Friday, May 18, 2018

Photo Friday: Wildflowers, Alpine Edition

A month or so back I did a wildflower post focused on desert wildflowers, and promised to get to the alpine flowers in another post. Then I got distracted... so here is a collection of alpine flowers from the Washington Cascades and a few from the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.

These first 2 are more sub-alpine flowers, found in the forests.
I'm not actually sure what this is.
This is a saprophyte--it gets nutrients from the soil, not photosynthesis.  
This one grows in wet places, both above and below tree line, and in both mountain ranges.
Shooting star.
In fact, most of these flowers grow in both the Cascades and the Sierra, though some show variations between. This one, I think, is Cascades only. At least, I don't think I've seen it in the Sierra. Pasque flower.

The gone-to-seed stage.
 Believe it or not, this is the same flower, in bloom. I wish I had a picture of the in-between stage, because it looks totally different again. Sadly, none of those shots came out.

Assorted lilies and columbines can be found in both ranges. Columbine, despite looking fragile, mostly seems to grow in the shade of rocks on otherwise bare alpine slopes.
Either a tiger lily or a leopard lily. They grow below tree line.
Cascade columbines. The ones in the Sierra seem to be mostly a light, almost cream color. In the Rockies they are more apt to be 2-toned blue flowers.
Some kind of daisy (aster). These seemed to hang out right about treeline on last summer's Glacier Peak trip.

Lupine grow everywhere. Mountains, deserts, seashore. They also come in every size, from tiny things to giant bushes (to really giant flowers in Peru). These were modest, except in their profusion.
Lupine with Glacier Peak
Lupine up close. The leaves are a giveaway, though the flowers tell you it's in the pea family.
Sometimes an alpine meadow is a flower garden with a stunning backdrop.
Daisies, bistort, white and blue lupine, maybe some heather, and a photographer.
Indian paintbrush is another flower that grows everywhere, and in a number of colors, though most are shades of red.
This paintbrush has a penstemon growing with it, each probably offering shade to the other.
Alpine heather I see more in the Sierra, though I think it's everywhere.

The next couple really seem to grow only in the alpine, and in the less promising spots, at that.
Pussytoes sprout up where the granite is only barely turning to soil.
Phlox grows in small, low mats in similarly inhospitable spots. This one is covered with the morning dew still.
The Sierra isn't noted for flowers the way the Rocky Mountains are, but you can still get some amazing displays there. You just have to put yourself out there at the right time--and maybe get a bit lucky, too.

Hope you've enjoyed the eye candy!

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2018
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Writerly Musings: Marketing

Being part of the IWSG anthology (that would be Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime) has been an education for me. Not only did I pick up a new awareness of some minor writing issues I have (mostly in the area of comma abuse), but the whole marketing process has been educational. Probably not educational enough, but I have picked up a few things to contemplate.

1. Get the word out, early and late. The publisher, Dancing Lemur Press, started early with tweets and FB posts, and got all of us authors to set up a blog and do regular posts about our stories, writing process, whatever. And they started early to set up a blog tour, or at least appearances on a number of blogs, with interviews, reviews, and so on. The book came out May 1, and that publicity push is still going on (including a Rafflecopter giveaway of a cool Tick Tock tote bag running to June 6!).

This one isn't so hard. I'm learning how to get more people involved in a release, and I know that I can arrange a blog tour through Great Escapes. I haven't done that yet for Death By Adverb, but I had a number of very helpful blog posts about it, thanks to my fellow IWSG authors!

2. Don't be timid: the publisher sends announcements to all sorts of bookstores, and we writers are meant to follow up by suggesting we can come and do signings, etc.

This one's hard. I have an almost insurmountable reluctance to put myself forward in that way. It feels pushy, and I've not yet figured out how to cure myself of a well-brought-up modesty.

3. I didn't learn this one from the Tick Tock release, but push the backlist (well, I see them doing that some, mentioning the previous IWSG anthologies along with ours, which is #3--check them all out). I finally saw a benefit from having a series, as I put the first two Pismawallops PTA books on sale during the month following the release of the new book, and included that information in the post on release day. Sales picked up, and I hope some of those will lead to new fans for the series.

