Monday, February 21, 2011

Meeting People at Book Signings is a Hoot

This past weekend I spent three days signing "The Advocate's Betrayal" at the Barnes and Noble in Del Amo Shopping Center in Torrance, CA and I met some wonderful people. I also encountered a few unusual and interesting folks.

One very nice woman asked me to sign a book for her which I did. But the conversation with her quickly turned to a wonderful gentleman she had met at a signing at the store last year. She said, "I tried his book and I really liked it so I think I'll try yours. His name was Jeff Shirt or something like that." I knew right off it was Jeff Sherratt. She wasn't aware of his latest novel, Detour to Murder. When I told her about it, she laid my book down and went upstairs to the mystery department. I sat the book aside in hopes she would return thinking maybe I shouldn't have told her about Jeff's. About twenty minutes later she came back and told me she couldn't find his book and asked for my help. So I went up the escalator with her and found it on the "New Releases" shelf. She was afraid to take the escalator back down (she told me she's okay going up, but gets real nervous going down). When I offered to stand in front of her she said she would be okay with that. She was so sweet. And she was just tickled to get Jeff's book. At that point, I didn't much care that she had left mine behind. I watched her as she went to the register and stood in line. A few minutes later she returned to my table and said, "Oops, I forgot something," and picked up her signed copy.

In contrast to that a man stopped and looked at my book. He read the back and saw that I was an attorney. Suddenly his voice got very loud and he started ranting that "lawyers and liberals have ruined this country." Needless to say he didn't buy my book.

A couple who previously purchased my books while I was signing in Long Beach saw that I was at Torrance and stopped in to say hello on the way to a soccer game. Another gentleman offered to bring me a cup of coffee from the cafe and yet another gave me a paper heart that he had torn out of a napkin while sitting in the cafe. These are the things that really make me smile when I'm signing.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

"The Advocate" Has a New Look

If you haven't had a chance to see the new cover for "The Advocate" here it is. ZOVA Books is now the publisher for my debut novel. The re-release is already available on the Kindle and the Nook and will soon be out in paperback. I'll keep you posted.

Just so there's no confusion. The Advocate (to the left) is my first book in the series. It's still the same story with a new look. The Advocate's Betrayal is my second and I'm diligently working on the third. There'll be announcements soon about #3.

I'm really pleased with the graphic artists at ZOVA. I think they're pretty incredible. I can't wait to see what they come up with for my third book. As soon as I have it I will post it.


Monday, February 14, 2011

What Makes You Smile?

The sun shines in my window and my eyes pop open. A smile crosses my face. I get to write today. I pick up my glass of water on my nightstand and I walk across the hall to my office. I push the button on my computer to turn it on. I walk into my bathroom and brush my teeth and wash my face. By the time I'm finished, my computer is ready to go. I avoid the internet for fear I'll be caught up in answering emails and leaving Facebook messages...because today is a writing day.

Word is the only program I open. I find my most recent manuscript and open the document. The first thing I do is check my word count and jot it down in my spreadsheet by the side of the current date. Then I read through my last chapter (more if it has been a while since I wrote) making minor changes as I read. Once I figure out where I'm going next, I put my fingers on the keyboard and my mind drifts away into another world.

If I'm having a day where I know where the story is going I'll generally keep writing for three or four hours before I break. Sometimes I'll take a break for breakfast or lunch. Sometimes I won't eat until dinner. If I get stuck I may eat earlier and try again, or I may open the internet and answer emails and visit my friends on Facebook. If I'm really stuck I'll get dressed, drive to the bay, and walk for an hour. It clears my head and then I return to the computer and start again. Sometimes it's dark or even dark-thirty when I finally finish for the day.

But all through the day, I catch myself smiling...because today is a writing day.

What makes you smile?


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Vista Newcomers

I just finished speaking to a lovely group of women in Vista about the juvenile court system and child advocacy. They make up the Vista Friends and Newcomers Club. Their "purpose is to unite members in social and cultural activities and to foster acquaintances, cooperation, and productive interests in the community." They were quite an interesting group of women working hard to better their community.

I only had the chance to speak to a few of the members individually, but in doing so I discovered what a wonderful group they are. They are an active social group providing a means for a lot of people to do the things they like to do. In addition, they raise money and contribute a great deal of their time to activities that help others.

And it doesn't stop there. Many of these women are involved in other community organizations and yet they were open to doing more volunteer work. By the time I left, several of them were ready to sign up with CASA and volunteer their time to be Court Appointed Special Advocates.

You go girls!


