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.

A Last-Minute Gift

ImageI’m delighted to have this post up before midnight on Christmas Day. I hope your holidays have been lovely so far.

But first things first … Baseball bet. Me loser. Mention Adam Sendek. Yada yada yada.

With that out of the way, I’m doubly delighted to show you the cover for my new Susan Hunter book. You will be happy to see I restrained myself – a Sasquatch does not appear on the cover.

ImageI’m triply delighted to tell you I have a holiday gift for you. Head on over to Smashwords, and use the following coupon code at checkout to grab the book for free. The coupon is good for at least 48 hours, so there’s plenty of time to get yours.

Coupon Code:

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And finally, lest you think I was unkind to Adam up above, the post about his Great-Grandmother was originally intended to be the Christmas Day post, but he requested it be shared on the 19th. If you haven’t yet read his tribute to his grandmother, it’s lovely. You can read it here.

See You Later, NaNoWriMo

ImageAhh, National Novel Writing Month, you are here once again.

I signed up for the writing marathon this year, but I’m somewhat second guessing that decision today. I’m not usually one to set myself up for failure.

My first day of NaNo last year was spent chasing squirrels, and I logged a big fat zero for word count. Each day I fell farther behind, and by Thanksgiving, I was ready to throw in the towel. But then it clicked, and the words poured out onto the keyboard. I wrote 22,000 words over the next four days. I finished Windy City Hunter on November 26, and I published the book on December 21. I was proud to grab my first NaNoWriMo badge.

So why not do the same thing this year?

Because Susan Hunter is still in Canada, that’s why. When I last saw Imageher around three a.m. this morning, she was fishing for muskie. It’s going to take a while yet to get her back home.

Maple Leaf Hunter is the one book I promised for 2013, and not only do I want to keep my promise, I want to finish the book. It’s shaping up to be a lot of fun, and there’s a Sasquatch (my brothers will be delighted). With over 20,000 words yet to write, I’m going to go into November with Susan Hunter. When the book is finished, I’ll take a day or two to make an editing pass, and then I’ll set it aside and move on to NaNo.

The book I intend to write for NaNo is Murder is Where the Heart Is, the second book in the Two Sisters and a Journalist series. I only have the bare bones of the story in my mind, but I’m looking forward to the challenge of penning 50,000 words toward it in November. I’m not confident about reaching the goal, but I’m not defeated before I start either.

So, I’ll see you later NaNoWriMo. Probably around November 10.

If you are participating, are you ready?

OH MY GOSH!

Hello, my lovely blogging friends!

It is very hard for me to step out of the blogosphere, but I have been on a self-imposed two-week blog hiatus, because I simply must take care of my work-from-home business and a few other important things. I’ll be taking time this weekend to park myself at your blogs to see what I’ve missed … but I do know that Zen is giving up chocolate. 🙂Image

However, I had to drop everything and pop in today, because I’m squealing, and excited, and if I don’t share this with someone other than my dog, I will burst!

Amazon was fantastic to work with when I asked to have the price of Sunshine Hunter set to free. I wrote directly to KDP and pleaded my case. We had a short series of emails back and forth, and the price was lowered to permanently free this past Monday night – only four days after my initial inquiry.

Sometimes it takes me a little while to figure things out. I looked at my Amazon sales figures yesterday and a few sales for Sunshine Hunter trickled in. I checked this morning, and the numbers were the same. I wondered if I would see any bump due to free downloads. Well, silly me! About an hour ago, I finally realized if I scrolled to the right while looking at my sales report, I would see the free downloads in the very last column. LOL! They are already in the thousands!

The next thought bubble above my head was, “I wonder if this affects my ranking?”

Oh my gosh!! It does! ImageBut I had to look at it a couple of times. Was that my book? #1 under Women Sleuths? Susan isn’t a very good sleuth, but until chick-lit/mystery is a first choice, she ends up where the book sites want her.  And #45 under romance!

Here, I’ll click the link and show you what you’ll see (at least as of noon today):

ImageSquee!! Next to J.D. Robb!!  LOL!!

Thanks for letting me gush. I have no idea what will ever happen with these crazy Susan Hunter books, but today is a day that makes me want to run outside and yell as loud as I can to anyone who will listen, “I’m number one on Amazon!”

It’s All Good News!

