Guest Post: Killing It With LynDee Walker


LynDee Walker just came home from the Killer Nashville writers’ conference, where she was serving on panels and promoting her books.  I asked if she would sum it up for us.  What was the conference like?  What was it like to be a panelist?  What was the best thing to happen?  Keep reading to find out!

 

Killer Conference

by LynDee Walker

Best moment of Killer Nashville 2013: I rushed down from lunch on Friday to get set for my panel appearance, and while I was fussing with the mic and getting water, an adorable lady walked up and totally made my week.

“LynDee, I just have to tell you that I read your book before I even knew you’d be here, and I loved it,” she said. “I can’t wait for the new one to come out!”

Amazing, right? I grinned and thanked her. “Only fifty-something more days!” I said.

“I’m so glad. And what’s after that one?” she asked.

When I floated back down and could focus, I said, “well, there’s a Nichelle novella (DATELINE MEMPHIS) coming up in a Christmas anthology (HEARTACHE MOTEL) in December and then the third novel will be out in the spring.”

She was very excited about that. I, of course, gave her one of every kind of Headlines in High Heels swag I had with me and thanked her for reading.

It was a great kick off to the weekend.

This was my first trip to Music City in *cough*almost 20 years*cough* and I had a blast. Killer Nashville is a mystery writers and readers conference held every summer at the Hutton Hotel in Downtown Nashville. Let’s talk about this hotel for a sec: it’s posh. One of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed. In fact, it’s where the cast of the TV show Nashville stays when they’re in town, if that gives you an idea. Big, gorgeous rooms, comfy beds, plush robes, turndown service. It’s … nice.

I got in Thursday and hung out on the room, trying to write. For months, I’ve been talking about how much progress I’d make on my new book in Nashville because it would be quiet and I’d have a room all to myself. Guess what? It was too quiet. I ended up turning the TV on the Disney channel. I worked until the conference registration opened, and then I went down to register and found the fabulous Terri L. Austin in the lobby. She is just as funny in person as she is in her Rose Strickland mysteries, and we had a great dinner and gabfest. Romance author Shannon K. Butcher was incognito, just hanging out for the weekend (she had two massages. I was so jealous.) But it was lovely to meet her, too. She’s awesome.

Friday started with the most amazing blueberry muffin I’ve ever had (this weekend was almost as much about the food as the books) and the rest of my Hen House friends arriving: such fun to hang out with Larissa Reinhart and Gretchen Archer all weekend! My panel was up first, and it was great. Edgar-winning author (and former journalist) Steven Womack was the leader, and we were joined by three-time Pulitzer nominee Gwen Florio (she’s Nichelle’s new hero), along with Tom Wood, a 36-year veteran of the Nashville Tennesseean’s sports desk, and Eugenie West, a reporter-turned-fiction writer from Pennsylvania. The discussion spun from favorite stories to the rapidly-changing news industry to why we all decided to write fiction instead of true crime (1: too much research. I get a headache just thinking about it. 2: if there’s anything in the publishing industry that’s harder to get a deal for than novels, it’s true crime. Steve wrote one, and even with his resume, he said “I couldn’t give it away.”)

LynDee Walker (far right) and her Henery Press compatriots at Killer Nashville.
LynDee Walker (far right) and her Henery Press compatriots at Killer Nashville.

In the midst of the conference fun, I was also participating in a fundraiser for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society on my fab friend Colby Marshall’s blog. This cause, and this event, are both very close to my heart, so I dashed up to the room after my panel to reply to comments on my guest post. I was amazed to find more than 50 waiting. I took five pages of notes so I could answer everyone, wrote a long post, lost my wifi connection (thank heavens I’d copied the post) finally got it posted and dashed back down for a writing workshop and dinner.

We made a new friend, the fantastically talented Kourtney Heintz, who joined us for the rest of the week and is so smart, and such fun to hang out with, too.

We walked to a Mexican food place with dancing frogs on the roof and an Elvis shrine in the lobby and decided that with Terri, Larissa, and my Elvis-centric anthology due out for Christmas, it was a sign the place had good food. We were right. They had particularly good salsa, and this Texas girl knows good salsa.

More chatting ensued, and then I went back to the room and wrote some more. A really fun scene with Nichelle’s favorite sweet bad boy that I can’t wait for y’all to read. (I know. That’s mean. But I promise it’s worth waiting for.)

I spent Saturday morning learning so much about publishing and craft at various panels and workshops. Kourtney, Gretchen and I snuck away for lunch and sightseeing Saturday afternoon. We had a blast touring the legendary Ryman auditorium and walking along Nashville’s famed Broadway.

