Maggie Pill

The Most Entertaining Cozy Author You Never Heard Of!

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Cat Has Spring Fever--But Not Me

One of us spends a lot of time looking out the windows at the snow.

One of us wanders through the house, clearly wishing she could walk somewhere more interesting.

One of us complains a lot about it in a loud voice.

One of us naps, not from exhaustion, but from boredom.

Okay, maybe both of us do those things.

Like the cat, I long to go outside without getting my feet cold/wet/muddy. I want to see living things like wildflowers, trees with leaves, and the shoots of daffodil, crocus, and hyacinth that grow around my house when spring arrives. And I might have mentioned from time to time lately that I'm really tired of winter.

While I'm like the cat in a lot of ways, I don't look forward to eating the chipmunks that have begun to appear in the side yard. We suffer from the same malaise, but we differ on that one little point.

Monday, March 23, 2015

What's a Pre-order?

Of course we know what a pre-order is. You want a book that isn't out yet. You tell Amazon about your longings and they let you sign up to get the book the minute it's available. You don't have to remember the release date and then go look for the book; it just shows up on your device.

Pre-orders are helpful for authors too, at least if what I'm told is true. They're counted as sales when a book launches, which bumps it higher in the rankings, which means more people see it and hopefully want to buy it. That creates a nice little circle effect: notoriety brings sales, and sales bring more notoriety.

All that's said to let you know the third Sleuth Sisters mystery, MURDER IN THE BOONIES, is up for pre-order. The release date for Kindle is May 20. Print books might come later, because there's  final proofing that requires ordering physical ARCs (advance review copies). Print books require different files than e-books, so that last proofing is a good idea.

Here's the scenario for MURDER IN THE BOONIES:
Retta's been overseeing the family farm since the sisters' parents died, renting it out and splitting the money three ways. When the current renters disappear with hardly a minute's notice, she's at first angry and then curious. She talks Barb into trying to find out where the family went and why.
Faye sees the tenant-less farm as an opportunity to start a retirement home for work horses, something she's always dreamed of doing. All sorts of surprises follow, including some unsavory characters who seem bent on causing mayhem. Things come to a head when the sisters go to Mackinac Island to pick up their first retiree, a horse named Dolly. Suddenly they're responsible for more than the horse. They have to save a young girl, capture some killers, and stop an impending disaster. We know they can do it: Sister-power to the rescue!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Grammar Nazis & Ninjas

Barb, one of the three protagonists, in THE SLEUTH SISTERS, is into grammar big-time. Some have referred to her as a grammar nazi, but I prefer the term grammar ninja, because Barb doesn't go around ordering people to do as she says. She's pretty athletic too, climbing up to billboards and rooftops to make her corrections.
   My editor calls Barb "obnoxious" and "cowardly," because of her anonymous correcting of other people's mistakes. I find it ironic that an editor would say that, but it might be because she isn't allowed to be anonymous. Barb's Correction Events are meant to be funny, since those who recognize the grammatical mistakes of others often have the desire, though probably not the nerve, to fix what's wrong. For most of us, being right about such small things isn't worth the hard feelings it might cause. Barb's method might be the kinder way to go.
   Fans have an amusing response to the grammar thread in the books: I get corrected, often with a comment about how Barb should have known better.
News flash, folks: Barb is fictional! It's me who's reading 80,000 words over and over, trying to find that one error that slipped past the editors, the beta readers, and me.
   Some of the corrections that have been suggested are correct, and some aren't. Though many of us feel we could be grammar ninjas, some could use a refresher course on things like subject complements, which are supposed to be in the nominative case, despite the widespread use of  "It's me."
   My own view of grammatical mistakes? Of course I notice them--someone grounded in study of the English language for decades isn't likely to miss errors. But I don't judge people for not caring as much as I do UNLESS it's their job to care. I have no sympathy for public figures who can't match a verb with its subject or those who
speak in disjointed, unintelligible phrases.
   For the rest of the world? I'd prefer you don't use puppys on a posted sign, but if the meaning is clear, I suppose it works.
   Still, I don't blame Barb for helping you out a little.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Cat People, Dog People, Cat/Dog People, & Not People

