You know what? Life isn’t too bad at our house right now. After all it’s spring. Plus I’ve had both my shots and Jess has had the first. Having them has lowered our stress and helps us sleep better.
On the slightly down side, my WiP is going slower than I’d hoped. This time it was supposed to be a quick final draft except for one last copy edit. But, I keep thinking up really cool plot developments, pieces of dialogue, and details. For instance, as I was working on Chapter 15 of Apart in April, the fourth novel and Book 5 of my calendar mystery series, I decided that the dashing detective Daniel Price should wear Navajo jewelry when he’s undercover as an itinerant salesman, so two young chambermaids get the impression that he’s been to Santa Fe. He hasn’t He bought the lot at Jesse James, Jr.’s pawnshop over on Main in Kansas City earlier in April 1901. Things like these make a story come alive, but they also might introduce errors like missing words or repeated phrases that must be found and fixed. Still, I hope to have the eBook of Apart in April out by the end of April.
Meanwhile, the boxed set of the first three novels and a really cool short story called “Detectives’ Honeymoon” is now available for only $2.99 at www.amazon.com/dp/B07QDKF413 and £ 1.99 at www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07QDKF413 through Tuesday March 30.
And look for Old Time Stories, a collection of nonfiction and fiction that includes the original short story “The Shackleton Ghost,” for the discounted prices of $0.99 at www.amazon.com/dp/B07F4JL8D5 and £0.99 at www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07F4JL8D5 from April 1 through April 7, 2021.
Till next time, stay safe and well. Best, Juliet
Here’s the cover for the fourth novel, fifth book in my calendar mystery series featuring the former business girl, Minty Wilcox, now Price, and her dashing detective husband Daniel, in Kansas City, MO, a place that could get downright deadly a hundred years or so ago.
I had lots of trouble making this cover fit into the birthstone theme of the series. I mean what can you do with white for goodness’ sake? But finally this version is coming along though it needs tweaking here and there. FYI: I stole the lilacs from a lady’s hat that appeared in The Delineator of August 1901. And a while ago, my cousin Sarah Faye Morse Meurer very kindly sent me the photos of our grandfather Miles Smith and our grandmother Juliet Perkins Smith.
Here’s the blurb for the book: After a personal tragedy on Easter Sunday, April 7, 1901, Minty Wilcox Price runs away from home, strewing letters behind her like Hansel’s bread crumbs for her husband Daniel to find. Can he overcome his own grief and anger to figure out where she’s gone and with her solve the case of “The Ravished, Murdered Chambermaid”?
I’d appreciate any feedback on the cover and blurb you’d care to give.
As for the book itself, I hoped to be farther along with the final draft by now. But life has thrown some interference our way this past month that has taken up my time. For example, though we didn’t lose our power or heat during the recent Arctic blast, our water pipes froze when the temperature reached 15 below here near Kansas City. But my daughter Jess and our next-door neighbor’s son made a sort of bucket brigade to bring water to our house. And our pipes thawed on their own when the temperature moderated a bit.
The cold also complicated our grocery shopping. Lately we’ve shopped on line, and then Jess drove to the store to pick it up. But there was no way either of us wanted to go out on snowy streets when it was 7 below zero outside. So we tried to reschedule at first and then to cancel. But apparently their shopping app doesn’t handle changes well, so the shopper shopped our order not once but twice. And even after several phone calls and twelve days, the charge remains on my credit card. Sigh . . .
But I’m making progress on my project overall, and probably I’ll meet my deadline, the end of April. Also I’m struck by the way I still learn lessons about the process, or in this case, relearn them. For example, yesterday I struggled all morning to get information about a new setting, a ranch in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Originally, I’d planned on asking a friend of mine if I could tour her family’s ranch. In a pandemic? Well, no, I literally can’t go there. So then I spun my wheels all morning looking for virtual tours and taking two dozen screen shots of prairie hills. But then finally, I remembered the sage advice I received back in the 80’s from a writer friend. “Think film,” she said. So then I CUT TO the front door of the farmhouse I needed Daniel to visit and blew that writer’s block up.
