Lesa Holstein is the winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer, plus a slew of other awards. Here’s her review of the second in my Tripping Magazine mystery series.
Once again, Esri Allbritten has given readers a solid mystery with a well-developed cast of characters. But, it’s the staff of Tripping Magazine that are the best characters, as they argue and plot their way to the solution of the mystery. Angus tries to find a paranormal connection and Michael tries to debunk all such possibilities. If you enjoy a little local history, a few ghost stories, fun sleuths, and a great deal of humor, you won’t go wrong with the latest Chihuahua mystery, The Portrait of Doreene Gray.
And if you haven’t read the first book in the series, it’s available in paperback now.
Two publishing contracts ago, this book, originally titled Telling Lies, won the Mainstream category of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers contest. Jennifer Unter, my agent, took me on as a result of it. Publishers read it and loved it, but didn’t know how to sell it unless they labeled it Chick Lit, which was considered dead at the time. So we got a lot of rejection letters like this one,
TELLING LIES was utterly clever and fun and often startling truthful. And you’ve really got a wild ride of a writer on your hands. But I think this is just a bit too far on the other side of chick lit for me—the voice wasn’t exactly hitting my chords and I think the tone, overall, falls outside of Harcourt’s best range.
Thanks, though, for the read—which was completely unforgettable.
and this one,
Thanks so much for sending me TELLING LIES. I had great fun reading it.
This is a really charming novel and I think Esri is a promising talent. I especially enjoyed Julio because my neighborhood is full of Chihuahuas with attitude, so he made me laugh. I’m afraid my gut sense was that this isn’t a big commercial hardcover, so it’s not right for me. If I were still buying paperback, it might be a different scenario. I do think that you’ll find a publisher for this, though, and I wish you the best of luck with it. It was by far the most entertaining novel I’ve read all week!
Finally Kensington/Zebra asked if I had any other books for sale. I did, and we left this book behind. And that’s why, six years later, I can offer you what is possibly the best book I’ve ever written – for a buck. At least, for two days it’ll be a buck. After that, it’ll be three bucks.
I believe that with the vast audience of the internet, books can be sold inexpensively. That’s why I’ve turned down a second hardback contract with St. Martin’s and plan on self-publishing my books in ebook and print-on-demand from now on. Here’s your chance to validate that decision. Buy it. Read it. If you like it, review it and recommend it.
I’m working on making Jokers & Fools available on Smashwords and also in print form, through CreateSpace. For now, it’s on Kindle, but you don’t actually need a Kindle to read it. There are free Kindle apps you can download to your PC, Mac, phone or whathaveyou. Here’s a link for those.
I’ve been taking Josie O outside, just on the porch and the grassy area immediately beyond. Our house doesn’t front on the street, so I figure this is safe. She hasn’t been through her entire vaccination cycle, so that’s as much as I dare risk, to minimize the chances of her getting diseases from other dogs.
Being outside distracts her from the fact that she’s wearing a harness and leash, and she’s getting used to them pretty quickly, but it’s cold outside, and she starts shivering within about a minute. I’ve been looking for a sweater small enough to fit her, and Petco came through for me yesterday. Yes, the brand name is Smoochie Pooch. If you can’t embrace the cute, don’t get a Chihuahua.
(Put your cursor on the pix to get mouseover captions.)
In other news, Telling Lies, the book I’m going to self-publish, came through its reading with the psychologist with flying colors. (It has a therapist in it, and I wanted to check for realism.) She was very complimentary, although I don’t have permission to quote her yet, so you’ll have to take my word for it. This story also includes a Chihuahua, although the poor thing has some problems. Don’t worry – happy ending, happy ending.
So the next three things on my agenda are:
1) learn to format the book for Kindle and start that process,
2) compose back-cover copy, including a descriptive blurb,
3) decide whether I want to use the cover I made with clip art, which is acceptable, or hire a graphic artist to spiff it up (especially in the title font area) or even start from scratch.
I had two radio interviews today, one with Cathie Martin of WGRT-FM, serving Michigan’s towns of Port Huron and Sarnia (the latter is accessible by going out the back door of a sandwich shop [that joke is for the Brits]), and a second interview with Maggie Linton of SiriusXM satellite radio’s show, Book Radio. Way fun gals, both of them, and I was on my game. For early morning interviews, I get up at least an hour beforehand so I can eat, drink some tea or coffee, and be able to string two sentences together. “Yes, I am a writer! Thank you for talking with me today! Here is my website!” That’s three, but you get the idea. I’m actually a little more suave than that.
I forgot fellow writer Lynda Hilburn had rescheduled her visit today, so the house is clean, which is a nice bonus for the weekend.
And I’m still trying to find the perfect riff on Creature from the Black Lagoon for the third book in my Tripping Magazine mystery series. I’m willing to settle on Critter from the Black Lagoon, but I wish it were better.
I did find a more flexible online rhyming dictionary, Rhymer.com, and it suggested a few words that made me chuckle, although they have nothing to do with giant prehistoric pigs, which is what this book is about. Still, plug the following words into ” ____ from the Black Lagoon,” and see if you get a giggle.
…and my current unusable favorite, which I came up with all on my own, Nietzche from the Black Lagoon. Is that unusable? I’m not sure. For all I know, giant prehistoric pigs are all over “will to power” and perspectivism. Has anyone asked?
Today’s interview/review is at Chiseled in Rock, a blog that’s associated with the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. I belong to that group periodically, usually when I can attend their excellent Colorado Gold conference (I have a wedding and to attend and can’t go this year). I got my agent, Jennifer Unter, by winning Colorado Gold’s mainstream fiction category way back in…I’d have to look it up. Let’s say 2007. That sounds about right. Anyway, they’re a great group.
E.C. Stacey is a delightful interviewer, and I gave full rein to my comedic impulses in answering. There is some serious(ish) stuff there, too.
Oh, and in case you’ve lost track of the what blog I’m appearing at today, it’s here.
Oh, and my paper.li Mystery Books Digest is out, if you didn’t see that elsewhere. It’s a once a week thing. You can subscribe, and everything (Zero Effect reference).
And if anyone is wondering why I disappeared for about three weeks, it’s because I was on a chorus trip to Costa Rica, and now I’m racing to my deadline. Wrote 23 pages yesterday. Boo-yah.