Monday, August 30, 2010

It's a Good Day

I'm in an especially good mood today. I was kind of wondering what that was about and then I remembered - Moonlighting in Vermont got a really good review last night. There is something about the validation that comes with a good review that makes me giddy.

I'm sharing it with you so you can feel giddy too.

I'm just jumping in here to say this review is from Brenda Scott at the Manchester Examiner. Just the kind of detail you might like to know.

Moonlighting in Vermont is a superbly written, romantic mystery with just a hint of comedy, by Kate George. Winner of the Daphne du Maurier award for excellence in the Mystery/Suspense category, Kate George shows us what truly incredible writing can achieve. The storyline was so absorbing; it was hard to put this one down! Bella Bree MacGowan, paste-up artist by day, housekeeper by night, describes herself as a Rachel Ray look-a-like “without the benefit of a hair and makeup stylist.” George’s heroine is a fictional treasure that is strong-willed, self sufficient, and not easily derailed!
The backwoods town of South Royalston, Vermont is typically a quiet venue where not much happens; a place where the rich and famous have been known to frequent to get away from it all, certainly not a place for murder? When Bree is assigned to clean one of the cottages at Whispering Birches, a super-luxury hotel, she finds her boss dead on the floor. Bree quickly becomes the prime and only suspect as Detective Miles Brooks does everything in his power to point all clues toward Bree. In the weeks that follow the murder, Bree manages to lose her boyfriend and her daytime job at the Royalston Star. She becomes the subject of much gossip in town and is even accosted at Vera’s funeral! With nowhere else to turn, Bree scrambles to dig up clues, and carries out her own investigation in order to clear her name and avoid the fate that awaits her.  
George’s characters are both interesting and compelling because each struggles with difficult conflict. Bree is conflicted by her feelings for Beau; on the one hand she is attracted to him but feels that if the relationship doesn’t work out, she risks losing her closest friends, Meg and Tom Maverick. Bree loves and needs her job at the paper but resigns anyway because she feels she’s putting the integrity of the paper and Tom’s job on the police force at risk. Meg grapples with her deep feelings for her husband and the attraction she feels for Scott. Even Jim Fisk, Bree’s ex-boyfriend who deserted her when she became the prime suspect in order to protect his career, has second thoughts and tries to win her back.
And then there’s detective Miles Brooks who continually treats Bree as if she were already guilty! Does he truly believe she’s a murderer or is his brooding, all-to-serious personality just an act to cover up his true feelings?

Very happy in Vermont.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Don't Postpone Joy

I was at a high school graduation in June where one of the speakers was an ex-teacher from the school. He'd been battling brain cancer and was thankfully in remission. He wasn't going to be coming back to work at the school. He had other things he wanted to attend to.

One thing this teacher said during his speech was this: He had been in Florida, and while there he went to walk into a shop or restaurant only to discover it was closed. On the door was a hand lettered sign.

Don't Postpone Joy

Of course hearing a cancer survivor say those words was especially moving. Who better to remind us that we have limited time here on earth?

Don't Postpone Joy

I mention this because I've been postponing joy probably since I was in my late twenties. And lately it's worse because I'm working on the adage that Life Rewards Action. So I'm acting. I'm taking care of my kids and my day job and trying hard to become a novelist who can live off her writing. Not many writers can actually live off their work so that's a tall order. I think I can make it there, but I know for most writers it takes a while. I'm not worried about it. But while living by

Life Rewards Action

I've been postponing joy. I was pleased when my first novel was published, but did I really celebrate it in my heart? No, I was busy moving on to the next steps, marketing and writing the next novel. As I sit here I have four incredible children who should bring me great joy, but what am I focused on? the finances and how in the world am I going to get my name out there so people will buy my books.

That is so wrong.  Don't postpone joy. See the beauty. Feel the miracles that surround you. Breathe.

Don't Postpone Joy

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

So Nobody's Interested in Book Reviews

I can see that book reviews from a person with questionable taste in literature might be suspect. Especially as I basically just say I like this book in a general sort of way and don't go into specifics. So how about a movie review? Would you find that interesting?

