The Eternal Optimist

That’s me. The eternal optimist.

I wake up on the right side of bed every day. I aim to be cheerful as much as possible every day. I always believe that today will be better than the day before.

I’m an onward and upward type of person. Pick yourself up by the bootstraps and move on type of person.

In the past year, I’ve had some heartache like I’ve never experienced before – in several sectors of my life. But I refuse to dwell on heartache and pain. When I moved into my apartment, I found myself pacing quite often from room to room to room (it’s a pretty open layout). It’s one of the reasons I made myself go out – to dinner, to a movie, to the mall – anyplace to be with people.

It took a couple of hit-or-miss places before I popped into our local pub. I was thrilled the employees – bartenders and kitchen staff alike – made me feel welcome right away. I’ve made numerous friends there – guys to play cards with, women to go out with, a gal thirty-six years younger than me that likes to hang out and ride bikes with me.

With the pub being part of the local hotel, it’s been a perfect spot to meet people from all over the country. I’m collecting stories to incorporate into some of my future writing. “Captain Daddy Butch” bugs me all the time to put him in one of my books.

It’s slow going, but I know I’m healing. Having friends and good people around me certainly help with that.

I still have the feeling I’m on the verge of something big. I still believe I have a bright future. It’s the eternal optimist in me.

Want to know what prompted this post about optimism?

I realized I’ve been entirely too optimistic about saying when I would finish a book or when it would be published. I said my new Two Sisters and a Journalist book would be published last March. Ha! Here we are in September, and it’s just now been released.

Am I embarrassed I do this all the time? Maybe a little, but I’m usually excited and optimistic when I post information about writing and publishing. The first book in my new cozy series is finished (Delicious Death). I’m going to publish this book in October. Do you think that will happen? I’m optimistic it will, but I won’t be upset if I’m overly optimistic and it doesn’t happen until November.

Optimism. I think being the eternal optimist has served me well. I think I’ll just keep being me.

Murder Runs Amok – book number NINE in the Two Sisters and a Journalist series – has been published at Amazon and Smashwords. Look for it to be available today at all outlets – Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc.

Book Sale

I’m popping in with some news today.

The Summer/Winter Sale at Smashwords starts today and runs until the end of the month. The first three books in both of my series are free. The remaining books are half price. There are loads of good books on sale, so take a little time to peruse the site for some great summer reading.

At long last, Murder Runs Amok is finished! This book WILL be published this month! I’ve never taken so long to write a book, but now that the logjam has been broken, I feel like I’m on fire. The editing is going well, I’m making notes and a rudimentary outline for the next book in the series, and I know how I want to finish the book that’s been dragging in my new series. Everything feels right in my writing world – much like it used to.

The book has to be a success; there is a dog on the cover!

In other news …

I’m still riding my bike as much as possible. I rode almost 14 miles a couple days ago – a record for me.

Rich and I have been out on the motorcycle on the hottest days we’ve had so far. I still love riding with the sun on my face and the wind in my hair.

For the first time in thirty years, I’ve started wearing shorts. Yep. My legs haven’t seen sun for thirty years! They were shockingly white but are finally getting some color. I suppose that’s too much information, but I’m so happy to have lost enough weight to be comfortable in a pair of shorts. Now, a swimming suit? That’s a whole ‘nother animal. My stomach will have to wonder about the sun for a few more pounds yet. 😊

I’ll leave you with this. Rich has been sitting on the deck feeding blue jays and squirrels. The blue jays are now standing on the rail and making loads of noise, trying to get him to come out of the house and give them peanuts. The squirrels are bolder. They come up and knock on the door.

What’s new with you? Are you on fire, too? Has your summer started off with a bang? Do you have critters knocking on your door?

A Publishing Update

Phew! It’s been a while since I’ve been here. I had hoped to get back to blogging on a regular basis, but that thing called LIFE got in the way (Rich sick for over a year, nearly died, made a full recovery … all is well).

I’ve been writing again, and I’ve recently published two of the three books I’ve been working on for over a year.

The first is number eight in the Two Sisters and a Journalist series – Murder Breaks the Bank. I’m still enjoying writing the antics of Jo and her family, and I don’t have plans to end the series.

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Two weeks before Thanksgiving, a man hires the investigative firm of Two Sisters and a Journalist to protect him. Jo Wheeler accompanies him to the bank with disastrous results. Jo, Pepper, and Jackie must now scramble to find out who murdered their client before Sergeant Rorski sends the wrong man to prison.

A rash of car vandalism and a Brussels sprouts caper also keep the three women on their toes, and it doesn’t help Jo’s mounting headache that Mama is preparing a comedy routine for open mic night at a favorite pub.

