhere other than my regular budget.

The easiest (in one sense) place for me to do this is Textbroker. The pay rate is pretty low when you consider the research time, but you know what you are going to get, and you get paid every Friday, if you have $10 or more in your account. I'm ranked at 4, so I get the next to highest rate of pay.

I used to be rated at 5, but they have VERY strict rules about comma use, which I've never been able to figure out, so I got demoted. That was a downer, but I've become philosophical.

One can choose the assignments, so you don't have to write about anything that is too far out of your range. I know a few people who really make a pile of money there. One of those people has specific expertise, and he chooses assignments that match that so he has to do very little research. That seldom happens for me.

So, I will slog along for a few weeks writing as many articles a week for them as I can tolerate to earn my registration money.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Book Sales- July 2012

North Country Cache
  Such a guessing game! Should I post sales numbers so readers will know how few books I sell yet, or should I post them because they aren't too bad for a relatively new self-published author?

I'm going to do it for the past month, because I did make a personal goal, whatever its significance.

With all venues together that I know about (North Country Cache is in a number of bookstores on consignment. I won't know those sales numbers for months), here are the July results. All the others are ebook sales.

Devotions for Hikers- 1
Fall Off the Couch Laughing- 2

North Country Cache (paperback only)- 2

News from Dead Mule Swamp- 43
The Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp- 977 (free)
Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp- 27

Total ebooks sold for money- 73

My goal was to have more than 2 sales a day, and I made that. I've been promoting quite a lot, so my goal for August is 3 sales a day.

Sometimes it's really discouraging. It takes a ton of work to get people to buy, even with good reviews. All of the books now have several reviews by people who are not friends, but how is a potential buyer to know that? How does one continually find new pools of people to promote to?

It's a challenge!

Hey- if you haven't "liked" the books on Amazon, or agreed with the tags, it would be great if you would do that. It only takes a minute!

My Amazon author page

(A month after I made this post I realized that I had not been checking the Smashwords report from their other distribution outlets. So in addition to the above, I sold 16 News from DMS, 2 Paddy Plays in DMS, 1 Toby & Harry, for a total of 19 more books.)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Blood and Tea!

Blood and Tea Conference

Come to beautiful Ludington, Michigan for a Mystery Writers' Conference, September 21,22, 2012.

Presenters are: Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli lives back in the woods between Mancelona and Kalkaska, on a small lake, much like the protagonist of her Emily Kincaid mystery series.

D.E. (Dan) Johnson, a graduate of Central Michigan University, is a history buff who has been writing fiction since childhood but had to hit his midlife crisis to get serious about it. His first novel, a historical mystery entitled The Detroit Electric Scheme, was published in 2010 by St. Martin’s Minotaur Books

Lev Raphael is the author of 22 books, including 7 mystery novels, two novels, Winter Eyes and The German Money, and three memoirs, Journeys & Arrivals, Writing a Jewish Life, and My Germany.

Aaron Stander spent most of his adult years in the Detroit area, where he taught English and trained writing teachers. In 2000 he and his wife left college teaching positions and moved permanently to their cottage near Traverse City. Aaron is the author of Summer People, a mystery set in Northern Michigan.

Registration is only $175. You need to find your own lodging.

See more at Ludington Visiting Writers

Monday, July 23, 2012

Chapter 2 of Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp

Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp

Chapter 2 is at least done in draft- ready to read to the West Side Gang tomorrow night.

One of the trials of mysteries in series is how to bring in the backstory for the characters without just doing a boring info dump. This chapter has Ana and Cora driving to town, and talking about the bloody hatchet. In the process, they cover a lot of Cora's history. Hopefully it's not too dull, and it moves the hatchet to the Sheriff's office.

Here's an excerpt:
    “I’m surprised the Post Office delivered it. I heard they were really cracking down on vague addresses, and packages without a return label,” I said. But I thought maybe rural areas were still more forgiving.
    “There wasn’t a street address, and whoever sent it knew I have a museum, but they still addressed the box to Mrs. Gerald Caulfield.”
    “That is funny. Maybe it’s some kind of warning for Jerry.”
    “Then they don’t know that I’m not speaking to him,” Cora said through tight lips.

