Books & Reading, Writing & Life
Ah, France. I have been here about ten days and have only a few more to savor all that is delightfully French. Here are a few highlights.
We spent a week dodging bicyclists in Paris… yes, it is a task not taken lightly! In the last few years Paris has tried to eliminate pollution from cars, a very worthy goal, by increasing bike lanes, rental bikes, and bicycling in general. The result so far is a chaos of bicyclists, going every direction in the bike lane, zooming through red lights, narrowly missing pedestrians so that French parents are afraid to send their children walking alone to school. It’s a problem! But somehow we survived. With the help of French food, of course!
We went on a food and wine tour of the Marais and learned that is the word for swamp. Do not drain the Marais, it is lovely now. In this food court we found a socca stand and sampled this crepe-like treat. Sampled cheese and wine, and of course chocolate. I recommend a food tour in an area you don’t know yet. Very fun. Next up, the Dordogne.
Here are a few Paris haunts.
Merci beaucoup for checking out the new web store here on my website. There has been a learning curve but I am satisfied that the glitches have been identified and eradicated!
There are a couple new things for you to look at, besides the box sets for Bennett Sisters Volumes 1-8 and 9-18… there is a swag pack of bookmarks and stickers. (If you’re going to Bouchercon in San Diego at the end of August, I will also be giving these away… find me at my panel about cozies and cuisine: A Community as Warm as the Cuisine panel on Friday, Sept. 1, at 3:35-4:25pm. I will be signing books in the book room after.) Shipping is free in the US for the swag pack, and it’s just $5. The bookmarks are shiny and BIG! I’m excited about these stickers too… I am putting them on my laptop!
Also available is the fancy hardcover of Blackbird Fly. This is the one that was only available at the Kickstarter but now you can get it without all those nasty Kickstarter rules and regs! It has color interior pages and a snazzy dust jacket. It’s a keeper for you collectors.
See the web store HERE
Spoiler alert — awesomely!
The special collectible editions of ‘Blackbird Fly,’ available through the Kickstarter and very soon through my store here on my website, have been shipped! I am sending them on their way this week to everyone who pledged (plus Kristen who won the giveaway). Thank you, everyone!
Reader Elizabeth from Alberta, Canada, is a painter who loves France. She asked if she could use some photos to use as “models” for her artistry. Of course, I was pleased to oblige! So many beautiful sites in France, from Paris to Provence to Bordeaux, and points in between. So here is a small collection of my photographs of France, for Elizabeth and YOU!
First, congratulations to Kristen Cox who won the giveaway here on the blog, for the deluxe edition of ‘Blackbird Fly.’ Whee! Thanks to everyone who entered! You can still get a copy over on the Kickstarter:
Then, another round of congrats to the ladies who won the Bennett Sisters French Cookbook during the Bookworm of a Suspect launch party madness. Vanessa, Tina, Jess, Judy and Becca: happy cooking!
FLASH REWARDS: Four days only
The Kickstarter still has a week or so to go! I’ve added flash rewards for anyone who pledges or ups their pledge by $5 between April 20 and 23. You get a set of Bennett Sisters character cards, all five sisters!
For $10 or more you can get an e-book of the collectible edition!
Once we get to $1,000 (almost there!) I will add four more color interior pages to the deluxe edition. Thanks for your support for this project. It means the world to me.
The Kickstarter launched yesterday and promptly funded on DAY ONE! Woot! Many thanks to all who pledged, shared, and supported the campaign. There’s still plenty of time to get in on the action… and yes, now you know you will get your items because we met our funding goal. Woot!
The Kickstarter campaign starts very soon– April 10.
To help it take off, I am giving away one copy of the hardcover featured in the campaign, to anyone who signs up for the Kickstarter before it launches. The more the merrier on followers! You don’t have to pledge to the campaign but you will be notified when it is live and you can browse through all the books and swag at your leisure! Right now, those details are hidden from view. But April 10 – BOOM! It’s live.
The hardcover has a dust jacket and interior color art and other illustrations. It’s just a gorgeous thing, and entirely readable as well! It will be available as an e-book too, in case you want to keep your hardcover pristine. Totally understandable! But do crack it open to see the cool stuff inside.
I’ll be revealing more cool swag in the next few days… stay tuned! But now, sign up
Here’s the giveaway
Congrats to Kristen, who won the hardcover giveaway! Thanks to all who entered. You can now bid on items in the Kickstarter over at http://bit.ly/KS-Kickstarter
This year, 2023, I am trying a bunch of new things. I have stories coming out in four– count ’em!– four mystery anthologies. All this spring and early summer, argh! I will be nagging you to help out. Most of them are charity anthologies. Two will contribute to reading charities for children. There is no better hope than more readers for the future, to keep us all informed, safe, educated, and sane!
Here is the first one… coming up April 1. No fooling’! This anthology is themed around small businesses, shops, bookstores, and the like. My gallery owner, Alix Thorssen, is featured in Wild Irish Dreams. Appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day, if a little late! There are 15 stories in this anthology, check it out on Amazon.
Next up the juicy stuff… I am doing a Kickstarter campaign for a deluxe new hardcover of ‘Blackbird Fly.’ The star of the show is this gorgeous book, with a new cover, dust jacket, color title page and ‘thank you’ page, and more interior illustrations.
