Transitions Take Time

A WiP Report

The closet in my bedroom in our little house isn’t big enough to accommodate my entire wardrobe, so this time of year I move my dark blue and gray sweat pants, my flannel shirts, my black and my brown fleece hoodies from the back of the house to the closet in the home office at the front of the house. I usually park my winter clothes on a chair while I haul out my spring and summer jackets, lightweight and colorful slacks and shirts (orange, peach, bright pink, yellow – oh joy!) and a skirt or two. I hang them on the door while I fill the front closet with items I won’t wear again for six months or so.

But the transition between winter and spring has been hard this year because of the late snowstorms and cold weather we’ve had around here. So some of my fleece pants and jackets have made the trip across the house two or three times.

My transition between writing projects has been prolonged and difficult as well.

Originally, I planned on continuing my cozy historical Calendar Mystery series set in Kansas City with an April book. I’ve had a very strong idea for this book for more than a year. But life-happens events gobbled up the time I needed to write that book and finish it this spring. And so I stopped working on it and set my sights on writing a book to bring out in fall that would start a new series.

Even that took several weeks because I dithered among three possible ideas, all of which involved books that I’ve already at least drafted: a science fiction novel set in a dystopian, matriarchal society that I wrote in 1986, a vast historical novel set in the Ancient World that I completed in 1989, and a series of academic mysteries that I’ve been fooling around with for years and years in one form or another. Characters from all three projects have called to me lately, the big historical especially, so much so that I hauled out the old notebooks and boxes of manuscripts for that project and put them on the shelf where my calendar mysteries lived for so long.

If I gave the heroine tiny feet like Cinderella and put dragons in the series, I’d make it into historical fantasy, and it might sell quite well as such. I could call the first book in the series The Spoils of War and market it as the next Game of Thrones, yet somewhat softer to suit my largely female readership.

But when I read Madeleine Miller’s marvelous novel The Song of Achilles, I began to doubt my ability to come up with enough detail to make one novel, let alone a series, come alive and sing. I also had problems even figuring out where in the future world I’d put the characters and action of the dystopian novel.

Then suddenly at last it became spring. And looking out my kitchen window as I washed dishes one evening, I admired my crab apple tree in bright bloom through the pergola. And I thought, if I write the contemporary mystery series, I could set it in my neighborhood. That way, I’ll find details everywhere.

And so, I’ve began brainstorming a new version of Fall into Murder, a contemporary cozy mystery that I drafted during my first participation in National Novel Writing Month in 2014. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.

Please note that I’ve put together a boxed set of the first three novels of my cozy historical Calendar Mystery series that tells the story of business girl Minty Wilcox and dashing detective Daniel Price from newly met to newly wed and beyond in Kansas City, a place that could downright deadly a hundred years or so ago. It’s now available to pre-order for only $3.99 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QDKF413

 

Old Dog, New Tricks

A WiP Report

Recently I read Chris Fox’s Relaunch Your Novel, filled with tips about making money from one’s backlist. So I decided that it was the perfect time to bring out a boxed set of my first three cozy historical mystery novels plus a short story that follows the last novel. Little did I know (as cheesy fiction says) that I’d need to add a couple of things to my skill set. One of these required lots of trial and error and the time to make stupid mistakes and to fix them.

Assembling the text for The Calendar Mysteries Books 1 – 3 took little time since I just had to put together the most recent text files for January Jinx, Fatal February, and Mischief in March, plus “Detectives’ Honeymoon” with appropriate front and back matter. The latter now includes a promo for Old Time Stories, Book 4 of the series. Being finicky that way, I also ran a complete spell/grammar checker.

But then as what seems to be my habit, I got in a hurry and loaded the text onto Kindle Direct Publishing before realizing that I forgot to do a Table of Contents. And when I tried to do that, I discovered that the method I used for the trade paperback versions of my publications didn’t actually provide live links in the eBook version to the items listed in the Table of Contents. So I dug out the manual to Word and found out how to do that.