The second book, Stanley Pearl, is a standalone novel written from a male point of view. Before you ask how I could write from this perspective, let me assure you that Stanley was easily cobbled together from my three brothers, my husband, my son, and four male dogs that used to inhabit our home … but mostly my brother who is some type of corporate auditor and fits Stanley quite well. I enjoyed writing this book and have billed it as “romance, suspense and a splash of humor.”

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Stanley Pearl’s life has been turned upside down. His wife ran off with another man, leaving Stanley to raise his teenage son alone. He takes the summer off from his accounting position to stay home with his son and write the novel he always dreamed of writing.

When a wealthy client demands Stanley help her nephew with his less than legal accounting, he has no choice but to say yes. Before he can deliver the finished work, his client is abducted, and Stanley soon discovers he has something the captors want.

A waitress at the coffee shop where he has been writing offers to help Stanley by introducing him to her ex-CIA brother. There’s no denying the chemistry between Teresa and Stanley, but can he stay alive long enough to explore the possibility of a relationship?

The third book, Delicious Death, is in progress. It’s the first in a new cozy mystery series set in fictitious Appleseed, Ohio. I’d love to publish this book in July, but I suspect August is more realistic.

On a personal level, I’m still playing that silly Don’t Starve video game, but I corralled Rich into playing it with me, so we’re playing the Don’t Starve Together version – daily. It helped to distract him when he was sick, and we have fun together, so there you go. I can’t leave it alone, and Rich has become an enabler.

The motorcycle has been cleaned and prepped, and Rich took it out for a spin yesterday. I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to ride this year when I recently had a knee go on the fritz, but it has settled down nicely, and I think we’ll be meeting friends for ice cream at the horse manure stand soon.

Hope everyone who pops in here is well. Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there!

Bathroom Humor and a Free Book

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My mother is a good sport. I’ve used and abused her in my books but always with a loving heart and with her knowledge and support.

My mother and father were the inspiration behind Susan Hunter’s mother and father. When physically describing Susan’s father, and her close relationship with him, I may as well have been talking about my own late father. Susan’s mother doesn’t resemble my mother in appearance, but many of her characteristics and her love of laughter do. Mom loved reading my Susan Hunter books, and I know she enjoyed knowing so much of her personality went into Susan’s mother.

My mother is now eighty-five years old. A few years back, she proclaimed she didn’t care what people thought any longer. She said she’s lived long enough to say and do what she wants. That made it easy to base Mama in my “Two Sisters and a Journalist” series on my own mother in her later years.

I grew up with three brothers who thought they were comedians. I can’t tell you how many whoopee cushions, fart machines, farts recorded on cassettes, belching contests, and just about any other manner of PG-13-rated potty humor went on in our house. I won’t say which brother, but one of them had so much gas one summer, he kept a notebook and logged each one as it passed.

My mother laughed at those boys until she cried. We all did.

If you don’t know by now, my “Two Sisters and a Journalist” books have bathroom humor in them. With the popularity of Melissa McCarthy and over-the-top humor in movies, I decided to go this route with the series. Where Susan Hunter wouldn’t pass gas in front of herself, Jo Ravens and her family are less couth. There are a few incidences of minor swear words (four in my new book), but they are used as humor rather than as angry swearing.

In Murder Under Construction, Jo laments the fact that her mother passes gas while shopping and then walks away, allowing Jo to come around the corner and walk into the gas cloud. Anyone coming near Jo would assume she was the offender. True story. I told my mother if she didn’t quit doing that to me, I wasn’t taking her shopping any more.

My sister called one day to tell me she picked Mom up to take her to the grocery store, and as Mom walked across the back porch, every step produced a puff of smoke. Upon further inspection, she realized Mom had put foot powder in her sandals. She was laughing so hard, she could barely tell me about it. In Murder Welcomes You to Buxley, Mama has an incident with baby powder in her shoes at the bowling alley.

One of my nieces read Murder Under Construction and asked her mother, “Has Grandma read this? Does she know she’s in here?” The false teeth incident gave it away for her.

My mother has threatened my siblings on occasion. She’ll tell them not to tell me about something she did, because it will end up in one of my books. She’s right, but she always laughs when it does. I know she secretly loves it.

Just last week, I published book number six in the “Two Sisters and a Journalist” series: Murder – A Chummy Affair. Mama is her usual inappropriate and silly self, but her bowling crony Lucille, who was mentioned in a previous book, has a bigger role this time, and she has chronic flatulence.

My mother loved the book and thought Lucille was hilarious. Of course she did! My mother’s middle name is Lucille.