Stay safe and well, my friends. Get the shot soon if you haven’t already. (I have an appointment for next Wednesday.) Best, Juliet
P. S. Mischief in March, the third in my calendar mystery series, is only 99 cents from March 3 through March 9 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XR1STRN
It’s also a penny less than a pound at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XR1STRN
For an even better bargain, you can buy the boxed set that includes the January Jinx, Fatal February, and Mischief in March, the first three novels of the series, and the bonus short story “Detectives’ Honeymoon” from March 24 through March 30 for only $2.99 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QDKF413 (British friends, for a similar bargain price, check http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07QDKF413)
In February 1900, a young woman has gone missing from a Kansas City garment factory. Minty Wilcox, now a typist/stenographer at Price Investigations, longs to help find the girl, but her boss, George Mathison doesn’t approve of women sleuthing. He also forbids any office romance at all, especially with his nephew, detective Daniel Price. When Minty defies her boss and goes undercover to find the girl, Daniel helps. But he also hinders Minty with outrageous flirtation and other ploys. And as she digs into the case, Minty comes into danger herself.
Excerpt from Fatal February
Just then the door to Mathison’s office from the outside hall opened and a fellow shuffled in. He wore a loose, black jacket that came down to his mid thighs and brown corduroy trousers that bagged around his ankles. As the man sauntered toward them, he pulled a black, visored cap off his head.
“It’s getting cold out there,” said Daniel Price.
“Why, Mr. Price,” Minty said. “I didn’t recognize you in those clothes.”
He stopped, held his arms wide and looked down. “Like them? These are my workingman’s duds.”
“Fetching, Mr. Price, though they do look like you stole them from a larger man.”
“Not exactly. I bought them second hand or even fourth hand. Who’s to know? At any rate, these duds suit the work. And by the way, Miss Wilcox, I like your pretty hair ribbon.”
“Why, thank you, sir.”
“Enough of your banter, you two,” Mathison said. “It’s about time you decided to come in, my boy. I hope your efforts paid off better than Miss Wilcox’s.”
“But, Mr. Mathison, I discovered quite a bit . . .”
Will Daniel rescue her? Will Minty even let him try? To find out, you must read Fatal February, Book 2 of Juliet Kincaid’s Calendar Mystery series now only $0.99 at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017081JHM and £0.99 at https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B017081JHM. (And it’s always free on Kindle Unlimited.)
Juliet Kincaid’s Calendar Mysteries tell 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 get downright deadly a hundred years or so ago.
Praise for FATAL FEBRUARY
In the year 1900, Minty Wilcox has been hired by a private detective agency, her on again/off again beau’s employer, as a stenographer. For this spunky gal, typing and taking shorthand aren’t enough. She wants to be an operative. So, of course, author Juliet Kincaid, accommodates her protagonist by letting her delve into a missing person/murder case, sometimes sanctioned, but often not, by her boss. The ins and outs of the investigation, Minty’s romantic ups and downs, and her inside out family situations are fun to follow. It’s also interesting to learn about the physical layout and the social customs of Kansas City at the turn of the last century. Good follow-up to January Jinx, the first mystery in the series. Amazon Reviewer
Last Friday, I finished what I hope will be the next-to-the-last draft of Book 5 of my Calendar Mystery series, set in Kansas City, a place that could get downright deadly a hundred years or so ago for a business girl named Minty Wilcox and a dashing detective named Daniel Price. (Just practicing my blurb here . . .) The next day we ordered BBQ carry-out for a celebratory dinner. Baby back ribs! Yum!
In its binder, the book weighs 6.4 pounds which makes for quite a weighty tome though I hope of course that it won’t feel like that for readers when it’s done. The text now is 306 pages and 86,489 words long. I started it on November 1 for NaNoWriMo, so it took me 83 days for an average of 1,042 words a day. That’s really not bad considering everything that’s been going on including a very weird holiday season, the pandemic, and the political turmoil.
