Just When You Think…

Just when you think you have things all worked out, life takes a couple of turns in the road. I had planned to spend the fall solely focused on bookselling at craft fairs and writing, however, plans have changed slightly. It’s partly due to time-consuming medical tests I hadn’t anticipated when I committed to the craft fairs. Although I feel healthy, the doctors want to take a closer look at my lungs. The tests were arranged long before I contracted Covid, and honestly, I’m glad the doctors are watching out for me.

Secondly, this weekend we placed an offer on a house only two blocks away from my grandkids, which was accepted. We’re working on arranging financing, etc, before the final documents are signed, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Right now, it’s nearly an hour’s drive to reach my daughter and son-in-law’s home and the older I get the less I want to drive. Downsizing will be tough. We’ve lived in this house for over 35 years. We were married in the backyard and raised our kids here, but I really believe this is the right time for change. Needless to say, I won’t be publishing a book in 2023, and writing and marketing will likely slow down.

This is why I’m making a final push before this year is over. I’m taking part in two or three BookFunnel promotions and first up is a $.99 sale on Casey Holland mystery #5, Knock Knock, and #6, The Blade Man. This is part of BookFunnel’s ‘Black Friday Deals’ promotion, featuring a large roster of authors who have free and discounted books to choose from. You can find it HERE!

A short blurb for Knock Knock:

When a home invasion kills senior Elsie Englehart, security officer Casey Holland is devastated. Part of her latest assignment is to watch over elderly bus riders in an area frequently targeted by a group of thugs. Determined to keep others safe, Casey escorts an elderly man right to his home, only to come under attack by an armed intruder. Hospitalized and angry, Casey struggles to regain control of her life, despite interference from family and colleagues, and the postponement of her wedding. Yet another home invasion compels Casey to take action, but at what cost to her health and her relationships?

And The Blade Man:

Who is the Blade Man and why has he been attacking Mainland Public Transport bus drivers? And who is trying to burn MPT down? The company’s president orders security officer Casey Holland to launch an internal investigation or face termination. Convinced she’s being set up to fail and with her wedding only weeks away, Casey desperately needs answers. Forced to take deeper risks, how far can Casey go before someone dies?

I’ll be doing another for A Gold Satin murder beginning Dec. 1st, but more about that next week.

Meanwhile, after Christmas, I’ll prepare a lengthy to-do list of sorting and recycling. Christmas and New Year’s will be downtime with the family, and I can’t wait!

Bookselling, Christmas Shopping, and Grandkids

I’m relieved to say that my bout with Covid lasted only ten days before I tested negative, and I was feeling much better before that. The only side effect is more fatigue than usual but that’s fine. I’m a big believer in napping.

Because weekends in November and December are busy with craft fair markets, which also requires some prep time, I’m not writing a lot these days. There’ll be plenty of time for that in January. Right now, I’m happy to spend the occasional Saturday and Sunday, chatting with craft fair customers and selling print books. I meet the most interesting people at the fairs and some incredibly talented vendors, which is where I do most of my Christmas shopping.

Happily, I’ve already started the shopping thanks to last weekend’s fair. I don’t like leaving things to the last minute, but I also prefer to really get going after Remembrance Day, which is almost upon us. We must never forget, particularly in these challenging times.

Best of all, I’ve been spending time with my grandkids, Abby and Ellie, this week and last, which adds a bright light in my life. Really, the smile of a three-month old baby is all one needs to feel better, so I’m sharing a photo . Maybe they’ll bring a smile for you.

Abby’s cheeks are much chubbier than her sister’s were. She smiles a lot and gurgles happily whenever some reads a book to her. She loves book and watching hockey on TV, too. She takes after her grandma!

Ellie loved being a pumpkin on Halloween and insisted on wearing her costume for at least two days after the event.

Writers and Illness

Last week, I tested positive for Covid and have been living a sequestered life and resting a lot. I picked it up from my husband before his symptoms appeared. The moment he started feeling unwell at work, he masked up, left work, and segregated himself from my son and me once he came home. He ate and slept in a separate room. Used a different bathroom, but it was already too late. My son, who put on his mask the moment his dad got home, tested positive a couple of days later, and my turn came the next day.