The cover for Sunshine Hunter has been updated. Hurray for no more gym clothes! Image

We’ve come a long way from the first cover:

ImageMy niece has done a wonderful job for me. I was delighted with my first Susan Hunter cover, and I’ve been delighted with every cover in between. I think we’re both getting better at what we do. 🙂

My next big news is that I’ve decided to make Sunshine Hunter a FREE book – permanently.  Now that there are five books, with a sixth on the way, I think having the first book in the series for free is a good move. I’m finding that many people who have read the first book have gone on to read more (if not all) of the books in the series.

ImageI’ve already made the cover change and the price change at Smashwords. You can go there and download the book for any eReader (to be sideloaded) – or to read on your PC. When the book is approved for their premium catalog in a few days, it will be distributed with the new cover and pricing to all of their outlets – Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony, Apple, and Diesel Books.

Amazon doesn’t allow me to list the price as free, but they will match the price when the other outlets have updated to free. When the changes have been made everywhere, I hope to do some fun marketing.

I’m looking forward to a good year!

Edited to add: A few minutes before 6:00 p.m. today (15th), the changes to Sunshine Hunter were approved for the premium catalog at Smashwords. Less than 24 hours! That was so fast! It will be going out to major outlets soon.

Happy Anniversary!

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Today is my one year anniversary of becoming a writer. On February 8, 2012, at 11:00 p.m., I used Microsoft Word for the first time in my life and decided to write a story. Susan Hunter and M&M’s showed up.

To this day, I still wonder where all of this came from. I had no burning desire to write a book, and I wasn’t even reading very much at the time. I’m sure I was quite bored – in addition to having the winter blues. I suppose most of it came from Rich giving me a Nook Tablet for Christmas. It opened my eyes to the number of indie works out there, and I simply thought, “I’ll give it a go, too.”

And go I did.

Five books in one year. I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around this. Maple Leaf Hunter is the sixth book, and the story is underway. I think I have a solid first line this time:

The hot, sweaty man lying on top of me was dead.

Pretty good, eh? (Eh? I’m already practicing my Canadian for the book.) Here’s the rough draft of the first paragraph:

The hot, sweaty man lying on top of me was dead. At least I think he was dead. He didn’t appear to be breathing, while I, on the other hand, was gasping for air from his dead weight on my chest.

We’re off to a good start! And no, for all you pervy types, this isn’t something tawdry. Susan is with Samantha at the food court in the mall.

I’m having fun writing again. I keep reading that we should write to entertain ourselves, and I have that down pat. Already events are taking unexpected twists, and I can’t wait to start writing every day to see what’s going to happen next.

I want to do more marketing this year. With six books in the series, I think I’ll be able to find more creative ways to get Susan Hunter out there than I have in the past. Before I go gung-ho though … please control the shocked look on your face when I tell you …  I’m messing with covers again.

I know!!

We’re supposed to leave the covers alone, but I can’t. Not yet. As much I love the cover of ImageSunshine Hunter, I’m taking Susan’s racquet and gym clothes away from her, and putting her in a sundress. She’ll be walking barefoot on the beach with shoes in hand. I think the look will be more cohesive with the other covers, and it won’t impart such a strong sports theme, which is not the main theme of the book in the first place.

The cover for Big Apple Hunter is then going to be polished and given a more realistic, detailed skyline in the background. I’m one hundred percent happy with the remaining covers. Once the covers are completed and distributed to all sales outlets, I’m going to do my best to try some different avenues for marketing. I’ll keep you posted.Image

 

But for now, champagne for everyone!

Comments, Embarrassment, and Free Books

ImageI’ve been blogging for seven months now, and on most days, it no longer freaks me out. I’m more comfortable with people coming to my blog, and I’m more comfortable visiting blogs.

When I was Freshly Pressed in October, I only mentioned it as an afterthought about a week Imagelater. It was a fun post (Stairway to Heaven), but I tried to fly under the radar with it. I love how my friends have celebrated and enjoyed their Freshly Pressed fame, but my heart sank when I received the notification email. I wasn’t ready for that many people to see my blog.

The notice and the link on the Freshly Pressed site came on the same day – the day my new post was titled Blogging Freaks Me Out (Part Three). Being Freshly Pressed was overwhelming and time consuming, but it ended up being a good experience, and I made some pretty great new friends because of it – but I still hyperventilated through the entire thing.

Now that blogging in itself is more comfortable, I have certainly been getting around and leaving comments and unintentional typos all over the place.

