Friday, November 21, 2014

The Mary Jacobs Library Foundation YA Book Fest & Book Fair

Book signing:
I’ll be participating in The Mary Jacobs Library Foundation YA Book Fest & Book Fair at Barnes and Noble in Princeton/Market Fair, 3535 US Highway 1, Suite 400, New Jersey, on December 13, 2014 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Hope to see you if you’re in the area. 10-20% of all purchases made will benefit the library.

Monday, October 27, 2014

And we have a winner in the Yard Sale Game! (or two, or three)

Congratulations to Linda Rima, who was the first to hit the nail on the head with her guess of $10. These wine glasses were originally $20 for the set of eight, so when they were marked down, I scooped them up for the bargain price of ten dollars! Linda, please email me at with your mailing address and the copy of A DOLLHOUSE TO DIE FOR and the vintage glass canister will be on their way to you.

Malka E and Jenny Hanahan also guessed the exact price, so I think they deserve a copy of the book and some swag, too, don't you?! Please email me with your address and I'll mail promptly.

Thanks so much to all who entered. This was fun!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Yard Sale Victory!

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for yard sales, which is why it has been so much fun to write this Deadly Notions mystery series. My heroine, Daisy Buchanan, goes to all the places I love to go – auctions, estate sales and flea markets – in search of merchandise for her quirky vintage sewing notions store.

This morning, I think I made one of the best finds of my junking career. I’d seen these Milano balloon wine goblets at a yard sale yesterday for a decent price (but more than the five bucks I had in my wallet at the time!) I went home and checked prices on the internet and was staggered to find that just two of them would cost about $50-60, and there were eight on that trestle table.

I hurried to the bank, took out some cash and rushed back to the yard sale, but he was closed for the day with a sign saying he’d re-open at 8 a.m. on Sunday. I swear I dreamed about those wine glasses all night, and hightailed it back there this morning. To my relief, they were still there, and now were HALF PRICE! I couldn’t pull the money out of my wallet fast enough, and cackled with delight all the way home.

I have someone special in mind to give these wine glasses to, but if you guess the price I paid for them (or whoever comes closest), there’s a giveaway of a copy of A DOLLHOUSE TO DIE FOR, plus a sweet little hand-painted glass container I picked up on my last visit to Nannygoat Antiques.

Leave your best guess in the comments! I'll announce the winner on Monday night.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Research – A little goes a long way

You will, or should, only use a fraction of the research that you do for a book.

For A DOLLHOUSE TO DIE FOR, I probably have about 45 single-spaced pages of research on Victorian dollhouses. From this plethora of information, I probably put a tenth of it into the first draft, slashed about half again after the first revision, cut more during copy edits, and even more before the final galleys.

So was all that time wasted?

Not really, because you don’t know what will prove useful until you educate yourself. I took every single book out of my local library on the history of dollhouses, on decorating and design, and how to build a dollhouse. It was while I was reading about dollhouse construction that I came to one section about wiring, and how the wrong methods could prove fatal. To most people, those words would send a chill down their spine. To a mystery writer, it was an “Aha!” moment. Now I knew how my victim would die!

If you don’t know much about your subject, research can be a double-edged sword. You have to do more, but you also don’t have any preconceived ideas. The facts that jumped out to me as interesting are hopefully the ones that will appeal to readers who also may not know much about Victorian dollhouses.

When you see information repeated over and over in various books, you begin to realize what’s important. For instance, dollhouses are usually a one inch to one foot scale, or sometimes ½ inch to one foot scale, (although some of the older dollhouses didn’t always follow this rule). Several books stressed that it wasn’t the choice of scale so much as the fact that everything should be in the same scale. It sounded compelling enough to me to have one of my characters actually say that line.

I happen to enjoy reading books where I can learn something, but there’s a fine line between providing enough description, and what we politely refer to in the business as an “info dump”. 

It’s tempting, because after all, now you know so much about this subject and you want to show the world how much hard work you’ve done. But just a few authentic details sprinkled throughout will help establish credibility. Use the most relevant facts, and put them into your own words. 

Of course, it’s ideal if you can find yourself a real expert. Luckily for me, the former president of my romance writers’ group, Adele Downs, owned a successful doll business for many years. I treated her to lunch and gleaned some fascinating information. For instance, that it’s possible to have wallpaper custom made to match the antique wallpaper of your dollhouse. She also talked about some of the extreme collectors she’d met, and how they would spend vast sums of money on their hobby, leading to problems like bankruptcy and divorce. It was the inspiration for one of the main characters in the book. 

There are readers out there who will be savvy about your subject matter, and who will throw your book across the room if you get it wrong. I consider it my duty as an author to do the best job I can to be accurate. I may still not get it quite right, but at least I’ve made a good effort.

One caveat: Research can prove to be so much more fun than slogging away at your manuscript, but there comes a point where you have to stop. Do enough to get started and spark some ideas, and note the books that you found most useful so you can go back and do more if necessary.

So was all that research wasted if you only use a tiny percentage in the final book? No, because now you sound like you know what you’re talking about. And the big plus? You’ve taught yourself something new.

Happy writing!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

And a great time was had by all ...

Thanks again to Nannygoat Antiques for hosting me at their first author showcase. We had a great turnout, especially for such a chilly evening, and everyone was so warm and receptive. I had to keep reminding myself that I was there to speak, not shop (!), but I did buy some rare vintage needle cases for my editor, who collects them, and a wonderful table runner that I plan to use in a giveaway soon, along with an ARC of A DOLLHOUSE TO DIE FOR. After the talk we headed to the pub next door to continue the party. And check out Oliver, the new store mascot! I am seriously in love with him.

A Singer Featherweight

Wine and cheese reception

My first book signing was so much fun
I bought the tablecloth hanging on this drawer!

Allison Ector of Nannygoat with Oliver, me, and Mike Nash

Oliver, the store mascot

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Author showcase at Nannygoat Antiques

I’m thrilled that I’ve been invited to participate in an author showcase at Nannygoat Antiques on Wednesday, January 29. 

There will be a complimentary wine and cheese reception starting at 5 p.m. We’ll mingle for a bit and then I’ll talk about the Deadly Notions mystery series and my thoughts on writing in general. The pub next door has also generously offered to provide appetizers for everyone afterwards. 

Hope to see you there!

Nannygoat Antiques is located at 301 Haverford Avenue, Narberth, PA.