Happy book birthday to LynDee Walker! Buried Leads launched this morning, and it is already shooting up the Amazon charts. Hop on that train early. Then, when it becomes a movie, you can roll your eyes at all the people who are only just getting into it after it’s earned Emma Stone an Academy Award. (I’m casting Emma as Nichelle. Who would you cast?)
I will be in Boston in 3 days, and I can hardly believe that. Several of you have asked where the Cozy Cat Press booth will be. I don’t have an answer to that yet. We will get our placement at 7am on Saturday. Until then, all I can tell you is that we will be in Copley Square, surrounded by books, booksellers, and book writers. The first person who comes up to me and yells, “TWO IF BY SEA!” gets a special copy of TIARA TROUBLE. I am so into this whole Boston thing, you have no idea.
I will be tweeting from Boston, so follow @lanelese for details as they develop. I know my publisher will be tweeting, too. Follow @CozyCatPress and you’ll be in the know on all things Cozy Cat Press related.
Now, I have to share an anecdote.
I was telling an acquaintance about TIARA TROUBLE, and gave her a bookmark. We have a bit of a language barrier, so she understood that I had written a book, and that I was heading to Boston for the Boston Book Festival, but she misunderstood that my book was fiction. She thought I had written a memoir and was so upset for me that my friends had died. She also thought I was telling her that my actual first name was Tiara, and I had been in Trouble.
She was very concerned, and then, I think she felt a little gypped when I explained the situation as it actually is.
It’s going to take some doing to top this as my favorite book story, so far. I expect big things, Boston. Big.
Today was a dream come true, and I owe that entirely to the kindness and love of friends and family. I walked in to Barnes & Noble and set up my table with 25 books, and I left with no books. 22 had sold, and 3 were going on an end-cap to sell later. My wonderful, wonderful People had come in and made me look like I was a New York Times Best Selling Author. By the time I was packing up to leave, my table was gloriously bare.
YOU, friends and family, made this event a success, and I don’t know how to thank you all other than to just keep telling everyone how amazing you are.
The tiaras were a big hit, and I was pretty excited when the book sellers wanted to wear them, too. I think everyone could use a little sparkle. B even wore one for a split second, but refused to be photographed.
I think the biggest hit for me was the official B&N poster with my big face on it. As soon as the event was over, I walked right next door to the Michael’s there and headed back to the framing section. In two weeks, I’ll have an official B&N poster with my big face on it to hang somewhere in my house. Where, I have no idea. I can’t very well hang it over the fireplace. I have to at least pretend to have some modesty and humility about me.
Next week is the Boston Book Festival, then the book signing at my alma mater, the University of Texas at Arlington, and then I’ll be going on blog tours. I’ve been prepping interviews and guest posts for those, and I hope you’re going to enjoy reading what I’ve had to say. I’m trying to make sure there is something new for you to read at every stop, and making sure you haven’t read it here first. That’s not easy! I always want to share it with you first.
Once all that is done, it’s nose to the grindstone to finish MISS MAYHEM, and then I need to get to work on Destinee’s final book in the series. I’ve already decided she’s going to have some competition from Texas in book 3. I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile…
Tomorrow is the big Barnes & Noble book signing event. I have called and confirmed (because I was having nightmares that I had made the whole thing up, and had arrived for the event, only to be told no such thing existed–having to turn around and tell my friends and family that I had imagined the whole thing.), have all my goodies and table decor ready to go, and am about as excited and nervous as I could possibly be. It’s weird having a dream come true.
I’ve spent a lot of time in bookstores, y’all. I’ve spent a lot of time in libraries. I’ve spent a lot of time wishing, and wanting, and trying, and–wow. Tomorrow, I get to be the person I have always wanted to be. I get to be the author, sitting behind the table, signing the books.
Of course, because it’s me, I am thinking, “Well, it couldn’t be that big a deal if they’ll let you do it,” and that rains on my parade a little bit, but even if it isn’t a big deal, I’m still getting to do it–so there, nasty voice in my head. I’m still getting to do something I’ve always wanted to do.
I’ll be there with my books, my bookmarks, my tiaras, and my sash, Sharpie in hand. And I don’t care how hard it rains (it’s supposed to rain), and I don’t care if I’m the only one who shows up. I am going to have a great time, and enjoy every second of that hour.
I’m on the excitement yo-yo. The B&N book signing is this coming Saturday, followed by the Boston Book Festival next Saturday, and the UTA book signing the following Monday. I am alternately very excited, and very stressed. Excited because–well, obviously. Stressed because what if no one shows up? Then there’s the high of excitement followed by the low of the mundane. I have a book signing at B&N, but I also still have laundry to fold and put away. That doesn’t seem right. In my imagination, a book signing always meant the reality of House Elves, who would fold and put away my laundry for me. (I had totally realistic expectations of marriage, but absolutely delusional ideas of what selling a book would mean.)
Speaking of delusional, or perhaps unrealistic, Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love costumes. I love dressing up. I haven’t had occasion to do so in a few years, but here’s a look back at some of my favorites.
