Book Sales and Books Book

A good day at the Boerne Book and Arts Fest in Boerne, Texas with a group of my Sisters in Crime from the Heart of Texas Chapter

I sold four times as many copies of MURDER ON WHEELS and LONE STAR LAWLESS as I did last spring in Fort Worth–no need to say how many I sold then–but the company of the Sisters  would have made it a good day if I’d sold no books at all. 

I surprised myself by un-introverting and not only saying hello to browsers but also telling them MURDER ON WHEELS is better than LONE STAR LAWLESS because I have two stories in MOW and only one in LSL. I also said I like my stories in MOW more than the ones in LSL. The not-my stories in LSL might be better than their counterparts in MOW, but let’s face it, when I’m selling my own books, I get to say what’s what. 

For future reference, anyone contemplating buying one of the anthologies should buy MURDER ON WHEELS, unless he or she already has a copy. In that case, take the other. My story in LONE STAR LAWLESS is excellent, too. I showed it to my high school English teacher and she said so.

In other news, at The Bosslight in Nacogdoches a couple of weeks ago, I bought a copy of Book Riot’s READ HARDER. Failing to examine it carefully, I thought it was for keeping a record of books read. Imagine my surprise when I later discovered it’s a series of twelve reading challenges. Among them are

-a book about book

-a book about a current social or political issue

-an award-winning young adult book

-a book about space

-a book published by an independent press

-a book that was originally published in another language

So I must make decisions. 

I’m tempted to re-read some books–for a book originally published in another language, for example, I’d like to re-read Giants in the Earth, originally published in 1926, which I read in 1975. Written in Norwegian, it was then translated into English by author Ole Rolvaag. It’s the story of Per Hansa, who in 1873 settles with his family in the Dakota Territory. A look at Wikipedia to check my facts reminds me that Giants is the first book in a trilogy, so I’m free to read the sequels, Peder Victorious (Peder Seier) (1928) and Their Fathers’ God (Den signede dag) (1931). 

For an award-winning YA book, I’d like to re-read Katherine Paterson‘s Newbery winner Jacob Have I LovedAlthough the Newbery is given for children’s books, Jacob is really for older readers, and, I contend, for adults.* As a person of integrity, though, I’ll read a book that’s new to me. Then I’ll read Jacob again.

Note: All of Paterson’s book are exquisite. She believes that once children reach a certain age, they should not be given fairy tale happily-ever-after endings. Her books carry the message that life can be difficult–as it will be–but that readers have the knowledge, courage, and strength to endure, and that there is always hope. The daughter of missionaries to China, herself a missionary to Japan for a year, and the wife of a Presbyterian minister, Paterson writes realistic–and drop-dead funny–books that hold a prominent place among titles most often banned in the United States: Sometimes, when pushed to their limits, her characters say, Damn. They also have problems, have to make hard choices, and are not happy all the time, conditions some adults have forgotten from their own childhoods. Young readers, however, love her stories.

For a book about books, I’ll read The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar (1979). It examines Victorian literature–specifically, the works of Jane AustenMary ShelleyCharlotte and Emily BrontëGeorge EliotElizabeth Barrett BrowningChristina Rossetti and Emily Dickinson–from a feminist perspective. The title comes from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, in which Edward Rochester’s mentally ill wife, Bertha Mason, is secretly confined in the attic.

I read part of Madwoman years for a graduate course and found it fascinating. According to Wikipedia, some critics say it’s outdated, but that won’t keep me from being fascinated again. A second edition was released in 2000.

I’ll check the Internet and journals for the subjects of other challenges. The only book I’ll have trouble choosing is one I “would normally consider a guilty pleasure.”

I can’t imagine feeling guilty about reading.

*The best children’s and YA books are for grown-ups, too. Adults who don’t read pictures books don’t know what they’re missing. A good book is a good book. 

Here’s a grandmother reading The Wonky Donkey to her grandchild. Or trying to read it. Pay no attention to background noise. 

 

The man standing beside the SINC Heart of Texas banner is author Nichols Grimes, who kindly let us take his picture.

What You Can Do When You Don’t Turn on Your Computer

On June 18, I didn’t turn my laptop on. At all.

