Thursday, November 16, 2017

Trading Responsibilities

My wife and I have been married forty-nine years. When I retired in 2007, we decided to trade some responsibilities. For many years I had taken care of our family finances, and my wife had done most of the food shopping and cooking. Now I do most of the food shopping and cooking, and my wife takes care of finances.

In addition to both of us developing some new skills, this has another beneficial side effect. If something happens to one of us, the other will be better prepared to carry on.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Republishing My Backlist

My first novel in the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series, Retirement Homes Are Murder, was published in 2007 and the sixth book in the series, Nursing Homes Are Murder, appeared in 2014. All six books in this series as well as a standalone, Mystery of the Dinner Playhouse, are out of print from the publisher, Five Star. Fortunately, rights have reverted to me, so these books are being released as trade paperbacks by Encircle Publications. Many thanks to Eddie Vincent at Encircle for making this happen.

The other good news for readers is that they are priced at approximately half the price of the original hardcover editions.
Here are the covers:

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Writing Cartoon Gags

Six years before I began writing short stories and novels, I had a hobby of writing cartoon gags. I learned about this from an article in the Smithsonian Magazine—cartoonists accepted gag copy from people and payed them a percentage of their take when they sold a cartoon to a publication. I then subscripted to a magazine that listed cartoonists, how to contact them and what types of gags they were looking for.

In my free time, I began thinking up gags and writing then down. In this era of the mid-1990s before everything had moved to the Internet and email, the procedure was to put the gags on a 3 inch by 5 inch index card with a unique identification number and my address on the other side of the card. I would mail these in batches of five to the cartoonist with a stamped and self-address envelope included. If the cartoonist liked a gag, he would keep the card and return the ones he didn’t want. Then if he sold the cartoon, he’d pay me a percentage usually about twenty-five percent of what he received.

I did this for several years, had a number of gags accepted and some of these sold. If was fun but probably didn’t pay for the postage.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Mystery Novel Events

I’ve had the opportunity to attend a number of mystery conferences including Bouchercon, The Left Coast Crime Conference and Malice Domestic. Both fans and writers of the mystery genre attend these events, which feature  panels on a wide variety of mystery writing and law enforcement topics.

One other mystery event is coming up this Sunday: Men of Mystery. This is an all day event at the Irvine Marriott, in Irvine, CA. Thirty to fifty men mystery writers each have one minute to pitch their latest novels, and several guests of honor speak. Over lunch we authors sit at a table with about nine mystery fans, answer questions and have a good chat about the mystery genre. Then there is a book signing where the readers can purchase their favorite authors’ books and have them signed. All in all a fun day for both mystery fans and authors.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Memory As We Get Older

In my Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series, the protagonist, Paul Jacobson, has short-term memory loss. In his case, it’s not Alzheimer’s but vascular dementia due to a number of small strokes. As we get older, we all face loss of memory, but most of this is normal and not due to any disease.

One example is what my wife calls “the intervening thought.” I go into a room to get a folder, get distracted when I see a note I left and leave the room without the folder. This happens to us as we get older.

I forget a lot of little things now. One example: last week I took our two-year-old grandson to a playground. I brought along sand toys for him to play with. When it was time to go we packed up, but I forgot to retrieve the sand toys. After we got in the car and I had my grandson seatbelted into his car seat. I realized I had left the sand toys in the sand at the playground. I had to get my grandson out of the car seat and take him back to the playground to retrieve the toys and then return to the car. Extra work that could have been avoided if I had remembered before we left the playground the first time.

The lesson I’ve learned from this type of event. I need to pay attention during transitions. When I’m changing locations, I need to go through a mental checklist to make sure I’ve taken care of everything. If I do this, I have a better chance of not forgetting an important item. Otherwise, I have to write these types of events off as part of my exercise program.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Let's Hear It for Independent Book Stores

I’ve had the pleasure of doing book events at a number of independent book stores in Southern California since we moved here two years ago. By favorites include Gatsby Books in Long Beach, Book Carnival in Orange and Mystery Ink in Huntington Beach.

These book stores provide personalized service for customers and host book events for authors. I’ll be giving a book talk about my latest mystery novel, Death of a Scam Artist, at Mystery Ink ( 8907 Warner Avenue #135, Huntington Beach, CA) this coming Saturday October 14 at 5 PM. This novel takes place in a retirement community, so my talk focuses on the subject of older characters and retirement.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

My Writing Journey

Sixteen years ago in 2001, I made the decision that I wanted to retire into writing. I began by taking writing courses at the University of Colorado (we lived in Boulder, CO, at the time and people over the age of 55 could take any courses at CU with the instructor’s permission). My first book, Retirement Homes Are Murder, was published in 2007, and I retired later that year to focus on writing. I’ve been fortunate to have my fourteenth book, Death of a Scam Artist, published this year.

Thank you to all the readers who have inspired me and kept me going.