Friday, June 28, 2013

Poor Paula Deen! Or not...

By Nancy Jill Thames

The news about Paula Deen is everywhere. This cozy home cooking gal has been accused of using the racist inflammatory word I'll not even mention. And she's been cashiered by Walmart, the Food Network, Target and a few more adding to her shame. When I heard the news, all I could think about was that I own two of her cookbooks, and absolutely love what she does to fried chicken by soaking the pieces first in Louisiana Red hot sauce. 
True, no one should cast racial slurs or slurs of any kind in my opinion. From what I gather, hers were cast years ago. I watched a few news clips with her apology, and some older footage of her interactions with African Americans. The Lady was bound to slip sooner or later. After all, she's from the deep south!
Here's what I think: With an empire worth $17 million, I think she'll be okay. Many fans still love and support her, a few have jumped ship, and many don't care. I tend to believe the Food Network may have wanted a reason to get rid of her anyway, in my humble opinion. Let's face it. Paula Deen's favorite color is butter! Until she found out about her diabetes, that is. And what about her son's cooking shows? I can almost hear the axe falling. 
So Paula, thank you for all the wonderful recipes you shared with the world. You have my admiration for climbing your way up as a single-mom with a panic disorder. I'm sorry the world seems like it's turned against you, but I think perhaps, like Martha Stewart, you may just rise again. What do you think?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

See you in my books!
 ~Nancy Jill 
Mystery novelist Nancy Jill Thames began publishing Christian fiction in 2010. The author of six books in the Jillian Bradley series, she is an award winning blogger and is listed numerous times on the Author Watch Bestseller’s List, this in addition to winning first place for her Chocolate Cream Pie.

When she isn’t plotting her next book, she spends time with her six grandchildren, tags along with her husband on business trips, and plays classical piano for her own personal enjoyment. She is an active member of the Leander Writers Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, ACFW CenTex Chapter, and supports the Central Texas SPCA with a portion of her book sales. CONTACT INFORMATION

 Nancy Jill is busy working on Book 7 "The Ruby of Siam" a mystery taking place in London.

Enjoy Book 1 MURDER IN HALF MOON BAY on your ereader for free!
Amazon Paperback $8.09
 Kindle FREE!
Barnes and Nobel Paperback $8.99
Nook FREE!
FREE on Smashwords and Kobo!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

At Last...My Book is Completed!

Finished and Published!
The Great Scarecrow Invasion is now On Sale.
My launch plans are still a bit delayed, not my fault, Really!
Seeing as this is the first time I am trying to do a launch it's just taking some time to get everything into place. Sorry I'm kind of on a learning curve here. Hopefully next week, but I decided to go ahead and get it published because it needed to be done. It was way delayed. Anyway, there are some pesky scarecrows up to no good and a diabolical corn maze involved. Also the Secretary's plans are finally revealed! And it's good. What are they? Sorry, you've got to buy the book to find out.
It's for sale on Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. Kobo is coming soon. Oh by the way, I did crack the code on Kobo after all, and all of my books (except Scarecrow) were approved for the Premium Catalogue on Smashwords!
Anyway, my giveaway is The Mystery of Hurtleberry House, all nicely reformatted. That's right it is now Free! Just as soon as it gets out to all the publishing sites from Smashwords. That's part of my launch, which isn't working as smoothly as I hoped. But does anything ever work out smoothly for me? I think not. However, you can download it for free at Smashwords if you like.
I do have a new tab on my blog called "A Writer's Got To Eat - Cooking For One". All that's there right now is the stew recipe, but I figure I'll post one a month. Next month is a black bean soup I stumbled on when I made a mess of something else. I make up the best recipes that way. Now I know I'm not as good a cook as some on this blog (yes Dionne I am looking at you), but this soup is really, really good. By the way, I bought all of her books in this series. They are very good. Go for the giveaway.
So while I figure out all of the marketing for Scarecrow (any suggestions would be greatly appreciated) I am working on my first novella outside The Reboot Files Series, Chasing Lady Midnight. That's right, I said novella. Which will be for sale. Why the change? Well I figured out how to make it into a Cozy Mystery, so it's not going to be exactly like the free post. There will be a lot more to it.
What's that you say? A Cozy Mystery? With superheroes?
Do I dare?
Oh yes, I dare.
But more on that another day.
See you next week!
Mystery writer C.L. Ragsdale is the author of The Reboot Files a Christian Mystery Series. A California native, she loves to "surf" the web to research plot details for her fun, quirky stories. She has a degree in Theatre Arts which greatly influenced her writing style. Working in various fields as a secretary has allowed her to both master her writing skills and acquire valuable technical knowledge which she uses liberally in her plots. She is an enthusiastic (if not always patient) knitter and is a big fan of the old Scooby Doo cartoons. Current E-Books THE REBOOT FILES: The Mystery of Hurtleberry House, The Island of Living Trees, The Harbinger of Retribution, and The Wrong Ghost.
CL Ragsdale on Facebook!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Flashforward: Historical Mystery Writing in the Future