Monday, February 7, 2011

The Advocate #3--More Tidbits

The third book in the Advocate series is moving right along. A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the storyline in the third book in The Advocate series. Since then I've been getting lots of questions so over the next few months I will give you a few peeks into what's to come.

JP has to figure out what year and make this car is. It's an essential part of his investigation. It could just be the key to solving the mystery. Do you know what it is? Can you see enough of the car to figure out the make, model, and year of the car?

And what about this 1931 Chrysler Imperial? Isn't it a beauty? I did some research for The Advocate #3 while I was in Florida. I spent a whole day walking through an antique classic car show. There was about 1500 cars at the show all built prior to 1985. What a hoot! So many beautiful old cars all in one place.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Detour to Murder

If you like noir mystery, or if you don’t know if you like noir mystery, you must read Detour to Murder, by Jeff Sherratt. Heck, if you just like mysteries, read this book.

The book picks up where the movie Detour, a film noir classic, leaves off. In the movie, a man named Al Roberts follows the woman he loves to Hollywood after she jilts him to seek a movie career. Two people die along the way, and Roberts is ultimately arrested for murder.

When the novel begins, Roberts has been incarcerated for thirty years and is up for parole. Attorney Jimmy O’Brien is appointed by the court to represent Roberts at his parole hearing. It should be easy, right? The inmate just has to say how sorry he is and the board will consider parole. Of course, they could deny it, but Jimmy’s job would be done either way. And how hard can it be to say you’re sorry when you confessed to the murder thirty years prior? But now Roberts is denying it all. And O’Brien’s job just got a lot more complicated.

The story takes you through the tangled lives of Hollywood stars and politicians, while more bodies pile up and even O’Brien’s life is at risk. It would help if Jimmy O’Brien knew when to keep his mouth shut, but then he wouldn’t be Jimmy.

My favorite thing about Detour to Murder is the trip into old Hollywood from the 40’s through the 70’s. It puts you right in the mix of it all, a glamorous time with all the deceitful things that go with it. In addition, the characters are interesting, the plot is fun, and the twists keep cropping up. And even if you do figure out “whodunit,” I bet you won’t know why until the very end.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ahh…to be a Child Again

I recently had the good fortune to visit Universal Islands of Adventure while I was in Florida. What a hoot! I spent the whole day in awe. We arrived early and had the time to walk around the park twice. Since it was already busy when we arrived we went straight to the new Harry Potter exhibit. We walked down the street in Hogsmead, past the train and train station, potion shops, The Three Broomsticks and the Hogs Head pubs, the Owl Post, and even Ollivander’s wand shop. I wanted to go in the wand shop and watch a magic wand pick it’s owner, but the line was too long. So we went straight to Hogswart, Harry Potter’s school. There was a line of muggles (people without magical powers) that led all the way down the hill into the town and out the gate to the bridge near Jurassic Park. However, we soon discovered there were two lines, one without bags and one with. If you carried a bag you had to put it in a locker before you went in the school. That was the long line. A word to the wise if you ever go…There are other lockers in Hogsmead. Put your bags in a locker first and then go to Hogwarts. Once we were in the bag-less line we were inside the school in about ten minutes.

The school was fun to walk through but the real experience was in the simulated ride. It swoops you out and over the school, through the trees, and onto the Quidditch court. You can almost reach out and grab a snitch as you follow Harry Potter and Malfoy up and down and around the court. It feels like you’re actually in the game. The ride also takes you through the forest and the caves and you meet lots of creepy stuff like giant spiders and death-eaters. I have to admit there were a few times when I closed my eyes.

We stopped at The Three Broomsticks for a lunch of fish and chips and a glass of butterbeer. We also had some pumpkin juice. I liked it although it tasted a little sweet for me. The butterbeer is a non-alcoholic butterscotch drink. It has a foam that they add to the top so it looks like real beer. The foam was delicious…so was the butterbeer.

I didn’t get a chance to ride the dragon or the hippogriff but after we covered the rest of the park we returned to Hogsmead. It was about an hour and a half from closing time and the streets were nearly empty. I went straight to Hogwarts and rode through the castle again. This time I never closed my eyes once! It was so, so...magigal. I felt like a kid playing in a magic land. There was still a wait of about fifteen minutes at the wand shop, but well worth the wait. Ollivander, the wand shop owner, looked like the real deal.

If you’re ever in Florida and have the chance go to Universal Island of Adventure and even if you don’t want to ride on anything, go to Hogsmead and enjoy the architecture and the magic it has to offer.

The whole day was fun and the other exhibits were worth seeing as well. My second favorite area was Dr. Seuss. Just look at that carousel…yes, the magic spell from Hogsmead continued to transform me into a child all the way through the park.