I got out of bed, trekked up to Central Austin for a mammogram, came back home, picked up a book, and read from roughly 11:30 a.m. till midnight. The mammogram was nothing to speak of, but the rest of the day was lovely. I hadn’t spent an entire day reading for a long time.

While unplugged, I finished Terry Shames’ latest mystery, A Reckoning in the Back CountryIt’s a good book, as are all of Terry’s mysteries.

I did a brief review of her first, A Killing at Cotton Hillhere–actually, it’s a review of a sentence I fell in love with–and later wrote more about the book.

A digression: I am honored that one of my stories is in the crime fiction anthology Lone Star Lawless (see cover picture on sidebar) along with one of Terry’s.

All right. That’s my self-serving plug for the day.

Tomorrow, I’ll write more about Juneteenth.

 

 

 

 

 

LONE STAR LAWLESS!

Austin Mystery Writers’
second crime fiction anthology
now available for Kindle!

Paperbacks coming soon

 

ONE MORE TIME by V. P. Chandler

WILD HORSES by Alexandra Burt

LIFE OF THE PARTY by Mark Pryor

ARCHANGEL TOWERS by Gale Albright

BAGGAGE CLAIM, Part 1: THE DEVIL’S LUGGAGE
by Janice Hamrick

BAGGAGE CLAIM, Part 2: CARRY ON ONLY by Laura  Oles

THE TEXAS STAR MOTEL by Terry Shames

POINT BLANK, TEXAS by Larry D. Sweazy

THE BLACK WIDOW by Kaye George

THE SANDBOX by George Weir

TEXAS TOAST: THE CASE OF THE ERRANT LOAFER
by Manning Wolfe

WHEN CHEESE IS LOVE by Kathy Waller

THE BIRD  by Scott Montgomery

LITTLE RED by Gale Albright

EDITED by Ramona DeFelice Long

Thank You, Nightstand Book Reviews

img_0489
William and Ernest examine Louise Penny’s A Trick of the Light and the box it came in.

When I was eight, my grandmother gave me two Nancy Drew mysteries for Christmas: The Secret in the Old Clock and The Clue of the Tapping Heels, and I was hooked. One title led to another.

Since then, I’ve read through Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, Donna Leon’s Inspector Brunetti, Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley, Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford, Ngaio Marsh’shttp://ngaio-marsh.org.nz/index-ngaio.html Inspector Alleyn, Dorothy L. Sayers‘ Lord Peter Wimsey, Josephine Tey’s Inspector Grant…

Yesterday, Nightstand Book Reviews sent me a copy of a novel from another popular series: Louise Penny’s A Trick of the Light, one of the titles in her series featuring Inspector Gamache.

A Trick of the Light has received the following honors:

English: Louise Penny
English: Louise Penny (Photo credit: Wikipedia). By Ian Crysler (Transferred from en.wikipedia) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ]

Winner of the Anthony Award for Best Crime Novel 2012
Finalist for the Macavity Award for Best Crime Novel in the US 2012

Finalist for the Agatha Award for Best Mystery of 2011
Finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel in Canada in 2011
Finalist for the Dilys Award from the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association for the book they most enjoyed selling in 2011
Finalist GoodReads Choice Awards for 2011
Publishers Weekly top 10 Mysteries of 2011
Amazon.com top 10 Thrillers and Mysteries of 2011
Aunt Agatha’s Bookstore: Favorites of 2011
The Toronto Star: Favorite Read of 2011
New York Times Book Review: Favorite Crime Novel of 2011
BookPage, Readers’ Choice: Best Books of 2011 (#6 all genres)
Women Magazine: Editor’s Pick #1 Book of 2011
The Globe and Mail: Top 10 Mystery of 2011
The Seattle Times: Top 10 Mystery of 2011
Quill and Quire: Top 10 Mystery of 2011
I-Tunes: Top 10 AudioBook of 2011
Richmond Times-Dispatch: top 5 Fiction Books of 2011

My copy of was a windfall from Nightstand Book Reviews.

NBR reviews a variety of genres by both established authors and those newly published. Subscribers receive notice of reviews by email. Only recommended books are reviewed–“books that are great reads.”

NBR also conducts drawings for free books from the list of email subscribers. I’m a subscriber. My name was drawn. A Trick of the Light arrived in today’s mail.

Thank you, Nightstand Book Reviews.

Now I’m off to begin a great read.

