Contest and Giveaway this Weekend!

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Please note: This giveaway is over and the winner is posted in the comments section. Thank you!

See this terrific bag? I received this bag at the Left Coast Crime registration desk when I arrived at the Phoenix conference yesterday. The Hyatt hotel is amazing, the conference is so much fun, and I love meeting all the other mystery authors and fans, and reconnecting with friends I’ve already met on FB and at other conferences. I’m on a panel Saturday afternoon when I get to talk about writing my books, and I’m really enjoying the information coming from all the authors attending and telling me about their books and favorite mysteries. But while I’m having a great time this weekend, I thought I’d share the fun. Contest and giveaway!

Inside this bag–besides the camera and Kindle and stuff of mine that I’m carrying around–are several great mystery title authors here have given away, as well as bookmarks, postcards, an ink pen, and probably more swag I’ve forgotten already. If you’d like the bag and some great new mysteries, leave a comment on this blog and I’ll pick one winner Monday evening when I return home from the conference.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this blog. I’ll draw a name either Monday night or Tuesday morning (depending on how tired I am when I arrive home) and post the winner here on Tuesday. This contest is just for U.S. readers only (sorry, but books are heavy, and mailing costs overseas make it too prohibitive for this kind of giveaway. Good luck, everyone, and I hope your weekend is wonderful. Happy Reading. #LCC2016

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Giveaway and Sneak Peek Today

I’m over at Jungle Red Writers today having some fun and giving away a book to a lucky commenter. Come by, read the post, and leave a comment if you want a chance to win.

Want to read a first chapters excerpt of Counterfeit Conspiracies? Head over to Kindle Nation Daily Blog. Not sure how long it will be up, but the excerpt is up for viewing this weekend.FP&OF meme

 

Tales of an Almost Art Class Dropout

In high school art class, I understood the principles, knew trivia on every artist, loved composition and atmosphere—but rarely turned in a project that wasn’t a disaster. I had the same art teacher from ninth until twelfth grade. Senior year, she looked at my latest what-the-heck-is-that? project and asked, “Why in the world did you choose to take this class for four years?” Yes, I chose to take the elective that humbled me on a daily basis.

It didn’t matter if my work wasn’t displayed. Nothing beat watching my classmates—who were good at every medium—create beautiful original works. I was everyone’s audience. The kid who nearly didn’t get assignments completed because she was so busy marveling over the genius spilling out around her.Stolen masterpieces from Castelvecchni Civic Museum-group paintings

I discovered art history classes in college. We discussed theory and design elements, but I never had to pick up a paintbrush or charcoal. In my element, finally, I wrote about art. I also learned about missing art, forged masterpieces, and priceless works hidden for years, decades—maybe even centuries—before surfacing again by accident or dumb-crook mistakes.

A mystery reader’s dream come true.

All became fodder when I brainstormed my Bodies of Art Mysteries. I knew I wanted point-of-view character Laurel Beacham to work as an art recovery expert—finding lost art others tried to spirit away. She needed to know art world players and fit in, but I didn’t want her simply mingling with the upper-crust attending glittery fundraising parties, auctions and openings. I also didn’t envision her following behind law enforcement types and pushing paperwork each day.

I wanted her in the mix. Living on the edge. Doing whatever it took to reunite missing masterpieces with the public.

She also needed a foil to keep her sharp, tax her patience, and leave her a little off-balance. I brainstormed Jack Hawkes, someone who can anticipate Laurel’s impetuous moves because he usually stays one step ahead of her. Jack maintains enough mystery to keep her infuriated—but interested—and he knows or can find out things when she doesn’t have the connections. Both have quick wits, sharp tongues, and the kind of skills and tenacity needed to accept every challenge coming their way.Tower Bridge at Night w-BOA cropped

An author is often asked if characters in a novel are actually the author in disguise. I can honestly say parts of Laurel are the idealistic almost-art-class-dropout I was until I found my true calling in college. A calling she follows naturally because that’s the joy of fiction—my characters learn from my mistakes. She needs less sleep than I, wears better clothes, travels constantly to places I adore, and eats what she loves and doesn’t gain a pound. But I can balance a checkbook—something beyond Laurel’s capabilities. I’m also much less likely to risk life and limb rappelling off the side of a building—but she and Jack accept that challenge as just another work day.

