Evolution of a Cover

February 19, 2014

Okay, we aren’t supposed to, but we all do it. We judge books by the cover. So as you might guess, there is a lot of back-and-forth and creative wrangling over every book cover.

Take, for instance, my alter ego Leigh Perry‘s upcoming Family Skeleton mystery The Skeleton Takes a Bow. We went through all kinds of ideas. First was the most obvious.

Sid-Bow-Pink

Unfortunately, it was the wrong kind of bow. Sid the Skeleton never wears pink. So we went back to the drawing board.

Sid-Bow-Arrow

Very Hunger Games, and goodness knows Sid looks hungry. But this wasn’t quite the bow we were looking for, etiher. Besides, we left out the arrow. Is he going to shoot his ulna or his radius?

Back to the drawing yet again.

Sid-Bow-Boat

This time it looks a little too Titanic, and the bow of a sinking ship wasn’t quite what we were going for.

In fact the bow in the book is the kind an actor makes after a successful performance, say as Yorick in Hamlet.

Sid-Bowing

We finally had the right kind of bow, but unfortunately, Sid’s skull wouldn’t stay on long enough for him to pose.

So what does the cover look like? You’ll have to check out BOLO Books on Feb. 18 to find out and see how you’d judge this book from its cover.


A Nifty Time to Be a Writer

October 18, 2013

My first novel, Down Home Murder–the first Laura Fleming mystery, was published over twenty years ago, but as is more common than not with fiction, it went out of print long ago. I wrote eight books in that series, and there was a never time when all of them were in print at the same time.

Then I moved on to the Where are they now? series, and wrote three books in that series. All of them are out of print, too.

But here’s the nifty thing about being a writer today. Every one of my novels is available again! 

Earlier this year, Audible brought out audio downloads of every one of the eight Laura Fleming novels:

http://www.audible.com/series?asin=B00C2TX018&source_code=SCLGB906MWS082913

As soon as those were up, they put out the Where are they now? books:

http://www.audible.com/series?asin=B00CF04SKG&source_code=SCLGB906MWS082913

Don’t like audio books? No problem. I’m in the process of re-publishing the Laura Fleming books as ebooks. (They were never published in that format before because the format didn’t exist.) The first four books are already out, and with luck the rest will be live by Halloween. You can find links for all of the platforms here:

http://awfulagent.com/ebooks/toni-kelner

I cannot tell you how much this delights me. None of these technologies existed when I started writing, yet now my earlier books live again.

Moreover, in between writing novels I’ve co-edited a slew of anthologies with Charlaine Harris, and they’re all available as paper books, ebooks, and audio books. A Skeleton in the Family, my brand-new book written under the pen name Leigh Perry, is out in all those formats, too. 

Just thinking about it makes me grin.

Now I admit that there are plenty of challenges for the writer today. But right now, I’m really enjoying the feeling of having all my books in print at one time. It’s a nifty time to be a writer.

 


Interviewed by Writers Who Kill

August 7, 2013

That title sounds a bit more provocative than I expected. What I mean by it is that today I’m interviewed by the talented Paula Benson at the Writers Who Kill blog. Paula has read my new book A Skeleton in the Family, and has all kinds of questions about the book, the series, and my new pen name.

To take a look, go HERE.


Goodreads Giveaway

July 31, 2013

My alter ego Leigh Perry has asked me to post that she’s got a giveaway running on Goodreads. If you’re on Goodreads, just follow that link before August 20 and enter to win an ARC (advance reader copy) of  A Skeleton in the Family along with this cuddly skeletal sock monkey:

Skeletal Sock Monkey

The link for the giveaway is HERE.

By the way, I do realize that the giveaway page has and old title and my real name instead of my pen name. I’ve got a note into Goodreads to try and get that fixed.


Games Creatures Play

July 28, 2013

Just an update on Games Creatures Play, the forthcoming anthology from Charlaine Harris and myself. As the cover copy says, “Sports fans live and die by their teams’ successes and failures—though not literally. But these fifteen authors have written spirited—in more ways than one—new tales of killer competitions that would make even the most die-hard players ask to be benched.”

The book won’t be out until April 1, 2014—just in time for some season for baseball season.  Until then, you can check out the all-star team members we’ve assembled and the sport or game they’ve written about.

Jan Burke—Dodge ball
Dana Cameron—Pankration
Adam-Troy Castro—Hide and seek
Charlaine Harris—Softball
Toni L.P. Kelner—Candlepin bowling
Caitlin Kittredge—Darts and other bar games
William Kent Krueger—Hide and seek
Ellen Kushner—Fencing
Mercedes Lackey—Stock car racing
Joe Lansdale—Boxing
Laura Lippman—Ice skating
Seanan McGuire—Roller derby
Brendan DuBois—Lacrosse
Brandon Sanderson—Cops and robbers
Scott Sigler—Baseball

They’re all MVPs to us!


An Open Letter to Nate Bell

April 20, 2013

I haven’t posted here in ages, but here’s something my erudite husband Steve sent to nitwit Nate Bell, who is a blight upon the lovely state of Arkansas. It makes me proud of Massachusetts, and particularly proud of my husband.

***

 

Dear Sir:

Part of my family came over here with the Pilgrims, seeking religious freedom. Another part fought in the Revolutionary War. Another fled persecution under the Tsar and came here during WWI. I am myself a proud son of New England, and without the people of Boston and Massachusetts, especially John Adams, you would not be living in the United States today. Both Washington and Jefferson said that Independence would never have happened without John Adams, truly one of the original Massachusetts liberals, a proud and gutsy man who even defended the Redcoat soldiers of the Boston Massacre, because it was the right thing to do.