The Silver Falchion (Again) & #ROW80

Good news on both personal and professional fronts:

silver falchion emblemMURDER ON WHEELS, Austin Mystery Writers‘ crime fiction anthology, has been awarded the Silver Falchion Award for Best Fiction Short Story Anthology. Member Laura Oles accepted the award from author Anne Perry Saturday night at the Killer Nashville International Writers’ Conference 2016.

 

The eleven stories in MURDER ON WHEELS were written by six Austin Mystery Writers–Gale Albright, V. P. Chandler, Kaye George, Scott Montgomery, Laura Oles, and me– and two guest authors who graciously contributed stories–Earl Staggs and Reavis Wortham. Ramona DeFelice Long edited the manuscript. Kaye George handled the business end of the project, no small task. Wildside Press published the anthology in 2015.

Laura Oles accepts Silver Falchion Award from Anne Perry. Photograph by Manning Wolfe.
Laura Oles accepts Silver Falchion Award from Anne Perry. Photograph by Manning Wolfe.

If you’ve already heard about the award, my apologies. I’ve spread it all over Facebook. That’s called BSP–Blatant Self-Promotion–but self, in this case, refers to everyone involved in the anthology’s production. We’re surprised–we didn’t know we’d been nominated until three days before the awards ceremony–and honored and excited, so we’ve announced it at every opportunity.

I like to think that someday I’ll develop the air of dignified detachment that is the hallmark of the professional writer. Maybe I will. Maybe.

(In case the word falchion isn’t familiar–Wikipedia says it’s a “one-handed, single-edged sword of European origin, whose design is reminiscent of the Persian shamshir, the Chinese dadao, and modern machete.” The Silver Falchion seal, above, displays crossed falchions.)

The second item of good news isn’t mine–it’s my husband’s. His video “Invisible Men Invade Mars,” starring cats William and Ernest, will be screened at the Walker Museum Internet Cat Video Festival on Wednesday, August 24, at the Texas Theater in Dallas. David is pleased, but he isn’t bouncing off the walls, as I am over the AMW’s Silver Falchion. He’s taken videos to film festivals, and his Alien Resort Christmas card won John Kelso’s contest. And he’s always been dignified and professional.

Third on the list: I’ve completed five days of radiation treatments. That’s five of a projected twenty–25%. I learned today that I’m doing in twenty days what is normally done in thirty. I don’t know why, and I didn’t ask. This is another area requiring detachment, and I’ve found that detachment and too much information don’t play well together. The doctor kept using the word if –“If you do well with this, then we’ll…”–and upset the balance between optimism and uncertainty I try to maintain. If is too much information. So I pronounce the situation good and move on.

(Before I move on, and I really shouldn’t publicize this, but while I’m being unprofessional–since the first of June, I’ve lost twenty-nine pounds. Disclaimer: twenty-nine pounds equals the nineteen I had gained from taking steroids during chemo, and the ten I lost from having no appetite during chemo. The doctor doesn’t like it, and I understand why. It’s a hell of a way to lose weight, but with a net loss of ten pounds, I’m happy, and I’m taking credit for every one of them. I like being able to take my jeans off without unbuttoning and unzipping them.)

From August 7th List: I dood it.*

  1. Boycotted refined sugar and starches, including starchy vegetables, longer than necessary before the PET scan. Blood sugar was normal. There was no reason to think it wouldn’t be, but still…
  2. Critiqued and returned AMW stories I had at the time.
  3. Wrote and posted on AMW blog, but not exactly on time. I traded post dates with another member, then realized I hadn’t traded. It’s complicated. I posted on the 20th instead of the 15th, but got it in before the Silver Falchion winner was announced.
  4. Wrote and posted on the Writing Wranglers and Warriors blog on the 16th. This one I got right.
  5. Continued reading Mark Pryor’s The Paris Librarian. Good book.
  6. (12.) Cooked chicken and rice, intended to be one decent meal for David. It was horrid. We ate it anyway. I didn’t cook anything else.

#ROW 80 Watermelon Buffet for August 22

  1. Eat no refined sugar. Period.
  2. Critique and return one last AMW story.
  3. Work on draft of “Texas Boss.”
  4. Finish reading The Paris Librarian.
  5. Post #ROW80 report on Wednesday. If I feel like it. Otherwise, post next Sunday.
  6. Visit three #ROW80 blogs a day and comment.
  7. Comment every day on Writing Wranglers and Warriors post.
  8. Visit Malvern Books.
  9. Have a blast visiting with Kaye George at this week’s Austin Mystery Writers meeting.

