Freebie & Bargain Fridays–Holiday Edition

Is everyone getting busy? No matter how busy we are, it’s important we find ways to relax in the middle of the rush. Personally, my favorite way is to kick back, put my feet up on my ottoman (or snuggled under a warm comforter) and read. Especially seasonal reads that writers have put out especially for the holidays and at a savings, to thank me for being a reader or to gift new readers so they can try new series at a discount–or free.

I’ll start by tooting my own horn since I added a free Bodies of Art Christmas story featuring Laurel Beacham & Jack Hawkes. Laurel does a little crime thwarting on Oxford Street in London in her own inimitable way. Short and seasonal. You can Read it Here.

Next, here’s a reader extravaganza, with some of your favorite cozy mystery authors either giving away or discounting about 70 books in their various series. Click the cover and you’ll be sent to the place to download for Free or 99¢. Check it Out Here.

This next holiday bargain also has a short fuse before the 99¢ bargain disappears. The 12 Slays of Christmas is a new novella anthology–about 3000 pages long–that brings 12 cozy authors together to not only offer seasonal stories that tie to their mystery series, but also help animal shelters overwhelmed due to the recent hurricane disasters in the U.S. All proceeds from the anthology go toward the ASPCA and shelters in Texas and Florida. But the 99¢ new release price only lasts through the first week, so get it before 12/12 to get this great price. After release week is over the price of the anthology goes up to $4.99–so if you get it then you’ll still be helping the animals, but at a higher cost to you. At either price, the book is a bargain! Click Here for the Amazon Link

Finally, in case you missed them earlier, there are holiday freebies on my November post that are still available. Check out this link if you didn’t grab them earlier.

Happy Reading, Everyone! And Happy Holidays!

 

Advertisements

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

 

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

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? 🙂

 

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 🙂

Picture Me Organized

I never imagined when I penned my first story that I would eventually have to balance my writing work with such daily tasks as comb research sites and flag them for later use, file tax records, discover marketing options, network with advertisers, find fabulous clothes for my characters to wear, locate spy and tech stuff for my characters to use, figure out group activities for my characters’ children…and still find a way to write and have some fun in the middle of this publishing circus. One social media invention that helps me keep on top of all my treasured data is Pinterest. Yes, Pinterest. I know, a lot of people say it’s a time waster, but for me the site is an organizing sensation. Here’s why–

London Horse statue in streetSince I write two mystery series, I can have multiple boards about the endless number of things that relate to each series. I have fabulous European sites and travel tips for my Bodies of Art Mysteries series (and yes, this is where the spy and tech research comes in), and organization, parenting, and money saving tips for my Organized Mysteries series. The pictures are fun to find, easy to post, and a snap to locate later when I need to describe a scene or how to do something in one of my character’s lives. The site also allows me to create boards for each of my series, so I can add new covers as books are readied for release.

Horse statue in FlorenceAnd you can learn some really unique things. Take a look at these shots of London, England and Florence, Italy, for example. Who would have thought that you could get similar shots with a horse statue anchoring the street scene in each city, with the premier landmark of the city centered in the background of each shot? Sure, it isn’t an earth shattering fact that will make or break a mystery novel, but it is an interesting factoid I can have one of my characters mention to another. Little things like these that I can’t necessarily catch in a week-long vacation are some of the greatest attributes of Pinterest.

Even better, others can see my boards and follow the ones that interest them, giving us a connection we never had before. And the people who follow me often pin things on their boards I’m interested in, too, so I discover new places and tips without the time consuming searches. You can probably imagine how much help I find with these specialized boards when I’m writing my Bodies of Art series and needing to describe these fabulous settings. My boards are kind of Florence-heavy at the moment since so much of the action in my latest release, Marked Masters, took place in that glorious Renaissance city. London was more heavily featured in Counterfeit Conspiracies, as well as areas in France.

Does it all sound intriguing to you? If so, feel free to wander over to my Pinterest site at http://www.pinterest.com/ritterames where  I have a couple of dozen boards up now, and I welcome everyone to come and browse. And if you follow me, you’re likely to find I’ve wandered over to check out yours as well. Happy reading and pinning, everyone!

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