HOTXSINC Meeting: February 11, 2018 at Cafe Express

Our mission is to promote
the ongoing advancement, recognition,
and professional development of women crime writers.
                                             ~ SINC Mission Statement

NEW LOCATION on February 11: CAFE EXPRESS!
Program: Meredith Lee (Dixie Evatt and Sue Cleveland) on How to Launch Your Book
Upcoming Programs
The Word on Our Members
Selected Sites
Nolo Contendere

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Dixie Evatt & Sue Cleveland

writing as

Meredith Lee

on

How to Launch Your Book!

Sue Cleveland & Dixie Lee Evatt

Dixie Evatt and Sue Cleveland, writing as Meredith Lee, authored SHROUDED, a Crispin Leads mystery. They’ll tell us the steps they took and the adventures they had in launching their first book last fall.

New feature: How many times do we think of a question, but it escapes before the meeting. This year SinC encourages members to send questions in advance of the meeting. Each month, we will post the guest speakers for the following month and the deadline for advance questions. The questions will be passed on to the speakers as soon as we receive them.

Send questions for Sue and Dixie — Deadline Sunday, February 4. 

Please e-mail advance questions to Fran Paino at franpaino at gmail dot com OR to

Noreene Cedeno at noreenm74 at yahoo dot com

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Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter meets monthly on the second Sunday of the month, at 2:15 p.m. at Cafe Express,  3418 N. Lamar, Austin 78705512 452-9888

For information about the Heart of Texas Chapter contact Joyce Arquette, Publicity, (512) 266-6543.

Check out our blog/newsletter, HOTSHOTS!, at https://sinc-heartoftexas.com/posts/

 

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We live in a time of instant everything, courtesy of the electronic highway.
It creates a community of toddlers.
When they don’t get immediate gratification, they get petulant and sulky.

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Upcoming Programs

March: Billy Kring, former U. S. Border Patrol agent, on How to Create a False Identity

April: TBA

May: Ed Martin, former U. S. Treasury agent, now private investigator at Sage Investigationson Breaking the Madalyn Murray O’Hair Kidnapping/Murder Case

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I  write because in 1962 I put in my application for a job
working in the children’s department at Sears,
and they never called me back.

~ Sue Grafton,
quoted in Why We Write, Meredith Maran, ed.

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The Word on Our Members

Noreen Cedeño has joined Writing Wranglers and Warriors as a regular blogger. She’ll post once a month. Click here to read her first post, “Emotional Atmosphere.”

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Valerie Chandler, Laura Oles, and Kathy Waller, Alexandra Burt,  Manning Wolfe, and Honorary HOTXINC Member Scott Montgomery will speak and sign at the launch of Austin Mystery Writers’ second crime fiction anthology, LONE STAR LAWLESS, at BookPeople, February 4, 2018, at 5:00 p.m. They will be joined by contributors Janice Hamrick, Mark Pryor, Terry Shames, and George Wier. Kaye George and Larry Sweazy, whose stories are included in the book, will not be able to attend. LONE STAR LAWLESS is dedicated to Austin Mystery Writer and HOTXSINC member Gale Albright, two of whose stories appear in the book. Gale died in 2016.

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Laura Oles will speak and sign copies of her new book, DAUGHTERS OF BAD MEN, at BookPeople on February 5, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. Terry Shames (A RECKONING IN THE BACK COUNTRY) and James Ziskin (A STONE’S THROW) will also speak and sign. DAUGHTERS OF BAD MEN is Laura’s first book.

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Laura Oles’ article “Beloved Settings: Considerations for Fictionalizing a Favorite Place” appeared online in Writers’ Digest on January 19, 2018. Watch for her post about DAUGHTERS OF BAD MEN on the MysteryPeople blog.

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Francine Paino and Helen Currie Foster have joined the Austin Mystery Writers critique group.

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Sue Cleveland and Dixie Evatt, who write under the pen name Meredith Lee, presented “The Mystery Inside Our Little Grey Cells” at the OLLI Lamp program at The University of Texas. Watch a video clip of the session on Sue’s Facebook page.

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ThirtyNineStars, the business partnership of Sisters in Crime Dixie Lee Evatt and Sue Meredith Cleveland, received the 2017 Ignite Rising Star Award from IngramSpark.

The writers, who publish under the pen name Meredith Lee, were notified that they were selected for the award, which recognizes, “authors new to IngramSpark in 2017 who have already demonstrated a savvy approach to their self-publishing journeys.”

