Wine & Murder

I want to kill someone in public.

I don’t have a particular person. Just someone.

Last weekend I volunteered for my business districts wine walk event.  It was a fun event that paired artists and wineries with local businesses.  Visitors bought a ticket which guaranteed them ten tastings from the wineries of their choosing and then they walked to the various locations ogled the art, tasted the wine and walked to the next stop.  This puts visitors inside local businesses, exposes an audience to new wines and gives everyone a chance to enjoy a fun fall outing.  It’s also a large crowd with people going every which way, no one is really paying attention, and half the crowd is a wee bit tipsy.  That seems like a great place for a murder!

Could I slip something in their tasting glass? Could I stab them quietly in pop them in a business’s back room while no one was looking?  Leave the body in their car apparently “sleeping it off”?  Or is it better to kill them and then stick around as a surprise witness.  Oh my God! Someone’s killed Kenny!  And… surprised face.

It’s a bold move to go for a public murder, which makes it probably unpremeditated.  My motivation would have to be strong.  Lots of money or a truly horrible victim.  And then, perhaps the small town police chief could solve the mystery?  And bam, we’ve got a novel plot.  Although, in general, I should probably not tell anyone what I think about at these events.  I’m going to end up on someone’s list…

Promo Blues

Yesterday, AB Plum talked about the woes of promoting. She’s not alone in finding that the grind of “getting yourself out there” is not fun. Most authors find that to be the hardest part of the job. We’re the kind of people who invent people to talk to. Talking to real people is just so, so, so much harder. Real people rarely say what we tell them to say for one thing.  She also mentioned that she’s working on her marketing plan.

I see your hands coming up.  “What is a marketing plan?” you ask.  Excellent question.

A marketing plan is a comprehensive document or blueprint that outlines a business advertising and marketing efforts for the coming year. It describes business activities involved in accomplishing specific marketing objectives within a set time frame.

So for an author a marketing objective would be something like get more people to sign up for a mailing list, or have more people review your book.  (Side note / Public service Announcement: if you love an author, review their books. It’s the nicest thing you can do!) To accomplish those goals, you have to take steps like advertise, blog, and/or hound your friends. A marketing plan collates these steps, ads assigned dates, and at least takes a stab at figuring out how much they’ll cost so that a budget can be created.

I don’t know how AB feels about marketing plans, but my thoughts are two-fold.  My first thought, upon completion of a plan, is incredibly smug.  I’m soooo organized.  Who wouldn’t want to be as organized as me.  My second thought is usually about two seconds later.  How did I miss that deadline?  Why is this going down in flames?  What do you mean the cost of that ad went up?  Ahhhhhhhh!!!!

All of which is to say that behind every successful book there is an author who is using a wet blanket to try and put out the dumpster fire of her marketing plan.  


COMING FEBRUARY 13: Galactic Dreams – When Stars Take Flight

When Stars Take Flight takes the story of Thumbelina into space and reimagines the fairy tale for a new age—the future. 

Kidnapped by the To’Andans, tortured by the Moliter, and rescued by Sparrow Pandion—a spy who hides a secret pain—Alliance Ambassador Lina Tum-Bel is up against a galaxy full of trouble as she attempts to rebuild the Interstellar Alliance. Her training says that she can’t trust her handsome rescuer, but maybe together, she and Sparrow can learn to fly.

 

Free Turkey

Over Thanksgiving, my grocery store was giving away free turkeys for those who spent over $100. Thinking that it would be a small turkey, my husband who was shopping at the time, said, “Sure! Who doesn’t want a free turkey!”

And really, who wouldn’t?

And then he came home with a 23-pound turkey. That didn’t fit in our freezer.

We tried shoving it in six different ways from Sunday and then called up my mom and said, “Guess what? We’re providing the turkey!” And she said, “Guess what? I’m cooking a roast!” So we agreed to try it again for Christmas and I called around and found a friend with spare freezer space. Only Christmas arrived and mom declared that Christmas dinner was going to be small and simple. As in… no turkey. But I had sworn to my friend that her freezer would be hers again after Christmas. So now I’m looking up how to cook turkey and inviting my in-laws over.

They say that New Years is a time for trying new things and I guess I’ll be starting early with turkey cooking. Wish me luck as I enter the world of large scale cooking.


SALE ALERT:

Smashwords, the independent e-book store, is having it’s annual year end sale featuring site wide deals, including some from me.

Check out all the deals at: SMASHWORDS
Check out my deals at: SMASHWORDS/BETHANYMAINES

 

Crunch Time!

Ack!  I should be baking. Or possibly cleaning my filthy office.  Or writing any of the multiple stories I’m supposed to be completing. It’s crunch time for me.  I’ve got a sci-fi novella that is due back from the editor at any second (more info to come after the holidays!), a Christmas short story that needs completing ASAP, and mystery novel that is supposed to be way more underway than it is. And my business partner at my day job is about to go on maternity leave at any moment. I could use a holiday.  Oh, wait, one has just turned up.  Now I get to add baking to the list.  So excuse me, if I just complain for a minute and then dash off to put a pie in the oven.

