Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Gardener's Palette by Jenny Hendy

I found this wonderful book at a local used book store. You know those times when you see a plant and you think I love that but don't have a clue what it is? All you know is it's pink. Well, this book is separated by color and so it's easy to find what you're looking for or if you're trying to plan a garden by color, you can pick a multitude of flowers in that color scheme.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sunshine Hunter by Maddie Cochere

Sunshine Hunter (Susan Hunter Mystery, #1)Sunshine Hunter is the first book in the Susan Hunter Mystery Series by Maddie Cochere. It's a light chic lit/mystery read and currently free for Kindle.

A murderer, a stalker, and a lying boyfriend. Susan Hunter manages a weight loss center by day and plays racquetball at night, but now she’s run off to Florida ... and she’s accused. 

From Goodreads:
Chick Lit Mystery - The Susan Hunter books are not your typical mysteries, and Susan is not your typical sleuth. Often, she is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and things go downhill quickly. All of the books cross genres of chick lit, mystery, romance, humor, and action, bringing you a fast-paced, easy-breezy read.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Keep Calm and Carry On

Image result for keep calm and carry onThese posters have been popping up lately with different slogans on them, but the original design was intended to be used during WWII to boost moral. (the original was discovered in a book shop). Many of the posters designed during this time (with a type face the Germans were unable to copy) were used, but the Keep Calm and Carry On one was kept in reserve for a dire emergency and never used.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Fast Track by Julie Garwood

Julie Garwood is a new to me author and I received Fast Track from a book giveaway over at Escape with Dollycas.
This is a good book if you're not looking for anything too intense. It has mystery and a little romance. Julie Garwood is a prolific author and has a slew of books in different genres. You can see her list here

From the cover:
Cordelia Kane has always been a daddy's girl - her father raised her alone after her mother died in a car crash when Cordelia was just a baby. So when he has a serious heart attack, Cordelia is devastated, and the emotion is only intensified by the confusion she feels when he reveals the shocking truth about her mother.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mystery Novel First Lines

Whether you're scanning a novel at a book store or checking the first few pages online, it's the beginning words (the hook) that are enticing.  One of my favorite authors who inserts lots of zingers in his writing is Nelson DeMille. His opening lines always grab you.

Here are a few links to opening lines of popular novels. Is there a favorite you want to add?
Thriller First Lines
Opening Lines
Diagram of Famous Lines
Best Opening Lines
First Lines from Famous Novels

Friday, March 6, 2015

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

It wasn't until the Saving Mr. Banks movie came out that I found out the character, Mary Poppins had begun in a book by P.L. Travers. The Mary Poppins books are delightful, but I found frequently that I expected to hear Julie Andrews burst into song. There is more than one book in the series, but apparently P.L. Travers disliked the movie so much, she refused to allow Walt Disney to adapt any of the other books for the screen. I can see why Walt Disney's children loved Mary Poppins so much they asked their father to make a movie from the book.

From the cover:
A blast of wind, a house rattling bang, and Mary Poppins arrives at Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane. Quicker than she can close her umbrella, she takes charge of the Banks children, Jane, Michael and the twins - and changes their lives forever.
Unlike other nannies, Mary Poppins makes the most ordinary events extraordinary. She slides up banisters, pulls all manner of wonders out of her empty carpetbag, and banishes fear or sadness with a no-nonsense "Spit-Spot". Who else can lead the children on one magical adventure after another and still gently tuck them in at the end of the day? No one other than the beloved nanny Mary Poppins.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Stephen King A Memoir of the Craft on Writing

Stephen King is a masterful story teller and writer. In A Memoir of the Craft on Writing he shares his childhood and road to becoming a published author (memoir). He also shares his brief time when writing was impossible for him after he was injured while walking when hit by a vehicle. (The driver was watching his dog in the back of the vehicle and not the road.). Even after a slew of convictions for driving under the influence and speeding, the driver only received probation and no jail time for the horrendous injuries Stephen King suffered.
In the second part of the book he gives the reader suggestions to improve writing and stay dedicated to the craft (he writes a minimum of 2,000 words a day). He also recommends keeping a copy of Elements of Style close at hand (PDF copy here). What I found most helpful was the The Hotel Story in first draft and then with added proofreader and editing notes.
He says when asked if he writes for the money his answer is always 'no'. He never has and never will. "I've made a great deal of dough from my fiction, but I never set a single word down on paper with the thought of being paid for it." He writes because of his love of writing and fulfillment from the written word.
For readers and writers alike, this is an interesting read.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig

It Starts With Food by Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig is a food plan based on the Paleo Diet. The plan, Whole 30 is designed to start you on the track to eating healthier foods and get rid of processed food cravings and food with little or no nutrition.
While you can get the plan information (along with downloads) on the Whole30 web site the first part of the book is "science-y stuff" which goes into detail on how your body reacts to food and what keeps it on an even keel (without sugar spikes). The second part gives you more info. on what to eat along with meal plans and recipes.
I intend to take the 30 day challenge and you can see my progress over on Less of Me. The plan is not a weight loss diet, focusing more on a healthy life style, but nevertheless participants have reported high weight loss.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Scandal in Skibbereen by Sheila Connolly

Sheila Connolly has written several cozy mystery series and this is the second one I've read of the County Cork Mysteries.  (Buried in a Bog was a New York Times bestseller).

From the cover:
Bostonian Maura is beginning to feel settled in her new Irish home, just in time for summer tourist season to bring fresh business to her pub. But the first traveler to arrive is thirsty for more than just a pint of Guinness. Althea Melville is hot on the trail of a long lost Van Dyck painting.

You don't need to read these in order, but I recommend you read Buried in a Bog first because it gives you a lot of information about Irish traditions and in particular about Maura's family and how she came to live in Leap, County Cork. Ms. Connolly takes a lot of her own family history to develop her characters.  She found a pub in Leap called "Connolly's" which she doesn't think has any family connection, but nevertheless became the setting for her mystery series.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

P.D. James Talking About Detective Fiction

I came across this book by P.D. James and was intrigued. P.D. James, you may remember, died last year after a long and prolific career in writing.

Although there wasn't an official detective force in England until one was established in 1842 by the Metropolitan Police, there are many amateur sleuths depicted in mysteries before this time. The Brother Cadfael series comes to mind.
P.D. James mentions many Golden Age detective mystery writers (between WWI and WWII) such as E.C. Bentley who wrote Trent's Last Case, Agatha Christie (Poirot) and Dorothy Sayers.
Most people have heard of Sherlock Holmes written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He used, as his inspiration, Dr. Joseph Bell, a consultant surgeon at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary Hospital.
Later, we have the popular Inspector Morse series by Colin Dexter and Prime Suspect by Linda LaPlante, both of which have been made into television series.
Unlike the British Detective Mysteries that are usually confined to a small area (Miss MarpleInspector Morse) the American Hard Boiled Mysteries  are set in a thriving metropolis which has made Raymond Chandler (The Long Goodbye) and Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon) popular.
And what do all these mystery novels have in common? Usually a motive  resulting from money, lust, loathing or love (avenging someone deeply loved.)

More motives for murder

If you love mysteries, take a look at this book, it will give you lots of ideas for reading detective mysteries by new and old authors. One I'm anxious to look at is a series of Tudor Crime by C.J. Sansom.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Dog Ear Publishing Fees

If you've been following my blog, you know how unhappy I have been with Dog Ear Publishing. The main problem I have is that they ignore the author's wishes. Although I had a contract with them to publish a printed book, they also published an e-book (several years later) that I neither had the opportunity to review/proof  nor was aware of (apparently, according to a review, there were lots of formatting errors in the e-book). I did receive an e-mail asking for money for them to publish an e-book, which I responded to letting them know I had already published an e-book through Amazon/Kindle and wasn't interested. I was frustrated that they took it upon themselves to publish another after I expressly asked them not - it conflicted with an agreement I had with Amazon to publish only through them for a period of time. (Amazon contacted me to let me know another e-book was being circulated)

I received the notice below letting me know Dog Ear would be charging annual fees and will send an invoice and/or charge their credit card if one is on file.

