Monday, November 13, 2017

Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers


Today I have the honor of being featured on the Anastasia Pollack’s blog, Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers. I was asked to write about my protagonist, Caitlyn Jamison’s craft, or in her case, Caitlyn’s career in graphic design.


Writing that guest blog was a great exercise. I hadn’t thought about how Caitlyn’s skills in graphic design would assist her in solving crimes. But in fact, they do.



When I started to create my characters, I decided that if I wanted my female sleuth to be out and about solving crimes, she couldn’t be tied to a desk, with a controlling boss looking over her shoulder. My protagonist needed a job that would allow her to move about while she earned a living. Being a self-employed (though struggling financially) graphic artist allowed her that freedom – have laptop will travel.



Being computer literate and with laptop close at hand, also helps her with investigations. She’s at ease with Internet research and with the ability to connect with others to get the information she needs.



Read the full blog here.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Preparing for NANOWRIMO



I decided to sign up for NANOWRIMO this year. National November Writing Month is when writers are challenged to write 50,000 words in one month. That comes out to 1,667 words a day. A daunting task!

With two books under my belt I have a better feel for how I write. I am not one to blast through just typing anything to get to the 1,667 words a day. I am thoughtful, I edit as I go, and as the characters develop, sometimes they take the story in a different direction, which means I have to go back and adjust the previous writing to fit the new plot line.

With all that in mind, I have been planning my NANOWRIMO experience. Before writing anything, I sketched out my book into three acts. Within those acts I developed scenes that will guide me as the story unfolds.

Character bios are written and it was fun to develop new characters that protagonist Caitlyn Jamison will meet and have to figure out—who done it!

The setting has moved from Upstate New York to the Chesapeake Bay area of Virginia. My Virginia readers will appreciate that.

Although I may not make the 1,667 words a day, I am sure going to try to make good progress. It will be fun to be part of this worldwide community of writers.

I continue to wonder . . .why November? With the holidays looming, it is one of the busiest months of the year, especially for women. Why not NAJAWRIMO? Wouldn’t having the writing month in January make more sense?

Stay tuned for reports on how I’m doing. Only 8 more days to plan.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

It’s not too late – to register for the CRRL Writers Conference



The Central Rappahannock Regional Library will host its first Writers Conference on Saturday, November 11, 2017 9:15 – 5:00 at the Porter Branch, 2001 Parkway Boulevard, Stafford, Virginia.

The sessions offered are: 9:45 – 10:45 – When Fiction Goes to War: Creating Characters in and after Combat; Writing Believable Characters; Writing a Pitch. The sessions in the 11:00 – 12:00 hour are: Beating the Odds. Using Graphic Novels to Help You Overcome Adversity; Market Your Book Like a Pro! Tips, tools and strategies for selling your book (and have fun doing it!), or Review of first 500 words: Bring 500 words and receive feedback.

The lunch break is 12:00 to 1:30, followed by a Panel Discussion 1:30 – 3:00. This panel will discuss traditional publishing versus self-publishing. I will be on this panel, and look forward to sharing my views on self-publishing.

There will be a local author reception from 3:00 – 5:00.

Call the Porter Branch Research Desk to register for this fun and informative event – 540 659 4909. It’s free!!!!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Caitlyn Jamison Mysteries featured in the Ithaca Journal



Thanks to Ithaca Journal columnist, Gay Huddle, another great article about the Caitlyn Jamison mystery books appeared in that Upstate New York newspaper. Gay wrote:

“Congratulations to Mary Nunn Maki, formerly of Newfield and currently living in Virginia, on the recent publication of her second book, “Fatal Dose,” a mystery featuring Caitlyn Jamison. 
This book, and Mary’s first book, “An Unexpected Death,” are set in the Finger Lakes area, as Mary says her deepest roots are here. She grew up near Taughannock Falls, as her parents and grandparents, Merritt and Maude Agard, operated Taughannock Farms Inn. 
Mary attended the two-room Willow Creek schoolhouse until third grade and finished up at Trumansburg Central School. After graduating from Corning Community College, Mary married Ray Maki, from Newfield, and settled on VanBuskirk Gulf Road with her family for almost 25 years. She worked at Cornell University for Carl Sagan, and then went to the other hill to serve as secretary to Ithaca College President James Whalen
“Through this process, I have learned that what I love about writing is developing the different characters, describing the setting and then bringing it all to life,” Mary says.
Please visit caitlynjamisonmysteries.blogspot.com to learn more. Mary’s books are published under the name M.E. Maki. 
Joe Scaglione, of Ithaca, took a great picture of Grove Cemetery in Trumansburg, and Mary received permission from him to use it as the book cover for Fatal Dose.”

