"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Hot Mess is here! Want a freebie?

The third book in the Peri Minneopa Mystery Series is available now, as an ebook. You can buy it on Amazon for a mere $2.99 - that's less than your pumpkin spice half-caff skinny latte and it will last longer, too. Here's the link to purchase it - http://www.amazon.com/Mess-Peri-Minneopa-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00AD94TDW/

But here's your chance to win a copy, either an ebook or a paperback. My blogger friends have agreed to help me out. I've posted excerpts from the book on five other blogs. The blogs are:

Andrew Kaufman, http://www.andrewekaufman.blogspot.com/2012/11/gayle-carline-hot-mess.html

Jenny Hilborne, http://jfhilborne.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/the-hot-mess/

Michele Scott, http://adventuresnwriting.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-hot-mess.html

Teresa Trent, http://teresatrent.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/the-hot-mess-read-gayle-carlines-latest-mystery/

I Love Dino Martin, http://ilovedinomartin.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-hot-mess-contest.html

Go read them. I'll wait here. (Cue theme from Jeopardy.)

Now then, here are five questions. Their answers are found within the five blogs. Get them right and win a free copy of THE HOT MESS.

1. Who does Peri see at the scene of the fire, who might let her past the barricade?

2. What does Skip take from the house for Peri to give to Benny?

3. What did Dylan call the mixture of drugs and alcohol?

4. What did Benny bring Peri as a gift?

5. Who is with Benny at his home after the fire?
I was going to have you answer in the comments, but if you email me the answers, then more than one of you might win. I'm loving this book so much, I might award multiple winners.
So send those answers to gaylecarline@sbcglobal.net - you could get something free!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Get ready. Get set... It's coming.

On Monday, two things will happen:

1. The Hot Mess will be available as an e-book.

2. Five other bloggers will be joining me in a contest for one lucky person to win a free copy, and by copy I mean an e-book or paperback.

The contest will be kind of a scavenger hunt. You visit five blogs and read excerpt from the book in each one. Then come back here. I will have five questions for you. Each answer is contained in one of the five other blogs. Answer the questions correctly in the comments and you win!

The five blogs are:

The mostly adorable Andrew Kaufman, http://www.andrewekaufman.blogspot.com/
The lovely and talented Jenny Hilborne, http://jfhilborne.wordpress.com/
The fierce but friendly Michele Scott, http://adventuresnwriting.blogspot.com/
A sweet cozy writer Teresa Trent, http://teresatrent.wordpress.com/
Mr. All-Things-Dean-Martin, http://ilovedinomartin.blogspot.com/
If this goes as planned it should be fun. Hopefully, we'll drive some traffic around to the other sites, as well as whetting everyone's appetite for The Hot Mess. If it goes badly, you'll be able to hear me weeping, weeping bitter tears.

In the meantime, here's the trailer for The Hot Mess.

See you on Monday!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Go to CFC today

Actually, go visit the Crime Fiction Collective (CFC) blog every day (Monday thru Friday) for interesting discussions on fascinating topics. But today is my every-other-Thursday post, so I'm not here. I'm over there, talking about the new book that will be out Monday and which you can win for freebies. Visit me on Monday, and I'll tell you how.

In the meantime, have a great Thanksgiving, and I'll see you on Monday!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Meet Teresa Trent

One of the fun things about being an author and being on the World-Wide-Web is that I meet people. Fun, interesting, intelligent, engaging people. (Okay, I'm not counting the trolls.) People who I may never meet in person but feel like I know.

I met Teresa Trent through Goodreads. She sent me a note, asking if I'd like to trade reviews with her, so we could both have a few more on the shelf.

I'm always a little wary of authors wanting to exchange reviews if I don't know them. Some authors simply assume that you'll each do a little back-slapping boffo review of each other's work,  sometimes without even reading it, and I'm not comfortable doing that. Like anyone curious about an author, I looked Teresa up on Amazon. Her first book, A Dash of Murder, had some good reviews, so I read the comments. One reviewer said it was a good story if you could look past all the typos and grammatical errors. Teresa commented back:

I took your advice and sent the book to an proofreader for revisions. A new and corrected version has been uploaded to Amazon.

That sealed the deal for me. Here was an author who was willing to take criticism, measure it, and change when she agreed with it.