IngramSpark is the distributor of the author’s debut novel, SHROUDED. The thriller, the first installment in the Crispin Leads Mystery Series, is the story of a graduate student whose trip to Rome to study burial rituals at the Vatican is derailed when she is witness to a murder.

Ignite awards honor booksellers, publishers and libraries that exhibit outstanding best practices in indie publishing in three categories: best practices in indie publishing, best practices in community engagement, and rising stars.

To learn more visit www.meredithlee.net.

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The English tradition offers the great tapestry novel,
where you have the emotional aspect of a detective’s personal life,
the circumstances of the crime and, most important,
the atmosphere of the English countryside that functions as another character.

~ Elizabeth George

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Selected Sites

What Editors Want

The articles below were shared on The Passive Voice.

January 2018 Report: US online book sales, Q2-Q4 2017

In our opinion: Inmates deserve the written word

A changing book business: it all seems to be flowing downhill to Amazon

Amazon’s Cashierless ‘Go’ Convenience Store Set to Open

Your Book Editor Just Snagged Your Spot on the Best-Seller List

Long-Forgotten Opera About Tabasco Sauce Heats Up Stage Again After Almost 125 Years

New Author Earnings Report

Is Creativity Finally Dead?

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The following articles were posted on the IngramSpark blog.

5 Tips for Budgeting Book Promotion

Book Metadata Tips for Indie Authors

Facebook Tips for Indie Authors

Book Publicity Opportunities in Newspapers

Digital Book Marketing vs. Book Publicity

Writing Tips to Fortify Your Writing Resolutions

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Someone once asked John Updike, “Why don’t you write a mystery?”
And he answered, “Because I’m not smart enough.”
Here’s a guy who’s written brilliant fiction, won two Pulitzer Prizes,
but he has a different skill set, just as I couldn’t have written Rabbit, Run.
Writing a mystery takes planning and plotting.
You lay a bomb on page nine; it doesn’t explode till page four hundred.
Even a bad book takes some talent and work to put together.

~ David Baldacci
quoted in Why We Write, ed. Meredith Maran

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No Lo Contendere

Members, send news to kathywaller1 at gmail dot com. Include both past and upcoming events.
Also send head shots and a list of your book titles to Kathy for the HOTXSINC author page.

HOTSHOTS! welcomes reviews and articles written by members. Email to Kathy at kathywaller1 at gmail dot com. 

HOTXSINC Meeting: December 10, 2017 at BookPeople

Our mission is to promote
the ongoing advancement, recognition,
and professional development of women crime writers.
                                             ~ SINC Mission Statement
_______________

Program: HOTXSINC Holiday Celebration
“Holly Through the Heart” ~ An Original Radio Play
Election of Officers
Refreshments ~ Finger Foods

The Word on Our Members
Article: “Using Those Movies in Your Head to Promote Your Novel”
Report: Texas Book Festival
Call for Submissions
Selected Sites
Nolo Contendere 
_______________

 It’s the Season

Heart of Texas
~ Holiday Mode! ~

Sunday, December 10, 2017
2:15 p.m. at Book People

Election of Officers

SPECIAL EVENT

*****A Radio Play by Kathy Gresham*****

“The Case
of the
Poisoned Holly”

Refreshments & Finger Foods

Come One & All
Free & Open to the Public 

Celebrate the Holiday Season 

Say Goodbye to 2017 

Look Forward to an
Exciting New Year

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Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter meets monthly on the second Sunday of the month at 2:15 p.m. at Book People, 603 North Lamar, Austin, phone 512-472-5050.  Take the elevator to the third floor.

For information about the Heart of Texas Chapter, contact Joyce Arquette, Publicity (512) 266-6543, and check out our website at http://sinc-heartoftexas.com

*****

An I had but one penny in the world,

thou shouldst have to buy gingerbread.

                                                                   ~ William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost

 

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The popular idea that a child forgets easily is not an accurate one. 
Many people go right through life in the grip of an idea
which has been impressed on them in very tender years. ~ Agatha Christie

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 Election of Officers

At the December meeting, HOTXSINC’S members will elect officers for 2018. The nominating committee presents the current members of the board, who have agreed to remain in office for 2018  if members so desire.

Nominees are the following:

Helen Currie Foster — President
Noreen Cedeno — Vice President/President Elect/Program Chair
Francine Paino — Secretary/Membership
Dave Ciambrone — Treasurer

Nominations from the floor will also be accepted.

