Posted in A Day in the Life, Cozy Cat Press, Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, Marketing the BOok, Tiara Trouble

Sparkle, Baby!


Maybe the best part of writing a series set in the pageant world is that now when I watch Toddlers & Tiaras, I can call it research.  No more guilty pleasure!  It’s research.  It’s for work, y’all.

Maybe the worst part of watching Toddlers & Tiaras is how terribly I feel for some of the children, who are going to grow up to need real therapy.  Not pretend therapy, but reconstructive help to teach them how to feel good about themselves so that they can function beyond just, “Sparkle, Baby!”  No, the worst part is knowing I am watching child abuse for entertainment.  Research.  Researtainment.

Yesterday, I watched an episode with three great sets of parents, and it was as unusual as it was delightful.  The kids were all happy, well-behaved, and seemed quite well-adjusted.  The worst thing the editors could do with the material was to make one mother out to look overly proud of her daughter.  My mother would tell you that there is no such thing as overly proud of your daughter.

Today, I watched a piece of an episode with a mother who made me want to reach through the screen and yank her bald.  The other featured mother was great, and her daughter gave the line of the show.

While she was being interviewed, the little girl talked about raising pigs on their farm.  She said, “We butcher ’em.  Sometimes I’m sad to lose a pig.  …then I’m happy when it tastes good.”  Deadpan delivery.  Didn’t crack a smile.  Kid after my own heart.  BACON!

Meanwhile, I saw my first review from someone I don’t know–a reviewer who has my book as part of an upcoming blog tour.  She gave me 5 stars and I have been squirming happily over it since yesterday.  The first line read, “Ms. Buckman may never be accused of writing great literature,” and went on to glow.  I read that first part before I saw how many stars had been rated, and my jaw dropped.  And I laughed.  Because it is true.  Then, I read the rest of the review and laughed even harder because it was pretty awesome.  I want it written into my will that it is part of my obituary.  “Lane was never accused of writing great literature, but–”

As people who don’t know me, and therefore do not feel obligated to protect my feelings, read the book and enjoy it, I am elated.  When people say they have laughed, I am over the moon.  I love laughing, and I love when I get to be part of making someone else laugh.

So, if you’re local and you’d like to see me laughing in person, join me on October 12, at the Barnes & Noble in Lewisville, TX.  That link takes you to my author event page.  You probably can’t hear the high pitched giggle that accompanies me typing, “my author event page,” but your dog can.  I apologize.

Speechless. Breathless.  Grateful.
Speechless. Breathless. Grateful.
Posted in Cozy Cat Press, Interview with the Author

Interview with the Author: Swinging by a Silk with Barbara Jean Coast


I want you to read everything that follows with a mental martini in hand, your most fabulous frock or dinner jacket, and some Dean Martin playing in the background.  This post is to introduce you to Barbara Jean Coast, author of the Poppy Cove Mysteries, rather, to introduce you to Andrea Taylor & Heather Shkuratoff, the best-friends-since-childhood writing team behind Barbara Jean Coast and Poppy Cove’s silky style.

I was hoping to have STRANGLED BY SILK finished in time to add a review to this post, but (as usual) I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, so pleasure reading is taking a backseat to freelance writing work.  What I can tell you is that from the start of STRANGLED, I was smiling over the style.  I am really looking forward to being able to sit down and sink into the atmosphere.  Until then, I am enjoying Barbara Jean’s Facebook page, where she posts witticisms and wisdom daily.  Things like, “I was tickled when he told me I was the apple of his eye until I saw how many trees he was harvesting!” and “If ‘happy’ only lasts one hour, you’re going about it all wrong” and “Fancy soaps and clean towels make guests feel welcome. Now you know what to do when you want them to leave!”

You get the idea.  The Poppy Cove stories are set in the fictional town of Santa Lucia, loosely based on Santa Barbara in the late 50′s, early 60′s and revolve around the glamorous comings and goings of the social set of the town, with a little murder and mayhem thrown in for good measure.

Definitely check out Barbara Jean Coast and Poppy Cove!  They are my fellow Cozy Cat friends, and have already shot up to the most recommended for Kindle in the cozy mystery ranks.

The Outside Lane:  How did you get started writing?

Andrea Taylor:  Since childhood, my imagination was working overtime.  As soon as I could hold a pencil, I was putting my ideas on paper.  There was a great joy in making up stories, games and play-acting.

Heather Shkuratoff:  I have always been an avid reader of every genre, but I’m especially fond of cozies.  I like the way they create worlds and characters in a bucolic fashion that make a person want to know the people and visit the places.  The idea for the Poppy Cove Mystery Series felt like that kind of story of place and time that wanted to be told.

TOL:  Where do your ideas come from?(Or, more specifically, where did your series’ main character come from?)

HS:  I have a background as professional dressmaker and seamstress, even ran my own shop years ago.  Shortly after I decided to close up shop, I approached Andrea about the idea of a cozy mystery based on a design atelier and the people who frequented it.  She liked it and within a few hours we were brainstorming.  She really caught on to the basic concept and had some great descriptions of the main characters and plot lines, while I focused more on clothing details and place descriptions.  The more we talked, the more we felt we were on to something.

