Thursday, October 22, 2015

In the Garden with the Pruning Shears

I’ve just released my first novel for grownups! Yes, I do have four books written for the 18+ readership, but those are non-fiction horse books. In the fiction genre I have previously written for kids. You can visit my website and see all about the horse books and the kid’s fiction.

I’ve been a fan of mystery stories since I was a little girl and found my mother’s box of Campfire Girls books. My Aunt Myrtle introduced me to the Beverly Gray mysteries by Clair Blank when she gave me some for a Christmas gift. I grew up and read Agatha Christie, Mary Roberts Rhineheart, Mary Higgins Clark, and I absolutely love the “Cat Who. . . “ books by Lilian Jackson Braun. So, I don’t know why it has taken so long for me to write my own cozy mystery novel, In the Garden with the Pruning Shears.
I did not start out with the intention to write a mystery novel. In fact, it all started with a writing prompt on a writers’ forum: The Writers BBS. The prompt was “crime of passion.” I wrote what eventually became the first pages of my now novel. That was years ago. One day I was just scrolling through old files in my computer looking for ideas. I stopped and read the prompt. I thought, “Maybe I can write a short story around this.”

Ten thousand words later I realized I’d gone way past short story. I was apparently writing a book! I started reading the chapters to my writer’s group. They were very encouraging and seemed to enjoy what I was writing. By the time I’d gotten half way through I realized my method of letting the story take me along, just writing until I got to the end, was not going to work with a mystery. I had to plan it, plot it, OUTLINE IT. I HATE to outline, although with four non-fiction books to my credit, I do know how to do it. So, I stopped mid-book and started plotting, figuring out who did it, how the girls would find out, and what trouble they’d get into along the way. I started writing again, and with an idea of where I was going it went a little faster.

I was sure Crime of Passion had to have been used as a book title already. A quick search on Amazon proved me right. I had to come up with an original title. In addition to being a mystery book fan I also love the board game Clue. I thought it would be fun to have a Clue-like title that would let book browser know it was a mystery novel. I played around with several ideas before settling on In the Garden with the Pruning Shears.
Since I planned to publish the novel myself, my next job was that of cover designer. I found a picture from a stock agency I liked. I bought it, played around with making it look more like art that the original photograph. I was right proud of the results.

Meanwhile I attended a mini retreat with a successful romance writer and Independent publisher as hostess (Tammy Falkner). Tammy also spoke at our spring writers retreat. I’ve learn so much from her and I trust her advice. So, when she suggested my cover looked more like it belonged in the horror genre than cozy mystery I listened. She even went so far as to design a cover for me. I’d already ordered a box of books with my cover. “What do I do with these books?” I asked. “Give them away for review ARCs,” she said. It took me a few to figure out that meant Amazon Review Copies. I’m new at this.

So, after many months of trial and error I have my first cozy mystery available for purchase. Hey, if you order a copy from Amazon and want my signature just send me your mailing address and I will send you a signed book plate: BTW, both covers are still visible on Amazon. I am going to have to take time and figure out how to get it corrected. But, if you order you’ll get the new cover and the contents are the same with either one anyway. Oh, and if you like it, please write a review. 

I told myself I wasn’t going to write another Olivia and Gail book. But, guess what, I am well into my second one. I did my plotting and planning first, so I expect the first draft to go faster and easier. The title is In the Library with the Dictionary.if you like Books by Donna Campbell Smith on Facebook you will be first to know what I am up to writing-wise.