Review Giveaway

My first novel, Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort has garnered nearly 40 reviews on Amazon! I’m pretty stoked.

When it reaches the 40 review mark I’m going to select one of the reviewers at random to win their choice of either a Scout’s Honor coffee cup (pictured below), or a signed copy of Mayhem.

Isn’t it adorable?

So, if you’ve read Mayhem and haven’t yet written a review, take a couple of minutes and let others know what you think. Reviews don’t have to be fancy or flowery, just sincere. If you’ve rated it, but haven’t left a review, I don’t have any way of knowing your name, so if you want to be included in the drawing make sure to write a few words.

If you haven’t yet read Mayhem, even if you read it and didn’t like it, I still love you. I really do.

The Kindle version is only $2.99! The paperback is available on Amazon for $11.99.

Peace, people!

Innocent Bystanders

Folks, I promise I’ll try to keep my sales pitches to a minimum, but as many self-published authors have discovered, we really are our own best cheerleaders. And who knows? I get new followers on WordPress almost daily and perhaps they have yet to hear about my book. Honestly, it’s a public service I’m performing here.

You see my debut novel, Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort, is my baby, and I’m proud of her. Oh, I’m well aware that she has a few flaws, but those just make her more adorable. And everyone knows that only grandchildren can attain perfection.

If you have a moment today, I’d love for you to visit Amazon, look up Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort and take a moment to read the reviews. Yes, some of them were written by personal friends, but most are from innocent bystanders. Innocent. Bystanders. Who genuinely seem to have liked my story and my characters.

I know eventually there’ll be less than stellar reviews. I’m trying to prepare myself mentally for those. An author in one of my groups said her favorite bad review was along the lines of, “This story seems to have been written by a constipated rock. Just let it GO!”

Oh, if you have read Mayhem, THANK YOU! Please leave a review. A few words mean so much and reviews are the key to keeping one’s book in the spotlight on Amazon.

End of sales pitch. Carry on (to Amazon). And peace, people.

Buy the Book

Last week I posted about an afternoon spent watching the film, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

The resulting comments from friends on WordPress and social media led me to purchase a copy of the book, and thanks to Amazon, I’ll soon be comparing the book to the film. Seldom do I do the reverse order thing. Usually I’ve read the book first and then often find the film disappointing.

As a newly self-published author I can’t help but imagine what the screen version of my book might look like. Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Express would work well as a movie, but I’m afraid one scene would need to be cut or altered and that would be a shame. Since Hollywood isn’t going to come knocking on my door anytime soon, I guess that’s a senseless waste of a good worry.

A couple of years ago I got to hear author Louise Penny speak when she launched one of her Detective Gamache books here in Tallahassee. Someone asked what she’d thought about the screen adaptation of her first novel. I can’t provide a direct quote, but Ms. Penny said she’d not been happy with the way the book was transformed for the film and that she’d felt as if she had let her characters down.

I totally understand that. My characters, Paula and Cassie, the 3M’s, and Dr. Hunky, are all important to me. They’re like family. I find myself wondering, WWPD (What Would Paula Do) in certain situations. As I write the sequel to Mayhem I ask myself that question multiple times a day. So if I allowed someone to take my characters and change them in ways that weren’t true to my images of them, I’d feel awful. Again, a baseless worry, but hey, that’s how my mind works.

So buy the book. Support those characters, so you too can think of them as family.

Peace, people!

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Studly Doright scared the crap out of me on Sunday morning. I was busy working on edits for The Cowboy and the Executive while my husband was supposed to be playing golf. There I was, my head buried in the task of revising and rewording the first five chapters of the book when he came around the corner of my office and uttered the scariest of words— “Boo!” It’s a miracle I didn’t have a blooming heart attack.

His golf game was rained out after only nine holes of play, so I guess he had nothing better to do than frighten the love of his life. Of course, if the situation were reversed, I’d have done the same to him. We have equally warped senses of humor.

Once my heart rate settled down, I finished my work while Studly got down to the business of enjoying a nap from the comfort of his recliner. His gentle (ha!) snores soon filled the halls of Doright Manor. He’d flipped the television to one of the old movie channels and to my delight the 1947 movie, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir was just beginning.

Now, Rex Harrison knew how to scare a lady properly. Not a single “boo” was uttered. And oh my goodness, was there ever a prettier leading lady than Gene Tierney?

I spent part of the morning and a chunk of the afternoon watching this wonderful old film. Do any of my readers remember the television series based on the movie? It was one of my favorites, but nothing compares to the film. I wonder why someone hasn’t done a modern remake? I’d watch that.