My symptoms were nothing more than a head cold, accompanied by a low-grade fever on day one and a headache. Low energy was the only persistent symptom, but I’m a hundred percent better and count myself lucky. As it happened, I’d had my fourth vaccine two weeks earlier, which could be why my symptoms were so mild.

Because I wasn’t bed-ridden and had no problem concentrating, I continued on with some of my writing tasks, as I usually do when mildly ill. Of course, the editing process was slower, but the psychological benefit of creativity was so good that I believe it helped me heal physically.

Balancing work and rest with illnesses and other disruptions is a reality that writers face all the time. It’s also something they frequently need to refine with age. It’s perfectly okay to slow down, as I’ve been doing, but at this time in my life, it’s not okay to throw in the towel and sit in front of a TV all day. In fact, I hope that never happens.

The real downside to illness is that I haven’t see my grandkids for a while and miss them terribly. But that will soon change! Stay safe and healthy, everyone. It’s going to be a bumpy winter.

Still Researching, For a Good Reason

Two weeks have flown by since my last blog, but as you from the previous post, life’s been a whirlwind. Our sunny fall weather has officially become a drought, but as you’ll see from the photo, my hubby’s managed to find some beautiful fall leaves. While he’s been experimenting with photography, I’ve been focusing on editing, which is both calming and challenging.

A few days ago, I learned about an intriguing writing contest called the Unchartered Novel Excerpt contest. This contest was recommended by a writing colleague whose agent is the judge. You can submit anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 words of your work in progress and the key is to choose something exciting to attract attention. It took some thinking as I have several big moments in this 122,000-word manuscript.

I wound up choosing two consecutive scenes that contain action, dialogue, and address the heart of the story. I’ve been working on this section a great deal and will be submitting the piece this week, I hope. If you’re interested in learning more about the contest, and I apologize for the late date, click HERE. They aren’t just looking for fantasy, but mysteries and horror as well. There’s also a good FAQ you can read on the home page for more information. I’ll do a little more research before I hit the submit button.

Research for my urban fantasy has been the other focus lately. Although I’ve read plenty of novels in this genre and books on Wicca and magic, I now find myself needing to read more on shamanism. One of the key characters in my fantasy is a shaman of mixed ethnic backgrounds, however, his shamanic training came from North American Indigenous cultures, and therein lies the problem.

After reading a number of articles about the need for sensitivity and the reluctance of publishers to touch anything even remotely Indigenous, particularly here in Canada, I’m reworking the character and focusing on Celtic shamanism, which is my ethnic background.

I found an amazing book on the topic that speaks to me on a level I hadn’t anticipated at all, but that’s something to reflect on later. At the moment, I’m looking at the issue from a writing/researching perspective and have compiled pages of notes. This particular character doesn’t have a lot of scenes, but the ones he does have are crucial and will necessitate some rewriting in the next draft.

The more I work on this book, the more I learn, and the more things need to be changed. Have you found that the longer you work on a project and the more research you do, the extra number of drafts you create? This whole process would be so much easier if I were writing a novella.

I was listening to the great novelist John Irving on CBC Radio this weekend. He’s 80 years old now and is about to release his latest novel. Wow! The interviewer asked him if he has another novel in the works, and he replied that he does, but it’ll be much shorter. He doesn’t have the time and energy for months of research anymore. I can totally relate to that!

Whirling Through Autumn

Autumn’s always a busy time for writers with conferences, workshops, book launches, courses, readings, and many other events. When you’re launching a book during this period, the activity really ramps up. It’s why I feel a bit like an autumn leaf that’s been swept up on the wind and swooshed from place to place.

To be clear, I enjoyed wonderful experiences in September by meeting writing friends and colleagues, most of whom I haven’t seen in over 4 years. Spending time with them was restorative for the soul. Below is a photo of one of four events that took place last week. It was a joint launch/reading with writing colleague A.J. Devlin, who’s just launched his third mystery, Five Moves of Doom. He’s created a great character in former pro wrestler turned private investigator, in ‘Hammerhead’ Jed. If you’re looking for great whodunits with a lot of humor, check out A.J.’s website HERE.

Joint Reading/Launch, Sep. 28

Writing-related tasks continue for A Gold Satin Murder. I’m currently updating back and front matter in all of the Casey Holland ebooks. I’m also taking part in a query letter workshop through the Creative Academy focusing on my urban fantasy, which is proving to be a great experience. Query letters and a book synopsis require many drafts for me, for most writers actually, but I’ve decided to search for a traditional publisher and both are an essential tools in the process.

