Friday, December 13, 2013

I Hold Charles Dickens Completely Responsible

Since I was a child, 
I would watch countless adaptations of A Christmas Carol on TV and
in the movies. I've seen variations of the character of Scrooge played by the likes of Alec Guinness, Susan Lucci, Jim Carrey, Vanessa Williams, and Scrooge McDuck. I even read the novel way back, when I was into a Reading the Classics Phase, which is a great phase to be in, frankly. We learn from the masters.
In 25-words or less, A Christmas Carol is a story of a mean, hard-hearted person who hates Christmas and all it stands for i.e. love, charity, and warm fuzzy slippers. On that fateful Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge could have just as easily uttered, "Cripes! It was an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. Someone pass me a Tums." Let's face it, if antacids had been around then, it might have been a different story. 
But being a genius writer, Dickens has Scrooge find his inner self, thanks to an unending supply of colorful and inventive ghosts who are out to show he doesn't have to be the rat-fink he thinks himself to be. It is touch and go for awhile, but kindness and mercy win out. Love of fellowman scores a touchdown. And we, the readers, cheer from the sidelines. Yes, you can be a B&BP (bigger and better person) if only you try.
Taking this story to heart since I was around five-years old, I was convinced it was possible to help change a person's character. Yes, enlighten them as to the good in everyone, help them to see the gentler part of humankind, that which sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, and you've got something. Although, according to Lila Hamilton Alvarez, the matriarch of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to accessorize. I should have listened to her.
So, at the ripe old age of 49 and holding, holding, holding, held and strangled, I have come to realize change is not going to happen for some people. They are incapable of change, they don't see the need, or sadly, some people believe they don't deserve happiness, so changing for the better is not an option. For them, a troubled, loveless life is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Psych 101, folks.
 But because of Charles Dickens, I saw the hope. I saw the possibility. 
Consequently, I spent decades trying to win one or two people over, loving them just a little bit more than the day before, and to hopefully, make them love me. 
Forget it. You can't make anybody do anything. What's the old saying? You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. Or was it, you can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think?
But Dickensian lovers, despair not. I am not slamming a man who knew minutely about humanity's strengths and weaknesses. There is a deeper truth in A Christmas Carol, one I failed to see the first few hundred times of viewing or reading. 
The beauty of the character of Ebenezer Scrooge is not that he changed, but that he wanted to change. He wanted to be a B&BP. It was and is the miracle of inner perspective. And Christmas, after all, is the time of miracles. 


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you. And God bless us, everyone.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Welcoming Penny Estelle and The Unwanted Christmas Guest

I remember Penny Estelle's work with great joy. She writes wonderfully upbeat, charming stories. It is a pleasure to welcome her back to This and That. 

Penny, please tell us a little about your newest release, a short story, which is just in time for Christmas!

I can’t tell you how excited I am that my very first ever Christmas story is being released today.  The Unwanted Christmas Guest is a story about Elizabeth McMurphy, an up and coming high powered attorney, who is after vengeance.  Her sights are set on one of the richest and most powerful families in Colorado. Steve York is an obnoxious reporter that thinks the ice queen has gone too far and does all he can to get under her skin.
When one of the worst blizzards in history, hits Colorado and leaves a hurt Steve York, stranded with Elizabeth in a mountain cabin, she must decide to either take care of him, or throw him out to fend for himself.

Excerpt
“What’s going on here? Where the hell are my pants?”
      Elizabeth practically jumped out of her skin. Steve stood in the bedroom doorway, wearing only some tight fitting pink sweats.
“I found you after your car went nose to nose with a tree.” She crossed her arms. “The question is, what were you doing up here in a snowstorm? Were you coming up here to spy on me?”
      “Jesus, my head hurts.” Steve groaned and sat at the kitchen table. “And don’t flatter yourself.” He brought up his hands to rub his eyes and push on his temples. He started to say something when a giggle and a round of undistinguishable sounds caught his attention. Steve stared at the little girl, a whisper of a smile on his pale face. “You have a daughter?”
      She chose to ignore the question. “Again, Mr. York, you were headed…where?”
      “I was going to see some friends in Granby, then on to Steamboat to spend the holidays with my family.”
      “You figured on taking a short cut on Badger Springs Road?”
      “Basically,” he muttered. “I had a phone in my pants pocket…” Steve looked down at the pink sweats. “Yours, I presume?” At her nod, he asked with a smirk, “And you’re the one that took my clothes off?”
      “Junior, my neighbor.”
      “If you’ll allow me to use your phone, I’ll call Triple A and get myself and my car out of your life.” He reached over to Katy and she latched onto his finger, the brightest smile ever illuminating her sweet face.
Elizabeth quickly picked her up, as if he would contaminate her by his touch.  “Phones are out.”
      “Internet?”
      “Nope.”
      “How the hell do you live here?” he asked irritably.