Lad, Ching, my sister & me
I grew up on a farm. We had animals everywhere, in the house and in the barn. They were expected to earn their keep in some way. Our collie, Lad, (above) helped my dad and grandpa fetch the cows when it was time for milking. The cats kept the rodent population down in the barn and pretty much non-existent in the house.
Some were pets, of course, notably our Siamese cat named Ching-a-ling (above) whose main activity was looking down on any being unfortunate enough to not be Ching-a-ling. There were ponies who let us ride them when they felt like it. But mostly the animals contributed something--assistance with work, some necessary product like eggs or milk, and of course, meat.
Because of all the animals I knew as a child, I became a pet person. Though Lad was our only dog through my childhood (He lived to a ripe old age), I married a dog lover, and we always had one or two around when our kids were growing up. We usually had multiple cats, too, since they're company for each other. So when the question arises, "Are you a cat person or a dog person?" I can honestly reply, "Both."
However, we've found in our dotage that we're whittling down our numbers. When a pet died over the last few years, we didn't get another, so we're down to one cat at this point. We travel a lot, but neither of us is the type to travel with a pet. That means leaving them home with a sitter, which is much easier with cats, and we're lucky to have a sister-in-law very near who loves animals and treats our cat like one of her own. I'd venture to say that not only does our cat not miss us when we're gone, she often seems to resent our return and our irritating insistence on calling the house ours. I mean, really!
My two getting along...not
My Sleuth Sisters represent differing views of pets: Barb thinks she doesn't want one (but we'll find in Book #3 that she might be wrong). Retta loves her Newfie as if he were her child, and Faye loves any animal she meets.
Sig & Sam: my sisters' kids
Like me, the Sleuth Sisters were once farm girls, and I think when you were raised with animals around, it's hard to do without a furry friend--or hairy or scaly or feathery or, as my aunt used to say, "Something alive in the house."

Monday, March 2, 2015


I see you, John!

Sleuthfest crowns the Mandingo--Sexiest Man
Florida in February--now, that's nice.
Add to that a mystery conference where hundreds of writers of all skill levels and tiers of fame mingle, and it's heaven.
I've spent the last few days talking writing with writers, and there's not much I like better. I listened to agents and editors explain their thinking on the changes in publishing. I heard writers list their struggles and realized we all have the same ones. And I spoke on writing dilemmas, trying to help others solve the nuts-and-bolts problems of writing: How do you get past a plot-knot? How do you get your word count down to a number agents will accept--or up to that number for that matter.
The private conversations are fun, too. Catching up with one of my earliest friends in the business and meeting several new ones. It's funny, but I often know right away if a person "gets" being a writer. Many are living on a dream that's far from realistic, but some realize writing is more work than dream; more compulsion than inspiration.When I meet that person who hasn't made it yet but has her feet on the ground and is willing to persevere, that's someone I enjoy talking to.
There's a little glamor, too, though not as much as you might think. James Patterson was slated to be yesterday's luncheon speaker, but he didn't show up. Dave Barry is scheduled for this morning, and I'm excited about that.
At conferences, I always volunteer because I like to be busy. This time that meant meeting the agents and editors as I ushered authors into pitch sessions. They seemed like kind and patient people, doing an impossible job: trying to tell by talking to someone if that person is capable of writing well.
There was a cocktail party Saturday night, given by those agents and editors. It was very nicely done, and the Sleuthfest organizers announced the voting results for the sexiest man at Sleuthfest, all done in fun. They all got boas, and the winner got a plastic flamingo. Heady stuff.
And of course there are THOSE moments. When I sat down at a table for lunch the first day someone said, "You're Maggie Pill? When are you going to get that third book out? I can't wait!"