Saturday night I had the best dinner date: Larissa Reinhart, who is the only woman I’ve ever met who can snort gracefully, and is just as genuine and funny as her Cherry Tucker mysteries. We ate pasta and drank wine and talked until too late.

Sunday morning I got waylaid on the way to Kourtney’s cross-genre fiction panel by Tom, who regaled me with an awesome story of his early-80s interview with Stephen King. Talk about a writer’s dream! I’ve been a fan since I was in sixth grade. Definitely the experience of a lifetime.

In Kourtney’s panel I learned a ton about marketing and selling books that don’t fit into a niche, which might be very useful information someday. I laughed my way through Terri and Larissa’s panel, Funny Business, and scrambled to get last-minute signed books from the wonderful authors I met.

Ris and I capped the weekend with lunch and another gabfest, about our mystery heroines and story arcs and where it’s all going. It was great fun.

I’m glad to be home with my babies (where I can actually write!), but it was definitely a weekend to remember. Many thanks to the readers and friends old and new who made it special.

Interview with the Author: Bart J. Gilbertson


When I signed with Cozy Cat Press, several of the authors eGreeted me immediately, making it feel like a real publishing home.  Bart J. Gilbertson was one of those.  That very week, he was launching his book in a brilliantly creative way–at the Dairy Queen!

Dairy Queen has all the best stuff.
Dairy Queen has all the best stuff.

I bought his debut nove,l DEATHBED AND BREAKFAST, just days before it shot to #1 Free Cozy Mystery, #3 Free Humor, and #15 Free  Mystery on the Amazon hit list.

DEATHBED AND BREAKFAST

Richard Forester, a retired CEO for a major software company, and his granddaughter Penny show up at the Pookotz Bed & Breakfast one evening and find themselves in some rather unpleasant company. All the guests somehow seem to be connected to Richard’s past and when he is found dead the next morning, everyone is suspect. However, there are a few wrinkles that the inn’s owners Edna and Mildred Pookotz need to iron out as the murder investigation unfolds. Not only was Richard deathly ill, but he was also accused of embezzling $750,000 which is still unaccounted for. The local Sheriff suspects that this victim’s death is not a natural one, so he–and the sisters–set forth to discover who the murderer is.

There are plenty of twists and turns in this first ‘whodunit’ of the Pookotz Sisters Bed & Breakfast Mystery series which introduces you to the quaint mountain Oregon town of Pleasant Lake and its inhabitants.

​Readers of the cozy mystery genre will fall in love with Edna and Mildred Pookotz, sisters and amateur senior sleuths, as they juggle the responsibilities of running a Bed & Breakfast and solving most bizarre mysteries!

Deathbed_&_Breakfast_432x648_Small_Ebook

 

The Outside Lane:  How did you get started writing?

 Bart J. Gilbertson:  I really didn’t pay any attention to books until the 5th Grade when my teacher, Mrs. Moser, introduced me to the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander.  It was a 5 book YA Fantasy series that revolved around the adventures of a young man named Taran and his companions in a classic good -vs- evil backdrop.  But it was more than that.  It was the story of how a young boy became a man and found his place in the world, the meaning of true friendship and self value.  Never before had I been so enamored by a book, let alone 5 of them!  I got to create my own mental interpretations of the words in front of me.  It was magic!  The seed was planted and I yearned to write my own adventures, and I began to do just that.  I have been writing ever since.

 

TOL:  I love that a teacher and great books were what inspired you!  Where do your ideas come from?

 BJG:  I would like to take credit for all of the ideas, but I can’t.  Haha!  The genesis of my novel, Deathbed & Breakfast, was a result of my sister and I tossing some ideas around late one night after she had just told me about a book she was reading at the time by Joanne Fluke.  Before we knew it, we were laying the groundwork for what would become the first novel in a series I have planned out which centers on the amateur and comedic sleuthing antics of two sisters, Edna and Mildred Pookotz, who run a small town Bed & Breakfast.  We laughed and joked and had a good time.  Some of my ideas I get from real life experiences.  Or I will take a current event that may have happened and think to myself “what if”.  Ideas can come at me from anywhere at anytime really.  One time (I know I should be cursed for life for this) I had a great idea for a scene during a prayer at church.  Haha!  I know, that’s terrible…but what can I say?

 

TOL:  What’s been the biggest learning experience from your first release?

