Thursday, January 12, 2017

INDIE PUBLISHING: My New Venture in 2017

by Jackie King
Technology in printing and the popularity of ebooks have changed the publishing world in ways that have transformed the book industry.

I’ve always been something of a late bloomer, and my entrance into publishing my own books is no different. When I started writing seriously, that was back in the late 1980s, self-publishing was considered to be something that only hobbyists indulged in to bolster their egos. Twenty-first century publishing is a whole new ballgame.

The once shabby title of “self-publishing,” is now called “Indie publishing," and has a shine all its own. Now everyone and his favorite author seems to be considering some type of Indie publishing. Including yours truly.

At the close of 2016, I asked for the copyrights to all of my books and novellas to be returned to me, and the regional publisher I worked with for many years graciously agreed. So with the help of local writer/editor, Joshua Danker-Dake, and local graphic designer/artist, Mark Combs, I am in the process of printing Blue Cameo Books.


Josh Daker-Dake, Writer and Editor
“Self-publishing was time-consuming, but straightforward—it’s nothing any reasonably computer-savvy person can’t do with a little bit of diligence." Josh Daker-Dake—interview with Publisher’s Weekly 2015

Mark Combs, Graphic Designer/Artist
This imprint will soon republish all of my Grace Cassidy Mysteries, and my stand alone contemporary mystery, MURDER AT THE EDGE OF NOWHERE, which is set in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Later in the year I’ll issue a collection of my historical novellas that are set in 1889 Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory, at the time of the Land Run.

I’m very excited with this new venture, and am enjoying learning more and more about the craft of self-publishing each day. The illustrious SistersInCrime organization plans on sponsoring a ListServ for its members sometime this year.

Very soon I’ll show the new covers of my “Corpse,” series, featuring Grace Cassidy, an independent B&B inn-sitter who offers her services to overworked innkeepers who desperately need a vacation.

Saturday, December 10, 2016


by June Shaw

This morning I heard footsteps padding around on my roof and had hopes: Maybe it was Santa (I mean it's the coldest day so far this winter in south Louisiana--the low forties last night.)

It wasn't such a surprise, though, when a man came down, a slim man who'd gone up on the ladder I had watched him lean against the house. That was before I felt the wind's chill and pulled my nose back in my snug house.

He came down minutes later and knocked on my backdoor again. "I'm sorry. There's a spot right over there that feels soft," he said. "I need to go to the lumberyard to get a piece of plywood to replace it and a few shingles that match yours."

At least it didn't sound too terrible. That wouldn't be such a large bill, I figured--even though spending any money on work on the house right before Christmas didn't seem right. I mean, the kids did want presents. Of course mine are grown and would be content to receive nothing, but they'll get gift certificates to a favorite restaurant or building supply place they frequent. The teens are different. They might say they don't need anything--Wait, they're girls and teenagers, and would never make such statements. But they are most pleased with cash to spend on things of their choosing so that's what they'll get.

Now me: I want to get more work done on my current book--SAVING MOM, and I am pleased to say I have quite a bit done.

I also want to get make preparations for the first book in that new series, which is set down here. It's called A FATAL ROMANCE, and it is available for pre-order now! It will be released on Jan. 24.

As you can tell, I am satisfied, even if the little footsteps from my rooftop didn't come from the person I had hoped for. Looking forward to having the first book in a new cozy mystery series is a wonderful present!

What would you like Santa to bring you?

Thursday, November 24, 2016


by Jackie King

Thanksgiving is the perfect time for reminiscing and for remembering family stories. These generational memories are often centered around cooking and good food, and these special tales of family history should be treasured and never forgotten.

Here is a yarn spun for the pleasure of all gathered at a festive Thanksgiving meal celebrating God’s abundance and goodness. Such true stories cry out to be told and retold.  
June Butts with Sofia her Great Granddaugter
June Butts with her grandson, Jamie Horn

Memories of Papa Peeling Pecans for the Grandkids

 “We called our grandfather, Papa,” June Butts, now a great grandmother herself, said. “Back in those days different generations of the family lived in the same house, and it was wonderful to grow up with an older person who had the time to tell stories and to teach us kids about the generations past. I think maybe that’s one reason why families were closer back then.”

 The comely woman smiled and the faraway look that came into her blue eyes told me she had transported herself back to South Texas and a simpler life sometime in the 1950’s.

