Psst… It’s Almost New Year’s Eve

And I have a story about a guy who’s working late instead of partying. But there are funny noises all around. And his girlfriend isn’t answering his messages. Find out what happens next in Kings River Life my favourite California online magazine.   Read  my latest story here.

khttp://kingsriverlife.com/12/28/the-ghost-of-new-years-eve-a-mystery-short-story/

So Long Starving Artist − Part 1

The Hot Sheet

Digital Media Strategist Jane Friedman

Writers love what they do. But when it comes to making a living, how can they get paid?

Digital marketing expert Jane Friedman addressed this head-on in a fascinating talk Nov. 12 with the Toronto Romance Writers.

Friedman used examples from history and her own career to tackle the ‘starving artist’ myth from a refreshingly informed perspective. She quoted Alan Watts saying ‘A myth helps us make sense of the world.’ Writers need a new ‘myth’ to govern their careers.

For too long creatives have been sandbagged with the expectation that  musicians, writers, painters and other creatives should be grateful they have talent and willing to display it for free. Friedman prefers her own myth. Art and Business can live together. The trick is using the tools available and analyzing all the factors that help people to find and want your work.

Traditional publishers may be losing market share but there is opportunity for self-publishers and small publishers. Since major publishers as well as other creative talents all use the web, what should small publishers or self-publishers do to stand out?

Distribution versus Discoverability

Friedman notes that big information companies Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook, are dukeing it out for dominance. The biggies have a lot of reach. Authors must harness the information these four have on each of us in order to be ‘discoverable.’ Distribution has been solved. Everyone has access to the internet. Now the important thing is discoverability.

Savvy small publishers or self-publishers can learn how to control what she calls ‘distribution amplification’ in order to be discoverable.

1. Use your web site to its fullest capacity  

For example, when someone googles you they should get your web site first not someone with a similar name. They should see a one hundred word description that you craft about you. Your site platform can allow you to craft that description for your main page making it easier to get your message across. You can also have separate pages for each book release and use different hundred word descriptions for each of them. These can increase your reach and help drive readers to your site.

2. Re-purpose content for multiple channels 

To be visible, authors should be present on different social media sites, email, blog sites etc. How to do that and not go crazy? Re-use your content, versions of the same material can be on a tweet, a Facebook post and audio podcast, a webinar, a blog tour. Bonus: You reach different audiences while reinforcing your own messaging.
NEXT:  So Long Starving Artist – Part 2. Why authors should talk about money.

Escape from the Beach – excerpt from Villainous Vacations

Just realized my story excerpt from Escape from the Beach did not make it into the previous post on Villainous Vacations!!  Here is the rest of the post.

As the story begins my main character Bree is kicking back on a beautiful ocean beach. One minute she is happily sun bathing and the next she is running for her life as helicopter gunships strafe the sand…

Dangerous Destinations

Vacation Story Collection

“…All day long I slipped down the water slide. Slathered in sunscreen, eyes squinting against the tropical light, I was carried by jets of recirculating sea water to the hot sand below. Dazed and content, I flew down the slide in a line of other children. One after another, we fell into the sand then scrambled barefoot to the stairs going up, up and up again, at least three stories of red-painted aluminum steps to the platform. Waiting my turn near the top, I saw little boats sailing the salty waters of the Eastern Mediterranean, and sunlight glancing like stars off the waves. Then I looked down at our rented umbrella, one of dozens in view. I could see my baby sister Aylah sleeping in her carrier and my Mom lying on her side, one hand on the baby’s arm, one eye on her beach read and one eye on me. She waved her book at me. I waved back, then looked beyond her to the sea.

This part of the Mediterranean is often “black flag” − unsafe for swimmers. Today is a blue day, a safe day, but very few people were swimming past the marker buoys. Usually one of them would be my dad. Dad says the water is too rough for most of the Middle Easterners. He says it is because they are desert people. Almost all the younger kids are in bathing suits and many of their parents are, too. Here and there are groups of adults where the women wear dresses to their ankles. There are also some men in long sleeved shirts and long black pants. Three of them are at the shore. One of them is drinking cola. Another has a magazine under his arm. My parents thought me safer on the slide than in Herzikiah Beach’s forceful seas and undertow. And that was true until the loudspeakers boomed, helicopters flew in formation overhead and the slide gate slammed shut behind me. The teenage guard flopped to the platform. “Get down,” he shouted in Hebrew. He waved his arm down and I dropped to the floor. The two of us lay eye to eye as helicopters pounded overhead so close I could see the guns sticking out the open doors and a pilot waved to me as he flew by.

