Monday, April 30, 2012

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 3 - Series

What I'm Reading: Breaking the Rules, by Suzanne Brockmann; From the Ashes, by Jeremy Burns (Nook)

Okay, so the picture doesn't exactly evoke "series", although Robert Crais writes series, and so do I. Which hardly puts us in the same league. But he was on the series panel, and I was in the audience, so the picture sort of fits. Kind of. If you stretch the imagination. But he's easy on the eyes, so what the heck. It IS my blog, after all.

I'm trying to mix up the workshop topics so there's something for everyone. I'll still have more on publishing, and that 1875 forensics post, so keep coming back. And I'll mention again that Blogger is still not publishing my posts on schedule, so until they fix it (or I take the blog elsewhere), please bear with me if things show up later than usual. Much as I love you guys, getting up at 5 AM to hit "publish" isn't appealing.

I was especially interested in the panel on writing series. The authors on the panel were Carrie Vaughn, Jeffery Deaver, Joe Lansdale and Robert Crais.

These authors didn't set out to write series when they started. Like so many of us, they just wanted to get a book published. Crais confessed that in his outline (cringe!), he had planned to kill off Joe Pike, but when it came time to write the scene, he couldn't do it. And he's very glad he couldn't.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Field Trip - Where's Waldo?

While I was busy with workshops at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, Hubster went hiking in nearby Waldo Canyon. And I though when he'd said he wanted to come to the conference with me to do "Springs Things", I though he was talking about Costco or other places to stock up on things we can't find in Divide. But he did get pictures. Probably more than one Friday's worth.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2 - Fingerprinting

What I'm reading: Free Fire, by C.J. Box; The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot (book club)

Continuing with workshop recaps from the Pikes Peak Writers Conference.

There were two workshops on forensics, both given by retired forensics expert, Tom Adair. (And, he's going to be my guest on May 8th). Both were "hands on" which made a great change from sitting and taking notes.

The first was about fingerprinting. (And although the workshop was hands on, he did begin with some facts.)

Fingerprints are unique and permanent (with very few exceptions, such as burns. They're established in the second trimester, pre-birth. In addition to fingerprints, all dermal ridge prints are unique to the individual (feet, toes, palms, etc.)

Contrary to what we might believe from television, prints are NOT everywhere. And, not finding someone's prints on an object doesn't mean the person didn't touch it. Finger marks are more common, but they're not usable for identification. Probably fewer than 10% of fingerprints found at a crime scene are identifiable to someone. It's not likely you'll get prints from bullet casings.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What's Cooking Wednesday - Cucumber Radish Salad

Before this week's recipe, I thought I'd mention that ROOTED IN DANGER is available for pre-order. I'm also giving away a copy through Goodreads (link is the same as above). Note: If you pre-order the book through Amazon or Barnes & Noble, the actual 'release' date is an approximation. They'll be filling orders, but might not have the book in stock on that exact date. They'll send you an email telling you it's delayed and they'll also give you the option of cancelling your order. Please don't. It'll get to you. And if you have a library card, you can ask your library to order the book. That gives you a free read and keeps the publisher happy. If you need to provide it, the ISBN is 978-1-4328-2585-0

And, onto the recipe!

I was looking for something to do with the extra bunch of radishes I bought for Passover, and found this recipe. Yummy. And quick.

Cucumber Radish Salad

1/4 c fresh lime juice
1 T sugar
2 Cucumbers, thinly sliced (I used 1 big one, peeled)
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
1/3 c golden raisins (I used regular, since I didn't have golden)

In a small bowl, mix lime juice and sugar.
In a medium bowl, combine cucumbers and radishes. (I sliced everything in the food processor) Pour dressing over. Mix gently. Sprinkle raisins on top. (I just mixed them all in together). Let the mixture stand for a while for flavors to combine. Recipe said to serve at room temperature, but leftovers are fine chilled.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Magic and Science, Wizards and Physics

Today my guest at Terry's Place is Karen McCullough. Karen is the author of ten mystery, paranormal, fantasy, and romance novels. Her hardcover mystery, A Gift for Murder, will be released in mass market paperback in June from Harlequin's Worldwide Mystery imprint; several of her novels are now available in Kindle, Nook and other formats from Smashwords.

According to science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” I’ve always been fascinated by that suggestion. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out why that’s true, and we’ve seen it in action often enough when more technologically developed cultures first come into contact with more primitive ones.

The truth is that for most of us a lot of the technology we use today seems almost impossible. As a former computer programmer and IT person, I’ve taken apart and put back together my share of computers, but in fact my iPhone still seems a big magical to me.

