This blog has moved

If you have been following this blog and wondered why you haven’t received any updates, lately, I’ve moved my weekly author blog to my website:  jbhawker.com

To continue to receive regular updates, please click on the link above and follow the new site.

This week’s post is aan update on my current work in progress and features a mock-up of a cover design I’m considering.

Thanks for following!

 

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The Tortoise Two-Step Vs. the Bunny Hop

As the eBook and Print on Demand phenomena hit the scene and began to grow, it created a new industry supporting and advising independent authors . Whenever I heard about a new site, tool, or technique I filed it away for the day when I would have time to read and try out the information, since I was working and spent my free time writing.

When the day came and I was able to quit my day job and devote myself to being an author, my first impulse was to dive into this backlog of advice and immediately implement all the wisdom I’d compiled. I was hopping off in all directions at once like a schizophrenic jack rabbit. I made very little forward motion in spite of all my effort and was becoming frustrated. Worse still, I wasn’t writing. Even though my first and still-favorite character is called Bunny, this system was not working for me. I needed to prioritize and take my time.

We are often reminded that writing is a marathon and not a sprint. Very few authors become overnight successes and many of the best spent years developing their craft, so I decided to slow down, forget about trying to immediately replace my previous salary with book royalties, and concentrate on writing the best books I can, while testing and  implementing promotional practices one at a time.

The bit of advice I’m concentrating on at the moment comes from Stephen King: know your Ideal Reader. I’ve created a bio of this IR in order to get to know her better.

I have been utilizing Twitter for some time to promote my books and support other authors, with mixed results.  Keeping Stephen King’s advice in mind, I am now focusing my  own tweets on my Ideal Reader and only retweeting what I think the IR might find interesting. For instance, I know my IR doesn’t want books with half-naked men or women on the cover. She isn’t into vampires or zombies, either, but she’ll read a cozy with a ghost or witches, if there are enough cats in it. I don’t write those, but she likes them, bless her heart.

I’ll let you know how my new slow and steady system goes in a future post. Just be patient.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Saturday Interview with Author Linda Crowder

Today we’re chatting with talented writer, Linda Crowder.

Linda lives with her husband and a variety of happy pets in the wilds of windy Wyoming.

Thanks so much for joining us, Linda.

  • Cropped head shotReaders are interested in how familiar writers are with the locations in their books. Your Jake and Emma series is set in Wyoming. How long have you lived there?

I moved to Wyoming in 2006 and have spent the last ten years exploring the state. My husband is a third-generation Wyomingite and has been a wonderful tour guide. I can’t believe I grew up so close to Yellowstone and the Tetons and had never visited them until I moved here. They are spectacular and should be part of everyone’s summer vacation at least once.

  • I understand that you grew up in Colorado and also lived in the Bay Area, but your new series is set in Alaska. Have you ever lived there?

I haven’t lived in Alaska, but I’ve been to towns very similar in feel to my imaginary Coho Bay. Unlike many tourists, I spend a lot of my time talking to locals about what it’s like to live there – the good and the bad so I hope they’ll feel their time talking to me was well spent when they read the new book.  I’m returning for another two weeks in May and hope to be back on a regular basis.

  • You are not only an author, but also a career coach. What exactly does a Career Coach do, and how does this work influence your writing?

Different coaches have different areas of specialization. Mine is working with people who’ve been laid off. I help them explore what they’d like to do next. Some want to jump right back into the work force, doing pretty much what they’ve done before so I help them be more competitive in doing that. Others want to step back and think about their next move and I help them explore what they might want to do next, then map out a strategy to take them there.

My work in nonprofit human services, which I did before I became a Career Coach, bubbles up in Emma’s career as a therapist and in Jake’s work in juvenile justice. I very carefully don’t base people in the books on people whose stories I’ve been privileged to hear over the years, but what I’ve learned about mental health and about how the courts work does find its way into the books.

  • You have many pets and include them prominently in your books. What is your favorite real-life anecdote about one of your animals?

I have, at current count, seven cats and one incredibly patient dog. Ringo left me a couple of years ago and is now starring in my short stories about his exploits as a ghost cat. That cat had too much personality to say good-bye! One day he was sitting on the porch, flopped on his ringoside in his lion pose, listening to my husband talking with his daughter and her fiancé. My husband made the mistake of saying that Ringo was too “fluffy” to catch a bird. Well, that cat stalked off the porch and was back not five minutes later with a bird! Caught and released, mind you, just to prove that he could.

