Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cjpetterson@gmail.com cj

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Kids writing contest and a Halloween excerpt

 cj Sez:  Because it's the season!  The video excerpt of my Once in a Blue Moon story was too big for Blogger, so I've posted the video on my cj petterson Facebook page. Hop on over to  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1539531295   to watch me read the excerpt, complete with ghosts and kitty assistant. 

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  The Mobile Writers Guild's Halloween Pieces anthology (18 stories by 17 authors) is still available. Signed books available through The Haunted Book Shop . . . and, and the ebook is on sale as of the time of this post. Hurry on over to the Big A and grab some hauntingly good reading. Buy Halloween Pieces Now

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  Hey, all you young writers! The Mobile Writers Guild is sponsoring a Writing Scholarship Contest for short story fiction for students in grades 6 through 12 in Mobile and Baldwin, Alabama, counties. Write your best short story, edit and re-edit, have it proofread, polish it to the nth degree, and submit for a chance at being rewarded with a cash prize. 

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 As I’m typing these last lines, there are weather warnings coming across my phone and the
TV, so I’m outta here. That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for your health and safety.

 cj

 No inflation here: THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA, my fast-paced, exciting suspense/thriller ebooks, are now low-, low-priced at $2.99.

P.S.  The Haunted Book Shop has signed paperback copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us  

Happy Halloween reading!

➜ Follow me on . . .           
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6

Sunday, October 23, 2022

STOP IN AND BE FASCINATED

cj Sez: Okay, folks. Lyrical Pens has enticed internationally published author Judy Penz Sheluk away from her Lake Superior home (and golfing buddies) just long enough to answer some questions about her writing life and introduce her latest novel: Before There Were Skeletons. Read on and become fascinated with how this busy author stays on track …

LP: When did you realize you wanted to write?

JPS: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write. As a kid, I used to write stories in my head, a practice I continued into adulthood. It took decades to summon up the nerve to put the words on paper.

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author? lake sup 

Judy's photo of Lake Superior
as seen from her gazebo
Hybrid. My debut novel and a couple of others were originally picked up by two small presses. One has since shuttered its
doors completely, the other is now only publishing her own novels. Being “orphaned” twice, I decided to indie publish and set up Superior Shores Press. In addition to my own novels, I have edited and published three multi-author collections of short mystery.

The mass market paperback versions of my Marketville and Glass Dolphin series were also picked up by WWL Mystery, a division of Harlequin, which is a division of HarperCollins. 

Where you do most of your writing?

Desktop computer, home office. I cannot begin to imagine writing in a coffee shop. But I always have a notebook with me wherever I am, and scribble ideas anytime one strikes me. I even have a notebook and pen with LED light next to my bed

(cj Sez: Judy reported that she pretends to get her story ideas while walking the golf course.)

Is silence golden when you write, or do you like some accompaniment…music, a TV program,  some kind of white noise?

Silence or talk radio. I can tune out talk radio (unless I’m editing, then silence). I can’t tune out TV or music. 

Characters are usually composites of real and imagined people. How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real lifefrom your life in particular?

I like to joke that everything interesting that happens to me ends up in one of my stories. Of course, I haven’t killed anyone or solved a cold case. But I definitely get my ideas from real life, and develop characters based on my observations of people I’ve known or have met in passing. I’ve even included a scene in one of my books about a man who butted in front of everyone who’d been waiting in a long lineup at the dollar store. Let’s just say it wasn’t my finest hour – or his – but it was fun to recreate. 

Do you have a particular process to name your characters?

Lots of ways but one way is that I read the credits on TV shows and movies. For example, in my latest book, Before There Were Skeletons, I have a new character, Denim Hopkins. The Hopkins is a nod to a friend of mine who passed away a few years back. The Denim is from Denim Richards, who plays Colby Mayfield on Yellowstone. I knew Denim would be a great name (and of course, she has a stepbrother named Levi). 

I’ve also offered “Name the Character” for charities a couple of times, which is a great way to give back a little. 

