Maggie Pill

The Most Entertaining Cozy Author You Never Heard Of!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Benchmarks and Benches

Book #1

I looked up the word benchmark but I didn't learn much. It's a combination of bench + mark, and it represents a new standard.
(So what's the bench got to do with it?  Do we sit down and rest when we reach a point where we've done something really cool? I don't intend to. Who wants to rest when you're on a roll?)
Wherever the word came from, I'm approaching a benchmark with The Sleuth Sisters, the first book in the series. Sometime in the next week it will hit 1500 in audio book sales. For a book I wrote under a pseudonym, published myself, and promoted haphazardly at best, that's amazing.
The production company people are pretty happy, too, since I did a 50-50 share of the profits with them rather than pay upfront. With a second, third, and soon a fourth installment in the series, we've got a small but reassuring stream of money coming in. In e-book, print, and audio sales, I'm earning more on the Sleuth Sisters than any of my other books, even those traditionally published and represented by an agent who was supposed to get me great deals. My other books were all positively reviewed, but nothing struck a chord like my three crazy sisters, Barb, Faye, and Retta.
More important than the money is the fun I have with the girls. It's not much of a chore to think up new adventures for them, and the Barb in me loves weaving her worries about improper English into the story. The hardest part is making sure they all know the plot points as they develop, since Barb doesn't approve of things Retta does, and often Retta does things she knows Barb won't approve of. That's where Faye, the peacemaker, comes in handy.
Book #4 June of 2016
Anyway, I'm thrilled to be selling books in any format, because honestly, I'd write them even if nobody bought them.

Friday, April 15, 2016

She's NOT Going to Like It

Earlier this year, we became the proud owners of a new camper. The plan is to do some traveling in the months to come, but we struggled with the problem of what to do with Old Cat. As our only remaining pet, she's become a bit of an obsession with us, and we both act completely silly as we try to do whatever she wants us to do, even though she's quite senile and doesn't know herself what she wants.
In the past we've tried boarding, which she hated, but at least she had Alice, her companion cat, then and they could reassure each other. We also tried taking them to relatives' homes, which worked pretty well. Right now, however, all the relatives who would take her have their own pets, and at her advanced age (she's 21) she doesn't adjust well to strangers. We've also left her in the house alone, having a relative stop in every day and check on her. (She seldom saw the cat and judged she was okay solely by the fact that the litter box needed attention.)
Since these trips will be longer, we want her with us, so we're going to introduce her to the camper life. We've got the stages planned out: time with us in the camper while it's parked in the yard, a short trip in the camper to get her used to the motion, and lots of reassurance from Mom and Dad.
Mom hopes she'll understand that this is how she gets to be with us and not get left behind. Dad thinks Mom will end up bloody.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

How Do You Choose What to Read Next?

Anyone who reads knows there is a huge industry out there trying to grab your attention. Big publishers wave their "golden" writers in front of your face with words like "gripping" and "must-read." Small presses try to get readers to their niche market by promising can't-put-'em-down books tailored to your tastes. And self-published writers beg you to sign up for their newsletters and blogs so you'll know when they get that next book ready.
Books are offered daily at great prices, even for free, with the hope that you'll love them so much you'll come back for more and more from that author or that publisher. You could download enough free books from BookBub or InstaFreebie that you'll never catch up on your TBR. Though most of them won't be worth your time, it's there, and it doesn't cost you a cent. I have friends who love the adventure of looking for pearls among the grains of sand.
Smart readers ignore the hype around books and choose for themselves what they want to read. They learn which publishers and authors they trust to offer them good books, but that won't be the same for everyone. They look at best-seller lists, but they also read the samples and the reviews (not that any one review should be your guide. It's one person's opinion, like that book your friend insisted you had to read that made you go "What?") Anyone who's read for decades can tell in a few pages whether a book will appeal to her tastes. I've long since stopped slogging through books I know I don't like just to be able to say I finished them. There are authors who've lost their chance to speak to me, too. If I didn't like one or two of their books, I'm sorry, but the chances are I won't like the rest, no matter how big their "brand" is. I've found that meeting authors can make me more or less likely to read their stuff. The author who sang to the audience and bragged about how much money she makes? Not reading her stuff. The mega-famous author who told us candidly that she worries the next book won't be good enough? I want to know she's succeeded with each new book, and so far, she always has.
Many of us count on book recommendations, but not only are we different from our friends, we want to read different things at different times. Books tell us about life, but we bring our lives into the books, fitting what's there to what we "know." Last year I read All the Light We Cannot See on a friend's recommendation, and while I liked it, I wouldn't put it in my All-Time Top 5, as she did. I recently read Kristen Hannah's The Nightingale, which covers the same era and geography. It spoke to me in ways the other did not, and though it tore at my heart, I loved every bit of it.
Two avid readers; vastly different opinions that demonstrate we choose books but they also choose us. Reading is a personal experience, but it's one we love to share. One of life's little oddities.