The Word on Our Members

K. P. Gresham will speak and sign copies of MURDER IN THE SECOND PEW, at BookPeople on December 8, 2017.
The Pastor Matt Hayden returns to BookPeople to solve the latest murder (or was it a missed attempt to kill him?) in MURDER IN THE SECOND PEW. I’m looking forward to seeing all of my Sisters in Crime there!

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DAY OF THE DARK: STORIES OF ECLIPSE was reviewed in Mystery Scene magazine. Stories by Laura Oles and M. K. Waller appear in the anthology. Former HOTXSINC member Kaye George edited the book.

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Meredith Lee’s SHROUDED was reviewed in Blue Ink Reviews. Sue Cleveland and Dixie Evatt, who write under the name Meredith Lee, spoke and signed at their book launch at BookPeople on November 10.

 

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Manning Wolfe’s second novel, MUSIC NOTES: TEXAS LADY LAWYER VS L.S. BARON was released November 24.
Merit Bridges is left to sort out the truth while navigating the music business and the dark web, but she soon finds herself confronted with a web of lies so masterfully woven that she fears he may never find any answers. Merit must fight not only for justice but for her reputation, livelihood, and her life.

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Members, please email links to your websites and/or blogs to kathywaller1 at gmail dot com so we can list them in our blogroll. Email your news/announcements to the same address.

When you send news, please provide working links to everything you want linked: book covers, titles, your name, your website, venues for book launches, signings, panels, preferred vendor, etc. The editor is regrets she can no longer search for them. If you don’t provide a link, there won’t be a link.

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People walking under the Zilker Tree. Christma...
People walking under the Zilker Tree. Christmas in Austin, Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) by That Other Paper, licensed under CC BY-SA-2,0

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Using Those Movies In Your Head to Promote Your Novel

Sue Cleveland & Dixie Lee Evatt

by Sue Meredith Cleveland and Dixie Lee Evatt (aka Meredith Lee)

When you’re writing do you sometimes visualize a scene as a movie in your head? Many of us do but few of us ever see our novel on the big screen.

Now there is a way you can bring a little piece of that movie to life and sell your books at the same time. For about $100 it’s possible to produce videos to promote your book and book events through social media.

These video trailers can be produced using advanced Powerpoint or Keynote software and tapping into websites that sell royalty free images, stock footage and stock music. It’s a four (or four and a half) step process.

Step #1: Conceptualize a simple storyboard. Ask yourself: What is my core message? (Example: “Shrouded goes on sale August 16, 2017.”). Think in terms of bumper stickers and billboards not broadcasts. You have less than 10 to 12 seconds to attract potential on-line customers. Viewers will flash through the material pretty fast. What images, colors, sounds and words build tension for your key points? In Shrouded we used graveyards with weeping angels and a night view of the Paris skyline as backdrops.

Step #2 Produce your video. You do this by uploading text, images and sound to your application (Keynote, PowerPoint or similar software). Experiment with the animation tools available to you and synchronize the music for maximum impact. This is where the creative side of your brain gets to play. Select royalty-free images and music from websites that sell these:

Once you have your royalty-free images and music, upload them to a template. The Keynote application on Mac is useful as are the animation options. Experiment with the tools offered for transitioning between slides, confetti, blur and many more, for building transitions between slides.

Set aside some quality time at the computer to synchronize all of this. It gets easier as you work with it.  

Step #3. Post production. Pick your platform (Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, etc.). Read up on the file format required for a particular platform. Convert the now animated slide show to the format required by your online site of choice. Each website will list its specifications. For instance, Amazon will take any of several (AVI, FLV, MOV, MPG, WMV ad MP4).

We uploaded our trailer to our website, Instagram account, author’s pages on Amazon and Goodreads, http://readersreviewroom.com, and to https://bookclubreading.com. We added links to the companies that carry our book.

Step #4. Distribution. Now you are ready to let the world see what you have done. You can track whether or not your video trailer is attracting attention for your book or event. When our promo trailer ran, our Amazon ranking hit a high of 47,815. Our ranking dipped as low as 945,856 when we did not run book trailers. These rankings reflect our books standing against other books in our genre, not the number of books sold.