Some of my comments are pithy; a couple have been mini-blog posts of their own. I’ve somewhat regretted a few comments I’ve left.

When I find myself being early to a new post, and I have something to say, I don’t want to be the first person to leave a comment for fear of looking too eager, yet when I put a new post up, I hold my breath and worry that it’s a dud until someone pushes the like button and leaves a comment.

When someone replies to my comment on their blog, and then they finish with “thanks for stopping by” or “have a good day,” is that a dismissal? Were they done with me, and I shouldn’t say anything more? It feels like it, but I do this on my own blog all the time! I thank a lot of people for stopping by, but I don’t mean for them to leave. They can stay and chat if they want.

I’ve read a few articles giving advice on commenting. One said you should visit only three blogs per day for commenting. Read more blogs, but only leave comments on three. It has something to do with saturating the blogosphere with your voice. A couple of things come to mind:Image– Hello! Susan Hunter and Maddie Cochere. I’m definitely trying to saturate the blogosphere with a couple of names.
– I’m following 183 blogs at the present time, and if they all post something interesting on the same day, I want to comment on all of them. I hate it when I fall behind like I have lately (because of taxes!).

I’ve been telling myself that I don’t have to comment on everything. I’ve typed out comments, and just before hitting the post button, I tell myself that this person isn’t really interested in what I have to say, and I delete.  

I forget to Imageleave a like at times. I want to push the like button to help with stats, so I try not to forget. But then, it becomes a habit, and when someone posts about an illness in their family, I sometimes accidentally push the like button. Arrgh!

I’ve read where some people delete “simple” comments. One man deletes all one-liners. If all you are going to say is, “I really like your thoughts on this, Johnny,” he’s going to delete your comment. That’s ok; it’s his blog and his rules. Sometimes, I just want to tell someone that even though I have nothing to add, I really like what they wrote. I know that’s what the like button is for, but sometimes I want to say it.

Have you ever followed and commented on someone’s brand new blog only to have them never post again, and you feel like you scared them away?

Have you ever had someone respond to every comment on their post but yours?

Have you ever been lead down the wrong path when someone invited you to a “really fun” pity Imageparty, so you go there and leave a stupid humorous comment about your childhood only to find out it was a serious party, and you are an idiot?

Have you ever read blogs in the middle of the night, when you’re kind of punchy, and some of your comments are just too silly, but you can’t make yourself stop?

Have you ever proofread your comment, deemed it just fine, and then saw the typo wave at you the second you pushed the post reply button? I’ve even quickly closed a browser to stop it, but once that button is pushed, the typo refuses to die.

I like it when there are a lot of comments on a post. My comment will likely be at the bottom of the page, so if I say something goofy, it’s buried down there. Then I hit the post reply button and it sails to the top of the comments.

Your turn! Leave a comment! Tell me some of your fun (or not so fun) experiences when leaving comments.

I feel like giving away more books. I’ll choose five people from the comments section to receive a Susan Hunter book – winner’s choice, and the winners will be chosen next week.

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Editing Your Own Work

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When in the midst of writing a book, I like to go back and read what I’ve already written. I usually do this at the beginning of each writing session. I read the previous chapter or two to set the stage again in my mind, and it allows me to do some early proofreading.

Here are my next steps:

1. Read the book on my computer from chapter one to the end. This is my first full pass, and I’ll usually catch typos and missing words/commas/quotation marks. Sentences are sometimes reworked. Details might be wrong from one part of the book to the next, and I try to fix all of this on the first pass.

2. Wait a day or two and read it again. I still read the book on my computer, but I read out loud this time. I read as if I’m reading for the audio book version. Laugh if you must, but I pay closer attention when I read as if someone is listening. Reading out loud is a good way to find all of the things that sound “clunky” or don’t portray normal speech patterns.

3. Notebook time. I make a list of unnecessary/overused words and the number of times I used them. Here are a few that are troublesome for me in my current project: that (343), just (78), very (101); the list is long. Other words are: fact, quite, truly, try to, shocked, surprised, a lot, really, pretty, put, place, suddenly, took, looked, time, walked, and there are more.

This is the step that takes the longest. I look at every use of each word. Most of the usage is fine in its context, but if I can eliminate or trade out the word, I do. I write with simple words, and if I change a word, it is usually to another simple word. It is during this step that I am most likely to rewrite a sentence.