The Moon! And the Sun! At the same time!
I'm so excited to welcome Terri Main to the blog today. She's a kindred spirit, writing cozy mysteries in space and self publishing. Let me tell you, Terri and I could talk (email, really) for hours--and we have. She's got a great post for us today about setting and how to transport your reader to a new world, while keeping it cozy.

Flashforward: Historical Mystery Writing in the Future

I love it when someone someone says, "I loved your stories, and I don't like science fiction."

There are probably several reasons I get that comment that have nothing to do with my books themselves. First, many people think all science fiction is space opera like Star Wars. Also, recently, science fiction has turned dark dominated by zombies, ecological calamities, alien invasions and tyrannical dystopias.
Book 2, Dark Side of the Moon Series

However, I don't think this assessment of my work is completely due to the state of science fiction today. I think it is also because my Dark Side of the Moon mysteriesare not really science fiction. They are historical cozy mysteries. It's just that the historical era is at the turn of the 22nd Century.

We are all familiar with sleuths from the past. Brother Cadfael's exploits in medieval England and Sherlock Holmes Victorian mysteries come to mind off hand. Writing such stories requires researching and immersing oneself, not only in the facts, but in theculture of those times.

But what happens when the historical period in which you set your story is not in the past, but in the future? That was the issue I faced when writing my stories. The novels are set in a small underground town on the moon in the early 2100s. That may sound like a long way in the future, but some teenagers alive today will likely see that time as will the majority of the children born in the next ten years. I am like my grandmother writing from the 1920's about life today.

This brings with it a host of different issues. On one hand ninety years is a long time. On the other, it's not the far distant future. It is not far enough into the future to imagine technologies based on modification of the laws of physics as we know them today. It is unlikely that matter transportation or faster than light travel will be developed in that time frame. Possible, but not likely.

The world of 2101 will likely be a lot like today and, at the same time, nothing like today. For me to make my reader feel at home in that world, I have to anchor them to the ordinary, slowly changing aspects of daily life, and then bring in the futuristic stuff.

Too many writers of future history create worlds without anything left over from the past except ruins. But is that really the case? I am writing this on a laptop computer in the cloud that didn't even exist 20  years ago. But I'm sitting next to my bed which is close to 100 years old as are my dresser and chest of drawers. I have books on my shelf next to me ranging in age from a couple of years old to 80 or more years old.

Even many of the "new" things I use have changed little, except maybe in design, over the centuries. Tables, chairs, bookcases, cabinets and houses have some cosmetics differences, but are fundamentally the same as they were in 1913.

So, to get our 21st century, non-science-fiction reader settled into the 22nd century, I have to have a setting that is somewhat familiar. The opening scene of Darkside of the Moon has my main character sitting in a spaceport in a plastic chair, sipping jasmine tea and looking at her ticket to the moon. The scene could be any modern airport, it's just that there is a high-tech balloon with a rocket shuttle attached instead of an airliner waiting on the tarmac.

