Category Archives: Writing

Having Fun At Book Signings (And Selling Books in the Process!)

Easter Sunday 2015
Easter Sunday 2015 with award-winning author Joe Badal

In anticipation of my latest mystery, Murder on Sagebrush Lane, I scheduled a book signing at Treasure House Books & Gifts in Old Town, Albuquerque. For the past three years now I’ve been welcomed at Treasure House to sign copies of my first mystery, The Easter Egg Murder. With that title, and that particular holiday, it’s been a logical pairing. This year the focus was to be on the new book.Imagine my dismay when I discovered Sagebrush Lane would be delayed in shipping due to a couple of glitches along the way. Notice had already appeared in the Albuquerque Journal announcing the debut and signing of the new book. It was too late to rectify that, so now what? Well, the amazing John Hoffsis, owner and proprietor of Treasure House Books, just happened to have an available opening the Sunday after Easter, and he offered me the opportunity to do both days: Easter Egg on Easter Sunday, and Sagebrush Lane on the following Sunday. I readily agreed, of course. Now the story becomes populated with more incredible people.
Continue reading Having Fun At Book Signings (And Selling Books in the Process!)

Amber Foxx Interview With Patricia Smith Wood

A New Mexico Mystery Author Interview: Patricia Smith Wood

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Patricia Smith Wood’s father, first as a police officer, and later as a career FBI agent, sparked her own interest in law, solving crime, and mystery. After retiring from a varied and successful business career (including eighteen months working at the FBI, being a security officer at a savings & loan, and owning her own computer business) she attended writing seminars, conferences, and in 2009 graduated from the FBI Citizens’ Academy. Aakenbaaken & Kent published her first mystery, The Easter Egg Murder, on February 14, 2013. Murder on Sagebrush Lane, the second in the series, is finished and awaiting publication.

Last week I reviewed her book and this week she’s here to talk with me about it.

AF: The Easter Egg Murder has one of the most complicated plots I’ve ever read. How did you keep track of it as you wrote? (I picture you with a wall-sized chart covered with color-coded diagrams, or moving some sort of double-layered chess-board of characters around.)

PSW: It really wasn’t a problem for me. I’m a “pantster” and I didn’t map it out. The story simply developed as I wrote. Sometimes I’d start a chapter with a vague idea of it going one way, but it ended up completely different. I would finish and think, “Well, now what?” Then the next idea would just be there, and I’d go with it. I routinely found myself surprised at the twists that came out.

AF: Was there a historical event similar to the murder of Chipper Finn that inspired this book? Are any of the characters from that 1950 part of the plot based, even loosely, on actual people in New Mexico history?

PSW: Definitely! The actual murder of Cricket Coogler happened in Las Cruces, NM in 1949. But her body wasn’t discovered in the desert until sixteen days after she disappeared. Four young men (17-18) found her partially buried body in the desert on the Saturday before Easter when they went rabbit hunting. I used the basics, but changed the details to suit my version. Many of the actual people make an appearance (usually in disguise) in my version. And of course, Cricket’s murder was never solved.

AF: 21st century Albuquerque is the main setting in your book, and easily recognizable. Tell me about Los Huevos. I looked it up and found a rock-climbing site of some apparent difficulty, but no town. Is it based on a real place? Do you have any connection with a little town like that?

PSW: Los Huevos is a completely made up town, located conveniently at the foot of Los Huevos Peak (also fictional). Since the body in my story is discovered on Easter Sunday morning at the foot of Los Huevos Peak, that would be a natural reason to call it The Easter Egg Murder. I had been told I should have a title that stood out, and that seemed to me to fit the bill. I have no connection with such a town, but I suppose the small town of Los Lunas (which is actually southwest of Albuquerque about 20 miles) might have given me the idea.

AF: The story of the murder in 1950 and all the events around it, all the characters involved, could have been a book by itself. Did you ever consider writing it that way? How did you decide to make it a story within the story?

PSW: The story of the actual murder (in 1949) has already been written. In fact, I read everything I could get my hands on about Cricket Coogler’s murder. An excellent book by Paula Moore, titled Cricket in The Web, came out in 2008, right about the time I finished my first draft. I wanted to use some actual things, but ended up fictionalizing most of it. No one in New Mexico who knows about this murder wants to say, on the record, who they think was responsible. It was much more fun (and safer) to make it up.