  • How delightful! Do you find that your readers connect more with your characters because of the character’s connection to their pet(s)?

I get emails and comments from readers who love that I write rescue animals into the lives of my characters. I’ve always had rescue animals and I absolutely love them. I’ve adopted kittens and puppies, but I have to say I’ve had the best luck with the adult dogs and cats I’ve brought home. They are much more easily introduced into the crowd I always have with me and they are so often passed by in favor of the babies. I encourage everyone to consider adopting an adult cat or dog.

  • You are currently an independent author. From your experiences of doing all the promotion, etc. yourself, will you be looking to sign with a traditional publisher in the future?

I am looking at working with a small press for my Coho Bay series and we’ll see whether they like the book enough to offer me a contract. It’s a LOT of work being author and publisher in one and I would love to see some of that workload go off my shoulders. However, I won’t hesitate to publish independently in the future. It’s been a learning experience, but a satisfying one.

  • Any advice for other indie authors?

Two things helped me most. First, join a really knowledgeable and supportive author’s group. There’s so much to learn but you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Second, make the investment in an editor, even if only a line/copy editor. It makes a huge difference.

  • Who designs your covers?

Carla Garcia, who is a graphic artist. I am her only covers. She normally designs websites and marketing material.

  • Current work in progress? Plans for the future?

Coho Bay is with my editor right now. My next work is the fifth Jake and Emma book, A Body on the Ballot, which is currently in outline form. I am planning to spend a month in Texas next year, researching locations and culture as a setting for a work I’ve been tossing around in the back of my mind for more than a year now. I’d planned to write it after Death Changes Everything came out, but Coho Bay elbowed it’s way in and demanded to be written first. Books do that.

We will keep an eye out for Coho Bay and the next Jake and Emma.  We have enjoyed sharing with you today, Linda. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Readers can sign up for notifications of new releases and promotions on your website, http://www.lindajcrowder.com/

See Linda’s Amazon Author page: http://smile.amazon.com/Linda-Crowder/e/B00A3AY5RG

 

You may already be a winner: April Fool!

Welcome to the IndieBRAG April Fools Day Contest: APRIL-FOOLS-POSTER I

Happy April Fools Day, Dear Readers,

I know some of you think the real April Fool’s Day falls on April 15, but that’s a discussion for another day. Today you are being put to the test to see how well you remember what you read (or is this a test of how memorable my characters are? Oh dear, the prank may be on me!).

Oh well, to carry on, below you will find a scene from one of the books in my Bunny Elder Adventures series of thrillers and mysteries. OR IS IT? That is the test.

After reading the scene, respond with a comment of TRUE or FALSE. Correct answers will be eligible to win a copy of my book. 

I will read your comment and let you know if the scene is really from one of my books. If not, and you guessed True, or if it is an authentic scene and you guess False, my reply will be “April Fool!”   If you guess correctly, my response will be, “Happy reading, and best of luck in the drawing!” If you wish to enter to win a copy of my award-winning ebook Vain Pursuits please email me at jbhawker@jbhawker.com with your preferred format (Kindle or epub) before midnight PDT April 4). The winner will be announced on this blog on April 5.3D Vain BRAG

IMPORTANT NOTE: In order for you to be included in the drawing for my book, we will need an email address to send the book file. If you would also like to be added to my newsletter email list, please indicate that in your comment. If not, I promise you will not be added, and if you chose to be added, you may opt out at any time. I don’t spam or share your email address.

You do not need to answer correctly to be entered to win the $50 Amazon gift certificate. Simply go to the indieBRAG event website to enter.

Thanks for participating.

Scene:

The severely blonde flight attendant wrestled impatiently with her serving cart while making halting progress along the narrow aisle between banks of cramped gray seats in a Lufthansa Airbus high above the Atlantic Ocean. Turning from side to side she grimly dealt out pre-packaged dinner trays to the restless passengers. Although her icy pale hair and crisp blue uniform remained unruffled, the stewardess was obviously near the end of her tether from long hours of forced congeniality with the fretful mass of economy-class passengers assigned to her care.

A creased and crumpled, though still dignified, elderly man, inching back to his seat from a thoroughly disheartening visit to the claustrophobic restroom, inadvertently blocked the attendant’s forward progress. Peremptorily rapping the old fellow’s shoulder, she hissed sharply with Prussian authority, “You must not block the aisles! Return to your seat, immediately.”

