Tag Archives: cozy mystery

The Journey of FOUL PLAY ON WORDS

I finished copyedits for FOUL PLAY ON WORDS 10 days before the deadline … yay, me!

funny mysteriesNormally I work on a mini-trampoline at a stand-up desk, but as you can see here, I needed to spread out for the task at hand.

My production editor mailed me a paper copy of my manuscript that she already triaged for the most egregious mistakes I made. (She also emailed me this as a PDF so I could see what she corrected. I should use this as a learning tool, but I prefer to live in a world of denial.)

She also emailed me a Word document with her comments highlighted. Most of these were questions and clarifications, places where I might have contradicted myself, instances where she was confused by something I said.

In the photo, you can see the page proofs in front of my computer. Each page is set up like how it will look in the actual book. On the screen is the Word Doc with her comments.

I noted where her first comment was, then read on my paper copy from page one up to that comment. If I had any changes I wanted to make (typos or changing a word or phrase), I wrote them in pencil on my paper copy. When I got to her comment, I dealt with it, again, writing any changes on my paper copy.

This time I was smart. I also wrote the online page number on my paper copy because it’s never the same, a problem I grappled with during copyedits for FICTION CAN BE MURDER. Often, she’ll have the same continuity issue in several places in the Word doc. If I make the change on page 47, but it also comes up on page 112 and 163, I will have to search and search for that change. This time, I was working on the paper copy so I could fix all three pages up front. This was a little flash of brilliance on my part. (It would really be something to brag about if I’d remembered to note in her comments on pages 112 and 163 that I’d already taken care of them so when I got there I wouldn’t be, you know, searching and searching. We live. We learn. Hopefully.)

So I did that all the way through; reading the paper copy, responding to the online notes and making other changes along the way.

This took me 14 hours and 40 minutes, over 5 days from December 17 – December 27, 2018.

Then I typed all the changes from my paper copy into the Word doc with her notes, again, making tweaks as I went. I’m sure I made new and exciting mistakes as well.

This took me 3 hours and 30 minutes, on December 27th and 28th.

Then I let it sit for a couple of days while I drank heavily.

On December 31, 2018 I started early and read the whole thing on my laptop while sitting in my living room. That’s really the only way to catch flow, pacing, continuity, and echo problems. Again, I made some minor changes as I read.

This took me 6 hours and 20 minutes. Because it’s careful reading that requires a lot of concentration, and because my butt goes numb, I got up and moved around every hour when my timer dinged.

I wrote the dedication and the acknowledgments, checked the bio they already had, and then sent it off.

In a couple of weeks my production editor will look at all the new brilliance and harm I’ve done to the manuscript, deal with everything she needs to, and then send me a new copy. I’ll have a chance to read it over one last time, but I’ll only have a few days to do so before it goes into production.

For those of you keeping score at home, here’s the timeline for FOUL PLAY ON WORDS —

The first draft was written in 20 days between October 3 – November 4, 2016.

  • 163 pages
  • 43,907 words
  • 41.25 hours
  • 1,065 words per hour, average
  • 2 hours per day

The first edit was done in 6 days between November 7 – 29, 2016.

  • 12 hours
  • 2 hours per day

I typed in all the changes over 4 days (7 hours total) between November 29 – December 2, 2016.

I let it rest, then re-read it and made more changes over 3 days (6 hours total) between December 7 – December 9, 2016.

Then I really let it rest while I recovered from spinal surgery and got FICTION CAN BE MURDER ready to launch (April 2018).

I picked it up again on January 8, 2018 and did another revision over 13.5 hours and called it done on January 12, 2018.

“Done,” of course, being an ambiguous term in the writing world. It’s also why I always laugh when people ask, “How long did it take to write your book?”

But it’s up for pre-order now and will be published on April 8, 2019!

mystery with humor

 

 

Crossword Cozies

I’m cogitating over a new cozy mystery series set in the world of crossword puzzles so I’ve started learning how to make them.

Guess what?

It’s haaaard!

I complete the easy King crossword and the progressively harder NYT puzzle printed every day in the Denver Post. Well, not every day. I haven’t attempted the Sunday NYT and I cheat my way through the one on Saturday.

I’m pretty good at solving the puzzles, so I assumed (yeah, I know) that it wouldn’t be a huge leap to flip it and start creating them.

I begin with a 15×15 blank grid. There are rules you have to abide by. You can only have a maximum of 38 black squares and a maximum of 78 words, only 20 of which can be 3-letter words.

Crossword puzzles must have rotational symmetry, meaning that you can turn the page upside down and the puzzle grid looks exactly the same. Luckily, the software takes care of this chore for me. So if I put a black space in the top row, the fourth from the left, there will also be one in the bottom row the fourth from the right.

The “entries” are the words in the puzzle. The “slots” are where those words go. The “clues” are the hints you give so the solvers can put the right entries into the right slots.

Puzzles usually have themes, whether you see them or not, and they also need symmetry. Say my theme is “Murder.” There are a lot of words for murder: slaughter, assassinate, run through, decapitate, asphyxiate, disembowel, exterminate, pump full of lead. But I can’t use them all. First, because that’s too many and I wouldn’t be able to find entries for the rest of the grid. But also because of symmetry.

“Slaughter” has 9 letters, “pump full of lead” has 14, “assassinate” and “exterminate” both have 11 and the rest all have 10.