An FYI for my fellow indie authors: whenever I start a novel, I format it for its eventual publication, that is, with 6” by 9” pages, 0.75” margins, 1.15 line spacing throughout including between paragraphs, 12-point font, usually Book Antiqua, all paragraphs except the first in a section or chapter indented 0.3”. I also mark all section breaks with <> <> <> because I never know where they’ll end up after revisions. Plus, I paginate the pages, create different first pages for the starts of chapters, and different odd and even pages for the rest. And yes, I type my first drafts and all the rest. All of this lets me get a feel for the overall proportions of the book and about where to place the plot points in later drafts.
For more guidance, check out my Novel Basics, a concise yet complete guide to brainstorming, drafting, and revising a novel available in print from Amazon. com and as an eBook at www.amazon.com/dp/B07K2LXFRP . . .
Now back to the report . . . If I can cut the 10% that Stephen King says in his author’s memoir On Writing he cuts from the first drafts of his books, Book 5 of my Calendar Mystery series will be around 78,000 words or 275 pages long. Hopefully, I will get it out by the end of April. (The tabs on the book shown in the photo on the left mark pages where I need to do some editing. Yikes!)
I’ll let you know how it’s going in next month’s WiP Report. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for the fun short story “The 9th Street Gang” free from 02/03/21 through 02/07/21 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B079YYVTTX and Book 2 of the Calendar Mystery series Fatal February, on sale for only $0.99 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017081JHM and £0.99 at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017081JHM from 02/10/21 through 02/16/21.
Yesterday afternoon the day after Memorial Day, I ventured out to shop in person for only the second time in over two months. The crowd at the garden center plus the lack of social distancing and masks the first time made me cautious about doing it again.
So before I even got out of the car, I counted the number of other cars – fewer than ten – in the parking lot of the closest Ace Hardware. I pulled my mask up over my nose and spritzed my hands with the hand sanitizer Jess made from a few odds and ends she found in our hall cabinet early in the pandemic.
Once I was inside, an employee I recognized from previous visits greeted me and asked, “Need some help?” She wore a mask and a small sign on her shirt pocket that said in red Six Feet.
When I acknowledged that I did need help, she proceeded to guide me around the store where there were fewer than ten people including patrons and employees the whole time I was there.
She helped me find caulk for the front window of my house that I put plastic on last fall and a different kind of caulk to reseal the flashing on the roof. She handed the tubes to me instead of having me touch them.
She helped me find garden hose and a nozzle that’s easier for people with arthritis in their hands than the kind that you have to keep holding down to make them work. She put the hose and nozzle in my cart
She left on my own to go into the garden center to search for begonias, but checked me out again later after I’d passed through the line with six feet intervals marked off on the floor. The cashier stations had plastic panels to separate shoppers from cashiers. I paid by credit card. And soon I’d loaded my bags and plants in the back of the car, got in and spritzed my hands before I started the car.
I was on my way out before I spotted the display of discounted Memorial Day planters I hadn’t noticed when I came in because I was too busy counting cars. My hope that Ace would still have some was the reason I’d gone there in the first place, so I parked, chose three planters, paid for them, and again was on my way.
I did turn into the parking lot to a grocery store at the corner, but once I counted the thirtieth car, I said, “No way I’m going in there,” and left. My lessons for today, as the lock down restrictions lift and you venture out to shop, be smart and be careful.
Just wanted to touch base with you all today.
In the last week or so, I’ve followed this advice somebody gave on the opinion page of the K. C. Star as a way to fight the anxiety and depression of living through a pandemic: “Find something that brings you joy, and give yourself over to it.”
So I’ve gotten back into my writing and I’m really enjoying it though my plans on researching the weather for April 1901 for my book went sideways for a while because a couple of my favorite resources – the Kansas City Star archives and the Kansas City Library – said, “Oh we’re shut down right now so we can redo everything. It will be great when we come back.” Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . I need to know that stuff now. But I found another resource, so now I know generally at least what the weather was like on Easter in Kansas City a hundred and twenty years ago.
As you might be able to tell from the photo, my hair has gotten pretty shaggy. But I do have an appointment with my stylist the first Friday in June. And maybe until then I can trim up my bangs with my manicure scissors like Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone does from time to time.