By placing the futuristic right next to the ordinary unchanging nature of transportation terminals, I have connected my contemporary reader with this character found in the future. They now are reminded that no matter how much things change, they remain the same.

Coming Soon from Terri Main!
But many things do change. Contrary to popular belief, good science fiction, like good historical fiction or police procedurals is grounded in reality. Writing about the near future requires one to take current technology and extrapolate to where it might go in the next 100 years. Sometimes, this can lead to the appearance of being prophetic. A novel I wrote in 2007 had tablet computers, book printing machines in bookstores and ereaders. None of these technologies were beyond the dreaming stage at that time. However, the basic groundwork had already been laid for it to be developed. It wasn't prophetic. It was just a good guess based on what I was reading in science magazines.  

Having a balloon lift the shuttle to a high altitude for launch to save fuel has already been done with small payloads. So, extrapolating to assume better, lighter and stronger materials for the envelope is not a stretch.

To write effectively about the future, you need to keep current with the science and technology of the present.

Many of the concepts I used in creating my small town built underground on the moon with parks, gardens, daily light and dark cycles and weather came from a nonfiction book written by Gerald K. O'neill called High Frontier that proposed a huge space habitat be built using the current technologies. He worked out how to grow food including livestock, creating weather, gravity and other such matters. I just updated that a bit.

But research and anchoring your story to timeless experiences is only part of the process. You must also consider culture. How does environment affect individuals and groups? My main character is moving to the moon after her mother dies of complications from a stroke at the "young" age of 80. A drug, synthesized from a substance discovered on the moon, made most cardiovascular diseases a thing of the past. However, her mother, and possibly my main character, is genetically immune to its effects. She lives with the knowledge that she could die 40 years before most of her friends.

On the moon, she discovers that her students, she is a university professor, can never go to Earth. Having been born and raised in 1/6 Gravity their bones could never handle the extra weight. However, they love their uniqueness and wouldn't give up crater skimming for running through a forest.

We all know that setting is the extra character in every book. Whether it is Victorian London, Vegas in the 60s or a Benedictine Monastery in the 12th Century, it affects every story we write. Handled properly, though your reader can feel at home even if that setting is on the  moon 90 years from now. 


You can grab The Dark Side of the Moon, Terri's first Cozy Space Mystery for just 99 cents! Don't miss it!

Monday, June 24, 2013

An Adventure Birthday--by Linda Kozar

This year, on June 21st to be exact, my husband Michael decided to celebrate my birthday in a special way. Probably because I turned (see below):

That's right. I am now, officially--a speed limit. At least for the next 364 days.

Anyway, with our youngest daughter out of the country on a mission trip and our oldest daughter in town briefly before her mission trip, he decided to take us on an Austin adventure..

The adventure began on South Congress where we had lunch at a kitschy organic food restaurant called the Snack Bar reminiscent of the 60s in decor. We ate outside and were glad they kept the misters going. Austin is a bit on the dry side temperature-wise. And of course it was hot. Super hot. But breezy. And hot. We explored some of the fun shops afterwards. The weird circus picture is from a candy shop. The walls were decorated with retro circus posters. Fun stuff. 

We dined that evening at the Shady Grove Restaurant (Barton Springs), arriving at about 6:30, and opting for a table outside. Hatch chili tortillas for me. Hippy sandwiches for Michael and Katie. Yummy dinner! (FYI--The restrooms were in an airstream trailer outside the restaurant).

Then, we dispatched to a food truck. I know that sounds weird, right? We just ate! But this truck was serving up a special dessert. The name on the side of the truck was Bananarchy! They serve frozen bananas dipped in dark chocolate, white chocolate, peanut butter or all three and rolled in nutsor Oreos or whatever you fancy. And if that sounds good to you, let me assure you, it was. I had just enough room in my stomach to share one with my husband. Katie ordered a half banana. But I'll bet I could have had another.