* * *



Please find The Unwanted Christmas Guest and my other stories with MuseItUp publishing @

Feel free to stop by and check out my other stories and/or leave me a message.  I love visitors!







Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It Pays To Push

I've never met one fellow writer who enjoyed the marketing process as much as writing. Maybe they're out there, but I haven't met them. Most of us do it on one level or another. Some are pretty good at it. Some fight the process at every turn, saying they are a writer, not a sales person; they don't have the knack, time, money or contacts.
Fortunately/unfortunately, marketing it is a major part of being an author, because it attracts readers. And what are we without our readers?
And don't expect your publisher to do it for you. They have their own headaches. Unless you are a very major player in the publishing industry, it's going to be up to you.
So the sad/happy truth is, the more you blog, twitter, Facebook, email, do book readings, book signings, beat down the doors of independent bookstores, donate copies of your book to libraries, give-aways, drawings, etc. the more your books will sell.
And sometimes you gotta spend money to make money. Painful stuff, but true. I just did that, and I would like to share the experience with my fellow writers...and anybody else to cares to read on.
Bookbub is an email service that, among other things, notifies thousands of readers everyday about different books at a special price - often FREE - on Amazon.com. How they are tied to Amazon, I have no idea, other than the book is offered there. And you have to have a Kindle. Or a Kindle app. Or some such thing. Lots of authors buy into this triangulated service i.e. Amazon, Kindle, Bookbub. Maybe Bookbub does it with Barnes and Noble and the Nook. I have no idea.
Anyway, the famous and not so famous, discount their books or offer them free on certain days. If you go and check out Bookbub's website, you'll see the breakdown of costs for various genres. I'm sure there are other email services similar to this one, but this is the one I did.
In any event, I decided to plunge in, purchase a one-time email from Bookbub on the 1st day of the free 5-day offering through Amazon's KDP*. Yes, Book One of the Persephone Cole Vintage Mystery Series, The Dagger Before Me, was about to go public and in a big way. I was nervous. I was scared.
The book had not done well in the past, mainly because I kept focusing on the Alvarez Mystery Series, and thereby neglecting my little 1940's historical mysteries. As the Persephone 'Percy' Cole series is a holiday series - so far Halloween and Christmas - I thought this was the perfect timing. I hoped. I prayed. I believe I was right.
Within the 5 free days, I got 36,424 downloads. If only 10% of the readers read what they downloaded, that means 3,600 new readers will be introduced to my work. The 2nd book of the series, Iced Diamonds, for which the reader must pay, has already received 42 downloads. The other 4 of my novels and my 1 short story, in eBook form, have picked up sales as well.
When I did the math on what it would take me in sales to break even, I am almost there, in less than 3 days. So was this worth the expenditure, in my opinion? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes. But not for a little while. I need to continue the other pushes, and see how I do. Because, believe me, I don't have that kind of money to throw around all the time. But, sometimes you gotta spend money to make money.

* Exclusive sales rights belong to Amazon for a 90-day period. The book cannot be sold through any other vendor during that time.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Welcome Suzanne de Montigny, author of The Shadow of the Unicorn



  1. Today, I’m interviewing Suzanne de Montigny, author of The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy, the first of a trilogy. Her novel is the pick of the week at Amazon and a top seller at Muse It Up Publishing. Leave a comment here and you might win a free eBook of The Shadow of the Unicorn!
 Here’s the back cover blurb:
A loud, hissing sound filled the air. The unicorns looked up, their eyes filled with horror.
Azaria, a unicorn colt, is intrigued when the young, clairvoyant dinosaur, Darius, foresees a terrifying change to their world. When a giant fireball smashes into the earth, the unicorns struggle to survive the hurricanes and starvation that follow. But nothing compares to the danger when the creatures-that-walk-on-two-legs settle in the valley, and their leader discovers the healing power in the unicorns’ horns. Greedy and ruthless, Ishmael will stop at nothing in his pursuit of wealth – even the complete extinction of the herd. Azaria must find a way to outsmart Ishmael before it’s too late.