Step #4.5. Targeting. Some platforms allow you to “boost” by targeting selected demographics. For instance, our Facebook author’s page offered boosts. We purchased $35 – $50 “boosts” to run for a week. We selected our demographic. An example: Men and women between the ages of 35 – 80 living in Austin who read mysteries. The “boosts” of our trailers on our Facebook author’s page reached between 4,000 to 6,000 people.

With eight million print titles on Amazon and a million ebook titles, it can be hard to get attention for your book when you have a shoestring budget. We’ve found that video book trailers are one more way to boost sales on a budget.

Click here to view sample trailer:  https://youtu.be/T7yzZeW94oY

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I have patches of insomnia,
and I’m fascinated by the otherness of the world at night.
The stillness.
Daytime preoccupations fall away, 
standards change, thoughts change.
It’s a canvas for reinvention, I think. ~ Morag Joss

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Texas Book Festival

by Helen Currie Foster, HOTXSINC President

Sisters in Crime awarded HOTXSINC a grant to fund a booth and other necessities needed for participation in the Texas Book Festival November 4 and 5. Below is an excerpt of the report President Helen Currie Foster submitted to Sisters in Crime.

SUCCESSFUL USE OF SINC GRANT

Sisters in Crime, Heart of Texas Chapter (HOTXSINC) so appreciates SINC’s $500 grant to us for our non-profit booth at the Texas Book Festival. The Festival is huge; it stretches from the Texas Capitol Building down Congress Avenue and this year up Colorado Street as well.  Thousands of people from all over the country attend every year (we talked to visitors from Seattle, Chicago, Sicily, Turkey…). We were assigned a great location—Booth 417 in Exhibit Tent 4. I’m attaching the information for Exhibitors (you can find us listed therein). We were busy at our booth ALL DAY SATURDAY Nov. 4 and ALL DAY SUNDAY Nov. 5 until the Festival closed at 5:30.

HOTxSINC BOOK SALES!  At our booth we sold books by HOTXSINC members (including Kathy Waller, Dave Ciambrone, Noreen Cedeño, Francine Paino, Kay George, Valerie Chandler, Laura Oles, Helen Currie Foster, Kathleen Phelps, Dixie Lee Evatt, Sue Cleveland, and including two anthologies including member contributions).  We offered bookmarks and information on the plots and authors. The booth was staffed from time to time by Kathy Phelps, Noreen Cedeño, Fran Paino, Dave Ciambrone, Helen Currie Foster, and Dixie Lee Evatt, Sue Cleveland, Valerie Chandler and Pam Baggett-Wallis.

BANNERS:  We had banners! HOTXSINC banners, our SINC banners and the giant SINC table-skirt.

SINC Brochures: We had a purchased Plexiglas table stand to hold SINC brochures, and another stand for our HOTXSINC brochure, which tells the history of our chapter. People were very interested in the history of both SINC and our organization and SINC, and by the end of the festival ALL brochures had been taken.

HOTXSINC Brochures: Fran Paino developed a brochure for the Festival recounting HOTxSINC’s 27-year history—very popular.

Also, we had a HOTXSINC membership signup form with our website listed, and have only a couple left.

CONVERSATIONS!  We talked to many, many people during this two-day event. We talked to Austinites, out-of-towners, foreigners, students, retirees, friends, strangers. As you might expect, a number were writers/aspiring writers. The eye-catching banners drew people who were curious about HOTxSINC and SINC and loved hearing that we were local authors who were there to sign our own books. We made some good contacts with future members and had great conversations with others about critique groups, writing processes, the supportive nature of HOTXSINC, and of course the excellent programs we’ve had this year.

THANK YOU AGAIN FOR THIS GRANT.  We believe we’re establishing a presence at the most important book festival in Texas, one heavily attended and publicized, and we think it’s really important for the advancement of SINC and HOTXSINC for us to be there.

 

 *****

I do read P.D. James because she pays much more attention to character,
to a particular atmosphere or setting.
But most mystery writers, I think,
are controlled by the plot. ~ Martha Grimes

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One definition of noir is where a not-so-good man or woman
tries to touch something good – and fails. ~ S. J. Rozan

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Call for Submissions

HOTXSINC lists the following websites for information only.  Readers themselves will need to evaluate reliability and quality. 

