Friday, October 25, 2013

A Moment of Bliss

I could not move. Sitting on the bench, I stared over the smooth surface of the lake so recently bombarded with boats and boards and acrobatics and the cacophony of accompanying music.  Now it was filled with silence, soft air, warm sunshine. I was transported to another realm.   

Come they called. We have more to do. More to see. We must hurry on to the next destination.

I could not move. Mind and body were at one with the lake and the breeze and the fluttering leaves of the nearby trees. Holiness filled this place, only five minutes ago a tourist attraction. It filled the space with peace, quiet, fulfillment.

Hurry up, they called. What are you doing? How are we going to get it all done?

How could I move? I closed my eyes, breathed in the sweet scents of forest and lake. Listened to a silence that was mine alone. Savored the moment, willing it to last, even as it slipped away.

I moved.

Friday, October 4, 2013

More Book Festival

I mentioned in my last blog that I was going to take part in the Women's Expo in Dayton, Ohio. An energetic group of women who will put on the Dayton Book Expo in May of 2014 arranged for a booth to introduce authors and to promote the May Expo. I enjoyed meeting another group of authors, and it was fun to announce to passersby that all the authors of the books being sold were there to sign the books and talk about them! I probably won't get to the May event, because it falls between a trip to Arizona for the Tucson Book Festival and another trip to Seattle to promote my books there.

This was a two day show. Since Dayton is almost seven hours from my home, that meant three nights in a motel in addition to the booth cost. No way was I going to break even financially, but I knew that going in. What did happen is that I sold 15 books -- not gangbusters but something in a new market for me. More important, I ran out of bookmarks and other cards I had taken to publicize my books. I have never encountered at any event so many people who got excited when they learned I was published on Kindle! Now, I've only seen a possible three Kindle sales as a result so far, but those bookmarks are sturdy -- they'll be around for a while.

So, so far my experiment with book festivals is a qualified success. I do as well with arts and crafts fairs, but the festivals reach out to a different market, which I hope will eventually grow my fan base.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Festivals

Can book festivals work for me?

Since I don't have wide distribution, I decided this is the year for trying to sell books at book festivals. Last weekend I participated in the Kerrytown Book Festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Five Sisters-in-Crime members (four of us with books) had a booth at the festival. I didn't sell a single book. I belive the other three participants sold between one and three books each. Slightly underwhelming.

The other side of book festivals, though, is getting the author's name out there. Peg Herring, another Michigan author that participated, made little scrolls with a book cover from each of us on one side and a little bit of bio and contact information on the other. They were a big hit -- all 200 she had printed were gone by the end of the day and everyone was excited to get one little scroll instead of four more bookmarks!

Will it pay off? Only time will tell.

Michigan is a large state with scattered writers and SinC members. A hidden benefit of this book featival was the opportunity for four Michigan Mystery Writers (our title at the festival) who all belong to SinC but don't know each other had a chance to spend a day getting acquainted.

My next attempt to sell books at a festival will be at the Woman's Fair in Dayton, Ohio on the 21st and 22nd of September. I have joined a Book Expo booth at the fair, where twelve authors will be showcasing their work. It's a lot farther from home and a lot more expensive to attend, so I hope to come home with fewer books than I take with me this time!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Is There Hope After All?

After several months (years?) of increasing pessimism about our ability to stop the destruction of our beautiful planet, in the last few weeks I have attended three presentations that give me renewed hope.

The first was, of all things, a tour of our trash collection facility. American Waste is a local company in Northern Lower Michigan which has emerged as a leading edge trash and garbage treatment center. The scope of what we can put in the recycle bin has become so much more than I had ever dared before, and the recovery rate of that into new resource is 99%! In addition, 33% of what we put in our trash is also recycled. From what is left, some is compost, and the compost (not food grade) is used to put a cap on the landfill of what remains. Since Michigan spends about $100,000 to landfill $400,000 worth of recoverable resource (which is better than most other states), the success our local company is garnering international interest. By the way, I now generate about half a (recyclable) plastic grocery bag a week of trash. It doesn’t seem to make sense to use a garbage bin for it, so I stick it in my neighbor’s. Okay, I live in a condo community, so it’s not cheating. See for more information.

Then our local Cherryland Electric Cooperative teamed with Traverse City Light and Power in a program for members of both to rent solar panels. The panels will provide electricity to the utilities, and the members who rent a panel for $470 will receive credits on their electric bills for twenty years. The demand for rental of panels in our area has been overwhelming, and the utilities expect to erect many more of them. See for more information.

Finally, a tour of a local gem of which I was previously unaware: Archangel Ancient Tree Archives in tiny Copemish, Michigan. With most, if not all, of our planet’s species of trees being gradually decimated by disease to which they are not resistant, this formerly tree farming group has set out to change things. They seek, collect, develop methods to propagate, and archive the genetics of ancient champion trees that have not succumbed to the diseases that plague our forests. These genetically strong trees may eventually reforest the earth, with all the benefits that provides the human population. See for more information.
These events have been so heartening, I'd love to hear if you know of others that are of potential huge benefit to our planet.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mountain Musings

I’m in my house in Yarnell, Arizona for the first time in three years. The house is 4,800 feet up in the mountains, so I haven’t totally escaped the cold. The first two days I could sit on the deck with a heavy sweatshirt, hood, and lap rug for about an hour in the afternoon. I love sitting out there in the crisp air reading a book and looking up to see the mountain peaks around me.

Then it got cold. We had snow for two days, but it didn’t amount to much by Michigan standards. Yesterday we had the weirdest precipitation. It seemed a little like snow and a little like hail. One lady at the library called it Styrofoam, and the description fit. The weather lady on TV said it was not rain or hail, it was graupel, which she described as rain freezing onto snowflakes. Today is sunny, but hasn’t yet reached thirty degrees. We expect it to be between fifty and sixty in the next few days. Back to the deck for me!

I went to the Love is Murder conference in Chicago before driving on to Yarnell with one of my sisters. Another sister stays in the Arizona house, so we three are having a sisters’ reunion, which means lots of scrabble and reading. In addition to doing my own writing, I have finished two of the books I picked up at the conference: A Merry Little Murder by Mary Welk and Deadly Choices by Jenny Spallone. I’m about to start Desperate Housedogs by Sparkle Abbey. Lots of fun to read books by people I have met.

Now it’s time to go to the library. We don’t have internet at the house, so I spend a bit of time there every day. More later, I hope.





Thursday, January 3, 2013

Full Speed Ahead

I said in my last blog, in October, that I'd talk about my latest book in the next one. That's not going to happen, so I guess you'll have to go to my web site or to Amazon to learn about Where Did You Die?, the fourth book in the Marge Christensen Mystery Series.

The reason that's not going to happen, and the reason I haven't blogged since October, is that I decided to try something different - my version of NANOWRIMO - the National Novel Writing Month - which was in November. So every moment that I could devote to writing was put into the next book, but I still didn't make my goal of 50,000 words (even though I started 9,000 words ahead). So, I continued through December. Well, you know what December is like. I made great headway, but still hadn't completed a first draft of the novel.

Today, January 3, I finally finished that first draft. This is monumental. I wrote from about the fourth chapter on without once going back and editing before I could continue. This is the way I want to write, if I can keep doing it in the future.

Of course, the novel, which doesn't yet have a name, is far from complete. Since I normally edit each chapter several times before going on, I have a lot of editing and rewriting to do. But that is the fun part. I already know where the novel ends up, and I can spend my time making my sentences as energetic and fun as I can, and I can figure out where to plant clues and innuendo.

One reason the novel doesn't have a name is that I finally got Marge to Michigan -- but only for a visit. this a continuation of the Marge Christensen Mystery Series, so far set in or around Bellevue, Washington, or is this the beginning of a new series, set in Traverse City, Michigan?