A Year of Daring Greatly Starts Now!

I’ve been reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and
as a result, I’ve decided to dedicate this year to reaching out to other
people. That means putting myself in a vulnerable position, because they might “shut
me down” or reject me. It involves taking a risk, doesn’t it? That’s exactly what
Brown means by “daring greatly.”
Well, so far, the venture has been worthwhile. On a
whim, I emailed Alice Zinn, a renowned miniature artist, who lives just up the
road, and invited her to lunch. 
I’ll let Alice tell you what happened next: I did a little research on Joanna, including
getting in touch with my pal author Camille Minichino. (Margaret Grace to those
of us who read her “M” in Miniature murder mystery series.) Camille
assured me I would have a good time.

We agreed to meet at Riverwalk Caf

Why You Should be Reading More Thrillers by Women–and a CONTEST

I don’t often go on tilt, as my boys say, but once in awhile, I get frustrated with the book industry. Case in point: A conference I once loved posted their line up of “star authors.” There wasn’t a single woman in the bunch! When I asked why, they told me, “Oops. We couldn’t come up with any women’s names who would be big draws, especially since we usually feature thriller writers.”

They must be drinking their own Kool-Aid, something spiked with testosterone, because my bookshelves are full of thrilling reads by fantastic women writers.

1. Heather Graham — I just finished Let the Dead Sleep. Graham is a writing masterclass on the page. This book has it all: a slightly paranormal twist; a fantastic New Orleans setting done right; strong female protagonist; and interesting secondary characters. Oh, and did I mention a rollicking plot?

2. Meg Gardiner — Her newest book The Shadow Tracer combines a couple of fascinating female protagonists with a glorious panorama of a setting and adds a current topic (fanatic religious sects) in a fast paced adventure that I couldn’t put down. And yeah, I consider Meg a friend. She’s fantastic.

3. Kathy Reichs — Somehow I missed Deadly Decisions, so I picked up a copy and I’m having trouble tearing myself away. I always learn so much from Reichs, and she’s as impressive in person as she is on paper. Her entire Temperance Brennan series makes for chilling, thrilling, and thought-provoking reading.

4. Lori Armstrong — Her “Mercy Gunderson” series is superb, and a great example of how a character can grow and change as a series progresses. Mercy’s backstory makes her a compelling character.

Here are a few other reasons I value these authors–

1. They didn’t choose to write under a pseudonym. Yup, they are women and they don’t care who knows it. Got to admire that!

2. They don’t indulge in gratuitous violence/perversion toward women in their books. Too many “thriller” authors take the low road by indulging all their blackest, most foul imaginings and frankly, scare the bejeebers out of me. These talented authors stay within the bounds of good taste while offering great reads.

3. Their female protagonists are appropriately strong and weak, rather than super humans.

4. Nobody immediately has sex with the first man who wanders across her path. Honestly, I’ve had it with books by men where the male protag beds every woman on every page. I mean, REALLY?

Here’s the thing: Most women buy hardback books for their husbands/boyfriends to read. Why not buck the trend as exhibited by the-conference-that-shall-not-be-named? Why not buy a hardback by one of these fine women authors and hand it to the guy in your life…

After you read it, of course.

CONTEST

To make it easier on your wallet, I’ll send one lucky commenter a copy of Let the Dead Sleep. Just tell me who your favorite female thriller writer is!

Behind That Door…

For months I’ve been driving past a sign that says, “Sunshine State Carnations.” Today I decided to drop in. The kind lady who greeted me laughed. “We don’t have carnations. Haven’t for fifteen years.”

“Oh.”

I was really disappointed. But I wasn’t about to give up. I’d seen the small riding tractors. The greenhouse webbing. And I wasn’t ready to go home. So I said, “What do you have?”

She laughed softly. “Come see,” she said as she led me to a huge steel door.

“I’m not going in,” said my husband. “That looks like a morgue.

The woman laughed again. But I was game. Then she opened the door.

When they opened King Tut’s grave, and Lord Carnervon asked Howard Carter, “What do you see?”

And Carter said, “Wonderful things.”

That’s what I saw, too. Aren’t these flowers beautiful?

 I bought an armful! They had been cut fresh from the growing fields just that morning. See that smile on my face? Oh, boy. I filled three vases with my haul.

I encourage you to open that door…the one that looks frightening and forbidding…because behind it you might find FLOWERS!

Take a virtual tour of “Sunshine Carnations” aka Sunshine Tropical Foliage. 

Lots of love,

Joanna

Are My Books In Your Local Bookstore?

They might be. Or they might not be.

And I can’t tell you exactly why. Book distribution…well…it’s tricky, and confusing, and a big mystery. Trust me, even Sherlock Holmes could be baffled by the ins and outs of book distribution. My friend Emilie Richards does a wizard job of discussing this on her blog.

So, yes, I know that fans have found my books in chain booksellers around the country. But I also know that sometimes, they don’t see my books.

If they’ve sold out of my books–and I’ve been told that Photo, Snap, Shot is flying off the shelves, thanks to the great reviews–please consider ordering a copy (or two or three!) from any chain bookseller. They’ll have no problem getting copies for you.

I also know of many independent booksellers who do a wizard job of promoting my books. Hurrah for Indie Booksellers! Any local independent bookseller can order copies of my books. Just ask.

Many college bookstores are now carrying my books. If they don’t have copies in stock, they too can order them.

There are scrapbook stores who carry my books, and of course, there is always Amazon. They are great at taking preorders. You can also buy my books directly through my publisher by clicking on Midnight Ink.

Meanwhile, here’s some ordering information you can use:

1. Make, Take, Murder (Book #4) will be officially released May 1, 2011.
2. Ink, Red, Dead (Book #5) will be officially released April 1, 2012.