That same kind of pride and bravery showed itself on the day of the Marathon bombing, when hosts of those “Massachusetts liberals” you demean ran toward the explosions, to help people. And those same Massachusetts liberals took in those who had no place to go. One Massachusettsian was so tough that after having both legs blown off, as soon as he woke up he wrote a note about the bombers he had seen, and spoke to the cops, in accurate and telling detail. (http://bangordailynews.com/2013/04/19/news/nation/boston-bombing-victim-who-had-legs-blown-off-helped-identify-suspects/)

We weren’t “cowering in [our] homes.” And your so-called apology for the timing and not the content does not satisfy me, nor will it the many brave people of Massachusetts who are wholly uncowed by terrorists, and who, even as I write this, are hunting them down. We shut down our city to go after them. Mess with this city and these people at your peril.

I strongly suggest you apologize for your insults to the people of Massachusetts; whether we share your political views or not, your implication of cowardice is better aimed at the terrorists than our citizens. Perhaps you would have cowered under your bed without your AR-15, but we wouldn’t, and we didn’t.

Shame on you.

Sincerely,
Stephen P. Kelner, Jr.


The Next Next Big Thing

December 6, 2012

As with last week, I’m blog hopping or perhaps, hopping blogs. I was tagged to share the answers to the following questions about my forthcoming book, and will tag another writer to share news about her new book.

My tagger was my good friend Dana Cameron. We beta read for each other, meaning that we read the other’s works-in-progress to make suggestions. I’ll confess that Dana has kept me from making many bad writing choices. (I’m not having her beta read this post, though–she’s taking it on faith.) One thing I beta read for her was her upcoming novel Seven Kinds of Hell, so I can brag that I was one of the first to read it. Don’t worry, you’ll get a chance to catch up very soon, and you’ve got a treat in store for you.

Before I get started, I want to explain something. In her blog hopper, Dana referred to my forthcoming book The Skeleton in the Armoire. That was indeed the title last week. But the publishing world is a dynamic place, and yesterday it morphed into A Skeleton in the Family. With either title, the book will be coming out under my pen name Leigh Perry.

Now for the questions:

Where did the idea for this book come from?

Honestly, I don’t know. All I know is when.

In May of 2004 I sent an email to Dana telling her about this idea I had for an ambulatory skeleton named Sid who would solve his own murder. Dana patiently  gave me background information about skeletal specimens in universities and museums, and I wrote a few passages. About two weeks later, I sent a note to Charlaine Harris, my other beta reader. “I’ve got an idea for a new story or book–don’t know which, yet–and want to see what you think.  It’s probably too silly for works, but since you and Laurell and Dean and Maria have the vampire market by the throat, I thought I’d try something new.  Would you read this snippet and see what you think?” Then I pasted in a piece of what has become A Skeleton in the Family.

Obviously, at some point there must have been a moment when I said, “I think I’ll write a mystery about an ambulatory skeleton,” but I don’t know what led to that moment. Maybe too many daiquiris?

What genre does your book fall under?

Mystery, or to be really specific, cozy woo-woo. In other words, it’s a traditional mystery with paranormal elements. Sid the Skeleton is the paranormal element.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

The only way A Skeleton in the Family could make it to the screen would be as animation or using serious CGI. So I’m going to pick Andy Serkis, famous for his portrayal of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. He’s the only one I can imagine playing Sid.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

Georgia moves back home and has to deal with the family skeleton–an actual skeleton named Sid. He walks and talks and makes bad jokes, and now he wants to solve his own murder. (I know, that’s two sentences. I suppose I could have faked it with really creative punctuation or CGI…)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

A Skeleton in the Family will be published by Berkley Prime Crime, and I’m represented by Joshua Bilmes of the JABberwocky Agency.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Eight years. Or eight months. It depends on what you count. You see, I wrote bits of the book in summer of 2004, but got pulled away to work on other projects. In February of 2011, I pitched the idea to my editor, Ginjer Buchanan, and included an excerpt an synopsis. But it wasn’t until March of 2012 that I really sat down to write. I finished the first draft in October.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I think I’ve got the skeleton mystery market all to myself. In terms of a ridiculous person in a normal world, I think A Skeleton in the Family is more like the Francis the Talking Mule movies, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and TV sitcoms like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

See the above overly detailed explanation of where the idea came from. Once I got started, I was inspired by stories I heard of adjunct faculty members and how it can be a precarious way to make a living.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Georgia, the protagonist, is a single mother with a teenaged daughter who works as kind of itinerant academic. She’s just started work at a New England college, and in the course of the book visits an anime convention and a carnival, fights with her perfect sister the locksmith, reluctantly adopts a dog, and has a romance. So there’s a lot going on. But the fact is, if the walking, talking skeleton doesn’t grab you, I may as well give up. Ditto if it puts you off.

These are the fascinating people that Dana tagged along with me:

Kat Richardson’s novel Seawitch was #3 on the Locus Hardcover Bestseller list for November! She lives on a boat, which is just nifty.

Christopher Golden is the award-winning, best selling author of (deep breath!) fiction, non-fiction, adult and YA, collaborations, and comics. I don’t think he sleeps.

Elaine Viets has two ongoing series: the Helen Hawthorne “Dead End Job” mysteries, and the Josie Marcus “Mystery Shopper mysteries.”  Elaine and I are both members of the Femmes Fatales (as is Dana), and she’ll be posting her Next Big thing blog there.

And here’s the writer I’m tagging next!

Deborah Meyler and I met online through mutual friends–one of the joys of the internet. The Bookstore, Deborah’s first novel, will be out in August 2013, and sounds like tremendous fun. If you read both The Bookstore and A Skeleton in the Family, you will note that we both use the phrase “enamel chili.” I don’t think we’ll say why that is…


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