Thursday, December 30, 2010

Town Grouch, Fears, and All You Can Eat Buffet

Enjoyed horse drawn sleigh rides on the farm!

I’m going to reveal something personal dear bloggowers – one of my deepest darkest fears. 

Given that I’m a writer you may think that it’s something like – fear of the blank page (not even close) or fear of something pedestrian like rejection (I wish it were that easy).

I spent Christmas with some lovely people on a farm (no, that’s not it).

In order to get to that farm I had to go through a small town (you got it!). I had a panic attack sitting in my car, in the dead of dusk, on a deserted main street across from the post office waiting to be picked up and led to the farm.

Yes, bloggowers, I have an inexplicable, unreasonable (and I forget about it until I’m in one) fear of small towns!

And the kicker is that it doesn’t even make it on the inexhaustible list of fears that includes such things as Arachibutyrophobia- fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth (I hate when that happens) and Aulophobia- fear of flutes (yeah, flutes freak me out!). 

I briefly had a fear of, and fascination with, bottomless pits which stemmed from watching the Flintstones as a child - seems Fred and Barney were always falling down one. 

By day two I was over my fear and wandered around the hamlet of Evansburg, Alberta. The town was deserted and maybe it was because they are a gouchy bunch.  

 Seems the town folk were too friendly, so they decided to declare one member the town grouch each year.  The winner is licensed to pester, harass, antagonize, criticize, complain and grumble without fear of reprisal for the whole next year.  Sounds like my kind of competition!

Here's, Evelyn, she threw her grouch frown into the ring as the candidate for 2011. 

Evelyn - she be grouchy! 

If you're town grouch you get to wear a groovy hat like this guy! 
Here's me doing the classic - taking a picture of yourself
while standing in front of the "Grouchiest of All' mirror.
 Further wandering around town led me here:
What does that even mean?!
All you can eat buffet - closing out sale!? So does that mean you can't leave until all the food is gone? Does it mean they aren't making any new food?  Eat in and take out - how do you take out an all you can eat buffet? So many questions ...

If you ever find yourself in the Evansburg/Wildwood/Alberta's Pembina River Provincial Park area - there's a great Bed & Breakfast & Bale (you can board your animals) called the Lone Pine Ranch. The proprietor Sylvia whips up a mean waffle and tells tales of recalcitrant Lamas (did you know you can buy a Lama for $20.00?!).   
One of the cottages at the Lone Pine Ranch
Do you have any fears that are inexplicable? Better yet, what about your characters. What do they fear and how do they overcome it to get what they want? 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Out, out dang spot!

Tea's cat giving her a vote of
confidence from the bathroom sink  
Well, I must have plied my niece Tea with enough sweet chai tea because she finished creating the video book trailer for Dead Bird through the Cat Door! 

Tea is my 13 year old niece (aka marketing manager) and the President of TeaLeaf Video Design and Production. 

She's got some crazy mad video production skillz! You'll remember the video she did for Dead Frog on the Porch. 

Take a look at the video for Dead Bird through the Cat Door Feel free to share it, she'd love it to get a few hits on you tube! 

Here's a pic of Tea in all her photoshopped glory! She's all about the random! You can read her rambling rants of a Tiny Canadian on her blog. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Why authors are elusive

Do you ever wonder why writers are elusive? Why they act like the Sasquatch and retreat to their caves eschewing all human contact? It's not just for the chai tea and the sour ju jubes.

It may be because as soon as you tell someone you're a writer, you find yourself in the midst of this conversation. If you haven't seen this yet, it is hilarious and gives you insight into the life of a writer. I laugh/cried all over my keyboard, then went back to writing.

I won't be elusive on Thursday - I'll be the guest author over at N.R. Williams' Blog. She's a fantasy writer from Colorado and has a popular blog.

Check out my guest blog post on Thursday!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Book trailers and flash mobs!