Today, I’m taking it easy as I had my vaccine booster yesterday and have a very sore arm and a bit of fatique today. Also, here in Canada, Thanksgiving is this weekend and I’m hosting the family dinner. I can’t wait for family time. I see my granddaughters once a week, and little Abby looks different on every occasion. I’ll share pictures next week.

Ordering links for A Gold Satin Murder:

AMAZON

APPLE BOOKS

KOBO

BARNES & NOBLE

GOOGLE PLAY

I’m visiting JP McLean’s blog today!

I’m delighted to be visiting award-winning author JP McLean’s blog today. JP has given me a great set of questions to answer, so please drop by and check it out!

Book Launch Prep: It’s a Journey

Whether you’re self-published or traditionally published, promotion and marketing is your responsibility. This means preparing for a book launch far in advance. For me, the task includes writing blogs, newsletters, and making social media announcements. It also involves updating my website along with other platforms like BookBub and mt Amazon’s Author Central page.

Planning in-person and online events is also part of the process. Book signings, readings, and podcast interviews are the norm these days. For some authors, social media ads are a must, although I won’t use them until I better understand how they work, as they can cost inexperienced authors a lot of money with little results. Then comes the launch date itself, plus post-launch date events such as blog tours and book promotion sites.

To keep track of all this, I prepare a publication checklist, which is now two pages long. I use a template that came from The Creative Academy, as I recall, but a quick google search undoubtedly provides many other sources, if you wish to use one. As many of you already know, book launches take a great deal of effort to gain any attention among the millions of published titles out there.

A Gold Satin Murder which will be launched two weeks from today. I’m very fortunate to have been invited to share a launch/reading evening with a colleague who’s releasing his third mystery. I’m doing a couple of other shared events this fall, which is far more fun than going it alone.

Aside from sending out my newsletter, staying on top of social media and updating my website, I’m also faced with the task of updating the front and back matter in the previous six books. When I first started posting ebooks in 2016, no one seemed too concerned that a work of fiction lacked a list of chapter links, but that’s a thing now. I also need to add a link to book #7 at the back of each book. As marketing gurus also suggest, I should also add a sample chapter of the next installment at the end of each book.

As you can see, there’s still work to be done, but the key is to pace myself and enjoy the process as much as I can. Given that I’ve gone through this before, I feel a little more confident, yet something unexpected can crop up and inevitably there’s something I missed. But I’m also learning not to worry about it as much.

To pre-order A Gold Satin Murder:

Amazon: https://mybook.to/AGoldSatinMurder

Kobo Canada: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/a-gold-satin-murder

Kobo U.S. https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-gold-satin-murder

Apple books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id6443255297

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-gold-satin-murder-debra-purdy-kong/1141951058?ean=2940166433930

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Debra_Purdy_Kong_A_Gold_Satin_Murder?id=FxF_EAAAQBAJ

Letting Go of Manuscripts, or Not

On Monday, I spent three and a half hours poring over the last three chapters of my 7th Casey Holland mystery. It’s one of the many times I’ve gone through this book. I’ve stepped up the final tweaking over the past two weeks because I know I’ll be uploading the book this week to Amazon and other sites. But I’m finding it difficult to let go of this one, and it worries me a little. I might be turning into more of a perfectionist than I want to be. I’ve reached the stage where I’m changing a few words back to what they were before, a sure signal that it’s time to move on.

To be honest, my unwillingness to let this novella go might be because this could well be my last Casey mystery. There are a number of reasons for this, but the primary one is that I’m eager to explore new characters and concepts in different series and genres. It’s tough because I’ve been with Casey for many years and have file folders containing notes for future books. Whether I write another installment will depend on how this one is received.

As some of you know, I’ve been writing an urban fantasy for some time, and the feedback from my critique group will be completed in a few weeks. I’ve also been working on the query letter and synopsis. At 120,000+ words, which still needs paring down, I just don’t see myself self-publishing something that large. Since I’m in no rush to publish, I’d like to venture back into traditional publishing, however we’ll see how it goes. I might think differently a year from now.

Speaking of letter go, about three years ago, I wrote the first draft of another novella mystery. The first two books were published with a small press that has now folded and again, I’m deciding whether to let this series go, or re-read the first draft to see if I should continue on.

