October 2021 Newsletter

A Bad Case of the Ya-Gottas

“Ya gotta,” says the voice in my head.

“Ya gotta get a COVID booster shot.”

“Ya gotta work on your website; it’s a mess.”

“Ya gotta trim the hedges before the weather gets bad.”

“Ya gotta redo your Amazon Author Central page and add pages in other countries.”

“Ya gotta get the dishwasher, clothes washer, and dryer serviced before the warranties run out.”

“Ya gotta read the newspaper today because you vowed to do that everyday until COVID is gone.”

“Ya gotta get to the DMV to send for the title of the car you paid off with some of the COVID money.”

“Ya gotta spiff up all the sales pages for all your books and stories currently available on Amazon.”

“Ya gotta back up everything on your desktop computer somewhere else, because Jess says your hard drive is dying, so you don’t lose anything important like the novel you’re writing.”

“Ya gotta get somebody over here to fix the broken door to the garden shed before the raccoons set up housekeeping in there when winter sets in. Also you need to get somebody to fix the rotten window frames, fix the ceiling in the front bathroom, and fix the . . .”

“Ya gotta reformat all your books and publish them all the platforms, not just Amazon, so you can maybe make some money off of them. But oh no,” the voice in my head says. “You can’t do that right now because first you need to redo the covers of some of your fairy tale mysteries. And anyway, why bother with doing that because you haven’t made any money off your books right now. What makes you think you ever will?”

And so the maddening mix of personal, household, and authorial “ya gottas” has continued in my head until one recent afternoon during a walk around the neighborhood with my daughter, I started crying about it. That got a stare from the guy who stopped his car at the intersection so we could cross the street. And then Jess said something that I’ve repeatedly told my students over the years. I’ve also said it to myself and to Jess about her own creative work. “Mom,” she said. “Ya gotta put your creative work first because it’s the thing that nurtures you and gives you joy. All the other stuff ya gotta do gotta wait till later.”

And finally, the voice in my head shut the hell u

So I’m pleased to say that Die by the Sword is going well, and I’ve now increased my word count from the 23,000 words I mentioned in my previous newsletter to 51,475 words, so I think the book is more than halfway done. Also I’ve done a couple of versions of the cover, but I didn’t like the advice my art teacher gave me on the one featuring the full length, slantwise sword, and there are copyright issues with both, so it’s back to the drawing board. But it will get there.

FYI: Novel Basics, a concise yet complete guide to writing a novel, is on sale for only $0.99 from October 24 through October 30 at www.amazon.com/dp/B07K2LXFRP and for £0.99 at www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07K2LXFRP.

Stay safe and well, Juliet.

P. S. Our sweet Safa boy, shown at the top of the page with some of my books, says “Hey!”

Busier than a button on the . . .

Hi, Everyone!

As my dear old darling dad used to say, it’s been busier than a button on a back house door at the Kincaid house this past month. Whew!

For instance, the ceiling in the front bathroom of our house had been leaking since the summer of 2019. No need to deal with it during the drought and no way to deal with it during the lock down. But this month, the time came for me to deal with roofers and assorted personnel of my insurance company before the ceiling fell on our heads. The process got a little messy especially when the salesman from the company I hired found a raccoon’s nest on the roof beneath the trumpet vine that birds and critters enjoyed all summer. It was so beautiful. But it should come back next year.

Here’s a picture of the finished roof. That’s 40-year shingle up there now, I’ll have you know.

I’ve been enjoying my multi-media art class very much though watercolor remains challenging. I got in a hurry with this painting, tentatively called “Ghost Tree: Tulip Poplar,” the first in a series about trees that no longer live in my neighborhood. And so I botched the roof on a house in the neighborhood (unlike our new roof) . Maybe I can fix it the painting. Maybe not. We’ll see.

In spite of all of these distractions, I am making progress on the WiP, Die by the Sword, so now the novel is almost 23,000 words long and close to Plot Point 1 when the protagonist Vanessa Price Mathison makes an important decision that moves the story into the second story arc. I’m especially enjoying the way Van’s sort-of-boyfriend Guy Truelove is developing in this version of the book that I’ve tried to write several times before.

Some of you who have read my calendar mysteries will recognize Van’s middle and last names. At this point I haven’t quite figured out the connection to business girl Minty Wilcox and dashing detective Daniel Price, let alone developed a family tree, but in time I will.

Speaking of that series, in case you missed it, Apart in April, Book 5 and the fourth novel in the series, is now available as an eBook for $4.99 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B095J4BB94 and also as a paperback for $14.99 from Amazon (ISBN 9780996160490).

 

 

Also currently available is Novel Basics, my complete yet concise guide to writing a novel, at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K2LXFRP. It’s perfect for those of you planning on doing NaNoWriMo this year. The book will be only $0.99 from October 24 through October 30, but if you need it sooner, the eBook is now $3.99. The paperback in “easy on the eye” 14-point font is $8.99.

I’ll be back next month. Meanwhile, stay safe and well, Juliet

August 2021 Newsletter

My Once and Future Novel (Part 2, I think)

Hi, All!

A few nights ago, I thought about retiring on my birthday coming up really soon on 9/11/2021. I’ll be eighty, and maybe it’s time to stop. I told myself that maybe I’d be happy and fulfilled reading and reviewing other people’s books and taking weekly art classes.

But who am I kidding? Nothing gives me more joy than being lost in the fiction I’m writing. Besides, it’s back. . . In this case instead of a monster, I’m talking about my once and future novel, the one that I’ve worked on for about three decades, the one set in part at a Renaissance Festival sort of event and in part at activities of a group similar to the Society for Creative Anachronism. This is a book concept that just won’t let me go.

Over the past thirty years, this book has gone from a fairly conventional detective mystery with one protagonist to suspense with quite a different protagonist. Overall, I think I’ve produced three different detective mysteries and two versions of the basic story as a novel of suspense. In fact, one of the challenges for me, now that I’m having at it again, is to locate scenes I vividly recall writing though when and in which notebook and which digital file, I’m unsure. I know that some of you have read an earlier version. In fact, I still have your comment sheets along with print-outs. But right now I can’t remember where I put them.

The characters have undergone several variations as well. For instance, I have two characters whose role is providing the protagonist (whoever the heck that turns out to be) with information about the Ancient Ways Society. The twosome started out as a lesbian couple, one white and the other Black. Eventually, they became an elderly man and not so elderly woman with a very large Great Dane. As I embark on the final version, I’m not sure I really need the dog. But I really can’t predict at this point.

The book also has a couple of working titles: Death in Shining Armor and Die by the Sword. I took a poll on Facebook recently and most of the people responding favored the first one, as did I. But once I really got into the first chapter, I decided that Die by the Sword was the better choice. But you know what? The book is alive and well and I’m looking forward to completing it.

Meanwhile, I’ve had lots of distractions. For one thing we’ve been dealing with a leaky roof and predatory roofers, but we’ve found a decent one now. But once the dust settles on that and other issues, I hope to plunge back to the book . . . I’ll keep you posted on the project next month.

Best, Juliet

 

Postcard Anyone?

As you can probably tell from the photo, my trials making postcards to promote my publications often include plenty of errors . . . And now that the touch pad on our multi-purpose printer no longer works, we need a printer, especially to print color images on the front sides of postcards that I make to promote my work. So I’m wondering, do I really need to replace the printer? More to the point, even if we buy a new printer, do I really need to make postcards to promote my books at all? Maybe not . . .
Note: I prefer postcards to business cards because I just can’t get enough information on the typical business card, for example, information about a new book like the book blurb (“love, loss, dangerous secrets, and FUN” for my new Apart in April ), the series blurb (“mystery and romance in old Kansas City, a place that could get downright dangerous a hundred years or so ago” for my calendar mystery series), the link to the sales page, and social media information.
Of course, like most authors, I mostly promote my stories and novels through social media and online advertising. And indeed for well over a year I had no in-person meetings or social events to go to like most other people on the planet, so I didn’t need postcards.
And to be frank, now that I do have some in-person, non-Zoom book club, writers’, and retirement association meetings to go to, I’m still a little shy about handing out postcards. There might be that rude person who flings up his hand when I hold out a card as if it were a viper. (That’s happened to me.) Still, at the last two out of three meetings I went to, my friends eagerly took the postcards I offered them. So I’m leaning toward making some more postcards.
I’ll end this exploration with a question for you. As a potential reader, what do you think about an author giving you postcards to promote their work?
P. S. The digital version of Apart in April is currently on sale for only $0.99 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B095J4BB94
And a penny less than a pound at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B095J4BB94

June 2021 Newsletter

I have become the old woman that . . .

I have become the old woman that, wearing pajamas, robe, and flip-flops, totters to the curb on trash day to put one last plastic bottle in the recycle bin. Or still in her nightclothes, she carries the bird feeders to their hooks in the back yard. Or she takes pictures with her phone of the lovely lavender hosta blossoms that line the garden shed. (She hopes to start a watercolor painting of them at her weekly art class and possibly insert a rabbit among them.)

But I’m also the old woman that, changed into a green and pink striped camp shirt she’s had for decades and black pedal pushers with an elastic waist band she bought last year, gets to her computer in the home office by ten most mornings and averages twenty hours a week on her writing project.

So I’m pleased to announce that Apart in April, Book 5 and the fourth novel in my Calendar Mystery series, will be published on June 30 as an eBook. It’s now available to pre-order for only $2.99 at  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B095J4BB94. This special price is going away on July 6 when the price will become $4.99, so better get it cheaper while you can. And if you like it, please write a brief review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

For those of you who prefer reading print books instead of on devices like a Kindle, a Nook, or tablet, I am very pleased to announce that I’m currently working on the cover for the paperback version of Apart in April and it will be available for purchase by July 15. (Yay!) I haven’t figured out the price yet, but I’ll let you know.

And just so you don’t think I’m asking you to buy a pig in a poke, here’s a brief description of this forthcoming book.

