Friday, October 14, 2016

While You're Busy Making Other Plans...

So anyway, about a week and a half ago (October 5th, if you want to be precise) I was in my usual high energy (some call it panic) mode. So much to do, so little time. As things stood I was in the middle of edits for both Murder Between the Pages and Fair Chance and I had a 3-day gig that following weekend. If that sounds kind of stressful, you have fully grasped the situation. But I'm kind of used to stressful--that's part of the job description of self-employed writer--and I was reassuring myself that so long as I stuck to the program and nothing else came up, I'd be okay. I could deliver everything to everyone on time. And then do it all again next month--only also serve a fancy Thanksgiving dinner for twelve.

And then that selfish, inconsiderate bastard of my SO had to go and have a stroke.

I say that with well, love, yes, but also exasperation, which doesn't negate the fact that the past week and a half were probably the most terrifying in my life. His too, no doubt, but there's something especially terrifying about being left the grown-up in charge of the other grown-up.

Anyway, not to dramatize. He's fine. Complete recovery. Which is actually a problem in itself, but I won't go into that here. I am also fine, but running slightly late. Not so much on the immediate projects because they were far enough along that the sudden explosion of plans and schemes and strategies did not actually set me back too much. But certain projects have been pushed back about two weeks.

Which is kind of disappointing for all concerned, but here's are the lessons of the last week and a half. Things Change. And You Will Adjust.

Generally in that order.

The funny thing about these two lessons is the older you get, the more likely the Things Change part is to happen to you. And the tougher it is on you. :-)  But the You Will Adjust remains just as true now as it was back then when things couldn't possibly change fast enough.  

Personally I find that kind of comforting. And that's really all I have to say this morning. Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Author! Author! DAL MACLEAN

If you're a lover of mysteries and have not read the absolutely brilliant Bitter Legacy by Dal MacLean, you're missing out on a delicious and deadly morsel of Male/Male mystery-romance.

Here's the blurb:

Detective Sergeant James Henderson of London’s Metropolitan Police Murder Investigation Team is no ordinary police officer. His remarkable gut instincts and relentless detective work have put him on a three-year fast track to becoming an inspector.
When the murder of barrister Maria Curzon-Whyte lands in his lap, he finds himself drawn back into the insidious world of London’s privileged elite―where men like James’s father possess wealth and power enough to hold the law in contempt. As James navigates the promiscuous, secretive and corrupt spheres of the rich, the murderer strikes again.
Soon James begins to fear that these crimes lead dangerously close to his own heart and home. And now, he risks losing everything he’s made of his life unless he can expose the sordid truths that have bred this bitter legacy.

Dal and I go way back. We first met whilst singing waulking songs and fulling (or cleaning) the wool for the Harris tweed jackets we were making to sell in--okay, no. Actually we met over our mutual darenotspeakitsname love for a certain 1970s gritty UK crime show. We corresponded a bit (mile long letters that I still have archived somewhere in my mailbox) and then sort of lost track of each other for a couple of years. When she popped up again--bored and lonely and desperately in need of a pen pal while living in an exotic foreign clime she seriously needs to write a book about--I was delighted. And I remain delighted because there's nothing lovelier than rediscovering long lost friends.

Anyway, allow me to present the wicked lovely Ms. MacLean.

JL - So remind me where we first met. Live Journal, wasn't it? What were you doing there? Is it true you were in the Witness Protection program? 

DM - I think I wrote you a gushing appreciation of Adrien and Jake demanding you get rid of the Professor immediately. (Which you did and I take full credit) Yes, I was in the witness protection program (with you) and our bodies were being guarded closely by Bodie and Doyle.

JL - LOL. I suspect it was probably the other way around. I recall being quite in awe of you (and still am). In fact, I should link this blog to LiveJournal because I know there are some long lost fans of yours who would love to know what you're up to. Anyway, next question! Last piece of music you listened to? Did you sing along? 

DM - A Lyke Wake Dirge by Andrew Bird and Matt Berniger. Its a medieval dirge. Yes I sang along. It was very jolly.