How do you feel about the backstory in mystery series? Do you like bits woven in as the plot unfolds, or do you prefer getting a hefty dose of information right at the beginning of the book?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Received the Proof for Elements of Life

Elements of Life Cover
I just received a proof sheet for the Elements of Life anthology. I have one poem in this book! These are stories and poems that were winners in Accentuate Services contests. Some of my stories have been winners, but these themes, birth, life, death, were just before I began entering.

However, after the fact, they called for some poems to be used as fillers, and one of mine was accepted. It's called "Now Then When" and was written in one of my darker moods.

It takes a long, long time to get stories from contests to/through editing, and actual printing of a book. I'm glad to see something of mine in this anthology, and I will have several stories in the next volume.

The book can be pre-ordered for a discount at Twin Trinity Books

Monday, July 16, 2012

Books Leaving Footprints

Promotion is such a huge part of making sales for INDIE authors. My publisher page, Books Leaving Footprints is where people can find all my writings that are available, a long author bio, interviews, publicity materials, and info on how to book me as a speaker.

Today, I updated the home page, making sure that my recent publications are there. I organized the page better, by categories.

Check it out!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fall Off the Couch Laughing is Published

Fall Off the Couch Laughing
Fall Off the Couch Laughing is a collection of ten humorous essays written over the last several years. Most previously appeared in the Ludington Daily News in my monthly column "Get Off the Couch." One essay has never been published prior to this collection.

Titles included are:
• Do Ticks Go to Heaven?
• The Top Ten Reasons to Stay On the Couch
• sKumquats and InYourFace vs My www
• Snowshoes? Just Give Me a Couple of Months
• The Arrival of Unwanted Body Parts
• Neologism Snowclone - Ramblings of a Cold Brain
• Not Sleeping at Sleeping Bear
• The Evolution of the Sock
• Not Men of the Liberated Mind Set
• The Hike from Heaven or Hell- You’re Invited

Although eBooks aren't generally a great venue for picture books, these essay collections include photographs. This book features ten carefully selected pictures.

My monthly column has been running for six full years, totaling more than 70 installments. I'm slowing collecting them into sets with similar themes. Columns are not available online unless you have an e-subscription to the newspaper. These collections are economical, and gathered into topical groups.

Only $1.89. Only on Smashwords.

Fall Off the Couch Laughing
Get Off the Couch with Joan

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp - Chapter 1

Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp

Yes, I've gotten started on the fourth story in the Anastasia Raven mystery series. This book is the most complex yet, and should also have some really fun parts. However, I've had trouble with the motivation to really get busy.

Despite several pages of notes on how the plot unfolds, one still has to eventually get busy and actually write. I'm doing it!

Here's the opening:
    “Points of crinkly tissue paper peeled open under my fingers like the white petals of a flower around an irregular umber center. The curved stem ended in a rubber grip. My breath escaped in a ragged gasp as my brain rearranged the imaginary flower into the actual contents of the carton. I pulled my hands away from the hatchet, its blade stained a dark reddish-brown. It was a good thing I’d placed the box solidly on Cora’s desk or it might now be on the floor. I sat down with a thump in the rolling office chair and skidded into the wall.”
You can buy book 1, News from Dead Mule Swamp, for only 99¢, the second story The Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp is free, and the third installment is Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp. Find them at Smashwords, or Amazon

Monday, July 2, 2012

Review of A House Divided Against Itself


A House Divided Against Itself by Bob O'Connor is a book for serious Civil War buffs. O'Connor takes the fairly well-known story of the Culp brothers, John (Wesley) and William who fought on opposites sides of the conflict, and expands the known history into a fictional narrative. The story also involves Mary Virgina (Jennie) Wade, the sweetheart of Wesley's best friend "Jack" Skelly. Jennie Wade was the only civilian casualty of the Battle of Gettysburg. The brothers actually faced each other twice in battle during the conflict.