Whatever name I conjure up, I always Google to make sure it’s not the name of a famous athlete or celebrity. 

Real settings or fictional towns? Country or city? Ocean or mountains?  (Just answer one)

Fictional town with references to real places. For example, Marketville is near Toronto.

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable used to be addicted to cocoa butter lip balm, but I’ve weaned her off of it over the series. I don’t suppose that’s too quirky, but I try to avoid anything gimmicky, and I think it works. I get a lot of reviews mentioning how authentic my characters are. That’s important to me.

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written), which would it be? Why?

I’ve recently fallen in love with Fredrik Backman’s novels, especially Beartown. His wry observations of human character are simply brilliant. I’ve caught myself crying while reading, not even realizing my face is stained with tears until the page is wet. An incredible author. 

What’s your biggest writing / editing pet peeve?

Using a substitute word for said. People cannot chortle or snort a sentence. Besides, said becomes invisible to the reader. All the rest becomes noise and the author trying to be too clever. 

You’re stranded on a deserted island. Besides food and water, what are your three must-haves?   

My golden retriever, Gibbs. 
He brings me so much joy simply by his joy of the simple things.

The complete works of Agatha Christie. She was prolific, so I’d have a lot of books, and her work stands up to this day. 

The complete series (including the Netflix movie) of Gilmore Girls. I never tire of Lorelei and Rory. 

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?

I’ve had more than a few, but I’d have to say my two days working at a sock box factory. I made the boxes that someone else would put a tie and pair of socks in, and someone else would shrink wrap. They used to sell those sets in Kmart and Zellers and Woolworth’s. It was a summer job. I was fired for not keeping up with production. 

What title is at the top of your to-be-read list? Why?

Right now, it’s The Winners, book 3 (and the final book) in the Beartown series by Fredrik Backman. I’m also listening to all of Sue Grafton’s alphabet series in order on audio – I read them all ages ago, and it’s been fun rediscovering Kinsey Millhone. I’m currently on G is for Gumshoe, which means F is for Fugitive is on the top of the TBR list. 

Tell us about Before There Were Skeletons . . . where you got the idea, how long it took from concept to publication, and how you came up with the title. (The title is usually a real challenge for me.)

Titles are easy for me, mostly because I usually let them come to me organically as I write, but in this case, the title came first. The original concept was a prequel to Skeletons in the Attic (book 1 in the Marketville series), taking place in 1978 and written by my protagonist, Callie’s, mother. But I just couldn’t seem to get the voice right. After several attempts and several thousand deleted words, I realized it had to be Callie’s story, her delving into her mother’s past and coming to terms with how her decisions impacted Callie’s life. Early on, I realized that would be a sub-plot, and the main plot would be a new cold case for Callie to solve, that of a mother who went missing in 1995, leaving behind a one-year-old baby.

Anyway, here’s the official back-of-the-book blurb, which sums it up rather nicely: 

The last time anyone saw Veronica Goodman was the night of February 14, 1995, the only clue to her disappearance a silver heart-shaped pendant, found in the parking lot behind the bar where she worked. Twenty-seven years later, Veronica’s daughter, Kate, just a year old when her mother vanished, hires Past & Present Investigations to find out what happened that fateful night.

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable is drawn to the case, the similarities to her own mother’sdisappearance on Valentine’s Day 1986 hauntingly familiar. A disappearance she thought she’d come to terms with. Until Veronica’s case, and five high school yearbooks, take her back in time…a time before there were skeletons. Find it in trade paperback, large print, and e-book at your favorite retailer. Universal Book Link: https://books2read.com/u/mqXVze

About the Author

A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the bestselling author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries and The Marketville Mysteries. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including the Superior Shores Anthologies, which she also edited. 

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she served as Chair on the Board of Directors. She lives in Northern Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Find her at judypenzsheluk.com

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cj Sez: Thank you so much for stopping by, Judy. I’m inspired, and I love Gibbs. Not only does he have the name of one of my favorite TV characters, but he’s gorgeous, and I want to squeeze him. Best wishes for best-seller sales and rave reviews for Before There Were Skeletons

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That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for your health and safety. 

cj

No inflation here: THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA, my fast-paced, exciting suspense/thriller ebooks, are now low-, low-priced at $2.99.

