Casting For A Cover

One of the more exciting and daunting tasks of self-publishing Cast for Murder was finding the right designer for the book’s cover. Despite the admonition, people do often judge a book by its cover. The cover sets the tone for your story and gives readers a clue what is contained on the book’s pages.

I had a short list—two or three names—of cover designers to consider when I came across a recommendation for Keri Knutson of Alchemy Book Covers and Design on a writers’ message board. I clicked over to the Alchemy website and, after a few minutes of looking at Keri’s portfolio, knew I had found the designer for Cast for Murder. Not only did I want to read many of the books whose covers Keri had designed, but I also wanted to go live, or at least visit, the places she beautifully depicted.

I contacted Keri and she soon replied, agreeing to work with me. Keri included a list of questions in her email; my responses would help shape her design. I sent back my answers, including an idea of what I wanted to see on the cover and information on the paperback (number of pages, trim size, type of paper used) so Keri could supply a PDF that would meet CreateSpace’s specifications for a proper cover fit.

A month later, Keri sent me a proof that incorporated my idea with her own inspirations. Are you ready to see it?

I’m proud to present the cover for Cast for Murder:

 

Obviously, Cast for Murder is about fly fishing on the Saint Lawrence River in August.

Okay, no. The story under this fabulous book cover is about a stage production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit. The bullet hole and blood splatter on the script cover indicate it’s not a carefree theatrical experience. The crystal ball, one of Keri’s clever touches, represents one of the play’s characters, the eccentric medium Madame Arcati. Veronica Walsh, the series’ intrepid amateur sleuth and a retired actress, will play Madame in a community performance of Blithe Spirit. The colors are so rich and I love how Keri used the stage lighting for effect. Note the glow on that crystal ball.

I’m delighted with the cover and give profuse thanks to the talented Keri Knutson for the wonderful design. Thank you, Keri!

What do you think of the cover? It makes you want to buy twenty-five copies the moment the book is available, correct?

Have a great week, everyone!

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Moving Forward

I apologize for my absence over the last seven weeks. I had to take time off in September for a family matter and to start the process of dealing with the loss of my mother.

My mother entered the hospital at the start of the month after she fell ill. After ten days of wonderful care from the doctors and nurses, Mom passed away with the same grace and dignity with which she had lived. Losing a parent is a difficult experience, but I find comfort in my belief that Mom now rests in peace in eternal life. I keep reminding myself of an image my siblings and I described to Mom in her final days: Though many of us were saying goodbye to her, there would be just as many waiting with Saint Peter at heaven’s gate, eager to welcome her for all time.

So September was a lost month and I almost forgot I had a book to publish. Almost, but not quite! Cast for Murder is still scheduled for a February release. February 13, to be exact. The thirteenth won’t be the “official” date, that will be the week before when I give final approval to the print and e-book editions and Amazon starts the process of making the book available through its sales channels. I’ve read the process can take between five and seven days. I’ll start my blog tour the week of the thirteenth and I hope to land on a good number of websites to promote Cast for Murder.

This is a short post, in part because I’m working on another one. The cover reveal for Cast for Murder! I can’t wait to share it with you. Soon, I promise.

Enjoy your Sunday!

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Cast In Progress

Can you believe this is the last week of summer (well, the unofficial end of summer)? One more week and it’s back to school. Time to pack away the white clothing (or do you ignore the No White After Labor Day rule?) and pull out the fleece jackets for apple picking and pumpkin patch wandering. I love the approaching season, with its changing foliage, holidays, football, and cool weather. Autumn offers so much to anticipate, including the early 2018 release of Cast for Murder!

I’ve made progress on my self-publishing adventure since my last post. This past week Keri Knutson of Alchemy Book Covers and Design agreed to create a cover for Cast for Murder and on Friday I received the final edit of the manuscript. Thank you, Bethany Blair, for your deft editing! Bethany rooted out my misplaced commas and semicolons, repaired awkward sentences, and pointed out a few inconsistencies and repetition. For example, I had a few too many characters with eye colors in various shades of blue. Is this a case of not seeing the trees for the forest? Each book brings a new writing lesson; I now know to be on the lookout for the Blue-eyed Madness bug in my future endeavors.