Oh, I’d forgotten that Rex Harrison’s character is a literal ghost writer in the film, and Gene Tierney’s character is his scribe. They bicker over word choice and what to include or omit in the book —just as my editor and I do. The whole scenario was comforting. As I watched, I wondered if Studly could be my muse. Then he snored, not so gently, and I decided that was a big NO.

Peace, people.

Faking It

I had an embarrassing dream last night. Apparently I’d told a group of people that I could play the trumpet, thinking that I’d never have to prove it, or that if someone did ask for proof I could somehow fake my way through it.

In the dream I bought a used trumpet and an instruction book, but never bothered to actually learn to play. Of course, in the dream an emergency situation called for a trumpet player and the group turned to me.

You know how in dreams the magical can happen? You need to be able to fly, so you fly. Or you’ve met Huey Lewis and he falls in love with you? Yeah, this dream wasn’t like that. I carried my trumpet on stage, put it to my lips, and went Pvvvttvvvpp!

The audience smiled politely, probably thinking I was just warming up, and then it happened again: Pvvvttvvpp! Pvvvttvvpp……!

There were loud boos, and somehow worse—looks of disappointment. Someone from backstage came forward and pried the trumpet from my hands. I recall wishing I could sink between the boards, but I just stood there taking my punishment until in the real world my cat patted my cheek and woke me up.

Analysis? I think maybe the trumpet represents my current frustration with editing and revising my romance. Someone’s going to come along and yank it out of my hands before it goes Pvvvttvvpp. I’d call it Imposter Syndrome, but that connotes some level of success that I have yet to achieve.

Or maybe I just ate too much too close to bedtime.

Peace, people

What’s in a Name?

Finding the right name for a character can be almost as daunting as finding the right name for a new baby. Maybe more difficult. With both my children I had names picked out almost from the moment I learned I was expecting, and never had a change of heart the entire nine months of pregnancy. But I only had to come up with one first name and a middle name. The surname was a piece of cake. When writing a novel, one must come up with first and last names for multiple characters. That can be a challenge.

For Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort there were at least a dozen folks who needed names. My main character’s name, Paula Jean Arnett, came to me before I even began writing the book, but the others weren’t so easy, and most I changed multiple times before typing The End.

I’d given one male character what I thought was an innocuous name and then about halfway through writing the book I realized there was someone from my high school days with that name and I really didn’t like him at all. Thanks to “Find and Replace” my character soon had a much less offensive moniker.

The only problem with Find and Replace is that one must be certain that the name being replaced isn’t part of a larger word. I changed a character’s name from Carrie to Stacy in the romance I’m working on and then realized that any place I’d had something carried it was now being stacyd, as in Barton stacyd a six pack of beer to the car.

And why, one might ask, did I need to change a perfectly good name like Carrie? Because in Mayhem I’d named a major character Cassie and when working on the romance I kept calling Carrie “Cassie.“ Thanks to one of my beta readers (Ann) for catching that.

If you write fiction how do you come up with characters’ names? I tried using name generators, but the results never sounded right. There are so many possibilities out there, so why is it so difficult?

Peace, people.

Who, Me?

Today, I feel like Steve Martin’s character in The Jerk when he discovers his name in the phone book:

The new phone books are here! I’m somebody!

Why is that? Because my friend, Michele, who I met through the Meetup app, asked if I’d be interested in having Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort discussed at the group’s monthly book club meeting via Zoom in April.

Of course I said yes.

As my character, Zeke Fitzgerald, would say, “Well, don’t that beat all?”

Peace, people.

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

I’m not going to lie, I’m a big fan of sex. In point of fact, I owe my whole life to a sexual encounter, as do we all. So why is it so difficult to write about?

My first novel, Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Express, didn’t have even a drop of sex in it. Some vague innuendo, yes, but no heart pounding, tantalizing love making. My second work in progress, The Cowboy and the Executive, though, is a different matter.

And while Cowboy isn’t inundated with sex scenes, it does have its moments. Last night, after rereading and tweaking one such scene for the 90th time in an effort to make it feel as hot and natural as I want it to be, I threw my hands in the air and told Studly that if my characters were riding bikes in a race instead of having a proper go at one another in the bedroom, I could easily describe their emotions and physical reactions—the act of pushing down on the pedals, the freedom of feeling the wind in their hair, the way the seat chafed their bottoms as they pushed through physical exhaustion to complete the race, the exultation at finishing first, or the despair of taking a spill.

After listening to my rant, Studly winked and said, “Maybe you just need to do more hands-on research.”

Personally I think he’s just angling for a special mention in the acknowledgements.

Peace, people!