       2.  How did you pick the genre you write in?
I was an elementary music teacher for over 20 years. One day, I had five minutes left at the end of class and so asked the kids, “Do you want to hear a story?” Hands shot up. And so I ducked down behind the piano with lots of noise-making gadgets and I made up a tale on the spot about a mysterious creature in a small town that was killing folks. They loved it. After that, I had to tell stories at the end of every class. But not just that class, all of my classes. It got to the point where kids would stop my on the playground and ask for them. So how did I pick the genre I write in? I didn’t. The kids did.

  1. What drew you to the subject of The Shadow of the Unicorn?
It’s based on a novella I wrote in grade six. I was a horse aficionado. I lived and breathed horses but never got one. Unicorns were just another type of horse in my mind.

  1. What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?
It was called The Legend of the Unicorn. My mother talked about getting my unicorn novella published but I didn’t think it was good enough. It was full of misspelled words, repetitions, and had punctuation problems. But when you got to the end of it, you really felt for the characters. I think that’s why I always kept it with me all my life. It came to every apartment I ever lived in.

  1. How many rejections have you received?
I was very fortunate in that I only got two rejections before being accepted.

  1. Why did you pick the publisher that ultimately published your book?
I picked Muse It Up Publishing because when I opened up the website, there was this wonderful banner of a Pegasus. I thought, “Now these are the people who will love my unicorns.”
  1. If you could ask your readers one question, what would it be?
Did you ever get bored and where (so I can change it).

  1. Tell me one thing about yourself that very few people know?
Okay, complete honesty here. If you know me personally, you’ll be privy to this, but on-line you can’t possibly tell. I have a lazy eye and oh my, but that has caused me so much trouble all my life. As a teacher, the kids were often confused, not knowing to whom I was talking. As a teenager, I was given a really mean nickname by a nasty boy. It spread. When I was really little, I couldn’t understand why there was a crescent moon in my vision. It was my brain cancelling out most of what my left eye saw. Anyway, that’s it. That’s my embarrassing thing.

  1. What do you consider your strengths in terms of your writing?
Well, I’d have to say it’s that I’m good at carrying people away to another world. I paint a picture in people’s minds with sights, sounds, and smells. I’m told too that I’m good at writing suspense.

  1. What’s your favorite thing about your book?
The character Darius. He’s a psychic dinosaur who survives the asteroid because he has a destiny to help the unicorns survive. He’s a wonderful, selfless creature, sensitive, and very vulnerable.

  1. What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Painting the picture. Going back and improving it.

  1. What was the hardest scene to write?
For me, action scenes are the hardest to write. I’m not really someone who likes a lot of action and so have to work really hard at this.

  1. I’ve noticed half of your proceeds goes to the Third World Eye Care Society. How did you come to that decision?
As I said earlier, I have all sorts of vision problems. I even had cataracts in my forties. Then last summer, I developed a mysterious affliction. I was in Ireland and realized that I couldn’t read the tourist signs. My vision was washed out at the focal point. It got worse and worse until I could only read the newspaper with a magnifying glass.
 
I was immediately whisked off to all sorts of specialists and all for free. Eventually the problem mostly cleared up enough that I can read the paper again. But it got me to thinking that there are all sorts of people in third world countries who can’t even afford glasses. After talking to my ophthalmologist, I decided to give partial proceeds to the Third World Eye Care Society, a group of doctors who travel to underdeveloped nations carrying thousands of pairs of glasses and performing surgery for free.
 
There is a particularly moving video of a young woman who was legally blind all her life until TWECS came. All she needed was a strong pair of glasses to claim back her life. You can see it at https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151125187091883 Guaranteed it’ll make you cry.
 
I also collect glasses when I do school visits. I do a raffle. Anyone who brings in used eyeglasses gets their name put in a draw to win a Shadow of the Unicorn t-shirt.

  1. So what’s next for you? What are you working on now?
The second of the Shadow of the Unicorn series. In this story, a corrupt leader makes life miserable for the unicorns and even creates a false god to frighten them into submission. Of course, the unicorns are discovered again by the humans, endangering them. But the best part of all, is they find Darius again!

  1. Where can we find Shadow of the Unicorn?
You can find it at Muse It Up Publishing where it’s one of the top ten sellers!



At Amazon where it’s the pick of the week.


And at Kobo.


And if you want to see the booktrailer, here’s the link.






Friday, July 26, 2013

A Designer of Words


A friend of mine, Mary Wollesen, designs quilts. I mean, these are not your typical quilts made to throw over a bed, although she has some lovely ones doing just that. The below quilt Mary named 'Rainy Days and Sundays' looks perfectly at home on someone's bed. However, most of Mary's creations are one-of-a-kind treasures, made to hang on walls or drape over sofas or chairs. They are gorgeous works of art. People spend hours admiring, appreciating, and snuggling in them. It's so win-win.

A couple of days ago I was a writer lost in Mary's field, out searching for fabrics. Mary's always got a new project going and I wanted to rip apart a threadbare dress, use it as a pattern, and make a new one from it. So we lunched and zipped in and out of stores, talking about the creative process while sifting through stacks of cloth. Oddly enough,  the quilting and writing businesses have a lot of similarities. For instance: You need to first come up with an idea for the fabric/story. Then you need to pattern/plot it, followed by pinning/hanging it together, and finally, you need to have the skill, talent, and tenacity to get in there and make it whole.

We also discussed the different daily approaches like: how comfortable is your work area (or just how long can you lean over fabric cutting it out or banging out words on a keyboard before your back freezes up)? How do you find time to get the work done with constant interruptions, such as life, love, and laundry? How do you get yourself to produce when you don't feel like it? How can you love doing something, when it is such a pain in the butt much of the time? Hmmmm. No answer to the last question.

So it comes to pass that all us artistic types are a little nutty. It's just not writers. I was worried there for a spell.

But doing what we do not only makes us happy, it makes us experts in our fields. I mean, here I was in a quandary as to whether or not I could find fabric and feel better about the dress I adored being worn out, filled with holes, and faded to a mere shell of its former self. And along came Mary to help me coordinate two patterned fabrics I never would have thought of using together and voilĂ ! Kismet. She is a person who has mastered the centuries old art form of combining separate fabrics in such a way that makes your jaw drop. And glory hallelujah, she gave me the benefit of her expertise. I am now happily taking apart my well-worn dress seam by seam, looking forward to using it as a pattern for something new and exciting.

So here's my hope: One of the days, Mary is going to need help with a poem, letter, memoir, or short story, and I will be there. Because I am an expert on the written word.  I know from experience that if you put this word here, that phrase there -- combined with a lot of hard work and a little luck -- you create something exciting and moving; something people will want to read.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go do the laundry.
    

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Welcome John B. Rosenman, Author of Kingdom of the Jax

The mysterious yet wonderful John B. Rosenman joins us and we are delighted! I call him 'mysterious' because he says there is a deep and abiding mystery in his newest novel, Kingdom of the Jax. I have no doubt he speaks the truth. Neither will you when you read the blurb of his book and the short excerpt below. But first, let's get to know this great guy a bit better with a little Q&A:
 



HH - What is your favorite book?
There are so many. I will say the first three books of the Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) series by George R. R. Martin are equal to the best I’ve ever read. Utterly engrossing and challenging. Multiple characters, realms, and storylines. After the first three books, the luster dims somewhat.
 
HH - When and how do you write? (typewriter? Mac, in a café, for four hours each morning, etc.)
 
There was a time long ago when I wrote in pen or pencil on long yellow legal pads. Now I just sit before my desktop PC and let fly. I’m a pantzer, make it up as I go. Run after the characters and type down what they say and do. Or sometimes they say and do nothing, and I have to make up their lives for them. If we both hit a snag, well, we’ve got trouble. On one novel which I published, I did write an outline. The outline helped, but I changed the novel so much from it, that I reverted to my old habits.
I do need to write more hours a day. However, so many things get in the way these days. Promotion is one thing, a really big time eater. I’m also revising a novel I wrote over thirty years ago for publication, which is scheduled for later this year.

HH - Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Excellent question, Heather. I’ll be writing a blog on this for Audrey Shaffer’s The Writer’s Chatroom site. A wicked but excellent MuseItUp Editor has a habit of highlighting in different colors the words I overuse. Some of them are THAT, BUT, THEN, AND THEN, SUDDENLY, JUST, ABOUT, LIKE, HAD. I don’t think phrases plague me too much, though I’m not free from their corruption, but I know I do tend to overuse the ellipsis (. . .).
Here’s one stat: in examining the novel I wrote over thirty years ago, I found I used the word “that” (perhaps my most overused word) 855 times in 82,000+ words. I believe “that that” use of “that” is too much.
 
HH - Which talent would you most like to have?
I’d like to see weaknesses in my writing better.
Give me a second choice? I’d like to be able to read faster.