Over ninety letters written by the principal people have survived. O'Connor uses those letters to create first person narratives by each of the people. From chapter to chapter the point of view changes to give each person's perspective on the same events. Other well-known writers use this technique to create extremely accurate stories, and yet they must be considered fiction, as exact dialogue, etc. is only implied in the historical record. Allen Eckert is an example of this kind of writer, although Eckert weaves the stories together into one chronological tale.

A House Divided gives the reader a personal perspective on an enlisted soldier's life, both on the Yankee and Confederate sides. A wonderful addition is an image with nearly every chapter. Sometimes these are photographs of a person featured in the chapter, sometimes maps, or contemporary drawings of places where events in the chapter occurred. At the end of the book, modern photographs of the graves of most of the people are shown as well as vital statistics.

The cover art is taken (with permission) from a painting by Mort K√ľnstler, and provides an great eye appeal for the cover.

To be honest, this book is less novel and more history. Although the events leading up to Gettysburg are quite dramatic on their own, the book is pretty much a re-statement of the letters. This provides excellent accuracy, but there is no building of a particular dramatic moment with a crisis and denouement. One must just take the events as they occur.

I also felt that the different voices were very similar, which lent a flat tone to the book. I wanted Jennie to be more feminine, and William to be more stiff and arrogant, and Wesley to be more consistently colloquial and defensive about his decision to fight for the Confederacy.

Nevertheless, for anyone who likes Civil War history, this is a more personal account of this somewhat famous family than has been previously presented.

Bob O'Connor lives in Charles Town, West Virginia, close to most of the sites of his books about the Civil War.

He has been involved in public speaking for years and years. Since 2006, his speaking engagements have spanned 11 states and the District of Columbia. He speaks at libraries, schools, civic organizations, Civil War Round Tables, book clubs, and to most anyone who will listen.

A House Divided Against Itself is available on line at or at It is also available on all e-book formats.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Paddy Plays Enrolled in Smashwords Summer Sale

cover for Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp cover design by Farah Evers
Smashwords is running a Summer Sale for the entire month of July. I've enrolled Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp for 25% off. This means that if you choose to buy this book from Smashwords during July, you'll be sent a coupon code and the book will cost only $2.24 if you use that coupon.

Even if you haven't finished reading the first two books, July would be a great time to buy Paddy, and save some change!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Interviewed on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

Listen to internet radio with Jennifer Walker on Blog Talk Radio

Yesterday, I was interviewed on Blog Talk Radio, by Jennifer Walker, on her program "A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book."

Jenn and I have been internet friends for several years, and it was a lot of fun to connect with her by voice. She is an author herself, having written the excellent Green Meadows young adult books. See Author Jennifer Walker

In the interview we chatted about both my Anastasia Raven mystery series, and my non-fiction book, North Country Cache. The program is 30 minutes long.

The link above takes you directly to the interview with me, but all episodes are archived, and you can find them at A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Anastasia Raven Mysteries- 300 Likes= 3 Winners

random numberrandom numberrandom number

So, I've heard that Facebook is cracking down on some pages that are using likes as a way to run contests. They are particularly manic about posting that you are doing it on Facebook, and then sending the results via their message system. Since I don't wish to be unexpectedly banned, I'm announcing the winners of the three Dead Mule Swamp books here.

I hope you've come over to check out if you are a winner. I used to generate three numbers, and the numbers correspond to the order in which people "liked" the page. I got lucky, and one of the numbers is between 201-300; I wanted one of the "new" people to be a winner.

If you are: Joseph Beekman (28), Donna Thacker (48), or Anna Gikas (219) please email me at to tell me if you would like News from Dead Mule Swamp or Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp.

Congrats! Keep the likes coming. I'm still writing.

If you didn't win, hey... "News" is only 99 cents, and "Paddy" is $2.99. Still a great deal! And "Hollow Tree" is always free at Smashwords.