 BJG:  Two things really.  First, I found out the importance of editing.  You must edit, edit, edit and then edit some more.  That is key.  When I first turned in my manuscript to Patricia Rockwell (Cozy Cat Publisher and Editor), I felt I had a finalized masterpiece.  I even had a great second twist ending in an Epilogue after the main story.  And this was AFTER I had already gone through the manuscript several times on my own beforehand.  Thankfully, Patricia had me make some vital changes and after it was all said and done, I could see that she was right.  Having a good editor is invaluable.  I appreciate Patricia and her patience with me very much.  Second, the way books are being sold these days, it is SO important to be active in marketing your book.  That is the second biggest learning experience for me.  Instead of looking at it as work, I chose to look at it as a way to make new contacts and new friends.  Have fun with it.  I feel I’ve done just that.  And I am still learning…on both counts.

 

Bart and his book.  The first release was a great learning experience.
Bart and his book. The first release was a great learning experience.

 

TOL:  What are you plans for your next novel?

 BJG:  Edna and Mildred will be at it once again, solving another murder in the town of Pleasant Lake, Oregon.  In the first book, Deathbed & Breakfast, it was their first foray into the investigative world as they worked with local sheriff, Jake Blackwood.  In the next novel, they find that have a real taste for it and become much more involved.  I think the readers will see them begin to develop and blossom more into the characters that they are destined to become.  The cook Felix will be as obnoxious as ever…haha!  A lot of people have told me that he is their favorite character, so don’t worry.  More Felix to come!  The book is in the preliminary stages right now.  Outlined mostly, but the actual writing will begin shortly.  I have other ideas for both short stories, stand alone novels and another possible cozy mystery series as well.  

 

TOL:  How did you come to Cozy Cat Press?

 BGJ:  I actually had submitted my manuscript to Cozy Cat Press about a year and a half ago, but it was declined.  It was the very first place I sent a query to.  After 18 more months of countless queries sent to agents and houses alike, and receiving rejection after rejection, I had almost given up on going down the traditional road and was seriously looking at self publishing my book.  I don’t know why, but I decided to go back to the Cozy Cat Press website and see if they were even around.  Not only were they still there, but they had grown considerably!  When I first submitted to them, there were only 4 authors.  Patricia Rockwell, Diane Morlan, Alan B. Boyer and Sharon Rose.  This time, they were over 20 authors.  I took the time to read each of their Bio’s, and in fact, I went to Amazon and purchased a copy of It Takes Two To Strangle by Cozy Cat author Stephen Kaminski and read the entire book that night.  My fire was refueled.  I knew Cozy Cat Press was the place for me, a perfect fit.  I sent Patricia another email asking to resubmit my manuscript.  She return emailed me asking me to send it to her again.  This time it was accepted and a contract was offered.  I was elated!  I got to go to the place that was my first choice to begin with.  Ironic.  So here I am, a Cozy Cat author and loving every minute of it!

 

TOL:  So what about you?  Who is Bart J. Gilbertson?

BGJ:  The author bio says it all.

Bart J. Gilbertson is the author of the Pookotz Sisters Mystery Series.  Although he was born in Wisconsin, he spent most of his youth and later years in the rocky mountain state of Idaho.  He has been all over the northwest and it is his love for the lush green state of Oregon that inspired the setting for Pleasant Lake and its inhabitants. 

He attended ITT Technical Institute in Boise, ID and received an Associate in Applied Science Degree for Computer Networking Systems and graduated with honors.  

Bart has worn many hats over his lifetime career, but the one he is most proud of is that of being a writer.  

He currently resides in O’Neill, NE.  He has two children.​

Bart J. Gilbertson
Bart J. Gilbertson

 TOL:  Thank you so much for stopping by to chat, Bart.  I am really looking forward to being able to sit down and read your book!  In the meantime, where can we find you?

 BJG:  Thank you Lane for the interview!  I had a great time.  Here are some links I’d like to share.

Link to my website  

Link to my Facebook page:  Bart J. Gilbertson, Author

Link to Pookotz Sisters Facebook page:  Pookotz Sisters Mysteries

Link to the kindle format of Deathbed & Breakfast on Amazon:  DEATHBED AND BREAKFAST

And of course, the link to Cozy Cat Press:  http://cozycatpress.com

 

 

Strawberry Scented Elegance


I have several more Cozy Cat Press authors to introduce to you, and I’m going to start doing that on Mondays.  Monday is a nice day to meet authors, don’t you think?  Also, when I started researching to sign up TIARA TROUBLE for blog tours, I realized that I have a blog.  This means that I can be a stop on blog tours!  This means I can read books, meet more authors, and tell you all about them.  Isn’t that exciting?  I think so.

I’ve already got two books in my reader, and you’ll see those reviews coming toward the end of September.