Loudspeakers boomed from lamp-posts, scratchy and tinny with excited voices. Without raising my head I risked a sideways look. The strip of beach I could see below me was emptying. Police materialized out of nowhere. Anxious parents stuffed their feet into sandals, threw on shirts and cover-ups. The officers grabbed parents and kids, pushing them toward the parking lots. Parents shrieked for their children and everyone was running − kids with sand pails, babies caught up in their parents’ arms, older kids in packs.

In seconds, the crowd had seized blankets, picnic baskets, beach chairs and small children and raced for their cars. Fascinated and frightened at the same time, I followed the helicopters thundering back and forth overhead, until the boy opposite squirmed closer and shouted again, “It’s no problem!” I nodded because it was one of the few phrases of Hebrew that I knew.

Taking in my thick blond hair, and the long white T shirt I wore over my bathing suit, the guard grinned and repeated it in English. “It’s no problem. They’re chasing terrorists!”…

Want to read more? Come see us Sunday, September 25, 2016 at Word on the Street http://thewordonthestreet.ca/toronto/  There will be books and goodies available.

If you can’t get there in time, you can find Villainous Vacations at http://sleuthofbakerstreet.ca/ 

OR buy it on: 

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1OTHgcB

KOBO: http://bit.ly/1X3qujK

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/25skeH0

iTunes: https://itun.es/us/FTiKcb.l

See You at Word on the Street!

So excited. For the second year in a row, torontosistersincrime.ca will be at Word on The Street one of Toronto’s signature literary events thewordonthestreet.ca, http://thewordonthestreet.ca/toronto/

There will be hundreds of author readings, discussions and activities for all ages. Our Sisters in Crime chapter will feature local authors including Karen Blake-Hall and me, Linda Cahill as well as Sylvia Warsh, A.B. Funkhauser, Lisa de Nikolits, J.A. Menzies, Sharon A. Crawford and Rosemary McCracken.

Join us at Booth WB11 at the Harbourfront Centre, Queen’s Quay West (right on the streetcar line!).

From 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 25th, we will have authors signing their books, both of The Toronto  Sisters in Crime antholgies for sale including  The Whole She-Bang, and The Whole She-Bang 2. There will also be some surprise goodies and a Super Special to all who visit our booth!!

 The Writer’s Bloc   Booth WB 11, Queen’s Quay West Harbourfront Centre.
11:00 AM Linda Cahill & Karen Blake-Hall
12:00 PM Sylvia Warsh
1:00 PM A. B. Funkhauser
2:00 PM Lisa de Nikolits
3:00 PM J. A. Menzies
4:00 PM Sharon A. Crawford
5:00 PM Rosemary McCracken

It’s free, it’s outdoors and this is the Word on The street’s 26th year. Bring the kids. There is a Children’s Literature Tent and CBC will present the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award 2016 Shortlist from 1:20 – 2:20 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Procedurals, Cozies, Who do You Love?

5th Birthday

Celebrating Light Mysteries

 

At the national award for light mysteries, the Bony Blithe Awards, a few weeks ago mystery authors considered the differences between traditional or light mystery fare and police procedurals. The Bony Blithe Award is five years old this year so there were congratulations all round including cake and applause for winner Victoria Abbott for The Marsh Madness, Berkley Prime Crime. Two panels discussed the evolving mystery genre.

The first panel involved four authors (Alexis Koetting, Janet Bolin, Eva Gates/Vicki Delany, and Victoria Abbott/Mary Jane Maffini speculating on how they would re-imagine a cozy into a police procedural. Outgoing Crime Writers of Canada president Vicky Delany author of the Lighthouse Library series noted one change would be a change of style. In a cozy there is only one point of view character, in a police procedural the tone would change, there would be more point of view characters hiding a secret and a more explosive ending. For Mary-Jane Maffini, the mother half of the Victoria Abbott mother-daughter writing team, television also has an impact on the approach to writing. In Britain, lots of television series, including Midsomer Murders are based on dark books that have been “cozified” for television, she said. What was interesting to consider was that Agatha Christie was not cozy in her time.

The second panel featured Cathy Ace, Elizabeth J. Duncan, Vicki Delany, and Catherine Astolfo on what aspects of a mystery make it dark. Also, is it easier to write a light or comic mystery than a mystery that explores the darker or more serious side of life? The panelists agreed that both sides of the genre have their conventions. The split between more ‘hard-boiled’ mysteries and lighter fare seems to have accelerated in the past few years.