Smashwords or Amazon

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Review of The Opium Equation

the opium equation
The Opium Equation, by Lisa Wysocky, is a cozy mystery set in the American South. The protagonist is Cat (Catherine) Enright who owns a stable of Appaloosa horses. She’s a relative newcomer to the Nashville area, but has been there long enough to be respected by some residents, and to have antagonized others.

Cat is constantly annoyed by the bad behavior of ten-year-old Bubba. The book opens with the boy throwing rocks at her truck. She’s also unhappy with the retired actress Glenda Dupree who thinks she can win riding competitions just because she will look good on a horse.

When Cat finds Glenda beaten to death, and Bubba’s hat covered in blood, her dislike of these people makes her a suspect in the mind of the local Sheriff. But Cat thinks any child is worth trying to save, so she begins looking for Bubba.

I liked The Opium Equation a lot. For starters, it begins with a cast of characters list, just like an old Perry Mason book. And the descriptions of the characters are quirky enough to pique interest.

Cat is funny and sarcastic- the current word is snarky- and I enjoyed that part of her personality. The owner of one of the horses claims the mare Sally Blue is psychic, and Sally Blue does seem to act strangely until the mysteries are solved.

The plot is just complex enough for a cozy. There are several possible suspects, so the reader-sleuth has plenty of potential outcomes to contemplate.

The setting includes a mixture of real places and some imaginary ones. The inclusion of local history and geology in the plot appeals to me.

The story is well-written and the pace doesn’t drag. The ending is well-crafted. Final details are placed in an epilogue. Some people like knowing how all the loose ends tie up. I guess the epilogue format allows the other people to skip them!

The cover leads one to expect a book with lots of horsey parts, however, other than the ownership of the stable and the intriguing Sally Blue, this book isn’t really about the horses. Perhaps there are other Cat Enright books in the works. At any rate the stable allows plenty of opportunities for interaction with a group of people.

Lisa Wysocky is also the author of several non-fiction books.

Visit Lisa Wysocky's web site
Visit Cat Enright Stables blog

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp is Published!

cover for Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp cover design by Farah Evers
Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp is ready for purchase!

It's available right now at Smashwords, and Amazon. Keep in mind the Kindle format is offered at Smashwords too.

Cost is $2.99- not as cheap as News from Dead Mule Swamp, but it's longer, and hopefully better written. It's still a great deal, and this price is in line with comparable mysteries.

Thank you, faithful readers, and enthusiasts who wanted to read more about the adventures of Anastasia Raven. Enjoy!

When Anastasia Raven agrees to keep Paddy, her cousin's Irish Setter, for the summer, she didn't understand the mischievous nature of a large puppy. As a volunteer with Family Friends, she meets Corliss Leonard, and his granddaughters Star and Sunny, whose mother disappeared seven years ago. The girls fall in love with Paddy, but can the dog solve their problems?

Previously in the series:
#1- News from Dead Mule Swamp
#2- The Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Value of Multiple Beta Readers

cover for Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp cover design by Farah Evers
The editing of Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp is in full swing. I asked four people to beta-read the manuscript. Two are men and two women. Two had read the previous Anastasia Raven books, and two had not.

My hope was that this would give me a good variety of feedback, and that the readers who hadn't read the earlier stories would catch flaws related to providing enough background so that the book could stand on its own. I think it worked really well!

I've now processed the notes from all four readers. I have to admit that I'm quite impressed at the quality of their comments and honesty where things were confusing. Places where multiple people found a passage difficult were better than red flags. These sent up rockets of warning that I needed to fix something. Things that seem crystal clear when I wrote them may look muddy to someone whose brain works differently from mine.

Most of their suggestions I've taken to heart and tried to provide clarification without wandering down bunny trails.

It amazed me that each of the four people caught small errors and typos that the others didn't. It's SO easy to read right over mistakes like that. Having many eyes on a manuscript can help reduce the number of those kinds of goofs. We all make them, and it seems nearly impossible to get them all out. Yet, we should all strive for a professional final product.

