Saturday, November 30, 2013
Panel Signing of Midnight Ink authors
Barnes and Noble Booksellers
900 S Colorado Blvd, Glendale, CO 80246
Author appearance schedule:
Maegan Beaumont – 1 to 4 pm.
Shannon Baker – 1 to 4 pm.
Mark Stevens – 1 to 4 pm.
Beth Groundwater – 2:30 to 4:30 pm.
K.C. McRae – 3 to 5:30 pm.
Linda Joffe Hull – 3 to 5:30 pm.
Anything you buy that day--our books and other items--will raise money for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers as long as you mention the fundraiser at the register. Also, anyone who mentions Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers at the register from November 30 to December 6 (all week long) will help the fundraiser. Finally, you can shop online at www.bn.com/bookfair during the week and enter the valid Bookfair Event ID Number in the designated field and this will help RMFW, too. The code is 11231727.
Beth Groundwater has another event today in the morning. She will appear at Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument, CO, with fellow mystery author Michael Madigan as part of IndieBound's nationwide "Indies First Small Business Saturday" event in which over 500 independent bookstores are hosting more than 1000 authors to encourage book readers to support their local bookstores. She will sign copies of her latest release, A Basket of Trouble, the third book in her Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series, as well as her other titles.
Saturday, November 30, 2013, 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Signing during Small Business Saturday with Beth Groundwater and Michael Madigan
Covered Treasures Bookstore
105 Second Street, Monument, CO 80132-1066
Beth Groundwater has yet another event tomorrow:
Sunday, December 1, 2013, Noon – 2 PM
Signing by Beth Groundwater
The French Kiss
226 South Main Street, Breckenridge, CO 80424
Monday, November 25, 2013
by Ray Daniel
I can’t tell you why I chose to watch the Red Sox duck-boat rally from in front of the Forum Restaurant. I think it was the tree, a commemorative sapling that marks the spot where the second Marathon bomb had exploded–a positive memorial of a terrible day. I took the tree's picture and posted it to my Facebook page. Turns out that was a good move.
I had been in Boston during the bombing. My 21-year old son and I had been walking from Fenway Park where we had attended the Patriots Day baseball game (Sox won 3–2). We were meeting his girlfriend at the corner of Newbury street and Fairfield, but realized that we were cut off by the Boston Marathon, which zig-zagged its way up Hereford then down Boylston to the finish line.
“Hey,” I said, “Let’s go around the finish line. I’ve never been to the finish line.”
“No,” he said, “It’s too crowded.”
“Let’s just check it out.”
We did check it out, walking up Hereford to find that the street was too crowded. We changed our plan, deciding to take the T under the Marathon by getting on at Hynes station and off at Arlington. That placed us underground in Arlington Station when the bombs exploded. We never heard a thing.
The rest of the day was an exercise in logistics: figuring out why everyone was crying into their cell phones, logging our safety on Facebook, finding my son’s girlfriend, and skirting the disaster by walking down Back street, past Fenway and out to our car in Brookline.
I had taken two things from that day. A mild aversion to the flashing lights on police cars, and a tendency to choke up whenever somebody mentioned the bombing. The aversion to flashing lights had gone away. I was hoping the duck-boat rally would help with the rest.
The morning passed; the crowd grew. We took pictures of everything. A phalanx of police rode up the parade route on bikes, we cheered and took pictures. Early morning runners jogged down the parade route, we cheered and took pictures. Nothing happened at all, we cheered and took pictures. I turned to take a picture of the Forum restaurant, whose bar had filled with sidewalk revelers, and saw my son and his girlfriend. They had seen my post on Facebook and come to find me. We would get to celebrate together.
The first sign of the rally was a Red Sox front office guy who wore a suit and two World Series rings. We shouted for him to pose and took pictures.
The first duck boat arrived, sporting a beard across its bow and carrying officer Steve Horgan who had famously thrust his arms into the air as Torii Hunter tumbled over the bullpen wall trying to catch David Ortiz’s game-saving grand slam. We took his picture.
More duck-boats rolled past carrying players and their families. They cheered and waved. We took their pictures; they took our pictures, all of us trying to capture the joy of a city that had been shocked by what Peter Gammons called “an attack on a backyard family Easter egg hunt.”
The rolling rally came to a stop. David Ortiz (Big Papi) walk past us towards the front of parade. The huge speaker on the duck boat sprang to life as Ronan Tynan of the Irish Tenors led us in a rendition of God Bless America. I looked across the crowd as I sang, the familiar catch in my throat arriving then subsiding. Down the street, Red Sox players were placing the World Series Trophy on the finish line, draping it with the Red Sox jersey for player named "Boston", number 617 (the Boston area code.)
