January 31, 2011

Welcome to Lois Winston, author of crafty mystery, Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun; BONUS How-to: Make a Button Pot!


Today I welcome Lois Winston, author of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, an Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery new this month from Midnight Ink.

The Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series features magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack. ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN, the first book in the series, received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Kirkus Reviews dubbed it, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” (And how can you resist a book with a crew of animals, including a devilish French Bulldog?)




Lois is also published in women’s fiction, romantic suspense, and non-fiction, as well as being an award-winning crafts and needlework designer and an associate of the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency.

About the Book:

When Anastasia Pollack's gambling-addicted husband permanently cashes in his chips in Vegas, her life craps out. She's left with two teenage sons, a mountain of debt, and her nasty, cane-wielding Communist mother-in-law. Not to mention a loan shark demanding $50,000.

Anastasia's job as crafts editor at American Woman magazine makes life even stickier when she discovers the dead body of ├╝ber-ambitious fashion editor Marlys Vandenburg hot-glued to Anastasia's office chair. Marlys collected enemies and ex-lovers like Jimmy Choos. When evidence surfaces of an illicit affair between Marlys and Anastasia's husband, Anastasia becomes the prime suspect. Can she sew up the case and keep herself out of jail before the real killer puts a permanent end to her investigation?

** Comment on this or any of the other blogs during the month-long tour to be entered into a drawing to win one of five copies of ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN. If your email isn’t included in your post, email Lois at lois@loiswinston.com to let her know you’ve entered.

* Watch the Video * Check out Anastasia Pollack's blog
* Keep reading for her take on crafts and a fun, easy how-to!



Now, here's Lois:

Thanks for inviting me to guest at Candid Canine today, Chris! In ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN, the first book in my recently released Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, Anastasia is living with quite an eclectic menagerie, including Mephisto the Devil Dog, her communist mother-in-law’s French bulldog. I dare say, the dogs in your books are a lot nicer!

Anyway, I’m here today to talk about crafts, not dogs. I’m always amazed when people tell me they don’t craft because they have no talent. The beauty of crafting is that anyone can do it, talent or no talent, depending on the project. Just as you wouldn’t pick up a paintbrush for the first time and expect to recreate the Mona Lisa, you don’t start crafting projects meant for experienced crafters. You begin at the beginning. Do that, and your confidence will grow with each project, and you’ll begin to challenge yourself, moving from beginner projects to intermediate projects to advanced project.

I’m a big fan of buttons as a crafting medium. Who doesn’t have a tin, box or jar of miscellaneous buttons squirreled away somewhere in the house? Maybe you inherited them from your grandmother or mother. Maybe they’re simply all those extra buttons that are pinned to clothing you’ve purchased over the decades. I love crafting with these buttons. You can turn them into anything from jewelry to home dec items.

By the way, did you know that the button was originally created for ornamentation, not as a fastener? Primitive buttons made of shell, bone, wood, and metal have been found dating back to 2000 BC. However, evidence of buttons being used as closures is not found until sometime around 1200 AD. By the middle of the 13th century there are references to button makers in the laws governing French craftsmen guilds. (Bet you weren’t expecting a history lesson when you started reading, were you?)



So back to crafting… the photo of the button necklace (which was a gift from a crocheter) is a project that requires a certain amount of skill. Although it’s a simple project if you know how to crochet, it’s intimidating for someone who doesn’t crochet.

Now take a look at the flower pot picture. Cute, isn’t it? And you know what? It’s a project that’s easy enough for a child. So don’t be intimidated. Pull out your stash of buttons, and follow the simple directions below. Happy crafting!



MAKE A BUTTON POT

Materials: Terra cotta pot (any size); clear acrylic sealer; tile cement or glue for plastic/metal/glass (Note: if doing this project with children, be sure to buy the non-toxic variety of glue); assorted buttons without shanks; felt; marking pen.