I read both A Dash of Murder and her second book, Overdue for Murder. They are both sweet, gentle cozies set in Texas, featuring a single mom, Betsy Livingston, who is working hard to keep her life together. Teresa's work is only getting better.

She agreed to a little Q&A session with me, so let me introduce you.

1. How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since my twenties. I wrote about frugal living for many years until I decided I liked shopping way too much. I started writing mysteries in just the last few years. I also write curricula for preschoolers and have tried writing young adult fiction.

2. Was A Dash of Murder your first book, or do you have others hanging around on your computer and waiting for their chance at fame?
A Dash of Murder was my first book. I would like to write six books about my little town in Texas. I have published book one and two (Overdue For Murder) and I am now working on editing book three. Book four is in the first draft stage.
3.Your main character is a single mom who writes for the local newspaper. Was she always a character you wanted to write, or did you create her when you decided to write a mystery?
To be an amateur sleuth Betsy needed to have an eye for detail, so why not be the lady who tells you about the six million ways to use baking soda in a helpful hints column? Also, having many friends who became single moms over the years, I always admired their tenacity. These are some strong women who wouldn't let a little bit of gunfire scare them if their kid had a book report due the next day.

4.One of your recurring characters is Danny, who has Down Syndrome. Tell us a little bit about why you included him in Betsy's family. I have an adult son with Down Syndrome and autism and couldn't imagine any of my worlds, real or fictional without someone like him in it. Betsy's family consists of five people who pull together through all kinds of ups and downs. Danny's character is just a part of that, with strengths and weaknesses that help me tell the story. Danny is a composite of the many young people with Down Syndrome I've had the pleasure to get to know.
5.As a self-published author, what kind of tools and services do you use to ensure a high quality book? My favorite writing software is Scrivener. I tried demos of almost all of the novel writing software programs out there, but Scrivener helped to facilitate my visual style of writing. I'm a child of television, so I need to storyboard everything. I also run my chapters through two online services, Autocrit and Spellcheck Plus. Once the manuscript is complete, the best thing a writer can do is to send it a professional editor. They will fix all that grammar you've forgotten or didn't catch with the online services. Next get some beta readers. I have a friend who will honestly look at my books and tell me where she lost her way in the plot or if a scene seems flat. She is not a writer, but an avid reader and that's the perspective I need. There are so many books on the craft of writing out there and my advice is read, read, read. Writers need to think of themselves as perpetual students and read both novels (in and out of their genre) and also read nonfiction about how to write, plot, pace, and dialogue on a daily basis.
6. What's the best thing that's happened to you since you released your books? Reviews and getting to know all the other people who write and self-publish. We are no longer all alone in our houses watching our mailboxes.
7. What's the worst thing?
8. If you could have any super power, what would it be?
It would be stretching time. More time for family, writing and even laundry.
9. If you could host a dinner party for ANY six people, living or dead, who would you invite? What a great question. Let's see, Agatha Christie the subplot queen, Ben Franklin just for the jokes, James Patterson so I can see if he even writes through dinner, Erma Bombeck because she was the first woman writer who inspired me as a teenager, Temple Grandin who helped me understand more about my son than twelve years of public schoolteachers and therapists, and my mother.
10. Flip-flops or cowboy boots?
Flip flops for sure.
So, Teresa had me at Erma Bombeck, although we'll have to agree to disagree about the flip flops. In the meantime, do check out her books if you're in the mood for a fun little romp. Here's the link to her Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Teresa-Trent/e/B005O7FIE2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1 or visit her blog: http://teresatrent.wordpress.com.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Art meets history

I saw "Lincoln" this weekend. It was monumental, to say the least. The actors all hit their marks. The pacing was dead-on. If there's no Oscar nod for Daniel Day-Lewis, then I have no hope for the film industry.

From a writer's point of view, this may be a film I purchase so I can study the structure, specifically the passage of the 13th Amendment. I know a little of history, and possibly a little more about Lincoln than most because I was raised in Illinois, the "Land of Lincoln." I've been to his tomb in Springfield, taken tours of his home, been to New Salem, and even visited the newest addition, the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. So, trust me - I know that the amendment passed.

The Lincoln family at the Presidential Museum (with Marcus)

In Spielberg's hands (and screenwriter Tony Kushner's), the passage of this amendment was thrilling. It was tense. Would they get the votes? Just when you thought they might get enough, a rumor would break out (usually true) that jeopardized everything. Could they overcome it?