The ceremony over, Big Papi came striding back down the parade route, the duck boats started moving again. We cheered our team, took more pictures, and celebrated being Bostonians. The last duck boat rolled by, empty except for an unnamed Red Sox employee. We cheered “That Guy” and took his picture.
Afterwards my son and his girlfriend took off for Faneuil Hall to meet friends. I got some coffee, considered climbing back on the T and heading out of town, but tossed the idea aside. The sun was shining, the duck-boats were rolling, and Boston was healing. Who would want to leave that?
I'd killed my cellphone battery with picture-taking, so I pocketed it and walked down Boylston towards the Boston Common, weaving through a city populace decked out in its colors. I stopped at the entrance to the Public Garden where George Washington sat astride his horse, wearing a Red Sox jersey and a big red beard. A lighthearted crowd gathered around the Father of our Nation and took his picture.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
My sixth mystery novel, the third in my Claire Hanover gift basket designer series, was released by Midnight Ink on November 8th. Already, A Basket of Trouble has gathered a brimming basket of good reviews, including all four of the big four review publications! Here are some pull quotes:
"Groundwater combines a satisfying mystery with aspects of riding life and a look at the illegal immigration issue. A good choice for fans of small-town amateur sleuths."
-- Booklist, Oct 1, 2013
"Groundwater’s well-crafted cozy comes complete with numerous red herrings and a picturesque setting."
-- Publisher's Weekly, Sep 30, 2013
"Groundwater’s third series entry (after To Hell in a Handbasket) is an action-packed cozy that successfully weaves in her small business and disability awareness."
-- Library Journal, November 1, 2013
"This book had everything I want in a cozy mystery. It featured multidimensional characters, a twisting plot, and a location I want to visit."
-- Mystery Books Examiner, July 15, 2013
"The latest starring Claire (To Hell in a Handbasket, 2012, etc.) packs in more action than a typical cozy."
-- Kirkus Reviews, August 11, 2013
"Horse lovers and mystery fans will enjoy A Basket of Trouble."
-- Clare O'Beara, Fresh Fiction, October 9, 2013
"Well, I thought with all the clues that I would have guessed this one. Nope, not quite. I loved the twists and the thoughts that were shared."
-- A Date With a Book, 4 star rating, November 8, 2013
I've also been hitting the blogosphere to promote the book. You can read interviews with me at:
Hey, There's a Dead Guy in the Living Room
Lisa K's Book Reviews
The Big Thrill webzine published by International Thriller Writers
And my amateur sleuth protagonist, Claire Hanover, talks about a stressful day in her life at Dru's Book Musings blog. Lastly, on Saturday, November 23rd, at noon Mountain Standard Time, I will appear live on Suspense Radio. Please listen in, and feel free to call in with a question!
I have scheduled a half dozen personal appearances, so far, in Colorado, so if you live in the state, check out the Appearances page on my website to see when/where I will be appearing near you.
Phew! Is a lot of work involved in a book release? You betcha!
Friday, November 15, 2013
Except the being dead part—so far.
Dying to Know, and its sequels Dying for the Past and the pending Dying to Tell, are the cases of Oliver “Tuck” Tucker, a dead-detective hunting murderers in the rural Virginia city of Winchester. All the Dying novels have a historical subplot intertwined with the present day. Like all my novels, Dying to Know is based around places I’ve lived and worked, real-life plots I’ve been intimately involved with, and people I’ve known. At least in part. Oh, I’ve glued it all together around some Frankenstein-like characters who are an amalgamation of different people I’ve known, but, in the end, much of the components of Dying to Know come from my memory, not my imagination.
Let me explain.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Monday, November 11, 2013
Writing an entire book is like running a marathon (not that I ever have or will run one) or finding out you're about to have a baby, where you start off fast and happy, hit a wall of fear, curse the gods for ever giving you the thought of pursuing this madness, but keep going until the end with renewed vigor, or as I like to think of it, "I made it this bloody far, I will not let anything stop me. I'll show them! Ha ha ha!" So you continue on toiling through the backaches, the sleepless nights trying to figure out what happens next, even through the bloating (though that could just be me) until you get to write those two wonderful words, "The End," and make yourself a large, stiff drink. You’ve earned it. And you’re gonna need it because your baby is finally here...and now comes the hard part.