AF: Harrie has precognitive dreams which add a sense of foreboding to the early part of the story. Was there any additional reason behind your decision to integrate this into the plot? I have this kind of dream myself so I liked that you treat it as only a little unusual. Also, it seemed true to “the woo” of New Mexico to have it in there but not make big deal of it.

PSW: I know several people who have some form of precognition, or “knowing”, about events. It’s always fascinated me and seemed like an interesting story-telling tool to use in fiction. I hoped to convey the mystical atmosphere that weaves its way through New Mexico’s history and culture, from the Anasazi and Chaco Canyon ruins to present day native practices.

AF: Tell me about your research. The illegal gambling and the political corruption in New Mexico back in the fifties were things I really hadn’t heard that much about, and I found them fascinating.

PSW: My father was an FBI agent who was transferred to the Albuquerque Office in 1951, two years after the murder. Events were still transpiring when he arrived here, and he later told me what he knew about the case. I also interviewed many people who lived through that era in New Mexico politics during the period 1949-1950. That included former FBI agents, former residents of Las Cruces, a couple of newspaper men who were around at the time, and even the former governor of New Mexico, who was elected mostly because of the Cricket Coogler murder. I also read books, and watched a film made on the subject: The Silence of Cricket Coogler. The book Cricket in The Web goes into the gambling issue in great detail, but I had also heard a lot about that from the people I interviewed.

AF: I know you have a good background in law enforcement, but you chose to give major roles in solving the mysteries to the two amateur sleuths, though you do include police and FBI. I’d love to know how you made that choice, and how you came around to casting two editors in the role of sleuths.

PSW: I have been a fan of the “cozy” mystery genre since I was a teenager. The cozy requires the sleuth (or sleuths) to be amateur, so it was always my intention to follow that basic rule. My favorite series at that age was the Judy Bolton mystery series by Margaret Sutton. In the early books, she was a teenager like me, and her boyfriend, Peter, helped her solve the mysteries. When they grew up, Peter became an FBI agent. Since my dad was an FBI agent, I thought that was a cool thing to do. Toward the end of the series, Judy and Peter eventually married, and she still managed to help him solve crimes.

As for making my sleuths editors, it seemed the best way to get them involved in a half-century old murder. By editing Senator Lawrence’s book about the murder, it gave them an excuse to become embroiled in digging out the answers. I didn’t stop to think how that might play out over a series, but in the beginning, I didn’t know it would be a series!

AF: Just for fun, I have to include this “outtake.” I made the mistake of asking Pat a question about some other books, and here’s the answer.

PSW: If you “Googled” my name, you might have run across a different Patricia Wood (which is why I insert my maiden name into the mix: Patricia Smith Wood) who has written at least one book (The Lottery) and perhaps more by now. She lives on a boat in Hawaii (which I obviously don’t). But that didn’t stop a local magazine from running a small piece about The Easter Egg Murder in which they stated that the author, Patricia Wood, lives on a boat in Hawaii!

It turns out Patricia Wood is a pretty common name. One day in 2012 I received a phone call from a local television station asking if I was Patricia Wood. I agreed that was me, and they then asked if I was the Patricia Wood who had stolen jewels from luggage at American Airlines and was I headed for federal prison in two weeks. Once I recovered my senses I assured them I was not that particular Patricia Wood, they thanked me and hung up.

AF: Tell me about your newest project.

PSW: My newly finished second book in the series is Murder on Sagebrush Lane. In the first chapter, Harrie McKinsey goes out to retrieve her newspaper at 5 a.m. on a summer morning and finds a small girl playing in her flower beds. She notices a dark stain on the child’s pajamas and teddy bear, and when she realizes it’s blood, her journey to find the child’s parents gets her involved in another murder. Of course, Harrie’s life is never that simple, and before it’s over there’s another murder, a race to uncover a plot to steal top secret data, an attempted kidnapping, and a desperate killer who intends to make Harrie his final victim.

AF: It sounds exciting. I’m glad to know there will be more of Harrie in the future. Let me know when the book comes out. Thanks so much for being my guest.