This one was triple-dipped AND rolled in nuts!

From bananas to bats! We drove to South Congress, parked and walked below the bridge, settling in with a gazillion other people to sit and wait on the green grass for the bats to emerge at dusk. The bridge is home to the largest urban colony of bats in North America, an estimated 75,000 to 1.2 million bats!

Going batty!
Sunset's ETA was supposed to be 8:30 pm. Sure enough, the sky, streaked with a familiar orangey pinky glow bore witness to the setting. But bats work on their own timetable. They began to swarm and grow restless underneath the bridge at about 8:50 and soon after, streamed out in solid ribbons of bat. They kept coming and coming and coming. A remarkable sight--all by the light of an almost full moon on the summer solstice!

Was the night over after that? Noooooooo. We hopped in the car and signed on to 20 holes of Peter Pan Mini-Golf. Did I mention that I have absolutely no skills when it comes to mini golf? The only time I ever did well was a miraculous game of mini golf with my sister and her fiance many years ago. Michael and I were dating. I was happy, giddy that night and didn't think about my shots. I just played. And I played a perfect game. I'm talking holes-in-one! Seriously. I've never replicated that glory again. In fact, I play beyond bad. 

The birthday girl lost but we had a lot of fun.

Game over. Night over? 


Next, we drove to Mozart's Cafe for coffee on Lake Austin. A folk singer entertained as soft night breezes rustled through the trees.

And yes, after that, we drove back to the hotel--exhausted. But unlike my husband and daughter, I couldn't sleep. 

Why, oh why did I drink iced coffee at midnight? Guess being 55 has a downside.

The next morning we decided to visit another food truck. Gourdough's is known for it's gourmet donuts. I ordered "The Quickie" and I knew with the first bite of my fresh donut swimming in a hazy glazey sweet sauce, why. Because you eat it FAST! It's that good.

All in all, Gourdough's was the perfect way to end a perfect birth-day!

Friday, June 21, 2013


 By Nancy Jill Thames

This past week I had the privilege of communicating back and forth with a Jillian and Teddy fan. As she waited by her husband's bedside after he'd had surgery, she told me it was such a comfort, sitting on those hard cold chairs, to have her Kindle in hand reading the series. She's shared that she's read the books many times, and each time she hungers for another story. At present, I only plan to write a total of eight since my poor old body may not be able to take much more work on the computer. We'll see.

I was struck by the effect fictitious characters can have on readers. For instance, when I choose a book, I look for inspirational characters, whether I find myself rooting for them to conquer evil or fighting their way toward justice. With Jillian and Teddy, I want readers to find a good supportive friend and a virtual (trouble-free) pet. This fan and others tell me that to them, the characters I've created are real. Regardless of whether or not fans like the characters, one of the main objectives of my writing is to share the life of a Christian. I hope my books inspire you.

See you in my books!
 ~Nancy Jill 
Mystery novelist Nancy Jill Thames began publishing Christian fiction in 2010. The author of six books in the Jillian Bradley series, she is an award winning blogger and is listed numerous times on the Author Watch Bestseller’s List, this in addition to winning first place for her Chocolate Cream Pie.

When she isn’t plotting her next book, she spends time with her six grandchildren, tags along with her husband on business trips, and plays classical piano for her own personal enjoyment. She is an active member of the Leander Writers Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, ACFW CenTex Chapter, and supports the Central Texas SPCA with a portion of her book sales. CONTACT INFORMATION

 Nancy Jill is busy working on Book 7 "The Ruby of Siam" a mystery taking place in London.

Enjoy Book 1 MURDER IN HALF MOON BAY on your ereader for free!
Amazon Paperback $8.09
 Kindle FREE!
Barnes and Nobel Paperback $8.99
Nook FREE!
FREE on Smashwords and Kobo!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Adventures In Formatting!