AT:  My ideas about our main characters for STRANGLED BY SILK (the first in our series) came from what I imagined two, young independent women of that time period to ideally be.  I also knew that the characters needed to be distinctive from one another.  Margot’s the cool, calm and creative intellectual.  Daphne’s the sporty, fun-loving quick thinker.  As the series goes on, we’ll all learn more about what makes these two girls tick and click.

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

AT:  For me, the biggest learning experience I have had with the release of our first book is juggling and balancing between writing, promoting and living.

HS:  I agree.  Before when we were just writing the first book, that’s all we were doing in the course of the series.  Now, we’re working on the second, keeping track of notes for series consistency, marketing and promoting the first book and still looking (and occasionally finding!) time to have a life.  All in all, we’re pretty lucky and happy.  There are certainly worse problems to have!

TOL:  What are your plans for your next novel?

AT:  For our next book in the Poppy Cove Mystery Series we are bumping off a beauty queen!  Also, we’re introducing some new characters to the Santa Lucia canvas as well as bringing back the cast from STRANGLED BY SILK who are still alive to add in all the delightful background story lines and details.

HS:  It starts a few weeks after the first novel with the fall fashion show at the Santa Lucia Charity Ball, held at the Yacht Club where Nora Burbank, Miss Santa Lucia, is the darling of the show.  Things go terribly, terribly wrong for her shortly after that.

TOL:  Any advice for writers?

AT:  My advice for writers is to love the story your are telling, be patient, have perseverance and just keep writing.

HS:  Yes, keep writing!  Do your research and craft your words.  Above all, enjoy the process and get lost in your own world.

TOL:  How did you come to Cozy Cat Press?

AT:  We found Cozy Cat Press online, read an interview with Patricia Rockwell and were comfortable with the idea of this being the right home for our series.  We sent off a query and manuscript as we were doing with various presses, and when an invitation for a contract arrived, not only was it exciting, it felt like it was the right fit.

HS:  We were very grateful for the opportunity and really glad that we signed on.  There was a quiet knowing under the excitement, that sense of something that’s meant to be.  We’ve had great support and met such talented, interestingly diverse fellow authors that have been very helpful and nice people to boot!

Links
Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Strangled-Silk-Poppy-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00B8YKKBG/
Blog:  http://welcometopoppycove.wordpress.com/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BarbaraJCoast
Pinterest:  http://pinterest.com/bjcoast/
Facebook:  “Friend” Barbara Jean Coast & “Like” Poppy Cove Mysteries
Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/BJCoast 

Andrea and Heather, thank you so much for being with us on The Outside Lane!

Posted in books, Cozy Cat Press, Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, Marketing the BOok, writing

Please Sign my Book


I am adding new dates to the TIARA TROUBLE book signing tour.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, October 12, when I will be at the Lewisville, TX Barnes & Noble from 1–2pm.  BARNES & NOBLE, y’all!  That’s like a real bookstore and stuff!

I just got official word back on it yesterday, but I spent most of last night daydreaming about what I would wear, how I would do my hair, wondering if I should try to match my outfit to my book cover, or just go all black so that the book cover stood out against me when photographed.  I don’t want to clash with my book!  But I don’t want to look like a ninja either.  Destinee isn’t an all black kind of character, and since I am her envoy to the real world, I need to represent her style as best I can.

I finally decided on wearing a sweater that picks up the color Destinee is wearing on the book cover and black trousers.  So, when photographed, the light background of the cover will pop against me, but will still tie together nicely.  I haven’t decided on my hair, or my shoes, yet.

Leslieann knows me well enough that her first email this morning was to ask me what I planned to wear to the B&N event.  Ha!

I am especially excited for this one because a B&N signing is a hard get for a new author out of a small press.  Most small presses use Print on Demand publishing, rather than offset publishing.  With offset printing, a camera ready copy of the manuscript is printed from plates.  Offset, or Traditional Printing happens in bulk for a much lower cost, and allows presses to make better sales deals with buyers.

Say you are an author on Biggest Publishing House Ever’s list.  When you sell YOUR NOVEL, they will use marketing tools to determine how many of your books they should print, and will do it all at once with offset printing.  Then, they sell those books to bookstores in batches.  Maybe Your Local Bookstore buys 20 of them.

If the book sells well, Your Local Bookstore will keep ordering more to put on the shelves.  If the book does not perform, Your Local Bookstore may do a couple of things.  1.  They might put your book on sale and hope the new, lower price makes it move.  2.  Send it back to the vendor who sold it to them for a credit.

If you are an author with Independent Press House, when you sell YOUR NOVEL, it will likely be printed on demand.  Instead of plates being made, etc, etc, a digital copy goes to the press, and they print each book as it is ordered.  It is a much more expensive way to publish, and that cost is passed along to the buyer.