P.S.  The Haunted Book Shop has signed paperback copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us  

➜ Follow cj on . . .           
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/CjPettersonAuthor
➜ BookBub:   https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cj-petterson
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6

Sunday, October 16, 2022

What inspires me to write (when I want to quit)

cj Sez: Seasons’ greetings . . .


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The following pieces of info keep me writing:

  James Lee Burke was born in 1936. (I’m not that old, but it tells me I don’t have to be a twenty- or thirty-something to succeed. Okay, okay, so I should have started earlier.)  In the back of Burke’s novel, Wayfaring Stranger, on the “About the Author” page, I found this: 

“His novel, The Lost Get-Back Boogie, was rejected 111 times over a period of nine years and, upon its publication by Louisiana State University Press, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.” 

  And this from author Chris Bradford: “There is no failure except in no longer trying.”  (cj Sez: That's a big guilt trip.)

  You get the idea, and it’s my motto: Keep on Keeping on.

  There many things that inspire me to keep writing: My family, my friends, memories of places I've seen, writers conferences, and wonderful writing groups to which I belong. Each member brings a special writing/reading strength to the process of writing, and I've benefited immensely from their contributions.

   It can be hard to find a compatible critique group of writers knowledgeable in the genre in which you write, but I highly recommend trying. The input can be invaluable and the camaraderie priceless.

Need a reason to make your writing the best it can be?

“Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle. They read it to get to the end. If it’s a letdown, they won’t buy anymore. The first page sells that book. The last page sells your next book.”

                                       ~Mickey Spillane


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For writers and readers

  Style question: I was once asked this question: “If you've published a novel, could you tell me whether or not the internal dialogue is italicized?”

  My answer: I’ve seen it in print both ways. When you self-publish, the choice is pretty much yours. However, the rule there is, be consistent throughout the book. When you have an editor and a publisher, the choice is not yours.  

√  A recent Jane Friedman article also addresses that question, and there’s something about stand your ground that appeals to me, sometimes  . . . https://www.janefriedman.com/ask-the-editor-when-to-defer/

√  Coming Attraction ... Coming to Lyrical Pens next week!
International author Judy Penz Sheluk stops by to give some insights into her writing.

(Judy is the bestselling author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries.) 

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  That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for your health and safety.

P.S. Right now, I’m sitting in front of my computer listening to the band at the high school behind my back yard playing “Monster Mash” for their Halloween Party. I am reminded of one of my favorite family Halloween stories: When my grandson was born, the nickname his father, my son, chose for me (before I put a screeching halt to it) was “Grampire” and that was the sign on the baby's stroller at the airport when I came for a visit on Thanksgiving.

cj

No inflation here:


Plus  . . . 

  THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA, my fast-paced, exciting suspense/thriller ebooks, are now low-, low-priced at $2.99.

  The Haunted Book Shop has signed paperback copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us 

Happy reading!

➜ Follow me on . . .           
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page

➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Online trolls really do exist . . .

 cj Sez: Because it’s beautiful . . .

"The Yellow Wood"

  A fellow writer was grieving and questioning what to do about a one-star review on Amazon that complained about something that wasn’t even in her novel. Obviously, the reviewer hadn’t read the book.

  One- and two-star reviews can be devastating, both for
future sales and on the author. Wherever there’s an opportunity to post a review, there will be trolls with low ratings—whether they’re warranted or not. I’ve seen reviews by people who purchased an item online then rated the product one star because they thought delivery took too long. Had nothing to do with the quality of the product.

  So where am I going with all that? It’s to reinforce why authors need to put comments and reviews in perspective. I go back to the bell curve example (the one I usually use for my critique group comments). Don’t let peak ravers persuade you that you've written a best seller, and don't let the bottom naysayers persuade you that your work isn’t good. Hiding within the electronic wafers of the Internet are nameless, faceless, and wretched on-line trolls. (Whew! I feel better now.)

