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!
And sign up to receive the Books Leaving Footprints Newsletter. Comes out occasionally. No spam. No list swapping. Just email me! Previous gifts include a short story, a poem, and coupons. Add your name, and don't miss out!

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?"