Hi everyone. As you may, or may not, have noticed I didn't post last week. But I have a good excuse.
I was formatting. What's that? Oh I have a tale to tell my friends.
What I'm doing is reformatting all of my books because I've improved them a bit. You see when I first started publishing I had no idea what I was doing so I kept it simple by posting on Amazon, then added on Barnes and Noble. By the way, thank all of you who took a chance on a new author.
Well now I've decided to branch out so I'm publishing on Smashwords who will distribute to other publishers, but I have to get the formatting just as they need it because they all use different formats and Smashwords has to be able to convert the book into all those different formats. I am doing the publishing myself on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. I'm trying to get Kobo to cooperate, but I'm still set to "publishing" even after the 72 hour maximum. So I may have to rethink that and let Smashwords do it. What do you guys think?
Because here is where the formatting can get tricky.
You see Amazon, who Smashwords does not distribute to, is able to convert the formatting used for Smashwords. So did the Barnes and Noble publishing site called Pubit, but Pubit is in the process of being changed to Nook Press and Nook Press (although it will convert your existing stuff just fine) wants everything converted to the Epub format by their conversion process. I think. However, it apparently is not the same as the Epub format that publisher Kobo uses. Because Kobo...well Kobo has its own way of doing things.
Now to the actual formatting. The easy way to go is Microsoft Word, because they all can convert it. They also like the Normal Style in Word. Remember that one, Normal Stiye is your best friend in formatting. However, the other commands tend to vary.
You see most everyone likes the paragraph breaks, except Kobo who wants a soft paragraph break. Did you know there was a soft paragraph break?   Anyway, most publishers also like the hard page break, except the Epub publishers who need the Style Break. Really, there is something called a Style Break. And never, EVER use the Tab key or space bar to indent. Use the paragraph command to indent the first line. That’s another one they all like.
I didn't even know Word had all of these commands!
Also I bought a new computer and I had to buy Word 2013. Good program, but the instructions for the publishing sites only go to the 2010 version. Now the commands are the same, but Microsoft has put them in a different place in itheir new version. AGAIN.
So to make a long story longer, I didn’t post last week because I had to remove my formatting I had originally set up, and replace it with the format each of the publishers need. Not their fault, I just had to do it several times, which can make you a little cranky, and I didn’t think anyone would need to hear from a cranky poster.
Now I've got my first four books in Smashwords, but although books two and four have been approved for distribution to other sites books one and three are still pending. The only problem with that is book one I'm making free and I need that to go out so I can set up my book launch for book number five (I've never done a book launch before so forgive me if I do wrong). Also it's the only Amazon will post it for free.AND I can't upload book 5 until that happens.
To be fair Smashwords does say it up to 7 to 10 days, but book number 4 got approved overnight. How did that happen?
Maybe I'm just being impatient, but I need that freebie! Although you can get it for free on Smashwords itself.
So if anyone ever decides they want write and publish on the internet, and you love to frustrate yourself, use Microsoft Word in the Normal Style, stick with Times Roman Font at 11 or 12, and keep the formatting as simple as you can because you're going to need to change it depending on which publishers you use.
The good thing about all of this is that I am now sure I know how to do it for the different sites.
Except Kobo, they make me nervous. I thought I had their formatting code cracked, but they don't seem to want to take me live. So maybe I should just let Smashwords distribute to them. If they ever approve my other two books.
You know I really want to get back to writing.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Forgiveness is a Gift

Oops! I'm a little late today, but maybe someone will see this and get a little encouragement from it.