Might as well face facts. I’ll dust the piano if I dust it, organize books if I organize books, and shred if I shred. They’re more likely to get done if I don’t write them down.

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I dood it was “one of Red Skelton’s radio catchphrases” of the 1930s and ’40s. It was also the title of a song written by Jack Owens for Skelton in 1942, titled “I Dood It! (If I Do, I Get a Whippin’),” and the title of a movie released the next year.

Skelton originated the line for a character, The Mean Widdle Kid,

a young boy full of mischief, who typically did things he was told not to do. “Junior” would say things like, “If I dood it, I gets a whipping.”, followed moments later by the statement, “I dood it!”

My mother told me about Skelton’s I dood it line when I was a child.  She thought it was funny; I thought it was funny; I still think it’s funny. I never heard him say it–until today, when I watched the movie trailer on Youtube. The first part is devoted to introducing the cast, so it takes a little time to get to Skelton.

Wikipedia refers to the movie’s rather ungrammatical title. I agree: it is, rather.

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Visit other #ROW80 bloggers by clicking here.

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Brazos Writers’ Women and Crime: Facts, Projected Details, and a Streak of Luck

Just the Facts, Ma’am:

 Gale Albright and Kathy Waller spent a pleasant and productive day at  Brazos Writers’ Women and Crime workshop, held at the Southwood Community Center in College Station, Texas.

Speakers included

  • Mary Ringo, private investigator at Gumshoe Investigative Services, on Life as a PI;
  • Courtney Head, DNA Analyst at the Houston Forensic Science Center, on Life in the Houston Forensic Science Center; and
  • Lesley Hicks, Lieutenant, College Station Police Department, on Life in the PD.

A panel of authors–

discussed How to Create a Strong Female Detective, Professional or Amateur.

Over lunch, Mark Troy, author of The Splintered Paddle, hosted a Jeopardy! Style Game about Women and Crime. Players in the final round received copies of mysteries written by women.

At the end of the day, a reception was held during which guests mingled and authors signed books.

So much for the bare facts.

Presentations were excellent–imagine a surveillance operation that involves wading through sewage, hiding in tall grass, and feeding crackers to an enormous, foul-smelling dog who refuses to leave your side, while you’re trying to get pictures of people you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley–and details will appear in the near future.

Some will probably show up at Gale Albright’s Crime Ladies blog.

Gale might also tell how she wiped out the competition in the lunchtime Women and Crime game, and how she managed to snatch a door prize from the hands of the writer sitting next to her, whose ticket was only one digit off.

Said writer will tamp down her resentment and allow Gale to ride back home with her today. If I make her take a bus, she might not critique my story this week.

But I mean, really. Two prizes?

*****

Note: I fibbed. Gale deserved the game prize. She was a powerhouse.

*****

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Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! is for Publish

[Links are scattered throughout this post. If you slide your pointer across the screen, you’ll see where to click. In the meantime, I’ll choose a theme that makes finding links easier.]

In yesterday’s abbreviated post, I promised an announcement to end all announcements.

Confession: Kaye George was quicker than I. She made the announcement on another blog, whose title and URL I will display later in this post. I’d hate for  readers to click on that link and forget to come back here.

The Announcement: “Murder on Wheels,” an anthology of eleven short stories written by members of Austin Mystery Writers critique group and two of its friends, has been accepted for publication by Wildside Press.

It’s occurred to me that we might be sending out this news prematurely, that we should wait for the book to appear. But yesterday the contract, and self-restraint, went the way of the dial telephone.

I doubt we’d have had the energy keep the secret anyway. We’ve been on the verge of dancing in the streets ever since receiving word that Wildside would publish. When one AMW member heard the good news, she broke into song. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology and a husband who knows how to make an .MP3 file from a voice mail, I have a recording. I would share it, but I value my life.

The next question, of course, is WHEN? 

We don’t know. There’s a lot to do between now and the launch date. Before Wildside’s final acceptance come edits. The others have informed me it’s gauche to tell a publisher that your stories are already perfect. So I imagine compliance with the editor’s requests won’t be an issue.