HH - Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Gosh, I have tons. The Game of Thrones series is filled with great and admirable female heroines. Arya. Daenerys. Catelyn. For my money, though, I’ll take Brienne of Tarth to the ball. She is a muscular female knight well over six feet tall and a champion in battle who can defeat almost all men. Considered ugly and unladylike by both men and women, she has an uncompromising code of honor and service that resonated at once with me. Readers may find her to be a simply drawn character, but her gallantry and heroism are a much needed contrast to the deceit and dishonesty of others. Unlike so many, Brienne is actually what she seems, and when she swears an oath of fealty to Catelyn, she is pledging her life to uphold it. Though the world finds her to be physically repulsive, I think it’s a nice touch on the author’s part that she has beautiful eyes.
 


HH. What a guy! Only John would see the beauty in someone the world finds repulsive!
Read on for a little bit about John's love of mystery:



Hey, I’m a Mystery Writer Too!
John B. Rosenman
After noticing that Heather and others on this site are mystery writers, I have a confession to make: I am a mystery writer, too!
Some folks might be surprised to hear this because I write SF action-adventure about a hero streaking across the universe to fight aliens and make love to various women (not necessarily in that order).  But as the excerpt you’ll find here shows, sometimes his adventures require him to be a darn good detective if he expects to save his own life, let alone the lives of others.  This scene is from Kingdom of the Jax, the recently released sequel to Inspector of the Cross, and Inspector Turtan is trying to capture a mass killer aboard the Emperor’s vast space station before he or she or they kill again.  It is not only a whodunit but a whydunit, and it was just released by MuseItUp Publishing.
You know, one of the great things about science fiction or science fantasy is that it opens up so many new possibilities for mysteries.  To take another example, are the submicroscopic sea creatures Turtan later encounters desperately needed allies against the alien enemy or deadly parasites who will destroy him and endanger humanity?  Should he embrace them or run like hell the other way.
 If you were Turtan, what would you do?
 
In the first novel of the series, Inspector of the Cross, I start right away with an immense mystery, one that requires a supreme detective to solve.  Turtan has travelled fifty years across space in suspended animation to investigate the Godstone on Sircon IV because the monolith might possess some power that can help humanity defeat their alien enemy, the Cen.  The trouble is, when Turtan reaches this distant planet, he discovers the artifact possesses a dangerous godlike unpredictability.  What is its secret, and can he outthink or outwit it?  The stakes could be as great as the galaxy.  Folks, this puzzle is not at all elementary.  What would Sherlock Holmes do?   
Let me mention two other SF Mystery novels which I’ve published with MuseItUp.
Dax Rigby, War Correspondent – Dax Rigby travels 90,000 light-years to the planet Arcadia to discover two alien races and three major mysteries.  (1) Why are the aliens and the people in Base Camp getting sick and dying? (2) Who is the person or persons killing important individuals in Base Camp, and what is their motive?  Could Dax himself be on the hit list?  (3) Can anything be done to stop WWIII back on Earth and save billions of lives?
Dark WizardThis paranormal romance has more mysteries than I can shake a bloody dagger at, and Delilah K. Stephens’ stunning cover hints at one: the sinister killer who stalks San Luis Obispo, CA.  As for the hero, Kan: why can’t he remember his past, who is he really, and how can he bring people back from the dead?
That’s enough for now.  Heather, thanks so much for inviting me to be your, uh, mystery guest. J


-----------------------------
 
Kingdom of the Jax, blurb:
 
Accompanied by Yaneta, his beautiful alien bride, Turtan travels across the stars to Cross Imperial Station.  The Jax, Overseers of the universe, have given him an amazing navigational device which can enable the Cross to quickly defeat their seemingly invincible enemy, the Cen, and end their five-thousand-year-old war.   
But will the Emperor welcome him to the station or order the execution of both him and his wife?  Turtan is, after all, endlessly resourceful and may learn the emperors’ terrible secret and act of betrayal concealed these past five hundred years.  Even if spared, Yaneta is still a member of the enemy and may be killed instantly. 
To succeed in his mission, Turtan faces an almost impossible task, one requiring not only luck but the full range of all the skills he has acquired in four thousand years as an elite agent. 
It is his greatest challenge ever.


Kingdom of the Jax, excerpt:

 
           A laser singed his shoulder, and he smelled his own scorched flesh.  Thank God, it was a superficial wound.  He angled left then right, grateful he encountered no obstructions.
          Finally he reached the entrance.
          Guests swarmed around it, a blind mob mindless with fear.  He shoved through them, using his elbows, and at last gained his freedom.
          No, not free!  He didn’t know how many killers there were.  A lone gunman or several.  For all he knew, he could be running into a damned regiment ready to end his escape.
          No point in worrying, so he ran on.  During his brief stay on the station, Turtan had developed only a sketchy impression of its vast layout.  All he knew was he ran in darkness, possibly toward sharpshooters with cortical implants.  The blackout might affect the entire station, and he was a sitting duck.
          He ran on, surrounded by the screams of those who’d escaped like him.  Touching his shoulder holster, he wished he could see well enough to use his laser to defend himself.
          At last the lights went on, and he blinked, seeing the Victory Garden ahead.  He entered it; bending forward, he wove through exotic plants and flower bushes.  One flower snipped at him, and he swatted it aside.  Before him arched the bridge where he’d fished with the Emperor.  He wondered how they were biting.
          Turtan pulled out his laser, resisting the urge to fire.  Stupid to announce his location, but the garden was lit so brightly, how could he possibly hide?
          He squatted behind a large flower bush with brilliantly colored trumpets and a sweet, indefinable smell.  Was it wise or stupid to hide here?  This must be one of the most flamboyant and obvious attractions in the garden.  He remembered a short story he’d read long before in which a man hid a stolen letter almost in plain sight.  Perhaps this gaudy refuge was just the thing.
          Or perhaps he should hide elsewhere in this beautiful hell.  Better yet, leave it altogether.
          He knelt, vigilantly scanning the area.  Something moved on his chest, and he looked down.
          The red cross.
          Like his uniform, it was coated with Nomon’s blood.  What a Redcross Knight he was.  Unable to save a fellow Inspector, he now found himself helpless on a deadly plain.
          No, not helpless.  He hadn’t stayed alive for four millennia, far more than any other Inspector by being helpless.  He’d kill the bastard who wanted to kill him.
         A nice sentiment and a worthy goal.  He twisted and turned, probing his surroundings from his low vantage point.  Everywhere he looked, luxurious vegetation and plants met his eye.  Some rose over three meters high.
          The killer—or killers—could be hiding anywhere.

 -----------------------------------

 
Kingdom of the Jax Buy Link:



 
 

Monday, May 13, 2013

TACOS AND MURDER, MY FAVORITE KINDA EVENING

On Tuesday evening, May 28th, I'm going to be jawing about my books, their content, the writing of them, and what it's like to be a mystery writer to a women's book club, hosted by Mhaire (Mary) Fraser and Karen Lesyna. Thank you, ladies!
Mary and I go back to our writing classes days, studying with Ellen Sussman, teaching guru and a fabulous author in her own right i.e., Bad Girls, Dirty Words, On a Night Like This, the NY Times best seller, French Lessons, and the recent book, The Paradise Guest House. That she gives so much to her fellow writers, while, like the rest of us, struggles with the joys and sorrows of being a wordsmith speaks of her quality soul.
But I digress. Mary  (or Mhaire - spelled differently but pronounced the same) and I, formed a bond during these classes, in no small part because we shared a common ground of childhood memories. She is a writer of lush words, deep feelings, and colorful phrases, describing the southern world she grew up in. Like so many of the writers in the Bay Area, she shares her talents and skills with the rest of her peers, and I think this is what helps all of us become better at our craft. I have been fortunate in knowing a lot of talented authors in the Bay Area and to have authored - so far - six published novels in the process.
While I have no real complaints about the publishers of my six books - am in fact, grateful - I thought it was time to strike out on my own, to have exactly what I want in my books when I want it. Together with another talented writer and friend, Baird Nuckolls, I have created The Wives of Bath Press, and God look down and smile on us, please.
It has been a struggle, a process, a learning experience, but well-worth all I've gone through, as many people know who dare to  strike out on their own in this business. Even though the content of my books is the same, the covers have been changed. Another person I'd like to mention and thank is Jeff Monaghan. He designed the Death Runs in the Family cover and has been helping me with the rest of the series. Below are the covers (some done, some in process) of all six books.
Both Murder is a Family Business and A Wedding to Die For, Books One and Two of the Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series, are still in the "mock" phases, as I only recently got back my rights to them! Hope you like them. And hope you'll visit my author site at Amazon.com. and also my web page at http://www.heatherhavenstories.com/.
I am amazingly proud and tired. Next year I'm hoping the learning curve will lessen! Wish me luck.  Wish us luck, because Baird is in on this with me. It's scary but exciting! Thanks a lot!!