A riff on that idea formed the basis of my book, Magic, Murder and Microcircuits.

If an advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, why couldn’t what we call magic now actually be a technology that we don’t really understand?

Which led me to wonder, what kind of technology might that be?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 1. Publishing

What I'm reading: contest entry #4 of 4

I'm writing this shortly after walking in the door from the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. It, like all conferences, was exhausting, but in a good way. I'll be recapping the highlights. And, apologies in advance, but Blogger has had an issue with posts going up when they're scheduled in advance. Much as I love you all, I'm not getting up in the wee hours to keep to my normal posting schedule. If this hasn't posted when I get up, I'll do it manually, but bear with me for any deviations from my normal posting time. Not only that, but they've changed their interface, so there's yet another learning curve for me. I'm thinking I'll be over at WordPress before too long.)

First, for anyone interested, dinner with Robert Crais was FANTASTIC. I have no clue what I ate, but the conversation was a delight (as was the wine). I know I'm a writer, and consider myself a 'regular' person, but even so, there's something "larger than life" that kicks in when meeting a REAL writer. But he's a 'regular' person, too. At his keynote address, he shared emails from readers who took him to task on everything from grammar to accusing him of padding his books by having blank pages between chapters.

Over the course of the conference, I attended 3 workshops on the publishing industry, and it was also a frequent topic of discussion over meals, and from keynote speakers. I'm going to hit the highlights rather than recap each individual workshop.

Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, spoke not only about his publishing company, but also about publishing in general.

Until recently, you weren't considered a "real" author unless a big-name publisher bought your book. With e-publishing, it's possible to succeed on your own, and perhaps make more money. But don't count on it. If that's why you're writing, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.

The most important part of success in publishing is: WRITE A GOOD BOOK. (And this includes making sure it's well-edited.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Field Trip - Flowers

Up here in the mountains, we don't have much in the way of pretty 'flower shop' flowers. But my mom sent some of her favorite flower shots to share. Enjoy! Spring is here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Trends in Publishing?

What I'm reading: Alibi in High Heels, by Gemma Halliday (Nook); Killing Kate, by Julie Kramer

First - for those with Kindles, SAVING SCOTT is now available at the Kindle Store, and at Smashwords. Other e-tailers coming soon. 

I'm headed out to the Pikes Peak Writers Conference this afternoon. I'll admit that I'm looking forward to a fan-girl moment at dinner tonight, where I'll be seated at a table with author Robert Crais. I shall try not to blather. Or drool. I love his Elvis Cole/Joe Pike books, and years ago, when he spoke at SleuthFest, he was very nice about answering this not-yet-published author's questions, and offered encouragement.

I'll try to take notes during the workshops and have recaps next week.

I've been judging a contest for published romantic suspense books. I was given four books to judge, and I noticed something different about this years' entries. All four of mine were from small presses, most of which I'd never heard of. Yet they're all legitimate, royalty-paying publishing houses.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's Cooking Wednesday - Crockpot Quiche

As I'm sitting here watching the snow fall, I figured this recipe, contributed by frequent visitor to Terry's Place, Karen C, might make a tasty dinner. (Although, as I'm typing this, it's Sunday afternoon, and we usually go out to our local pub for dinner. But if Karen says it's good, I'm sure it is.) Thanks, Karen!

Karen says: Feel free to improvise with whatever vegetables you have on hand. Try asparagus, mushrooms, peppers, onions or a mixture. You will need about 3 cups of cooked vegetables.

Unsalted Butter
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup whole milk
3 cups chopped well-drained cooked broccoli or other vegetables
2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon or basil
1 cup grated Gruyere, Emmentaler, Gouda or cheddar cheese (or a mixture)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. Generously butter a large slow cooker. (I used a cooking spray.)

2. Beat eggs together with flour, salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste. Whisk in half-and-half and milk. Stir in broccoli, herbs, Gruyere and ½ cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

3. Pour mixture into slow cooker. Sprinkle remaining ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano over top. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 ½ hours or until quiche is just set in the center. Run a knife around edge of quiche, cut into wedges and serve hot.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Power of Point of View

I’d like to welcome Vonnie Davis to my blog today. Vonnie is a romance author of contemporary, historical and romantic suspense. She’s also held workshops on Savvy Authors. Today, she's offering her insights on one of my favorite topics, Point of View. And while she's here, I'm doing my monthly post at The Blood-Red Pencil.

Thank you for having me, Terry.

I’d like to share some thoughts about the bane of my existence when I first began writing full time—point of view.