Pat’s web site:

http://www.patriciasmithwood.com

A Bountiful August

Now that August 2014 is history, I spent time this week reviewing and discovered what a great month it was for me!

As most writers are painfully aware, marketing your work is not as fun as writing is. In today’s world, even those published by big name houses, backed by PR teams, and marketing specialists, find themselves going out into the world, selling their books. For those of us with smaller houses, the marketing becomes even more focused on the writer.

I discovered last year when The Easter Egg Murder was released that I had a built-in following I had never realized. Among other activities I pursue, I’ve been an amateur radio operator for almost ten years. At least that’s how long I’ve had my license. Back in high school (and I’m not saying how far back that goes!) I was secretary of the Highland High School Amateur Radio Club. I wasn’t licensed then, and I didn’t need to be. The only reason for my membership and participation in that group was my boyfriend at the time. He was president of the club and spent most lunch hours during the week at the club’s radio shack, tinkering with the ham equipment. I wanted to spend my lunch hour with him, ergo I became a member of the club.

Many, many years later, I married that boyfriend, and he was still a ham. Eventually I succumbed to his pleas that I get my license, too, and in August 2005, I passed my Technician’s exam and became a licensed amateur radio operator. Little did I know, some of my biggest fans for The Easter Egg Murder would come from the ranks of other ham radio operators.

In August 2014, the annual Duke City Hamfest came to Albuquerque. I brought along my books, and before I knew it had sold 16 over that weekend.photoThen two weeks later I got a last-minute chance to have a table at the ABQ Home Expo that periodically appears at the NM State Fairgrounds. During that two-day period, I sold 36 books. The next weekend we were off to Continue reading A Bountiful August

The Writing Process Blog Hop

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Happy Monday to all, and here I go with my challenge this week: The Writing Process Blog Hop.

I think back to the days I dreamed about being a writer (as opposed to actually writing.) Questions swirled in my head about the process, but I didn’t know any real writers to ask. This was long before the Internet and the wealth of information and connections that are possible now.

Today, of course, we have so much information at our fingertips that it often becomes overwhelming. Still we are blessed with having virtual access to many writers and getting a window into their writing lives. That’s what this blog hop is all about. Whether you are currently writing, or still in the dreaming stage, we hope what we have to share here offers insight, instruction, information, or maybe even entertainment. So give us some feedback, if you will. Leave comments here and on the blogs of the writers before and after my post today.

I give thanks to B.C. Stone for tagging me to do this challenge. I met Bryan at a meeting of Croak & Dagger, our Albuquerque chapter of Sisters in Crime. He had a book signing scheduled in the next few days, and I went to see what his books were all about. Much to my delight, he’s taken a glamorous movie star from the 1930s and turned her into the detective protagonist of his series. Kay Francis might not be as well known as Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and Carol Lombard. But her films were as entertaining as she was beautiful. I love that Bryan chose her to put into his books, along with a cast of other famous stars from that era. Check out Bryan’s blog The Vagrant Mood.

At the end of this post, I’ll tell you all about the two fine authors who will follow me and do their blogs on this subject next week on Monday, July 28. But for now, here are the traveling questions and my responses:

What am I working on? 

On Monday, June 30, 2014, I finished the last chapter of my next book, Murder on Sagebrush Lane (at least that’s the title at this moment!) This is another book featuring my characters from The Easter Egg Murder. I immediately started the editing process and have taken two, almost three, passes at it. My editing partner will return from three weeks of travel this week, and we plan to do an extremely thorough joint editing project for the next two weeks. After that, I have the germ of an idea for the next book in the series.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write cozy mysteries, in the tradition of—sort of—Agatha Christie. So how could I be different from all those other writers doing the same thing? Easy. We are all such different people, with so many different experiences in life and ways of living those lives. In my case, one thing that’s different is that I set the stories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which greatly pleases my friends living here, and perhaps befuddles readers from other places. The other thing is I draw on the experiences of my family members, many of whom have spent time in law enforcement. Then I drop in a few of the strange and wonderful people I’ve met over my lifetime, and Voila! My mystery is not the same as another writer of the same genre. How could it be?

Why do I write what I do?