This weekend I’m working on the formatting so I can give Keri the final page count for the paperback. She needs the exact number of pages to calculate the proper width of the cover’s spine. The task has forced me to exercise my Microsoft Word muscles (Word isn’t the best for formatting a book, but the budget is not unlimited). Section breaks, line spacing, and font size, oh my! Who knew odd and even page headers and footers were such a wild bunch and widows and orphans so challenging? The effort is doing an excellent job building my anticipation for the final product.

The weekend hasn’t been all work and no fun. I’ve been enjoying the gorgeous weather here in New York and hope the sun is shining and the temperature perfect wherever you are.

Enjoy the week!

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Veronica Returns

Summer greetings! It’s been a while since I’ve delivered a decent post; I apologize for my absence.

I’ve been busy the last few months finishing the third Veronica Walsh Mystery and searching for a new publishing home for the series (you might remember my January 2016  post announcing Five Star’s decision to end its mystery line). I’ve had terrific literary agent Jill Marsal leading the quest. Jill told me upfront how difficult it is to move a series to a new publisher and the outcome has proven her correct. Despite a tremendous effort, we’ve been unable to relocate Veronica and her friends.

This doesn’t mean the end for Veronica Walsh, my favorite fictional soap opera actress, boutique owner, and occasional amateur sleuth. I’m having too much fun writing Veronica’s adventures to stop. And I know a few of you enjoy reading those adventures.

So I’ll be self-publishing this third book, Cast for Murder. The manuscript is now in the hands of editor Bethany Blair and I will soon choose a designer to create a beautiful cover for the cozy mystery. I’m aiming for a late January/early February release in paperback and e-book formats.

You’ve probably deduced from the title that the storyline involves a performance. Here’s a peek at the third installment of the series:

Retired soap opera star Veronica Walsh makes her acting return in a community theater production of Blithe Spirit. Veronica is a happy boutique owner by day and actress by night in her Adirondack hometown, but soon must again assume the role of amateur sleuth when she finds the play’s director shot dead behind the theater. Teaming with stage-manager-turned-director Sophie Morrissey, Veronica’s hunt for clues to the murder of Gigi Swanson leads her to a cast of behind-the-scenes characters: Gigi’s rich husband who’s pursuing a political career, her partner in an interior design business, an event planner harboring a secret, and an embezzler with anger-management issues. A stunning Act Three conclusion leaves Veronica wondering if her acting comeback was such a great idea.

I’ll keep you updated on the progress of Cast for Murder in the coming weeks and months. Winter 2018 seems far away during these days of humidity and sunburn, but time flies when you have much work to get done.

I hope you’ve all had a great summer and are enjoying its final days. Have a terrific week, everyone!

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Happy Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Enjoy all the pleasures of this beautiful day, from the parades to the barbecues, the patriotic songs to the glorious fireworks!

 

 

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A Major League Day

A very happy Father’s Day to all dads!

This week Nick Clooney (father of George) joked Father’s Day is a “minor league holiday.” Say it isn’t so!

Let’s show our fathers how important they are to us. Give your dad a hug and tell him how much you love and appreciate him. Enjoy the day with your father and make him the best dinner he’s ever had. Watch the U.S. Open together or hit the links for your own round of golf. Spend time swapping family memories and making new ones. Maybe even crack open a photo album or watch home films of great family moments.

Today I remember my father, who passed away nineteen years ago, and am thinking of friends who are in mourning for their dads. Let’s also keep in our thoughts the fathers who have lost a child. To them we send comfort and prayers.

Have a wonderful day, everyone.

 

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Memorial Day

Americans today honor the men and women who gave their lives in service to our country. Let’s pause throughout the day to remember the brave souls who made the greatest sacrifice for our freedom and democracy. Let us also pray for our military families, particularly those who have recently lost a beloved member in the line of duty. The battlefield may be on another continent, but we must keep our heroes close to our hearts.

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Mother’s Day Wishes

 

Happy Mother’s Day! I want to wish an especially wonderful day to my mother, Oona. Thank you, Mom, for inspiring and loving me every day.

Did you prepare a special meal for your mother today, or were you the recipient of breakfast in bed or a delicious brunch? This morning I cracked open one of the cookbooks I bought at the library sale I wrote about two weeks ago and baked this treat.