You see, I’d majored in English and retired as a technical writer. So I knew how to craft a sentence. What I didn’t know was the craft of writing. Character arc? Conflict resolution? Dialog tags and beats? GMC? Isn’t that a truck? Point of view? After all the classical literature I’d studied, I certainly knew about that. I was good to go.

Yes, folks, I was blissfully ignorant.

My soon-to-be agent phoned to tell me I had some real point of view issues. When I told her I was using third person omniscient, I’m sure I heard her fall out of her chair laughing.

My learning curve just shot upward at a forty-five degree angle.

Gee, and I thought I knew so much.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Etiquette Tips for Author Events - And a Nook First Recap

What I'm reading: Contest entry 3 of 4; In Plain Sight, by C.J. Box

First – a quick Nook First recap. My 30 day commitment is almost over (and thanks to those who—I hope—have been patiently waiting for SAVING SCOTT to be available for all the other e-reading devices out there). Sales are, as expected, dropping off, but are still far more than what I'd seen at Barnes & Noble prior to the Nook First campaign

Before Nook First, I was very pleased with my Amazon sales. I still am, but I thought a quick comparison might be in order. Remember, this is "regular" Amazon, not their Select program. I've never done free giveaways there.

Amazon sales, all my titles, between March 19th and April 14th: 2,329.
Barnes & Noble sales, all my titles, same date range: 13,824.
Adjusted Barnes & Noble Sales, excluding SAVING SCOTT, which isn't available at Amazon: 9,270.

On Saturday, I participated in a library program, Mountain of Authors, at one of the Pikes Peak library branches. There were panels on thrillers and on e-publishing, as well as a keynote speech by author Connie Willis. In addition, between the panel discussions, local authors (myself included)  were "showcased" and allowed to introduce themselves, their work, and sell books to help raise money for their Friends of the Library.

(And there were a few perks. Hubster came along to "see what you really do" but I think he came because, as my guest, he got a free lunch.

There were 32 authors present. We tend to get wrapped up in our own genres, and forget that there are publishing genres for just about everyone. There were children's books, non-fiction books, niche market books, as well as the usual genre fiction.

I was interested in the panel on e-publishing. The takeaway there is that if you've got books published, the more formats you can offer them in, the better. But there IS a difference between books published in e-format by recognized publishers and indie, or self-publishing a book. As I'm sure I've said before, e-publishing should never be a shortcut. Make sure you've got a quality product, which requires investing time and usually money in good editing. Having your mother tell you your book is great is not a good reason to self-publish. But if you've got a good book, perhaps in a narrow niche market, where no publisher will take it because your target audience is too small, e-publishing offers you the opportunity to get it out there.

As for the 'showcase' side of the program.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Field Trip - Sedona

First, I hope nobody suffers from triskaidekaphobia. If so, hope your day is a safe one.

Today's field trip comes courtesy of Karen C, a regular here at Terry's Place. We're going to Sedona. Thanks so much!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tips for a Radio Interview

What I'm reading: In Plain Sight, by C.J. Box; Alibi in High Heels, by Gemma Halliday (Nook)

Tonight I'm headed into new territory. I had a request for a web radio interview, and I accepted. My first reaction when I got the confirmation was panic. Had I really agreed to do this? The show is scheduled for three hours. THREE? Now, talking doesn't usually bother me, but I do tend to ramble blather, and I don't think my verbal meanderings would interest listeners for that long.

Fortunately, follow up emails revealed that there are a whole bunch of authors who will share that time block, with each given a featured half hour. That seems more reasonable.

Since I've never done a phone-in interview before, I thought it might be wise to plan ahead. Stammering and hemming and hawing probably won't make a good impression.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What's Cooking Wednesday - Kale Salad with Asian Dressing

What I'm reading: Contest Entry 2 of 4

First, I was hit with a bunch of interview questions for Candice Coghill's blog. Hop over and see if you learn anything new. (And leave a comment if you have a moment.)

On to the recipe of the week: My mom made a yummy kale salad while we visited her in Los Angeles prior to the LA Marathon. I replicated it, more or less, when I got home, and added shrimp to make it a main dish. It's one of those "anything goes" recipes.

Kale Salad with Shrimp and Asian Dressing

No rules here; use as much as you like, add other favorites or delete things you don't like. For most of the ingredients, I'd ballpark about 8 ounces. Depends on how many people you're feeding, and what you like.

1 bunch kale, stems removed, chopped. (Would work with any greens.)
Frozen shelled edamame (soy beans), cooked per package directions & cooled.
Dried cherries (or craisins, blueberries, cranberries)
Slivered almonds
Cherry tomatoes, halved
1-2 T toasted sesame seeds
Frozen salad-sized shrimp, thawed and drained well. (for a side-dish salad, you can leave this out)

Asian Dressing (this will make more than you need; save the rest for other salads.)