After the first draft comes the first and second edits, each where you stare at every word trying to figure out if it’s the best choice, second guessing yourself a million times along the way, before you give it to your beta testers, who take their sweet time reading and editing. Then you take their suggestions, edit again, send it to your wonderful agent for her to edit, make the corrections she suggests, edit again, and finally it's ready to shop around. And if the publishing gods deign her worthy, the publisher will have you edit it at least twice more. So "The End" is simply the beginning of a grueling process, almost like raising a child, where you will curse your characters for ever entering your imagination or life in the first place at least once or twice. But you love her regardless, and you solider on to do your best to help her grow.
My baby has gone through so many changes I barely recognize her. She has gone through so many changes since I conceived her seven(!) years ago, I barely recognize her. The beginning chapter I started with is completely gone, characters names have changed, and I don't know how many paragraphs have been shortened or expanded. She (like all cars manuscripts are female) has grown from a seed in my mind to an infant as I did the first draft. All her parts were there, her personality, but she needed shaping to become a productive member of book society.
So through the years I did my best to trim her fat, improve her vocabulary, scream at her when she wouldn't listen to me, and make her the best she could be. (Those teenage years...shudder. I almost gave up on her when I was trying to sell her, but we soldiered through). Now, it's as if she is about to graduate college. She's standing on her own two feet, but still needs her Mommy for a few last bits of advice. That's what I'm doing now with the final edit. Never again will I be able to change words, add to characters, plug in narrative holes, etc. She will forever be out in the world as is for other people to judge, enjoy, or just plain hate. She is her own entity now. I just hope my baby will become President instead of a bum. Regardless, I have to let go. I've done all I can to get her to stand on her two feet, and I am proud of her...though I never want to see her again.
Now…onto her siblings.
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 10:00 – 12:00 AM
Visit with Mystery Book Club, public welcome
Briargate Community Library
9475 Briar Village Point, Suite 100, Colorado Springs, CO 80920
Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 3:00 – 6:00 PM
Barnes and Noble Booksellers
795 Citadel Drive East, Colorado Springs, CO 80909
Friday, November 8, 2013
Meet the world’s worst creative writing teacher. Me.
“Science Bob” Pflugfelder. So what words of wisdom do I have for anyone who’d like to follow in my footsteps?
Come on. Guess.
That’s right. “I’ve got bupkis. But good luck!”
I do think I had an advantage when I started working with Science Bob, though. Well, maybe two advantages. The first was that I was collaborating on a book for kids with a guy called “Science Bob.” How could you go wrong?
The second advantage was that I’d already failed. Twice.
I’d been interested in giving middle-grade books a try for a while, so a couple years ago I started writing one. I had an O.K. premise (though in hindsight it wasn’t particularly fresh) and, hey, I like to think I can put words together (just don’t ask me how). Yet when I started showing folks the first 50 pages, the response was overwhelmingly underwhelming. To sum up the consensus: Meh. Fortunately, all I’d written were those first 50 pages, so it was relatively painless to cut and run.
I started over with a new idea -- one that I now realize was also a bit stale. But that wasn’t even the problem. Projects based on stale ideas are huge successes all the time. Just look at...nah. I’m not going there. James Cameron might read this blog, and what if he’s thinking of making Nick and Tesla: The IMAX 3-D CGI Adventure in Sensurround and Smell-O-Vision?
Anyway, when I started sending around the first 50 pages of Attempted Kids’ Book #2, the crickets I’d heard before went right back to chirping. It was another non-reaction reaction. More shrugs, more “It just doesn’t do it for me.”
So I gave up for a while. Then along came Nick and Tesla, and guess what? Somehow, it just felt right from day one. And when people started reading it, instead of crickets I heard, “I love it!” Why?
I’ve still got bupkis. In terms of theories, anyway. But I do have something tangible: a kids’ book that folks seem to like quite a bit. I have no idea why it turned out so well.
Good thing I didn’t let that stop me, or it wouldn’t exist.
Steve Hockensmith’s novels include the Edgar finalist Holmes on the Range and the New York Times bestseller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls. Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab, the first in a series of collaborations with "Science Bob" Pflugfelder, was recently picked by Amazon as the best middle-grade book of the month.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Then, I start making (fictional) trouble.