Learning how to create a 3D cover took lots more time. I started by looking at models on Amazon. I did some sketches of the front cover I wanted and flew them by my daughter who did the covers for the individual novels. And then I tried to find a template on KDP. No help. So I Googled the topic to find instructions. As usual, I found services that would do it for me. But it’s a matter of dollars and cents that I do everything involved in publishing myself. A video I watched went by so fast it didn’t help. Then I found a slide show that helped quite a bit – except for that author’s blithe assertion that I could do a 3D cover myself in five minutes. Oh sure. Now that I’ve figured the process out, I still think that I couldn’t do it in five minutes even doing a much simpler cover than I designed. It had ten elements: three 6” by 3” background panels, three thumbnails of the book covers, a box for the text, and three spines for the novels.

Also I found confusing the dimensions in pixels that the author specified for a 3D boxed set cover. Luckily, when I went back to one of the models I’d found and when I measured the thumbnail, I saw it was 2” by 3”. Then I had an aha-moment and realized the 3D cover for the boxed set had to fit inside the 6” by 9” rectangle KDP requires for covers. So then really all I had to do was decide on the dimensions of the cover and the spines, put them together, and skew the corners in a bit for the proper 3D effect. (Tip: With Photoshop for a Mac, go to Image > Transform and click on Skew.) That’s another skill I added to my set. (FYI: I settled on 4.5” by 9” for the front, and .5” by 9” for each novel spine.)

But when I printed out the cover, I thought that the text for January Jinx didn’t show up well on the dark garnet colored spine, so I started the whole cover almost from scratch, brightened the bottom panel, and the spine panel. Then again I got in a hurry and put the three cover panels together in the wrong order in the background, so I had to redo that. And then when I redid the spine section for January Jinx, I made the font too small and had to redo that.

With all my trials and errors, I ended up with 57 different files in that folder, including both jpeg’s and Photoshop versions. (Tip: when you get all done, make a new folder for the final text and cover files. This will save you a lot of time scanning those filled folders to see which one you need to publish.) I really have no idea how much time I spent on this. And it’s still not perfect. But I’ll no doubt be faster the next time I decide to do another boxed set (unless it’s been so long a time that I have to relearn the whole process).

 

The Calendar Mysteries Books 1 – 3 is now available to pre-order for the initial price of only $3.99 at www.amazon.com/dp/B07QDKF413 That’s a great bargain for a book 972 pages and 256,836 words long.

 

Calendar Mysteries Book 4 only $0.99

Even though Old Time Stories is Book 4 of my Calendar Mystery series, you can read it as a standalone since it fills in the gaps before, between, and after the novels in the series.

Here’s an FYI from July 4, 2017, about “The Barn Door,” the first short story in this collection of fiction and nonfiction. It placed third for the top free short reads, just after something by some guy named James Patterson!

Here’s a review of “The 9th Street Gang,” another short story in Old Time Stories: “If you wish for something pleasant to get your mind off the lately awful news, delve yourself into the story of three little hoodlums that steal this story from the endearing main characters and enjoy the tidbits of Kansas City history.”

The collection ends with a never-before published short called “The Shackleton Ghost.” Old Time Stories costs only 99 cents in the US at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F4JL8D5 and a penny less than a pound at  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FJL8D5 today, 04/03/19 through Sunday 04/07/19. (This book is also available in print from Amazon.)

Cozy Historical Mystery on Sale

MISCHIEF IN MARCH

Book 3 in the Calendar Mystery Series

By Juliet Kincaid

 

 

Excerpt from Minty Wilcox’s Journal

11: 55 p.m. on Friday, March 23, 1900

It’s shortly before midnight on the very last day of my life as a single miss. Or so I hope and pray.

Right now, I’m sitting on the floor way up at the top of the house in the storeroom where Mama and I hid my wedding gown. We even put it under lock and key.