 “We had a pecan tree and Papa peeled pecans for the kids. We’d sit in a circle at his feet, listen to his tales, and eat the perfectly shelled and halved nuts as he passed them around.”

 “Peeled pecans?” I asked, trying to imagine how such a feat might be possible. “How could he peel pecans?”

 It was Thanksgiving Day and I had been invited to join June’s family for a traditional dinner of turkey, dressing and all of the trimmings. We were sitting around the table drinking coffee and savoring that mellow sated satisfaction that fills a group of friends during happy times.

 “With his pocket knife,” June said.

 “His pocket knife?” I asked. “You’re kidding.”

 “I’m not!” June’s robust laugh was typical of a woman who was Texas born and bred. “He peeled those pecans just the same way you’d peel an orange. He’d slice off the top and the bottom, cut slits around the nuts and then just peel off the hulls. Those pecans came out in perfect halves and he’d hand them to us kids.”

 “That must have been one sharp knife,” I said, wondering how he kept from cutting off his fingers.

 “That it was,” June said. “And he could peel those nuts really fast. Sometimes he’d peel enough for Mama to make us some pies.” She sighed with remembered pleasure. “Mmm—mmm—mmm, those pies were good! We never had much money, but we had happy times, anyway. God was always good to my family.”

 “I’ll bet you learned to cook from your own mother,” I said.

 “Sure did. Mama and Daddy had eleven kids, and I was helping stir up dinner as soon as I could hold a spoon and stand on a stool to reach the table.”

 It happened that we were drinking Texas Pecan flavored coffee. I took a sip of the hot brew and savored the rich flavor. Pecans, family and holidays equal pure pleasure, I thought. Everyone sitting at the table owned their own cell phones and computers, but some things never change. The memory of “peeled pecans,” outranked any of the electronic pleasures available to the diners.

Only the delicious food that we shared stayed the same.


Loretta Carson’s Pecan Pie

1 Scant cup sugar

1 cup dark Karo Syrup

3 eggs

3 Tablespoons melted butter or margarine

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup pecans

Beat eggs and sugar until blended. Add Karo syrup and mix well, then add melted butter, salt, vanilla and pecans. Mix well and pour into 9 inch unbaked pie crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Turn heat down to 325 degrees and bake for 35 minutes. (Center will be set.)

Happy Thanksgiving to All

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Chasing the Blues by Writing

November 9, 2016

I have a bad case of the Blues today. Better than last night around midnight, but still feeling sad. In my struggle to avoid a gloomy day, I searched my memory for a happier time.
A conversation held at a Malice Domestic Conference sprang to mind. A guy who happened to be another cozy mystery writer said, “My whole day goes better if I write.”

“Really?” I said, “So does mine.” The other authors gathered with us agreed.

So today, in pursuit of a lighter heart, I sat my fine broad butt in the chair in front of my computer and continued working on my newest project. This cozy mystery has the working title of CORPSE IN THE SAGEBRUSH. It’s set in the Oklahoma Panhandle a little farther west than my just published suspense novel MURDER AT THE EDGE OF NOWHERE.
Sunset on the Plains
Photo by Rhonda Smith Hodges

These two books are very different, but my therapy will be the same: Telling a story from my heart.

Here’s wishing all my readers and fellow authors that their day be filled with joy.


Jackie King

Saturday, October 29, 2016


by June Shaw

I love to sell material I write. I really do. Getting to write and have something published was tremendously gratifying. It was when I first began.

Things have changed.

Yes, I'm still thrilled to learn that anyone would want to read something I create. It's especially pleasing when readers tell me or write that they enjoy my work and even ask for more. That is so exciting!

Exciting, too, is getting paid for words I write. The first essay I sold to a magazine many years ago brought me forty dollars. I was a widow with five young children, and receiving extra money, especially for words that I wrote, was unbelievable.

Over the years now I have written a number of books, had a great time doing it, and earned much more than in earlier times.

I've also enjoyed nonprofit writing. A number of years ago the president of our Chamber of Commerce asked if I would write a column on retiring in our area. There would be no pay, but I could advertise my books in my byline. It would not need to be any longer than five hundred words. "And you can write that in your sleep," she added.