Between you and me, unless a book is NIGHT TRAVELS OF THE ELVEN VAMPIRE kind of bad (link to Irene’s review–NSFW, but that’s not Irene’s fault), I won’t be posting a bad review.  If I wouldn’t give a book at least 3 stars, I’m not going to acid rain all over another writer’s parade.

If you blog, and if you enjoy reading (free) books and reviewing them, I highly recommend signing up to host virtual blog tours.  Writers from smaller publishing houses, and indie writers have to get very creative about promoting their work, and will likely put in as much time trying to market a publication as they did drafting it in the first place.  It never hurts to expand your circle of influence either.  Never know who is going to be the next Big Thing.

I’m getting ready to read a book with goats in the title and a one-eyed soldier in the description.  I expect great things from it.

Terrifying Tiara Trouble and Thanks


I have great news!  TIARA TROUBLE, the first in the Destinee Faith Miller Mystery series, will be available for purchase on 10/28/2013.  Eee!

TiaraTroubleEbook

And that’s the cover, right there!  All Destinee’d up with her signature pink and zebra.  You knew Destinee’s signature colors were pink, black, and zebra, right?  Unlike her trampy arch-nemesis, Tishelle Tucker, whose signature colors are red, black, and leopard.

So, now with a release date set, and behind the scenes plans going into action, I will admit to you that I am scared.  What if it flops?  What if people hate it?  Why did I write so many words?  Is anyone going to get my sense of humor?  What if I’m not a good writer?

A lot of what-ifs, people.  Ultimately, if it flops, it flops, and if people hate it, they hate it.  I wrote so many words because they seemed necessary at the time, and if I continued to second guess myself, it would have been whittled down to the length of a magazine article.  If no one gets my sense of humor, that’s fine–like that hasn’t happened before.  I’m okay with the sound of crickets.  And, I know I write well.  Whether, or not other people agree that I write novels well is yet to be seen.

I think I got so used to people telling me that I wasn’t ever living up to my fullest potential that I never think my efforts are my best.  Or, maybe I’m afraid they are.  And if they are, what does that mean?  Does that mean I am not the rare Sparklefly my mother thinks I am?!

I think about that a lot when it comes to how I parent.  I see a lot of myself in Thor.  He is an exceptionally smart child, and he is an exceptionally creative daydreamer–those two things don’t add up to Straight A Student.  That doesn’t mean he isn’t living up to his fullest potential, though.  That means that this is his groove.

Grades don’t show potential.  Grades show self-discipline.  Kind of like being an accomplished musician is different from being a talented musician.  You can be taught to play anything.  You can’t be taught to create.  What is ideal is when you have the self-discipline to make the grades, and the potential to turn that self-discipline/learning into something.

I tell Thor that he must strive for excellence.  I expect him to try his hardest, and not give up.  I don’t expect him to make perfect scores, but I expect him to work toward getting things right–he should want to get things right.  I don’t expect him to be the top of his class, all honors, everybody’s all-American.  I expect him to fully utilize his resources, and do the work.  Where he lands, he lands.*

I have, and will continue to impress upon him that education/school is what gives you the tools to build a future.  Does he want a brain that is like the little pig who built his house out of straw, or does he want a brain that is like the little pig who built his house out of bricks?  Well, he has to have to right tools to build the kind of brain he wants, and the right tools are often heavy and take more effort to lift.

Writing this, I am thinking about the wonderful teachers I had, who outweighed the awful ones.  Good teachers are brain-tool salesmen, who make you think you can’t live without knowing how to parse a sentence, or solve a quadratic equation.  You just have to have that ability to name the colors in the rainbow!  You absolutely MUST get in on that ability to recite the Gettysburg Address!  You cannot possibly go another day without reading The Scarlet Letter!  Because good teachers get you to buy in to the mental body building it takes to wield the tools, and the stamina necessary to keep going.

It isn’t necessary to be a sparklefly.  Sparklefly is only good for so much.  But it is necessary to build a solid foundation and the self-discipline to put that foundation to work.  Enough elbow grease can shine up an ordinary fly to look sparkly.

I worked hard at TIARA TROUBLE, and I’m not going to lie and tell you I didn’t on the chance that it fails.  You know, so I could say, “Well, it’s not like it was my best effort.”  I honestly don’t know what my best effort looks like.  All I can tell you is that I worked very hard and I am proud of the result, and I really hope you like it.  I hope it makes you laugh.  I like it.  I’ve had to read it about 60 times now, and I still make myself laugh.