I’m in the mood to give books away today. If you would like a copy of Murder – A Chummy Affair, let me know in the comments section below, and I’ll send a book to you from Amazon. If you need a copy for a different format, I’ll send a code for a free book at Smashwords, and you can choose the file that’s right for your eReader. Just make sure you let me know which venue – Amazon or Smashwords. If you prefer to write and ask me personally, my email is on my About page.

Finally, I was going through old pictures for a family member last week, and I came across pictures of my mother and father. I forgot how attractive my dad was when he was young. He could have been in the movie Grease!

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There’s no such thing as a free lunch …

But there is a free book!

I was thrilled to receive a notice from Amazon over the weekend that they have agreed to set Murder Under Construction to permanently free. They made the price change today.

Knowing I was ready to set this first-in-series book to free, I pondered the simple cover I had originally devised. With two more books in the series now, the first cover was too plain, and the title wasn’t in the same style as the others. I asked my cover artist to make some changes. With my bare bones idea, and her creative enhancements, I’m thrilled with the new cover.

Murder_Under_Construction_blog_4-2015I’ve mentioned before that my cover artist is my niece. She’s a graduate of Columbus College of Art & Design. It’s wonderful having an art major in the family, and I love working with her.

I’m busy with an editing project, and I continue to move forward with writing my new book. I may only write a few paragraphs each day, but I am writing!

If you haven’t yet grabbed a copy of Murder Under Construction, a humorous mystery, you can find it free at all major online eBook retailers. Links are conveniently grouped at my website: Breezy Books

I now have two books that are permanently free. Tell your friends!

photo_substitute_4-2015Update 03/24/2015 – 8:30 p.m.Murder Under Construction has broken into the top 100 free books in the Kindle Store at #97. It’s also #5 in Cozy Mysteries and #6 in Women Sleuths. I’m excited!!

Good Things Come in Threes

With little fanfare, I released my three new books into the wild yesterday. Within hours, they were in the premium catalog at Smashwords and available at Apple iBooks. Amazon was quick to review and make available the Two Sisters and a Journalist books, but Buckeye Hunter has been stuck in review for over twenty-seven hours now. Hopefully, they will release the book soon.

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Amateur private investigator, Jo Ravens, is the only common link in the murder of three people and the abduction of a cab driver. While police are busy building a case against her, Jo races to prove her innocence. Her sister Pepper and journalist friend Jackie are on hand to assist in catching the real killer. The antics of her ex-husband and eccentric Mama add to this humorous mystery.

 
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Jo Ravens is busy trying to locate a stolen car, find a missing teen, and catch a philandering husband in the act. She already has more work than she can handle when she finds a murdered girl leaning against a dumpster. Jo also meets Susan Hunter when Susan comes to town to assist in the opening of a Slimmers Weight Loss center.

 

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Susan travels to Southeast Ohio to assist in the grand opening of a Slimmers Weight Loss center. There she meets Jo, Pepper, and Jackie – local sleuths from Two Sisters and a Journalist . When a murder is committed on Susan’s doorstep, Jo is the one to find the body. Susan can’t believe the trouble swirling around her even though she is only two hours from home. She makes a life-changing decision in this final book of the Susan Hunter series.

 

That’s all for today. In my efforts to continue chronicling my writing efforts via my blog, I wanted to post the new releases.

I’m going to eat some chocolate now.

Free Advice

FreeAdviceNot free advice for you. Free advice for me!

We’ve had some fun in the past trying to figure out a book cover or title. Let’s do it again.

In my Two Sisters and a Journalist series, all of the titles begin with the word Murder. The book I’m currently writing will have a lottery theme running throughout as Mama goes overboard buying scratch-off tickets. A murder will be connected to the lottery as well. There won’t be any jackpot drawings; everything revolves around scratch-off tickets. I prefer to keep the word Lottery out of the title.

So far, I’ve come up with these titles:

Murder Is A Numbers Game (However, I don’t really want another title that begins with “Murder Is.”)
Murder Unlucky
Murder Wins the Game
Murder Scratches the Game
Murder by Chance
Murder by Scratch

I’m leaning toward Murder Wins the Game or Murder Scratches the Game. Scratch is a term also used to cancel, eliminate, dismiss, etc., so I think it works physically and figuratively … but I’m not 100% sold on it. Which do you prefer? Or did you think of something else?

As for the cover … There are no people on the covers in this series. The backgrounds are less vibrant colors. I’m leaning toward a dusky green on this one simply because of the money/greed aspect of the story. (You can see all the covers for the series in the right sidebar of my home page.)