But in the spirit of the holidays, how about a chance to win a print copy of Shark’s Instinct?  Reviewers are calling it an “amazing mystery with loads of action.”  Click the link below to enter! 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Shark's Instinct by Bethany Maines

Shark’s Instinct

by Bethany Maines

Giveaway ends November 30, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

 

Enter Giveaway

Incoming

Absolutely

Today I’m discussing the absolutes of art.

Absolute number 1: artists must sell.  So toward that end, please consider purchasing my latest book! It’s a five-star, “highly-satisfying, high-speed thriller” that readers are calling “hard to put down.”

Shark’s Instinct: Fresh out of prison and fresh out of luck, twenty-something Shark wants back into The Organization. But when Geier, the mob boss with a cruel sense of humor, sends Shark to the suburbs to find out who’s been skimming his take, Shark realizes he’s going to need more than his gun and an attitude to succeed. With the clock ticking, Shark accepts the help of the mysterious teenage fixer, Peregrine Hays, and embarks on a scheme that could line his pockets, land him the girl and cement his reputation with the gang—if he makes it out alive.


$2.99 on sale today! BUY NOW!



Absolute number 2:  Nothing is absolute and artists spend a lot of time thinking about that.

In our current climate of politics, disasters, and protest, I’ve been listening to what a lot of artists are feeling. And by artists I mean everyone from fellow writers and graphic designers, to fine artists and poets. I know from the outside that most people think of the creative set as a homogeneous mass of weirdos. Which, weird, I’ll grant you, but homogeneous is not, in any way, accurate.

Like any family there are fractured in-fights, cultural differences between the “cousins” of fine art and design (or poets and novelists), there are fights over pecking order and definitions and what it all really means. But most artists when pressed will say that although they have their preferences, their set rules that they use, that most of the time, there is no absolute. Don’t ever pair two serif fonts, don’t ever write a novel in the first person, don’t use Papyrus for a logo (ever, no seriously)… Unless it works, in which case, you should absolutely do that. Absolutes in art and artists are few and far behind.

Which is why I think our current political climate is striking artists particularly hard. It’s as though we’ve all been toddling along enjoying the gray areas and we’ve run smack into the thirty percent of our population that only believes in black and white. Not that they live in black and white (because no one can). But they only believe in black and white and they want everyone else to bow before the almighty absolute and give them the peace of mind of being right. Arguing with someone who refuses to see the gray is pointless. Showing art full of color to someone who doesn’t see the subtle shades of the rainbow only makes them turn away. Many of the artist’s I listen to feel despair. They feel like their art has become frivolous when they see the colors being eradicated around them, but they can’t seem to make the leap to protest art. Nine months into a presidency that does not see the value in anyone who isn’t male, straight, or white, I would like to say that all art is protest art. To create joy, beauty, and harmony, to paint with many colors instead of the ones that have been chosen for us is protest art. I encourage my artist friends to follow their passion, take action, make art, refuse to go away or step back. Use every damn crayon in the box.


Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. —Oscar Wilde

Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known. —Oscar Wilde

Beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm. Philosophies fall away like sand, creeds follow one another, but what is beautiful is a joy for all seasons, a possession for all eternity. —Oscar Wilde

Food for Thought

By Bethany Maines
 
 
Last weekend, I participated in a local author program called Food for Thought.  Put on by the local business district in partnership with a local literary group, CreativeColloquy, the program hosts different authors each week at a farmer’s market for a minimal fee ($5).  These type of events are great ways to connect with readers, brush up on my “elevator pitch” for books, and see what’s resonating with the public.  The elevator pitch is essentially a one to two sentence synopsis of a book.  And with that many people visiting the booth, I can try out different versions and wording to see what pitch makes people look interested in a book.  For my Carrie Mae Mysteries, slightly older ladies resonate with “It’s the story of what would happen if Mary Kay ran an international espionage organization.”  But the younger women and men do better with “If James Bond was a woman.”  Even if I didn’t end up selling a good amount of books, that kind of market research is pretty invaluable.  But, of course, being out in the public is also a way to connect with the… um… unique individuals that walk among us.
 
My favorite unique person this last weekend was the gentlemen who told us a series of stories about his experiences with ghosts including some “Indians” because he had been staying at a house built on an “Indian Burial Ground.”  The problem was that as he meandered on about his experiences, the Native Americans he described
sounded straight on out of the movies, and lacked any resemblance to the actual tribes that populate the area.  Not all tribes wear “leathers” crazy face.  Our tribes used capes woven from cedar bark and a type of fabric woven from the hair of a now extinct type of dog.  <LEARN MORE HERE>  So… try being more educated before doing drugs. Also, and not for nothing, if a housing developer were to find human remains, archaeologists and police would have to be called and the local tribes would claim the bodies.  Nobody wants to build on top of human remains – they disintegrate, leaving cavities in the ground and make foundations unstable.  It’s unsound construction, OK, nut job?  And also, also, you’re scaring people away from my booth.
 