Because I LOVE mysteries! Really, that has been my pleasure reading most of my life. Even the early books I read had some sort of mystery going on. I spent part of my early childhood in a home that included, among others, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother. The radio was always on, and at night, the mysteries dominated the airwaves. The inevitability of becoming a fan of that genre was set back then. We had The Thin Man, The Fat Man, Lux Mystery Theater, Inner Sanctum Mystery, The Shadow, The FBI in Peace and War, Dragnet, and the ever popular Johnny Dollar. I sat on my own little bench every night, chin propped in my hands, enthralled with the pictures in my head that accompanied the actors performing the story on radio.

They say do what you love, and for me, that’s mystery!

How does my writing process work?

First I get an idea. Maybe it’s an incident I’ve heard about, or a story on the news. Sometimes it’s just an inciting incident—the thing that starts the story. I think on that over time until I know how to begin. After that, I start seeing the story unfold like a screenplay. I see the people, moving through life, talking, laughing, whatever they are doing. I write down what they say and what they’re doing. Things happen to them, and I am the scribe.

At some point, I have to stop and take inventory of how many subplots are out there, and whether they can stay or if a few should be dumped. Occasionally I go back and insert a plot point earlier to make things work better. That’s one thing that’s so satisfying about fiction: if you don’t like how the story is going, change it!

Okay, those are the questions, and that’s enough about me. Here are the two writers who graciously accepted my invitation to take these same questions and run with them.

Charlene Bell DietzCharleneI’ve known Charlene most of my life. We’ve been friends since seventh grade at Jefferson Junior High. She moved away before high school, and I lost track of her. Imagine my surprise when I discovered she’d been back in Albuquerque for years!

I invited her to attend my writers critique group back in 2005 and we reestablished our earlier friendship. Not only is she an outstanding writer, she’s a very talented artist, too! Here’s Charlene’s bio and info about her book:

 Born and lived in the mountains of Colorado, then New Mexico and Wyoming, and now back in New Mexico where she still resides, Charlene Dietz attended both the University of Wyoming and the University of New Mexico. She received her Bachelor and Masters degrees from UNM focusing on art, science, and education. She later received her administrative certification. She taught and work at all levels, kindergarten through high school and even college. After she retired she traveled across many states doing presentations for Houghton Mifflin Publishing and conducting staff development and school district in-services. Her writing includes published articles, children’s stories, award winning short stories, and Cuba Libre Conspiracies, a commercial fiction mystery that’s looking for a home. Her second book in this series Illusive Inheritance is in progress.

Charlene’s first book, Cuba Libre Conspiracies, is told from the protagonist’s point of view. Beth, a Denver scientist, finds her marriage failing and her research sabotaged when an estranged aunt, Kathleen, slams into her life and, to Beth’s exasperation, institutes a nightly cocktail hour complete with roaring 20’s stories. With their conflicting opinions and personalities ping-ponging off each other, Beth’s perception of her carefully planned life changes. She carelessly plunges herself into danger to unravel her corporate espionage mystery. In the process she discovers a disturbing family secret.

Go here to read some of Charlene’s wonderful blog posts: http://www.inkydancestudios.wordpress.com

Joseph BadalJoeBadalphoto

Joe is, in addition to being a talented thriller writer, one of the kindest and most generous people I’ve met on this journey. He has a long string of books published over the last eleven years. I first met him at a Southwest Writers meeting where he was the featured speaker. He helped me with editing my book and offered some really good suggestions. Then he came through for me again by agreeing to be one of the writers I tagged for the Writing Process Blog Hop. Here is Joe’s bio and information:

Joseph Badal worked for 38 years in the financial services industry, retiring in 2007 after 6 years as a director and senior executive of a New York Stock Exchange-listed company.

Before he began his finance career, Joe was a decorated military officer, having served in the U.S. army for 6 years, including tours of duty in Vietnam and Greece.

He also served in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

He has had seven suspense novels published: The Pythagorean Solution, Evil Deeds, Terror Cell, The Nostradamus Secret, Shell Game, The Lone Wolf Agenda (which was awarded first prize in the fiction category in the NM/AZ Book Awards in 2013), and Ultimate Betrayal which was released on April 22, 2014. His short story, Fire & Ice, was included in the anthology Uncommon Assassins in 2012, and his short story, Ultimate Betrayal, was included in the anthology Someone Wicked in 2013. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and Southwest Writers Workshop, and was recently named one of the 50 best authors you should be reading.