Ink, Red, Dead will debut a new character, one that my fans in St. Louis asked me to “invent.” Her name will be Bridget Eichen, and trust me, you are going to love her! (Mega thanks to Ruth M. and all the book lovers at Barnes & Noble in Fenton.)

The Rising Tide of Cozies, Part 1

I just completed a four-part article about ‘craft cozies,” mysteries that center around a craft or a person involved in crafts. The first installment is now up at ForeWord Magazine, and you can read it here: http://tinyurl.com/puxwyk

Why should you care? Well, maybe you’ll come up with a couple new marketing ideas or an idea for a mystery series of your own!

My Malice Auction Offering

I’m not sure how well you can see this, but…this is the customized scrapbook page I created to have auctioned off at Malice this weekend. Inside the small album is room for 8 photos (4″ x 6″ size). The cover of the album is sewn with sequins sprinkled throughout. The papers were customized and colored just for this, and the “not everyone’s cup of tea” paper was custom made. The upper right with its overlapping letters pays homage to Agatha Christie’s many books. The three red drops of blood lower right are in homage to the Killer Hobbies blog in which I participate. The tea bag on the left has glitter “inside.” Agatha’s portrait was sewn on by hand. The name of my book–Paper, Scissors, Death–appears on the page. And the tea cup is the official emblem of Malice Domestic.

The Malice Domestic live auction benefits the John I. Gildner Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents, for the treatment of severely emotionally disturbed young people. The dollars raised each year supplements the budget for enrichment programs, such as fostering the enjoyment of reading.

I’m also offering to review three chapters of someone’s manuscript.

Last week, the naming rights to a character in Book #3 of the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series fetched in excess of $500 (we think it was $750, but we can’t confirm that yet) for the Guardian Angel group here in St. Louis.

Tweet, Tweet, Tweet–and You Could Win a Big Box of Books!

Argh. Every day I open my email and think: I don’t have time for all this. I especially don’t have time to update my website, to check all the posts on all the list-serves I belong to, visit every online community I need to, and comment on everyone’s blog as I should.

But I do have time to Twitter. Apparently, the rest of the world agrees. The site has reported an eight-fold rise in visitors since 2007, and in December reported 2.7 million people stopped by. At this rate, it is poised to overtake Facebook. It’s especially popular among the young and restless. One in five people between the ages of 18 and 35 with Internet access have “tweeted” or posted short messages of 140 characters on Twitter at least once.

Why do we twitter? Because we can. Because I can dash off a 140-character (that’s letters and symbols, not characters as in people who populate books!) post to update people on the release date of Cut, Crop & Die, the second book in the Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-N-Craft Mystery Series. (That’s June 1, so mark your calendars or go to Amazon.com and place your order.)

Because I can post regular journaling prompts to remind scrapbookers the world over to write about their own lives. (Check it out at twitter.com/joannaslan. If you are an author, the journaling prompts are great tools for overcoming writer’s block. Try them and you’ll see!)

Because I can follow my favorite authors, geeks, and newsmakers by hitting the FOLLOW button.

Because I can make a post to Twitter from a Blackberry. (Try doing that with a regular blog post. I mean, if you are young and have well-trained thumbs, you probably can handle this, but I can’t. Yet.)

Because Twitter will automatically take any regular URL and turn it into a tiny URL and post the link for me. Because I can quickly scan the posts and see what interests me. Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit,” so I think he would have LOVED Twitter.

Because Twitter fits. I can squeeze it in.

Want to see how it works? Become one of my followers on Twitter and I’ll enter your name in a contest to win a Box of Books. Yep, I did find time to cull an entire box of mysteries from my bookshelves. (It’s a honking big box!) So, add your name to my followers on Twitter by going to twitter.com/joannaslan, hitting, FOLLOW, and then EMAILING me at savetales@aol.com and telling me you are now following me. Be sure to tell me your “twitter” name so I can see that you did it! (No cheating!) I’ll choose one follower and mail him/her that box of books. For best results, share your postal address with me. Otherwise if I can’t get a hold of you and get your address confirmed within a day or two, I’ll choose another winner. (Life’s too short to chase you down!)

Let’s see if this Tweeting works!

PS You can hear a live broadcast of a scrapbook crop at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/circle-of-seven/2009/02/14/readers-entertainment-radio-with-guest-joanna-slan-author-of-paper-scissors-death If you have NO idea what a “crop” is, or why women love them, this will be very, very enlightening!

Paper, Scissors, Death Delivered to My Door Today

The first copies of my new book came today by Fed Ex.

Do you remember the scene in Back to the Future? The dad opens a box and pulls out copies of the book he’s written. Well, it’s exactly like that. The box (in this case a padded bag) arrives at your door, and you open it with trembling hands.

In my case, you show your dogs what you’ve done. They were mightily impressed. They’re big fans.

Then I called my dear friend Olivia, and I suggested we move our lunch to my husband’s store, the Steinway Piano Gallery of St. Louis. I ran by Schnucks (a grocery store, yep, I spelled it right) and bought us salads and a bottle of champagne. When I got to David’s store, he gathered all his employees, and he toasted my success.

It was pretty nifty. The folks in the store have helped in all sorts of ways. Gerry Malzone has helped with graphics. Pat Sonnett has helped with mailings. Others have simply been kind enough to ask about my progress.

Then I drove over to the Veterinary Group of Chesterfield to get more dog food, and I couldn’t resist bringing along the book, because I thank lots of people there, too.

I read a rant by Robert Randisi about authors whose acknowledgements go on for too long. Maybe Robert doesn’t have as many people to thank because he’s been at this a long time.

But I sure do.