Heritage of Darkness is set in Decorah, Iowa. The plot sees Chloe, her mother, and boyfriend/cop Roelke McKenna visiting Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum for folk art classes in December. The week gets off to a bad start when Chloe peeks inside an artifact trunk and finds a woman who was attacked and left for dead.
|This is the trunk, which is on display in the Norwegian House exhibit at Vesterheim.|
Another key scene takes place in one of the buildings preserved in the museum's Open-Air Division. A volunteer who leads tours there had much the same reaction.
|The Valdres House (in red) provided just what I needed.|
Since all the books in the Chloe Ellefson series deal with the past, I work hard to learn as much as I can about not only the events that drive the actual plot, but the history of the museum or historic site being featured. I have a filter in my brain that automatically picks up on anything that I might be able to put to use in a mystery.
When I began writing the series, several writer-friends advised that I use fictional historic sites. I did consider that, but in the end couldn't do it. My plots are inspired by real events, and I love having the opportunity to share museums I admire with readers.
Many readers seem to love that too. Some have the fun of reading a mystery set in a place they know well. Others are intrigued by what they read, and follow up by visiting the site.
So far, everyone involved with the host museum for each book has embraced the Chloe mysteries with enthusiasm. The books are set thirty years in the past, which provides some distance. Also, since I only write about places that I truly love, I think that in the end, that honest affection shines through more brightly than the passing details of a murder mystery plot.
Last week I had the pleasure of officially launching Heritage of Darkness at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum.
|Here I am with Steve Johnson, Vesterheim's Director.|
It's exactly what I hoped would happen when I began conceptualizing a mystery series featuring an historic sites curator.
I'm grateful for all the museum staff and local readers who have forgiven me for wreaking fictional havoc at the sites featured so far in the Chloe series. I hope to keep writing Chloe Ellefson mysteries, and building partnerships like this, for a long time.
|Display at the Vesterheim Museum Store.|
To learn more, please visit http://www.kathleenernst.com/chloe_ellefson.php
Monday, November 4, 2013
When I started on my path from non-fiction to mystery writing, I took some classes designed to make me think like a fiction writer. I needed some tools to exercise my making-it-up muscles. Writing prompts were a big part of that. Pictures. A line of prose. A headline from a newspaper or magazine. Any of these can be used to spark the creative process. To "prompt'' a writer to ask the question What If? Ask the question enough times -- What if this happened? Then, what if this happened next? -- ultimately even the least cunning writer will have the bare bones of a story.
I know it works, because my entire Mace Bauer Mystery series was begun with one prompt. Paging through the Miami Herald, I saw a full color ad for seniors' health insurance. It showed an older woman driving a turquoise convertible, her mouth open in a life-loving laugh. What if that woman was a Southern belle known as ''Mama?'' What if she found a body in the trunk of that convertible? Then, what if the police thought she was the killer?
The answers to those questions led me to write my first short story, which became my first book: Mama Does Time, published by Midnight Ink in 2008. Here's a picture of what became the cover:
The other day, a post by a friend on Facebook reminded me of how much fun I used to have with prompts. Romance writer Kathleen Pickering snapped a photo of a pair of gold sandals, deserted in the middle of an empty street. She asked her writer pals -- and others -- to start a story based on the golden shoes. She got more than 30 responses. Mine was one of them. Here's Kathy's photo, if you'd like to take a crack:
Back when I decided to leave journalism to try to write mysteries, my confidence was definitely misplaced. It would be easy, I though. After all, I'd been a professional writer for more than 20 years. I'd loved mysteries ever since I was a girl. How hard could it be?
Pretty hard, it turned out. For 20 years, editors of newspapers and magazines had made it abundantly clear that I was to stick to the facts. Making things up, rewriting events, was a firing offense. And now, all of a sudden, I'm SUPPOSED to make things up? That required a major attitude shift. Prompts gave me the permission to do that. To tell a story, instead of to report what happened. What freedom!
Have you used prompts in the past? Do you still use them?
Saturday, November 2, 2013
A Basket of Trouble by Beth Groundwater
"Groundwater’s third series entry (after To Hell in a Handbasket) is an action-packed cozy that successfully weaves in her small business and disability awareness." —Library Journal
"Groundwater combines a satisfying mystery with aspects of riding life and a look at the illegal immigration issue. A good choice for fans of small-town amateur sleuths." —Booklist
"Groundwater’s well-crafted cozy comes complete with numerous red herrings and a picturesque setting." —Publisher's Weekly
"The latest starring Claire (To Hell in a Handbasket, 2012, etc.) packs in more action than a typical cozy." —Kirkus Reviews
Best Defense by Randy Rawls
"[Best Defense] is a satisfying, lighthearted adventure." —Publishers Weekly