Also, several months ago, I began outlining a new paranormal series that incorporates both mystery and fantasy, and I’ve been wondering what to do about that as well. As you can see, this writer’s life could either turn into a productive hot mess or even fizzle away, depending on my decisions.

Happily, with a new grandbaby arriving in a few days and a home reno project about to start, there’s plenty of things to keep me from constantly fretting over writing decisions. I do believe that everything will sort itself out. The goal is to be happy with my choices. It’s just a matter of deciding what fits best with short and long-term goals.

Socializing Through a Pandemic

Summer’s here and many fun events are returning to British Columbia. I’ve just finished facilitating an 11-week long spring session of the creative writing program offered in our city. The group was small, but I’d still been a little worried about exposure to Covid. Hospitalization rate were still fairly high in April but have been going down since then. Happily, the rec center gave us a large room in a quiet part of the building, so we felt safe. One of my students came down with Covid and was away for one week, but no one else was impacted.

As I write this, my daughter’s place of employment currently has about ten percent of their staff sick with Covid, after having been encouraged to return to work. As you can imagine, those who work in a common area are the ones who are sick. Those who have their own offices are so far staying healthy. Still, ten percent is a lot.

The cautionary tales I’ve been hearing from medical experts tells me that it’s probably still a good idea to wear my mask in public indoor places. Like many of you, I’m also eager to get back to socializing, especially when it comes to writing events. I turned down two invitations to indoor book launches this spring. I had no idea how many people would attend, how large the venue was, or whether the room was well ventilated. Generally, I don’t feel particularly anxious about most things, when you’re babysitting a two-year-old most weekdays it seems wise to be cautious.

Having said that, I’m attending two outdoor events this week. One is a BBQ with my old employer at Simon Fraser University. Since 97% of the university’s population is vaccinated, I figure it should be okay, although I’ll keep my hand sanitizer close by.

I’m also a vendor at an outdoor mini-craft fair at the TownShip7 Winery this Sunday. This is one of my favourite venues, as the event has musical entertainment and the artisans will be spread apart. Wine tasting, bookselling, and music in a vineyard is a wonderful way to spend the day. The event is also fundraising for the Osteoporosis Society. I know that some of you live in the Lower Mainland, so if you have some time and enjoy wine tasting, this is a great opportunity to get out and enjoy what will be a bright, sunny day.

I’ll be participating in another Art on the Vine event in late August and also selling books at a local Farmer’s Market on Thursday July 14th. So, yes, I’m socializing more, but honestly, I’ll be taking precautions.

For those of you who are looking for more free crime fiction reads, I’m taking part in another BookFunnel offering until the end of June. This is the Women Solve Crime Mystery Giveaway and a good number of the 30+ offerings are cozies, which make great beach reads. The link HERE.

How about you? Are you over Covid anxiety and attending events this summer, or are you still a little anxious?

CWC Winners Announced and Planning for Summer

Last week, the Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence winners were announced. It’s always exciting to see the short list of nominees in April and the announcement of winners in late May. I know a number of the nominees from the Vancouver area, including this year’s best crime novel winner, and am delighted to see their work recognized. You can find the full list of nominees and winners HERE.

As you all know, a lot’s gone on in the world since I last blogged a couple of weeks ago, and little of it’s good. It’s a tough time for creators on many levels, but I forge ahead because writing and editing have always given me a safe space to ease my mind from horrific news stories. So, I’ve been editing steadily, and working on a pre-release plan for my Casey Holland novella. I’ll launch the book on September 8th, which seems both far away and all too soon, depending on my state of mind.

I have a to-do list of pre-publication work to help me stay organized. I also want to take one more look at the novella before it’s ready for uploading on Amazon and other sites. It won’t be a quiet, slow-paced summer, but it will be an eventful one.

Ellie likes to sit on her bike & ring the bell

Ellie will have a little brother or sister in August. My son-in-law and hubby will be taking vacations to help out on the home front, but we won’t be traveling this summer, which is probably for the best this year, especially since gas is $2.22 a liter as I write this.

It’s a bit strange to plan my publishing schedule around a little person who isn’t here yet, but my writing life has always been planned around kids’ and employers’ schedules. Somehow it always works out.

How about you? What are your plans this summer? Will it be creative? Relaxing? Busy? Or slow and relaxed?