The one thing that concerns me most about holiday giving isn't the money. It's figuring out what to give each person that will be personal and appreciated. Sometimes, in our family we've tried drawing names, giving one person a list of things we'd like, and letting that person pass our lists on to the right people. We've tried making a rule that we could give only homemade items (baked goods, art, sewed or quilted items, etc.) One or two times, everyone brought a small gift and put it in a pile so everyone could draw lots to pick out gifts that could then be claimed by someone else while the chooser had to draw another gift.
None of the ideas lasted for more than a year or two. Even the plan to give money to charity rather than buy gifts for each other (except for young children) worked entirely. There were some who insisted on giving gifts to everyone in the family as well as to the charity. That made the folks who followed the plan feel a little awkward and curmudgeonly.
Here's an idea. Everyone could give books to each other. We know what kind of books most of our family members enjoy. But if someone receives an book, he or she could pass it on in some way. Give it to someone who would like it. Donate it to the library. Put it in a box of items going to a charity. Give it to a retirement community.
People have given my cozy mystery books as gifts in the past, and they've written to tell me the gifts were appreciated. They have also been loved by the folks in retirement communities where I've donated them.
Have a stress-free holiday season. Read a book!
Here are the doors I've been staining lately. Writing in the evenings and staining during the day--the cozy life of a mystery writer.
It's not all play and no work these days. For the past week I've been staining, finishing, and staining, and refinishing wood doors to replace some I painted several years ago. Styles change, but I should never have decided to paint woodwork in my house!!
For Halloween fun, read my short story published at Kings River Life Magazine: http://kingsriverlife.com/10/29/a-wild-halloween/
Also, Furtive Investigation e-book is on sale at Amazon for $.99. The second Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery: Psycho Cat sniffs out a skeleton in the attic. Police are told to drop the investigation. It's up to Beth, the landlady, to figure out who killed the victim.
(Now's your chance: Goes up to $1.99 on Sunday and regular price on Thursday.)
On a beautiful early Fall hike, I sat to rest in this chair. I, in this chair, represent the amount of time I put into writing my new book that day.
My smile shows how much I enjoyed the adventure. How can a writer write unless she voyages into Lilliputian Land every so often?
There are new adventures everywhere. Rock trails to climb. Trees to hug. Ideas to grab.
In LiFELINE, the next Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery, Beth, the landlady, must learn about the people and customs of other countries from people she meets in her new condo building. How do they fit into the murder mystery she is trying to solve? You'll be able to find out when the book is published early in 2016.
I've now started writing the third Psycho Cat mystery. Psycho Cat is older, as are Beth, the landlady and her ever-reluctant-to-help hubby, Arnie. There are mysteries galore in their new digs on the penthouse floor of the condo building in Brookside, a cozy neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri.
The greatest problem facing me now is a great title which uses a cat pun. A CATacylsmic winner. Contact me with ideas, and your suggestions could become the title.
Before the nice cat Truffles passed away, he interviewed Sylvester, aka Psycho Cat, from my series. You can read the interview at on Truffles' blog.
Since Furtive Investigation has been published, I've had time to write for several blogs published by others, one of my favorite things to do. Here are a sample with the links:
On THE MAGAZINE AT BLOGSPOT, I posted an essay about writing a cozy mystery, all of my frustrations right out there: http://the-magazine-at.blogspot.de/2015/07/writing-cozy-mystery-by-joyce-ann-brown.html?m=0
On Marilyn's Musings, I posted the same article: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/2015/06/writing-cozy-mystery-by-joyce-ann-brown.html
I wrote "What’s in a Name?" for James Callen's blog: http://www.jamesrcallan.com/blog/2015/02/27/whats-in-a-name/
Here is the link to Novel Spaces where I posted about "Flushing Out the Self-Publishing Process": http://novelspaces.blogspot.com/2014/09/guest-author-joyce-ann-brown-flushing.html
On Creatures 'n Crooks/Buried Under Books I posted my confessions about being a slow reader: https://cncbooksblog.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/confessions-of-a-slow-reader/
Psycho Cat's interview with a cat from a different series.
I also have a couple of short stories ready to be sent to contests.
Please see my recent post about choosing the names of characters. http://www.jamesrcallan.com/blog/2015/02/27/whats-in-a-name/#comment-16648 I pondered, chose, reconsidered, renamed, and then felt terrible when a couple of my original character names remained in the first copy of the published book. The comments I received on the post are insightful.
The proof of the second book in the Psycho Cat and the Landlady series is in proof. It will be launched the middle of March.
The second annual Local Authors' Book Fair took place at Mysteryscape Bookstore in Overland Park, KS on Nov. 13. There were mystery authors of every kind--thriller, young adult, children's, historical, true crime, detective, cozy, and probably some overlaps. Some authors had written a mystery or two and some books of other genres and brought all of them to sell.
Friends of the authors, bookstore regulars, and passersby came in to talk to the authors, get bookmarks, business cards, and other promotional information, and to buy books for themselves or as gifts. I had fun promoting my Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery series and selling CATastrophic Connections. I sold to cozy mystery lovers, cat lovers, and people who wanted a gift for one of those types.
One of the local authors (in the foreground above) also writes for The News Hub. She interviewed many of the authors and wrote an article about the book fair for the site. See her article at: https://www.the-newshub.com/stories/book-fair-in-the-heartland
I had a blast and hope I'll be invited back next year.
My book has been available for sale for a couple of weeks, and it's been an amazing adventure to publicize and talk about it to readers. Much of my interaction is online, of course. Creating a platform and making readers aware of my book through Internet connections is not only time consuming, but also it is plain hard work.
Hyping my book to groups in my hometown and across the nation through personal appearances is fun. Maybe I just like to talk. Maybe I'm thoroughly intrigued by my characters and plot and like to voice my enthusiasm. Whatever the reason, I love to talk about my book and my writing.
There is a caveat, however. There are always those who will not like my style, genre, characters, title, cover, or me. Here's a line I read in one of my online groups which expresses my feeling exactly:
"Going public with your creativity is like walking out with your pants down."
(Nancy LiPetri on Maria Ruiz's author website.)
There are so many good walking, hiking, and biking trails in the Kansas City Metro that I walk one of them a week with my Roaming Readers buddies--a group of school library media specialists who are now readers and explorers with me.
One of our favorite trails is the Trolley Track Trail which passes through the Brookside neighborhood of Kansas City and is featured in the story CATastrophic Connections. Beth Stockwell, the landlady sleuth, walks on the track nearly every day and lives close to it.
On the blog, Hiking K.C. Trails, you can visit some of the beautiful trails and travel them with me.
Wildlife is abundant on our trail walks. I can't help taking pictures whenever I can get a good shot. Frogs, wild turkeys, deer, birds of all kinds (we know there are eagles out there but haven't been there at the right time,) plus our little rabbit friends and the ubiquitous squirrels--those creatures and the insects and reptiles help make the walks interesting.
Most people from the U. S. and other countries who travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands go for vacation. It's a U.S. Territory; so no passport is required for U.S. citizens. There are many activities, celebrations, and resorts to choose from. Too bad Beth Stockwell had to be there for an unpleasant reason.
Watch a u-Tube video of island celebrations: