Excuse Me While I Change My Hat

amazon-aaThis has been one exciting week. Nothing like a new book release to have all my friends come out, send congratulations, and tell their friends about my new book. I am so very grateful for that. For authors, release week leaves us to the point of almost walking in our sleep–it’s exciting, but completely exhaustng. There are so many things for authors to do All At The Same Time, and trying to keep up makes us long for the kind of promo teams James Patterson and Stephen King employ. But most of us do not make the kind of revenues those bigname authors get, so we happily jump in and change hats to whatever other job(s) we have to do besides writing.

Even more exciting, to celebrate the release of ABSTRACT ALIASES, my publisher has discounted COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES to just 99¢ until Sunday night. This is the first time Henery Press has discounted one of my Bodies of Art Mysteries, so if you haven’t started the series yet, but want to, please grab a copy before the price goes back up. And please tell your friends. I love when my readers can get a bargain!

Quite honestly, I’ve had so much fun with this new book. Gigi Pandian and I  co-hosted an event this weekend where we didn’t talk about our books, but instead showed pictures and gave info about the places and art and history associated with our respective new titles. How fun is that, right?

But I’ve fallen behind in my reporting tasks and fun duties. If you look on the banner above, I’ve not only added a webpage where you can download a coloring page copy of ABSTRACT ALIASES and Gigi’s new release MICHELANGELO’S GHOST, but I’ve also added a second page of downloadable coloring pages for places in my Bodies of Art Mysteries. I’ve also added an ABSTRACT ALIASES link on my Chapter Excerpts page if you’d like to read the early chapters of the new book. You can find that Chapter One Excerpt by either clicking on the tab in the black navigation bar under my top banner, or just click the link below.

https://ritterames.com/take-a-sample-chapter-one-excerpts-of-my-books/

In  ABSTRACT ALIASES my readers and london-skylinecharacters globetrot from London to Rome to Cologne to Baden-Baden, then back to London. All in just a couple of days. Exciting, huh? But not nearly as exciting as again coming face-to-face with the bad guys they’ve been looking for the past few months. And that surprise comes in the most unlikely place–when they’re surrounded by a 100,000 or more Londoners waiting for a holiday extravaganza. I won’t spoil things by adding too much detail here for anyone who hasn’t yet read ABSTRACT ALIASES, but I promise surprises at every turn.

You can find all the bookseller buy links for ABSTRACT ALIASES on my Where To Buy My Books page, found on the black navigation bar at the top, or click the link below. All my books are on this page, with ABSTRACT ALIASES listed at the top and COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES (on sale for 99¢, remember) directly below it:

https://ritterames.com/heres-where-to-buy-my-books/

Laurel’s & Jack’s mission doesn’t keep them from doing a little art sightseeing however, and these are some of the images they saw.

colognwindow2 cologne-germanyTo the left is just a small sample of the stained glass windows in the ginormous and art filled Cologne Cathedral in Cologne (or Koln), Germany.  You can see a picture of the entrance to Cologne, with the cathedral in the distance, in the next picture. Below is a night shot of the Trevi Fountain in Rome the way Laurel & Jack saw it. And below is a larger shot of the fresco Sibyls magnificently designed and painted by Renaissance artist Raphael in the Santa Maria della Pace. The last picture is a sunrise in Rome. I’m ready to go on another European vacation now!trevi-fountain-night-crowd-2

sibyls-by-raphael

 

sunrise-in-rome

 

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My Litographs Reward

Confession time: I try to stay away from Kickstarter because I like just about everything that hits the site. While I love encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship and innovation, I also like to eat and pay my electric bills (my laptop appreciates when I pay that bill too). So I tend to ignore a lot of the enticing emails Kickstarter sends my way–they’ve already pegged me as a soft touch. But when one of the guys at Litographs sent me an email saying they were starting another Kickstarter project earlier this spring, I opened it. And yes, I contributed (in about 0.5 seconds–told you I was a soft touch).

I already adore Litographs. The company takes the words from a published book and creates a picture on a t-shirt using just the words. I’ve loved this company for many reasons:

  1. The shirts not only have great designs, but they’re high quality and very comfortable to wear.
  2. I love wearing my favorite books (yes, the text is clear enough to read, though I usually just stick with the paper or Kindle versions for my nightly reading).
  3. Every time Litographs sells a shirt (they also sell totes and posters) they give away a book to an under-served community. The exact wording on their website is: “We’re committed to promoting literacy all over the world — to make a direct impact, we proudly partner with the International Book Bank to send one new, high-quality book to a community in need for every order placed on Litographs.com.”
  4. And my very selfish reason for loving Litographs is that their products help bolster my side in all the arguments I’ve had–okay, heated debates–with some rather egotistical graphic designers who’ve tried fruitlessly to convince me the picture or design is much more important than the words (y’all know I love visual art, but I’m not going to back down when someone disparages the written art of creativity). In the case of Litographs, it isn’t just that the words create the book that inspires the picture–yes, it does that–but more importantly The Words Are The Medium Used To Actually Create The Picture. So, from two different directions (or points of evidence if discussing this as a debate), the t-shirt (or tote or poster) could not Happen in its sell-able form without the words. The words don’t just come first, they are necessary to completely conclude the project. Okay, I’ll step down from my soapbox now.

Then there’s the new Kickstart project they launched and I contributed to. The offer? I could not only use of my own books for my “reward” for helping in the effort, but I could choose between either a t-shirt or a scarf (long scarf or infinity scarf). Wow, Litographs is already one of my favorite “gotta buy this because” companies, but now I’m offered a brand new choice to showcase my own words.

The Kickstarter campaign ended–it was a success–and I’ve been waiting for my followup email to give my choice in what kind of wearable art I want them to use for my word art. I picked…The Infinity Scarf. I already have two of their t-shirts (Don Quixote and The Princess Bride, and I want many more) and I don’t need another tote (yes, I have several from VistaPrint with my book covers printed on the canvas). But I love the idea of throwing on a plain tee and jeans, then adding the infinity scarf to any outfit.

For the book of words to use, I chose Counterfeit Conspiracies, since it was my first published novel. And for the color I chose a light green to go with the lovely new book cover. I won’t receive my prototype until sometime in August (hurry faster, Litographs, faster), but here’s what the sample looks like–just envision my words in light green instead of this text in dark pink.

If you’d like to check out their products, the website is http://www.litographs.com/ I highly recommend them 🙂

Litographs scarf sample

This is So Cool–and it’s Free!

tumblr_inline_o1mdsxa1zz1rs13co_500Doing a little U.K. research this morning, and I ran across a terrific freebie that is practically unrelated to my research (well, it is England-related) but it is fun. It is also Free– a lovely coloring book filled with art images from the Middle Ages to bring out the artist in everyone. Click This Link–2016-Bodleian-Library-Colouring-Book to get your own PDF copy of the coloring book to download from the Bodleian Library. Don’t bother clicking the lovely GIF at the right–it’s just showing off to get your attention. Love this–especially because it’s free. So, grab your colored (or should that be coloured?) pencils, fun inks, or crayons. Download and print your own copy to spend the weekend coloring up the Middle Ages. Have fun, everyone!

 

Stuff Builds Characters

What Stuff SaysI revamped out my office this weekend, exchanging one desk for another. My dog loves it because she can take over every inch of the middle of my office floor (and is doing so right now. And snoring). But this changeover got me thinking about a kind of quiz I do each time I start brainstorming characters for my series. Since I’m a week away from the Henery Press release of Counterfeit Conspiracies and Marked Masters, I thought I’d spend a few minutes today talking about how “stuff” builds Laurel Beacham’s character.

  1. Laurel Beacham is likely to keep…things that fit in her huge purse and help her get into and out of trouble on a daily basis as she attempts to keep art masterpieces from disappearing into the “ether.” In her public persona, she’s more likely to use her cell phone to connect with someone who can provide the “open sesame” she needs to get into exclusive events. In her private persona as a reclamation angel, she uses the slick little gizmos and lock picks she’s bought and received from Nico and others to give her the edge needed to “reclaim” stolen art. She’s also prone to stashing costume jewelry, travel guidebooks, business cards, and alarms that warn when someone might be trying to sneak up behind her (yes, this happens a lot).
  2. Travel luggageSpring may be right around the corner but before Laurel can switch out her wardrobe she needs to…Well, usually she needs to find it. Her luggage may be tagged with her contact information, but more and more often she finds her bags disappearing and she’s left washing outfits in the bathroom sink each night or sending them down for hotel laundering. While that may not sound organized, losing her luggage is never her fault. And since she’s “out of the office” and somewhere in Europe about 200 days each year, she’s learned to be pretty self-sufficient when her belongings go AWOL and her credit cards are maxed out.
  3. Going to the grocery store is…pretty much an unknown for Laurel. Even if her mother hadn’t died when she was four, whenever she found her way into the kitchen of her grandparent’s mansion the cook usually just patted her on the head and handed her a cookie or piece of cake. By the time Laurel’s father inherited everything, then gambled it all away, her means of managing a meal was firmly established in deciphering a French menu rather than actually cooking a meal using a French cookbook. So grocery stores are still a mystery and a marvel to her, and she usually leaves with half her needs because she has no idea what ingredients are necessary for favorite meals. However, she does know where to find all the ingredients for a killer martini.
  4. poker tableIf Laurel ever forgets keys or a combination to a safe…it doesn’t fluster her. Thanks to training by some not-so-conventional friends, she can pick a lock or crack most safes. Because of this “training to stay calm under pressure” she is also an excellent poker player–a skill that comes in handy far beyond the gaming table.
  5.  art masterpiecesBecause Laurel’s life was pretty much an exercise in perpetual “loss” from her teens to early twenties, and she’s still saddled with debt incurred due to her father’s squandering practices before his demise, she’s a pro at pulling herself up and charging on–despite all new challenges or losses. The only time she won’t tolerate something going missing is when public art is involved. In those cases, she will do everything in her power to locate and gain back the missing masterpieces, and put the perpetrator behind bars if possible.

So what does your stuff say about you? 🙂

Counterfeit Conspiracies and Marked Masters can be pre-ordered now and will be released Feb. 2nd. You can find all the bookseller links for both books at Where to Buy My Books

 

Video Traveling

I love setting my Bodies of Art books in European places I’ve visited. I love going back and looking at the pictures I took, restudying the maps to remind myself of the route we chose. Reading notes I made when I ran across something interesting or heard a lovely accent or terrific turn of phrase. All that “reviewing time” not only helps me write the books, but helps me relive the whole experience.ClassicRhineMap

Still, no matter how well written my notes, or how sharply focused the photos, there are things I’m always going to forget until something comes along to jog my memory. One way I do this is to watch YouTube videos of the area I’m writing about. Often the videos show things I saw from a different perspective, too, which broadens my own understanding of the area and culture.

Rhine 1But other times I watch YouTube videos that come up when I put in my search terms, and the videos really have nothing to add to what I’m trying to write about. That doesn’t mean it’s a waste of time, however. I’ve found I can do some pretty great daydreaming while watching travel videos purely for pleasure, especially ones that use classical music as a backdrop. One of my favorites is this video on traveling down the Rhine. Besides the afore mentioned classical music, the video is shot from a helicopter moving from where the Rhine starts in the Alps, and down through the cities and countries that sit along its banks.

Passau_RhineI found this video while I was researching for Abstract Aliases. Don’t worry, no spoilers–there’s nothing in this video that appears in Laurel’s & Jack’s newest adventures. But it is one of the most soothing videos out there, one that makes me dream up new ideas, and note places I want to see. So, I thought I’d take a moment to share it today. If you have some time to spare, you might enjoy the video, too.

The Soundtrack of My Working Life

One thing that keeps me energized as an author is playing music as I write. My daughter used to always say she could tell which writing project I was currently working on based on what music came out of my home office. Her favorite was when I worked on a suspense/thriller with a particularly no-nonsense reporter as the protagonist, because I played Sheryl Crow all day. I’m not sure why, but the music perfectly fit that particular character.

Right now, I’m on deadline for the next book in my Bodies of Art Mysteries series, and beyond watching YouTube videos of Barcelona and Switzerland (that’s all the clues I’m giving, no spoilers) I added new music to my “escape in Europe” repetoire. Have been writing to the soundtracks of the Oceans movies, thanks to a tip from terrific author Ellie Ashe. But a couple of weeks ago I saw the new The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (and yes, I’ve Man from UNCLEalways had Henry Cavill in mind for Jack Hawkes–even before Guy Ritchie cast him in the role of Napoleon Solo and proved Cavill had the acting chops I’d long suspected he had and “owned” the role). Loved the movie, will likely see it again (and again). Especially loved the chemistry between the three spys. And something I didn’t even consider when I bought my ticket (but should have, since this is a Guy Ritchie film, after all) was that I LOVE the movie’s soundtrack.

The best part is that this soundtrack is the perfect music to play on my computer or Amazon Echo (yes, love that little marvel, too) while I’m writing scenes for a Bodies of Art mystery. Don’t have a final title worked out yet for the little jewel of a sequel for Laurel & Jack, but thanks to this original music created for the fabulous film, words flows from my brain to the keyboard as smoothly as this smooth soundtrack shuffles from one excellent song to the next.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me. One of the bad guys from the first book, Counterfeit Conspiracies, has surfaced again in a book #3 scene (no, I won’t give the name), and thinks he’s trapped our heroine. I can’t wait to see how Laurel gets out of a very sticky situation–or whether the baddie is limping (or worse) by the end.

Do you have any favorite music you like to motivate you while working? Feel free to share in the comments 🙂

We’re Going Into the Home Stretch…

Duomo complex with Giotto bell towerDo you know how writer’s whine? Well, let me tell you I’ve been happily whining up a storm lately because I’m having such a difficult time staying focused. But all the promos are starting on Marked Masters, the second book in my Bodies of Art Mysteries, and that makes me think of Florida and Florence, Italy–the two places Laurel & Jack focus their own attention in the book. The picture at the right shows the Duomo complex in Florence (you can see a hint of the exquisite dome on the far right edge) and the Giotto Bell Tower in the background plays a key role in the book. So… I’m having some difficulty staying in one point of view each day, and my cozy deadline is looming, and I have to keep reminding myself to get out of Laurel’s smart mouth POV and back into Kate’s much nicer and more dedicated one. However, Girl and Her Ebooks did a lovely chapter excerpt of Marked Masters over Valentine’s weekend, along with the synopsis of the noveland readers who received pre-release ARCs of the book have already started posting reviews of Marked Masters on Goodreads. So, I alternate between whining and grinning all day every day. And writing, of course–I seem to never stop writing 🙂

Giotto bell towerThe fun will continue in the next couple of weeks. As I posted here last week, I did a giveaway of a Bodies of Art large canvas tote bag at Laffeinated Ink on Wednesday, and plan to do another very soon. I’ll also be giving away copies of the book in March when I guest post at a couple of blogs, so stay tuned for information on those prize ops–I promise to post all the information here in case any readers want to enter. And if you haven’t yet subscribed to my newsletter, there will be more giveaway tie-ins offered with the next issues, so feel free to sign-up for my newsletter here.

I’ve also been putting some finishing touches on a short story that features Laurel Beacham doing one of her “pro bono” retrievals. I’ll post when it’s available for viewing soon. It will be on the Short Stories page whose link is along the banner at the top of this page, and which currently contains the link to my Organized Christmas story.

Moonrise over the Arno in FlorenceHope your February is going well, and you’re staying warm. We just had four inches of snow last night, and expect another couple overnight tonight. So my agenda for the next few days is to stay in, keep dry, and don’t stop writing. And to view wonderful pics like these of Florence to take my mind off the cold. If things get too difficult, I’ll have a little wine with my whine. Sounds like a good plan, right? Florence at Night

In the meantime, here are a few more wonderful shots of Florence that tie in with the events in Marked Masters. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Now, I have to get back to my Organized camping trip. I can almost taste the s’mores–David by Michelangelowhen I’m not helping Kate solve the murder of course!  Buonasera!

To purchase Marked Master in print or ebook, you can find the links on my Where to Buy My Books page. The book will be released in all bookseller outlets March 2nd.Florence at Night