Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, dear readers. It's been an amazing year for me as a writer.

My first mystery novel, Speaking of Murder, was published by Barking Rain Press in September. I did as much promotion as I could--dozens of guest blogs and a half-dozen speaking events--but haven't seen any earthshaking sales or important reviews. 

I signed a deal with an agent, John Talbot, and then a three-book contract with Kensington Publishing. I wrote the first Local Foods mystery and sent it in, and have 30k written on the second one (a few thousand words more by tonight, I hope!). 

I had a short story, "Stonecutter," accepted for publication in an anthology, and two other stories were published in the Burning Bridges anthology where all proceeds went to charity.

I decided to self e-publish two previously published short stories whose rights have reverted to me, because they are actually the backstory to two important characters in Speaking of Murder, and I have formatted them for Smashwords and gotten covers done (by StanzAloneDesign - aren't they cool?). They'll be available for all ereaders sometime in the next month.

I attended a dynamite Donald Maass writing workshop, the Writers' Police Academy, and New England Crime Bake and learned so much from each event. I even plunged into the world of smart phones and Kindles.

All this went on while I was working full time writing software manuals, exercising most days, selling and buying a house and moving, and sitting with my mother while she died in April. Whew!

I'd like to thank all of you who stopped by to see what was up all year long and especially to those who commented and who read my writing. It means so much to me.

May you have a happy, healthy, harmonious new year filled with lots and lots of reading!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Farm Blog Posts

I have an idea for this blog for next year (which starts in a week and a half).

Farmer Cam Flaherty's Great-Uncle Albert is going to write some posts on farming. He actually suggests that to Cam in A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die. (Today's exciting news is that the book is up for pre-order with its gorgeous cover on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Whee!)

I already have a garlic-planting post planned out, one on battling woodchucks, and another on planting fall greens. Albert can talk about pruning fruit trees in early March, about planting buckwheat as a summer cover crop, and about putting the fields to bed in late fall. Composting is already at least partly covered in TINE, but that's a possibility, too.

The posts will likely show up every other week so as not to over burden the author (me!) who is writing furiously on the second book in the series, so far titled 'Til Dirt Do Us Part.

What farming or gardening topics would you like to read about? If you are a grower of food, what's your most challenging crop, and your most enjoyable? If you don't have that much success with your green thumb, what would you like help with?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

In Great Sorrow

I was stunned to read that one of adults shot dead yesterday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was named Lauren Rousseau. She was apparently a vibrant young teacher, devoted to her young charges, who had just landed a permanent position at the school. She had parents, a boyfriend, friends. She had baked and decorated cupcakes to take to a post-Hobbit viewing party Friday night.

That she shares the name I invented for my protagonist in Speaking of Murder is irrelevant, really, but it jumped out at me. I am filled with immense sorrow for all the victims - the young and innocent, the older and innocent, the innocent staff members who tried to save their young charges - and for their families. 

May we find a way to finally and effectively outlaw multiple-round firearms and keep them out of the hands of anyone except the most qualified police. May we find a way to help those in need of counseling, mental health therapy, love. May we never accept that innocent people should die under any conditions. This is my prayer, and this would be my protagonist's prayer, as well.

Rest in peace, real Lauren Rousseau. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Another Productive Retreat

I felt called to take myself on retreat again. It's so hard for me to write during the work week, and with the holidays coming up and then a knee replacement looming in January, I wanted to make some real headway with the second book in my Local Foods Mystery series. 

I found a Quaker retreat house in West Falmouth, which is on the near edge of Cape Cod, on  Buzzard's Bay. The house is just across a Friends graveyard from the West Falmouth Friends Meetinghouse that was built in 1842. I reserved a room for $25 per night, but no one else was going to be there, so that was the price of the entire house.

I drove down after work on a Friday with a bad cold and stocked a few simple provisions. I set up my netbook, made some tea, and set to writing. My only distractions were my own: going for a walk, reading, thinking. The house did NOT come equipped with internet. This turned out to be a huge blessing. I crossed the street to the library once a day to check for any messages that needed acting on and otherwise left cyberspace alone.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. I took care of my cold and kept writing. I gazed out the back window at the remnants of the Meeting garden, moseyed out to pluck some bits of parsley for my soup, and kept writing. I went for a walk down to the bay and sat and listened to the calm winter lapping of the bay, then went back and kept writing

I had recently re-read Rachel Aaron's post on how she writes 10,000 words a day (and thanks to Ramona DeFelice Long for reminding me of that post last week). One of her secrets is to leave home for few hours. Check, in spades. Another is to only write the interesting scenes (and really, if you aren't compelled to write it, readers probably won't be compelled to read it, either).  I had plotted a few scenes ahead. So I jumped to the really interesting one and wrote that. Then I went back and wrote the scenes leading up to that one, making them more interesting, too. Check.

I took meal breaks at the kitchen counter and finished Kaye George's latest funny mystery set in Texas, Smoke, and then started Jeri Westerson's latest in her fabulous Crispin Guest series, Blood Lance, but I only let myself read as long as I was eating. Then, guess what, I kept writing. 

I walked through the graveyard to sit in worship with Friends on Sunday morning, then got to know a few of them, handing out bookmarks for Speaking of Murder as I did (well, it does have a Quaker protagonist). Then I went back to write.

My cold was still pretty bad late Sunday night (despite adding a bit of brandy to my tea with honey and lemon) and my cough wasn't fit for human company. I cancelled my plan to drive very early to work on Monday morning and filed for a sick day, instead. I stayed at my writing station until midday on Monday. Final tally for just under 3 full days of retreat? 15,071 words. Wow! 

The work in progress is now just under 100 pages long. It isn't due until July 1 but I feel very comfortable with this headway. Sure, it's a rough first draft. Now, though, I am confident that I will have enough time to schedule in revision and polishing before I have to send it off. 

Quaker House, I will return to thee.

What's your favorite retreat center? Where are you most productive writing when you can grab a stretch of time, whether it's three hours or three days?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tine for Production!

A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die is in production over at Kensington Publishing. I just got a sneak peek at a draft of the cover and I'm blown away by the gorgeous colors and arty but realistic vegetables. This is so very exciting. Not to mention seeing my name on the front!

And here are the blurbs that will be on the back:

"Cameron Flaherty understands farming and computer language better than she does people. But when a murder threatens to poison her organic farm, she opens her heart to a posse of endearing volunteers and reaps the benefits. With an insider's look at organic farming and a loyal, persistent heroine, Maxwell offers a series that cozy mystery fans will root for."

-Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity-nominated Lucy Burdette, author of Death in Four Courses

"Edith Maxwell’s A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die is a sparkling read. It’s a down on the farm murder mystery with a bumper crop of locally grown suspects and red herrings."

-Reed Farrel Coleman, three-time Shamus Award-winning author of Gun Church

"A fresh new voice on the cozy mystery scene, Edith Maxwell serves up a tasty plot and a bumper crop of colorful characters in her debut novel, A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die. Fans of Sheila Connolly and Dorothy St. James will be happy to discover a smart, new sleuth who isn't afraid to get her hands dirty."

-Rosemary HarrisAnthony and Agatha Award-nominated author of Pushing Up Daisies

Just color me glowing.