4. Print a hard copy. When I go back to editing in a few minutes, this is where I am in my current project. The book is printed, and I will now read it as if I had purchased it and am reading for my own enjoyment. Errors, poor sentence structure, and lack of commas seem to jump off the page at this stage.

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Sneak peek of my new cover!

When I reach the end of the book, this is when I’m usually surprised and think, “If someone else had written this, and I had bought it, I would have really liked it.” And I think that’s important! I’ve read that we should write to please ourselves, and our work is more likely then to be pleasing to others.

5. Two more copies are printed – this time for my beta readers. Both copies come back fairly quickly with changes, but there usually aren’t too many. I try to leave the book alone while they read, and then I make their corrections on my master – or do some rewriting based on their suggestions.

6.  Time to print one last copy and read the book backwards one page at a time. This way, I don’t get caught up in the story, and I tend to read individual sentences and paragraphs with an eye for anything we may have missed.

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It’s almost as good as “maroon.”

When I’m satisfied we’ve done the best we could, and the words aren’t macaronic, my book is ready to publish.

Do you do your own editing? Is your process similar? Am I missing any important steps?

macaronic: muddled or mixed up
A challenge from Zen.

Edited to add reader tips from comments below:

From Book Writing Tips: “If it is possible and you can, after your 1st step which is to read the book in your computer from chapter one to the end, why not leave it for a much longer time like 15 days or a month perhaps? In this way, you get a clear head and you get to read the book as if you’re not the one who wrote it.”

From Dianne Gray: “When you read it on your computer can I suggest you change the font. Enlarge it and change it to something you’re not used to looking at – I find I pick up a lot of mistakes this way.”

Pro Writing Aid

Grammarly

SmartEdit

 

Susan Hunter Gangnam Style

All Susan Hunter needs is for someone in one country, like India, to fall in love with her, spread the love around, Imageand before you know it, she will be the next big thing (like PSY’s Gangnam Style), and the entire country will be buying the books and making fabulous Bollywood movies about Susan and Darby and their adventures.

Hey! A girl can dream, can’t she?

In October, Paula Acton tagged me for The Next Big Thing, but I didn’t realize at the time it had an expiration date. You can see Paula’s answers to her next big thing here: Voices Across The Void, A Collection of Ghostly Tales

Recently, Valerie Clarizio wanted to tag me for this, but as I was still writing for NaNo, I declined. You can read about her next big thing here: Cookies for Santa

When Chelsea Brown tagged me last Wednesday for The Next Big Thing, I thought it must be time to answer the questions. You can read about Chelsea’s next big thing here: Jenny Mac and the Man of Secrets

There are ten questions to answer. I’m sorry if I’ve been babbling for so long about this book that you already know the answers, but here we go …

1. What is the working title of your book?

Windy City Hunter

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Susan has been to Florida, New York, Las Vegas, and New Orleans. It was simply time to go to Chicago. My husband helped me with plot ideas in July.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

My books are all noted as mystery, but this is the first book in the series that is a true mystery throughout.

4. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I enjoy mystery books with an element of fun and even silliness. Gemma Halliday comes to mind, Laura Levine, and dare I say, Janet Evanovich.

5. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I have an image of Susan and Darby in my mind, so it’s hard to think of someone playing them. I will leave that to the casting director, but here are a couple of looks (not necessarily the right people) which are close:

Image6. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

Susan and Darby bite off more than they can chew when they go to Chicago for a cooking competition and become embroiled in a murder. (Nicely cliched, eh?)

7. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published – before Christmas I hope!

8. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Twenty-four days. This is my National Novel Writing Month book. I started on November 3 and finished on November 26.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I had the storyline in mind, and it was simply time for the next book in the series. NaNo lit the fire under me to start writing.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

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The book is typical Susan Hunter. She has a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hopefully, readers will laugh with her, and if they don’t cry with her, they will
 certainly feel sorry for her at times. There are pink shoelaces on one man, a gorilla head on another, and a wise-guy investigator involved with both.

All of my books stand alone with individual story content, but the books are chronological with respect to Susan’s relationship:

#1 – Sunshine Hunter
#2 – Big Apple Hunter
#3 – Sin City Hunter
#4 – Big Easy Hunter
#5 – Windy City Hunter – due out this month!

Just in case Susan is not The Next Big Thing, here are a couple of authors whose books just might be. I tag these two fine Michaels to answer the same questions next Wednesday:

Michael (Mike) Akin – author of The Distorted Trail
12/12/2012 – Edited to add a link to Mike’s answers to The Next Big Thing.