If you’d like to take a look at the campaign (which doesn’t start for about a month) you can click through below, follow it, and get notified when it’s live. There is a lot of other stuff, swag as we say, including character cards, bookmarks, e-books, paperbacks, and more. I worked with a British artist to create these character cards of 12 main characters in the series. Here’s a sampling.
I will be posting almost constantly– and no doubt obnoxiously– once this campaign is live. I hope it looks good to you! Thanks for your interest and support. Merci!
Along with thirty other mystery writers I’m making a run for it! ‘It’ being the USA Today bestseller list. It is one of the easier ones to get for an indie writer, with a long 100+ titles each week. But sadly I’ve never made it! It takes some 10,000 copies sold in one week, across multiple e-book platforms to qualify. So I’ve joined forces with a great group of writers to publish an anthology of short stories about books and libraries. The anthology will sell for just 99 cents, making it within the means of just about anybody. It’s called Bookworm of a Suspect and debuts in April 2023. Can you help us get over the line by preordering the anthology? There will also be prizes, including several Kindles, to be announced as the pub date approaches.
All proceeds for the launch week will go to the charity, FREE BOOK BUS, a 502(c)(3) out of Charlottesville, Virginia, that provides free books to any child or teen who wants one. A cause close to my heart.
I’m working on my short story for the anthology. It will not be a shock that it involves a mystery writer! She has run out of ideas and has writer’s block. Here’s the start of it… it is really fun, and as a cozy, squeaky clean.
Under the Gun
“I would kill for one good idea,” I said aloud, scaring my cat, Zeus. He jumped from the bookshelf, his napping spot, and disappeared. He knew my mood was ugly. Everyone knew.
The deadline loomed, a dark cloud, gathering thunder. I was under the gun.
I stared at the blank page for a good ten minutes then sighed and pushed away from the typewriter. With both hands gripping a hank of my hair I pulled gently. I didn’t want to start pulling out clumps of hair but I was almost there. The end of my rope.
The deadline for my novel was so close. I had no idea what the story would be about. Not a breath of an idea.
I glanced at the calendar, a large, obnoxious thing taped on the whiteboard that took up nearly the entire south wall of my office. It was too horrible to contemplate. Instead I turned back to the window. My view of San Francisco Bay was this tiny apartment’s best feature. At night the Bay Bridge lit the night like a string of luminous pearls.
But now the view didn’t cheer me. I felt the weight of my editor’s expectations on my shoulders. Not to mention my literary agent. Maisie could be a real bear. She believed in me when I had given up but her advice was basically get busy, send pages. As if.
I spun around to look at Zeus’s empty spot on top of the bookshelf. He hadn’t returned. Below the shelves were lined with my books, a testament to an ambition and imagination that had deserted me. On the top shelf were the most recent tomes, psychological thrillers, all proudly penned by Zoe Sexton. I’d finally started using my real name after decades of pseudonyms. The red lettering against glossy black glared back at me from the spines and from the cover of last year’s release, face out on the shelf: TINDER IS THE NIGHT by ZOE SEXTON, bestselling author. A quote from the New York Times below my name read, “Scintillating, scorching, and unputdownable! A treat from a master.”
A master. Ha! Of procrastination apparently. If only one could believe their own publicity.
My eye fell down the shelves. Mysteries, romances, even some sci fi. I’d tried nearly every genre, to the chagrin of my agent. I got bored with myself. It happened to the best of us.
On the bottom shelf were my first books. They were all westerns, a genre with an audience so small it now consisted mostly of rocking chair grandpas. It was sad. I loved westerns when I started. They seemed so exotic, like real-life fairy tales of good and evil. My pen-name back then was Zayne Black, a silly confection to piggyback on the famous author. My stories were nothing like Zane Grey’s but they sold for a while. By the twenty-second book sales tanked and I moved on.
My first husband, he of the western period, used to call me N-Zayne. As in, insane, to write so fast and publish so much. He said I would burn myself out. If he was here today he would not hesitate to say, “I told you so.” He was nice that way.
I stood up, sick of looking at the blank sheet of paper. Should I turn on the computer and stare at a blank screen? No. I stretched and turned inadvertently to the oversize calendar on my wall. It was hard to avoid, which was actually the point.
There, on today’s date, was the notation: “Launch Party, Emerson Bullock, 7 pm, Seventeen Gallery.”
I felt sick. Months ago Maisie had sent me the invitation and made me promise to attend. Emerson Bullock was her client too, a big bestseller, not unlike the way I used to be. It would be painful to be in his presence, for several reasons. He was a well-known miscreant of the first order, a drunken bully even in the best of times. While celebrating himself? Intolerable.
I groaned and bent over. What further terrors would this day throw at me? I didn’t want to know. The landline in the kitchen rang then. I had a pretty good idea who it would be.
“What are you wearing?” Maisie Brooks asked abruptly. My agent, full of courtesy, the queen of tact. “Because you’re going. You promised. So what are you wearing?”
“Right now? My bathrobe.” This wasn’t true but it often was at this time of day.
© 2022, Lise McClendon
If you buy on Apple Books can you preorder there? Everyone goes to Amazon. You can be the rebel! Thank you!
A podcast Lise did with Australian blogger Jenny Wheeler is now available! Listen to Lise talk about her career, the Bennett Sisters, and the latest mystery, Chateau des Corbeaux, on the podcast Joys of Binge Reading. The transcript is also available.