And really, we’re doing pretty well staying at home. Oh sure, I miss seeing my Game Night friends in person and going to the show at Cinemark. I really like to grocery shop in person instead of hiring someone to do it second hand. I’d rather exercise with my friends at the center instead of doing it at home through a Facebook Live link. Still, even though we wear masks, have to stay six feet from our neighbors, and can’t pet their doggies, we can walk about the neighborhood pretty much as usual.
But best of all, Jess is on paid leave from her job so she’s sheltering in place with me here in our little blue house. I can’t tell you how grateful I am not to be doing this thing alone. Plus, Jess has gone really far in making this a wonderful Mother’s Day for me. She cleaned the house! She baked peanut butter cookies! She gave me a pretty new top and fun jammies. She’s fixing breakfast for dinner tonight. We hug each other whenever we like.
How are you all doing?
Novel Basics Card # 18
The Reader Card
The Reader Card asks the question,
“Who will read my novel?”
By now, you probably have a fairly good idea of who will want to read your novel. For one thing, chances are good that your target or ideal reader reads the same sorts of novels as you do, and lots of them, too.
Try to get specific in identifying your ideal reader. For instance, if she reads women’s fiction, does she prefer cozy mysteries with women sleuths? Are the sleuths amateurs or police officers? Or does your ideal reader love romance novels? Must those books be wholesome and clean, with maybe a shy kiss at the end? Or does your reader relish erotica with lots of heavy breathing?
Is your ideal reader a male who enjoys a blood and guts, action-packed thriller with some very specific sex scenes?
As like as not, your ideal reader is the same gender as your protagonist and a similar age as well because it’s customary in publishing that the reader is about the same age as the protagonist of a novel. (In Young Adult fiction, the protagonist might be a bit older than the reader in order to serve as a role model.)
Long ago I had the fantasy that someday I’d write the book that everybody reads the year it comes out. I haven’t written that novel yet. But Suzanne Collins might have come close with The Hunger Games. A friend’s twelve-year-old granddaughter read those books and so have I, many decades older. Some of my contemporaries have read every one of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books.
Speaking of that writer, Rowling has written and published four novels in the Cormoran Strike series so different from the Harry Potter series that she uses the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith. The target readers for those two series are very different and their expectations quite different as well.
Next we’ll talk a bit more about the reader as we discuss Card # 19.
Novel Basics Card # 19
The Intention Card
(Card # 19 is probably my favorite card from my entire pack.)
The Intention Card asks the question,
“How will my novel affect the reader?”
The novel is a tool of infinite possibilities, a sort of Swiss Army knife with a million blades. That’s one of the reasons I read. When I pluck a novel off the new mysteries shelf at the library and bring it home, I’m filled with hope that this novel will surprise me. Maybe the author will say something new or at least in a different way: tease me, thrill me, move me to laughter and to tears in the same book, make me think about the human experience in some new way, expand my life, or simply help me escape my troubling or mundane world for a few hours.
Note: our local libraries are all shut down right now. Yours probably is, too. But many still offer new books through Overdrive that you can check out and read on your tablet.
At this point, I’ll circle back to my brief history of plot by mentioning that Aristotle said the purpose of a tragedy is catharsis, to purge the audience with pity and fear by seeing a man fall from grace through his own hubris.
As for me, I believe that laughter is the best medicine for whatever ails you in life, so I like to make people laugh or at least smile when they read my novels and stories. And I give my stories happy endings.
So what’s the primary intention of your novel? Do you want to entertain your reader by scaring the heck out of him with your horror fiction? Do you want to make her feel sexy with your erotic romance? Or do you want to create a puzzle in a cozy mystery for your reader to figure out? Maybe you want to move your reader to empathize with other people who have survived great adversity, to understand some truth or theme about the human condition from someone else’s suffering that your reader can experience vicariously.
In addition, one of the best things about the novel is its ability to say something worthwhile. So give at least a tentative answer to the question the Intention Card asks.
We have one last card. And then your personalized Novel Basics pack will be complete. Join me next time to discover the identity of Card # 20.