Monday, February 25, 2008

It couldn’t possibly be as exciting as the first time, right? And yet there I was, dancing around my office, celebrating my second contract with Barbour Publishing.

This book, another cozy mystery entitled Died in the Wool, is set to release in the spring of 2009. The sequel to Where the Truth Lies, DITW features many of the same quirky characters as book one, yet with some interesting differences. Readers will learn more about Monah, the shy, lovable librarian with a secret. They’ll get reacquainted with Casey, the crazy web designer with a penchant for mysteries. Best of all, they’ll land squarely back in Pine Mills, the fictional town everybody wishes they could call home…that is, if you don’t mind a mysterious murder every now and then.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

So there we were, down by twenty-four points in the fourth period of a playoff game nobody picked us to win anyway.

“There’s still time!” people shouted, while a chant of, “We believe!” went up all around me.

I looked at my daughter, sitting on the bench, her warm up jersey still on. At that moment she glanced over her shoulder at me and I gave her a slight nod of encouragement that was meant to say, keep your head up, support your team.

Suddenly, our star player, who hadn’t made a single free throw up to that point, got HOT. She hit a three point shot, followed by several consecutive free throws. A teammate also hit a three. Two more made quick baskets. Unbelievably, the score was cut to nine in a matter of minutes. With just under two to play, our players started fouling to stop the clock. Failed free throw attempts led to us getting the rebounds and scoring four quick points.

I glanced at the clock. A minute eleven. By now, the opposing crowd had forgotten their cocky chant and began to grumble restlessly. Our fans, energized by the quick turn of events, began screaming. Others simply held their hands over their mouths, afraid to cheer, afraid to watch.

Another basket, another foul. The other team scores, but we come quickly back. Now, with less than five seconds left to play, we are down by two. Our star inbounds the ball, they pass it back to her. She gets as close as she can to our goal before time runs out, barely over the half court line, and launches a shot. A collective gasp sucks all of the air from the gym. The ball bounces, hits the rim, teeters on the edge…and falls out. The opposing side screams. Their fans, cheerleaders, players and coaches stream onto the court while we watch helplessly.

And then…

We see the star on the floor, a player from the opposing team on top of her. A referee is frantically blowing his whistle and trying to signal something. I stare. Could it be? It is. A foul he gestures, and holds up three fingers. My gaze flies to the clock. One second left.

It takes a moment for the officials and coaches to clear the floor. Everyone must move back into the stands. Our star steps to the free throw line. She’s nervous. I can see her chest heaving from where I stand. Across the gym, fans from the opposing team begin jeering, trying to distract her.

She makes the first shot. We cheer, they jeer.

She makes the second shot. Ecstatic now, we grasp the hand of the person next to us and hold them over our heads. The star steps to the line for her third shot, but then has to back away. She’s not ready. She wipes her hands down her sweat dampened shorts, draws a deep breath, and resumes her stance at the line. The referee passes her the ball. She concentrates, bends her knees and shoots.

For a split-second, three thousand pairs of eyes watch as the ball seems to hover in the air. I feel the stands shudder under me as the noise reaches deafening proportions. No net. No rim. Just…swoosh.

Our team erupts. They jump to their feet, screaming, crying, slapping each other on the back. Across the way, the opposing fans are stunned. They watch, mouths agape, eyes rounded and disbelieving.

And then I see it. I can’t believe what is happening. “Don’t,” I whisper, but it’s too late. One official is talking to our coach, and then he raises one hand and tops it with the other to form a T.

Technical foul, on a call rarely made in high school basketball, or even college ball. The referee is giving the bench a technical foul for standing up.

My anger explodes. “You had the game won,” I scream at the coach. “Why didn’t you warn your players?” People around pause in their celebration to see what I am yelling about. Suddenly, they, like me, understand.

A player from the opposing team steps to the line. She misses the first shot. There is hope! She makes the second shot. We go into overtime.

I wish I could say this story has a happy ending. At the final buzzer, we were down 71-65. It is a game I’m sure few will forget for many months to come. But years? In the frame of a lifetime, it is a very small thing to lose a basketball game, no matter how important it was on the day it was played. Still, there is something to be said for life and basketball. Both are seldom fair. Both seldom have the outcome you expect. And yet, they are both startlingly similar. It’s hard work. There are wins and there are losses. Always, there is a next time.

As my daughter left the locker room, she had a smile on her face. I was surprised by that. She’s competitive, like me, and she never likes to lose. I wrap her in a hug. “Are you okay?” I whisper in her ear.

“Yeah,” she whispers back. “I wish I could ride home with you. I’ve got so much homework to do.”

How wise, this daughter of mine. She is not concerned with the failure of today, only with the outcome of tomorrow.

I was so proud.

Monday, February 11, 2008

At last!! My bookcover is finished and I couldn't be happier. Barbour has gone all out hiring artists to create original work for their mystery line covers. The result is nothing short of breathtaking!

Okay, so maybe I'm biased (smiles).

More good news...the mystery book club has grown to over 6,000 members, and the first books haven't even shipped yet. Yep, it's all bigger and better from here...

Monday, February 04, 2008

I got an exciting email the other day…sample book cover. Wow! Little did I realize how much went into producing those awesome covers we see on bookstore shelves. Not only was our story reflected in the simple pencil sketch, we were actually asked for our input. How gratifying it was to be allowed to comment, offer suggestions, even give feedback on the artwork itself. These are talented people, mind you, with skills far beyond anything I could capture. Still, it was nice to be asked, to feel as though our opinion matters, and that our publisher desires that we be happy with the look of our book. Can’t wait to see the finished design!

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