Sunday, April 29, 2012

Second Chance Contest!

Good news!

I got my hands on two more ARCs for Sammy Keyes and the Power of Justice Jack, and I have come up with a fun challenge for any of you wanting to try to win one. (If you won one during the previous contest, please let others have a chance. It’s okay to submit an answer, but type JUST FOR FUN instead of your address in your entry, okay?)

The contest idea is based on something people have been asking via e-mail, so I know at least some of you want to finally get your answer.

And it requires a little Sammyesque sleuthing!

Clues can be found in Skeleton Man, Psycho Kitty Queen, and Night of Skulls. (And probably elsewhere, but this is all you need.)


Here we go!

Tell me the Month, Date, and Day-of-the-Week of Sammy’s birthday in the current (her 8th grade) year.

(For example: July 22, Thursday)

DO NOT put your answer in the comment section here. Instead…

2) Put SAMMY’S BIRTHDAY  in the subject line (yes, use all CAPS).
3) Underneath your answer, type YOUR NAME and MAILING ADDRESS (no worries, it's just me handling the ARC contest mail) unless you are a JUST FOR FUNNER, then put that instead of your address.

Send me your entry NO LATER THAN MIDNIGHT on SATURDAY, MAY 5th (2012).

Answer and winners will be announced next Sunday.

Good luck and happy sleuthing!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Beyond Thunder & Lightning

That dark cloud kept storming this week but these blasts of sunshine helped me see beyond thunder and lightning:

* The Sammy Keyes producer dude touched base this week with good feedback. We are nowhere near full steam ahead, but I hear a chug-a-chug-a coming down the track.

* Killer Cruise is off to a killer start! (The cruise director’s name is Noah—how funny is that?) (Please tell me you get it.)

* A famous movie star sent me flowers.

   Yup, really.

   (A she-star, silly. Mark’s fine with it  )

* Plus two people this week thought I was my son’s sister. Crazy! It must be my new David Cassidy (circa 1969) haircut. (No, I didn’t ask for it, but that’s how it came out.)

* AND I planted tomatoes.

Rain water’s excellent for gardens, right?

Give that cloud something useful to do.

See you with a mo' better post next week :-)  As always, thanks for your sunshine and for checking in.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Little Confession

A little confession:

I seriously considered giving the advance money back for the last two Sammy Keyes books.

I thought maybe writing more after Sammy Keyes and the Showdown in Sin City would be a mistake.

It has such a beautiful ending.

Really, it could be The End.

And I started wondering, would more be less? How could I write an ending that wrapped the series up better than the ending of Sin City.

What was the purpose?

I talked it over with Mark. I talk everything over with Mark. And he got it, and in a way he agreed. But his advice was to take a little time. He pointed out that I’ve been on a very rigorous deadline schedule. and that the confluence of that and other unrelated but very draining pressures probably just had me exhausted.

Which is true. I try to keep a sunny outlook, but thunderclouds keep storming the castle! Back, you ominous blobs of darkness! Back!

And I have been working very hard to meet my deadlines and NOT SLACK OFF with the writing. It is so important to me that the quality of each Sammy Keyes book is at least as good as, if not better than, the previous one.

I keep raising the bar on myself.

Because I think it’s important!

So…what was the purpose in continuing? If everything’s wrapped up so great at the end of Sin City, shouldn’t I just stop? Who needs a really intriguing final mystery on a cruise ship (my intention for the penultimate book), or to have Sammy…well, I can’t tell you what I’d planned for the last Sammy. I’ll start to cry.

Why not just stop?

I thought about talking to Nancy about it, but didn't. Instead, I went through the motions, hoping I’d get inspired. I did research, came up with a family tree for the cruise ship characters, gave them names, personalities, nailed down the basics of the mystery, conflicts, motives…

And I wrote nothing. Oh, I opened a Word doc and named it Sammy Keyes and the Killer Cruise. I put in the header and wrote Prologue across the first page. But whenever I’d open up the file I'd just stare at it. Or find something to clean. It wasn’t writer’s block. I just wasn’t sure I should write another book.

And then one morning Mark brought me my laptop and said, “Sammy time”. And, I don’t know. After staring at “Prologue” for about five minutes, out of my fingers came:

I look back on things I’ve done and wonder…why didn’t I see that coming?

Why didn’t I know that was a bad idea?

Why didn’t someone warn me?