Apart in April features  love, loss, and dangerous secrets. In April 1901, after a deep personal loss, Minty Wilcox Price runs away from her husband detective Daniel Price. But she leaves behind letters containing clues (both false and true) as she goes undercover on her own to find out the truth about how a young woman died. Will the secrets Minty uncovers prove deadly? Will Daniel bring his own grief under control to find her and help her with the case before she comes into danger, too? You’ll find the answers to these questions and much more in Apart in April, Book 5 of Juliet Kincaid’s Calendar Mysteries that tell the story of business girl Minty Wilcox and 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.

Also “The Barn Door” and “Lost Dog,” two prequel short stories to the Calendar Mystery series that feature business girl Minty Wilcox and detective Daniel Price when they first meet though they don’t realize it, will both be FREE from July 1 through July 5, 2021, at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B073G7ZXMP and http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0752SWBG1.

Don’t have a Kindle? When you get the stories, you can also download the free app to most tablets including a Nook. My books look especially neat on my iPad mini.

Stay safe and well in this troubled world, my friends.

Juliet

P. S. If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with your friends.

April 2021 WiP Report

I hoped to report that I’ve finished my current Work-in-Progress, Apart in April, Book 5 of my Calendar Mystery series.

But it’s not happening, partly because my characters keep talking to me as I write. One of them will say, “How about I do this?” Another might say, “I wouldn’t do that! Take it out!” Or worst of all, some person in the book will say, “I’m bored.”

It’s practically axiomatic that every time a writer changes something, s/he introduces at least one error like a missing so there’s nothing for it but to edit each and every line of each and every page with a ruler on paper and/or by sliding the cursor down the margin, and/or reading each and every page word by word out loud at least once if not TWICE. (Did you see the glitch in the previous sentence in the previous sentence? [Repetition is another kind of glitch that often happens when the writer is switching stuff around.])

I’ve rushed the process before and ended up publishing a book or story that wasn’t ready yet. I’m not doing that this time. I have only forty pages to go in this draft, so it will be done by April 30 for sure. But then I will make myself take as long as the book and its characters demand for one last edit. After I’m done and I’ve tweaked the cover, too, I’ll begin the production phase, leaving time to set up the pre-order and all that other stuff. I’ll let you know when Apart in April is ready for you to pre-order at a reduced price.

In closing, an observation, especially for my fellow old fogey friends . . . At this stage of writing, I have to hold the entire three hundred pages of the book in fairly specific detail in my head. (Since I’ve made so many changes over the four drafts of this book, sometimes I have to go back and check the most recent draft to see what actually is in there.) A person with dementia can’t do that, and so I’ll end this WiP Report by highly recommending writing a novel as a preventive measure against senility.

Best, Juliet

P. S. It’s spring and doing stuff like potting these plants shown above is another distraction I’m dealing with.

 

Spring Things

 

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

 

WiP Report January 2021

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.

Mother’s Day Update from Juliet

Hi, Everybody!

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?

Best, Juliet

Novel Basics Card # 20

Novel Basics Card # 20
The Cover Card

The Cover Card asks the question,
“What’s my novel’s name?”

The wise organizers of NaNoWriMo say that those who have covers for their projects before they start drafting them are 60% more likely to write it that those who don’t. I think possibly that simply giving your novel a name helps make it real to you and so you’re more likely to write it.

The card I’m using as a sample this time isn’t a generic one like many of the others. Instead it’s a very rough draft of the cover I plan on using for my current WiP that also was the novel I drafted during National Novel Writing Month in November of 2018. Apart in April will be the fourth novel and fifth book in my cozy historical Calendar Mystery series. (Yeah I know the sketch on this card is crude and I’m so not apologizing for that. You shouldn’t be thinking perfection either as you make this last card.)

In the past I used photos I found in the great Dover book Victorian Fashion in America for the covers of the novels in this series. But for this book, I’ll use photos of my grandfather and grandmother on my mother’s side. And the title, like those of the first three novels in the series, states the month in which the book takes place, uses alliteration and/or assonance, is brief, and states the theme (or at least hints at it) or overall mood of the novel. Titles of the novels so far are January Jinx, Fatal February and Mischief in March.

So on your last card at least give the tentative title for your novel (a real name not Work in Progress), your name or the pseudonym you’ve always dreamed of using, and possibly an image for your cover.

You might want to put “ a blurb” on the flip side of your cover card. That is, in a very few words describe the novel you want to write. Here’s an example: “an action-packed thriller with a wounded hero.” Possibly my blurb for Apart in April will be “Driven apart by a personal tragedy, a runaway wife goes undercover as a detective. Meanwhile her husband struggles to win her back. But first he has to figure out where she has gone from the letters she strews behind her like Jack’s crumbs in the forest that contain clues of her whereabouts.” It’s way too long, but it’s not bad for now. I’ve got time to work on it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey through twenty cards that we’ve taken together. For tips and suggestions on what to do after you’ve brainstormed your novel,  get your own copy of Novel Basics, a brief yet complete guide to writing a novel, in print for $8.99 from Amazon or the eBook version, now only $2.99, at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K2LXFRP