With a gasp, the man recoiled, stumbled and landed without ceremony in the soft lap of a petite middle-aged woman. Mortified, he attempted to scramble to his feet, but the serving cart bumped him back onto his startled seat mate.

The old gentleman creaked stiffly to his feet as soon after the flight attendant’s passing as possible, trembling with humiliation and repressed rage.

“Please excuse me, madam. I am so terribly sorry. Have I injured you?” the man addressed his fellow victim in very slightly accented English as he attempted to regain his composure.

“Oh, no, not at all. I’m fine. Really. Don’t worry about it. That certainly wasn’t your fault. Brünnhildes assault would have done in a lesser man, I assure you. You are lucky to have survived,” Bunny Elder replied with a wry smile, as she straightened her khaki skirt and pushed a lock of graying blonde hair back into place behind one ear.

“Yes, well, it would appear there are reasons why this particular airline was never touted as part of the ‘friendly skies’.”

Official rules:

Prize & Giveaway

Prize and book giveaway starts April 1st. The winner of the $50.00 Amazon Gift Card will be announced on April 5th on the indieBRAG  website.

Click on the indieBRAG Website starting April 1st and comment to enter for a chance to win a $50.00 Amazon Gift Card!

Each author is providing a print copy or e-book in the book giveaways. Be sure to visit their websites and comment on their post to enter a chance to win a copy of their book.

Rules:

–         The chance to enter for the prize and giveaways ends April 4th. The winner of the Amazon gift certificate prize will be announced on the indieBRAG  Website on April 5th. And each author will announce the winner for their giveaways on their sites at the date they choose.

–         You must be 18 years or older to participate in the prize & giveaway.

–         Giveaway is open internationally.

–         Winner has 48 hours to claim prize and giveaway or a new winner is chosen.

Visit all these great blogs to have more chances to win the $50:

Easter Greetings

As my readers know, I write about Christians in various stages of their faith walk. Believers who sometimes stumble when encountering temptation or confronting evil, but who get back up and keep pressing on.

All of my main characters, from Bunny Elder to Naidenne Davidson, Judy Falls and the other pastors’ wives of the First Ladies Club, and the ordained ministers, Merrill Bishop and Elizabeth Gilbert, are currently preparing to refresh their spirits and revive their faith in the upcoming celebrations of Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Their church sanctuaries have been decked out with banners and lilies by their church women’s groups, the musicians have been practicing cantatas and other special music for weeks, the choir robes have been cleaned and the instruments are tuned in anticipation of the glorious event. Sermons have been prayed over, practiced and polished to present on this special day.

While the worldly may think Christmas is the highlight of the year, Christians know Christmas is just the prelude to the fulfillment of the Resurrection.

If you have the opportunity, I pray that you will take advantage of all the preparation and anticipation and share in all this joy and excitement by attending worship at a church near you this Sunday.

Happy Easter, dear readers, and a Joyous Resurrection Day to you all!

Silhouettes of Three Crosses

 

Character Sketch: Rev. I. Merrill Bishop

This month we are  taking a closer look at the Reverend Doctor I. Merrill Bishop, introduced in A Body in the Belfry.Merrill small

Character Name & brief background: Merrill, born Indigo Merrillanne Rose to hippy parents, has two brothers; older brother Wolf and younger brother, Sage.  After spending their preschool years living in a tepee, a caravan and a couple of communes, the Rose children and their now middle-class parents moved to the Southern California suburbs.

Called Indigo as a child, Merrill decided the moniker “Indigo Rose” sounded more like an exotic dancer than a serious student and began using her abbreviated middle name in college, where she met and married William Bishop who was attending a nearby seminary.

Role in Story: Protagonist in the second book in the First Ladies Club series.

Occupation: After enjoying many years as the wife of a pastor, Merrill felt the call to ministry and went to seminary, obtaining her Master’s Degree in Theology. She assisted her pastor-husband until his death from cancer. As a widow, she joined the staff of a large Bay Area inner-city church. When we meet Merrill she has just been called to her first senior pastorate, the struggling First Baptist Church of Bannoch, Oregon.

Physical Description: Merrill has shoulder length blond hair, sprinkled with gray, blue eyes and a trim middle-aged figure. She is petite,  but stronger than she looks.

Personality: Fun-loving and mischievous by nature, Merrill feels a responsibility to maintain a more serious demeanor befitting her role in the church and community.