Joe has written dozens of published articles about various business topics and is a frequent speaker at writers and business conferences and at civic organization meetings. He has extensive experience as an interviewee on radio and television.

Check out Joe’s blog at www.jospehbadal.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

 

And Now, The Tucson Festival of Books!

The weekend is almost here, and I’m almost ready.

The Tucson Festival of Books is a huge event, held each year in Tucson, Arizona. I’ve heard about it for years and have wanted to attend. But the stars never seemed to be aligned properly to permit it.

Last year about this same time, two of my writing buddies and I drove north to Colorado Springs for the 2013 Left Coast Crime gathering. The Tucson Festival was going on about that same time, so once again I wouldn’t make it. Left Coast Crime is also a really big event and we had a fabulous time. It was my debut as a newly published writer, Continue reading And Now, The Tucson Festival of Books!

Monday Observations

This morning was a fairly typical beginning of the week. I’m looking to get organized for the next seven days, and I’m brimming with insights.

DSCF22331.  I’ve Become My Father – No lie, I remember when I was much younger, I saw my father entering into “old fogeyness” (if that’s not a word it should be!) It seemed to me he railed against everything new and, in my opinion, exciting. Whereas all my life we’d enjoyed the same music, now he thought Elvis Presley was too loud and vulgar. Not only that, but his conversations were peppered with phrases like, “Well when I was young . . .”; “In my day we were more . . . ” and similar observations. I think he would love being here now to see Continue reading Monday Observations

Conferences, Confidences, and Chums

The wind that should have blown in March, continues into April, and I’m so tired of it! I cough a great deal, and it makes me edgy and unsettled. I’m ready for the REAL spring!DSCN1460 DSCN1305 DSCN1334 - Version 2 DSCN1304 DSCN1302

We had a fabulous trip to Colorado Springs in March at Left Coast Crime. We arrived on Wednesday afternoon late, and all was fine until we woke up Saturday morning to a icy cold day with snow all over the place! It wouldn’t have been so bad except our hotel rooms were all separated from the main building that housed the conference and eating facilities. It also caused a huge delay in our long-anticipated Saturday afternoon interview of Craig Johnson by Lou Diamond Philips.  Poor Lou was stuck in the airport in Albuquerque waiting for the Denver airport to start receiving flights. He finally arrived during the banquet Saturday night about 9:30 p.m. The interview got going at 11 p.m. (only seven hours later than scheduled!) But Lou and Craig were great troopers and were in fine form.

I tremendously enjoyed the panels I sat on. It felt really good to finally be up there as a published author. The Sunday morning panel was the best of all. Catriona McPherson is a hoot! She had everybody in stitches, and the panelists went along for the fun-filled ride. Catriona was born in Scotland and has the most delicious accent. She won the Bruce Alexander Historical mystery award the night before at the banquet, so spirits were high for the 9 a.m. session. The authors on that panel were such good ad libbers, and the questions kept the audience laughing. We all had a great time, and it was the perfect top off for the conference.

My traveling chums, Charlene (our intrepid driver) and Margaret (my wing-woman) were such fun to be with. Our rides up and back were non-stop conversation. This did not and does not surprise my husband in the least. He maintains that each time our critique group gets together (of which Charlene and Margaret are members) the talk is constant, simultaneous and impossible for him to follow tucked away in his office down the hall. He says we make his head spin, and he closes his door to shut us out. He says men’s head are filled with individual boxes. A guy takes out one box, which contains one subject, like perhaps sports, and he deals with that subject. Then he puts that box away and takes out a box for some other subject. He even has a boxed labeled “Nothing” and when he has that box open, and his wife asks him what he’s thinking, he says, “Nothing,” and it’s completely true!

Women, on the other hand, have all these wires crisscrossing back and forth in their brains. He says we access everything, all at once, all the time. To illustrate to me how my mind and that of my friends works, he places his fingers above his head, wiggles them frantically, and makes a long, drawn-out buzzing sound. He sounds like a bee, and he says that’s what our brains do.