If a viewer can be riveted to a historic event knowing how it ends, that's entertainment worth studying, especially for a writer.

On a personal note, this film hit me in the heart. If you read this blog with any regularity, you know my husband is African American. His father's family are from Louisiana. They were slaves, and still own part of the forty acres they were given when they were freed. His story has become part of my story, even though I am white, because we are a couple and share a son.

Watching this movie brought so much home to me. Lincoln (in the film) explains why the Emancipation Proclamation is not enough, that it will not of itself end slavery and might not even be legal. He also discussed the effect of taking away the states' rights to determine whether they could have their own slavery laws. If the federal government stepped in here, where else would they meddle?

Would slavery have ended sooner or later? I'd like to believe yes, but I'm not so certain sometimes. Much of the South's economy depended upon essentially free labor. The South did not want to give up their slaves - it was initially a term of their surrender. It took humiliating, crushing, bloody defeat to make them give up at last. If the amendment had not been passed, what would have happened after the war? What would encourage plantation owners to give slavery up?

Even after slavery ended, it took one hundred years to force everyone to let black people vote (rights were dribbled to them beginning in 1870) as well as to allow blacks to go to school with whites. The Civil War was a horror of bloodshed and personal loss. Its aftermath, in the South, was a nightmare of economic loss. I wish we could have done it all without what so many endured.

But my husband was born in 1957. Who knows what opportunities he would have had, or would have been denied, if that amendment had been delayed. When I think of how blessed I am to be able to know him, to be married to him, to have our son - well, can you blame me for tearing up a little during the movie?

Go see it. Study it, both the art, and the history.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A short detour about eye surgery

This is not the kind of material I usually post about, but several people have been all a-twitter about my cataract surgery, mostly because the procedure looms large in their future. On Facebook, I keep telling everyone that it went fine, all's well, healing nicely, yadda-yadda. I thought I'd spend one little post giving you the details.

First of all, I want to thank the doctor for making my surgery appointment at 10:30 in the morning. I didn't have to show up until the civilized hour of 9:30 instead of having to get to the center at some ungodly time when I would be cranky from loss of sleep. The only bad thing was, I was not supposed to eat or drink anything (yes, that means water, too) after midnight, so I was fairly peckish by the time they took me back to the pre-op/recovery room.

I was given the bed at the very end of the room and I expected to put on a gown. Imagine my surprise when they let me keep all my clothes on. I could have even kept my shoes on, but I opted to take those off, so they slipped some booties on my feet to keep them warm. I laid down and was covered with a blanket. Then the nurse went to work on me.

She began with the blood pressure. She left the cuff on my arm, as well as the clamp on my finger that registered my pulse. Then she went to the other arm to put in the IV.

I'm always a little nervous about IVs. I have one vein in my left arm that takes a needle well, but it is deep. I was relieved when I felt her testing my hand instead. My veins there are fabulous. I felt the sting of the needle and relaxed a little -- until she started wiggling it around. She was the kind of woman who talked to herself as she worked, so I kept feeling pinching and stinging and wiggling (I was NOT going to watch this) while she mumbled about backing this out and hoping it held and needing to play with this a little.

I informed her there was to be no playing in my blood vessels, but she said she just had to, then stopped. Then she said something disconcerting.

"Oh, I've made quite a mess here. Are you on an aspirin regimen? You're quite a bleeder."

Now I really didn't want to look. I could feel her mopping my hand up before she taped everything off, between my fingers and wiping my palm. She even put a cloth under my hand, so she must have soaked the sheet, too.

I've now described the worst part of the procedure.

My friend had cataract surgery and said she slept through the whole thing, but when the anesthesiologist came to talk to me, she said they wanted me awake so I could respond to the doctor's orders, although I would be very relaxed from the meds she was going to give me. I admit, the thought of being awake while someone came at my eye made me nervous, but I decided it was too late now. Besides, I was tired of seeing through a fog.

Now I just waited to be wheeled in to the OR. And waited. And waited. Everyone kept stopping by to tell me it would be just a few minutes more. I was mostly comfortable, except that my nose was itching and I couldn't raise either hand to scratch it, one having a blood pressure cuff that made it impossible to bend, and the other having a needle that I didn't want to see. I was also getting hungrier by the minute.

When they finally came at noon to take me, I informed them that I could eat a saddle at this point. The nurse laughed, then tied my hands to the bed. Apparently, the doctor didn't need my assistance and wanted to make certain I didn't try to hand him anything. Then the nurse informed me that they were late getting to me because there was an emergency with the last patient.

Shades of Robin Cook's Coma -- you know my little mystery-driven mind went crazy with that piece of news!

I don't remember the journey to the OR, but I remember seeing a bunch of bright lights. I was either going to have an operation or be interrogated. The anesthesiologist was there again. Her name was Marmalayo (not sure of the spelling), so I kept singing "Lady Marmalade" in my head. At least, I hope it was in my head and not aloud. She said she was going to sedate me, then I felt a little, slow, sting as the medicine went through my vein.

The rest of it feels like an Alfred Hitchcock-directed Salvador Dali hallucination sequence. I could feel the clamp that pulled my lids away from my eye (pretty sure I complained about this), then I remember a light that had three geometric shapes in the middle that moved and changed colors and went from flat to 3D to flat. At one point, the doctor asked me to look at a light, so I did. He said, "Good." The clamps were removed and I took a short nap.

I woke up as they pushed my bed back to its corner. They sat me up and gave me water, then gave me about 15 minutes to make certain I was going to be fine. Then they walked me out to Dale, who walked me to the car and I slept all the way home -- after first directing Dale to drive to the nearest Corner Bakery and get me some of their mac 'n' cheese with bacon and tomato.

Once we were home, I ate and slept. Then I slept some more. Then I went to bed.

The first day my vision was okay but not great. The second day it was better. Now I can see perfectly, both near and far. I paid extra for the Restor lens so I won't need glasses. It was wildly expensive, but I figure the left eye won't be due for surgery for at least a year, so I can pay off one eye before operating on the other.

It's now been four days and I can see far away and read closeup. People who've had this surgery talk about how much brighter the colors are. I don't see that so much, but I am thrilled to see crisp, clear images again.

So that's how it went, for those of you who were interested. Now I'm done. Let's talk about something else. Anything else.

What's your favorite fashion era, and why?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I'll be seeing you

Tomorrow I may be going under the knife - well, the laser - but this day almost couldn't have gone better. I didn't get to ride Snoopy, because yesterday he got his vaccinations and we don't like to stress them or raise their heart rates for twenty-four hours. But other than that:

1. I received my proof copy of THE HOT MESS, so I'll have something to read while I convalesce.

2. Last week I turned Snoopy's memoir over to the very capable and trustworthy hands of an editor. I decided I was too close to the story to be able to tell whether I had told a story worth reading. Today I got an email saying she enjoyed reading it and that it was really good. Like any giddy little goofball, I've re-read that email ten times. I wasn't dreaming - it is a good tale.

3. I submitted my column for next Thursday's Placentia News-Times, after being on hiatus due to the election. It feels great to be back.

4. I got the laundry done, the house cleaned, the dogs bathed, and a pot of chicken stew in the fridge, so I'm ready to come home from the surgery and not worry about a thing.

Do be on the lookout for the release of THE HOT MESS. I'm going to be running a contest for a free copy, and lots of my friends are going to be helping me out. Details will follow.

In the meantime, I'm thinking of a trailer for the new book. I'm obsessed with using this song, although I need to find out if it's useable, Public Domain and all that. While looking around for it, I stumbled across this cartoon, that I think is just wicked fun. I love the way the animators play with reality - there is none! I mean, what were these guys on?

See you after my procedure. And removing my cataract means I'll actually SEE you.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nineteen days and two hurdles to jump

The third mystery is done.

In some respects, it was hard to write, and in others, it was easy. I had made Hit or Missus such a tangled web, I wanted this book to be more straightforward. Crime, clues, criminal, caught.

Yeah, nice dream.

What I ended up with was simpler than Hit or Missus but still not a straight line from A to B. I was able to outline the plot and stay within the boundaries of the story I wanted to tell.

The hard part was staying focused on this book while my mind leapt ahead to two other books I wanted to write. One of them is a brand-new mystery, perhaps a series, set in the world of AQHA horse shows. Ah, the bodies that could pile up. The other book is my horse's memoir, a book so unlike anything I've ever written that I barely knew where to start, yet couldn't wait to get going.

