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National Library Week

National Library Week is April 13 - 19. Grab your card and visit your favorite library! Happy Reading!

Spring! Whoo hoo!

I cannot tell you how happy I am that spring is here. We had quite the winter, and it's so nice to go outside and play.

I'm not having the best experiences with nature though. A male robin has decided that his territory is my front yard. He tried for three days to attack one of the living room windows. We put something on the ledge, and we thought he moved on. He the porch. He's attacked both side panes and the kick plate. I'm going to see what else I can put on the porch to discourage his attacks (which usually start about 6:00 AM). I'm thinking rubber snake.

And then there is the flower buffet...Years ago, I planted hundreds of tulips in our front yard, and I was so disappointed when spring came, and we had three that bloomed. When I dug up the bed, the moles and voles had had a field day with the bulbs. I swore off bulbs for a while, but I decided to try again at this house in the two front beds. They came up beautifully. However, the deer ate all of the ones in the right bed. The ones that weren't on the meal plan look good.

Despite my animal adventures, spring in Central Virginia is still beautiful. Go outside and enjoy.

Here's Riley getting ready for the Easter bunny...

Skyping with Author Rhys Bowen

Our SinC-Central Virginia chapter skyped with author Rhys Bowen this morning. She got up early on the left coast for our eleven o'clock meeting, and we appreciate all of her insights and great stories.

Here's what I learned today from Rhys Bowen.

  • She is an incredibly busy author. She writes the Molly Murphy and Lady Georgiana series. She also used to write the Constable Evans series. She said that she doesn't write them simultaneously. She works on one, and then picks up the second series.
  • Her best method of research is to visit the locations where her character live and visit. Her characters live in real houses and visit recognizable locales.
  • She also writes each book in her series as a stand-alone novel.
  • She said that writers need to balance their writing and social media time. Social media has opened a lot of avenues for writers, and it provides ways for authors to connect.
  • She is one of the seven writers who blog as Jungle Red Writers.
  • If you have an amateur sleuth, you need to show the readers why the person is involved in the investigation.
  • If you want to be a writer, you need to do a lot of reading and writing.
  • You need to have confidence in yourself as a writer.

ACCUSED by Lisa Scottoline

I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa Scottoline at the Virginia Festival of the Book. She was the keynote speaker at the Crime Wave brunch.

She is funny and inspirational, and her talk was great. She stressed finding your voice and storytelling in your writing. (And I learned that WOLF is "women-owned law firm.)

I finished Accused recently. It's part of her Rosato and Associates series. It's set in an all-female law firm in Philadelphia.

Her characters are smart and funny, and the importance of family runs through the novel. Her main character, Mary DiNunzio, comes from a large, extended, Italian-American family. I love the Eastern Pennsylvania dialect and references. And Mary's geriatric entourage (her parents and their neighbors) get into some interesting predicaments.

In this mystery, thirteen year-old Allegra Gardner, hires Mary's firm to solve the mystery of her sister's murder which happened six years prior. The wealthy Gardner family is satisfied with the guilty verdict and the incarceration of the suspected killer, and they go to great lengths to protect their special daughter, who prefers her bees to most people. The story takes a new twist when Allegra's parents ship her off to a posh mental institution.

Scottoline intertwines the mystery with Mary's celebrations. In the opening scenes, she makes partner at her firm, and then her long-time boyfriend Anthony proposes. All of the threads eventually converge as Mary solves the mystery and finds justice for the young man wrongly arrested for the murder.

Virginia Festival of the Book

I had the great pleasure of being on a short story panel for Virginia is for Mysteries at the Virginia Festival of the Book's Crime Wave last weekend in Charlottesville.

If you have never attended, you need to mark your calendar for next March. There were so many great session in all types of genres. I love being around so many writers and readers. And of course, we left with a stack of books!

The venues were all over the Charlottesville area, and we couldn't have ordered better weather. Here are my highlights...

