Latest Work Progressing

I’m pleased to say my effort to launch a series seems to be working out. My first full book in the Angela and Mickey Mystery Series is progressing nicely.

Of course, the opening scene has been tweaked a time or two since it was originally posted here. Most of my works  are. I’m rarely content with my original effort. I’m almost never sure they’re the best they can possibly be. Plus, I believe my readers deserve no less.

I’m enjoying writing the adventures of these two madcaps. They are, to me, delightful characters. I hope they will eventually please you, dear reader, as well.

This is a new experience for me. I’ve written before of the joy of falling in love with one’s leading ladies. But in this case, a guy is worming his way into the mix as well. He’s fun. She’s fun. I’m having a blast.

More later,

Anna Drake

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Weekend Excerpt, I

Happy weekend. I’ve decided to post little tidbits on the weekends. Excerpts from my works in progress or even from some of my published works. Hopefully, they’ll give you a glimpse into my style of storytelling and provide you with a feel if were a match as to readers and writers. Today’s offering comes from a work-in-progress. It’s the opening scene from what I hope is a new series for me. So far the book isn’t even titled, yet.

I hope you’ll enjoy.

~~~~

I was on my way to visit a client that night when I heard the crash. The sound came rattling down the hall. The noise set my teeth on edge and propelled the jailer onto the balls of his feet.

Ed Bracken, glanced around the hallway, wild-eyed. He looked like he was about to take off in a sprint. His interest obviously focused on the jail and his duties.

My thoughts remained firmly fixed on mine. I was here to visit a client, Gary Gravers. He was charged with assault. I’d represented him in court before. And now it appeared I would be doing so again.

The cops had told me Gravers had gotten himself into a bar fight and had threatened his opponent with a broken beer bottle. The state was unlikely to take kindly to such an act. I refuse to tell you the rest of his story. For one thing there’s the confidentiality part of our relationship. Plus, he, and others like him, help me pay my rent. A fact I don’t take lightly.

I’m Mickey Carter, a spot on criminal defense attorney here in Beaver County, a nondescript bit of land located near Illinois’ western border, somewhere close to where the state bulges out into Iowa and Missouri.

So it wasn’t until I returned from Gravers’ jail cell that I learned the story behind the incredible crash.

“Have I got a customer for you,” Bracken said with a chuckle when I reached his post. “This woman, she drove her car straight into the front of the jail. Can you imagine?”

“Not a bright move,” I said with a shake of my head.

“Yeah,” Bracken said. “Not to mention she probably totaled her car.”

“Anyone hurt?”

“The ambulance hauled one woman away.”

“The driver?”

“Nah. Passenger.”

“I suppose the driver was drunk, then?” Drunk drivers always seem to come out of collisions unscathed.

“Not according to the breathalyzer test.”

“Heart attack? Drug overdose?” Something had to explain the bizarre behavior.

“None of the above. She’s down in the holding cell. You should go take a look.”

What can I say? I’d had a slow month, and a client was a client. Drunk, drugged, or insane. Since the woman had driven her car into the front of the county jail, it seemed likely one of those three choices had to have triggered her incredible act.

So my first glimpse of Angela Clark came as she was sitting in the holding cell of the county jail. She was huddled up in the far corner. Arms wrapped about herself. Glazed eyes focused on the far wall. Face tear-stained and grim.

“I understand you’ve gotten yourself into a little trouble?”

Her gaze shifted. She stared at me without speaking. It was as though she’d heard my words but had failed to grasp their meaning.

“You rammed your car into the building?” I said, making a rounding motion with my right hand. My attempt to engage her mind.

“Oh, that,” she replied, dismissively. “Yes. I was the one..”

“You totaled your car?”

She shrugged. “The front of it. Probably. Do you know anything about Gayle Maiter?” Her eyes registered the first hint of concern I’d seen from the woman. “Is she going to be okay?”

“Sorry. I don’t know. I’m an attorney. I’m here to see if you want legal help.”

“Are the police going to charge me?”

“I would think so. You drove a car into the front of their building. Police tend to take a dim view of people who do engage in such behavior.”

“So I need a lawyer?”

“Yes. I’d say so. Do you know one? If you do, you should give him or her a ring.”

“No,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest. “Well, I know one, but he does wills and such. I’m not sure he’d want me to call him under these circumstances. Or at this time of night, either.”

“Well, I just happen to be on hand,” I offered, “and I specialize in criminal law.”

“My lucky day, then?”

I shook my head. “I wouldn’t go there, no.”

She took a minute to look around the place, as though she were evaluating her options. Then she pulled her gaze back to mine. “I guess as long as you’re here, you’ll do.”

I’d had better offers, but given the circumstances, I decided to cut her some slack. “You’re hiring me to represent you. Right?”

“Yes.”

Then I wondered what kind of a deal I’d made. I spent a moment assessing this new client of mine. Allowing for the circumstances, she didn’t look too far out of whack. In fact, at that moment, she looked rather fetching. Probably middle twenties. Large brown eyes. Tear-stained cheeks. Disheveled blonde hair. Rather like a stray and helpless puppy in need of a good home.

I sighed. Have I mentioned I’m a sucker for puppies?

“Look,” I said, “maybe we should start by you telling me what happened?”

“It’s a long story.”

“Ed,” I yelled.

The jail keeper popped his head into the doorway at the far end of the hall.

“We need a room. Someplace we can be alone.”