I promised I would display the address of Kaye George’s official announcement. An Agatha-nominated author, Kaye has published a number of mystery stories and novels. Although she’s no longer around attend AMW’s meetings, she’s still our leader and our guide through this new territory. She writes about how the idea for “Murder on Wheels” came about. Her account of this Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! experience is more detailed and more interesting than mine.

Read Kaye’s version of the story at Judy’s Stew.

 

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Kaye George blogs at Travels with Kaye.

Read more about Kaye and her books at http://www.amazon.com/Kaye-George/e/B004CFRJ76

 Find other AMW members’ blogs at–

 VP Chandler

 Elizabeth Buhmann

 Gale Albright (Crime Ladies)

 Scott Montgomery

 Laura Oles (Austin Mystery Writers)

 ***

Find other contributors to “Murder on Wheels” here:

Reavis Z. Wortham

Earl Staggs

 

Book Not-Quite-Review: Terry Shames

Back in my teaching days, I handed a student a copy of T. H. White’s The Once and Future King and told her I thought she might like it. She did. So much, in fact, that she volunteered to write a review for the school newspaper.

The review went something like this: I loved this book. It was just so…Guinevere was terrible. She was just so… It was so sad…It’s a wonderful book. I just love it.

Unfortunately, the review was never published, because instead of turning into ideas and thence into sentences and finding its way onto paper, it remained a clump of molecules of emotion lodged somewhere in the vicinity of the student’s corpus callosum. Only a few tiny bits escaped as babble.

The reason was no mystery: The writer was too close to her subject. She lacked distance, detachment. She needed, as Wordsworth said when defining poetry, to recollect her powerful emotion in tranquility.

Lack of detachment is a common condition. I’ve suffered from it for weeks.

IMG_2814Several days ago, I posted part of a paragraph from Terry Shames’ first novel, A Killing at Cotton Hill, and illustrated it with a photograph of four white-faced Herefords. That was all.

That’s still all. I’m too close to the book. I wouldn’t dare try to review it now.

If I did, it would come out like this:

I love this book. It’s just so…There’s this wonderful sentence on the second page about hovering cows…That’s exactly what cows do…I can just see those cows…The person who wrote that sentence knows cows…And the dialogue…It’s just so…I just love it.

As soon as I saw it, I fell in love with that cow sentence.* I’ve read well past page two, but I can’t erase hovering cows from my mind. So I’ll say no more about A Killing at Cotton Hill.

I can report that yesterday evening I attended a reading at BookPeople celebrating the release of Terry Shames’ second book, and the second Samuel Craddock mystery, The Last Death of Jack Harbin.

Terry spoke, read an excerpt from the book, and finished up by taking questions from the audience. To prevent the possibility that this part of the post turn into babble, I’ll simply list some of the notes I jotted down:

  • Terry is from Lake Jackson. She graduated from the University of Texas and then worked for the CIA. [KW: I have your attention now, right?]
  • Both of Terry’s books were finalists for the Killer Nashville Claymore Award.
  • The Last Death of Jack Harbin is about a veteran who comes home from war damaged in body and in spirit. The book is about what people do with their guilt.
  • Library Journal gave Jack Harbin a Starred Review. [KW: And they don’t hand those out to every book that comes along.]
  • Scott Montgomery, BookPeople’s Crime Fiction Coordinator, says Jack Harbin “subtly works on you”–that you don’t realize its depth until you’ve finished–and you’ll still be thinking about it a week later.

Because of the hour, as well as my lack of detachment, this is as far as my not-quite-review will go. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed Terry’s reading, that I love A Killing at Cotton Hill,** and that The Last Death of Jack Harbin has gone to the top of my To Be Read list.

For more about Terry Shames and her books, read Terry’s “What’s Next for Samuel Craddock” and “MysteryPeople Q&A with Terry Shames,” both on the MysteryPeople blog.

_____

* The sentence isn’t really about cows. It’s about Samuel Craddock. But I am fond of white-faced Herefords, and the image Terry painted is so vivid, the cows overshadow the protagonist, at least in my mind.

** I forgot to take my camera to the reading, so I’ve illustrated with a photograph I took myself. The fur on the right of the book shouldn’t be there, but it was easier to just take the picture than to move the cat.

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