I'm planning to work on the backlist this summer, as I'll not be able to do much writing (I am still trying to do some submissions each month, though). I intend to do a special "Hero Month" promotion for Halitor the Hero, so watch this space--and watch for other special offers, as I need to clear out my inventory before we move! The Hero promotion is still in the planning stages, but let me know if you want to be involved--I'll keep it simple.

4. Finally, just from following so many other writers, I realize that I've been remiss about my newsletter. In fact, I can't remember when I did the last one, and I'm overdue. I also apparently need to update my sign-up to meet new regulations. I'll have to get on that, and encourage everyone to sign up once I do. But in any case, I need to send out a newsletter, and soon. You can bet that newsletter will have some special offers in it!

Oh, and I need to do some blog maintenance, because my sidebar is now 2 books behind! I never was good at housekeeping...

For the moment, that's about it for what I know about marketing. It's no place for an introvert, yet we writers have to overcome our natural tendencies and do it somehow!

Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime
Can a dead child’s cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? 
Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? 
Can a killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? 
Who killed what the tide brought in? 
Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?
Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglass, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.
Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time is wasting…
Release date - TODAY!
Mystery & Detective/Crime/Thrillers
Print ISBN 9781939844545 eBook ISBN 9781939844552
Get your copy today!


Death By Adverb

  Available today.

 Genre: Cozy mystery
Ebook: 85,000 words
Paperback:   approx. 285 pages
He murdered the language, but who murdered him?  

JJ McGregor’s not having her best summer. Her arm’s in a cast, her jeans are too tight, and her son’s in Texas with his dad. To make matters worse, she hasn’t spoken to Police Chief Ron Karlson since June. What’s more, she’s gotten fired by the biggest bully on Pismawallops Island. 

JJ thinks her boss's vile prose and grammar are poisonous, but he's the one who turns up dead, and against all odds her summer gets worse. Now there’s a killer on the loose, JJ's on the suspect list, and she'd better make her peace with Ron before someone decides she's gone too far in the defense of good writing!
Purhase Links:

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mystery review: The Grave's a Fine and Private Place


Title: The Grave's a Fine and Private Place
Author: Alan Bradley
Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2018 (US edition). 363 pages
Source: Library

Publisher's Summary:
Flavia is enjoying the summer, spending her days punting along the river with her reluctant family. Languishing in boredom, she drags a slack hand in the water, and catches her fingers in the open mouth of a drowned corpse.

Brought to shore, the dead man is found to be dressed in blue silk with ribbons at the knee, and wearing a single red ballet slipper.

Flavia needs to put her super-sleuthing skills to the test to investigate the murder of three gossips in the local church, and to keep her sisters out of danger. But what could possibly connect the son of an executed killer, a far too canny police constable, a travelling circus, and the publican's mysteriously talented wife?

My Review:  
Okay, Flavia is not enjoying the summer. She hasn't been enjoying anything for about 6 months (I won't go into details that would be spoilers for the previous book). But the discovery of a corpse is just the tonic she needs, because Flavia is delightfully unlike most of us, and considers nothing so uplifting as a corpse. Better still if she thinks that corpse got that way with help.

Flavia has been doing some growing up in the past 6 months, I think, as is mostly betokened by the fact that she seems rather less of a know-it-all and more appreciative of her confederates. But her quick wit and knowledge of chemistry help fill in the gaps left by her lack of understanding of poetry or love, and as a narrator she is a delight. I like the new, less brash version of Flavia. She's not tamed; she's just gained some humanity. Relationships that have been left pretty undeveloped through the series are suddenly becoming important, and more nuanced.

The mystery is good fun this time, too. It's not completely certain that Flavia's corpse was murdered, but there is a history of murder in the town, and that provides lots for her to investigate. I was also very interested in how Bradley managed her researches in a place not her own home town, where the players aren't so well known to her. She does seem to have a grip on how to get information where she needs it, and uses well the reality that no one pays much attention to children.

My Recommendation:
I call this a solid addition to the series, and goes a ways toward making me forgive the author for the heartbreak of the last book. There is some debate whether the series is for middle grades or adults; my library classifies it with adult mysteries, and I agree. Flavia may be 11, but the things she's investigating aren't for kids. Your child may disagree.

FTC Disclosure: I checked The Grave's a Fine and Private Place out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."