When we got it up here, we draped it on Mama’s dress form surrounded by old sheets so the train wouldn’t get dusty from the floor. My wedding gown is beautiful and white, its bodice encrusted with pearls and its skirt covered with lace. And it gleams like a ghost in the light of the lantern I’ve set on the floor next to me as I write what will be my last installment in my investigation into all things Daniel Price before our wedding day.

But what if something happens to my wedding dress or the flowers in my bouquet or the fine new suit Daniel is supposed to wear or the wedding ring he’s supposed to give me?

What if the wedding doesn’t go off as planned?

Or the wedding goes off, but what if we don’t set off on our honeymoon on time or even at all?

Oh, that man I’m supposed to marry tomorrow. He can be so aggravating. He still hasn’t told me where we’re going on our honeymoon. That doesn’t seem fair after I’ve warned him time and time again that he’s to keep no more secrets from me. It makes me wonder what else he hasn’t told me about himself that a girl needs to know before she gets hitched to a fellow.

Not knowing where we’re going for our honeymoon just adds to my jitters about the whole thing.

What if we don’t get to the church on time . . . or at all?

So many possible slips between the lip and the cup, rum punch cup if Papa and my brothers have their way.

I tell you one thing I know for certain and for sure. If the least little bit goes wrong with Mama’s plans for the wedding, she’ll have a conniption fit that might even lead her to blaspheme right there in church in front of God and everybody.

This makes me smile, but really I shouldn’t.

So much could go wrong. So much has gone wrong already leading up to our wedding day, so many unexpected events, so much mischief, some of it amusing and good-spirited and some of it malicious . . .

And then there’s the murder and Daniel in jail for committing it.

<> <> <>

As their wedding day rapidly approaches, Minty Wilcox still has many questions about her fiancé Daniel Price.

Did he really kill a man?

What else is he hiding about his past?

Why has he never told her he’s rich?

And for goodness’ sake, where are they going on their honeymoon?

<> <> <>

Amazon Review of Mischief in March

The Groom is Going to Jail? So much to like about this book. First, Minty Wilcox, a decidedly modern miss, determined to find a place for herself in a business world dominated by men, but who fears her fiancé is keeping secrets from her, including where he plans to take her for the honeymoon. And the fiancé, Daniel Price, chief investigator of the Kansas City branch of the detective agency founded by his grandfather, who faces the likelihood that he will be forcibly walked into jail when he had been planning to walk his bride down the aisle. Certainly not the least are the incredible historical details of Kansas City in the early 1900s, rich with descriptions of well-known buildings and shops and places like Emery, Bird, Thayer to grab a quick bite. Since the letter carrier delivered Mischief in March to my mailbox, I haven’t been able to put it down.

Another Amazon Review of Mischief in March

Beware of Relatives . . . Minty Wilcox is in love and is anticipating her wedding while still learning new things about her husband-to-be. Meanwhile, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents – tons of folks start arriving for the up-coming nuptials. Mystery and mayhem ensue. Minty investigates, and family members help while Mother becomes tense over all the wedding plans. Another fun Calendar Mystery.

 

Mischief in March is on sale for only $0.99 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XR1STRN and only £0.99 at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XR1STRN from March 13, 2019, through March 19, 2019.

St. Valentine’s Day 1900

A Kansas City newspaper suggested an avian theme for Valentine’s Day parties in February 1900 like the one described below.

Minty stepped back from the dining room table that she’d just finished setting with Mama’s best china in the rose pattern . . .

A pair of turtledoves made of stuffed cotton and feathers hung from the two chandeliers. In the middle of the table sat an elaborate nest made of interwoven twigs and filled with hard-boiled eggs. More eggs would follow for the dinner since after all Valentine’s was the birds’ mating day . . .

In front of each plate stood a place card Peach and Eddie had made in sets of two: pairs of doves and canaries to sit on the side of the table closer to Minty, larks and blue jays on the other, and cardinals split between the head and the foot of the table.

Minty patted her pocket that held the folded red paper heart Peach gave her when she got home from work in the afternoon. On it Eddie had written a verse about blue jays, not Minty’s favorite birds, too noisy, but she had to admit their plumage was lovely . . .