But I digress. We had informative, instructive and deeply revealing conversations both up there and coming back. The only thing better would be hiring a driver with a van that would hold eleven of us, and we could all talk, all the time, the entire trip. Of course, we’d have to put the driver in a sound proof booth, or he’d lose is mind!

Hey, maybe that would be the thing for Left Coast Crime 2014 in Monterrey, California!

Three Women and a Conference: The Initiation of a New Author

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday starts the week of initiation. I’m frantically preparing for a five-day stay in Colorado Springs for Left Coast Crime 2013. This conference will mark my debut in the world of authors, and for the first time, my book and I will be introduced to attendees. I’ve been waiting for this occasion so long it’s difficult to realize it’s almost here.

I’m driving up with two dear friends from my writers critique group. We’re called The Marvelous Ones, and for good reason. These women really are marvelous ones to have as friends and doing critiques of your work. I wish our entire group could go right along with us. But Margaret and Charlene will be good representatives for the team. They’ve promised to sit at my table at the New Author’s Breakfast on Friday morning and be my fans. I hope others will join them there!

After that, we will have another three days of panels to attend. Published authors will share their wisdom and experiences on such topics as: “The Lighter Side of Death & Dismemberment”; “Read My Shorts”; “You Don’t Have To Be A Lawyer To Kill Like One”; and the two I’ve been invited to be a panelist for, “Occupations To Die For” and “Breaking & Entering: Tales of the First Sale.”

It’s a great opportunity to meet new writers and mystery fans, learn new skills, and for me, begin to feel like a real writer. (I’ve already experienced a taste of that feeling when friends who’ve already bought the book give me feedback. That is a real thrill.) Then  Sunday afternoon, we pack up and make the drive home. With three of us all trying to talk at once about our wonderful weekend, it should be an entertaining seven hours!

On Easter Sunday, I’m having my first “official” book signing at Treasure House Books and Gifts in Old Town Albuquerque. I can’t thank John Hoffsis and his dad, Jim enough for being so supportive, not only to me, but to all the other local writers. I’ll be there from 1:00 to 3:00 that day, handing out candy-filled Easter eggs and signing books. That morning at 9:00 a.m. I’ll be a guest on the Terrie Q. Sayre Show on 770 AM, KKOB Radio. Terrie has been very kind to let me and my fellow ham radio operators appear on her show the past three years to promote the annual ARRL Field Day activities. Now I get to tell her and her audience about The Easter Egg Murder.

I’ve already gone through almost thirty of the books I ordered from the publisher. I’m also taking thirty to Left Coast Crime to be sold in their book store. We’ll see how many I have left after that. I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m complaining, because I’m not! This is so exciting and dream fulfilling. It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that it’s no longer something living in my imagination! It’s here and now, and it’s real! Wahoo!!! Bring it on!!

And so the fun begins . . .

Back in the dark ages (before I understood the nature of these things) I figured finding a publisher for my book would be the biggest hurdle and most difficult part of the writing process. Well, as you know from reading my previous post, that happened on September 6 last year. One would think I’d have all sorts of time for blogging and catching up on things.Cover

One would be wrong! Granted, finding a publisher is a huge part of the equation. I also knew (somewhere in the back of my head where life has a kind of story-book quality) that soon I’d be editing and promoting the book. What I didn’t realize was how fully it could consume a person and how I, in particular, seemed paralyzed to focus on anything else. From the moment I received the good news that I had a publisher, my brain started buzzing. What things did I need to do in preparation for the day I had the book in my hand? Who knew this would also be hard?

So it went. Each day my brain got more fevered. I needed to tell all the bookstores, “I’m on my way!” My friends at Treasure House Books in Old Town were jubilant for me and very amenable to hosting a book signing for me. Then there was my next encounter.

I was full of the enthusiasm only a newly contracted writer would understand. After years of dreams and toil, I had a book coming out. One afternoon I happened to be in the neighborhood of a store in which, over the course of thirty years, I’ve spent a lot of money. This was the first time I wanted something from them. I naively approached the first person I encountered and asked who I could speak to about buying my book. He directed me to another employee in the front of the store. I repeated my question. He informed me they took used books in each day, and that I would receive cash or store credit for turning them in.