I've been thinking a lot about videos since my niece is working on the book trailer video for Dead Bird through the Cat Door. It's not ready to debut yet, you can only slave drive a teenager so much, but it should be ready in a week or so. Plus, I keep asking random questions like: "Can you find some scary bagpipe music?" The answer to which is communicated through the universally understood rolling back of the eyes gesture. 

So, instead I'll post two of my favourite flash mob videos. I love flash mobs. 

Please someone, invite me to participate in a flash mob. I'll be all FLASH! Then I'll be all MOB! Did I mention I can dance gangsta?  

The first one is the Sound of Music in a train station in Belgium. Stick with it to the end when they start to go all gangsta!  

This is what happens when opera goes to the food court ...

In other blog news: Sarah Butland was the winner of the Dead Bird through the Cat Door book give away contest that was held on Eileen Schuh's blog Magic of the Muses. Sarah is a writer in New Brunswick and you can check out her blog

As well, on Thursday I'll be doing a guest blog post over at N.R. Williams' blog. She's a fantasy writer and I've been one of her bloggowers for a while. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dead Bird through the Cat Door takes flight on Amazon!

The friend I went to India with, Amber, says that all of my stories start with “Back in the 80s …” and by 80s she means the 1880s! Sure, a lot of my stories start with “Back in the 80s …” but I don’t think that things were better then. In fact, I’m loving what technology has done to book marketing and social networking.

In the 80s there was a popular television commercial for shampoo, with the tag line “I told two friends, and they told two friends and so on, and so on.” If you admit to being around in the 80s you’ll remember it. If you weren’t around in the 80s then check it out below. And yes, that is Heather Locklear, complete with the big hair from the 80s. (I think the video has been locked in a dusty vault since the 80s because the sound quality is crappy).

That commercial is an analogy for social networking. Now a-days you can ‘tell two friends’ (and many more) through email, face book, blogs, twitter etc., with the click of a mouse. It’s much easier to get the word out far and wide. 

Internet social networking is the super caffeinated, hyped up, you’re-not-in-the-80s-anymore-Dorothy version of that commercial.

This brings me to my point (yes, I have one thank you!). My second novel in the Megabyte Mystery series Dead Bird through the Cat Door is now available to be ordered on, (ignore the part that says it's not available - it is available) and

It's a fun and suspenseful read for the 8-12 year olds on your holiday shopping list. It's also available as a kindle on the .com and sites. 

I’m requesting (nay, challenging) all of my blog readers, face book friends, twitter  followers and anyone who has access to email - to ‘tell two friends’ (and then some!), to fully launch my novel into the blogosphere! (or should that be the webosphere?!). Please leave a comment and let me know how you've 'told two friends!'

If you've read Dead Bird through the Cat Door, a review on one of the Amazon sites would be helpful as well ... just saying! 

Oh, yes, you know Amber from her Forgotten Bookmarks fame and her bloodletting Cat Atticus from Atticus Catticus and Why You Should Follow Submission Guidelines.

Take it away Heather.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bald prairies, double chins and book lovers sale!

This is what I saw when I got up before dawn and drove across the bald prairies to the Writers Guild of Alberta's Book Lovers Christmas Sale in Edmonton.  

Here's a pic of me taken by Karen Bass who did not heed my directive against second chins in photos. 
Check out the groovy kool earrings - more on that in an upcoming blog post!

Here's a pic of Karen Bass, award winning author of young adult novels Run Like Jager and Summer of Fire. 

Then there were readings at the Book Lovers Christmas Sale. If you ever need to rehearse for a presentation - the bathrooms at the Edmonton Public Library have great acoustics. Not to mention an audacious pink/green combo that blasted right out of the late 60s

Marty Chan was up first. He talked about his latest novel for middle grade readers the Mystery of the Cyber Bully.    

Marty is a super cool writer who gave me a great quote for the back of the book cover for Dead Bird through the Cat Door. "This delightful novel places author Jan Markley in the catbird seat among funny mystery writers." - Marty Chan. You'll have to check out the rest of the quote on the inside of the book! 