To find out whom Minty’s brother and sister paired her with, buy FATAL FEBRUARY, Book 2 of the Calendar Mystery series, for only $0.99 today through 02/19/19 at www.amazon.com/dp/B017081JHM

Legacy

Hello, Everyone!

Gosh, it’s been a long time since I talked to some of you, so this will serve as a catch-up about my activities as an indie author in 2018. It was very busy for me, partly because I made an ambitious resolution at the start of the year to bring out something new, free or discounted every month. And I did it! Here are highlights of the new stuff.

 

In April, I finished and published a brand new calendar mystery short story called “The 9th Street Gang.” It features Minty Wilcox and Daniel Price pursuing a pesky young gang in Kansas City in February 1900 just after they became engaged in Mischief in March. Click on the cover  to buy it for only $0.99.

 

In May, I published another short, “Detectives’ Honeymoon” that picks up exactly where Mischief in March leaves off. It resolves that little cliffhanger at the end of the novel and follows what turns out to be an unusual honeymoon. Click on the cover to buy it for only $0.99.

In July, I published Old Time Stories, a collection of fiction and nonfiction. It includes six calendar mystery short stories like the two mentioned earlier plus the previously unpublished story called “The Shackleton Ghost.” It also includes nonfiction pieces about the people and places that inspired my fiction. Click on the cover to buy the eBook for $3.99. (The print version is available for $10.)

And for those of you Minty and Daniel fans who wondered what happened to the April calendar mystery novel, I drafted it in November as a NaNoWriMo2018 project. I hope to publish it in April 2019.

 

(Note: the digital version of January Jinx, in which my heroine Minty Wilcox confronts all sorts of problems trying to get a suitable job for a woman in old Kansas City, will cost you only $0.99 in the U. S. at www.amazon.com/dp/B00HSSSBE4 or in the UK for £0.99 at www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00HSSSBE4 from December 27, 2018 to January 3, 2019. It’s also available in print.

 

The project I completed and published in 2018 that I’m proudest of isn’t fiction at all. It’s Novel Basics, an Illustrated Guide to Writing a Novel, and very close to my heart as a longtime novel reader, writer, and teacher. Here’s a brief description of that book:

Let Dr. Juliet Kincaid talk you through her unique method of brainstorming a novel with twenty cards in the first part of Novel Basics. Then follow through with her expert guidance on time management, as well as drafting and revising a novel. Altogether, Novel Basics provides a compact yet complete practical guide to writing a novel, whether it’s your first or your fifteenth.

In this book, I describe the novel as a tool of infinite possibilities, a sort of Swiss Army knife with a million blades. And I view the book as my legacy for future novelists no matter who you are or where or when you write your novels.

Novel Basics is now available as an eBook at www.amazon.com/dp/B07K2LXFRP for $3.99 and in print (9781730833991) for $8.99.

Best, Juliet (aka Dr. J)

WiP Report: Two Thirds of the Way There

Somehow it doesn’t seem quite right that apparently I caught a cold when I went to the medical center a couple of weeks ago to have an MRI on my sore shoulder. (I tore some muscles in it, probably when I got too enthusiastic at an exercise class two or three months ago. The pain of that in combination with a hungry cat getting me out of bed way too early led to weeks and weeks of sleep deprivation, clearly a drag on this old body.)

Still, I’ve noticed that working on Apart in April, my NaNoWriMo2018 project, has an analgesic effect on me, so I forget about my aches, pains, and congested nose when I work on it. The writing is going well, and yesterday, I reached the two-thirds mark of the endeavor with 36,293 words, about 3,000 words ahead of schedule.

This NaNoWriMo project seems to be going better than my three previous ones. I’ve had the idea for it for quite a while. I even did some brainstorming and research for it in the spring of 2017. Also, this is the fifth book in the series, so I already have many characters and settings that I can use. I don’t need to create them from scratch.