Writing Career
https://writingcareer.com/call-for-fiction-submissions/

Level Best Books
https://levelbestbooks.wordpress.com/submissions/submissions-novels/

East of the Web
http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/index.php?p=submissions/20131_3

The Short Mystery Fiction Society Blog
https://shortmystery.blogspot.com/p/markets.html

Crimewave
http://ttapress.com/crimewave/guidelines/

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 Selected Sites

The Passive Voice

Writer Unboxed

Jungle Red Writers

Mystery Writers of America

Mystery Fanfare

The Authors Guild
What Authors Need to Know About the New Tax Bill

Bloomberg
N.Y. Times Scales Back Free Articles to Get More Subscribers

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-01/n-y-times-scales-back-free-articles-to-get-readers-to-subscribe

Electric Lit
A New Story by the  Master of Hardboiled Detective Fiction
https://electricliterature.com/a-new-story-by-the-master-of-hardboiled-detective-fiction-1ff845e9479a

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Nolo Contendere

Members, when you email news to kathywaller1 at gmail dot com. Send a headshot or snapshot and titles of books and stories for inclusion in the author page. Send the URL of your website or blog so the can be included in our blogroll

Also – When you send news, please provide working links to everything you want linked: book covers, titles, your name, venues for book launches, signings, panels, etc., and make clear which link goes with each item. (The editor is a little slow on the uptake and needs help). The editor will no longer search for these. If you don’t provide a link, there won’t be a link.

Kathy Waller, editor
kathywaller1 at gmail dot com

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HOTXSINC Meeting: June 11, 2017: Hypnosis

Our mission is to promote
the ongoing advancement, recognition,
and professional development of women crime writers.
                                             ~ SINC Mission Statement
_______________

Program: Dr. Douglas Derrer on Hypnosis 

The Word on Our Members
Computer Keys for Four Hands: Teaming Up to Write
An Afternoon with Helen Ginger
Call for Submissions
Call to Action: Review!

Calendar
Selected Sites
Nolo Contendere
_______________

Dr. Douglas Derrer on Hypnosis

At the June 11 HOTXSINC meeting, Dr. Douglas Derrer will speak about Hypnosis: its intriguing history, bizarre mythology, interesting clinical applications, and neuroscience findings.  This will include the traits needed for hypnotizability, stage vs. clinical hypnosis, as well as forensic hypnosis and its uses in memory enhancement for witnesses and victims. Dr. Derrer may also present an exercise on hypnotizability if time permits and the audience is interested.

 

Dr. Douglas Derrer & Sheba

Douglas Derrer, Ph. D., is a Yale-trained psychologist who served more than two decades in the United States Navy. Retired and living in Georgetown, Texas, he devotes himself to writing, nature, photography, and cycling. His writing interests are speculative fiction for children and adults. He explores several genres, including fantasy adventures, historical fiction, science fiction, steampunk, and social essays. Pirate Peril, The Sorcerer’s Invasion, and Worlds in Collision comprise his mid-grade/YA fantasy-adventure trilogy. King Tut and the Plagues of Egypt and The Mysterious Death of King Tut are a two-volume historical fiction novel about the fascinating 18th Dynasty boy king. All these books are available on Amazon. Two fan-fiction, steampunk Sherlock Holmes stories “Adventure of the Surrogate Queen” and “The Baleful Beanies” are available for free download from his website, www.douglasderrer.com. A third Holmes story, “A Tunnel through Time” will be available soon. A long time member of the Speculative Fiction Writers Cooperative of Bainbridge Island, Washington, he has a short story, “Road Kill,” in their anthology Penumbra. He belongs to the San Gabriel Writers League of Texas and to Coroners, a writing critique group.

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Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter meets monthly on the second Sunday of the month at 2:15 p.m. at Book People, 603 North Lamar, Austin, phone 512-472-5050.  Take the elevator to the third floor.

For information about the Heart of Texas Chapter, contact Joyce Arquette, Publicity (512) 266-6543, and check out our website at http://sinc-heartoftexas.com

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You know what rumors are like–like a jar full of moths.
Once they escape, they’re all over the place. ~ Rhys Bowen

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The Word on Our Members

June 7-13, Nancy G. West will be one of thirty-two authors offering books in Henery Press’ Rafflecopter. Nancy will post links on her website and on her Facebook page.
Subscribe to Nancy’s newsletter through the signup box, first page right column, on her website. Or message her on her Facebook page with your name/email address and she’ll sign you up.

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Dave Ciambrone’s SUSPICIOUS THREADS, a new Virginia Davies Quilt Mystery came out May 23rd.

