Thursday, August 08, 2013

Mystery and Horror...Beginnings

Today is a big day for our little press. The first box of books arrived from the printer. There have been a lot of important first-time events since Sarah and I announced our plans to add publishing to our accomplishments. We held our first business meeting, drew up our first business plan, announced our first anthology, did our first book cover, and put together a list of books we were going to do this year.

Along the way to publishing those three books we announced for 2013, we have had to make some difficult decisions. One of the hardest was the day we sent out our first acceptance and rejection messages. We made mistakes, ruffled a few feathers, and got rapped on the knuckles a few times by folks who thought we were out of our minds.

Maybe we are. There's a rumor that writers, publishers, editors, and just about everyone else involved in the book business is crazy. The publishing industry is in the Wild Wild West of business. Which is why we are starting slow and keeping our day jobs. We may be crazy, but not entirely foolish.

Everything we've done so far has been a first. But today is a little different, because today I am holding the finished product in my hand, not a proof, the actual first box of books is stacked on the sofa beside me. Tomorrow, I'll be shipping those first books out to authors and people who ordered copies. Hopefully, they will be as happy with the results as I am. I think we have put together a great book. This is not to say it is a perfect book, but we've given it our all.

I have learned a few things the hard way. I expect All Hallows' Evil to be better for the education Strangely Funny has given me. By the time we announce next year's, publications we might have a clue or two about what we're doing. Who knows, we might convince a few of our critics that two dedicated people can create books worth reading.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Excerpt: "A Proper Job for a Lady" from Strangely Funny

Since today is my birthday, I've decided to share a bit of my own story from Strangely Funny with readers. This is neither the beginning or the end of "A Proper Job for a Lady" but the excerpt should give you a good feel for the story.

Enjoy! I'm off to the beach.

Conversation stopped. Every eye in the room turned to watch as the huntress moved catlike through the assemblage.

“You can’t go out unescorted,” Constance insisted. “Let me call Peter to take you to your cottage. Better yet, forget the cottage and stay here in the inn.”

“My dear cousin,” Atalanta said. “I’ve come to Bridgeport to hunt the monster, not be protected from it.”

“Yes, yes,” Constance replied, “but surely that can wait until dawn. You need rest.”

“Is your monster likely to wait for the light of day to strike?”

Constance’s face flushed.

“Tell Peter to saddle horses and pack provisions for a few days' travel. Theodora and I will ride for the mountains as soon as we change.”

Constance stood silent, her eyes forming a question too horrifying for her lips to speak.

“It has returned,” Atalanta said. “Have you reinforced the wards around the Inn? We’ve two days until the new moon brings the beast to the height of his powers.”

“That’s just an old story, told around the hearth on stormy nights. You can’t believe such a creature exists.”

Atalanta picked up her bag and turned toward the door. She had nothing to say to the willfully ignorant. There was no turning away from the heritage of Wilde-Woods, but Constance had chosen to learn only the most basic protections. She could believe or not, fight or remain inside the relative safety of the inn; either way, the new moon would bring darkness to their doorstep.

“Good-night, cousin,” Atalanta said. “See to the wards.”

“What are you planning to do?” Theodora asked when they were safely out of earshot.

“I am going to change into something more suitable for the task.”

“Really, Atalanta? Just like that, you are going to change your gown and the monster will bend to your will?”

“Theodora, many of my male acquaintances are of the opinion that all I have to do is appear in town, gaze wistfully into the distance, and the local monster will be naturally drawn to me.” She sighed. “If only it were that simple.”

“There was that vampire in West Madison,” Theodora said. She grinned at the memory.
“He practically fell at your feet declaring his love. And what did you do?”

Theodora’s voice held a note of reproach as she answered her own question. “For his trouble, you drove a stake through his heart and cut off his head.”

“Theodora, it is much easier to stake a vampire while he is prostrated at your feet than it is after you reject his proposal.”


Read the rest of the story and many others in Strangely Funny, now available in print, Kindle, and other e-book formats.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Interview with Gloria Alden

Gloria Alden and Her Gnome

Today I am chatting with Gloria Alden, one of the authors in Mystery and Horror, LLC's new anthology Strangely Funny. Gloria has a number of published short stories, including “Cheating on Your Wife Can Get You Killed,” winner of the 2011 Love is Murder contest and published in Crimespree Magazine; “Mincemeat is for Murder” appearing in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, “The Professor’s Books” in the FISH TALES Anthology; and “The Lure of the Rainbow” in FISH NETS, the newest Guppy Anthology. She is the author of the Catherine Jewell mystery novels and a middle-grade book, THE SHERLOCK HOLMES DETECTIVE CLUB. She lives on a small farm in Southington, Ohio with two ponies, some cats, five hens and her collie, Maggie. She blogs on Thursdays with Writers Who Kill and once a month with the Fish Tales Anthology Blog.

So Gloria, tell us a little more about yourself.

I’m a retired elementary school teacher with a Master’s degree in English. I’ve been writing mysteries for some time and have had five short stories published now and this past year I decided to indie publish the first in my Catherine Jewell mystery series – TheBlue Rose and the 2nd one Daylilies for Emily’s Garden came out in May. I’m in the final edit of my third. I also have a middle-grade mystery out – TheSherlock Holmes Detective Club based on a writing activity I did with my third grade having them follow the adventures of an elderly woman, who was traveling around the U.S. on the track of two jewel thieves. Because the letters came postmarked and unopened from places she was having her sometimes dangerous adventures – thanks to friends and relatives around the country, they believed in her and their letters to her are funny and precious. I live on a small farm with two ponies, a few hens, two barn cats, two house cats, and my companion, Maggie, a tri-color full sized collie. I’m also an exuberant gardener who doesn’t know when to stop making new gardens which is why my books have a gardening theme. I took up backpacking when I was 60 and only stopped when my younger sister couldn’t do it any longer.