I watched two movies worth reviewing this week. Memento and 500 Days of Summer. Two very different movies with one thing in common - a kind of quirky oddness. Of course both movies leave you completely different so don't read too much into the oddness, but it's there all the same.

For me, Memento is about how people will use other people's weaknesses to their own ends. Of course sometimes that backfires. But the blatant self interest is appalling and the manipulation of situations left me cold. This is not a feel good movie. It's supremely well acted, written and directed and definitely worth seeing, But if you are at all squeamish, don't watch it at night.

500 Days of Summer is not your typical love story. I place it with the more modern and alternative Juno and Nick and Nora's Infinite Play List. It's off balance in a fun sort of way. But the mood is not traditional, well heck the story is not traditional. It appears to be written for the disillusioned twenty-somethings. I watched with my sixteen-year-old daughter. She liked it. I liked it. So I guess it works as a chick flick. But honestly I think it would work for the guys too. It's not a shoot 'em, car wreck of a movie, but it's shot from the male point of view and plays to guys sensibilities. It's not easy on the girl, which honestly works in this movie.

So there you go - two short and probably unhelpful movie reviews, but maybe you like them more than the book reviews?

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Review of Sorts - Family Honor by Robert B. Parker

I just finished Family Honor by Robert B. Parker, and I got to wondering what it is I like about his books. I like them well enough to read until I literally can't keep my eyes open anymore. I had to re-read the last few pages from last night because I couldn't remember any of it.

It's not just the female protagonist, I like Parker's Spenser almost as well as I like Sunny Randall. But it is part of it. I like that Sunny is independent. That she's not afraid to try things. She's not afraid of mistakes. She moves along, not knowing the answers, just doing what seems best and trying to figure things out. She takes risks.

Parker created Randall. I know this to be a fact. (Well I suppose it to be a fact. Semantics you know.) And yet, I feel as though she is real. It's as though I could know her, I wouldn't be surprised to meet her. I'd say "Oh sure, you're Sunny Randall. You took in that fifteen year old girl. How's that going?"

It takes a certain amount of skill to develop characters who seem real. Human beings are complex creatures. Motivations are rarely straight forward. It's hard to create characters that are complex and likable without bogging your story down with detail. The trick is to deliver a story that seems light, that doesn't drag, but still supports complexity of character and plot.

It's something to strive for.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fickle Friday

As you know I've been trying to figure out a cover for California Schemin'. And I have to count myself lucky that my editor let's me have input. So many authors are stuck with what they get when it comes to book covers.

Of course I got manic about it and went hog wild and mocked up a ton of covers. Which overwhelmed my poor editor and she had to tell me to quit it already. She's got work to do. So I'm quitting cover design for a while. And maybe something will come to me while I'm not concentrating on it. Or maybe something will come to you and you'll tell me about it and it will all be fixed.

I want the cover because I want to work on the book trailer. Making book trailers is fun. It takes me a long time, because I'm technology challenged. But it's a change of pace, and I'm nothing if not short of attention span. Giving my brain something different to work on is always a plus. And it furthers the career so I can't lose.

But I also can't finish the trailer with out a cover. And unfortunately I'm in love with the controversial skunk.

Oh and because it's fickle Friday here is a picture of the real Foresthill Bridge in California. It's something like the highest, or second highest bridge in the USA. Amazing huh?

Click here for the Foresthill Bridge

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Can you stand to look at another cover?

Because I had another idea. Just give me a yes or no on this. Or you could say you like this but there's a cover from the other post I like better, if you like.

So, I'm trying to learn what makes a good cover. And I think it needs to be clean and somehow related to the story, if at all possible. And eye catching across the room. But you know all these things.

My worry about the girl in the blue dress was that although Bree does a lot of running in this story, the cover might get dated rather quickly. My cousin commented on that to me. My brother agreed. And maybe it makes the book look more like a straight romance, which California Schemin' definitely is NOT. There is less romance than in Moonlighting in Vermont. I need a mystery cover for this book.