The latter factor can be both good and bad. This project is going faster than the others, true, but sometimes knowing so much about the people and places of the book leads me astray.

For instance, this past week I got all excited about putting in a scene in which 1) my protagonist, Minty Wilcox Price, has tea with 2) her mother, 3) the woman Minty’s uncle recently married, and 4) Minty’s husband’s aunt. The four women meet in a tearoom recently set up in the house next door to the house where Minty grew up by 5) a woman who appears in Mischief in March and they’re served by 6) the nosy series antagonist who works there.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,“ the part of my brain I call my imp* says, “You can have Woman 6 say snarky things and Women 2 through 4 can suggest that Minty wear a disguise, so after tea Minty and Women 2 through 4 will troop over to the pawnshop you created in ‘The 9th Street Gang’ and . . .”

“Wait!” says the other side of my brain that I call my ump.* “How are you going to use women 2 through 6 later in this new book?”

“Well, I don’t know,” my imp says, pouting a little. “Maybe I won’t. Oh, you’re no fun!”

My ump shrugs. “I don’t care,” she says.

And then by that sort of miracle that often happens when I’m writing, my imp says, “I guess since most of the book takes place in St. Joseph, not Kansas City, I really only need Woman 3 because she moved to St. Joe. Oh and I know, she can help Minty with her disguise and . . .”

After that lots of things about the book that have appeared very disorganized so far fell into place and this morning I’m anxious to get back to it. Best, Juliet

*I describe the imp and the ump in Novel Basics, an Illustrated Guide to Writing a Novel, now available as a Kindle eBook at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K2LXFRP

Juliet’s Calendar Mystery series tells the story of business girl Minty Wilcox and detective Daniel Price in old Kansas City, a place that could get downright deadly a hundred years or so ago. You’ll find the four previous books and several short stories all listed on Juliet’s Amazon Author Central Page: https://www.amazon.com/Juliet-Kincaid/e/B00DB4HWRG

 

 

WiP Report: Hump Day

Yesterday my NaNoWriMo word count reached 23,147, and since I’m trying to add 2,000 words a day, I’ve almost reached midpoint or the Hump Day for Apart in April, the book I’m drafting this month. At this point it seems very chaotic, filled with brainstorms and incomplete scenes, not necessarily in the final order either. Also sometimes I’ve gone back and added notes in red to what I’ve already written. Going back and trying to rewrite while you’re drafting is something others counsel against. For that matter, I do too in Novel Basics, my book on writing the novel.

I must admit that I didn’t feel swell when I got up this morning. About six to eight weeks ago I did something to my right shoulder at my exercise class. Don’t nag. I’ve seen somebody about it and even had an MRI. Last night I dutifully took my painkiller and muscle relaxant for it before I went to bed early, so I could get off to a fast start to my workday.

But pain in my shoulder woke me up in the middle of the night, probably because I played Spider Solitaire on my iPad mini for an hour yesterday afternoon while I waited for my daughter to come home for supper. It really annoys me when something I do for pleasure turns out to hurt me instead.

And my physical frailty makes this whole business of having a career as an indie author at my advanced age seem stupid. Why can’t I just be happy volunteering at the library or a senior center like some of my friends do?

So I was gearing up to a rant when an idea popped into my head. What if Daniel is the Watkins Man in this book? And the thought made me laugh.

That’s the main reason why I write, you know. It makes me happy. And now I have to get back to it. I can hardly wait to find out what my heroine Minty does when she sees Daniel pretending to be the Watkins Man.

Best, Juliet

Juliet Kincaid’s historical cozy mysteries tell the story of business girl Minty Wilcox and dashing detective Daniel Price from newly met to newlywed and beyond in Kansas City, a place that could downright deadly a hundred years or so ago. The first four books in the series are available in both digital and print versions. Check them out at https://www.amazon.com/Juliet-Kincaid/e/B00DB4HWRG/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

NaNoWriMo2018: Day 7

I begin Day 7 of NaNoWriMo2018 with 11,211 words written so far and a big surprise for myself. (That’s something I love about drafting a novel. Really it’s a voyage of discovery into the untold reaches of my mind.)