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A review of Helen Currie Foster‘s GHOST DAGGER is featured in the May 2017 issue of Reviewer’s Bookwatch: “The fourth novel in author Helen Currie Foster’s simply outstanding  ‘Alice MacDonald Greer’ mystery series, Ghost Dagger continues to document Foster’s originality and complete mastery of the mystery/suspense genre. A deftly crafted and compelling read from cover to cover, Ghost Dagger is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections.”

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Alexandra Burt was interviewed for Read to Write Stories. She was also interviewed on KOOP Radio’s Writing on the Air on May 14. To listen to the KOOP interview, click here.

Alexandra’s latest book, THE GOOD DAUGHTER, was reviewed by Michelle Newby in Lone Star Literary Life: “Well and intricately plotted,  moving quickly, Burt’s story spends as much time in the past as in the present. Subplots enrich and inform the main narrative, and well-placed clues (including the structure of the narratives themselves) tantalize.”

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The Writers’ League of Texas announced winners and finalists in its 2017 Manuscript Contest. Three HOTXSINC members were named finalists:

  • Wendy Gee for TORCHES;
  • Sue Cleveland and Dixie Wyatt (writing as Meredith Lee) for SHROUDED.

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ThirtyNineStars will sponsor a book launch for Meredith Lee’s debut mystery novel, SHROUDED, on September 9, 2017, at The Writing Barn in Austin, Texas. The event is set for 1:30 to 4:30 pm. The first installment in the Crispin Leads Mystery Series, SHROUDED is the story of a graduate student whose trip to Rome to study burial rituals at the Vatican is derailed when she is witness to a murder.  Award-winning author David Aretha calls SHROUDED “a masterfully written mystery novel, powered by well-developed characters and a sophisticated plot.”

*****

If you chomp down too hard on my work, you’re going to break your teeth. ~ Patricia Cornwell

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Computer Keys for Four Hands: Teaming Up to Write

By Dixie Lee Evatt and Sue Meredith Cleveland (aka Meredith Lee)

Dixie Wyatt & Sue Cleveland

How do you write as a team? It’s the question we are asked all the time. It’s a good one but not exactly an easy one to answer. Team, the notion of two horses hitched to a single sled, pulling in unison through the rough, uncharted paths of imagination, character, plot and dialogue, happens occasionally but it is the exception rather than the rule. What is more likely to occur is less like synchronized playing and more like a give and take. Less like a duet and more like badminton.

The birth of an idea is the starting point. One of us has a scathingly brilliant idea for a novel, a scene or a screenplay. It might come from a news article or something that happens to one of us. It might be born out of a snippet of conversation overheard in a restaurant or while waiting in line at the grocery store. It might be inspired while watching the dogs play in the yard or listening to children argue. It might come while researching one topic and then wandering down a rabbit trail, enticed by a wholly unrelated topic.

The partner listens to the idea, laughs, pulls it apart and then, if the idea is sustainable, plotting follows. One or the other of the partners will sketch out an outline and propose characters. From there the conversations begin in earnest. Talk. Talk. Talk. Research. More talk. More talk. Finally, one or the other has to put pen to paper. Or, more accurately, fingers to keyboard. This part is identical to that of every other writer. One set of hands. One keyboard. One computer screen. One draft. Then more talking and the handoff to the partner for critique and feedback. More talking. Each partner will take a hand at rewriting, adding chapters, polishing and handing the work back as the story grows and evolves. Back and forth from one set of hands to the other.

Like a tennis match, the “ball” can only be in one court at a time. Back and forth until that first draft is a reality. The story, the plot and the characters all live in the world you have created but they are rough. There are holes and it is time for more talk. This is where that “two horses in a trace” phase is handy. This is where we’ll sit together and talk through scenes and dialogue. If it is an action scene we will act it out to make sure it is practical. For instance, there is a scene in Shrouded where the female protagonist hides behind a door ready to whack someone on the head. We acted it out several times to make sure it worked. (Disclaimer: No authors were injured in the creation of this scene.)

The team of three writers (Brent Douglass, John T. Davis and James R. Dennis) who are the alter ego of Miles Arceneaux recently talked about their process at a meeting we attended and we were struck about how similar it is to ours. They wrote their first book, Thin Slide of Life, as a lark and it took years each writing a chapter in turn. Now, after four books, they more easily slip into the skin, and mind, of their phantom author and assume his voice.