Habits/Mannerisms: Merrill is determined to maintain her physical health with regular exercise, including long daily walks on the beach. She plans her wardrobe so as not to appear frivolous, but to seem approachable. Aware of the prejudices some hold against women pastors, she walks a tightrope trying to avoid offending anyone.

Internal Conflicts: Loneliness may be Merrill’s greatest conflict. As a still-vibrant woman, she longs for companionship and intimacy, but fears that becoming involved in close relationships would distract her from her ministry or even undermine her position in her church.

External Conflicts: Someone is killing people in her new hometown and may be targeting her church, the congregation, or Merrill, next.

If you read A Body in the Belfry and wonder what happens next for Merrill,  you will be able to catch up with her and her friends in the First Ladies Club in the next book in the series, A Corpse in the Chapel, scheduled for publication this summer. 

Second Saturday Author Interview with Julie Seedorf

As you can see from the photo, we are in for a real treat today as we visit with the fun and unexpected Julie Seedorf, author of cozy-comic mysteries set in Minnesota.

weird pic of me

Thank you so much for joining us today, Julie, and for answering a few questions for me and your many curious fans… I mean the fans are curious to learn about you, not that they are necessarily odd, you understand…(ahem) Maybe we’d better get right to the questions:

  • You obviously wear many hats: mother, grandmother, computer technician, author – can you give us a snapshot of your career path? I began writing in high school for fun, fell in love with speech and enrolled in college for a short time wanting to become a speech teacher. It didn’t feel right so I left college and worked as a secretary, which is what it was called in those days. Got married, had three kids and became a full time mom for a time. Part time jobs always seemed to be offered to me. I don’t think I have ever applied for a job. I worked in activities in a nursing home, as a soda jerk, waitress, bartender, advertising rep, and volunteered as SADD advisor, Sunday School Superintendent, and more. I wrote programs for church Christmas and Lenten services. Someone offered me a job as office manager of a small computer firm after my kids were gone (another fell into). They trained me as a computer technician and then when they closed their business they helped me set up my own computer business. I closed that in 2012 to become a full time columnist and author.
  • You live in Minnesota. How similar is your home town to Fuchsia and Brilliant, the towns in your books? If they are alike, at all, I definitely want to move to Minnesota, snow and all. My community is very different from Fuchsia and Brilliant as it has the rules most people have in their communities. One thing it does have in common is that it is a small community, probably a little smaller than Fuchsia, but it has many caring people.
  • How did you connect with Cozy Cat Publishers? It was a fluke. I had never intended to get published. I was too chicken to send my book into anyone. One day I was reading a book by a Cozy Cat Author and thought it sounded a lot like the book I wrote. On a quick whim I immediately queried the company. They told me to send my manuscript. I wasn’t nervous about it because I thought I would get rejected. I got an answer and they told me they might consider it if I made changes. I took two months to do it and resent it and they accepted me. I call it a God thing.
  • The pets in your stories seem to have amazing abilities. Can you share any stories about your own, real life, pets? I have two shysters of my own. I would own more but I have someone in my household that keeps a reign on my animal love. Boris and Natasha were both rescues. Boris is laid back and huge, 17 pounds. He is the lover. We also have Natasha, in fact I have a couple of video’s out with her. She can get into anything. We have hooks on our bi-fold doors, Velcro on our cupboard doors and the backs of our recliners taped shut. The best story is one night when I was sleeping and I heard my closet door opening waking me up. Then I heard the bottom drawer in my closet chest  opening and then I heard a few noises that I wasn’t sure what they were. I opened my eyes and the empty coffee maker box was sitting in the middle of my bedroom. It had been tucked away tightly underneath a shelf in the closet. I heard noises coming from the box. Natasha had opened the closet, opened the bottom drawer and then moved on and maneuvered the box out of the closet and unhooked the tab holding the cover shut and then opened the top and got in. I couldn’t figure out how she did it so the next time I heard her in the middle of the night I got my camera on my cell phone out and videotaped it. You can see it on my youtube channel.  (Click here...I watched it and it is amazing!)
  • The question every author is asked: are you like Granny? How much of these stories are autobiographical? I think there is always a part of all of us in our books. I would like to be like Granny and I am in the fact that I don’t like conformity. But Granny is actually somewhat like my mother. She was stubborn, believed she could do anything and that she wasn’t old. She kept on going and could do anything including being on top of her roof fixing it, running a chainsaw etc. until she was around 92.