Specifically, once I got started, I found out that Apart in April, Book 5 in my cozy historical mystery series, doesn’t follow the advice I give in Novel Basics, An Illustrated Guide to Writing a Novel.

What advice? you ask. Why, to Keep It Simple, Student. (Yeah, I know the second S usually stands for stupid. But I happen to believe the world could do with a bit more civility. Don’t you?)

Now back to the subject at hand . . . In the first section, Novel Basics presents my unusual method of brainstorming a novel with twenty 3” by 5” index cards. (It’s fun. It’s fast. Bet you’ll like it.) I call Card # 1 “the heart card” because it asks the essential question that every story must answer to succeed: “Who wants what?”

Well, I see that I need to back up a little bit and describe my Calendar Mystery series before I travel on. So far the series includes the novels January Jinx, Fatal February, and my personal favorite Mischief in March, plus six short stories, five published as Kindle Short Reads and all six in the collection Old Time Stories. (The collection also includes nonfiction about the people and places that have inspired my fiction.) And altogether the series tells the story of Minty Wilcox and Daniel Price from newly met to newlywed and beyond in Kansas City, a place that could get downright deadly a hundred years or so ago. (Yeah, I’ve been working on the description for a while.)

Now back to the cards . . . To my surprise, early in working on Apart in April, I discovered that it has a double heart. That is, it has two answers to the question, “Who wants what?” Daniel wants to find his runaway wife Minty. And Minty wants to solve a case on her own without her husband’s help. What fun! Now I’m off to work on it some more.

Novel Basics, a compact yet complete guide to writing a novel from brainstorming through rewriting, is now available as an eBook for $4.99 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K2LXFRP

You can also find the books and stories in my cozy historical mystery series at https://www.amazon.com/Juliet-Kincaid/e/B00DB4HWRG/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Rascally Gang in Free Short Story

The 9th Street Gang

Friday 23 February 1900

Kansas City, Missouri

Happy to be wearing her old brown coat that the wet snow wouldn’t hurt and galoshes over her boots because of the slush underfoot, Minty Wilcox marched along 9th Street at Daniel Price’s side.

Daniel had bundled up in his tan overcoat, pulled his brown fedora down over his forehead, and wrapped a black muffler around the lower part of his face, so she could see only the red tip of his strong, aquiline nose and one dark brown eye squinting against the snow.

He’s my fiancé, Minty thought. We’re engaged! In just a few weeks time, I’ll be Mrs. Daniel Price. And I’ll be in on that secret married couples keep to themselves. Just thinking about solving that mystery set up a tingling in her lower parts.

When they came to the entrance of the New England Building, Daniel put his gloved hand under Minty’s right elbow. “Watch your step, darling girl,” he said. “You wouldn’t want to trip and fall in this mess.”

“Why, Daniel, you treat me like your elderly maiden aunt.”

“You’re decidedly not my aunt. And you’re not elderly either,” he said. “Though I do hope you’re still a maiden.”

“Of course, I am, you naughty boy,” she said.

Review of “The 9th Street Gang”

If you wish for something pleasant to get your mind off the lately awful news, delve yourself into the story of three little hoodlums that steal this story from the endearing main characters and enjoy the tidbits of Kansas City history. A bonus is a peek at Jesse James Jr. as I had no idea he existed before reading this story. Good Job! This author always comes through with an enthralling story.

This fun short story is FREE from October 17 through October 21, 1900 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B079YYVTTX

“The 9th Street Gang” is just one of six stories included in Old Time Stories that also includes nonfiction about the people and places that inspired Juliet Kincaid to write her Calendar Mysteries featuring smart business girl Minty Wilcox and dashing detective Daniel Price in Kansas City, a place that could get downright deadly a hundred years or so ago. Old Time Stories is now available as an eBook or trade paperback exclusively from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F4JL8D5