  We can’t realistically expect all reviews to be five-stars (okay, we do, anyway). I admit to having desperate pangs when someone dings a story. Yes, it skews the “average,” but then I re-read the good reviews that I have gotten (some posted, some not) and calm down a bit. I remind myself that I cannot please every reader out there. Duh. That’s the reason there are a gazillion different stories in multiple genres for a gazillion different readers.

  If an author receives a poor review from an on-line troll, I suggest s/he consider the source, and please do not respond to the reviewer. That might dig a deeper, darker hole than you want to dive into. For a review like that mentioned in my first paragraph, perhaps a conversation with Amazon (if that’s where it was made) might get the unfair/unjustified review removed. Might.

  In the meantime, if you’re like me, you’ll console yourself with a treat.

  Speaking of reviews . . . have you taken the time to give an on-line review for the latest book you read? You might be able to refute some troll.


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For readers and writers (In case you didn’t know)

√  Artistic personalities (and that includes writers) often need and have multiple outlets for their creative energy. Here is a column about three successful authors who have side hustles . . . https://www.janefriedman.com/the-secret-writing-side-careers-of-successful-authors/?utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=RSS%3AITEM%3ATITLE&utm_campaign=Daily+Blog

√  Staples (the office supply company) recycles a lot of tech equipment besides ink and toner cartridges. If there’s a Staples store near you, do some research and find out if that particular store participates in the program and what they recycle. The store not too far from me recycles a great variety of obsolete, broken, and just plain unwanted tech—items such as old adapters and cables, calculators, CD/DVD/Blue-ray players (I’ve been wondering what to do with a 20-year-old portable CD player), keyboards and mice, modems, and a slew of other stuff. Find out more here:  https://www.staples.com/deals/it-s-recycling-day-every-day/BI3000592

√  Community. Courage. Compassion. The Hometown Heroes anthology brings you five romances that celebrate everyday heroes. The anthology has a Christmas theme, yet the stories are timeless. From paranormal to contemporary to historical, there's something here for everyone.

  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of th
Hometown Heroes anthology will be donated to Cajun Navy Relief, an organization dedicated to helping neighbors in distress. As I type this, the Cajun Navy Relief organization is helping out in Florida after Hurricane Ian tore through the state, so your purchase of this anthology is a two-fer. You get delightful, short stories to read while you contribute to a wonderful charity at the same time.

The ebook of five stories is available for 99 cents at the time of this post …. Buy Hometown Heroes now

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  That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for your health and safety.

cj

  You-all guys know that we’re into the autumn/pumpkin/ Halloween season, right? Well, I want to tell you that the Mobile Writers Guild's Halloween Pieces anthology(18 stories by 17 authors) is still available. And, and . . .  the ebook is on sale as of the time of this post. Hurry on over to the Big A and grab some hauntingly good reading. Buy Halloween Pieces Now

  No inflation here: THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA, my fast-paced, exciting suspense/thriller ebooks, are now low-, low-priced at $2.99.

P.S.  The Haunted Book Shop has signed paperback copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us  

Happy reading!

➜ Follow me on . . .         
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Lyrical Pens has a special treat for all you readers and writers today…

cj Sez: …A guest post written from the perspective of Anastasia Pollack, the protagonist character in Lois Winston’s novel GUILTY AS FRAMED. Read on, folks. This is going to be interesting.

This Jersey Girl is Here to Stay
By Anastasia Pollack

My author Lois Winston recently relocated from New Jersey to Tennessee to be closer to family. Lois was born and bred in the Garden State and except for a stint in Philadelphia and its suburbs, has lived in New Jersey her entire life. Until now.