But he’s just the tiny fly in the ointment. The majority of people at such events are at minimum polite and usually excited about talking to an actual author.  And in the end, talking to such enthusiastic readers and writers are what keep me coming back to these type of events.  So if you see me out and about, stop by to say hi.  Just
don’t tell me about your ghost experience… unless it’s historically accurate. 
 
 

Virtually IRL

I laughed when I read AB Plum’s recent post about unhooking from the virtual world.  It has been a long time since I didn’t enhance my RL (real life) experience with some sort of virtual interaction.  Photos on Facebook, the occasional witty comment on twitter, blogs and websites, they are all part of my life. Partially this is simply a function of my life and jobs.  As a graphic designer and a writer, social networking is part of the must do list. As a designer, it’s important that I be able to design ads for Facebook and other social media platforms and understand how the platforms function.  As a writer, it’s important that I use those platforms to reach an audience.

Which is not to say that I’m an expert.  As a designer, I get to create content and simply walk away.  The writer half of me definitely has it harder.  I have to remember to post (you wouldn’t think this was hard, but…), to come up with valuable and interesting content, and then not waste all of my writing time on marketing and social media.  On the other hand, for the last six months I’ve been swinging very much the other way.  I have not been doing a lot of marketing.  I have in fact been writing.  A lot.  A ton.  Lots of tons.  So much so that I’ve planned out my releases for 2018 and 2019. 

So, stay tuned for tons of updates later this summer.  Crime, sci-fi, a touch of fairy tales, and of course more than a little bit of romance are heading your way.  And strangely, I can’t wait to start marketing ALL of it.  If you want to get in on early give-aways (print and digital!) and announcements, join my mailing list at: bethanymaines.com/contact

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON THE STILETTO GANG 6.14.17

Parent Traps

A recent trip to the grocery store reminded me that Valentine’s Day is upon us.  As I cruised down a particularly pink and red aisle I saw wall to wall sets of movie themed Valentines for kids.  Which made me realize that as my spawn starts to become an actual kid certain things are barreling down on me.  Valentines.  Birthday parties.  Teacher gifts.  And all of them cause me to think – what the hell?

When did teacher gifts become a thing?  I don’t remember my mom having to essentially tip any of my teachers.  Teaching is an arrangement in which someone gets paid to show up and tell things to small people.  It was a nice arrangement with very clear cut guidelines – show up, learn/teach, go home.  Now all of my friends with older kids are dithering about teacher gifts around Christmas.  I recognize that teachers aren’t paid enough, but crappy set of lotion at Christmas is not going to make up for that.

And suddenly if you have a birthday party for your kid there have to gift bags for the children who attend. Birthdays are the day when everyone shows up and gives the person celebrating a gift.  Why are we now bribing people to attend?  If I have to bribe you to show up then you are not my friend.  I suppose the alternative theory is that the small children cannot handle the sight of someone else receiving gifts.  But… Isn’t that the entire point of parenting – teaching your kids to manage their own emotions?  So wouldn’t gift bags just be me supporting your poor parenting?

Valentine’s  Day has now become a flashpoint for grade school bullying.  Better give a Valentine to everyone or you’re a bully.  Sounds lovely.  You know what that means in reality? It means that I have to buy Valentines.  A kid can make four or five Valentines, but no grade schooler is going to hand-craft an entire classrooms worth of Valentines.  So now I’m stuck supporting the Hallmark industry?  Swell.

Can someone figure a way out of this for me?  Can I just carbon freeze my kid at three?  Or can I start a social revolution for those of us who are anti-social?  Somebody help!


Originally posted on The Stiletto Gang 02.08.17

Resolution Failure

I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions.

Resolutions always seem to be negative statements.  They pit the resolver against something.  I resolve to lose weight, spend less, give up every fun thing ever, etc.

I much prefer to make goals. Goals take aim and move toward a change. I want to write more, be more healthy, learn French, wake up later.  I don’t think that last one’s going to happen, but it’s more of a lifelong goal.

And then there’s the artificial time construct of the New Year’s that tricks people into waiting to start a change until January first actually rolls on the calendar.  Of course, if I were resolving to do something horrible, I’d put it off as long as possible too.  But if I want to change my life for the better, then why would I wait? Now is always the perfect time to start.

Which is not to say that the turn of the year doesn’t cause me to reflect and take stock of how things are and how I would like them to go. Like a lot of people, I like to assess, predict, and then I make goals.  At the end of December, I jotted down some notes, made some plans and felt good about myself.  I’m usually pretty good at sticking to my plans and I didn’t expect this year to be any different.  But then I didn’t expect to be struck by inspiration that would send me furiously typing down the rabbit hole of a new story.

And now here it is the end of January and I feel like one of those people who’ve managed to blow up their diet and their resolution two weeks after starting.  I mean, I feel guilty about not sticking to the plan, but not really that bad as a shove another chapter in.  In fact, that chapter was delicious and really would it really hurt if I had another?

I can always get back on the plan later, right?

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Originally posted on The Stiletto Gang Blog 01.25.17