Then it was my turn to read. I read a scene from Dead Bird through the Cat Door, talked about both books and the Megabyte Mystery series, and answered questions about writing. 

I'm totally rocking the pashmina!
Judith Graves was next up. Her debut young adult novel Under my Skin is fiction to die for. It's got that whole werewolf/vampire thing going on. 

She's not really a vampier - she's just pale because she lives up north
where the sun never shines ... wait a minute ... are you thinking what I'm thinking!?
There's been a challenge to the title of 'Jan's biggest fan.' You'll remember we met Michael at my book launch. Michael is my self proclaimed biggest fan and told tales of kids in his school fighting over my book in the library! (Love the reading part, the fighting - not so much!)

This week at the Book Lovers Christmas sale, Colleen came forward to challenge the title and declared herself Jan's biggest fan. That declaration gets you the indignation of your pic on the blog. 
Colleen and I having a writerly conversation while
flipping through two of the books she bought.
Colleen came out to the signing Grey Cup weekend in Edmonton (sans a hallowed out watermelon on her head) and came out again to the Book Lovers Christmas sale this past weekend. She's a big reader (thanks we need people like you) and claims she's my biggest fan, well, second biggest fan! I appreciate the support of all who came out to the two events in Edmonton! It's great to see familiar faces and great to meet new readers. 

Don't forget the contest to win a copy of a newly minted Dead Bird through the Cat Door. Details on Magic of the Muses, Eileen Schuh's blog. Deadline is Friday. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Book Lovers Christmas Sale and Awesome writing peeps!

Armed with a mixed tape of Simon and Garfunkel live in Central Park from the late 80s, I'll be well equipped to drive across the bald prairies Saturday morning to Edmonton. 

I'll be participating in the Book Lovers Christmas Sale put on by the Writers Guild of Alberta

The Book Lover's Christmas sale runs from noon-5 pm at the Stanley A. Milner Library in the Centennial Room. More than forty Alberta authors (with over 100 titles) published in a wide range of genres (adult fiction&non-fiction, young adult, poetry, children's etc.,) will be on hand to sign books. 

If that doesn't fill your literary heart with feelings of joy and anticipation then what will?  

I'll be there from noon to about 3:30 signing copies of my debut novel Dead Frog on the Porch and the second in the Megabyte Mystery series Dead Bird through the Cat DoorI'll be doing a micro reading from Dead Bird through the Cat Door at 1:00 pm (note to self: figure out what a micro reading is before Saturday).

Other authors like Marty Chan, Karen Bass, Judith Graves, Alice Major, Linda Goyette and Bob Stallworthy will be on hand. 

Make a dent in that holiday shopping for the book lovers in your life!

My awesome critiquing group - the Kensignton Writes' Group had a combo holiday potluck and meeting to talk about marketing. We laughed, we ate, we talked, we drank, we updated each other on what we'd been up to writing wise, and we ate some more.
Who says writers don't know how to party!
L-R Naomi, Susan, Allan, Shenaaz, Moi, Frances - good looking bunch eh!?
They asked me to talk to the group about marketing beause I have this here blog, ya know. We had a fulsome discussion around marketing and then Naomi and I helped the rest figure out their face book accounts - baby cyber steps!  

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Side kicks we love & Dead Bird through the Cat Door book give away!

I'm doing a guest blog post today over at writer Eileen Schuh's blog Magic of the Muses

Eileen will be giving away a copy of my latest book Dead Bird through the Cat Door,

The blog post is on side-kicks and I was inspired to write it given that twin detectives Cyd and Jane have an annoying side-kick Todd.  

My favourite side-kick was Karate from Batfink. He was the not-so-super slick side-kick to Batfink who would say things like “I ate my way out. I love caramel” to Batfinks “Your bullets can not hurt me, my wings are like a shield of steel.”

Side-kick characters serve a number of purposes....

You'll have to hop over to Magic of the Muses to see the rest of the post (see how I did that ;-j). 

Also, don't forget to enter the contest for a copy of Dead Bird through the Cat Door. Details on Eileen's blog!