This was the year I went in drag as Captain Jack Sparrow. I was one of about two-hundred-sixty Jack Sparrows at my office, but the only one in drag. I was proud of my work with the mascara wand. I’m telling you, if I could grow a real beard and mustache, I would have the fanciest facial hair you’ve ever seen.
Sadly, this is the only surviving photo of my award winning year as Anna Nicole Smith. I did this one at the height of her reality TV show, which worked well with my girth. The next year, she was repping Trim Spa and ruined my impression.
No idea what I was here. I started out to be a ghost, but my dress was too transparent (and my body all too corporeal for such a transparent dress), so I put a corset on top, tied some curtains around my waist, threw on a wig and a tiara (see! tiara!) and just went around hissing at people like some kind of…whatever it was I was.
I haven’t anywhere to dress up this year, so if you see me on Halloween, I will be playing the part of Snake-Eyes’ mother. Snake-Eyes’ mother is partial to jeans and hoodie sweaters.
If you see me on the 12th, 19th, or 21st at B&N, the Boston Book Festival, or UTA, I will be dressed up as a (hopeful) best selling author.
In today’s Interview With the Author, we are talking to Stephen Kaminski, another of my fellow Cozy Cat friends.
STEPHEN KAMINSKI is the author of the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series published by Cozy Cat Press. The first cozy mystery in the series, IT TAKES TWO TO STRANGLE, was the winner of the 2012 Reader Views Literary Award for the Mid-Atlantic region. He has just released the second offering in the series, DON’T CRY OVER KILLED MILK. Stephen is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School. He has practiced law for over a decade and currently serves as General Counsel to a national non-profit organization. He is a lifelong lover of all types of mysteries and lives with his wife and daughter in Arlington, Virginia.
DON’T CRY OVER KILLED MILK brings Damon Lassard back into action. Jeremiah Milk lived a life filled with emotional extremes. Amniotic band syndrome—a congenital condition—left his fingers and toes malformed. Ridiculed as a child, he became an adolescent hermit. As an adult, Jeremiah’s wounds healed when he landed a position as a park ranger and married a woman who loved him despite his physical appearance. But fate ripped his life to shreds when his wife and infant son died on the same night in separate calamities. Shortly thereafter, the tides turned once more as an act of Jeremiah’s ostensible benevolence translates into a financial boon. The book on Jeremiah’s life closes without mercy when he’s found murdered at Tripping Falls State Park.
Damon Lassard—Hollydale’s loveable civic leader, amateur sleuth, and Jeremiah’s neighbor—springs into action. He’s obstructed by a prickly lieutenant, but wriggles information unknown to the police from a colorful bevy of suspects. Aided by his best friend Rebecca and his reluctant ally Detective Gerry Sloman, Damon engineers a deep dive into Jeremiah’s past to solve the crime. Along the way, Damon strengthens his relationship with the breathtaking Bethany Krims, cracks a local horticultural mystery, and tries in vain to tame his wickedly sarcastic mother.
The Outside Lane: How did you get started writing:
Stephen Kaminski: I began writing in earnest when my wife decided to go back to school in the evenings for her PhD. After we put our daughter to bed, she spends several hours on her school work. So I decided to fulfill a lifelong dream and write mystery novels so we could spend those evening hours together (like nerds on our computers side-by-side).
TOL: Where do your ideas/main character come from?
SK: The ideas for my books come in large part from my life. While the stories are not tied directly to life events, the characters and settings are those with which I’m familiar. For example, in my first cozy mystery, It Takes Two to Strangle, a large part of the book takes place at a traveling carnival. I spent several summers during my youth working at such places (from manning the balloon darts to hawking corn dogs). In my second book, the victim is afflicted with a congenital condition similar to my own.
TOL: What’s been the biggest learning experience of your first release?
SK: The most significant learning experience from my first release took place in the writing phase. My first manuscript was far too long and the pace of the book too slow. Working with Cozy Cat Press, I whittled it down about 30,000 words and sped up the pace. While writing the second book in the series, I found my plot moving along much more quickly. In addition, I learned a lot about writing snappy dialogue and post-release marketing. TOL: What are your plans for your next novel?
SK: The second book in my Damon Lassard series has just been released. I have begun plotting a third – hopefully for release in the fall of 2014.
TOL: Any advice for writers?
SK: My advice for new writers is to keep pressing forward. Finish a draft, have others review it, edit it repeatedly, then submit it with a very thick skin (even the best of manuscripts will be rejected repeatedly). But most of all, write because you love creative writing. If others eventually read and enjoy what you’ve written, that’s just gravy.
TOL: How did you come to Cozy Cat Press?
SK: Through perseverance. After I finished the original manuscript for It Takes Two to Strangle, I submitted it to numerous agents and publishing houses as a general mystery. It was Patricia Rockwell — the head of Cozy Cat Press – who recognized that my manuscript had a cozy mystery trapped inside. Working with her, I transformed the book (and now the series) into a true cozy.
Stephen, thank you so much for taking time to be with us today! To learn more about Stephen and his books, follow these links.