What event in your life helped you know you wanted to become a writer?

A year after my oldest son died of cancer at eighteen; I entered college for the first time to become a teacher. The first essay I wrote for an English class was “Saying Good-bye” about his death. My professor liked it so much that she suggested I submit it to the campus’s literary magazine. I did and it was accepted and from then on I wrote a lot of poetry and submitted it and also had a short story win an award for freshman writing. I also took an overload of every literature and writing class offered in addition to my elementary education courses and did well in all of them. I even enjoyed writing research papers. I think going to college as an older student is what led me to become a writer.

What made you decide on writing mysteries?

That’s easy. Although I’m an eclectic reader, mysteries have always been my favorite reads starting with Nancy Drew. I love trying to solve the problem of who done it before the end as well as getting totally immersed in a place and characters that make me feel like I am there.

You write adult and young adult mysteries. What do you see as the difference in writing for a younger audience?

Actually, I don’t write young adult, but middle-grade. I love middle-grade kids and after teaching that age for 20 years plus having Cub Scouts and then a Girl Scout troop for 10 years, I relate to this age, and in some ways my sense of humor works well for them. But writing for a mature audience is more full-filling for me. I can include topics including murder as well as others that would not be appropriate for youngsters.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m more of a pantser; however I do create characters, especially my murderers by writing a biography of them showing what leads them to murder. In doing so, I actually have sympathy for my murderer and wish he/she didn’t take that final irreversible step. Once I start the book, I have some notes of things I want included, I have a plot in mind, but from then on the characters and story kind of take off on their own.

What makes you so sexy?

After I got up from the floor from laughing so hard, I thought about it. Maybe it’s because I wear very little makeup? Or maybe it’s because I’m more comfortable in jeans or shorts? Or could it be my white hair worn in a simple style that I never fuss with? And then I decided it was the barn boots I wear when it’s wet outside for my walks in the woods or cleaning the pony stalls. If I asked my son and daughter-in-law whose house I pass each morning, they might say it’s the raggedy and well-worn, but warm old snowmobile coat I wear in the winter with a red knit hat, although they’ve been nagging me for years to buy a new one even if I have to go to Good Will.

Okay, so you’re an author. What do you enjoy reading?

Mysteries, of course, mostly traditional, but I’ll read others, too. I’ve always enjoyed Jane Langton for her intricate plots, characters and great sense of humor. I like Elizabeth George and Louise Penny, and so many other authors I can’t list them all. I also belong to two book clubs and almost always I enjoy the books that are chosen that I might never have read if it wasn’t for them. I also read TIME magazine and the daily newspaper. I have a library/dining room/office with several walls of book plus book cases in almost every room of my house and where there isn’t a book case, books are still somewhere in the room.

What books have most influenced your life?

I’ve been reading since I was six – a lot of years - so that’s impossible to say. I can’t imagine a life without reading books. If I had to pick one book that I’ve read three times and would be on almost everyone’s list as one of the best, it’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

Do you see writing as a career?

It’s one of the things I really enjoy doing and plan on writing for as long as I can. I have so many stories still inside me. I’m editing my third book in the series and have my plot for the fourth, and actually some notes for future books. My series is on a monthly basis; 1st in June, 2nd in July and on. I also write a blog for every Thursday on Writers Who Kill. But do I consider it a career? Not really. I won’t get rich at it, but I have a pension and it’s not so much about the money as wanting to be read. I’m not going to put in hours and hours every day on writing my mysteries. I have a rather large family, friends, and other interests like gardening, volunteering, and reading to name a few. Plus my critters take time, and I can only stand just so much clutter surrounding me. 
Thanks for being my guest today. 

Strangely Funny is now available in print, Kindle, and other e-book formats.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Catriona McPherson Author Profile

On her website, Catriona McPherson says she was born in Edinburgh, in south-east Scotland and lived there, in Ayshire, in Dumfrinshire ,and in Galloway before moving to California in 2010. She, her husband, and their two cats currently live on in a farmhouse near Davis, California, where she spends her non-writing time gardening, swimming, roaming the hills, and occasionally escaping to San Fransisco.

Catriona is the author of the Dandy Gilver mystery series, which is set in 1920's Scotland. She has also written one stand-alone mystery, As She Left It. This year, she tried her hand at writing short fiction: a ghost story titled "One Scareful Owner." That's right, her one and only short story to date was written for Strangely Funny. After reading her first story, I am hoping to see others. Her writing is crisp, and her humor infectious. 

I first met Catriona in the pages of Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains. We were going to be on a panel together at Bouchercon and were asked to read each other's work before the convention. This was my first, but certainly not my last Dandy Gilver mystery. Dandy kept me coming back for more. The panel made me a fan of the author instead of the character. Catriona introduced herself as the only one on the panel without a funny accent, and kept the audience smiling throughout the discussion. Later, she joined our table at the hotel bar and cracked my spouse up when she looked at the raw broccoli I was munching on and exclaimed, "Don't eat that, that's garnish! Here, have some of my chips!"  So much for healthy eating. I took a handful of her fries and enjoyed an hour of chatting with my new friend. 

Check out her story, "One Scareful Owner," and those of the other Strangely Funny writers that make up Strangely Funny. It is a purchase you won't regret.