Huh? Then I realized I was talking to the poor schlub who takes on all the outcast books from owners cleaning out their bookshelves. “No, no,” I quickly protest, “You don’t understand. I’ve written a book that is being published even as we speak, and I want you to order it from Ingram, put it on your shelves, and invite me to hold a book signing in your fair establishment.”

His raised eyebrows and weary expression (and yes, you can have both) told me I was definitely on the wrong track. “Lady, you need to talk to our manager. Maybe he can help you.”

So back I went to the bowels of the store and found the proper person. I repeated my fully rehearsed question. He heaved a huge sigh. “We only stock books by well-known authors.”

I explain that my books will be sold through the book distributor, Ingram.

He shakes his head.

“But,” says me, “I’m a local author. The book is set in Albuquerque and surrounding area. This is a book you should want on your shelves.”

“Lady,” (I’m now getting close to not fitting the description of a lady . . . at least by old school standards which require I not spew forth invectives) “we only stock books by local authors like Tony Hillerman or someone equally famous.”

I’m thinking, (thank God to myself) how the Hell do you think Tony Hillerman got to be famous if somebody didn’t stock his books so people could buy them, and he could GET famous? But instead, I smile . . . my most dazzling smile. Then he relents a tiny bit.

“Well, we allow all self-published authors and anyone who has a book to sell to come in one Saturday a month and  bring their books.”

Not to be denied, I try another ploy. “How about I bring in a supply of my books that I purchase from the publisher. Then you could put them on your shelf and sell them, couldn’t you?”

I get the raised eyebrow again. These guys clearly need lessons in other facial expressions. “Sure thing, Lady. You bring them in if you want to. We don’t guarantee they won’t be stolen, though, and we aren’t liable for your losses.”

Gee, such a deal. I smile, eyes narrowed (I hope he noticed the eye thing) and thanked him. I’m out of that store and not likely to return.

I see everywhere that brick and mortar stores are having a rough time. People are buying at discount chains and on Amazon. I’m sure I won’t make a difference to that store’s bottom line. But if they can’t even stock books by local authors, then they don’t need my business.

So I’m off to talk to other, more friendly bookstores. We have several locally owned stores who seem to appreciate our local talent. I’m sure to have better luck with them. There’s also the libraries all around the area. I need to find out who to sweet talk into stocking their shelves with my book.

I hope I talk to you before next year!

Sometimes Dreams Come True

Since I was very small, I’ve had a big imagination. Until I was a teenager I was an only child, so the imagination was a great playmate. I created stories in my head and acted them out. Sometimes I acted out plays with my dolls, or my miniature people in the doll house I had. The dolls and tiny figurines had great adventures, ate many imaginary meals, and slept quite a bit.

I also read voraciously. I remember the summer I was thirteen; I read almost every novel my mother owned. She had quite a collection of historical novels of the day, and I read them in between reading the books I acquired on my own. There were the Judy Bolton mysteries by Margaret Sutton, and I belonged to the Science Fiction Book Club, which supplied a new volume each month.

As time went on, I tried my hand at writing, putting that imagination to work for me. Nothing much came of it for a long time. Then I became inspired to write a mystery based on a real murder. It would be highly fictional, and in my version, the bad guys would be brought to justice. I now had a dream, and it would drive me for several years. I decided this would be my goal: to create a decent mystery story, tighten and perfect it as much as I could, and get it published.

I had many surges of hope as I talked to agents and editors. I submitted one version or another to many different people. I entered the first twenty pages in a contest two different times. I got one great critique and one not so great. The dream was battered often, but it held steady and refused to die. I became a member of a wonderful writers’ critique group, and those women did more than anything else to help keep the dream alive.

This past Thursday afternoon the magic happened. I found an email waiting in my inbox from a publisher I had queried in July. We had exchanged emails a couple of times and eventually they asked for the entire manuscript. That had happened before, and it went nowhere. You try to keep that hope going, but you don’t want to pin the entire dream on it. If it crashes, it might crush the dream.

This time there was no crash . . . only the thrill and rush that comes with being offered a publishing contract. It’s never happened to me before, so I can’t say how normal my reaction was. I’ve been walking on air ever since, and I have what appears to be a permanent, sappy grin on my face all the time. All I know is the dream is on its way.

I can tell you one thing that, for me, is absolutely true: It’s the best feeling in the world having your dream come true!