Monday, October 27, 2014

DEATH DEMYSTIFIED for the Day of the Dead Authors' Talk and Read

Come join us at the Victory Branch Library on Saturday November 1st from 1pm to 3pm for readings from Demystifying Death, a perfect way to spend a Day of the Dead, by honoring the dead!

Jane Freund of Freundship Press and the Pixie Chicks Writers' Group (of which I am one) have produced Demystifying Death, an anthology of stories about the last great secret sin of our society: death. It happens to all of us. It happens to our friends, families, and pets. We all need to talk about and share our experiences around dying. And yet, still today in America, the subject is often taboo. 

Okay, enough of a rant, and Demystifying Death, with its myriad selection of poems, essays and short stories will provide a welcome opening of death's doors. And what better way to celebrate the Day of the Dead than by sharing stories?

I will be attending and reading from my (true) short story, Traveling Together, about a beloved aunt and cat, and would love to see you too!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Bundles, Promo Cookbooks and Free Books: Author Marketing that Works

Now through October 14th, Book Bundles, 20 reads for under 5 bucks! Get Prodigies of Mystery II here at iBooks, 99 cents for three full length novels!

How are midlist and new authors going to stand out in today's overburdened publishing biz? Here's a few recent methods I've found successful.

First up: Book Bundles. My publisher is running a special on five bundles, one of which, Prodigies of Mysteries II, includes my cozy mystery Starke Naked Dead. As a reader, I've noticed that I often buy these bundles because there's a lot of reading for cheap and it's a great way to find new authors. As an author, I discovered that Starke Naked Dead is coming up in the rankings considerably while offered in Prodigies of Mystery II. A  great way to get noticed and to brand your author name and series.

Here's another great way to get your name out there, thank you, Lois Winston, for this great idea. Bake, Love, Write is a compilation of dessert recipes with authors' advice on love and writing, 105 authors in all. Lois Winston is donating the proceeds to a worthy cause. The eBook is for sale for 99 cents, that's less than a penny a recipe! My recipe is easy, cheap and delicious soda cracker pie. Again, I often find myself buying just this type of book because I love to cook, love inexpensive dessert cookbooks and love finding other authors to read. Plus, with 105 authors, there's oodles of cross-marketing going on!

There's a lot of controversy about whether to ever have anything free, even promo cookbooks. The detractors say that being free only means that you are giving away content to people who may never read it, much less review it. However, I think there is a place for free, especially if it's a certain sort of free book. I've downloaded free short stories about a series and then gone on to buy books from the series. With my promotional cookbooks, I have found that after they're free that I do get reviews, perhaps because a cookbook is something that people do read after downloading. Plus, if you have a lot of downloads of your free book, Amazon will heavily promote it once it's no longer free. So, here's one of my cookbooks that introduces my Starke Dead cozy mystery series, Starke Deadly Delicious, and it's FREE today, October 8th!

So dear readers, what do you think? Do you do the same with these promotions? Or not? Do you think they work? Or not? Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, September 27, 2014


I often get asked one of the Sisters In Crime bloghop questions, "If you were to mentor a new writer, what would you tell her about the writing business?"

There is one important concept that seems simple but is difficult to understand and accept: If you are serious about being an author, then writing is a business. This is separate from the creative work of writing. They are two very different things. The more a writer is able to keep the two distinct, the more successful she'll be in both.

Whether you are a well-established name or pre-published, you are having a writing career. The business aspects of the career are your job in which you are the boss, CEO, CFO, and employee. What does that mean, really? It means that you must work to be your best advocate in your business decisions. It means that you must work to keep yourself apprised of this new publishing world. It means that you must work to promote yourself as best as you can. What it mostly means is the writing comes first and foremost always. In business terms, you can't sell what you don't have. You need product. (With rejections, it's helpful to think of your finished manuscript in terms of being product. After all, no one sells all their product all the time.)

The writing business can be frustrating, annoying and even heart-rending. Remembering that the writing biz isn't writing often helps reduce the pain. And the rewards far outweigh the struggle. May all you new authors succeed!

This blog post was inspired and created for the Sisters In Crime bloghop. You can find out more here,

Last, but perhaps most important: my great friend and great author, Kathy McIntosh, is also participating in this bloghop. She's the author of the comic crime novel in which there is “plenty of laughs in this page turner and plenty of insights that keep the story fresh and memorable.” So hop on over to her post about what she says to someone who says "Nothing against women writers, but all of my favorite crime fiction authors happen to be men," on her website here.

And dear readers, what do you think? Are you successful in separating the two aspects of being a successful author? Any tips on how to do so?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Succeeding Writing, Plus a Happiness Recipe and My Favorite Recipe!

My Favorite Recipe: My Grandma's easy sugar cookies! Go to my interview on The Happiness Recipe for the recipe.

Today, I'm featured on the radio interview show, The Happiness Recipe, with lots of fun stories, my recipe for happiness and some writerly advice. Here's a taste: the main ingredient of my happiness recipe is to "follow my bliss." What I tell new writers when they ask how do I become a writer? Read, read, read, write, write, write, edit, edit, edit, submit, submit, submit, repeat, repeat, repeat. There's lots more, but you'll have to listen to the half hour show!

For the easy sugar cookie recipe, go to my post on The Happiness Recipe website and enjoy! Or, pick up a copy of my cookbook, The Mall Fairies Sweet Tooth Cookbook, which has this recipe and many other easy, delicious recipes, plus tales of my Mall Fairies.

And have a happy day!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

How to Make Bottle Cap Pin Jewelry. Easy, cheap, and fun!

(I hope to see you all at my FREE bottle cap workshop this Monday, July 14, at the Ada Victory Library at 4:30 pm to make bottle caps! Everyone takes a bottle cap pin home!)

 A selection of Christmas bottle cap pins, some with just the image, others with Christmas items. The trees, holly, gingerbread men, stars and snowflakes are in the scrapbook section of any craft store and inexpensive. The images are free downloads. Take a bottle cap with you to store for size. Next year, different images and inserts!

Bottle cap items can be wonderful as gifts for all sorts of occasions. A baby shower? Give a bottle cap pin with the photo of the new mom as a baby! Maybe pins for all the attendees! How about making a bunch of Christmas bottle cap ornaments? Give out a bottle cap magnet for a Halloween treat! A project for your child's class? The limit is your imagination.

It's possible to do bottle caps the old fashioned way, cut out the image with a pair of scissors, recycle used bottle caps if not bent, glue and then use clear varnish on the top, but most of these supplies are inexpensive and if you're like me you'll keep coming up with new uses.

Materials (check Beadaholique or Amazon, links are to Amazon, the punch and Glue Dots are available in office and craft stores too):
50Mixed Color Bottle Caps (or collect your own throughout the year and it's FREE)
EK Success Papers Shapers Nesting Punch 1" (or any brand, as long as 1")
Glue Dots Super Strength Multi-Use 1/2" dots (or use super glue, but you have to wait longer, however, sometimes the glue dots "let go" after a couple of years)

Images: use photos, images from magazines and greeting cards, draw your own, stencil, use stamps, stickers, glue small objects that fit within the 1" circle, there are inexpensive bottle cap images for sale, or use your imagination!

How to:
Take your 1" paper circle image and press it against a Glue Dot. Press the circle into the bottle cap. Place a 1" Circle Epoxy Sticker on top. DONE Then attach whatever to the back, whether it be a pin back, or hanger for pendants, or magnet. DONE.

Here's how to attach a pin back (so that the pin is on correctly): Take a piece of paper and line up your bottle caps on the paper with arrows pointing which way the image is up, like this:
Then flip over the bottle caps and glue the pins to the back--easy!

Do you have an idea for bottle caps to share?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Egg Free, Pumpkin Cake for July Fourth!

What could be more US of A than pumpkin?

Yes, it seems odd to have pumpkin cake for a Fourth of July celebration, but what is more American than pumpkin? And you'll never miss the eggs, wheat, dairy or soy, I promise! This is a recipe from my upcoming Conda's Healthy Cooking cookbook.


1/2 cup Gluten Free oatmeal flour (make your own oatmeal flour using Gluten Free oatmeal--check to make sure it's GF as oatmeal is grown/processed with wheat otherwise)
2 generous teaspoons baking powder
1 generous tablespoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 generous tablespoons Ener-g Egg Replacement powder
5 generous tablespoons of vegetable oil (I use canola)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 and 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup of rice or coconut milk (not hemp or flax seed, it won't come out right)
1 scant teaspoon of Xanthum Gum (may be omitted)

Stir dry ingredients except for Ener-g Egg Replacement powder. In a separate bowl, combine coconut milk and pumpkin puree, heat in microwave until warm, not hot, then add the egg replacement and whisk well until dissolved. Combine the dry and wet mixtures, add the oil and mix well. Let set for 5 minutes minimum, mixing occasionally. Batter will be fairly thick, if very thick add pumpkin and or milk.

Spread batter in a greased 8x8 baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Add nuts, walnuts and pecans work well.
Add chocolate bits (there are some that are dairy, soy and wheat free).
Add both chocolate bits and nuts.
Pictured:  I added pecans to the batter and then spread chocolate bits over the top of the cake when it was done and let them melt--instant frosting!

Any questions? Comment and I'll answer!

A "regular" version of this recipe can be found in my cookbook The Mall Fairies Sweet Tooth Cookbook. The new edition of this cookbook is just released with bonus recipes and short stories!

And everyone--


Monday, June 30, 2014

Free eBooks, free audio books, No eReader? No Problem!

The new edition with added bonus recipes and FREE today!

It has come to my attention that in this time of eBook prominence, there are a lot of people who still believe they can't participate in the wonderful world of FREE and cheap eBook promotions, including audio books, because they don't have an eReader. But these people usually have computers, cell phones and/or tablets and laptops (I know this because they complain to me that they can't get my books when they are free) and they can get all this and more! (EBooks are also usually cheaper to buy than print, just saying.)

Here's the secret: Download the apps to whichever device (or devices) to getting all sorts of great reads, for example go to Amazon and search for Kindle app (if they haven't already asked you if you'd like the Kindle app!) and Amazon will take you through the download step by easy step. Same for Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. They want it to be EASY to buy eBooks!

I've downloaded oodles of great stuff to my cell phone. I've got great reading wherever I go! AND when I'm doing a recipe from my cookbook I just set the screen to be on for the maximum time. It works great!

AND: if you visit The Cellophane Queen today and comment you'll be entered to win a copy of either The Mall Fairies: Exile or The Mall Fairies: War, the first and second in my Mall Fairies trilogy!