So, thank you Mrs. Farr, Mrs. Mendina, Dr. Chaisson, Dr. Morris, Mrs. Monroe, Mrs. Anderson, Mr. Cargile, Mrs. Mack, and Mrs. Barnes.  You were excellent brain-tool salespeople, and the fact that I am a functioning adult, much less a published author at all is a credit to your mad skillz.

 

*There is no Tiger to this Mom.  That might not be something to be proud of, I don’t know.  I guess I’ll find out in about 20 years.

 

 

Interview with the Author: Julie Seedorf and her Crook Hooking Granny


It’s time to meet another Cozy Cat author!  Who do we have today?  Why, Julie Seedorf, of course.  Who is Julie Seedorf?

Julie Seedorf is a Minnesotan. She calls dinner, supper, and lunch, dinner. She has had many careers over her life time but her favorite career was motherhood. Later in life, she opened her own business as a computer technician, but you can’t keep a wordsmith silent.  She also writes a column for southern Minnesota area newspapers called “Something About Nothing.

“Granny Hooks A Crook” is her first book for Cozy Cat Press. Her children’s book, “Whatchamacallit? Thingamajig?” was her first self-published book.  Her theory is that we all take ourselves too seriously and we need to have a little fun. She secretly yearns to be like the Granny characters in her books.

Girls AND Grannies just want to have fun.

The Outside Lane:  Tell us about GRANNY HOOKS A CROOK.

Julie Seedorf:  Granny leads a secret life in the small, unique community of Fuschia, Minnesota. It’s not just her all junk food diet, multiplying pets, or her shocking bedtime attire that makes Granny one in a million. Believe it or not, Granny is an undercover cop, charged by “the Big Guy” (the town’s police chief) with preventing theft in local stores. Granny takes her job seriously and daily foils many shoplifters using her trusty spiked umbrella and amazing acting skills. When some startlingly brazen burglaries begin to occur that Granny can’t solve, along with mysteriously appearing bad guys, disappearing clerks, and misplaced Corvettes, Granny begins to wonder if she isn’t ready for the wrinkle farm. Maybe, it’s fortuitous when she accidentally-on-purpose falls in the lap of an attractive older gentleman who is soon roped into her wild adventures, as they try to figure out what’s happening in their little town.

Who can resist fan art?

TOL:  That sounds like fun!  What about…whatsamahoosit?

JS:  WHATCHAMACALLIT? THINGAMAJIG?  This is a children’s book.  You see, Abby had her fingers full of chocolate cookie dough. She was putting her fingers to her mouth to sample a taste while no one was looking. Maggie, who was helping, had her back turned to Abby. She was sneaking a couple of chocolate chips out of the bag and into her mouth before she gave the bag to Abby to add the chips to the cookies. Both of them had their hands halfway to their mouth when the phone rang. They jumped and quickly dropped their hands to their sides as cousin Brady ran into the kitchen and snatched up the phone.

“Brady, Brady, all of you have to come quickly. I need your help,” screamed Grandma.

Yes Grandma is in trouble again and four cousins scramble to her aid. What they find when they look for her is a ransacked house, a missing Grandma and clues they don’t understand. What they learn about Grandma leaves them wide eyed and open mouthed.

TOL:  How did you start writing?

JS:  I started writing as a teenager. I found my love of writing when I took my first creative writing class my junior year in high school. Through the years I dabbled and wrote newspaper articles and things just for me. Occasionally I took college writing classes. When I was younger there was not much support to become a writer. It was not realistic so I followed the normal path and married, became a mom, worked various jobs and did a lot of volunteer work where I could use my creativity. It wasn’t until later life when I had a bad fall and was laid up for months that I started dreaming and writing again. That was when my column started. It took another illness and encouragement from my grandchildren to write my first book “Whatchamacallit? Thingamajig? Just for them. During that illness I realized that life is too short to not go for your dream or to use the gifts God has given you and writing “Granny Hooks A Crook” took me out of that illness and to become the person I had left behind.

TOL:  Where do your ideas come from?

JS:  Ideas come very easy to me. I get quirky ideas and the only way I can explain it is that they come from God. I used to write services for our church. I would say no, and then God would put the service in my head. So God.

A divinely inspired duo of books by Julie Seedorf.

TOL:  Who is your favorite character?

JS:  Granny, my main character, is probably the person that hides inside of all of us. We just don’t let it out. We forget the child inside and let society tell us we are old. Perhaps Granny is who I would like to be like in later years.

TOL:  Thank you so much, Judy!  Where do we find more information about you and your books?

JS:  Visit my website at http://www.julieseedorf.com, My blog: http://www.justalittelfluff.com, or my Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/sprinklednotes.