Thursday3Some: A Flame in the Wind of Death by Jen J. Danna

Today on Thursday3Some, I have Jen J. Danna as my guest. Jen is answering 3 questions about her book, A Flame In The Wind Of Death.

Book Blurb

At Halloween, Salem, Massachusetts, is a hot spot for Witch and tourist alike. When a murder spree begins, a cop and a scientist team up to find the killer.

Who Is Jen J. Danna?

By day, Jen is a scientist specializing in infectious diseases. She works as part of a dynamic research group at a cutting-edge Canadian university. Like many professional people, Jen's true passion lies in indulging her love of the mysterious through her writing.

With her writing partner Ann Vanderlaan, she crafts suspenseful crime fiction with a realistic scientific edge. Check out their Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries series. The spotlight book is their latest in this series. Jen's Skeleton Keys blog has been listed as one of the top forensic blogs on the web. Jen lives near Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and two daughters.

Find Jen J. Danna Online

Email: jenjdanna at gmail dot com
Website and Blog: http://www.jenjdanna.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenJDanna
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jenjdanna
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/jenjdanna/

When did you write A Flame in the Wind of Death?

I wrote this book primarily from January to March of 2012, but then had the luxury of time to let it sit and age for a few months before going back to edit it and then get comments on it from my critique team. That was a special situation; certainly not every book gets that kind of time to breathe, but I wish they did!

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

One of the two series protagonists, Dr. Matt Lowell, is a forensic anthropologist. Matt is an expert on the worst kinds of remains--badly decomposed, floaters, unrecognizable burn victims etc. Homicide detective Leigh Abbott of the Massachusetts State Police calls Matt in as a consultant when remains are found that require his particular expertise. So, from the author perspective, one of the first things that needs to happen when outlining a book is to ensure that the case has the kind of remains that would require Matt's talents. Those remains can often drive the case and certainly did in the case of the books' burned victims. Add in a friend who is a fire Captain and a 20-year veteran of her department to make sure that our fire fighting operations and procedures were absolutely correct, and we had ourselves a storyline.

Why do readers buy A Flame in the Wind of Death?

The Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries is a great read for those who like mysteries, but who also like learning something when they read. All the science in the books is absolutely real and accurate, unlike fast and flashy TV science. So if you want to know how forensics is really done, this is the series for you. Mix in the relationship between the male and female leads, and the group ensemble feel of the whole team and it's a pretty fun ride.

Buy Links for the Hardcover Edition of A Flame in the Wind of Death

Amazon U.S.

Amazon Canada

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble

Chapters.Indigo.Canada

Takeaway Truth

The weekend is coming. Grab a good book and get ready for some fun.

Like Good Vocals? Meet Lake Street Dive

My friend--and very talented audiobook narrator--Holly Adams sent this video link to Lake Street Dive.



As you can see, I Want You Back, has almost 2 million views. These guys are good! In fact, they've been in the studio. Signature Sounds released a limited edition 7" vinyl of What I’m Doing Here and Wedding Band to selected independent record stores. Check here for participating stores.

Here's a video of Rachel Price singing What I'm Doing Here. I've got to get their music on my iPod.

Post Script About Holly Adams

The incomparable Holly Adams narrated these books of mine:

The Trouble With Love: Hang on to your Stetson as the fun and games begin in a romantic comedy that's sexy and funny and hotter than a bowl of Texas chili!

Old Enough To Know Better: A steamy romantic comedy about a woman with a past and a man who wants to be her future.

Holly is currently narrating and producing my last romantic comedy SCENTS and SENSUALITY: Lies, seduction, and hot passion. Love or Lust? Will the truth set things right or rip them apart?

Takeaway Truth

Anyone who says there's no good music today is either deaf or uninformed.

Best Line From A Mystery

I've been searching for a quotation I read a long time ago. The words teased my consciousness, and I wanted a character in a book I'll be writing to quote it exactly.

Finally, I found it in The Mystery Lovers' Book of Quotations by Jane Horning. I should have known it would be in that book.

The words were written by Rex Stout for his character Archie Goodwin to speak in a Nero Wolfe novel.

Rex Stout: Master of the Mystery

When I was much younger, I read every Nero Wolfe novel I could find. In case you don't know, Rex Stout (Rex Todhunter Stout who died in 1975) was an American mystery author noted especially for his larger-than-life fictional detective Nero Wolfe. When I say larger than life, that's exactly what I mean because Wolfe weighed well over 300 pounds.

In 1959, Mr. Stout received the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award. Then in 2000 at Bouchercon, the Nero Wolfe corpus was nominated Best Mystery Series of the Century, and its creator Mr. Stout was nominated Best Mystery Writer of the Century.

The next year, A Nero Wolfe Mystery starring Timothy Hutton as Archie Goodwin debuted on a cable channel. The series was excellent, but it didn't fare well with regard to ratings so it was canceled after 2 seasons. Learn more here.

Now, For the Quote

No man was ever taken to hell by a woman unless he already had a ticket in his pocket, or at least had been fooling around with timetables.

That sentence should give you a glimpse at the brilliance of his writing. I adored Nero Wolfe books. Haven't read one in years, but I think I'll have to pull one off the shelf and see if I still find them as pleasurable as I did when I was a kid.

Takeaway Truth

Good books are like old friends. To read them again is to visit with people you find amusing, entertaining, and intelligent.

How To Create a Video: 4 Tips

Yesterday, I published to YouTube, WRITE Club, a parody of the movie Fight Club.

My WRITE Club video is for writers, but I hope you non-writers will get a kick out of it too.

For personal use, video fills that gap between photograph albums and digital devices where photos are stored but never printed. For business use, videos can be remarkably effective in marketing and promotion.

To help you in creating videos, here are 4 tips. These easy steps will help you whether you're making a book trailer or a video scrapbook of your vacation. But, first, watch my video. I hope you like it and will click LIKE.




Joan's 4 Video Tips

1. Choose the way you will make your video.

You can make a video with a Smartphone, a video cam, various video editing software like Windows Movie Maker, iMovie for Mac, and a bunch of others. Just do an online search if you want to work this way.

Or you can take the easy way out and use a video design website. Very user-friendly and inexpensive. In fact, if you do an online search, you'll find a bunch of them. Register at all the video creator websites that offer free accounts.

Be sure and check out each website to see what you get at the basic free level. Then you can decide if you want to pay for an upgrade account. I primarily use Animoto and Vimeo, but I have accounts on most of the popular video design websites. For a small fee, you can upgrade either of these--and probably the others--to a Plus Membership which gives you added benefits or even the top level Pro Membership if you want to get serious about video design.

Right now, Vimeo, usually $9.95/month or $59.95/year, is having a sale. Here's a coupon code and link if you want to join Vimeo Plus. Save 5% on Vimeo Plus Annual! Use PROMOCODE: VIMEO5OFFSPRING. Ends 4/30.

I'd love to have a Pro account at Animoto and Vimeo, my two main sites, but I can't justify the cost because I'm a writer, not a video professional. So for my needs, the Plus upgrades work fine.

However, if you want to try a Pro upgrade, Vimeo is also offering 5% off to new users. Save 5% on Vimeo PRO! Use PROMOCODE: VIMEO5OFFSPRING. Ends 4/30.

So pick your websites to help you with video production and familiarize yourself with how they work. For me, Vimeo and Animoto are easiest, but you may like a different one. With all, you can upload to YouTube of course.

2. Organize the Video Components.

A video, like a movie, is made of these basic elements: visuals, sound, and story or message.

Many of these elements are created from photographs, video clips, and music tracks that you obtain on the internet. You can get some free of charge, and you can pay for them. In both cases, there are Terms of Service involved.

Be sure that you use only the images, photographs, video clips, and music that you have been licensed to use. This means you paid for it or received a license to use it from a free site or from the library available for registered users of websites like Animoto, Vimeo, etc. Most video design websites have libraries of images, video clips, and music available for registered users.

Always read the Terms of Service and do what they say in exchange for the license to use the file. For instance, if they say you must post a Copyright notice for a photograph and notify the photographer of any use, then do that.

Visuals

These are the images and video clips you will use to tell your story. As mentioned above, you can obtain them from many sources. You can also upload your own images and video clips that you made or purchased/received free from various royalty-free websites.

Just do a search for "royalty-free photographs," or "royalty-free video clips," and you'll get a big list. In a future blog post, I'll give specific site suggestions for images, video clips, and music tracks.

Sound

Sound is the musical background and/or spoken narration. Again, Vimeo and Animoto and other similar websites offer their own libraries of sound clips. Again, you can do a search for royalty-free sound clips. These can range from inexpensive to very costly.

I'm a huge music lover so I spend a lot of time searching for the perfect music to help tell the story of my video. In some of my videos, I've used music from the respective libraries for registered users. In others, I've purchased music.

In my video for The Lingerie Covers, I purchased Suspicion, a music track written and produced by Skip Peck. I love all his music clips. When I bought the clip a couple of years ago, it wasn't that expensive. Now his work is usually more than $100.00 for most.

That's true of most of the music I've purchased including Mediterraneo by Ivan Paunovic which I used for Old Enough to Know Better. My favorite music composers are no longer affordable for me even though I make multiple use of my licensed music to split the expense among many projects.

For instance, I've used it as background music for the introduction and closings of all my audio books, and I use it for my videos. I've even put some of it on an iPod playlist that I listen to when I write. Once you "buy" it--license it is a better term--it's yours to use as long as you wish.

If you want spoken narration, then you can easily record the text if you have a good microphone and a computer/tablet, etc. Just write the script and read it. Of course, there's more that goes into good narration than just reading.

Make sure the recording is done without other noises intruding, without obvious clicks when the recording is started and stopped, without sibilant sounds on S's and so much more. This is why good narrators use sound editing software.

Also be sure the "actor" you select--whether that's you or someone else--has a pleasing voice. For instance, with my pronounced southern drawl, I'd probably never read something myself. Every time I hear my voice, I cringe and think I need voice lessons. *g* But that's just me. My friend Elaine Chase who worked in radio and television has a wonderful voice. She should be doing audiobook narration.

Script

This is any narration you may include, as mentioned above. It also refers to text that may be presented as image "signs" and as captions to images.

In most of the videos I create, I tell the story with pictures and music. Any text that can't be represented by a stock image, I display as a "sign." The sign is usually a digital illustration I've created. You can watch some of the videos I mention and see what I mean.

3. Be aware of time.

With video, short is better. In fact, if you can come in at 30-45 seconds, that's perfect. Up to 60 seconds is good. Anything above that needs to be really compelling or viewers won't hang in there to watch it to the end. This means your video should be about one small message or aspect rather than about the entire subject.

I struggle with this because I not only want to put across my message, but also I want to give credit for the photographs, music, etc. that I used to create the video. I edit tightly, but I'm still working on being succinct.

4. Know your video message.

Every good movie has a plot. So should every video. Before you start putting together images, music, etc., figure out what you want to say. This will be said with visuals, music, and narration/text.

So what do you want to say? In my humorous video, How To Recognize an Author, I wanted it to be something funny about writers so I "talked" about common myths and realities of being a writer. I combined images with captions, created signs, and chose a music track that sounded quirky.

In Scents and Sensuality, I wanted the video to be the book's blurb. I chose the music Suspicion by Skip Peck. It's sexy and whimsical at the same time so it was perfect for this romantic comedy. Later I changed the book cover art so I'll be editing this video when I have time.)

I'll be posting more about creating videos in the future. You'll find all of the posts under the Video label, under Something To Talk About on the right sidebar.

Takeaway Truth

We are a visual culture--an entertainment culture.  Add video to your skill set.

Thursday3Some: Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman

Today on Thursday3Some, I have Texas author Wareeze Woodson who is answering 3 questions about her book, Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman.

Wareeze was born in Texas and still lives here. She married her high school sweetheart, and they raised four children and now have grandchildren--all live within 70 miles of her. After all these years, she and her husband keep living their Happily Ever After.

Find Wareeze Woodson Online

Website: http://www.wareezewoodson.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wareeze-Woodson/523727757689755
Twitter: twitter.com@wareeze
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/wareeze

When did you write Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman?

I wrote Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman last year. It was released May 2, 2013. It took about 8 months to complete.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

I read a story and didn’t like the ending so I wrote my own. I admire mothers who fight for their children against all odds. I wanted Laurel to be that kind of woman. She measures up to that standard.

Why do readers buy Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman?

I think they like the cover. It is very intriguing. Many readers like historical novels and have taken a chance on a debut, historical novel.

Buy Links

Amazon

Takeaway Truth

For your reading pleasure, why not try a new author this weekend?

Happy U.S. Income Tax Day

Is your tax return ready to file? I mailed ours this past Saturday. That's always a pleasure/pain experience. Pleasure because it's finished for the year. Pain because, well, that's self-evident. No one likes paying taxes, but everyone likes to complain about it.

I don't mind paying my share because it means I actually made money! I DO mind politicians telling me that taxes won't increase when they do.

Joe Biden said: "No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama's plan will see one single penny of their tax raised, whether it's their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax." NOT true. Plus, that statement insults the intelligence of taxpayers. Since I normally refrain from political statements, I'll now return to entertaining you.

Tax Day Humor

Here's a baker's dozen of witty pronouncements concerning income tax. Enjoy!

"It's income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta." ~ Dave Barry

"The taxpayer — that's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination." ~ Ronald Reagan

"If the Lord loveth a cheerful giver, how he must hate the taxpayer!" ~ John Andrew Holmes

"The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax." ~ Albert Einstein

"The income tax has made liars out of more Americans than golf." ~ Will Rogers

"Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today." ~ Herman Wouk

"Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars and a substantial tax cut save you thirty cents?" ~ Peg Bracken

"Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors... and miss." ~ Robert Heinlein

"Another difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time the legislature meets." ~ Robert Quillen

"Capital punishment: The income tax." ~ Jeff Hayes

"The wages of sin are death, but after they take the taxes out, it's more like a tired feeling, really." ~ Paula Poundstone

"People try to live within their income so they can afford to pay taxes to a government that can't live within its income." ~ Robert Half

Takeaway Truth

Dear IRS, I am writing to you to cancel my subscription. Please remove my name from your mailing list. ~ Snoopy (Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz)

5 Computer Keyboards to Explore

I bought a new keyboard last month, and I love it. I thought I'd give you a list of keyboard options because a keyboard can be your best tech friend or your worst enemy if it hurts your body. There truly is a keyboard for every taste. Just know what fits you and look for it.

1. My first choice is the one I just bought. It's the Adesso Tru-Form Pro Contoured Ergonomic Keyboard with TouchPad (PCK-308UB). I did an in-depth search for this keyboard because I wanted one with an on-board mouse, but I also wanted one that was ergonomically designed and was multimedia. I've got so many muscle spasms and nerve problems in my neck and shoulders from a couple of decades of reaching for that dang mouse, and conventional keyboards make my wrists hurt.

I read a lot of reviews of the Adesso keyboard I bought, and many were negative. However, Amazon had a refurbished one at a very low price. The keyboard looked to be exactly what I wanted so I decided to take a chance on it, and I'm glad I did.

2. This is another Adesso. It's the Adesso® EasyTouch 132 Florescent 4X Size Print Yellow Multimedia Desktop Keyboard. Yes, it really is florescent yellow. It's designed for someone whose who has visual impairment with large black print on bright yellow keys.

3. If you have perpetually cold hands or must work in a cold office, the V8 Tools Heated Computer Keyboard is for you. It's a heated computer keyboard with a 3 Step Switch: Heat off, Low heat--85 degrees F. which is normal hand temperature, and High heat--95-100 degrees F., normal body temperature.

4. If you sneak into your office to type at night when everyone is asleep, then you might love the Slim Acrylic Illuminated Backlit USB Keyboard by MODTEK. This particular one isn't multimedia, but there are lighted keyboards that are so just look for them.

5. If you're trying to teach your elementary school age children about keyboarding, this one, the Learningboard Usb White Keyboard -Based Mnemonic System, will help you with that plus help in teaching phonics. Pretty cool--and cute--keyboard.

Takeaway Truth

There are many well-designed keyboards on the market. Don't settle for the standard one that came with your computer when another might suit your needs far better.

Organization and Creativity


I've accomplished some of my major goals for April. I filed homestead exemption on our new home, filed my tax return, and completed filing the mountain of papers that had accumulated since moving.

Feeling, oh, so virtuous, in completing these tasks, I decided to apply some of that energy to organizing my business so I could accomplish more.  

Verna Gibson wrote: "Early in my career I felt that organization would destroy my creativity. Whereas now, I feel the opposite. Discipline is the concrete that allows you to be creative."

There's a lot of truth in this. When my office is in chaos, my brain is chaotic. I work best when everything is in its proper place, and I can find something without digging through stacks of paper or file drawers or closets.

Besides, when everything is organized, I feel as if I'm super efficient and can handle anything. Is your writing world in chaos? Try cleaning up the clutter and getting organized.

Takeaway Truth

Need to accomplish more? Get organized. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday3Some: Ill Conceived by L. C. Hayden

Today on Thursday3Some, I have award-winning author L. C. Hayden who is answering 3 questions about her book, Ill Conceived.

L. C. Hayden, author of the popular Harry Bronson Mystery series, has introduced a new series based on a Lake Tahoe reporter, Aimee Brent. The first book is Ill Conceived.

L. C. has received several awards and was an Agatha Award Finalist for Best Novel. Her books have hit the Kindle Best Seller List several times and the Barnes & Nobel Top Ten Best Seller List. She's a popular speaker and presents workshops and speaks to clubs. She's even been hired by major cruise lines to speak about writing while cruising all over the world.(Now, that's one lucky writer!)

Find L. C. Hayden Online

Website: http://lchayden.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MysteriesbyHayden

When did you write Ill Conceived?

The book was released in December 2013.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

Even though my Harry Bronson series is very popular, I wanted to write another series. I wanted Aimee Brent to be very different than Bronson. The spark came from creating a completely different character.

Why do readers buy Ill Conceived?

Readers always know that my books will deliver a roller coaster ride with a surprise ending. Readers delight in trying to figure out who the culprit is.

Buy Ill Conceived

Amazon

Takeaway Truth

Thank goodness the weekend is almost here! Grab a good book and prepare for some fun reading.