1. Make sure pot is clean (scrub well in soapy water, rinse, allow to dry.)

2. Coat the inside and outside of the pot with clear acrylic sealer.

3. Place the dry pot on a scrap of felt. Trace around base of pot to draw circle. Cut out the circle inside traced line so that circle will fit over pot base without sticking out beyond the bottom edge.

4. Glue felt to bottom of pot.

5. Glue buttons randomly around pot.

January 28, 2011

Dumb Crook & Would-be Felon Friday - The Traffic Stop

I've thought about starting this blog series every time I read the paper, so here's the first installment showing just why crime doesn't always pay...


STOP!

In Wisconsin, a 17-year-old boy pulled over on a traffic stop gets his license out of his wallet, and oops! out comes some marijuana with it. You wanna bet he's thinking, gee, so that's where I put it? (Well, maybe the age explains it?)


** Yes, they'll get better as there's no lack of criminal "geniuses" out there... In the meantime, feel free to share your own DUMB CROOK story....

January 27, 2011

Welcome to Evelyn David, author of Murder Off the Books and other Brianna Sullivan Mysteries



Author Independence Day
By Evelyn David

Last October we – authors Marian Edelman Borden and Rhonda Dossett who write together under the name Evelyn David - decided to join the ebook revolution and become an Indy Author.

Yes, we have two mysteries that have been published through a traditional publisher and we plan to continue that method of getting books to readers. Murder Off the Books and Murder Takes the Cake are available in print and ebook formats from Wolfmont Press.



The cozy mystery series, true whodunits we call "fast, fun, and furry mysteries with a little bite," feature a private detective and his trusty sidekick, an Irish wolfhound named Whiskey. The third book, Murder Drops the Ball will be published in spring 2011.

While our series is traditionally published, with the influx of e-readers and their growing popularity, we not only wanted to be part of the new wave of ebooks, we wanted to ride it from the beginning. We wanted more.

Going the traditional publishing route, it takes two years at a minimum to write, edit, find a publisher, edit some more, get on the publisher's schedule, and finally if everything goes right, end up with that same book in a reader's hands. Often the time frame is a lot longer - or if you can't interest a publisher in your book - the time frame is "never."

With ebooks, the clock runs faster. The author writes the book, edits it (or hires an editor), formats it (or hires someone to format it), creates a cover, uploads it to one of the many new digital publishing platforms (Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, Google), and in a couple of days, the ebook is on sale ready to download into e-readers all over the world.


What's an Indy Author?

The best we can tell, it means the same as "self-published" but without all the negative connotations of the past. Writing and publishing your new novel directly to ebook without the services of an agent or publisher is not only possible, but popular. If you have books that are now out-of-print, assuming you had all rights reverted back to you, becoming an Indy Author can mean continuing to earn money on stories you thought were, pardon the pun, dead.

We had written several short stories detailing psychic Brianna Sullivan's adventures in a small, fictional Oklahoma town, but hadn't found the perfect way to publish or market them. Too short for a novel, but too long for traditional shorts for magazines, we decided to develop the series in volumes of ebooks with the total word count of each volume coming in at about 16,000-18,000 words. And most importantly, we decided to self-publish them. Wait, let me revise that statement. We became Indy Authors.



To date we've published three volumes - I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries, The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah, and The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. A fourth ebook is scheduled for release near Valentine's Day.


Tackling the impossible?

We began the process of converting our stories into ebook formats without any idea of how to go about it. Of course we're used to jumping into the deep end as we only learned afterward that collaborating on a novel was supposed to be impossible and we've been collaborating for six years now without any problems.

So when we decided to publish the Brianna Sullivan Mysteries, we were used to taking risks. We researched the formatting processes and taught ourselves how to do it. We are both readers in addition to being authors, so we learn how to do something by reading about it.

The best "how-to" guide we found was the free guidebook at Smashwords, an ebook publishing and distribution platform. You upload your manuscript and Smashwords converts your book into multiple e-book formats, including Kindle, Nook (e-pub), pdf, Apple iPad, etc. The guidebook also helps get your book ready to upload directly to Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

If you have enough patience to read the guidebook several times and can follow instructions to the letter, you can successfully format and publish your own ebook. And if you can't - based on your past history of never being able to put together "some assembly" required furniture without parts left over, or never being able to install a software program without crashing your computer- save yourself a lot of hair pulling and hire someone to format your ebook while you write the next one. Either way you win.

One warning. Being all things - author, editor, cover artist, and publisher - means you are responsible for not only writing a good book, but editing it, and making sure the formatting results in an ebook that readers want to read. If you skimp on any part, your sales and reputation will suffer. If you have questions about our ebook journey, please feel free to ask.


About the author:

Evelyn David is the pseudonym for writers Marian Edelman Borden and Rhonda Dossett who together author The Brianna Sullivan Mysteries, Murder Off the Books, Murder Takes the Cake, and the short story, Riley Come Home.

Marian lives in New York and is the author of 11 nonfiction books on a wide variety of topics ranging from veterans benefits to playgroups for toddlers. Rhonda lives in Muskogee, Oklahoma, is the director of the coal program for the state, and in her spare time enjoys imagining and writing funny, scary mysteries.

Marian and Rhonda write their mystery series via the internet. While many fans who attend mystery conventions have now chatted with both halves of Evelyn David, Marian and Rhonda have yet to meet in person.

** Don't forget the contest at the end!

** Check out Evelyn David's appearance schedule and writing projects at The Stiletto Gang blog, and at the website.






**CONTEST!! We'll give two winners their choice of one of our Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - in the ebook format of their choice. If they already have the first 3 volumes, we'll give them a copy of volume 4, being published next week - Undying Love in Lottawatah.

The first winner is for the best comment left on the blog by Sunday 6 pm Central. Or if they have problems leaving a comment, they can send a email to us at evelyn@evelyndavid.com saying they read the blog.

January 26, 2011

Daily A to Z Blog Challenge in April


Glutton for Punishment? Join me in April as I try the Daily A to Z Blog Challenge beginning April 1. Sounded interesting since you use letters of the alphabet as a starting point. Posting will be daily except Sunday.

January 25, 2011

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie?


Or don't, according to a recent study that says that sleeping with your dog will make you sick.

Junk science? Another scare story?

Of course, kids should not make a habit of letting Fido or Kitty sleep with them. (Then again we're talking about kids who roll in dirt, etc., right?) Yes, you don't want to kiss the dog on the lips or have them lick your face... But - has this researcher ever had a pet - especially a dog or puppy, you wonder? (Try dodging puppy kisses!)

But oh before you panic, the disclaimer is despite the spread of some diseases, and the implied risk, the keyword here is RARE.

Like another recent story, probably based on a study, talking about the risk of lead in reusable plastic bags. Like we all think about that??

Or past examples: that frying - as in french fries - releases a chemical linked to cancer.

Or that grilling can have cancer risks. Or... there are dozens of other examples I'm sure.

First it was food, and now it's the dog. So not fair.

This is most likely another of those stories based on so-called "research" about things that will supposedly kill/hurt/harm us. Give them a few weeks or so and they'll change their mind.

You know what? Unless you're a hermit or want to live in a bubble, you can pick up germs anywhere - like the grocery store or the family bringing home those wonderful cold germs. Anything can happen.

Kick the snoozing, snoring dog off the couch or out of the chair? Don't let them lie by you? Yikes! I'll take my chances and let sleeping dogs lie.

(c) 2011 http://candidcanine.blogspot.com

** What do you think?

January 24, 2011

Top 10 Favorite Songs Blogfest



Today I'm participating in the Top 10 Music Blogfest at Alex Cavanaugh's blog.

