Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I finally made a USA Today list

Okay now that I have your attention, I didn’t make “THE” USA Today bestseller list but I am like the growing trend of first time authors who have their first book in a trade paperback, according to the newspaper. The article, Trade Paperbacks thrive in tough times by Carol Memmott (follow the link: http://www.usatoday.com/life /books/news/2009-04-20-trade-paperbacks_N.htm) follows one author’s first book. It is from last April but has resulted on some interesting discussion recently on the Murder Must Advertise loop.

Much of the discussion is about what consists of a trade paperback. They are in fact larger than a paperback which I think of as pocket book or could be slid into a back pocket for whenever you had a few minutes. The first in the Mitch Malone Mystery series measures about six by nine inches. A mass market paperback is roughly four by seven inches.

The item that caught my attention was a discussion on whether hard cover books area a dying breed? In big publishing houses, the hard cover edition comes out first and then is followed by a paperback version for the mass market a period of time later. In these tough economic times, the hard cover market has been hit particularly hard because they are the priciest editions costing well over $20. Add to that the increasing number of sales for electronic versions with Kindle, the Sony Reader and the soon to be introduced Apple version. Will the hard cover book melt away like the typewriter?

I wish I had a crystal ball for that one but at this point there are still too many readers who like to hold a book and not a reader. It gives you something to think about. What is your preferred method to get your reading material and do you think the hard cover book is dead? Weigh in.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Review: Stir, Laugh, Repeat

Here is my first review. It isn't a mystery but we all have to eat and occasionally have to cook. To help with that I reviewed a cookbook that is more than a cookbook. For those of you authors, Martha is great at featuring authors on her blog. You just need to include a recipe with your book information. You can contact her at http://stirlaughrepeat. blogspot.com/

Over the holidays I read Stir, Laugh, Repeat, Finding Joy While Playing in the Kitchen by Martha A. Cheves. I must admit I have never in my life read a cook book from cover to cover but this is much more than a cookbook but a way of making people happy (and wanting to make them and eat.) Not only is it filled with recipes that use ingredients that are staples in most kitchens or better yet leftovers, the recipes are in small quantities for couples or singles. That is where most cookbooks would stop. (Did I mention you will want to eat?) Martha goes on to provide antidotes about her cooking, the trial and error that went into each recipe and information on her tasters. Those anecdotes kept me reading as did the marvelous tips after each recipe. Some I knew, some I didn’t, but they are all gems to help the newer cooks and well versed cooks on the menu. Martha is a southern belle and it is clear in many of her recipes from Boiled Peanuts to Collards. She also loves cooking and experimenting which is why many of her recipes offer the key ingredient to any cooking – love. Pick up Martha’s Stir, Laugh, Repeat and there is something in there for everyone who spends any time in a kitchen or family.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Writing Makes Good Writers

My horoscope for today says: “Put your head together with friends or associations with whom you share a common objective. If you build a team with a good purpose in mind, you’ll have an excellent chance at success.”**

Today is the kick off for one of my writing groups’ project to focus on writing. We are doing our own version of the National Novel Writing Month typically held in November. Many in our group think November is a bad month to do it. In Michigan, January and February are when you can hunker down and write while the snow flies outside. You don’t want to go anywhere anyway. I’ve participated in the national November event three times and have been successful twice. It works if you have a group of people keeping everyone going.

I’m not much of a follower of horoscopes but I think this one hits the mark. The best thing writers can do is write. Write when you feel good, write when you don’t. Write when you are inspired, write when you feel awful. It’s amazing that you don’t need to feel inspire to write well. That is what it is like to treat writing as a business, not as a hobby. Just like a job, you need to write every day. After a while, you will miss it if you skip a day. Then find others with similar goals and meet regularly to keep everyone on task.

If it helps, the best thing about NANO is that you get to turn off your editor and just get the words on the page. That is very liberating especially if editing can take the buzz out of your work. I would happily create all day and never have to edit. I wonder if that is how James Patterson does it? Someone else gets the job of editing everything into perfect spelling and correct grammar. For now, though, just writing is the joy and I’ve even found some joy in editing with I’ve figured out how to fix a plot problem or timing issue. So my advice today is …Just write.

**Astrograph by Bernice Bede Osol printed in the Muskegon Chronicle.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Finding the Joy in Reading

I’m sticking to my new year’s resolutions so far. This blog posting keeps me on target. In addition to posting to the blog on a regular basis, another resolution for 2010 is reading. I love to read but last year that was something that was shuffled to the wayside. My schedule was such that either I had time to write or I had time to read, not both. I’m trying to change that this year.

Part of the reason was since I started writing, the sheer enjoyment went out of reading. Every book I analyzed for plot, characterization and other writing faux pas to see how the author made it work or not work, so I wouldn’t do the same thing. When you are doing that, it takes all the fun out of getting into a good book. You get to a part that you shouldn’t be able to put down and instead of increasing your reading pace to see how it finishes, you are looking back to see how they set up the finale so successfully. That is just wrong.

I got back on the reading track over the Christmas holiday because I had more time and am a fan of the three day work week! The first book I told myself I wasn’t going to analyze it. I did, but I also was able to enjoy it. Another book that I had been reading for the last year, I finished. That one also had a hand in turning off my reading because I just couldn’t get into it. It had been one of my favorite authors. I did analyze why that one turned me off. It was because so many o the characters’ names started with the same letter and similar sounds. I couldn’t keep people straight. I will work to not let that happen in my Mitch Malone series.

Another place I have to give credit to for reading more is the DorothyL litserv. That is filled with people who just enjoy reading and writing mysteries. Their love of books really started that ache in my heart for what I was missing. I couldn’t wait to start a couple books from their recommendations. My plan is to put up a couple of reviews of books I read over the holiday. So check back every so often and take a look. Reading is a good thing!