JL - It sounds ever so jolly! Next question. Why mystery? What attracted you to the mystery genre.

 DM - Mystery’s my go-to genre to read for fun, and I’ve found writing it is fun too, in a deeply masochistic kind of way.  Its a real challenge, trying to lay enough clues, but not too many, when you’re well aware your readers are smart as hell.  Teaming it with romance makes it even trickier too, doesn’t it? What are we thinking?

JL - We are genetically programmed to embrace lost causes. ;-)  Do you know how to fence? Would you like to learn? What's your favorite sport?

DM - No, I don’t know how to fence (have you been drinking? Please may I have some?). Actually, I’d love to learn to fence.  Its so melodramatic — the mask, all that lunging. My favourite sport to watch is football (soccer), but to do, cycling. 

JL  - What was it like working with editor Nicole Kimberling of Blind Eye Books? I've heard she's fantastic to work with.

DM - No! She’s a monster. Stay away! Nah, actually she’s the way I'd hoped and imagined a professional editor would be - involved, experienced, super clever.  She has great ideas but she’s also very ready to listen and accept alternatives. And she’s kind, which is a much underrated virtue.  Other than that though, she has brilliant chat, which is the highest possible compliment in Scotland (= great fun to talk to). (She made me say all this by the way).

JL - Speaking of Nikki, who is your all time favorite villain? (I'M KIDDING, NIKKI!!! YOU KNOW I ADORES YOU.)

DM - Tom in Tom and Jerry. Yes, he was the villain, but he had Reasons and Pathos and you couldn’t help rooting for him to win just once, even though he was trying to ruthlessly slaughter a small animal. He was the perfect bad guy really. He may be doing the wrong thing, but he leaves you feeling conflicted. I never got over the one where he was guillotined. Do you think I possibly took T & J too seriously?

JL - I...think I must have blocked T getting guillotined. Or maybe we weren't allowed to see that on US TV! Sooo what do you love most about writing? What do you like least?

DM - I love when it flows, when you can’t get the words out fast enough. I love when an idea is fighting to be written. I hate when no idea is fighting to be written.

JL - I usually ask my interviewees if they've ever broken a bone, but you contracted Dengue fever last year and that's SO MUCH MORE interesting. Did you break any bones while recovering from Dengue fever? Are you going to use your experiences with exotic illness in a story? 

DM - This is where I tell you my fevered hallucinations drove me to dive off the roof and break every bone in my body. Unfortunately though, I’d be lying. It’s like very bad flu. Very, very, very bad flu, just passed along by particular types of mosquito which adds the exotica. Basically I was too weak make it to the roof. I could write a story detailing very high temperatures and long bed rest. Do you think there's an audience?

JL - *Nervously clears throat*  You KNOW there is. Which brings me to...Doyle or Bodie? Support your answer by showing us your arithmetic.

DM - Bodie and Doyle. B+D=X (that's algebra but who’s counting?)

JL - I admire the diplomatic dodging there. So what do you think is the most important thing to remember when creating fully realized main characters?

DM - I think giving characters actual human flaws and sticking with that. Plus trying to give them internal consistency — basically making sure anything they do follows from who they are. Actually Adrien and Jake are absolutely brilliant examples of that.

JL - Whisht, lassie! Is it true your native tongue is Gaelic? What's your favorite Gaelic proverb?

DM - Where I grew up, Gaelic was spoken everyday but I wouldn’t call it my native tongue - English is my first language. It was my grandparent’s native tongue I’d say. I do have a  working knowledge of it though.

My favourite Gaelic proverb.  Hmmm.  Well a lot of them go big on humility. My Granny’s favourite when given a compliment was “Glòir mhilis a heallas an t-amadan” which means “Sweet words beguile a fool.” All right then. 

JL - Oh! Timely perhaps, given all those sweet (and very much deserved) words right now with the release of Bitter Legacy. ;-) But that was yesterday. What are you working on now?

DM - A murder mystery set in London, involving models. Sort of. If I sound shady it’s because I’m still making it up. As you do.

JL - Hey!!! No spilling professional secrets. :-D Is there any genre you'd like to tackle but you're kinda sorta afraid? 

DM - Historical. I would love to try (history was what I studied) but the minutiae of the research terrifies me. You really need to get the details right for it to work, but I'm so anal I could spend years making sure the forks are correct. Other than that, Fantasy.  

JL - Speaking of fantasies: All time favorite dessert?

DM - Oh, brutal question. I love them all. I have such a sweet tooth, I’d live on dessert given the chance. Ummmm Creme Catalana’s nice, with berries.

JL - Tell us something surprising. Anything. Go on. Surprise us! 

DM - I was once offered a job as a dominatrix. At least I think that’s what she was offering me.

JL - Hahahahahaha. Dear Dal, you've just won Most Interesting Job Ever Offered to a Person Interviewed on This Blog Award. I was I had a suitable prize for you.

To find out more about Dal, you can visit her website or pop over and friend her on Facebook.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Meet the Artists!

Thank you again to everyone who participated in the latest cover art contest -- whether taking the time to vote or actually making the creative effort to submit something.

I love cover art and I secretly wish I could do my own covers, but I did not get that gift, which means I'm  genuinely impressed by those talented people who can take a cool photo and a confusing array of fonts and make something beautiful. Something so visually striking that it actually conveys a sense of what a story might be--can even tempt someone who's never read your work to buy a copy.

The submissions this year were so imaginative and so original, that I wanted to give each of the artists a little extra attention. I'll leave it up the the artists if they'd like to share a link or info about themselves or their work in the comment section below, but I wanted to show the versatility of each artist before we get into who "won" which contest.

Sorry for the weird layout. Blogger was having a hard time with this many photos.

Dovie Cross

Johanna Ollila

Karan K. 

Mabel Chiltern

Teekah Doyle 

Kora J

Catherine Dair 

Honestly, there were so many wonderful covers to choose from, it's a pity I can't use multiple covers for a single book.

Below we have the winners of each cover. 

Cover Contest Winner: BITE CLUB

I thought submissions  #1 and #4 did the best job of capturing the feel and look of the previous cover in the series, but honestly I loved every single one of these, so it was easy to just go with the reader favorite which turned out to be #4 by Kora J. (by a landslide).

Congratulations to Kora J!!

(I love the way he's clutching his collar, like he fears he's about to be bitten! :-) )

Kora, be sure to send me your Paypal address and the Shutterstock # so we can get the final version of this baby done. :-)

Cover Contest Winner: FOOLS RUSH IN

Wow. These. Were. Great. Every one of them was wonderful. I love how Chiltern went totally off the reservation and played with that noir vibe (you got the SO's vote, Ms. Chiltern), but I also loved how Karan perfectly captured the feel of Snowball in Hell and yet made her version completely unique.

Of course the People's Choice Favorite here was Johanna Ollila with #2, and I can't argue that.  #2 is gorgeous.  So...

Cover Contest Winner: GREEN GLASS BEADS

Personally, I thought every single one of these was magical. And holy moly the variety and imagination!

Honestly, I knew as these came in that I would be content to accept the will of the people, and so I am delighted to announce that #2 by Karan Kapszukiewicz is our winner! (Can I just say that face totally looks like Archer to me.)

Karan, let me know your Paypal address and the Shutterstock #s and away we shall go. :-)

Cover Contest Winner: THE MONET MURDERS

This was a tougher one because I wasn't quite sure what I wanted -- so there was the challenge of trying to match the existing cover of The Mermaid Murders OR take on the challenge of trying to redesign both books in the series.

So Dovie Cross and Mabel Chiltern both get extra credit for tackling the redesign of the series -- and I think they both did a really great job.

What ended up happening though -- and this is possibly on me for not figuring out ahead of time what I was asking for -- is the two-unit covers were competing against the single unit covers -- so I don't know if that was quite fair or not?

I do know that the single covers were all very clever and very well done. I love how the art elements were used in each entry.

This one was really close between the pairing of #2 and #4, with #4's Johanna Ollila edging to that win (and no argument here -- the combo of chiseled abs and a Monet T-shirt is going to sell books IMHO).