Music has always been part of my life. Funny I can still remember all the words to a Top 10 song I loved as a teen in the 70s, but I can't remember details of something I did last year (last month? week? haa!)

Maybe it's the age-- back then music had meaning. It connected you to specific events and things in your life: heartbreak, disappointment, happiness, etc.

Here's my Top 10 Favorite Songs (well, really, how can you pick only 10?) - there are probably others but these are the ones I think of that had meaning to me or that I really liked: (in no particular order)

TOP 10 FAVORITE SONGS:

1. Begin the Beguine, Glen Miller
2. Band of Gold - Freda Payne
3. Indiana Wants Me - R. Dean Taylor
4. Shame - Evelyn Champagne King (my dance song!)
5. Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves - Cher
6. Valerie - The Monkees
7. Cara Mia Mi and This Magic Moment - Jay and the Americans
8. Patches - Clarence Carter
9. Baby Blue - Badfinger
10. Locomotion - Grand Funk Railroad


January 22, 2011

Dollhouse Miniatures and Writing in New Hobbies Issue of Mystery Readers Journal


Ooh! The issue I know I've been waiting for the Hobbies, Crafts and Special Interests volume (Issue 26:4) of Mystery Readers Journal. (Click link for full table of contents and to get print or pdf issue.)


Besides some great topics on all kinds of crafts and collectibles by a wide array of mystery writers, I also contributed my take on Writing About and Collecting Dollhouse Miniatures by Christine Verstraete.


The essay relates to my kid's mystery, Searching for a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery, which involves the search for a missing miniature replica of Van Gogh's "Starry Night."

Who says hobbies are just, well hobbies? ha!

January 19, 2011

Miniatures Wednesday: Patty Benedict's Miniature Monsters



If you've never seen the work of amazing doll artist Patty Benedict of Woopitydooart, you're in for a treat (not a trick!)

So what if Halloween is months away? Patty loves indulging her love of the holiday and her creativity with her one-of-a-kind sculpted figures any day of the year.

Known for her witches and amusing witch brooms, Patty hand-sculpts her figures of polymer clay usually in the standard 1/12th - one-inch scale (1" equals 1 foot) dollhouse scale. (See Patty's other figures and read more about her here.)

Well... she's outdone herself this time! Her latest adorably gruesome pair are 1/4th (quarter-inch) scale. Holy cow! The monster is under 1 3/4" and the little Igor is under 1" tall. Check out the detail!!!

I admit, I'm a fan of Patty's work and have written about her before, but even if you don't like Halloween characters, looking at these is sure to make you smile.

* Patty is selling the pair on eBay here.

* Patty's blog link to her little monsters (Take that Lady GaGa! - she calls her fans "little monsters" in case you didn't know.)

January 18, 2011

Headlines that Make you Look Twice

Being a journalist, I know how hard writing a headline can be, given font size, space restrictions etc.

And while maybe these are not true, if they are, then those editors need to read what they write a little more carefully. But they're good for a laugh anyway. Enjoy!


Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
Really? Ya think?

----------------------------------------------------------
Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
Now that's taking things a bit far!

----------------------------------------------------------
Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
What a guy!

----------------------------------------------------------
Miners Refuse to Work after Death
No-good-for-nothing' lazy so-and-so's!

------------------------------------------------------
Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
See if that works any better than a fair trial!

----------------------------------------------------------
War Dims Hope for Peace
I can see where it might have that effect!

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If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile
Ya think?!

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Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
Who would have thought!

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Enfield (London) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
They may be on to something!

----------------------------------------------------------
Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
You mean there's something stronger than duct tape?

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Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge
He probably IS the battery charge!

----------------------------------------------
New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
Weren't they fat enough?!

-----------------------------------------------
Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
That's what he gets for eating those beans!

---------------- ---------------------------------
Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
Do they taste like chicken?

****************************************
Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
Chainsaw Massacre all over again!