The letter is confusing, if they are charging this fee on the anniversary of the press date, but start on March 1, does that mean if your press date is April 1, you will have to pay the fee two months in a row?

If you're looking to self publish go with Createspace, they won't inundate you with fees, it doesn't cost anything and if you don't want to do the formatting/editing yourself they have a team to help you with that for a nominal fee. For e-books publish through KDP/Amazon and Smashwords

Dog Ear Publishing Review
Dog Ear Publishing E-Books Without Author's Permission

Friday, February 20, 2015

City of God by Beverly Swerling

City of God by Beverly Swerling is an amazing look at life in Old New York in the mid-1800s. I'll start off by saying I loved it and this will be going on my list of favorite reads for 2015. I'm always amazed at the research historical novelists go through to produce their stories and Beverly Swerling doesn't hold back. She paints a detailed backdrop for the characters of the Devrey and Turner families.

During the mid-1800s people headed to New York in droves. There were the European Jews which resulted in the construction of twelve synagogues. The Irish crossed the sea hoping for a better life, but most ended up crammed together in the southern section of Manhattan Island (Five Points). They were blamed for diseases that spread through New York and work ads and boarding houses contained the words "No dogs or Irish allowed". Protestant Evangelists held revivals regularly and the first Catholic nuns appeared on the streets rather than behind the cloister walls. Bellevue Hospital  took in the city's poor, but with those in charge skimming money for themselves, little progress was made to improve conditions in the overcrowded and badly run Bellevue hospital. This isn't the first of the series, but I didn't find it necessary to read them in order. I came across this gem at a book sale to benefit our local YMCA. (Note: There are some areas that were a little hard to read, especially about the foot binding of a Chinese woman whose feet were brutally mutilated and bound to stop them from growing. It was thought to be more feminine to have small feet).

From the cover:
The fourth installment in Beverly Swerling's fabulously plotted multigenerational sage of old New York takes the Turner and Devrey families into the clamorous streets of Manhattan on the eve of the nation's searing Civil War. From the hospitals to the bordellos, the gleaming mansions to the teeming slums, and the corrupt councils to the Catholic convents, the city Swerling conjures is rife with romance and intrigue. Heroines and saints, villains and victims, and a vanished New York are made to live again in an intricate tale of old debts and new rivalries.

For more New York History take a look at the Bowery Boys Blog

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Self Publishing - Marketing

If you participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and have your first book under your belt or publishing a novel is on your New Year Resolution list, there's lots of information out there to help you get started with publishing and marketing.

Here are a few links I've found:

If your book is edited and ready to go, check out Smashwords Style Guide to see how to format an e-book.

Russell Blake has a wealth of information on how to market your book.

Offer free books to boost sales of your other novels. (This suggestion from Karen Woodard works great if the book is part of a series).

Tips and tricks to Improve Sales by Lindsay Buroker

13 Steps to write a 25 page e-book in 13 hours

Self Publishing Success Stories

J.A. Konrath - Suggestions for E-Book Promotion

Book Covers - interview with Chris Howard

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ann Summerville Mysteries

I tend to spend more time working on my blog than on my web site (, but I'm often asked for a list of my cozy mysteries. There's a cozy mystery list on my site.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane by Sheila Roberts

The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane by Sheila Roberts is the fifth installment of the Icicle Falls series.

From the cover:
After a fake food poisoning incident in L.A., Bailey Sterling's dreams of becoming a caterer to the stars collapse faster than a souffle. Now Bailey's face is in all the gossip rags and her business is in ruins. But the Sterling women close ranks and bring her back to Icicle Falls, where she'll stay with her sister Cecily.

All goes well between the sisters until Bailey comes up with a new business idea - a tea shop. She's going into partnership with Todd Black who it turns out is the man Cecily's started dating . . .

The title and cover of the book is adorable, and I picked it up because I thought it was a cozy mystery, but it turned out to be a women's fiction/romance which I don't normally read.  I didn't get very far with the story, Cecily's constant reference to her "zing-o-meter" became annoying to me. It does have good reviews on Amazon so if you like romance books you may enjoy it, but I'll stick to  cozy mysteries in the future.