In my newest book “Murder in Marietta” one of the characters uses the verse Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, just as in Christ, God forgave you,” to show God’s desire for us to forgive others.
We all know that forgiveness is not easy. Actually, I think it’s easier for a large booty woman to put on pair of small pantyhose than to forgive someone that has hurt us or a loved one. Not only does God want us to forgive others, he wants us to forgive ourselves. Something we all have a hard time doing. God doesn’t want it to be hard. He gave his life so that we could freely have forgiveness. In Matthew he invites us to give our burdens and past mistakes to him.
Matthew 11:28-30 “… Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
I believe forgiveness is a gift to us. Forgiveness is not for the person who has committed a grievance against us – it is for the person who carries the hurt and pain from that act. When we forgive another we can then begin the healing process. Carrying the hurt around like a sack of potatoes only makes us sick. When we let go of that sack of potatoes (hurt and pain) and give it to God we are the ones who will benefit.
Will it be easy – about as easy as an elephant preforming a ballet – but the end result will be worth it. Maybe next time you need to forgive someone look at forgiveness as a gift from God for the forgiver and you might find it to be a little sugar to help the medicine go down.
Deborah has worked as a freelance writer and photographer, since 2001, for the historical magazine “Georgia Backroads.” She has had many articles and photographs published during this time. Her writing is featured in “Tales of the Rails” edited by Olin Jackson. She has also had a showing of her photographs at Floyd Medical Center Art Gallery as well as winning several awards. Her debut cozy mystery "Death in Dahlonega", a winner in the ACFW Category Five Writer's Contest, is now available.
She is a current member of the Georgia Writers Association, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Deborah has been nomiated for Georgia Author of the Year 2012. She has an established blog, Butterfly Journey, where she reviews Christian Fiction. You can also catch her at Sleuths and Suspects, where she reviews mysteries. She also contributes to the Cozy Mystery Magazine every other Tuesday.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mama's Little Dividend--By Linda Kozar

Recently I decided to work on a sequel to my mystery series, "When The Fat Ladies Sing." The first three books are Misfortune Cookies, A Tisket, A Casket, and Dead As A Doornail. Sales were great for the first six months but have slowed. Why? Because readers want something new to read. If they like an author's style, they want to read something fresh. And if they like the characters, they want to find out what those characters are up to.

So...I'm tethered to my laptop these days, working out a plot. Haven't written much yet. The previous books were more character-driven. For this book, I want the mystery to stand out more than the characters (not that the larger-than-life characters won't stand out). I'm going to see taht Sue Jan and Lovita step it up in this next one.

What's the title, you ask? Of course I have the perfect title, but  I'm keeping that to myself right now. I think you'll like it. And I hope you like the latest addition to the series.

Here are the first three. If you haven't read them yet and want to be ready for the 4th in the series, these books are a perfect summertime read:

Linda Kozar is the co-author of Babes With A Beatitude—Devotions For Smart, Savvy Women of Faith (Hardcover/Ebook, Howard/Simon & Schuster 2009) and author of Misfortune Cookies (Print, Barbour Publishing 2008), Misfortune Cookies, A Tisket, A Casket, and Dead As A Doornail, (“When The Fat Ladies Sing Series,” eBooks, Spyglass Lane Mysteries, 2012). Strands of Fate released October 2012 (Hardcover/Ebook, Creative Woman Mysteries) and her nonfiction title, Moving Tales, Adventures in Relocation, released in 2013 (Indie-Published). She received the ACFW Mentor of the Year Award in 2007, founded and served as president of Writers On The Storm, The Woodlands, Texas ACFW chapter for three years. In 2003, she co-founded, co-directed and later served as Southwest Texas Director of Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband Michael, married 24 years, have two lovely daughters, Katie and Lauren and a Rat Terrier princess named Patches.

Represented by: Wendy Lawton, Books & Such Literary Agency

Member of: CAN (Christian Authors Network), RWA (Romance Writers of American), WHRWA (West Houston Romance Writers of America), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), Writers On The Storm, The Woodlands, Texas Chapter of ACFW, Toastmasters (Area 56) The Woodlands, Texas, The Woodlands Church, The Woodlands, TX.

Linda Kozar is the author of six books. Her latest, titled “Moving Tales, Adventures in Relocation,” is a collection of stories from people who experienced the good, the bad and the ugly when they moved.