Janet's Jargon

Fun lifestyles, charitable acts, great fiction, author support, Patrick and Grace Mysteries, Keith clan trilogy,

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Another first

I love it when something new and exciting happens. Over the 12 years since my first book (Dunnottar) was published, I have garnered a pretty good group of "fans." Yes, that still boggles my mind. Some of the readers are strangers to me, and I love it when they contact me with comments about my books and how they have affected them. I even pay attention to those readers who have suggestions of some way to improve my books. One such comment has come from a couple of people who say they wish there was more interaction in the Patrick and Grace Mysteries between Grace and her (adult) children and grandchildren. I'm not sure how much that will change in the next one that is planned, but it will definitely be the case in book number 6, Ma Fia's Murder Mystery, when one of the grandkids goes with Patrick and Grace to Disneyworld. But that's a long ways off yet, but stay tuned.

Other comments come from people I actually know. I admit that I get a bit nervous when I know they are reading one of my books. Will they like it? Will they find errors? (Yes, there always seem to be a few that sneak by.) Will they recognize the characters as somebody I actually know? Will they wonder if they are a certain character?

This past week my good friend Joan Carter told me she had just finished reading The Green Year. She said she really enjoyed it. Then she started to laugh. I asked her what she was remembering, thinking that she was recalling a certain funny passage. No. It was the entire book. She explained, "I got so caught up in the story line that I forgot you had written it!" Yes, I think that was a first, at least as far as I know. I love it. As an author, it is perhaps the highest form of compliment when somebody says, "I can't tell which characters were real and which ones were fictional." I recently ran across a comment from a reader on Amazon.com about Dunnottar. They said they couldn't even finish reading the book because the characters were NOT REAL. Well, some of them are, and admittedly some of them are not. The reader even said in the review, "Of course it is a work of fiction." I don't particularly like this expression, but sometimes it is the one that works best. DUH!

Meanwhile, the first copies of my new book, St. Peter by the Bay, arrived yesterday. Some of them. The other box got put on the wrong UPS truck and wandered around Marinette WI all day. Hopefully they will make their way here Monday, as well as the 2 cases that are going to the Riverside Manor Bed & Breakfast in Marinette, where Patrick and Grace stayed in their latest adventure and where I will be doing a meet the author/booksigning on Fri., July 13th, from 6-8 p.m. If you're in the area, please stop by. It is appropriately located just behind the library.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Satchmo was so right!

When he belted out "What a Wonderful World," he sang it like he meant it. Today, with my 23rd book available, I couldn't agree more. This book makes me feel like I am living a Miracle on--well, not quite on 34th Street, but at the marinas in Marinette, Wisconsin and Menominee, Michigan.

For starters, it is the 4th Patrick and Grace Mystery. They are my all-time favorite characters. Which reminds me, as soon as I finish up here I had better high tail it over to http://crumbycapers.tripod.com/. That is their website. Yes, they have one all of their own. You see, they think they are real people, and I don't have the heart to tell them any different. I just know Patrick is going to be yelling at me when I'm trying to sleep tonight if I don't let the people in his world know what they've been up to. Well, a little bit of it, at least. I don't want to spoil the whole story for you. You'll have to read it yourself in St. Peter by the Bay.

It all started when Kevin, my youngest son, and I were in Menominee last summer. It was a perfect day. We sold produce from his garden and books from my imagination at the Farmer's Market. Then we went to a lovely restaurant named Schloegel's on the Bay. We were going to attend a musical production of Chicago at the University in neighboring Marinette, Wisconsin that evening. Since we had a few hours to kill, we went to the marina to watch the sailboats come in at the end of the annual 100-miler race. Everything was perfect, from the weather to the entertainment and activities, but especially the delightful cast of characters we met while we sat by the marina in Menominee. I just knew they had to have a place in a Patrick and Grace Mystery.

As my mind began to formulate a plan, I knew that one of the minor characters from In St. Patrick's Custody (the 1st Patrick and Grace Mystery) had gotten a job in either Marinette or Menominee as a nanny. What I didn't know was that a very good friend, Jay Hudson, who lives in North Carolina, had a friend on Facebook who lived in Menominee. He asked me to contact her, saying that he had told her about my new book. So, I called Kimmy Elizabeth in Menominee, and as fate would have it, she is looking for a nanny for her granddaughter. I hated to have to tell her that my nanny is purely fictional. Nonetheless, she was delighted to be a part of the book.

Kevin and I met a man (he appeared to be homeless, but I don't know for sure if he is or not). He was the most delightful character, full of tales of people who frequent the marina. We talked with him at great length while he fed the ducks. He agreed to let me use him in a book. I have no idea what his last name is, but I am deeply indebted to Peter for his input into this book. Homelessness figures into the whole Patrick and Grace series, so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised to learn that while Grace lives and works at the (fictional) Haven of Rest Homeless Shelter in NYC, the name of the (real) shelter in Marinette is the Haven of Hope Homeless Shelter. And yes, they too are included in the new book.

Then there was my endeavor to find a suitable bed and breakfast establishment. The first one I came across was the Riverside Manor. When I called Becky DeWitt, the owner, she was not only enthusiastic, but they were holding a murder mystery evening the following week, so my good friend Joan Carter from here in NE Wisconsin, and I attended. It was wonderful, and it gave me a first-hand look at the place where Patrick and Grace would be staying.

There was so much more, right down to our not having the wheelbarrow we needed to make the cover picture perfect, when a security guard at the marina showed up--with a wheelbarrow she was using to pick up litter. She graciously agreed to let us use it for the photo shoot.

Yup, Satchmo, it truly is a wonderful world. I always feel like I am being "led" when I write my books, but this one went far beyond anything I've ever experienced before. I truly hope you will all enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it, and I hope you get a little sense of the magic it seems to convey. (It is already listed on barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com. It is not yet orderable, but that shouldn't take long. Keep checking back there.)

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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Janet Elaine Smith--at a loss for words?

Yes, it's true. After finally completing my time travel Port Call to the Future, sequel to House Call to the Past, I had to start immediately on the 4th Patrick and Grace Mystery, St. Peter by the Bay.

Why the hurry? Didn't the pirate Black Sam Bellamy get into enough mischief in Port Call after he'd been MIA for almost 300 years? Could it possibly really be him? Blair Smythe had to find out for sure to satisfy her father--and her own longings for him. And how were either of them going to deal with the fact that while he was swirling around in that eddy he would develop a conscience. Shucks, he didn't know what it was, and he sure as anything didn't know what to do with it! That should have been enough to satisfy anybody for a good long dry spell when an author could take it easy.
You can order Port Call to the Future here. Amazon says it will be shipped in 2-3 weeks, but people tell me they've been getting it 3-4 days after they've ordered it.

But this author hadn't counted on the fact that the people in Marinette Wisconsin, where the next Patrick and Grace Mystery was to be set getting so excited about the book. As I began to do research with the places I wanted to include in the storyline, the Marinette residents became so excited about it that they wanted to be in the book too. Then came the news from the woman in charge of the Logging/Heritage festival that they would like to have the book available for the arts and craft show, which is July 14-15. Yes, THIS July 14-15. Well, the book was pretty well written in my head and I had been to Marinette a number of times, and I had even observed the 100-miler race last year so the research was minimal. I had been at the Riverside Manor bed and breakfast place where Patrick and Grace won a week's vacation. Piece of cake, right?

Well, the cake ended up having wedding bells--and a weiner dog on it. When Grace got one of her "women's intuition" things going, you knew there was trouble ahead. And who knew that St. Peter was a Viet Nam vet with a whole lot of issues of his own? Could Grace help him solve them, as well as the mystery of the dead man on the boat, with Patrick's help, of course.

Anyway, they are both done. Port Call to the Future is out and available almost everyplace. St. Peter by the Bay will (fingers crossed) be available by mid July.

I've been having so much fun I don't know which way is up and which way is down, but for the moment, I'm going to take a bit of a break. I think I've run out of words. I know, I've used the rest of them up on here so don't expect a new blog for at least a week or two.

You can read an excerpt of Port Call to the Future at http://janetesmithstarbooks.tripod.com/ . There will be one for St. Peter by the Bay there in the next couple of days too, so check back often.

Thanks for reading. Keep it up. Readers are an author's favorite people.