Of course, the final decisions concerning how much to add or take out are mine, for better or worse. For example, I'm not on board with the current trend to take out almost every instance of the word "that." I've cut a lot of them, but personally, I think some sentences just sound stupid without it. OK- that's my little hissy fit for the day.

Seriously, if you are writing a book or a story, don't let yourself get bent out of shape over the idea of constructive criticism. Welcome it, listen to what people tell you, and think carefully about each of their suggestions.

Tomorrow, I'll start reading Paddy through once more, for any final changes I want to make.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Introducing Ripper, My Love from Glynis Smy

It's my privilege to introduce author Glynis Smy. We met as fellow bloggers, and I've followed Glynis as she and I have gone from aspiring fiction writers to fiction authors! She sent me a sizable excerpt of Ripper, My Love to review. I have to be honest and say that I wasn't sure how I was going to react. The genre of historical romance is certainly not on my list of favorites, although historical fiction is.

I am delighted to say that the actual writing has overcome any doubts I might have had. Glynis nails the time period, and puts the reader right in the back streets of London near the end of the 19th Century. I've already become intrigued by her characters, and hope to read the rest of the book soon. There aren't many romances which make me feel this way!

There are some typos to overlook, but with ebooks, it's certain these will be cleared up in future editions, as Glynis is probably editing as you read this!

Today writer/poet, Glynis Smy adds author/novelist to her name. Her debut novel; Ripper, My Love, is launched in ebook format and paperback. The genre for this love story falls into the one of Historical Romance Suspense.

Growing up in late nineteenth century East London,
Kitty Harper’s life is filled with danger and death – from her mother, her
neighbour and the working women
of the streets.

With her ever-watchful father and living surrogate
family though, Kitty feels protected from harm. In fact, she feels so safe that
while Whitechapel cowers under the cloud of a fearsome murderer, she strikes
out on her own, moving into new premises to accommodate her sewing business.

But danger is closer than she thinks. In truth, it
has burrowed itself right into her heart in the form of a handsome yet troubled
bachelor, threatening everything she holds dear. Will Kitty fall prey to lust –
and death – herself, or can she find the strength inside to fight for her
business, sanity and her future? And who is the man terrifying the streets of
East London?

Who is Glynis Smy?

Glynis was born and raised in England, in the coastal town of Dovercourt, near the port of Harwich (where the captain of the Mayflower lived). After qualifying as a nurse, she married her school friend, and they produced three children. During her rare quiet moments, she wrote poetry and articles for magazines. In 2005 she and her husband emigrated to Cyprus for a new life in the sun. It was here that Glynis lay down her cross stitch and started making writing friends on the Internet. With their support and encouragement she shared her poetry, and was successful in a few contests. She shared a short story with a friend, who wrote back telling her it was worthy of becoming a novel, and not to waste the premise upon a brief plot. The story is the one being launched today. Glynis found her love of writing 19th Century, historical romances and her second novel, Maggie's Child, will be published at the end of 2012.

Aside from writing and Cross stitch, Glynis enjoys creating greetings cards, and sells them to raise funds for a small hospice in Cyprus. One of her pleasures is to sit on the back porch with a glass of wine, and reflect upon her good life. She can often be heard chatting to new characters urging her forward.

Her desire to pay back those who had supported her is realised in a blog designed specifically to promote the books of others: New Book Blogger You can find her personal writing blog at Glynis finds the community spirit of writers on Facebook a valuable one.

Want to purchase a copy?  Launch day price for the Kindle is 99c/77p!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Some Philosphy on Mysteries in Series

This post is just a bit of musing on the topic of mysteries in series, with an emphasis on cozy mysteries.

Someone recently wrote that News from Dead Mule Swamp is not very realistic. Now, I'm not upset... perhaps it wouldn't be realistic in the world that person inhabits. But it did get me thinking.

Are murder mysteries realistic? Any of them? Books which are not in series might be. Books which are in series with a protagonist who is a policeman/woman, detective or lawyer might be.