1/4 c soy sauce
2 T. rice vinegar
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. sesame oil
1 T honey
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t dried ginger (or 1 t fresh, grated)
1/4 c salad oil.
Salt, pepper to taste.

Mix everything together.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Writing as Therapy

Today I welcome Karla Brandenburg to Terry's Place. Karla is the author of contemporary romance, with a hint of the paranormal.

It has been my experience that many writers begin the process as catharsis. Something traumatic happens in their lives and writing is a way to deal with what they’ve been through. For myself, I started writing as an angst-ridden teen. Back up. Amend that. I actually wrote my first story when I was VERY young (when I was first old enough to put a sentence together – yes, that young). I actually sent it to Random House! Writing was a way to express myself, but I didn’t make another serious attempt until my teen years. Even I realized, by the time I’d outgrown all the angst, that the stories I’d written weren’t very good, but as a quiet, introverted kind of person, it helped me to deal with things that I had trouble expressing.

As I got older and more vocal/outspoken, I didn’t need the outlet quite so much, but expressing myself “on paper” was still easier. I also had a vivid imagination – always. The stories continued to come and I still put them down, just to empty my head. They were less personal, more observational by that time. My imagination conjured up all sorts of stories about the people around me, people I’d never met and didn’t know. You might think of this as people watching at the mall, in greater detail.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Nook First - Week 2, and Writing Series

What I'm reading: Stay Close, by Harlan Coben; Dutch Me Deadly, by Maddy Hunter (bike); Contest entry 1 of 4.

First, a brief summary of my second week at Barnes & Noble. The program puts your book on the home pages for two weeks of the 30 days you've committed to the exclusive, so the first two weeks are where I expected to see the greatest sales. I wasn't disappointed. (If you haven't read my summary of Week 1, click here.)

(clicking should enlarge the image)

For Week 2, I had two books on the Top 100 in the Nook Store. All my books moved well up in the rankings, four of them under 500. (Note: my best-selling Amazon titles are in the 3000 – 5000 range, and I've always been happy with that.) I sold over 5000 books that week.

Week 3 is almost over as I write this, and, as expected, my sales have dropped. However, let's put things in perspective. Prior to Nook First, I was thrilled to sell 10 or 20 books a day at Barnes & Noble. In Week 3, my sales are still in the hundreds. So, just because it's not as spectacular as it was, I'm still seeing more sales per day at B&N than I am at Amazon. Who'd have thought I'd ever say, "Oh, darn. I only sold 300 books today." Or, "Oh, darn. I need a tax accountant."

As for writing, I'm gearing up for my next Mapleton Mystery. This is the first time I've committed to an actual "series". Yes, I have my Pine Hills Police "series" and my Blackthorne, Inc. "series." But in reality most of those are spin-offs and connected books. HIDDEN FIRE is a true sequel to FINDING SARAH, but although the rest do feature a recurring cast of characters, they're merely set in the same general universe.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Friday Field Trip - Guffey, Colorado

While I was in Los Angeles last month, Hubster went out exploring. He's sharing some pictures from the town of Guffey, which is "just up the road a piece" from where we live.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Left Coast Crime - Highlights

What I'm reading: Out of Range, by C.J. Box; Undercover in High Heels, by Gemma Halliday (Nook); Come and Find Me, by Hallie Ephron (bike)

Last weekend, I attended my second Left Coast Crime conference, held in Sacramento, California. Although some might have grumbled about the rainy weather, when I go to a conference, I expect to be attending sessions during the scheduled event, not sightseeing, so it didn't bother me at all. (Not enough time to extend the trip, so it was conference-only for me)

The first workshop I attended was on e-publishing. It was a two-session presentation, but I could only stay for the first part. Sadly, the presenter had a lot to learn about creating Power Point slides that people behind the first row could see. Also, she publishes exclusively at Amazon, so her data were skewed and didn't really give a decent overview of so many more options available to those who want to go indie. However, I don't know what she covered in the second hour, so perhaps she did expand the horizons.

The second hour, I was lured to a panel on "Breaking the Rules" because Dr. Doug Lyle is always good for a laugh. The topics touched upon characters who do things their own way, and what the author can do to make them credible. Those in licensed professions have rules and standards they must follow. Dr. Lyle mentioned that he wanted his character outside of the medical profession, so he never finished medical school. This freed him from having to follow the rules.