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Making Connections



Last Saturday I had the opportunity to participate in the Culpeper Library’s Local Author Extravaganza. As with many library-sponsored events, patron participation was minimal. A bit disappointing for the twenty-five local authors who made the effort to come out with all their book sale paraphernalia. The library director has sent a thank you email and asks for suggestions on how to draw more people to the event in the future. How could the event be designed differently to garner more interest? I have a few ideas that I will share with her, but if you, my reader, have any ideas, please share!


In my mind the day was successful. I had a great time chatting with patrons and other local authors. Many came by my table, and took my business card. I fully understand that. I am not an impulse buyer. I would take information on the author, and then when I got home, check that person out, and if we connected, then I would purchase their book.



Connection is the key, isn’t it. And that is what I have to work on for future events. One of the authors passed out a two-page information sheet on his books that also included his background information. I had not had a chance to visit his table, but by reading his info sheet, I connected with him on two levels. First, he attended Syracuse University, just an hour away from the Ithaca area where I grew up and lived most of my life, and then I found out that he has written a book about a little boy who lived on Caroline Street in Fredericksburg.



I am on the task force to create a visible likeness of the Fielding Lewis Store (1750-1820). Fielding Lewis was the brother-in-law of George Washington, and both George and his mother Mary shopped at the Lewis Store. One of the features of our makeover of the store space is to sell some of the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc. publications, and I want to have items for children as well.



Reading over Skip Townsley’s information sheet, I see he wrote a book, The Messenger on Caroline Street, “...a heartwarming story of a little black boy who is hidden away in an alley in a small Virginia town by a mother desperate to save her son from her own life of slavery.”



Taking a page out of Mr. Townsley’s book … I need to develop some sort of flyer, rack card, or similar to introduce myself and my books to readers. In other words, I need to give readers a reason to purchase my book, either in trade format or Kindle.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Culpeper, Virginia Library Author Extravaganza Event


Today I am headed to Culpeper, Virginia, about an hour southwest of Fredericksburg to attend their library’s “Local Author Extravaganza.” There are twenty-six authors registered, and I look forward to meeting other local authors.

I didn’t realize I had been put on a panel until Wednesday afternoon when I received an email listing the panel members and questions. That was a nice surprise, because I have already met two of the panel members, Suzi Weinert and Melinda Crocker.

Below is a sneak peek at the panel questions and my advice to aspiring writers:

"How do you develop characters?" "How do you make your stories feel like they are set in a specific city (or a specific time)?"
I develop bios of each character; I get to know them, their personalities, likes, dislikes, physical features. And don’t be surprised when you do that and start writing that the characters take over and change the story. It happened to me in both my books!

Setting is character – describe the place, think about the senses, what does it look like (colors), smell like (pine forest, ocean, etc.), sound like?

How do you keep your plots unpredictable without sacrificing believability?
Careful plotting, planning/planting subtle red herrings, and my beta readers catch inconsistencies and help keep my stories believable.

Why do you choose to work in this genre? Do you consider yourself a genre writer, or do you want to try other modes
I love puzzles, and always loved reading mysteries. So, yes, I am a genre writer.

What is the question you would most/least like to be asked by the audience, and what is your answer
Question: What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Answer: Decide your ultimate writing goal. Then figure out how to get there. Do your homework – publishing has changed. You have to provide a near perfect manuscript (do you have the skill level for grammar, punctuation, editing, proof reading, or will you have to hire these out?), you have to do your own marketing, what will your royalties be? Bottom line: Research carefully all aspects and decide which option is best for you.

Who is your favorite mystery writer?
I am going to say a lesser-known author, Kate Charles. I love her characters and the way she describes the setting – small English cathedral towns.

I love Elizabeth George’s earlier books, though I feel her more recent books are novels rather than mysteries.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival a Great Success



Not a good photo - too much shade in the early morning.   

Early Saturday morning September 23, 2017 over 125 book vendors gathered at Riverside Park along the Rappahannock River for the second annual Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival. Authors from all over the state participated, which provided a wide variety of genres from which readers could choose. A food truck pulled in to feed the hungry masses, and panel discussions on various genres were held throughout the day.

The book festival was held in conjunction with the city’s annual sidewalk sales, just one block away. These events pulled people into the city and the amount of energy created was amazing. I loved watching the trolley tour pass by, each one full of visitors to the city.

Within the first three hours of the festival, the organizers announced they had already doubled last year’s total attendance. Needless to say they were very happy.

I learned a lot about outside exhibiting and will do a better job next year. Instead of borrowing a 10 x 10 canopy tent, which was a pain to put up, I will purchase a 6 x 6 that will be much easier to handle and assemble. I will get there really early to get a parking spot near the event, and bring only a few books to the table, leaving the rest in the car if needed. I did plan ahead and brought my lunch in an insulated bag, so I didn’t have to leave my table to stand in line at the food truck. Other vendors near me wished they had done the same thing.

It was fun to meet other authors, and talk to readers as they stopped by my table. Even those who were not interested in mystery books, stopped and commented, “I love your cover.” I agree. I do, too.

Until next year.