Maggie Pill

The Most Entertaining Cozy Author You Never Heard Of!


Monday, December 11, 2017

Working On It, Boss

Working Cover Files
If you keep up with my adventures, you know I was conflicted about a sixth Sleuth Sisters book. I do NOT want to be the author who stretches a series beyond logic, and I feel strongly that if I'm not interested in the plot, my readers won't be either.
That was reinforced this past week as I read a book by one of my favorite authors, who has a long-running series I've always liked. The new story was beyond belief, with the detective getting naked in front of a crowd of people to force a confrontation that made very little sense and wasn't believable, at least for me. I never want the Maggie Pill name attached to a book just to have a new one out there.
With that said, I found myself interested in the sisters again somewhere in August, and the questions began. What if Barb is caught, or almost caught, doing her Grammar Nazi thing? What if it's because there's a murder nearby, so the Nazi is a suspect? That was the germ of the idea for Book 6.
Then I asked myself what the other sisters might be doing that would interest me and my readers. For Faye the answer was easy: helping animals. I began researching puppy mills by talking to people at several animal shelters in northern Michigan. There: a sub-plot! That left Retta, and her concern in the book became something many of us face in our fifties, when we start to really understand what aging is and how we're treated differently because of it. How would Retta feel if someone younger and cuter took the spotlight, leaving her in the shadows?
So we have the Sleuth Sisters' signature ingredients: a murder, some family conflict, and dogs. If that sounds like a book, well, it's becoming one. It takes repeated reads and edits, sometimes by myself, sometimes with the help of wonderful beta readers, to make sure what I think is happening in a story is clear to the reader. So that's what I'm working on, and this week I got the cover, which always inspires me to keep going. The Sleuth Sisters will power on, and of course they'll prevail, because--Sister Power!

Monday, September 11, 2017

To Be or Not To Be--That Is the Problem

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I know what my fans will say if I ask: Should the Sleuth Sisters series be done? I've already heard it from some: "No! We love them!"


I get that. But what is the saturation point for a series?

I always thought it was five books, but I've got #6 mostly done, and I like it. The sisters still have issues to work through, and the two cases this book covers are interesting (There are dogs in one; that's always good.)

But in my own reading, I tend to lose interest when a series goes on too long. Yes, I've read twenty-three Sue Graftons, but I space them out so I don't get sick of Kinsey. I love Harry Bosch too, but I was pleased to see that Connelly expanded to the Lincoln Lawyer books and is trying out a new character in The Late Show. 

I think I'll know if there should be another Sleuth Sisters book. What happens is my brain starts telling me the story when I'm ready to write it down. There's no telling when that will happen. It could be next year. It could be the year after, since it will take a while to get Book 6--Plots, Perils, and Puppies--up and available.

But I think I'll know when it's time.


 

Monday, March 13, 2017

When Writing Is Fun

I went to see SOMETHING ROTTEN this week, a very enjoyable show. In it there's a number in which Shakespeare sings about it being "Hard to Be the Bard." That got me thinking about writing and the levels of difficulty involved. It is hard, but it's also fun.

It's hard to write the whole thing. I can't tell you how many people I've met who have three (or five or eight) chapters of a novel written but just can't go farther. Writers get that, but they also get past it.

It's hard to make it good. Writing well takes a lot of understanding of language, story, syntax, conversation, style, character--all those things your English teacher used to go on about. They matter. It might be true that everyone has a story inside, but not everyone is ready to tell it well enough that others want to read it.

It's hard to make it better. Another group I meet a lot are those who have written their masterpiece and can see absolutely nothing wrong with it. First time. First draft. Perfect. Um, sure.

It's hard to maintain focus on the final product. It takes time alone, hammering away, cutting, adding, fixing, fine-tuning, and in general ignoring life as it goes on around you. I've never been so successful that I'm forced into the public eye, but I imagine it's doubly difficult to find time to think up a story and write it when your publisher is "suggesting" you attend dozens of fan events and setting up book signings all over the place.