Grams would tell you she does warn me and that the question should really be, Why don’t I listen?

Which, yeah, I admit, is usually the case.

But not this time. This time I thought it was a bad idea. This time I warned Grams and my mother and Hudson and anyone else who told me it was a good idea that it was a bad idea.

This time they didn’t listen.

Which is how I wound up on a cruise with a dad I barely knew, an endless buffet of party animals, and a family of creepy millionaires.

Happy birthday to me.

And that was all I needed.

To have Sammy appear.

And yes, we've set sail.

See you at the next port!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Now Entering Smartsville

Have you checked your e-mail? Winners were notified (about 30 seconds ago). If you did not get an e-mail, I’m SORRY!

I couldn’t believe how many people entered. And how many people got them all right! (More on that in a minute.) Last time when I did a simple ‘pick a number’ giveaway I had lots of entries, but this time…it was crazy! I felt like I was back grading papers (which was weird)…and there were a few, Oh, hey, s/he’s got a point! situations. (More on that in a minute, too.)

There wasn't a "B" in the bunch--"A" and "A-" grades across the board.

Which meant I had to draw names of those who got them all right from a hat.

First, I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to do the crazy Elvis challenge, and I’m SORRY to the vast majority of you who got all the answers right but won't be receiving an ARC.

Next I want to say how totally COOL I think you guys are. And smart. And nice. This has got to be the nicest group of people on the internet. Everyone’s always supportive of each other in the comments, people thank me and compliment me and never snipe. Sniping is rampant on the internet. It’s a coward’s playground. But there’s never even a hint of mean spiritedness here. I really appreciate this “secret community” and the personalities that pop in and out and make me laugh and go, Awesome! Like the five factorial note– thinking that the little parenthetical exclamation point in the Contest Time text was more than humorous styling; that it was a mathematical equation—that “5!” meant 5x4x3x2x1 … which it does (but not here) and would have meant 120 ARCs to give away! This factorial thought only flashed through her mind before she realized that couldn’t be the case, and she apologized for being dopey. But see, that’s not dopey! The fact that it even crossed her mind was awesome!

Anyway, I love you guys, and I respect you, too. And I was sweating out the entries because, yes, there were some one word titles that I hadn’t even considered—specifically, “Almost”, “Something”, and “Don’t”. Only one of those (“Almost”) was a legitimate hit because it was the only one that appeared in Elvis’s dialog. There was some confusion with the rules and let me assure you that if you indicated titles that were NOT in Elvis’s dialog you were NOT marked off. But what I was looking for were the words that Elvis speaks that were Elvis song titles. And the title “Almost” near the end of the excerpt IS present in his dialog, but I had not counted it. So ch-ching! Up to 45. (Which suddenly seems very appropriate—wasn’t that the RPM of Elvis singles?)

(See, who but you guys would go, Yeah! That’s right!)

(You are saying Yeah! That’s Right…aren’t you?)

Also, there was the question of double-ups. A legitimate question, but no, I didn’t break the titles into titles and “subset” titles (going with the factorial / mathematical theme). For instance, I didn’t count [When] “My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again” and its subset “Blue Moon” as two song titles (but there’s no way I would count you off for pointing them both out, especially in your nifty multi-color coding). Same with “Honky Tonk Angel” and its subset “Angel”.

Finally, I just want to mention that it was very interesting to see how far and wide ya’ll are scattered. Lots of you in Canada! But my favorite city was “Smartsville”.


I think that represents this group perfectly.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Happy is not what I'm feeling right now.

I have spent more than an hour writing an entry about my sons and the April Fool's pranks we've had going back and forth over the years, with a gleeful slant on my clever paybacks.

It was a really funny entry!

And I saved it, like seven times as I wrote it because I've had bad experiences with Blogger freezing up or dumping my work in the past. The post was spell checked and everything, and as I went to add the graphic I got an error.

No problem! I had saved it right before, so when the program dumped me, I was not worried.

Well, Blogger pulled a righteous April Fool's on me--only the first sentence was there!

I just do not have the time or fortitude to re-do the whole thing.

Plus, I am TICKED OFF!

I do remember my last sentences. They were...What's the best April Fool's joke you've played (or have had played on you)? (I hope it's nothing like the one Blogger has played on me!)

And ...

See you next week for the results of the Justice Jack ARC contest!

So I'm sorry about the Lost Post. I have to face it--I've been punked.