Any other mysteries in series are going to be somewhat unrealistic. Right out of the box, it's unlikely that a single, ordinary person is going to encounter one or two murders a year, in which they would get involved.

This is where we get into suspension of disbelief. Every series, even the most famous, are a bit silly if one has to have complete realism. For example, would even a nosy Miss Marple have encountered a murder on every vacation or so often near her little town? Would Perry Mason have won every case? Would Jessica Fletcher find so many murders to solve? Even the TV series had to move her to New York City because soon she was going to have no neighbors left to kill off.

I also read one critique of the "Dead-End Job" cozy mystery series where the rater said it was beyond belief that Helen Hawthorne keeps switching jobs and always getting involved in a murder. Well, yes, of course... but it's actually less silly than that a person would live in one place and keep stumbling on murders.

One could also say that cozy mysteries in general are unrealistic. They tend to have little cussing, little sex, and little "on screen" violence. We've made life so "in-your-face" that it seems unrealistic to leave those parts out, or at least keep them off the page. I think those people who read cozies by choice know perfectly well what real life is like. They simply prefer to leave it out of their entertainment venue. There is plenty of literary fiction available whenever they want a dose of the tragedy of life.

Mysteries, possibly particularly cozy mysteries, are a sort of a cross between fantasy and reality. They are not meant to be like the TV series "Law and Order." (Which is in itself ridiculous because each of their cases is somewhat spectacular- never anything mundane. "ripped from the headlines," you know.)

When reading any series of books one chooses to enter into the world the author has created. This might be a non-fiction world, such as the "Little House on the Prairie" series, or Allen Eckert's "Narratives of America." Or it might be fictional, as in "The Cat Who..." books set in Moose County which is also a fictional location. The Nero Wolfe books are set in the very real New York City, but in a fictional house on a fictional street. If you love Nero Wolfe, you probably carry the floor plan of that house and the daily movements within it in your head.

For readers, those fictional locations have taken substance, and the question is not "is this realistic?" but "is this realistic in this created world?"

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Report on Success of The Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp

the Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp

It's been seven days since the short story, The Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp has been available. It's had 150 downloads, and three reviews. I'm pretty happy with that, but am hoping for even greater things, of course!

Ken Brown wrote: "The Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp is an excellent short story. Joan hooks you in early and even mentions Nancy Drew as the mystery thickens... Who is the mysterious person leaving a personal list and other valuable items in a hollow tree. And why? Another, "I can't put this book down from Joan H Young."

Cindy Gunnin says: "This is a sweet little mystery that reminded me of the ones I loved growing up. Joan Young's Ana Raven has curiousity and a social conscience. What's not to like? This is a quick read, perfect for a rainy afternoon by the fire or a break on the hammock in the shade."

Sue Erickson adds: "I liked your story very much!! Looking forward to reading more of your work."

Although the reviews are on different sites, they all use a 5-star system, so averaged together the rating so far is 4.3

If you've read it, I'd love to have you post a review on Smashwords, Amazon, Goodreads, or anywhere!

Buy Anastasia Raven books at Smashwords. Also at Amazon, but Hollow Tree is not free at that location yet.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Free! The Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp

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Just for fun, and so anyone can get to know Anastasia Raven and her friends in Forest County, here's a FREE short story from Dead Mule Swamp.

This story fits into the series after News from Dead Mule Swamp and before Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp (scheduled release June 1). However, it stands on it's own, and doesn't contain any serious spoilers if you haven't read "News," but would like to find out what the books are like without spending one single cent!

In The Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp, Anastasia Raven finds a secret hidden in a hollow tree near Dead Mule Swamp. She thinks she's seeing things, as the discovery appears to have come straight from a Nancy Drew story. With some simple sleuthing, Ana catches Jimmie Mosher, whose grandfather used to own the house she has recently purchased, hiding money in the tree. But what else does Jimmie have to hide?