Inevitably when more than one hand is writing there will be disagreements. This results in more talk. Make your case. Back off. Hold your ground. Propose solutions. A classic case is from Thin Slice of Life. Would the Texas Ranger take a swig of whisky before the gun battle? One author said, “Of course.” Another said, “No way.” Back and forth they went, until the third author broke the tie. Since we are just two and, therefore, don’t have a tiebreaker we have to find other ways to resolve these kinds of disagreements. So far, we always have because we always go back to what our early mentor, Bill Johnson, wrote in his book A Story is a Promise, “Perceiving that a story is a promise is a cornerstone of the foundation for understanding the art of story telling.” We agree with Johnson and try to honor the promise.

Is the process of writing easier with a partner? No, because writing is, by its very nature, hard and often tedious. No author can avoid the hours of outlining and revision. But if you find a trusted and admired co-conspirator to share the literary journey, to plod along next to, then, my friend, you will always have someone to cheer you on through the disappointments and the successes.

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Crime fiction is the fiction of social history. Societies get the crimes they deserve. ~ Denise Mina

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An Afternoon with Helen Ginger

Helen Ginger

Helen Ginger, author of DEADPOINT, will be featured at “An Afternoon with the Author” on Sunday, June 25, 2017, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at Willow Terrace, 3801 Berkman Drive, 78723, in the Terrace Room. There will be an author presentation, book signing, and complimentary light bites. RSVP BY June 20 to texnayder@gmail.com or sign-up in Wildflower Terrace Book.

Helen was President of Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter in 1997. She has been a board member and executive director of the Writers League of Texas, and a volunteer chair for the Texas Book Festival.

“About DEADPOINT: A dead maintenance supervisor and an intrusive firebrand preacher have popped up at Hart of Atlantis Park and Aquarium in the Hill Country. Although divorced from Michael Lansing, the park’s security officer, Codie Hart resolves to work with him to protect her family’s business. When a skilled, ritualistic killer arrives to steal newly developed technology and seek revenge on an old enemy, Michael must decide how to protect Codie and the park without reliving his past.”

 

 

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A pretty sight, a lady with a book. ~ Shirley Jackson

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Call to Action: Review!

HOTXSINC’s mission is to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition, and professional development of women crime writers. We meet monthly, participate in the Texas Book Festival (and, once, the Jewish Book Fair), form critique groups, share works in progress, arrange programming. We organize to help writers.

But are we forgetting something? Sisters in Crime was founded because “books by woman mystery writers also weren’t being reviewed at a percentage equal to their participation in the field.”

The founding Sisters were no doubt referring to reviews written by professional reviewers for larger publications. But for lesser-known authors, especially those just starting their careers, reviews posted by general readers on online review sites are important, too. Many of our member authors fall into this category.

My research, in which I examined online records of four authors, and which took about 90 seconds, showed that Stephen King’s latest novel, released May 16, 2017, has garnered over 2,000 reader reviews.

Books by three newish authors I surveyed had, as much as a year following their release dates, attracted fewer than 100.

Low numbers have nothing to do with quality of writing. The books I checked are page-turners; I know because I’ve read them. But I knew about them because I had inside information. The thousands of potential readers out there don’t know those books exist. And if they see one that has only a few reviews, or maybe none at all, they tend to move on.

Publishers–at last the major ones–send books to reviewers. I imagine Stephen King’s publisher does. And Patricia Cornwell’s. And Mary Higgins Clark’s. Reviewers know their names and act accordingly. Newbie authors, even those with several books on the market, aren’t so fortunate. Their names don’t mean automatic publicity. They have to work harder, which means asking for reviews.

Many authors hate to ask readers to post reviews. It’s the introvert thing. They prefer not to toot their own horns.

Still, they need REVIEWS. They need them asap–especially in the first days after a book’s release. After that–they need more.

Here’s where individual Sisters, even introverts, can make a difference. 

When you read a Sister’s (or Brother’s) book and like it, post a review online. It doesn’t have to be long or sound like a book report. Did you like the book? Say so. What did you like? Who else might enjoy reading it? Rate the book as required, with stars, tomatoes, whatever.

Be sincere. Don’t say you like a book if you don’t.

If there’s something you think doesn’t work so wellIs pacing a little slow at the beginning? Did Dr. Watson marry and then show up living with Holmes again without explaining what happened to his wife? Is Inspector Morse driving you to distraction by eating all those pub lunches when you’ve just pledged to take off ten pounds by next Thursday?–you might mention it, but be gentle and fair and professional. Your review is meant for other readers; it’s not a critique directed at the author.