  When Lois created me, she created another Jersey Girl, maybe because she never had a daughter of her own, only sons. And although Lois had the temerity to make me a reluctant amateur sleuth instead of one of the heroines in her romance novels, for which I’ve never forgiven her, I’m glad she chose New Jersey for the setting of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries

  When you grow up in New Jersey, you develop Jersey ‘tude. You have to in order to deal with all the insensitive comments from the rest of the country. We’re the butt of many a late-night comedian’s joke—even those who happen to live here. I have no idea why. I’ve been to most of the other forty-nine states in the U.S., and in my opinion, many of them fall far short of New Jersey.

  Out-of-staters think we’re nothing but strip malls. To them I say, come visit Westfield or Haddonfield or Princeton or Summit or Chatham…I could go on and on. We have dozens and dozens of quaint towns, many of which have been used as settings in movies and TV shows. And no matter where you live in New Jersey, within a relatively short time you can be in the mountains or down the shore. (Yes, we call it down the shore. Other people go to the beach or the seaside but not those of us from the Garden State.) Plus, if you live in the northern half of the state, as I do, you’re a short train or car ride from Manhattan. Theaters and museums galore!

   Jersey has culture, sports, and cow pastures. Horse farms and high-rises. We’re home to the famous and the infamous. We probably have more authors per capita living in New Jersey than any other state.

  We even legally own the Statue of Liberty, but try telling that to New York. However, since they usurped our national landmark, we took their beloved football teams. That’s right, folks, for those of you who live in other parts of the country, both the New York Giants and the New York Jets play in New Jersey.

  However, because we’ve had to put up with so much negative press and razzing for so long, those of us from New Jersey have had to develop a tough hide. We’re also known for our sense of humor, which runs more toward snark than Minnesota Nice.

  I’ve had to channel my inner Jersey Strong to cope with what Lois has dumped on me—kidnappings, Mafia loan sharks, a communist mother-in-law, and more dead bodies than I can count at this point. I cope with it all by channeling my Jersey ‘tude and sense of humor. 

  But right now, I’m getting a bit nervous about whether Lois will allow me to continue living in New Jersey or if she’ll force me to move to Middle Tennessee. She tells me you can take the girl out of New Jersey, but you can’t take New Jersey out of the girl. That sounds ominous. I’m hoping she’s only toying with me. But if she isn’t, I just may go on strike and give her a whopping case of Writer’s Block. We fictional characters do have some tricks up our sleeves. 

cj Sez: Thanks, Anastasia. New Jersey owns the Statue of Liberty? Wow. (That's my learn-something-new today.) A whole lot of good information there. Please take a minute or two and introduce us to your creator and multi-genre author, Lois Winston. 

  USAToday and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website www.loiswinston.com where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.

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  And, of course, we need to introduce Anastasia’s latest mystery, Guilty as FramedAn Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 11

  When an elderly man shows up at the home of reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack, she’s drawn into the unsolved mystery of the greatest art heist in history. 

  Boston mob boss Cormac Murphy has recently been released from prison. He doesn’t believe Anastasia’s assertion that the man he’s looking for doesn’t live at her address and attempts to muscle his way into her home. His efforts are thwarted by Anastasia’s fiancĂ© Zack Barnes.

  A week later, a stolen SUV containing a dead body appears in Anastasia’s driveway. Anastasia believes Murphy is sending her a message. It’s only the first in a series of alarming incidents, including a mugging, a break-in, another murder, and the discovery of a cache of jewelry and an etching from the largest museum burglary in history. 

  But will Anastasia solve the mystery behind these shocking events before she falls victim to a couple of desperate thugs who will stop at nothing to get what they want? 

Buy Links

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cj Sez:  That’s it for today’s post. Thank you so much, Lois Winston and Anastasia Pollack, for stopping by and sharing those fascinating facts about New Jersey.

  Authors, if you’ve got a new book (or an old one that needs a bit of a boost) you, too, are invited to do a guest post. You can answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cjpetterson@gmail.com 

  You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Prayers going up for your health and safety this year.
cj

P.S.  The Haunted Bookshop has signed paperback copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER my author-graphed books or any book of your choice on-line from an indie bookstore, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us 

➜ Follow me on . . .           
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6