The Bony Blithe Mini-con organized by Elaine Freedman, 2016 Bony Blithe Chair, and fellow mini-con organizers Caro Soles and Jane Burfield was a great opportunity to consider and celebrate the whole light mystery genre.  Panelists agreed: Readers like the light mystery, they develop affinities for the series characters and they want to follow them in book after book. And that’s gratifying for any author.

 

 

Vacations with a Twist

Villainous Vacations is that rare beach read, one that makes you laugh and shiver almost at the same time.  From lonely werewolves finding love to high school hellions wreaking havoc on each other, plus a fillip of time travel, there is something for everyone in this riveting collection.

I’m super proud to be part of this very shady summer collection with such talented authors. Join us  for our book launch, at Sleuth of Baker Street,  907 Millwood Rd. ,  Toronto’s premiere mystery and suspense store,  Sunday, June 12 between 2 and 4 p.m.

We hope to see you all on Sunday, June 12  but if you can’t wait for a taste of  Villainous Vacations it is  available for pre-order right now at:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1OTHgcB

KOBO: http://bit.ly/1X3qujK

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/25skeH0

iTunes: https://itun.es/us/FTiKcb.l

V VcoverEbookMED

Police Procedurals 3 – Investigative Techniques

RCMP Sgt. Patrice Poitevin likes some television police shows − Law and Order Special Victims Unit − for example. But he especially like to help writers get things straight.
It is important to describe the right procedures in order to create believable stories, he says, and it is the intersection between science and “the human factor” that gives writers the opportunity to build suspense. “The Science factor is accurate, the problem is with the human factor, pressure from bosses or the public to find the culprit.”
And by the way nothing moves as fast as it does on television. “To get tax records you need a warrant, a production order etc. You can’t get it automatically. Warrants that took one page years ago now take fifty pages.”
If an officer happens on a crime in commission, the suspect can be secured and the police can get a warrant to search the place. “You can seize what is in plain sight” but not search drawers etc. without a warrant.
Police chases make good TV but are not that common, he said at the AD Astra Conference in Toronto in April. Strict rules govern the police’s treatment of suspects. Suspects have a right to a lawyer and must be treated fairly. Violating a person’s rights can result in evidence being thrown out at trial as fruit of the poisoned tree. During interrogations, interviewers try first to build rapport with their suspect. All interrogations are videotaped.

From Cop Stories to Holiday Mayhem

V VcoverEbookMEDHoliday Mayhem? Make that Villainous Vacations the new anthology I am proud to be in. Publisher Karen Dryden (2012’s Nefarious North) is back with a 2016 collection sure to please everyone. From horror to horses, shape-shifting to high school madness,  romantic frissons and thrilling suspense, these tale will delight and intrigue.  For this fun collection I abandoned my Police Procedural hat for a nail-biting tale about a girl on beach. Psst.  Book Launch Sunday, June 12 at 2 p. m. at Sleuth of Baker Street, Toronto. Everyone welcome.

sleuthofbakerstreet.ca/

Tomorrow  I will be back with my third article on police procedurals.

 

 

 

 

Police Procedurals 2, Weapons, Cop Talk

Police Procedurals −2 Weapons,  Cop Talk and Five Inch Heels

From the Police Procedural panel at Ad Astra Sci-Fi and Fantasy Conference in Toronto last week, here are more of RCMP Sgt. Pat Poitevin’s tips.

Weapons

  • Make sure you choose the right ones. Ask the force you are dealing with. The RCMP uses Smith and Wesson, another force might have Glocks. Find out.

Cop Talk

  • A good way to build reality into your characters is to have your cops make jokes. Sgt. Poitevin says cops have a wicked, twisted sense of humour. They use colourful language to blow off steam from the distressing scenes they have witnessed. They make jokes to handle stress. One way to make your story real is to have your characters get in some sarcastic humour.

Clothing

  • Investigators dress in appropriate business attire. They are professionals.And no, female investigators do not wear five inch heels to run after a suspect. Men will be in suits, women in suits or other business-casual clothes.

 

Editing the Kitchen 2

The kitchen is tidy. Dishwasher and new cupboards are in, 1930s sink is out. Now, what about the novel? Amazed and dismayed to see it is over a year since I touched it. Thirteen months, 25 days and 15 hours to be precise. Fellow procrastinators look no further. This has to be the worst case. Almost done, I thought, 13 months, 25 days and 15 hours ago. But family situations interrupted…

That’s my excuse. What’s your excuse for:
– tanking the novel,

Kitchen renovation

Winter white kitchen works in summer too


– ‘forgetting’ to go to the gym,

– or to change your diet, your hair, your home

– or to mend fences with family and friends

– or look for a better job?

13 months, 25 days, 15 hours and thirty minutes. I’m done with excuses. What about you?