What if you didn’t like a book? Don’t review it. If you can’t give it at least three stars or tomatoes, don’t comment.

And never trash a book in a review. Trashing just makes the reviewer look bad. It can be devastating for an author. Nobody benefits. See Be sincere, above. Here the Golden Rule applies.*

If you have a personal relationship with the author, don’t mention it. Online review sites, we’ve heard, look askance at reviews–even honest, balanced, unbiased reviews–that are posted by family, friends, or anyone else whose opinion they think might have been influenced by the author. They can also look askance at the author. That’s not good.

Why are reviews important? Online review sites are read by thousands of potential readers. Reviews translate into sales. A book with a long string of reviews, especially soon after release date, catches the online bookseller’s attention. The bookseller might even smile upon the author by handing out perks. I have no idea what perks, but I’ve heard they exist, and that they can boost sales. Perks are very good.

Now. I have written over 700 words. I have used review and reviews 17 times; add reviewer to that, and I’ve probably set a record. I’ve preached to the choir and told you what you already know.

But in case you’ve forgotten–please REVIEW!


*The Golden Rule applies to the rest, too.

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Successful people are not interesting. I feel for the losers.
That’s where my heart lies. ~ Karin Fossum

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Call for Submissions

The Eyes of Texas
“The editor seeks private eye stories that represent the diversity of the Lone Star State. Stories may be set in West Texas, East Texas, the Mexican border, the Gulf Coast, the Panhandle, or anywhere in-between, and should represent the cultural, ethnic, gender, and political differences found throughout the state.” Details at http://www.crimefictionwriter.com/TheEyesOfTexas.htm

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A lie that is half a truth is ever the hardest to fight. ~ Patricia Wentworth

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Calendar

6/11/2017 HOTXSINC Meeting
Dr. Douglas Derrer on Hypnosis
@BookPeople

6/15/2017 Writers’ League of Texas
Third Thursday: “Practice Makes Pitch Perfect”
@BookPeople

6/25/2017 Book signing and author presentation
“An Afternoon with the Author” featuring Helen Ginger, author of DEADPOINT
More information, above
@ Wildflower Terrace

6/27/2017 MysteryPeople
UNSUB Discussion and signing, hosted by Meg Gardiner
@MysteryPeople /BookPeople

 

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I think myself I ought to be shot for writing such nonsense….
But it’s unquestionably good escapist literature and I think I should rather like it
if I were sitting in an air-raid shelter or recovering from flu. ~ Georgette Heyer

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 Selected Sites

10 of the Best Sherlock Holmes Stories Everyone Should Read

I’ll Never Forget My First…

The Rap Sheet Intro

In Reference to Murder

Killer Characters

Proofreading Tips Part 1 of 2
Proofreading Tips Part 2 of 2

What Are the Rules?

Sub-Plots and Story

Google Maps: The Best Writing Tools That No One Knows About

*

Thanks to Karleen Koen for sharing the following sites:

53 Ways to Improve Your Short Stories

Q&A: Brian Yansky (on tension and conflict)

How to Spot Toxic Feedback: 7 Signs That the Writing Advice You’re Getting May Do More Harm Than Good

*

Thanks to The Passive Voice for sharing the following sites:

The Wartime Spies Who Used Knitting as an Espionage Tool

Women Booksellers Rule

Walmart Is Asking Employees to Deliver Packages on Their Way Home from Work

Murder on the Orient Express

John Grisham’s Do’s and Don’ts for Writing Popular Fiction

Amazon’s Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores Are Not Built For People Who Actually Read

When tweeters attack: why do readers send authors their bad reviews?

Exactly how I self-published my book, sold 180,000 copies, and nearly doubled my revenue

5 types of rest every creative should adopt

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Nobody likes to be accused of a virtue. ~ Patricia Wentworth

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Nolo Contendere

Members, please email links to your websites and/or blogs to kathywaller1 at gmail dot com so they can be listed in our blogroll. Email your news/announcements to the same address.

Kathy Waller, editor
kathywaller1 at gmail dot com

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I wouldn’t mind being a fly on the wall in a few Victorian parlours. ~ Sarah Waters

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Heroes, Villains, and Lawyers

Mark Pryor, Billy Kring, and Manning Wolfe spoke at the workshop Heroes, Villains, and Lawyers, presented by MysteryPeople and HOTXSINC Saturday, May 27. After individual presentations, they joined Scott Montgomery for a Q & A session with the audience.