But I finally pushed and shoved and got this third Peri mystery written. And you know what? I like it. I really like it a lot.

It will be released in ebook form on November 26, and in paperback on December 10. All I have to do is the advanced publicity, which is a lot of blogging and guest blogging and Facebooking and Twitter and setting up of a launch party or two.

But I have a couple of hurdles. First, there's my surgery to consider. Next Wednesday, I'm having a cataract removed and a fancy-schmancy lens put in so I can see. On the one hand, it's considered very low-risk, simple surgery with a very small recovery time. On the other hand, I can't lift anything or bend over or rub my eye or get dust in it or wear makeup for at least a week. No horseback riding for at least two.

Most of this is okay, except for hurdle two - the part where I can't bend over or lift anything or get dust in my eye and we are supposed to be hosting Thanksgiving this year. So... how do I clean the house or cook the meal? Dale offered to help, darling generous man that he is. I think, however, I am going to throw myself on the mercy of our guests (it's just one other family) and ask them to host this year and promise to give them a huge shindig in 2013.

If I keep my eyes on the release date, I'm hoping these two hurdles, of surgery and Thanksgiving, seem more like anthills than moguls, and The Hot Mess gets the fanfare it deserves.

Give it a chance. If you like mysteries, you'll enjoy this one.

"It’s a hot time in P-Town.
No one in the small town of Placentia, California is surprised when Benny Needles’s house catches fire. The outside hasn’t seen a paint brush in years. The inside is stuffed with Dean Martin memorabilia. It would be a simple case of homeowner negligence, except for the body found inside.
Under suspicion of both murder and arson, Benny turns to the one person who has always helped him, private investigator Peri Minneopa. Fire investigation isn’t on her menu of services, but Peri’s weak spot for Benny overrules her reluctance, and she agrees to look into things. Her investigation takes a dangerous turn as she uncovers family secrets, going back several decades.
There are skeletons in everyone’s closet, and even Benny’s bones are rattling."

Friday, November 2, 2012

The next big thing

My buddy Sheri Fink asked if I'd like to particpate in something called The Next Big Thing blog. You know me, I'm just a girl who can't say no. She gave me a few questions and said, "It's easy."

Which it is, mostly, except for one question in particular. You'll see.

What is the working title of your book? The working title was "Burning Mad" but I hated it. One night, in a bar in San Diego, a better title came to me, in between glasses of wine: The Hot Mess. (It now dawns upon me that I could have been talking about me at the time, but we'll let that go.)

Where did the idea come from for the book? After I introduced Benny Needles in the first book, Freezer Burn, and found out how much Dean Martin memorabilia he had stuffed in his house, I knew I'd have to burn his house down.

What genre does your book fall under? Mystery, although don't ask me to narrow the subgenre. I think I fall into the traditional category, with a woman sleuth, even if she does have a P.I. license.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? DING-DING-DING! THIS WAS FREAKIN' HARD TO DO!
My main characters are:
1. Peri Minneopa, a 50-year old woman, tall, blonde, Scandinavian in looks, originally from northern California. I usually think of women who are too young to play 50, because Peri is a very active, very physically fit woman. If she'd agree to age a couple of years, maybe Mary McCormack could do it. 
2. Skip Carlton, 50-ish, tall, dark hair, gray at the temples. This might be a surprise for some of my readers. My vision of Skip vacillates between these two men:
Mark Harmon
Denzel Washington
Both of whom are tasty. P.S. I double-dog dare you to find any reference to Skip's race in any of my books.
3. Blanche Debussy, 50-year old, short, dark hair, distinctive gravelly voice. Blanche was always modeled after Suzanne Pleshette. Find me another little brunette with that voice.
4. Benny Needles, 35-years old, short, round, dark hair, light eyes. Sydney Lassick from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest would have been perfect for this role, if he wasn't too old (and now too dead) to play 35. I think possibly Johnny Galecki could pull it off.
Sydney Lassick (RIP)
Johnny Galecki

When will the book be available? The e-book is scheduled to hit the cyber-stores on November 26, 2012. The paperback will be a coupla weeks later, on December 10. Which means I better get to work!

Be sure to check out Sheri's answers! They're on her site today.

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