Michael Fedison – author of young adult sci-fi/fantasy, The Eye Dancers
12/12/2012 – Edited to add a link to Michael’s answers to The Next Big Thing.

He’s Baaack!

ImageNational Novel Writing Month, you have been conquered. My book is finished, and I’m four days early. Whoo-hoo! I finished at 8:42 p.m., and the final word count is 52,452.

Considering I’m easily distracted, I’m proud of my achievement, and the book is quite entertaining, if I do say so myself. I think this calls for a celebratory interview about the book. My favorite interviewer just happened to be nearby when I stuck my head out the back door and whistled down the street. He’s settled at the kitchen table with me now.

Cranky Interviewer:  I thought I told you not to call me when you finished this book.

Me:  There was no one else available, and I’m excited to get the news out.

C.I.:  Just so we’re clear, I want cash this time. … The title is Windy ImageCity Hunter, right? Was it windy?

Me:  Yes, Windy City Hunter, because the setting is Chicago, and of course it was windy. Chicago in December two weeks before Christmas? It was near-blizzard conditions at times.

C.I.:  Well, let’s cover the important stuff first. How many bags of m&m’s did you go through?

Me:  Two and three quarters.

C.I.  You’re kidding, right? That’s nearly 400 m&m’s!

Me:  They inspire me.

C.I.  How many beginnings, middles, and endings are in this tripe, er, I mean this stunning masterpiece of fiction?

Me:  Why do you always have to be such a wise guy? You know my writing is light, breezy, and easy to read. My books are entertaining and a good escape for a day or two. You should try one. To answer your question, there are three beginnings, three middles, and three endings.

C.I.:  You’re kidding, right? You convoluted this book, too?

Me:  It’s not convoluted. There’s a murder, a mystery, and a sort of mystery/puzzle thing going on. I gave that a beginning, middle, and ending, too. I didn’t want to leave any loose ends.

C.I.:  I hate to ask the next question, but everyone is going to want to know. How many exclamation points?

Me:  You will be happy to know there are only 83 exclamation points in this book.

C.I.:  Jeez Louise, will you never learn? … What’s this I hear about zombies? How could you possibly incorporate zombies into one of your fluffy books?

Me:  They were on television. Susan was greatly affected.

C.I.:  Oh, for crying out loud. You’ve been hyping zombies for weeks, and now you’re telling me they were on television. You’re killing me here! … Does Susan cry very much in this book? Why does she cry so much?

Me:  Of course she cries a lot in this book. She’s sensitive and emotional, but she laughs a lot, too.

C.I.:  How about a quick synopsis?

Me:  Sure. Susan and Darby are in Chicago to compete in a cooking competition. They stay in ImageDarby’s Uncle’s condo, and shortly after they arrive, a tenant is murdered. One of them, Darby or Susan, I’m not telling you which, is eventually suspected of the murder and ends up in jail. So, you see, it doesn’t matter which side of the bars Susan ends up on, she’s upset and crying.

C.I.:  Where’s Mick during this crisis.

Me:  He’s in England. He doesn’t have much of a role in this book.

C.I.:  There are rumors that your blogging has seeped into your writing. Are some of your blogging buddies going to be embarrassed by what you’ve done to them?

Me:  Oh, you bet! There will be acknowledgements in the back to thank one awesome guy for allowing me to seriously abuse him, and I described the photos of another blogger as artworks in a gallery. That was very cool.

C.I.:  You’re going to get sued, you know. … When are you going to publish Windy City Hunter?

Me:  I’m not going to rush it. I want to be careful with the editing, and I have to give my niece time to do the cover, so I’ll probably publish in January. It would have been a neat accomplishment to publish five books in one year, but I’ll settle for having written five in one year.

C.I.:  Yeah, whatever. … Last question. Will there be another Susan Hunter book after this one?

Me:  Of course! I don’t have a working title yet, but I know Susan is going to be writing children’s picture books in the next book. I’ve had a few suggestions so far: Zombie Hunter, Flushing Hunter, and Rat Hunter (thanks, guys!).

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Cranky Interviewer Dude

C.I.:  I’m outta here. Good job on that NaNoRhinoceros thing or whatever it was you just did. I’m not interested in your next book at all. I hate kids. Please don’t call me.

Me:  Ok. Toodles!

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