Right off the bat I know I can’t use “slaughter” because it has no corresponding length word. You must have a black square after each of your theme words, so here’s what would happen if I tried to pair these two.

And I can’t use “pump full of lead” because it has 14 letters, problematic in a 15×15 grid.

Seems okay …. until you add the black space at the end. No symmetry!

So I’ll choose assassinate, exterminate, run through, and disembowel as my theme words.

That’s the beginning of my puzzle. And my headache. Next I have to start placing more black squares to break up long slots and to make the puzzle look pretty. Then comes the filling of the grid, which takes a lot of trial and error. Mostly error for me. I’ll talk about that more when I get better at it. When you have real words in all the slots, then you write the clues. Punnier, more obscure clues make for a more difficult puzzle, but I don’t know how to gauge the difficulty level yet.

Did I mention this was haaaaard??

How ’bout you? Do you like to solve crossword puzzles? Would you read a mystery series set in the world of puzzling? What clever name would you bestow upon said crossword series?

One Question Interview — Ellen Byron

I started doing my One Question Interviews because I am lucky enough to be able to meet tons of eclectic and interesting authors. It occurred to me you might want to meet them, too. So I wrote a dozen or so questions on index cards, steered the authors to a quiet corner with me and my iPhone, then had them pick a question at random. I hope you like them and their books as much as I do. Visit their websites, find them on social media, buy their books, and/or ask your library to carry them. Share this post and the video with anyone who might like their books.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

PlantationShuddersSmallerPLANTATION SHUDDERS, Ellen Byron‘s debut novel, was nominated for a Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and for an Agatha Best First Novel award. She’s a television writer whose credits include WINGS, JUST SHOOT ME, and STILL STANDING, as well as pilots for all the major networks. She’s written over 200 magazine articles, and is also a playwright whose work includes the award-winning one-acts, GRACELAND and ASLEEP ON THE WIND.

PLANTATION SHUDDERS comes out in paperback on August 11th. BODY ON THE BAYOU, the second book in the Cajun Country Mystery series, launches on September 13th.Body on the Bayou (smaller) (2)

 

Connect with Ellen on Twitter, too!

 

 

 

 

 

Tattered Cover Book Store

I finally have all my little booky ducks in a row with one of the world’s finest independent bookstores.

Tattered CoverAll of my books are available from Amazon, either in print or for your Kindle, or both.

But not everyone likes to deal with them, so I have a delightful alternative for you … Denver’s fabulous Tattered Cover Book Store. [Full disclosure, if you use my links to do your shopping at the Tattered Cover, whether you buy my books or not, I earn a penny or a shiny button or a pat on the head or something.]

The Tattered Cover rents and ships books, has three huge locations plus satellite stores at Union Station and the Denver airport, tons of author events, and a staff that knows, quite literally, every-single-thing.

And now, they also sell two of my books. There’s something quite special about seeing your book on a bookstore shelf. A long time ago, I was in my local Borders Books and stumbled upon my first book (out of print now) on the sale rack. The really, really on sale rack. You’d think that would be sad, but you’d be wrong. It was just as thrilling. Perhaps I’m a Pollyanna, but I thought, “Yay! Some thrifty, budget-conscious person can buy this for their kid.”

Thanks for letting me share my excitement. And, remember … buying books is an excellent way to support local businesses and your favorite writers. Plus, they make perfect gifts — always the right size and so easy to wrap! (Click on the covers and go straight to my Tattered Cover page.)

a funny mystery

Simple, healthy, no-fuss recipes

Happy Reading, Happy Cooking, Happy Shopping … Happy Happy!

(Nah, I’m not a Pollyanna.)

Book Launch Day for Banana Bamboozle!

BananaBamboozle front coverIf you signed up on my mailing list, you’ve already heard that today is National Goof Off Day which is the perfect day to launch a fun, easy read like Banana Bamboozle. You’ve also heard all the merriment we have planned around the launch for the next few days.

And if you didn’t sign up on my mailing list, you’ve done gone and broke my heart! (But you can always redeem yourself by doing it now!)

I can’t tell you all the Super Secret Stuff since you didn’t want to join the club (sob), but I can tell you that we’re having a Comment Contest on Facebook tomorrow, (Sunday March 23) and Monday (March 24). I’ll ask a question, you answer with your funniest, most delightful answer, and votes will be cast by complete strangers* pushing the ‘like’ button. Winners get signed books.

[*Not that you’d be so crass as to manipulate your friends into voting for you or anything, but the most ‘shares’ over the two days wins a prize too. Just sayin.]

If you’re not following me over at Facebook, just click the blue icon that says “Follow” in my sidebar, over thataway→→→→→→→ and probably ↓↓↓ too.

Okay, since you twisted my arm and said ‘purty please’, I’ll tell you one more thing. The electronic version of Banana Bamboozle will be free today, tomorrow and Monday. Click here to download it. All I ask in return is that if you like it, you post a quick review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

The print edition is available here, but if you’d prefer to buy it from your local bookstore or request that your library carry it, just give them the ISBN: 978-1-4944-9471-1 and they can order it easy peasy.

Happy Bamboozling … and thanks for helping make the BANANA BAMBOOZLE Book Launch so much fun!

PS — Take a picture of how you spent National Goof Off Day (or any of your personal Goof Off Days) with your copy of Banana Bamboozle. When I get some good ones, I’ll post on my blog. Email jpgs to Becky (at) Becky Clark Books (dot) com … do I need to tell you there are no spaces? I’m never sure.