“Sure thing. Follow me.”

“The lady, Ed. She needs to come, too.”

“Oh, right.” He waddled down the hall and unlocked the cell door. The woman rose from the cot and took a few tentative steps toward me.

“It’s okay,” I said, encouraging her.

She nodded, straightened, and stepped through the doorway. Together we followed Ed to a small interview room.

“You got twenty minutes,” he said, swinging the door wide.

I thanked him and waved the woman inside.

The place was your traditional, small, county-jail space. Cinder block walls, a table, a couple of chairs, a stained poster on the far wall advertising sobriety. Dusty, and grimy, but serviceable.

“So,” I said, as she sat, “what is this long story of yours?”

I took the seat opposite her.

She lifted her chin.

Defensive right off, I thought. Never a good sign in a client.

“My name,” she said, “is Angela Clark. Maybe you know of me? I’ve been in the news recently.”

“The wife of Jeffery Clark?” I asked. “The guy who was stabbed to death in the park?”

“Bingo.”

“So how did you go from being a grieving widow to becoming a crazy lady who drives her car headfirst into a building? And not just any building, either, but the county jail, no less?”

“Truthfully?”

“Yes, when you’re speaking with me. As far as other people go, we’ll chew that one over later.”

She pulled a shuddering breath. “I was trying to save my life.”

“Okay,” I said sitting back in my chair. A nutter, I thought. No doubt about it. “What made you believe your life was in danger?”

“I didn’t imagine the threat,” she said, leaning toward me. “Gayle Maiter told me she was going to kill me. She had a knife in her hand.”

“While she was in the car with you?”

Angela nodded. “I’m probably in a lot of trouble, huh?”

“Minimum, I’d guess you’re looking at a felony charge of criminal damage to property.”

“Is the charge serious?” She studied her hands in her lap.

“It can be, yes.”

“That’s not fair,” she said with a flash of hot anger. “I was only trying to defend myself.”

I opened my brief case and pulled out a legal pad. Slipping a pen from the pocket of my suit coat, I said, “How about you tell me this long story of yours?”

She gave me an undecipherable look, then did as instructed, with me transcribing her statement as fast as I could.

Pleased with Smashwords’ Series Management Tool

Had to take a quick moment to post a thought on the new Smashwords’ series tool. Its arrival could not have come at a better time for me.

I was considering starting a mystery series with a bit of a different focus than my current novels, which are basically stand alone books, but all targeted to a certain type of read. That is, Murderous Relations and Murderous Decisions both deal with what happens to  different types of women when murder intrudes in their lives. I plan to write more ‘murderous’ (I know, what was I thinking!) novels. Again, they will focus on individual women as they deal with the thrills and chills murder has brought into their lives.

The new series will differ in that the books will have two recurring characters, Angela Clark and Mickey Carter, who ferret out the trouble and run the criminals to ground. From my early work on book two, I’m hopeful this may prove a good run. The books will be novella length and the first book is basically just a very short story called, A Long Way Home. It may be accessed here.

But while I was stoked on the concept of running the two sets of books. I was unsure how to delineate them from each other. I considered publishing them under different pen names. But I thought that would be clunky and time-consuming and besides, I wasn’t sure I wanted to divide my audience.

Then, along came the new series management tool at Smashwords, and my dilemma was solved. They will now be clearly marked as two different series both under my present name. Thank you, Smashwords. I am so pleased.

Sometimes, all  life requires in this book business is being in the right place at the right time — and a creative partner with bright, new ideas.  😉

Confessions of a Self-publishing Author

I grant you there are days when I wonder why I do this. But the question doesn’t linger with me for long. Because the answer is I like challenges. And writing and publishing and designing my own book covers provides enough challenges to keep me both busy and entertained.

Plus I just flat out enjoy being an entrepreneur. I like biting into my hamburger at night, knowing that I’ve truly earned it. I thrive on exercising my wits in an effort to put myself and my book in front of an ever increasing number of eyes. I groove on hanging out in self-pubber’s chat rooms and lists and forums. I lap up the mantra with relish that self published authors are going to take over the world. (Even if I think we’re unlikely to accomplish that goal.)

My only true weakness is keeping my fingers at work on the keyboard long enough to pump out the-next book. It’s so much easier and more entertaining to jump onto the web and do all the above-named stuff. But I know the novel’s the thing. And somehow, I eventually manage to pull another one out of somewhere.

And that’s the mysterious part. Where do these books come from? Where are our characters born? Of course, that’s not the singular province of self-published authors. That act crosses the great divide between us and them. (You know, the writers with contracts and deadline handed down by somebody else.) But no matter how different our outlooks or methods might be, we’re all engaged in the same game. Tapping our creativity and putting books out there in the most entertaining fashion we can.

There is a great deal that divides our two camps. But there’s a great deal that unites us as well.

For my money, though, I get a hoot out of going it alone.

The Rush to Write More Content

To paraphrase a little ditty making the rounds in the US, more is apparently better. Take digital publishing. It’s up to its eyeballs in quick output. That according to an article running at Digiday. It points to commercial blogs and news outlets for proof:

~~~~

In recent years, new players like The Huffington Post burst onto the scene by pumping out a dizzying amount of content each day. The company has 532 full-time editorial staff producing about 1,200 pieces of content per day (and that’s not including the 28 full-time blog editors who oversee the 400 pieces of content per day coming from its blog). All this content generates 43 million pageviews per day, per Comscore. The pageview race now stretches far beyond HuffPost, as many publishers combat low ad prices with high volume.

Even old publications, like Forbs, are taking part in the pageview race. It has 50 on its editorial team. However, it also has about 1,000 contributors. Between the two, Forbes puts up about 400 posts per day and sees 4 million pageviews per day, per Comscore.

Read the rest of the article here.

~~~~

But it’s not much of a leap to fast forward this concept to ebook production. I can’t tell you the number of writing posts I read where the mantra is produce, produce, produce. Nothing sells your last book, they say, as well as the next book. And they’re probably right.

I recently increased my daily word-count goal. And, I’m please to say that I met it. Then, after finishing the novel, I went in to start editing and that’s where my speed fell to the pace of a snail’s. One day I spent more than two hours editing a very short scene. But if even the ‘big boys’ are playing this game I guess there is something to it.

So it’s back to my word processor to sharpen my editing speed. But I wonder, can this pace be maintained?

Loving My Leading Ladies

I’m in the closing days of prepping and cleaning and editing and revising my second novel. And I’ve suddenly realized I’ve fallen in love again with my heroine. Lucky me. I adored the first one, too. I think both woman are brave, gutsy, and determined.  Even when they don’t think they are.

Maybe this heroine fixation of mine stems from all those years of reading Nancy Drew books. Or maybe, deep down, I believe women are stronger than they give themselves credit for being. Who knows. I only know I enjoying telling their stories. And that’s true even though the two women aren’t much like each other.

School teacher Jessica Chase was my first heroine. Somewhat passive, fairly unsure of her strengths and skills, it takes an outside force and a friend to push dear Jess to her feet. My second heroine, Victoria Cross, is used to standing up for herself. She’s first introduced to the concept as a child by her four, male cousins. The idea is then reinforced by her marriage to a husband who is devoted to his work. This leaves her in a position where most family responsibilities fall on her shoulders.

Both women are forced to come to terms with their strengths and weakness after experiencing a murder. How else? After all, I am a mystery writer as well as parent to my beloved heroines.

My first mystery novel was Murderous Relations. The second one is Murderous Decisions. Murderous Relations is out and available at many select etailers. Murderous Decisions is due out any day now.

Stay tuned.

Rusch Foresees Good Things for Indies

USA Today Best Selling Author Kristine Kathryn Rusch is bullish on the future of print book sales for Indie Authors. That’s an abrupt turn around for Rusch, who along with her best-selling-author husband, Dean Wesley Smith, was ready to start a distribution network of their own for indies to access brick and mortar books stores only a few short months ago.

Read the full details at her blog: Kristine Kathryn Rusch.