  

A committee of three taste testers gave this pound cake, made from a recipe in Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible, high marks. Mom enjoyed hers with a few peach slices. The cake was moist and scrumptious, though the crust was a bit crunchy; a Google query informed me I may have over-beaten the eggs. I’ll tone down my mixing enthusiasm on the next bake.

Whatever your plans and edible goodies, I wish you all a beautiful day celebrating your mothers. And if your mom has passed, I wish you a day filled with happy memories.

Have a great week, everyone!

 

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The Pleasure Of A Book Sale

Yesterday I went to a book sale at my home library. It was as glorious as the summer-like weather we enjoyed. It was my first big sale in a long while.

For many years, I anticipated the book sale another local library held in the same way I eagerly awaited Christmas as a child. This sale, always the first weekend in May, was spectacular. Shelves and cartons crammed with books filled the library’s ground floor and its sidewalk (I could fill a bag with books before I even entered the building). In the main room, there was always one particular table I called “the gold mine.” Rows of paperbacks would be arranged across the table, with book-filled cardboard boxes lined up on the floor under the table. I would circle this table, grabbing titles I had always wanted to read and stuffing them in my bag. I’d move on to shelves and other tables, but would return to the gold mine four or five times, always finding a book I hadn’t seen on my earlier go-rounds.

Deep was my disappointment the year the sale was cancelled because heavy rains had flooded the room where books for the sale had been stored. A few years later, the library permanently stopped holding the sale.

Which made me very sad. I “met” a number of my favorite authors at that sale, writers who  have inspired my own work. I discovered Jan Karon and her wonderful town of Mitford on the gold mine table. Likewise Karen MacInerney and her fabulous Gray Whale Inn mystery series. I gave Stephen King a second chance when I purchased one of his many bestsellers at a sale.

Let me explain.

My freshman year in college, three friends and I went to a showing of Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of King’s The Shining. A fundraiser for the campus Knights of Columbus, the movie was shown in the group’s basement.

I hated the movie (so did King, by the way). It seemed interminable, a feeling exacerbated by my seat, a metal folding chair. Two of my friends, newly dating, started making out in the row behind me. I wasn’t so lucky to have such a distraction. I don’t remember, but that evening I may have invented the lament about time lost. I wanted my two-and-a-half hours back.

For decades I blamed Stephen King, not Stanley Kubrick, for the lousy evening. I usually don’t hold grudges for long. It’s too exhausting. But “I hated that movie The Shining, therefore I will hate every book written by King,” was my mantra for years.

Until I thumbed through a hardcover copy of Lisey’s Story at a 2008 library sale. It looked interesting. For a buck, what did I have to lose? I could always donate it to the next year’s sale. I bought the book and read it at Halloween that year.

I loved it. I was a convert. A new fan. I still have the book.

My profuse apologies to you, Mr. King.

Such is the power of the book sale.

I made out like a bandit at yesterday’s sale. Life stories, longtime favorite authors, a couple of new-to-me authors, and some books for my sister. Here’s a shot of my haul, which filled three bags:

Notice the two Stephen King books? The love continues.

I was thrilled to scoop up several of Daniel Silva’s novels. A couple of years ago I plucked his Fallen Angel off the library’s small, year-round sale shelf and was hooked on the series starring Israeli spy Gabriel Allon from its opening pages. I’m also making my way through Leslie Meier’s Lucy Stone cozy series and so was delighted to pick up four of her titles at the sale. I’m betting Laura Childs’ Cackleberry Club will become another favorite series once I read Scorched Eggs. How can you go wrong with a name like Cackleberry?

With three new cookbooks, I’ll have plenty of snacks to enjoy with my reading. Though I’m not much of a cake eater (I’m a dedicated cookie girl), I’ve wanted to take a shot at baking a cake from scratch for a while. I have no excuse now that I have Rose Levy Beranbaum’s bible on the subject. I doubt my family will mind sampling the results of my endeavors.

My ninety minutes at the sale added up to a great mix of books. All for twenty dollars!

How about you? Are you a fan of book sales? What authors have you discovered while perusing tables, shelves, and cartons packed with books?

By the way, though I’m not a fan of The Shining the movie, its source material is one of my favorite King novels. Its sequel, Doctor Sleep, is equally fantastic.

Have a great week!

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Holiday Wishes To You

Happy Easter and Pesach! I wish you a beautiful, blessed holiday.

 

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