Friday highlights included a panel on the pros and cons of using real places in stories. If you use a real setting, get it right, because readers will tell you that Main Street doesn't intersect with Maple Avenue. And, common sense also dictates that if you're going to set a scene in a restaurant, it's probably not smart to give your characters food poisoning.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

What's Cooking Wednesday - White Chili

Since it snowed all day yesterday, a hearty crock pot recipe seemed appropriate. I originally shared this back in 2010, before I'd started my What's Cooking Wednesday series. Hope nobody minds. (And if you do, send me one of your favorite recipes!)

White Chili

1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t ground cumin
2 whole large chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, and cut into 1 inch chunks (If you prefer vegetarian, just leave this out)
1 can (15-19 oz) white kidney beans (cannellini), drained
1 can (15 1/2 -19 oz) garbanzo beans, drained
1 can (12 oz) white corn, drained
2  cans (4 oz) chopped green chiles
1 1/2 - 2 cups chicken broth (Vegetable broth if you're going the veggie route)

Stick everything in the pot.
When chicken is tender, it's done. Adjust liquid to taste.
To serve, stir in some hot pepper sauce, to taste, if desired.
Add 1 c. shredded Monterrey Jack cheese; garnish with parsley.

And, for those celebrating Passover, Janet Rudolph has a flourless chocolate cake receipe on her blog. Check it out.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

What's Behind the Big Ears?

Today, as proof that my blog guests aren't restricted to writing about writing,  I welcome Georgiana Hall to Terry's Place, with a post that fits right in with Easter. Georgiana (G.G. Hall) is the author of “Hershey-A Tale of a Curious House Rabbit,” which is based on the antics of her own rabbits, especially one named Hershey. Georgiana is a volunteer and educator for the House Rabbit Society, an international organization dedicated to education about rabbit ownership and to rescue efforts. She and her husband Oren Maxwell are both physicists at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. They share their home with four birds and six rescued rabbits.

The other day, a good friend of mine passed away. She was brown and furry, had lopped ears, and weighed about 2 pounds. She was a rabbit named Muffin and was adopted from a shelter 6 years ago. Muffin lived quite the good life, dining on organic greens and herbs, high quality rabbit pellets, and Nebraska hay. She shared a large exercise pen in our family room with her rabbit companion, Peanut, and even had daily supervised runs in the living room. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Yes, she truly lived “the life of Riley,” as the saying goes. But, unfortunately, her life was the exception to that which many a pet rabbit is subjected to.

Every year, people buy rabbits as presents for young children, very often at Easter. These soft, furry creatures, with their large ears and round, curious eyes, melt many hearts. What could be more pleasurable than petting the warm, silky fur of a little rabbit? After all, they are cuddly, eat carrots, and don’t make a lot of noise, right? Well, sort of. But the problem with the adorable little rabbit as a pet is that it is often quickly forgotten about. It lives out a brief life in a little cage or in an outdoor hutch, chewing on strange smelling pellets and probably too many carrots.

Many of these pet rabbits die within six months as a result of a poor diet and unhealthy conditions. Others suffer injuries from being handled incorrectly, often by a small child, who unknowingly squeezes them too tightly. Or, they may be injured by someone picking them up by their long, sensitive ears. If its back is not supported while picking it up, “Fluffy” may kick out his hind legs and injure his spine. He may also grow to a large size and no longer have the cute appeal that he once had. When he finally matures to an adult and his hormones rage, that sweet little rabbit may turn into a “furry Godzilla” by biting his owners or spraying and pooping wherever he pleases to establish territory.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Nook First - Week 1

I thought I'd report on my first week's experiences with the Nook First program. Overall, I'm absolutely thrilled that I was able to participate.

A brief recap:

The Nook First program includes a variety of marketing promotions on the part of Barnes & Noble. (Note: this is the current program; things might change down the line.) Your book is on the home page, on a special "Nook First" page, and there are email blasts to Nook owners and to everyone who's bought one of your books through Barnes & Noble. Needless to say, you can't get this kind of attention on your own. Not without major effort and expense.

Your book is not free. The minimum price is $2.99. Your book appears with 3 others on the Nook First home page for two weeks, and shows up in "new releases" in whatever genre(s) you've selected when you uploaded the book. So, there's good visibility all over the Barnes & Noble website. And, if your book climbs in the rankings, it'll be in even more places.

The conditions: the book must be a first time digital release, and you have to keep it exclusive to the Nook store for 30 days. After that, you're free to publish it elsewhere. My reasoning in applying for this program was that my Pine Hills Police series wasn't selling particularly well anywhere, so publishing SAVING SCOTT, the new book in the series as a Nook First, might draw attention to the rest of the series. Also, my other promo and marketing efforts seem to target the same general audience.

Did it work?