She was right. I've penned "Retiring on the Bayou" for quite awhile now. I've interviewed people and told of their exciting pursuits since they left their nine-to-five jobs.

But now it's time for mine. I just finished a column for the paper and started it by saying it would be my last. They should easily find someone else to create a different column. I will have more time to write my novels--but I'll miss having so many people in town tell me how much they enjoy my columns.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Characters That Form Our Lives

and Later Come Alive in Our Stories

by Jackie King
One of my earliest memories is sitting in a circle with my brother, sister and various neighbor kids as my mother told us stories. Delia Hodges Sprague could spin a yarn about any character or characters we might name. Let’s say that I wanted a story about Cinderella, my sister Joan wanted the heroine to be Wonder Woman and my brother J.D., chose Tarzan of the Apes.
No problem to Mother. She’d create one tale using each of these characters. The story would be exciting and it would make sense. At least to kids.

Delia Hodges Sprague was a storyteller, an actress, a teacher and a sometimes writer. This redheaded dynamo was smart, fun and very temperamental. My childhood was sometimes difficult, sometimes frightening and always challenging. But life was never boring.

Mother taught me to read, and when there was nothing to read, to make up stories inside my head and entertain myself with imaginary friends and foes.

Delia Hodges Sprague is often found in my books. Sometimes she’s in the guise of a father, a mother or a best friend. In my latest mystery, MURDER AT THE EDGE OF NOWHERE set in the land of her childhood, the Oklahoma Panhandle, she’s walks and breathes in the character of Winnie Doolittle.
$3.99 at Amazon Kindle
Delia faced real danger with lionhearted courage: she rode boxcars from Oklahoma to New York state at the age of 20, challenged rattlesnakes in my grandparents pasture and tarantulas in the outhouse of a country school. But small things shattered her: imagined slights, walking into her bank to ask for a loan or having a conversation with her own father.

When I was a child she often awoke screaming bloody murder from recurrent nightmares; battled depression her entire life and fought breast cancer until her death. She was an extraordinary woman of courage. I loved her with all my heart. But she wasn’t an easy mother to have.

To see the best side of Delia Hodges Sprague, read MURDER AT THE EDGE OF NOWHERE, and observe Winnie Doolittle. To see the more complicated side of my mother, notice Emily Ashcroft.

Most everyone loved my mother—especially me. I hope you’ll enjoy her as Winnie Doolittle in MURDER ON THE EDGE OF NOWHERE

Below is a clipping from the end of chapter two after Liz O’Brien and Winnie Doolittle find cousin Christabel in Liz’s garage:

“Help!” Liz screamed. “Oh, my God. Someone. Anyone. Please help.” They stretched Christabel on the grass.

“Won’t do no good to yell.” Winnie’s voice was cold, toneless. “You know how to do that resuscitation thing?”

Liz forced herself to press her mouth against Christabel’s cold lips. Her gut twisted. Why didn’t someone drive by? She alternated the breathing routine with chest compression for what seemed forever, but she knew it was useless. Christabel was unresponsive. Liz felt for a pulse. Nothing.

“You might as well quit.” Winnie pulled at Liz’s shoulder. “She’s dead. We’ll have to call the police and tell them she killed herself.”

“But that’s crazy. Christabel would never commit suicide. Nothing could make me think that.”

“Oh, hell, Liz. Don’t be stupid. I’m not telling you what to think. I’m telling you what to say.”

Thursday, October 13, 2016


by Jackie King

Yesterday I received galley proofs of my latest mystery, MURDER AT THE EDGE OF NOWHERE. The odd thing in up-to-date publishing trends, at least with my small regional publisher, is that the ebook came out a few weeks ago. I’ve been reading this version and have been appalled at some of the errors. Did I do that? I ask myself, or was it the publisher’s editor, the publisher himself?

It doesn’t really matter. It’s my book, and I accept all responsibility for any mistakes. Which is what Galley Proofs are all about. The last ditch chance to catch and correct mistakes. 
For those who don’t know, Galley Proofs are pages of the novel sent to me online. I print them out on paper, or do a final $3.99 at Amazonedit on a copy online. My choice. 

The good news is that this means the paper version will soon be available.

Jackie at Work on Galley Proofs

And that’s what I’m doing just now—or it will be as soon as I finish this post. And according to both my calendar and my watch, I’d better get at it. Now!