Is there anything you did that developed into something more important later in your life?

 

The first two books in the Bodies of Art Mysteries series, Counterfeit Conspiracies and Marked Masters are on sale now, and Abstract Aliases will be out this fall. For more information on Ritter Ames or her books and series characters, check out her page on the Henery Press website at http://henerypress.com/ritter-ames/ or her website at www.ritterames.com

Schedule Coming Up — Fun Excerpts and Ongoing Contest

WN&FSa memTo tie with the release of COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES and MARKED MASTERS, I’ve been doing guest posts and interviews all over the internet. My blog tour host has been fabulous at getting me stops at blogs I’m excited to read myself, so guesting there is double the pleasure. At today’s stop, author Barb Taub “interviewed” my character Laurel Beacham, plus has my favorite book excerpt up from Counterfeit Conspiracies.COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES coverII

I had so much fun with this format, and she put the whole thing together in a brilliant fashion. Absolutely love the graphics she added. Please check it out if you have a minute. If you’ve read these books–or even just the description–I think you’ll be wowed by the graphics too. Click here to shoot over to Barb Taub’s blog Writing & Coffee. Especially Coffee. 

MARKED MASTERS coverOn Friday, Feb 19th, I’ll be posting on the Jungle Red Writers blog, and a little birdie told me there’s a giveaway in the works for that stop. The next day I’m scheduled at Writers Who Kill, and I have my suspicions there could be a drawing for some type of giveaway there, too. But you’ll have to stop by and comment to win.

My blog tours runs into the first week of March–even while I’ll be at Left Coast Crime in Phoenix. There will be prizes sprinkled in at various stops–depending on what each blog host likes to do. And at most stops you’ll find a sign-up for a big Rafflecopter prize to be held at the end. One of the options for that drawing is to sign up for my newsletter. If you’re already a subscriber, just sign up again so Rafflecopter will know you’re interested, or leave your name and email in the box on the Invent Your Own Contest option, and you’ll still get the same credit. No harm, no foul. I want everyone to have the best chance to win. If you’d like a list of those stops, Click Here for the Blog Tour schedule and clickable links.

Good luck, everyone!

 

Been Blogging and Previewing this Week

SneakPeakCounterfeitConspiraciesIt was release week for my Bodies of Art Mysteries, so me and my books have been blogging all over the place. My publisher, Henery Press posted a terrific Sneak Peak on their Club Hen House blog last Friday.

On the February 2nd release day, there was a release blitz for the series, and on Feb 3rd, I Heart Reading posted the lovely blog tour coming up for the series (yeah, I’m still writing blogs and finishing interviews for the dates near the end of the tour–LOL!).

Even more fun on the February 2nd release day, my fun post on how I research the Bodies of Art Books was also on Club Hen House, and I not only get to talk about my methods (and madness–LOL!) but I also get to use my pictures taken as we travel. Hint: the pics at the top of the post, showing the cloudy London panorama, were taken from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral after hubby and daughter and I climbed every one of the 528 steps to the top. We stopped at the Whispering Gallery (a mere 257 steps) to take a look around and check out the eavesdropping possibilities. Then moved to the Stone Gallery (376 steps up), and finally on to the Golden Gallery (those afore mentioned 528 steps from the ground). Most of the climb was via spiral staircase as the dome narrowed near the top–never want to see another spiral staircase as long as I live. But the view was worth it!

And today, Arched Doorway posted my short guest post about creating my characters, Jack & Laurel. Fun stuff for me–hope it’s equally fun for readers. Check it out if you have a minute. FP&OF meme

So, what’s on your schedule this weekend? 🙂

 

Tuesday Travel Tips–February Edition

TTT memeI’m already planning a trip to Left Coast Crime at the end of this month, and I can’t wait. I’m channeling my inner Laurel Beacham to remember all the tips to make going from point A to point B more memorable.

First up, I booked my late-February flight in August, and not only got a great price, but the flight is nonstop, too. I would have paid more for nonstop alone, but instead I got exactly what I needed at a discount. Beyond that, here are a few more ways you can save money–and maybe time, too–for your next trip.

  1. Subscribe to airline newsletters, so when they’re running a lightning sale you get immediate notice via email or on your phone. I try to fly Southwest every chance I can to build up miles (though I always check other carriers for better deals), and getting the Southwest e-newsletters helps me grab extra savings, too. Other airlines that offer cost saving newsletters are Virgin, JetBlue, Hawaiian and Alaska Air. There are likely more, but that’s my short list.
  2. Tuesdays are the best day to catch a great fair on a domestic flight because that’s still the day the airlines price match one another.
  3. Always clear your cookies from your browser after checking out an airline. That innocent looking trail of cookies tells airlines you’ve been by their site before–and how many times. So if you search multiple times you risk getting your price bumped up because they know you are really interested.
  4. Are you traveling as a big group or family? Consider renting a house or condo for your stay instead of booking a hotel. This is often cheaper than hotel rooms for everyone, and you’ll have a kitchen and places for everyone to gather and relax together.
  5. Take a collapsible water bottle with you to fill after you leave airport security. I recently traveled without one and got pretty tired of paying $5 for a regular-sized bottle of water every time I was stuck in an airport for a layover.
  6. I was going to stop at five tips, but here’s one I’ve used a lot, and it’s really paid off. If you are a student–or you’ve recently been a student and still have your student ID–don’t forget to take it with you. I’ve received event and museum discounts all over with a student ID I was required to have for a three hour class I took several years ago. My student ID doesn’t have a date on it, and I’ve never been questioned because my picture is right under the university logo. Same goes for AAA memberships and AARP memberships. Flash those cards people and save some green.

Okay, those are my short tips of the day. Do you have any travel tips you’d like to share?

Always Look Forward to Small Rewards too

MMM memeMy husband starts cutting firewood in late summer/early fall and continues through the winter splitting heavy oak logs and cleaning out brush that’s accumulated in the warm months. He doesn’t just do this because he sells more firewood in the winter and we use it to heat our home. The colder months are also better for cleanup and cutting because snakes are hibernating this time of year and mostly remain in a hole somewhere, so hubby runs a much lower risk of stumbling into a nest and getting bitten.

My husband is a lot like Indiana Jones–he hates snakes.

But while all of this work produces terrific results around our home, I noticed over the years that hubby tends to just take this as something he must do. He’s good at this kind of work, truly enjoys it. And while he can tell you to the penny how much money he makes each year selling firewood, how much he’s spent on equipment/maintenance, gas for the chainsaw, and ads run in the local paper–what he can’t seem to get is the reward for the aesthetic improvement he makes around the place. When he cleans out a new section, I always tell him how great it looks, and he shrugs it off saying “It had to be done.” He’s too hard a worker for his own ego.

So, since he loves Lindt truffles, I keep a stash around the house that he doesn’t know about, and always pocket couple when going out to see what new area he’s cleaned up. After I ooh and ahh over it (mostly because he does the majority of the work himself and doesn’t make me help him–gotta love the guy), I hand him a couple of Lindt truffles and say they’re for a job well done. He grins and takes the truffles, making a joke about it all.

I believe in small rewards to keep motivation high. It doesn’t have to be candy–it can be looking forward to reading a new book as soon as a project is completed, or a new lipstick just because I like the color.

Small rewards can make us remember big accomplishments every time the rewards come to mind or another comes up in our lives. For instance, my husband isn’t even surprised anymore when I pull truffles from my pocket, but he is pleased.

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When I gained my USA Today bestselling title, I treated myself to a handbag I’d fallen in love with the previous spring. Now, every time I look at that purse, I remember my excitement at seeing my name and book title on the USA Today web page.

What about you? Do you reward yourself in any way when you complete tasks?