  • If you ever get a chance to hear Lisa Scottoline talk, take it. She is an amazing author with some incredibly funny and inspiring stories. I can't wait to read more of her mysteries.
  • If you have the opportunity to sign books, stand up. You look more approachable.
  • Whatever you write, let your storyteller's voice come through. Even with fiction, you need to make your story real.
  • If you have a vendor table, bring candy (preferably chocolate). Thanks to Mary B. for the great advice!
  • If you're speaking or appearing at a vendor table, pack a bag with extra pens, tape, scissors, etc. You'll probably need it. Mary brought flowers. It added some color to our booth.
  • Everyone in Charlottesville was so friendly. We had great food at the event and at Bashir's and Zocalo.
  • Stop by Read it Again Sam. It is a wonderful book store on the Mall. They hosted the Crime Wave party, and it was fun to get lost in all the stacks.

Book signing for Virginia is for Mysteries

Part of the VIFM Panel at the Jefferson Madison Regional Library
(l-r) Vivian Lawry, Teresa Inge, Meredith Cole, and Heather Weidner

Superman, Trees Rock, and Virginia Festival of the Book

Yesterday was Pi Day (03/14), today is the Ides of March, and Monday's St. Patrick's Day. We're having spring-like temperatures here in Central Virginia, but they're calling for sleet and snow on Monday. Hang on, we're still on the crazy weather rollercoaster. Despite the winter that just won't go away, lots of things have been going on...

Our Upward program had it's celebration last night, and we had lots of fun with our carnival theme. I met the staff at United Methodist Family Services, and they had these great bumperstickers.

About a month ago, I saw a post about local school that was trying to win a Scottie's contest called "Trees Rock." I tweeted their information and shared it on some posts. Yesterday, I received a thank you photo in the mail from the Growing Green Comets of Kersey Creek Elementary School in Mechanicsville, VA. They were chosen as one of 12 schools nationwide. Congratulations to everyone for all their hard work!

And next weekend, the Virginia is for Mysteries authors will be at the Virginia Festival of the Book as part of the Crime Wave panel. We'll be at the Central JMRL Library in Charlottesville, VA (201 E. Market Street) at 2:00 PM on Friday, March 21 . Stop by and see us.

It's Pi Day

Happy Pi Day (03/14)!  I think I'll celebrate with Lemon Chess. 

National Proofreading Day & Girls Write Now Day

Today is National Proofreading Day. 

It's also Girls Write Now Day.

Either way, break out the pens and pencils and celebrate!

It's Dr. Seuss' Day!

Happy Dr. Seuss' Day! My favorite is still Green Eggs and Ham.

Book Signings 101

I love book signings. I have also been very fortunate that my first sessions have been with an amazing group of mystery writers. For every event, there are at least six or seven us, and it's tremendous fun. Several people have likened it to speed-dating.

I enjoy meeting people and talking with readers who love mysteries. Here are some things I learned along the way...

1. Bring lots of pens. It sounds like a no brainer. But at our launch, I put my purse in the trunk, so I wouldn't have to carry it around. And I grabbed a pen that died on my second autograph. Thankfully, my mom was there with her well-stocked purse. I now have at least five pens in my bag.

2. Bring candy, bookmarks, or something to give away. People like freebies, and it breaks the ice. I had my cards done at VistaPrint and my bookmarks at Next Day Flyers.

3. Ask about the location when you schedule the event. We did one at a museum in January, and they put our table outside. We had fun, but it was bitter cold.

4. Use social media to advertise your event. Like or follow the location. Retweets and shares help get the word out.

5. Pack a book-signing kit. I have bookmarks, business cards, posters, tape, scissors, bookstand, and an extra book.

6. Confirm all arrangements and ensure that the books have been ordered before the event.

7. Paint your nails or get a manicure (Sorry, guys. This one is a little girly.) Everyone is looking at your hands when you sign.

8. My friend Mary gave me this tip. If you're alone at a table, stand. People will approach you faster. You want to look confident and inviting.

9. Bring your camera and take lots of pictures for your website and social media.

I hope you have many book signings. If you're in Virginia, stop by and see us.