I’ve ruled out lottery balls with numbers. Mama has a lucky scratcher with a four-leaf clover in it, so I tried several four-leaf clovers on the lottery_ticket_bloodcover with a lottery ticket that has blood dripping from the top. Even with the blood, it’s cheesy enough to impart a “lighter mystery” feel, which is what I want. We all know I love cheesy!

However, I think I like the idea of a vault in the morgue, with the body pulled out feet first, and a lottery ticket hanging as the toe tag.

It’s hard to know what works until you see it. If you have any ideas, please share!

My standard disclaimer is to ask that you not be offended if I don’t use your idea(s), and please don’t expect anything other than a free book if I do use your idea(s).

Thanks for brainstorming with me!

P.S. – For all the friendly wisenheimers out there, whom I’ve come to know and love, Hunter will not be part of the title. Nor will any body parts. Thank you very much.

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Avoiding the Circus -and- A Breakthrough

ImageDo you have a mundane daily routine? Does every day seem like the previous one? Do things never change?

That’s certainly not my life, but I sometimes pine for that level of “normal” – if only for a week or two. How in the world do you ever write with consistency when you have no routine?

When there were four dogs, a son, and a husband in the house with me, it was a three-ring circus every day. With three of the dogs and the son now gone (I kept one beagle and the husband), we are still having at least two-ring circuses.

Where is the time to write?

Yesterday was “the day.” I was determined to get down to it, and nothing was going to get in my way of writing.

Then my sister called. She needed a ride to the hospital for a CT scan. No problem. ImageThe trip to the hospital turned into two trips to the hospital, an Arby’s lunch run for a Reuben sandwich for me, one trip to her surgeon’s office, and then a third trip back to the hospital where she was admitted for emergency surgery. I arrived home late in the evening. She had her surgery today, and she came through it just fine. She’ll soon be as good as new. Yay for great surgeons!

But something happened while I was waiting for her at the doctor’s office. I thought he would see her right away, so I opted to wait in the truck and listen to the radio. Earlier in the day, in an effort to keep her distracted and make her laugh, I told her I was going to write my next series of books about a couple of weight-challenged sisters who solve crimes in their community. We laughed, but the idea intrigued me, and I thought about it again while I waited for her.

I found a little notebook in my purse. I started jotting down ideas for characters. Names, ages, married or not, kids, jobs, community, etc., and a first line that will never stand: I swear that body was hard as a rock when my butt bounced off it.

I began scribbling as fast as I could. I managed just under 1300 words before my sister Imagecame out. At home, I hurried to type the words before I would forget and could no longer read what I had scribbled.  The last line on this page is: “Sorry, Sergeant. She’s got a knife in her.”

This was huge for me! I’ve been afraid to complete the Susan Hunter series for fear there wouldn’t be anything else. I kept thinking Susan was a fluke, a flash in the pan, a one-hit wonder. Ha! No longer! Make way for a couple of fun sisters.

I’m not going to finish this first chapter just yet. I’m going to get back to Maple Leaf Hunter and enjoy writing the story. I’m going to keep an open mind that Susan just might show up again in the future – somewhere deep in a new series where she meets a couple of sisters via a Slimmers Weight Loss center.

Oh my gosh! Writing is crazy fun, and I continue to be amazed at how ideas pop up, rush in, and come together. Now, if I could just get my daily routine under control to make it all happen.

ImageEdited to add: Chinese was for dinner again tonight. I opened my fortune cookie a few minutes ago, and this one popped out!!  🙂

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Six Sentence Sunday

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After taking a break for several weeks, I’m ready to start writing again. If I’m diligent, I might be able to have my fifth book published just after Thanksgiving. It has a Christmas theme, and I would love to have it out for Christmas.

I’ve rewritten the first two paragraphs five or six times already, but this is what I have now. My books are first person POV, but I’m going to start my new book a bit differently. Here are the first six sentences of Windy City Hunter:

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Detective Bentley’s blood pressure was on the rise as he sat down hard on the cold steel bench in the police station. Chicago was the last place he wanted to be two weeks before Christmas. He had no clout here, and his demands for answers had only served to further aggravate the officers on duty. Six hours had passed, and he still didn’t know where Susan and Darby were being held. Worse, he didn’t know which one of them was being charged with murder.

He rubbed his temples in an effort to alleviate the throbbing.

————

Pick any six sentences from your writing, whether a work-in-progress or a published work, and post them to your blog on Sunday.

Anyone can join in. To participate and/or check out some other great sets of six, check out the site: http://www.sixsunday.com/

Twitter – #sixsunday