YOUR NOVEL will be available to everyone on every major retailer’s website, but might not make it into a store because a) A small press is less likely to work with a distributor whose job it is to talk national chains into carrying your books in stores, b) a store is less likely to purchase a POD because they cost more AND they are non-returnable.

Whereas books they buy from offset presses can be returned for credit if they don’t move, POD books cannot.  Your Local Bookstore is just stuck with your books if they can’t sell them.

When bookstores do a signing, they need to sell about 30 books in order to offset the cost of the event.  If your book is a POD, the risk on an unknown author is not worth the work of setting up the event.

That’s not to say a bookstore won’t let you come in and do an event if your book is POD, it just means that your sales pitch when asking to hold or be part of an event needs to be that much better.

Some bookstores are sensitive to the plight of the indie press, and they hold semi-annual events allowing a certain number of authors to come in and do signings.  With the larger group, the cost of holding/promoting the event does not really change, but the likelihood of selling 30 books increases.  That doesn’t mean they will order 30 of your books, but it does mean that whatever of yours they have on hand, you’ll be there to sign.  And, in these events, bookstores will often let you bring your own books in to sell on consignment.

The better prepared you are to pitch your novel, the likelier you are to be invited to do an event.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what to do to get prepared.  Maybe I’ll know what I’m doing with my hair by then.

 

 

Posted in books, Cozy Cat Press

Interview with the Author: Everybody Wants to be a Cat


So it’s not an interview today, but a whole slew of authors to get to know.  My new friend and fellow author under the Cozy Cat Press umbrella, Blanche Day Manos, did all us kittens a solid by putting together a listing of our blogs and book links on her own truly delightful blog.  Since she did all the heavy lifting, I am simply stealing her work and pasting it below for you.   Check out these cats.  Cats are cool.

First, there is the editor and publisher of Cozy Cat Press, Patricia Rockwell. Patricia authors the Essie Cobb senior sleuth series and Pamela Barnes acoustic mysteries. Her website ispatriciarockwellauthor.com.

If you go to Lee Stansfield’s Facebook page, you will be met with a dazzling array of teacups, illustrating her Mr. T and The Traveling Teacup books. Her Facebook handle is Leslie Matthews Stansfield.

Writer Dreama Reed has a brand new website called djreedwrites.com. Check this out and meet Dreama.

And then there are the Poppy Cove mysteries of Barbara Jean Coast. This is actually a writing duo of two friends, Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff. Their book is Strangled By SilkBarbara Jean also interviewed me a while back and was this writer thrilled!! Their blog site is: welcometopoppycove.wordpress.com.

Julie Seedorf  has a beautiful website and blog and is author of Granny Hooks a Crook and Whachamacallit ThingamajigGo to julieseedorf.com and you’ll see what I mean.

Nanci Rathbun’s latest book is Truth Kills.  This talented writer’s interesting website is: nancirathbun.com. The eye-catching backdrop is a cityscape.

It would be hard to beat B. J. Gilbertson’s title or picture for his book, Deathbed and Breakfast.  His website has atmosphere and to spare.

Another fellow Cozy Catter is Joyce Oroz. I have been privileged to be included in one of her interviews. Her website lists her latest book, Cuckoo Clock Caper.

Steve Kaminski writes the Dabbling Detective series, It Takes Two to Strangle and Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk. Visit his website at damonlassard.com.

Amy Beth Arkawy is radio host, author, and creativity coach. Imagine my excitement when she interviewed me on live radio! What a thrill. Amy authors the Eliza Gordon books, Dead Silent and Killing TimeYou will find more fascinating facts on her website.

Lane Stone brings us mysteries set in the beautiful state of Georgia. Two of her books are Domestic Affairs and Current Affairs.  For more about this talented author, go to herwebsite.

Timya Owen’s author page is on Facebook: Timya Owen. She is writing the Fernbridge Mysteries.

Marlo Hollinger has an eye-catching blog. Really neat and entertaining thoughts.

And then, of course, there’s the Darcy Campbell/Flora Tucker mother/daughter sleuth series written by co-authors Barbara Burgess and Blanche Day Manos (that would be me). Our latest is Grave Shift. My website and daily blog can be found at blanchedaymanos.com.  (Oh! You’re on it!) The latch string is always out and I invite you to come back and visit tomorrow and the next day and the next… In fact, all of us Cozy Catters invite you to visit amazon.com and look up our books. We think you’ll be glad you did.

Posted in books, Cozy Cat Press, Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, Great Escapes Blog Tour

Destinee’s Feet in the Sand


great-escape-tour-banner-large-TIARA-TROUBLE-640Is it obvious yet that I am very, very, very excited?  Click to find out where I’ll be on this tour, and how to read my interviews, excerpts, and reviews.

I really want you all to like Destinee.  I think she’s the kind of girl you could take on a road trip.  If you’re going to be stuck in a book with a character for a few hours, it ought to be someone whose feet you wouldn’t mind seeing on the dash.  Destinee is that girl for me.  She would share the driving, the gas money, and tips on how to get the perfect pedicure.  Also, she would NEVER put her feet on your dash.  That’s tacky.