Well, this is surprising, Julie, look who just came in! Bunny Elder, what are you doing here? and who is that with you? 

grannyHi, J.B. This is my pal, Hermiony Vidalia Criony. When we heard that you and Julie were getting together, we decided to add our two cents. Move over, ladies, and let us take your seats, so I can interview Hermiony. Put down the pitchfork, Granny, before you poke someone’s eye out.

 

  • As a woman of a certain age, I know numbers don’t matter, but just how old are you, Granny? I am 25 but I am an undercover sleuth, you know, so I have to hide under this wrinkly body costume. Your  kids seem to think you are on the edge of decrepitude, but you look pretty spry to me.  – Do you remember Spry cooking oil? If you greased something up with that it would slip through your fingers. So as long as they think I’m, ah, that big word you used,  then I’m just like the cooking oil, slippery, and I can slip things right past their noses. Just like they did when they were teenagers. You know what they say, payback is  a *****.

  • Do you mind that Julie shares your secret passions – “naughty” books and lingerie – with the readers? I just hate it when J.B. tells everyone when I slip up or give in to temptations. A girl should have some secrets; don’t you agree? – I don’t mind, as long as my readers don’t tell my kids or Franklin or Silas. Oh wait, you probably haven’t met Silas. Anyway, if my readers tell my kids then I will put the kibosh on Julie telling tales.

  • Don’t your fancy purple leather pajamas sweat? Of course, the Oregon Coast where I live is warmer than Fuchsia, Minnesota.- Honey, I can’t answer that question for the readers because this is a G rated interview.

  • I envy your ability to eat what you want (all those chocolate truffles and doughnuts!) and not worry about cholesterol or extra pounds. Do you have an exercise regimen you can recommend? – Yup, you should try it sometime. You take your right hand, if you’re right-handed, and pick up a truffle or a donut and then you raise your right hand to your mouth, give it a twist and toss the truffle or the donut into your mouth. Then you lower your arm and hand, pick up another truffle and donut, give it a twist and toss. Great arm exercises. You forgot to add wine. I bend over my footstool, whip my arm in a big circle and open the footstool. Lift out the heavy bottle of wine, twist my wrist to pour it all while bent over, and then I lift the bottle back into the footstool, tap twice on the top of the footstool to make it secure and then I slowly unbend at the waist and lift the top of my body back up straight. Then I lift my right arm, grab my wrist with my left arm, open my mouth and gently move my wrists to tip up the glass and pour the wine into my mouth. I can give you a diagram sometime if you want to follow those exercises.

  • Julie provides you with some wonderful mysteries to solve, but your bad guys seem pretty tame compared to the nasty brutes J.B. gives me to deal with. Would you like a roommate? Ya know, I know it seems that way in the books, she tends to whitewash it, but if you knew what I really go through, but she insists this needs to be a cozy mystery so she refuses to tell the entire gruesome tale. Did you say broommate? You know a witch?

Well, thanks so much for dropping by, girls, so sorry you have to leave, right now. Bye, Bunny, bye, Granny! So long, see ya!  –  Whew! Please excuse that interruption, Julie. I know you understand how it is. We create these characters and before you know it, they have a mind of their own. Now, where were we? Oh yes:

  • Please tell us about your current work in progress – I’m working on Granny Pins A Pilferer, another Fuchsia Minnesota Mystery and The Joy Killer, which is a serious book about a woman examining her life and choices when she turns 65. Sounds interesting. I’ll have to read that before I hit the big six-five (again).
  • Any other plans for the future? I guess God has led me this far, so I don’t plan too much in the future. There will be another book in the Brilliant Minnesota Series after my new book The Penderghast Puzzle Protectors. It’s a hoot and has ties to Fuchsia but with an entire new cast of characters. puzzle bookJust released in February. And I am also a columnist for area newspapers. My column is called Something About Nothing on the premise we talk about nothings every day when we meet but underneath those nothings there is something wanting to be said if we take the time to listen.

Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Julie. It’s been great fun.

To learn more about Julie and her writing follow any of the links below:

http://julieseedorf.com
http://sprinklednotes.com
http://www.facebook.com/julie.seedorf.author
http://www.amazon.com/Julie-Seedorf/e/B009WAAANQ
http://www.twitter.com/julieseedorf
http://www.instagram.com/julie_seedorf