So when is writing fun? The good news is that any of it can be--it just won't be all the time. When you're in the zone and sense that a passage is really good. When you're out doing publicity and a fan says your book really spoke to her. When you're editing and see that it really is all coming together. When reviewers say things that reveal they got what you intended them to.

Like anything worth doing, writing well is hard--harder than most non-writers imagine. But within those tough spots is the satisfaction--if you keep going and pay attention--that you made something out of nothing. An idea has become a book. How can that be anything but wonderful?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Sleuth Sisters #5: Eat, Drink, and Be Wary



I sent it for editing on Thursday!
Anyone who has every written something for publication knows the feeling: half excitement, half dread. Our fondest dream is that the editor sends it back and says, "It's perfect just the way it is!" but that rarely happens. It's more likely to be, "Can you move Chapter Six to Chapter Eight and then merge Ten with Eleven?" Or worse, "You need to make Character D more outspoken, so look at every single line she speaks and see if you can make them all stronger."
Anyway, we're on the road to Book 5, in which the sisters go to a retreat at a winery north of Traverse City, MI, (hence the "eat" and "drink" in the title and get into all kinds of trouble (the "be wary" part).
The cover artist said I'd see something in February, so stayed tuned. If all goes well, the release will be in mid-April. I plan to put it up for pre-order soon. And for my audio friends, I'm sorry, but I can't speed that process up. Audible won't accept it until it's live on Amazon, and then the studio has to book time for the actresses, etc. Audio release is likely to be late summer.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Looking at Blogging Honestly

They'll tell you that you have to have a blog. They'll tell you your readers want to know what you're up to. They say blogging leads to sales.
They. They. They.
I think they might be wrong.
I like blogging...sometimes. I like having something to tell my readers, like that a book is almost ready or POOF! Here it is!
But I don't think many people read a blog just to know what I did last week.
I say this after many years of trying to come up with fun and interesting blog posts. (Tweets, too, but that's another story.) Nobody much paid attention. That's not to say they're bad people or that my posts aren't worthwhile. People have other things to do with their lives...and so do I.

So if you come here faithfully every week to see what existential musings I'm experiencing, you might be disappointed. This is my blog, but in the future it's going to be intermittent and book-related.

I just don't think anyone cares if I decide to repaint my kitchen.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Ch-ch-changes--Looking at Winter Differently

I had two events this week, a Career Day presentation at a high school about seventy miles away and a book signing over a hundred miles from home. A winter storm hit Michigan that seems to be endless, stretching from Wednesday through Sunday with blizzardy winds and plenty of snow to blow around.
I was about to cancel the school visit when hubby informed me they'd canceled school for the day. Though I'd prepped for the visit with handouts and candy and funny little anecdotes, all I felt was relief.
Last night after watching the weather forecast, I canceled the book signing as well, which meant de-reserving a hotel room I might still have to pay for (I hate that.) I was supposed to join three author friends, and we'd made it a party with Santa hats and the silly billing, "Four Women of Death." I love the folks at Horizon Books in Traverse City, so I hate wasting their time and energy. Still, I was relieved once I'd made the calls and arranged to stay home.
My point is that I've reached an age where it just isn't fun anymore to brave the elements for fame and glory, and I think hubby has too. Once we both would have considered a trip in possible storm conditions to be a challenge. Now it's just--um, no. But thanks for asking.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Just in Time for the Holidays

The fourth Sleuth Sisters is out on audio, and I have to tell you, I laughed out loud at times as I listened to the actresses read. They're so perfectly Barb, Faye, and Retta! I'm always thrilled with how well Actors' Audio in Chicago handles my books, and the creation of audio books through Audible.com is pretty stress-less for the author. You submit the book for audition, choose the narrator(s) you like, and send them the MS. It takes a while, since there's a lot of studio time, editing, and such involved, but at some point you get the files, listen to them to make sure you're happy with the product, and then okay it. A week or so later, bob's your uncle!

Here are the particulars, and if you'd like a code for a free version of the book, let me know. We love to get reviews on both the story and the audio presentation.
SS#4 on Amazon