Download The Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp at Smashwords

Monday, April 16, 2012

Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp - First Draft Done!

cover for Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp cover design by Farah Evers
Now the serious editing begins. I do edit as I go. I'm not a writer who just forges ahead with words and worries about how it sounds later. I almost always read the previous chapter or two when I start a new one, and edit them, to get the flow of the story going. I almost always read back through the entire story a couple of times while it's still in progress, which keeps me from leaving out important things, or forgetting something that happened earlier and then contradicting it.

This method doesn't lead me to a perfect first draft, but a better-than-rough draft. I know there are a few things to fix. Elements I need to add back in, for example. A hint here and there, the description of something, things like that. Then there are always typos, grammatical errors (not too many, I hope!), too many "that"s, dialogue with talking heads...

But I have promised the MS to my beta-readers by April 25, and I should have it to them before that. Maybe in a couple of days. Meanwhile, I'm working on a small surprise for fans of Anastasia Raven. Stay tuned.

You can buy book 1, News from Dead Mule Swamp, for only 99¢ at Smashwords, or Amazon

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp - Chapters 32 and 33

cover for Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp cover design by Farah Evers
Two more chapters done! That leaves only one more and the first draft of Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp will be complete!

I had to work today, but got home in time to write. Since these final scenes were all laid out in my head, they were easy to write. However, I think there are some risks with writing this fast. In fact, I think it's easy for self-published authors to make this mistake. Sometimes it seems that authors get in a hurry to finish a book and the last few chapters become rushed. The writing is less polished, there are more typos, and there might even be small missing elements that would wrap the story up better.

Several books I read recently were good, but they could have been much better with some independent feedback. Sometimes the difference between an OK book, and a really good one, is in just a few details.

I'd like to seriously guard against those kinds of mistakes, so I'll be reading this section over with what I hope will be an eagle eye. I also have four beta-readers lined up.

Tomorrow, I plan to write the final chapter. It contains the kinds of housekeeping details needed to tie up loose ends for readers, preferably with a solid "period," rather than just a bit of a whimper. Then, I'll start re-reading the whole MS, hopefully in just one or two sessions, so I really get a feel of the flow.

Everything looks like it's on track for a June 1 release.

Paddy staring at me from Farah's cover has just kept me writing his story!

You can buy book 1, News from Dead Mule Swamp, for only 99¢ at Smashwords, or Amazon

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp - Chapters 31 and 32

cover for Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp cover design by Farah Evers
Two more chapters completed! These are the climax of the mystery, with a fair amount of action. I'll read it all through again tomorrow to make sure it makes sense. This is the first time I've ever tried to write a scene like this.

I had a pretty good idea in my head of who would do what at each step, but until you write it out it's hard to choreograph it all in your head. However, it worked out even more smoothly than I thought it might. Tonight I'm pleased. We'll see how it reads tomorrow!

There are only two or three chapters to go! Loose ends to tie up. People will want to know what happens to several characters even after the crisis.

I'm looking for one more beta reader, preferably someone who hasn't read the first book. I need to be sure this one will stand on its own merits. Leave a comment if you are interested. I'll need the MS back by May 20.

You can buy book 1, News from Dead Mule Swamp, for only 99¢ at Smashwords, or Amazon

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Two Chapters and an Oops

cover for Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp cover design by Farah Evers
I'm so stoked about being close to finishing Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp. I've completed chapters 29 and 30!

However, I spent most of yesterday afternoon fixing a big oops! I'm sure the beta-readers would have caught it, but I'm just as glad to have found it earlier. I've been tracking the book time in a spreadsheet, but hadn't gotten it up to date for quite a few chapters. For some reason, I decided to do that yesterday. Good thing.

I discovered that in the current week of book time I had Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Friday, Saturday. Oops! Well, there were no spare days in there to move action to, so I had to squish two of them together because Saturday had to be Saturday. I succeeded, but the lesson is, keep track of this stuff as you go.

Unless, of course, you are writing a book with a time warp. I'm not.

Tonight is my writing group, and I'm way back on Chapter 11 with reading to them. That's ok too. I appreciate any feedback they have.

You can buy book 1, News from Dead Mule Swamp, for only 99¢ at Smashwords, or Amazon