Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln, Did You Enjoy The Play?

MONKEY

Pat’s Unhappy Face

I am, for the most part, an upbeat person. I don’t get hysterical–well maybe just a little when I see a spider or a creepy, crawly, bug–but I’m pretty even-tempered. Sure I have some down days, but usually I’m a happy camper. If you’ll refer to one of my past posts, Sometimes Dreams Come True you’ll see I was a VERY happy camper back in September 2012 when I received the official offer of a contract from my publisher. There followed months of excited preparation, editing, and planning, and the book came off the press on February 14, 2013. I was on my way. 

But you have to watch out for Monday mornings. The Carpenters had a hit song out in about 1967 called “Rainy Days and Mondays” and the short version was “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” That hasn’t been true for me too often in the past few years, but I had one just last month when I learned on Monday morning that a dear friend had died. And then, today, on this Monday morning, I learned my publishing company is suspending operations.

So what does this mean, you ask? Well for starters, I have to find a new publisher. While my book, The Easter Egg Murder, will continue to be sold through the book distributor, Ingram, my next book in the series, Murder For Breakfast, no longer has a home. With the publisher suspending operations, they won’t be back to publish more books unless, as they say, “our hope is that one of our current books will ‘go viral’ and allow us to restart operations.”

I would love to be the writer whose book is the one to “go viral” and save the publishing company. But realistically, unless all of you out there on the internet mount a campaign to make The Easter Egg Murder a best seller, I don’t see how it will happen.

So I’m taking a deep breath, straightening my posture, and getting to work. I have to finish Murder For Breakfast before I can approach another publisher. Perhaps I’ll even try to get an agent to represent me. It would be nice to have someone else deal with all the issues connected with getting a book published.

So other than that, how did I enjoy this Monday? I’m doing just fine, thank you. Tonight we take our daughter and son-in-law out to dinner for his birthday. We plan to celebrate big time!

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Three Women and a Conference: The Initiation of a New Author

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday starts the week of initiation. I’m frantically preparing for a five-day stay in Colorado Springs for Left Coast Crime 2013. This conference will mark my debut in the world of authors, and for the first time, my book and I will be introduced to attendees. I’ve been waiting for this occasion so long it’s difficult to realize it’s almost here.

I’m driving up with two dear friends from my writers critique group. We’re called The Marvelous Ones, and for good reason. These women really are marvelous ones to have as friends and doing critiques of your work. I wish our entire group could go right along with us. But Margaret and Charlene will be good representatives for the team. They’ve promised to sit at my table at the New Author’s Breakfast on Friday morning and be my fans. I hope others will join them there!

After that, we will have another three days of panels to attend. Published authors will share their wisdom and experiences on such topics as: “The Lighter Side of Death & Dismemberment”; “Read My Shorts”; “You Don’t Have To Be A Lawyer To Kill Like One”; and the two I’ve been invited to be a panelist for, “Occupations To Die For” and “Breaking & Entering: Tales of the First Sale.”

It’s a great opportunity to meet new writers and mystery fans, learn new skills, and for me, begin to feel like a real writer. (I’ve already experienced a taste of that feeling when friends who’ve already bought the book give me feedback. That is a real thrill.) Then  Sunday afternoon, we pack up and make the drive home. With three of us all trying to talk at once about our wonderful weekend, it should be an entertaining seven hours!

On Easter Sunday, I’m having my first “official” book signing at Treasure House Books and Gifts in Old Town Albuquerque. I can’t thank John Hoffsis and his dad, Jim enough for being so supportive, not only to me, but to all the other local writers. I’ll be there from 1:00 to 3:00 that day, handing out candy-filled Easter eggs and signing books. That morning at 9:00 a.m. I’ll be a guest on the Terrie Q. Sayre Show on 770 AM, KKOB Radio. Terrie has been very kind to let me and my fellow ham radio operators appear on her show the past three years to promote the annual ARRL Field Day activities. Now I get to tell her and her audience about The Easter Egg Murder.

I’ve already gone through almost thirty of the books I ordered from the publisher. I’m also taking thirty to Left Coast Crime to be sold in their book store. We’ll see how many I have left after that. I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m complaining, because I’m not! This is so exciting and dream fulfilling. It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that it’s no longer something living in my imagination! It’s here and now, and it’s real! Wahoo!!! Bring it on!!

Sometimes Dreams Come True

Since I was very small, I’ve had a big imagination. Until I was a teenager I was an only child, so the imagination was a great playmate. I created stories in my head and acted them out. Sometimes I acted out plays with my dolls, or my miniature people in the doll house I had. The dolls and tiny figurines had great adventures, ate many imaginary meals, and slept quite a bit.

I also read voraciously. I remember the summer I was thirteen; I read almost every novel my mother owned. She had quite a collection of historical novels of the day, and I read them in between reading the books I acquired on my own. There were the Judy Bolton mysteries by Margaret Sutton, and I belonged to the Science Fiction Book Club, which supplied a new volume each month.

As time went on, I tried my hand at writing, putting that imagination to work for me. Nothing much came of it for a long time. Then I became inspired to write a mystery based on a real murder. It would be highly fictional, and in my version, the bad guys would be brought to justice. I now had a dream, and it would drive me for several years. I decided this would be my goal: to create a decent mystery story, tighten and perfect it as much as I could, and get it published.

I had many surges of hope as I talked to agents and editors. I submitted one version or another to many different people. I entered the first twenty pages in a contest two different times. I got one great critique and one not so great. The dream was battered often, but it held steady and refused to die. I became a member of a wonderful writers’ critique group, and those women did more than anything else to help keep the dream alive.

This past Thursday afternoon the magic happened. I found an email waiting in my inbox from a publisher I had queried in July. We had exchanged emails a couple of times and eventually they asked for the entire manuscript. That had happened before, and it went nowhere. You try to keep that hope going, but you don’t want to pin the entire dream on it. If it crashes, it might crush the dream.

This time there was no crash . . . only the thrill and rush that comes with being offered a publishing contract. It’s never happened to me before, so I can’t say how normal my reaction was. I’ve been walking on air ever since, and I have what appears to be a permanent, sappy grin on my face all the time. All I know is the dream is on its way.

I can tell you one thing that, for me, is absolutely true: It’s the best feeling in the world having your dream come true!

Don’t Waste An Opportunity

Have you ever considered writing your life story? I don’t necessarily mean for sale and publication, although there are many people doing just that these days. I’m thinking more of what the process might mean to family after you’re gone.

A dear friend of mine volunteers for a hospice group, and one of her duties is recording life stories for hospice patients. These people have reached the point in their lives when they know their time on earth is limited. Often they may have only a matter of days or even hours Continue reading