Thursday 28 January 2016

Writing Funny with Frankenpoodle

If Dr. Frankenstein were creating a dog, this is what he might end up with.   Standing 30 inches at the shoulder, Frankenpoodle is a giraffe in a dog suit.

I got my start writing comedy.  Frankenpoodle got his start as the klutzy giant of the litter. No breeding for him.  Instead, he became a canine muse.  Together, we have slogged through eleven novels; me at the keyboard, him on the worn brown chaise beside me.   Both of us snarfing snacks and looking forward to walk time. 

Damn straight, this dog inspires me.  Toker, the big black poodle-cross with the Mohawk hairdo in The Goddaughter’s Revenge, steals the show.  He came back for a cameo in The Artful Goddaughter.

But that’s only the beginning.  A vigilante group leader who also manages the local Humane Society?  Look for Del and her dogs in THE B TEAM, a madcap comedy currently in the works.

This one’s for Frankenpoodle.

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Behind THE GODDAUGHTER series...and a few secrets exposed!

Many thanks to Terry Ambrose for hosting this interview which takes us behind The Goddaughter series and exposes a few secrets along the way.

Click here for the link:

Wednesday 20 January 2016

A smart-talking mob goddaughter who doesn't want to be one. A bumbling mob family that never gets it right. THE GODDAUGHTER CAPER!


“Where’s my box?” I blurted into the phone. Getting Seb’s box back was my absolute first priority.
Pause. Sounds of confused chatter. Mad Magda must have been in the room.
I sighed. “The one that came from my store. Mario and gang picked it up by mistake yesterday.”
“Oh. That box. I think we buried it,” said Jimmy.
“Last night.”
“You buried it?”
“It was a nice service. You would have liked it.”
My box got a funeral?
“It wasn’t supposed to be buried, Jimmy! They took the wrong box.”
More commotion. Mad Magda came on the line.
“Gina, don’t panic. We can unbury it. I know exactly where it is. Meet us at Black Chapel Cemetery at eight tonight. Bring a few strong lads with shovels.”
She rang off.
I stared at the phone in my hand. My inheritance got its own funeral. This family was freaking nuts.

Now Available in Chapters, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and all the usual suspects.


Tuesday 19 January 2016

It's HERE! THE GODDAUGHTER CAPER Now Available in stores and online

Book 4 in the hilarious award-winning series featuring mob goddaughter Gina Gallo,
who is having a hard time leaving the family business.
Now Available in Chapters, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and all the usual suspects!

Strange things are happening in Steeltown. 
A body shows up in the trunk of Gina's car. 
Another is mistakenly delivered to her cousin Nico's store.
And then Gina and Nico stumble across a stash of empty coffins! 
Worse, everything points to her own retired relatives at the Holy Cannoli Retirement Home....

What critics have said about The Goddaughter:
“Just right for Janet Evanovich fans…impossible not to laugh”  Library Journal
“Hilarious”  Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

On Amazon

Monday 11 January 2016

Star Ratings and What They Mean (in which we are actually serious for a change, even as we take a totally partisan view)

When my first novel was published, my mentor told me: “Don’t look at your reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.  Particularly Goodreads.  No, really.  Don’t.  If your book continues to sell, then you know it’s good.  If your publisher buys your next book, then you know it is good.  Don’t  torture yourself by reading the criticism of non-writers.”

I found it next to impossible to follow his advice.  The lure of reviews on your work is pretty strong.

It took ten books – all published by traditional publishers – before I really felt I had a handle on ‘the dreaded review star rating.’  Here’s my list. (My opinion only, everyone. You may have a different interpretation.)

Anatomy of Star ratings

Five stars:  Just one word: Joy!
Bless them, every one.  A million thanks to reviewers who take the time to tell you they loved your book.

Four stars:  Okay, they really liked it. Maybe even loved it.  But even if they loved it, some people  reserve five stars for their very favourite authors, and the masters, like Jane Austen.  And literary writers.  A genre novel is...well…a genre novel.  Not quite as worthy (in some eyes).  But they really enjoyed it.

Three stars:  These are the ones that make me sad.  A reader is telling me that the book was okay.  I want them to think it was great!  Sometimes, this can be a reader who loved your books in another genre, and decided to try this book that is in a different genre, one they don’t normally read.  Often, they will give you that clue in the review (“I don’t normally read scifi”). 

For instance, I have enjoyed Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series very much.  Recently, I tried one of her romantic comedies (classified under the Romance genre.)  I am not a romance reader, and not surprisingly, I found this book lacking in the type of fast-paced plot I enjoy.  I would probably give it a 3 rating, where no doubt a seasoned romance reader would give it a 4 or 5.

Two stars:  These are often people who wandered into your book by mistake.  They thought it sounded interesting, so they bought it thinking it was one thing, and it wasn’t.  They’re mad at having spent money on something that isn’t their thing.  It’s not a happy event when you get these, but understand that these people aren’t your market.

One star:  These are simply people who enjoy hurting others.  Ignore them.  I do.

Here’s my advice, if you find that reviews haunt you, and keep you from writing:

1.  Stop reading them.  Really.  

2.  Never comment on a review.  Never.

3.   If you can, employ a personal assistant to read your reviews as they come in, and forward you the good ones only.  (This is my dream.  One day.)

One more thing: When you give away a book for free, there is a downside: you often get people picking it up who wouldn't normally spend money on that type of book.  Not surprisingly, they might not like it, as they are not your market.  Always expect some poor reviews, if you give a book away.  There are still many good reasons to do so.  Just be prepared.

Wednesday 6 January 2016

IWSG Day! The HIGHS and Lows of being an Author

Welcome, IWSGers!  I'm insecure about books signings.  I have reason to be.

We all know the highs.  Those delirious times when you win awards and/or get a royalty cheque that takes you and your family to Europe rather than McDonalds.

I’ve had a few highs, winning the Derringer and the Arthur.  And I’m exceedingly grateful for them.

Because - thing is - authors get a lot of lows.  For some reason, most of my lows seem to cluster around that scariest of all activities:  the book signing.

Some people think the worst thing that can happen is nobody shows up.  Or when you’re on a panel of 4 authors, and only three people show up.

But that’s not the worst.

1.     Worse is when five people show up for your reading.  And they’re all pushing walkers.

And half way through, when you’re right in the middle of reading a compelling scene, one of them pipes up, “When does the movie start?”

Sometimes, even large crowds don’t help.

2.     I did an event this year with two hundred people in the audience.  I was doing some of my standup schtick, and it went over really well.  Lots of applause, and I was really pumped.  I mean, two hundred people were applauding me and my books!  A bunch of hands shot up for questions.  I picked the first one and a sweet young thing popped up from her seat and asked in a voice filled with awe, “Do you actually know Linwood Barclay?”

3.    Another ego-crusher:  I was reading in front of another large crowd last year.  Same great attention, lots of applause.  I was revved.  Only one hand up this time, and she said, in a clearly disappointed voice:

“You don’t look anything like your protagonist.”

So I said, “Sweetheart, not only that, I don’t look anything like my author photo.”

4.    Have you had any lows associated with being an author in public?  Let us know in the comments below.

Read other IWSG Day blog posts!  Follow this link: