Monday, September 15, 2014

The Critters Are Out to Get Me

On September 4th, I wrote about my war with the squirrel over the bird feeder.

I now wish to report that the match stands at Squirrel 2, Me 0.

Today, however, I bought a really, really long S Hook at Wild Birds Unlimited and hung the feeder from a high limb on the aspen tree just outside my front window. It's far from the trunk, a scary climb down the hook, and nothing to hold onto. I'll report back later!!

(But just to show you I'm not heartless, I did put some seed and a seed bell in the tray feeder for Ms. or Mr. Squirrel. Maybe I'll buy some peanuts too.)

The other critter story is about my Katie Cat who has developed a fun activity for when she's bored and no one wants to play.

She pulls books out of my bookshelves onto the floor, then gets on the shelf and pushes out a few more, then walks away from the mess.

It goes like this:

Hard at work

Need to dump a few more. See the one falling (near the floor)?

See her peering from the top shelf, waiting for my reaction, happy with her work?

Katie's books from the living room bookshelf.

She also spent a little time with the books in the den.

As you can tell, I have a lot of books. Three bookcases plus piles of books on the coffee table. Most of them are books I haven't read yet, but a few are keepers. By the way, Katie highly recommends that one in the top photo, Mariano's Crossing by David Jessup. It's an excellent historical novel set in Northern Colorado.

Now I need to go pick up all those books and put them back on their shelves.

Friday, September 12, 2014


By Dori Hillestad Butler

Hi, Pat! Thanks for hosting me on your blog.

I’d like to introduce you to some of the characters from my Haunted Library series for beginning chapter book readers. This is Kaz and his family. Yes, they’re ghosts. Sadly, Kaz was separated from his family at the beginning of book one. He spends the rest of the series solving ghostly mysteries with his “solid” friend Claire in hopes of finding his family.

Notice Kaz’s mom is wearing cute little button earrings. I’m not sure I noticed those earrings. Not until I was revising book three (The Ghost Backstage, which comes out October 2014) and my editor wanted me to: 1) show Kaz making a little more progress finding his family and 2) make it clear that Kaz’s mom had been at Claire’s school. In order to do that, I needed to come up with a clue that Kaz could link to his mom. But what?

Well…maybe Kaz’s mom wears some distinctive earrings that are shaped like…say, keys??? The more I thought about it, the more I liked that idea. Maybe I could even do something with those keys in a future book. Did I mention this was book THREE? Kaz’s mom appears in book one, and the art for book one was already done. As you can see in the above illustration, she’s not wearing key-shaped earrings.

But book one hadn’t actually gone to press yet. And my editor liked my new ideas for book three, so she decided we could ask the illustrator to change Mom’s earrings back in book one. (Sorry, Aurore.) Here’s the new version of Kaz’s mom:

After the book went to press, I began to wonder if the key earrings were such a great idea after all. Yes, they were distinct. But did earrings like that even exist? Funny, it didn’t occur to me to worry about whether or not GHOSTS existed…just whether or not those earrings existed.

Then I took a day trip to the San Juan Islands. While I was there, I wandered into a gift shop. You’ll never guess what I found there:

Kaz’s mom’s earrings! Not only did they exist, they were for sale!

Should I buy them? They weren’t really my style, but maybe I should buy them anyway?

Nah. I decided it was silly to buy earrings that I was unlikely to ever wear simply because they happened to look like the earrings one of my characters wears.

Then I saw these earrings:

These were earrings I would wear, so I put the plain key earrings back and bought these instead. Believe it or not, the girl who rang me up was the person who had made BOTH sets of earrings! I told her I was a children’s book author and we had a nice conversation and then I left.

Halfway back to the dock, I changed my mind about the plain key earrings. I decided I could wear them when I did school visits. All it would take was one kid to point them out and say, “Hey, Kaz’s mom wears earrings like that!” and I’d be wearing them to every school visit.

But our ferry was due to board soon. Like in ten minutes. People were already lined up. If I was going to go back, I would have to go fast.

So I went fast!

The girl was so happy to see me again that she even gave me a discount! Then I ran back to where my husband and brother were lined up on the dock. I showed them my purchase. I looked at the clock. And then I said, “I should’ve gotten my picture taken with that girl! Do you think I should go back?”

The ferry was due to board.

But it wasn’t boarding. Not yet. So I ran back and got this picture taken really quick:

That’s why my face is red and why it’s a little blurry. But I got the picture… I made the ferry…and I’ve even worn the earrings!

I think I made the right call in all three cases (changing the book, buying the earrings, and running back to get the picture). Would you have done the same?


About Dori Hillestad Butler – Dori Hillestad Butler is the author of more than 40 books for children. Her books have appeared on children's choice award lists in 18 different states. Trading Places with Tank Talbott won the Maryland Children's Choice Award in 2007. And The Buddy Files: Case of the Lost Boy won the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery. In 2013 she chaired the Juvenile Edgar Award committee. Dori has also been a ghostwriter for the Sweet Valley Twins, Unicorn Club, and Boxcar Children series, and a children's book reviewer for several publications. She's published numerous short stories, plays, and educational materials, and has served as the Iowa Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' Regional Advisor. She grew up in southern Minnesota, spent the last 19 years in Iowa, and has just recently moved to the Seattle area. She is on a quest to do an author visit in all 50 states (14 down, 36 to go!).

About The Haunted Library Book 1

A brand-new young chapter book series from Edgar Award winner Dori Hillestad Butler! When ghost boy Kaz’s haunt is torn down and he is separated from his ghost family, he meets a “solid” girl named Claire, who lives above the town library with her parents and her grandmother. Claire has a special ability to see ghosts when other humans cannot and she and Kaz quickly form a friendship. The two join forces to solve the mystery of the ghost that’s haunting the library. Could it be one of Kaz’s lost family members?

Thanks again to Dori Hillestad Butler for appearing. For other stops on the Haunted Library Blog Tour please check

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Being a Book Pusher is a Good Thing

I plan to do a lot of book pushing over the next few months, and that includes books for kidlets, middle grade, and young adult.

If you write books for the younger set and want to do a guest post between now and Christmas, email me at the address linked in my blogger profile (right sidebar) or leave a comment with your contact information.

Or....message me on Twitter or Facebook.

Dori Hillestad Butler (the Haunted Library series for 8-12 years old) is scheduled for this Friday, September 12th.

I also have mystery writers on the schedule this fall, and a bunch of the talented writers  from Northern Colorado representing a variety of genres. There will be a post about the most excellent anthology published by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers called Crossing Colfax.

And as I get caught up in my reading, you'll hear more about Susan Spann's shinobi mystery Blade of the Samurai, Mark Stevens upcoming Allison Coil mystery release Trapline, Pamela Nowak's Colorado Book Award winning Changes, and more. I plan to give up sleeping so I can read all these most delicious books and then persuade you to buy them too.

Is there any better gift to give for a birthday or holiday than a book? Not in my book.

Now I'm off to investigate the September Sisters in Crime SinC-Up for bloggers. If you're a blogger and interested in knowing more about the SinC-Up, you can visit the bloghop page at the SinC National website. You do not have to be a SinC member to participate. It looks like another fun way to connect with other bloggers, and that's always a good thing.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Remembering Tina Downey

Tina was important to the blogging community through the A to Z April Challenge and a good friend to many. She will be sadly missed.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My War With the Squirrel and Other Adventures

My War With the Squirrel

There's a squirrel, at least one, that considered one of my bird feeders his personal supply of goodies to stash for the upcoming bitter cold and snowy winter.

I went to my favorite bird supply store to look at squirrel guards and discovered they cost more than my bird feeder did. I decided to try to make my own. I took a foil pan, cut a slit in the middle with my handy-dandy box cutter, and slipped it over the hanger on the feeder. It looked like this:

As you can see, the squirrel was put off for a bit and foraged from the leftovers on the ground under the feeder. He even fought with the mourning doves for the rights.

That lasted four days. First I saw the squirrel hanging upside down on the feeder, it's nose in one of the seed openings and its paws wrapped all the way around the feeder. Soon after, I discovered the bird feeder on the ground with the foil pan pulled sideways, lengthening the handle opening beyond useful.

I took my packing tape outside and patched the tear, then worked the foil pan into more of a dome shape, like this:

It has now been six days and the squirrel hasn't figured it out yet. I haven't seen him try, so I'm not sure if he gave up or tries and slides off. For the moment, at least, the birds are happy.

Other Adventures

Colorado Gold

I'm off to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference near Denver. I'm working the registration table Friday, co-hosting a dinner table with one of our visiting literary agents tomorrow evening, and then just enjoying as many workshops, panels, and visits with writerly friends as time allows.

I'm hoping I come back super-motivated to get busy and finish my wip, organize whatever promo I decide to do for the November release of Dead Wrong, and maybe even get the revisions done on one of my shelf novels. I have too many first or second drafts sitting around doing nothing. More about that below.

My Blog

Starting in mid-September, I have a fun lineup of guest bloggers, many of them from Northern Colorado. We have so much writing talent up here that I thought it was time to show them off, so I invited members of Northern Colorado Writers to join us and share their stories.

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Blog

I'm continuing as editor of the RMFW Blog, a project that I helped launch and now serve as co-editor along with author Julie Kazimer. The regular contributors to that blog and most of the guest authors are member of RMFW, an organization that is growing and gaining worldwide attention.

Fiction writers, if you don't already belong to RMFW, check it out for the great newsletter, monthly Denver area and Western Slope programs, online classes, an annual writing competition, a member anthology, the Colorado Gold Conference, a writers' retreat (March 11-15, 2015 in Estes Park, CO), and more.

Yes, I Have Another Book (or two or three) in the Works

This is the neverending story about writing and not writing and taking time off and procrastinating and doing a little of this and a little of that and never getting done...

I have Wishing Caswell Dead which I've now been toying with for about six years -- it's my favorite project and now I'm thinking of rewriting the whole thing to be in the main character's point of view.....maybe all first person. Or maybe not... When you have a novel that's too dear and too precious, you sometimes can't let it go.

I have the untitled first draft of a mystery from NaNoWriMo 2011 (conveniently called NaNoWriMo2011) that needs a lot of work. I may decide to change the setting and sequence of events for that one and ramp up the tension in a couple of places. Or not.....  This one is not dear and precious, it's just too, well, too NaNoWriMo, if you know what I mean.

And then I have Out of Control which I began as a NaNoWriMo novel in 2013 but quickly realized it could be a decent psychological suspense if I stopped NaNo and worked on a better structure and timeline. I might finish that one by the end of the year.

That's not all.

The 1986 first draft of Against Her Better Judgement sits on my shelf. It's supposed to be romantic suspense. Sigh.

The 1985 action-adventure novel I wrote with my brother, The Troubleshooter, only made it to audiotape in 2000. It would need a lot of work to make it a good mystery, and even then the subject and time frame (trucker/union/management circa 1970s) might not be marketable.

And while all that's wobbling drunkenly around my brain, I need to promote Dead Wrong, now available for pre-order in hardcover from the usual places.

So I'm just going to let all that sit there and percolate while I go pack for Colorado Gold. I'm taking my camera this year. I might see if I can get some photos of writers acting badly. Just for fun.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The two winners of a copy of "When the Past Haunts You"

We had two copies of L.C. Hayden's Harry Bronson mystery, When the Past Haunts You, to give away.

The winners are:

Susan Oleksiw

Author of the Anita Ray Mystery Series (For the Love of Pavarti, May 2014, Five Star)


Dean K. Miller

Author of And Then I Smiled: Reflections on a Life Not Yet Complete (Hot Chocolate Press, February2014)

Congratulations to Susan and Dean!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I'm a Fan of L.C. Hayden's Harry Bronson

When I found out L.C. Hayden's 4th Harry Bronson mystery, When the Past Haunts You, was about to be published in mass market paperback by the wonderful Harlequin Worldwide Mystery online book club, I asked L.C. if she would like to give away a copy or two and let me promote the book on my blog. I hadn't yet read When the Past Haunts You, so, of course, my first job was to read.....and that took awhile because I was between the two cataract surgeries when I received the copies. If you keep up with my blog, you'll understand why I had to take my time.

Now, however, I can tell you that When the Past Haunts You is a darned good read, and I love the Harry Bronson character just as much as I loved him in the first book of the series, Why Casey Had to Die.

In this fourth book of the series, retired Dallas police detective Harry Bronson has been ignoring distress calls from his estranged sister Lorraine who lives near Pittsburgh. When he finally decides to make the trip and find out what Lorraine's problem is, he's a heartbeat too late. Lorraine is gunned down before his eyes. 

Now Lorraine is dead and Harry feels obligated to find out why his sister wanted to talk to him, why she was murdered, and who did it. With the help of his former Dallas police partner Mike Hoover and a couple of Pennsylvania law enforcement officials who don't mind looking the other way while Harry and Mike skirt the law and nearly get themselves killed, Harry manages to escape the clutches of an evil female assassin and solve the mystery.

Why do I like Harry so much? This statement from Detective Mike Hoover sums it up:

Mike exhaled audibly. "Damn it, Bronson. Why do you have to be so logical about what I should do and so damn stupid about what you're doing?"
Harry is trying to play cupid between Mike and Mike's ex-wife Ellen who loves him but can't deal with being a cop's wife.....and Harry will do anything to protect his friends, his wife, and his daughters, but will take exceptional risks himself. He goes rogue, often because he can't deal with all the political, hierarchical, and criminal obstacles put in his path. It's all in the name of justice and making right overcome wrong. I like Harry.

I contacted L.C. and asked her to respond to a couple of questions:

1. L.C., when you wrote your first Harry Bronson mystery, why did you choose a police detective forced into retirement instead of going for a straight police procedural with an active duty detective?

In the sort-of fourth Harry Bronson book, What Others Know, Bronson, an active homicide detective in Dallas, is vacationing in Las Vegas and gets involved in a case that forces him to break several rules. As a result, he is given the opportunity to either quit or be fired. Unfortunately, this takes place off-stage and in the fifth, but in reality the first real Harry Bronson book in the series, Why Casey Had to Die, he's already retired and hating it.

The reason for the first vs. the fifth Bronson series number is that when I wrote the first four Bronson books, he's not the main character. He simply helps the main character solve the case. Readers/fans kept emailing me begging me to give Bronson an entire book. Why Casey Had to Die then became the first full Bronson adventure; When Death Intervenes became the second, and When the Past Haunts You became the third. More to come!

Besides, it's important to let folks out there know that retirement isn't the end of the world, but the beginning of a new experience--which is what Bronson is learning.

2. What would you like to tell readers about this and other series you're working on and/or any standalones you have planned?

I've just introduced a new series, the Aimee Brent Series. The first book, ILL Conceived, was released last year. I'm now putting the final touches for the second one in the series, Vengeance in My Heart. Aimee, a reporter in the S. Lake Tahoe area, travels all over to cover her stories and especially solve the problem introduced in the ILL Conceived.

In addition, I am currently writing a standalone, Secrets of the Tunnels. When I first started this book, I planned for it to be a standalone, but it's beginning to look like it might have to be a series, or at least have a second book.


You can find out lots more about L.C. Hayden and her novels at her website and on her author page. She can also be found on Facebook.

You can buy a paperback copy of When the Past Haunts You at Harlequin Worldwide Mystery as long as the supply lasts. It was released in August, so you might want to act quickly to secure a copy.

Meanwhile, we're giving away two paperbacks to readers from the U.S. or Canada right here on the blog, but you must leave a comment on this post by midnight Mountain Time Saturday, August 30th. The winners will be selected using and announced here on Sunday.