***************************************************
Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
Wow, how tall?

*******************************************
And the winner is....
Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead

Huh?
***************************************************

January 17, 2011

Upcoming Blog Guests

Upcoming Guest Authors:

Stop back to learn more about their books and a chance to win some great prizes!

1/27: Evelyn David - Murder Takes the Cake

1/31: Lois Winston - Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun

2/2: Peg Herring, The Dead Detective Agency

2/11: Geraldine Evans, Death Dance, A Rafferty & Llewellyn Mystery

2/18: Mary Cunningham, Cynthia's Attic/The Magician's Castle

3/9: JQ Rose, Sunshine Boulevard
MuseItUp Publishing






January 14, 2011

The color for 2011 is ....


Well for once I'm right on the mark! Call me trendy for picking this new blog background ahead of time.

Why? Well it seems those in the know have chosen the color "Honeysuckle" as the tone for 2011.

Oh, and to most of us it looks like a pretty, good old-fashioned pink, doesn't it?

Actually I like pink - it looks good on most people, bringing out the roses in your cheeks; it's good with other colors, and is a fun "happy" color.

So, yay for pink!

January 12, 2011

End of an Era: Last member of Ozzie and Harriet TV Family Dies


David Nelson, the son of the famous TV family, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, died, reported Yahoo News. The show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, aired from 1952 to 1966.

The show, and others of the time - Leave it to Beaver, Dennis the Menace, The Donna Reed Show - were symbols of an era, even if they were idealized.

But wow, compare TV fare now and it's unbelievable how much has changed... not exactly for the better?

* The Bachelor - women throwing themselves at one guy.

* Housewives of ---- - catty women backbiting each other.

* Jersey Shore - excesses of everything.

* "Reality" TV in general - the worst of everyone.

That's entertainment?

** Your thoughts?

January 07, 2011

New Review for Steampunk'd, featuring Edison story by C. A. Verstraete


Found a new review for Steampunk'd, which also mentions my story, "Edison Kinetic Light and Steam Power" by C.A. Verstraete, and some other "standout" stories.

** See review.





January 05, 2011

2011 Writing Goals: What are yours?

I had hoped to get my current project done last week, but I knew I wouldn't. Luckily, it didn't get me too off track as it usually would. Maybe because I'm soooo close to the end that I have to finish!

It's YA so I'm aiming for around 42,000 words. I'm over 35,000 now. So about three, four chapters maybe? I really had wondered if I'd ever get to this point, but I love the story and want to finish it. It's different as it's about zombies but with a twist, first person, funny, horror, and fun to write!

What helped was really getting serious and writing some every day last week; even 500 words done put me closer, I figured.

Next comes the dreaded synopsis and query letter.

Any published YA/mystery/horror authors interested in being a beta reader? Could use a few extra eyes to catch things I might have missed. I'd like to get the first three chapters and synopsis sent out in the next few weeks.

** What are your goals or what are you working on?

January 03, 2011

Banned words for 2011

Heard enough of these already?

A small Michigan college issued its annual banned words list which would go "viral" if it was on video - viral incidentally being one of those vastly overused words, according to Yahoo news.


The recent banned list includes:

1 Viral - agreed

2 Epic fail

3 A-ha moment (?)

4 back story - well important to writers if no one else.

5 BFF (Guilty as charged, I used it describing Sam's friend, Lita, in my children's book, Searching for a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery.)

6 Facebook and Google as verbs

7 Mama Grizzly - yes please ban it.

8 Man Up - yeah enough.

** What have you heard enough of or hope you never hear again?

January 01, 2011

Happy New Year 1-1-11. Wishing you and I:




Wow, talk about lucky! All those one's. Go play the lottery. ha!

Wishing everyone in 2011:

* Much happiness

* Fun with your hobby

* Great friendships and happy relationships

* Writing and other job success

* Good finances

* Great health

* Love, joy, faith and peace!
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