Then there is the bridge, which I like but many of you do not. Too boring without the dead woman. Too gruesome with the dead woman. Too much like Inspirational romance. Nothing against Inspirational Romance, but California Schemin' is not what an inspirational reader is looking for. Absolutely not.

A few people adored the green and blue cover but most of you hated it. So I was thinking about other images. I could have put Hammie on the cover, but the guy in my head (and collage) for Hammie is David Beckham. I doubt I'm going to get permission to use him on a cover. (Maybe I should ask?)

But an image I thought about early on, long before I started mocking up covers was of a skunk. There is a skunk. And they are cute creatures, if very smelly. And I like animals, and Bree like animals. And the skunk IS kind of KEY. So there you go. That's my rationale.  Here's the cover:

Edited to add a second skunk cover.  Will the cover renditions never end?

What do you think?

Monday, August 16, 2010

California Schemin' Cover Revisted

So here's the deal. A couple of the covers almost tied. With the Bridge coming up from behind at the last minute. I decided to rethink a little and we're voting again.  This time there are a boat load to choose from so get a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and settle in. Or a glass of water - that's what my youngest daughter says I drink. Little does she know.

This is hard because there are two that you've seen before, actually three that you've seen and then a bunch of variations on a theme. So I'm mixing them up. Not the same order as before. I'm sorry if this is too complicated, but I did suggest wine for a reason.

1. Green/Girl Running:  Almost no one liked this.

2. Girl on Stairs: This one came in second, but a strong second.

3. Girl in red shoes on staits: Was it marly that suggested this? Sorry if it was someone else - my mind is melting.

3a. Girl in green boots:

3b. Girl in work boots:

4. You've seen this the original bridge:

5. now we come to endless variations on the same theme -

5a: You can't tell, but she has angel wings.



6. Different angel (in case it looks just the same as the others!)









Ok. Is your brain mush yet?  Mine is!  Tell me what you think. If you can think. Which I can't.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Name that Book - Bree MacGowan number Three

Here we go again. It seems like I was just here trying to name Mermaid Girls – now Glimmer Girls. And once again I’m looking for your help. I’m starting the third in my Bree MacGowan mysteries and I need a title.

The first two books have titles that are twists on song titles. Moonlighting in Vermont, song Moonlight in Vermont. California Schemin’, song California Dreaming. The third book is to take place back in Vermont. I think. I suppose it could be set partially in Canada, New Hampshire, or Mass.

So the thing is I need a song with a place in the title. Preferably a State.

Okay here’s the challenge: come up with some songs and tweak the titles so they’re appropriate for the title of a humorous mystery.




Friday, August 13, 2010

I'm over at Motherhoot today

I blogging about being a writing mom over at Motherhoot today.  Stop by and leave a comment. Please? I'm feeling all lonely over here by myself.

Thanks, I knew you'd come through for me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Choose your favorite Book Cover:

In anticipation of my Bree MacGowan Sequel that comes out next march I mocked up three covers to give my editor an idea of what I like. I didn't have a favorite, and neither did she so I'm opening it up for Discussion.

If you're confused about what makes a good cover you could read Jennifer Crusie's criteria for a good cover. That might help you make a decision if you don't know which cover you like best. Basically we're looking for a cover that calls to you across the room, and when you get closer makes you want to pick it up.

By the way - these are covers I mocked up myself last evening. The real ones will be much more professional looking.

So here you go:
Option A: The Bridge Cover

Option B: The Green Cover

Option C: The Running down the Stairs cover

So tell me, what do you think?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Grave Digging: Burying the Dog Fence

First let me say that I realize that most graves are dug by back hoes and not people with shovels. I know this and it’s beside the point. I’m thinking of people who are digging graves for nefarious purposes. Not cemetery employees.

But let me start at the beginning - I have three dogs who I keep from pestering my neighbors by enclosing several acres, close to eight I think, with an electric radio dog fence. The dog fence allows me to have good relationships with my neighbors. Without the fence I would be continually apologizing and paying for the damage my dogs would do. How do I know my dogs would do damage? Because they are dogs. And because they dig holes big enough to lose UPS trucks in at my house. Craters. They dig craters.

I also let one of my neighbor’s run his horses on our pasture. I know. It’s very kind of me. It’s also an easy way to keep the grass from taking over. The horses keep the pastures from looking like my garden. Really. Recently, another neighbor, we’ll call him Good Neighbor, offered a piece of land that adjoins ours to the Horse Neighbor. Horse Neighbor moved his physical fence which exposed my dog fence.

That is why, had you driven past my house early this morning, you would have seen me out in the field burying a new wire. Why do I have to bury the wire? Because now that the Good Neighbor has offered the adjoining field for Horse Neighbor to use there is no horse fence separating the two fields. The horse fence used to protect the dog fence from destruction. Think draft horse feet with lovely metal shoes. A ton of weight (yes, literally) with a sharp metal edge coming down on a tiny wire. The only way for me to keep the fence intact (and thus contain my dogs) is to bury it. Don’t you wish you could have the kind of fun I have?

This is what I discovered while digging the shallow trench to lay the wire in. Digging is not easy. It’s hard on your body, specifically the right elbow and the left leg. And face it I was just digging up the first six inches of dirt. What if I’d been trying to conceal a body? How hard would that have been?

This is what I was thinking about this as I was jumping up and down on my shovel, trying to get the blade to cut through long grass and the roots of some sort of bush. I was thinking that if I was going to ever write a mystery where someone tries to bury a body I’d better to it right. Either said villain had better have a really tough time digging this hole or they’d better borrow a back hoe. Either one would be telling. It’s hard to hide freshly dug dirt.

So what do you think? Given that digging is such hard work how would you go about hiding a body? Or would you be like my villians and just let it lie?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Writing When Times are Tough

I have trouble writing in the summer. I don’t work at my regular job in the summer, so really I should be able to pound out the words. But the ugly truth is I stay up late and don’t get up early so there isn’t any real quiet time. My oldest daughter, bless her heart, wants to spend time with me, so when the other kids go to bed she wants me to sit and watch movies with her. And when she wasn’t here it was my husband and the ball games that broke my concentration. It’s my own fault. I know that if I want serious writing time I have to get out of bed between four and five in the morning. I just don’t discipline myself well.

On top of that it seems my grandma is dying. She’s ninety-eight, so she’s had a good run – but as I’ve said here before I was really expecting to attend her hundredth birthday party. My Grandma is on my mind a lot these days, and that affects my writing too. But the fact remains; if I want to grow up and be a writer I have to actually write.

So today I joined a challenge posed by the fabulous women over on Jungle Red Writers. In brief the challenge goes like this: Everyday, including weekends I have to write one page, double-spaced (I think) before I do anything else on the computer. No email, no, no Jen Crusie, and no Alastair Stephens. In other words, before I get sucked in to my daily social fix, or the promoting (read networking) that all authors have to do these days, I have to write one page. I think that’s two hundred and fifty words. (Unless it’s single-spaced and then it’s five hundred words.) I’ve already written three hundred and fifteen words in this piece.  So it’s not hard to produce a page.

My normal required word count runs between fifteen hundred and five thousand words. But I haven’t been keeping up. I’m using revisions as an excuse, but come on. I need to add content to the current wip and content only comes from writing.

So here’s my plan. In the morning, before I even get out of bed, I will fire up the laptop and write that page. Maybe I will write more than one page, but at a bare minimum one page. (And I’ll look up the official rules, double or single spaced, font size etc.) One page a day. Even in a hectic summer with life happening all around me I can manage that. If I can’t then I’m going to feel pretty pitiful. After all, it’s only a page.

Here is my challenge to you. Try writing a page a day. Even if you’re not a writer. Join the challenge at Jungle Red and write. There are prizes btw, which is probably why I’m doing it! I love prizes. So write a page a day and then come here and tell me about it.

I want to hear from you.