Thursday, March 31, 2011

Buffalo West Wing featured at

Hey, guess what? Buffalo West Wing is featured on!

What a fun site, full of recipes and great information! I'm very excited to be part of it.
I'll probably add a link here on the blog for future reference. Stay tuned.

By the way... Grace Wheaton is talking about the next book today at!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Another VR Glitch!

I sent out a newsletter last week and received notice that some peopled unsubscribed. Now, I *always* check the names of those who unsubscribe and I confess I've been surprised in the past by people who have opted out. Among these folks have been many good friends. Why on earth would they unsubscribe? It never made sense to me.

Imagine my shock last week when I checked out who had unsubscribed and discovered that ...(wait for it)... I had unsubscribed to my own newsletter. Yes, really.

You may remember from an earlier post that Vertical Response will *not allow* me to ever add back anyone who has unsubscribed. But this was ridiculous. I need to keep my own email in the mix so that I'm able to double check all newsletters that go out.

In a heartbeat I was on the phone with Vertical Response. (To their credit, their customer service is pretty good.) I didn't yell, didn't shout, didn't say, "What the heck is wrong with you people??" even though I wanted to. But I admit my voice went up an octave or so when I told them their system had evidently kicked me off of my own list. I then told them that they'd lost all credibility with me. What about all those friends who had unsubscribed? Suddenly I realized that maybe they hadn't.

I had two important goals: Figure out how this happened so that it wouldn't happen again; and, get myself back on my own list!

Surprise, surprise - there *is* a way to re-add people from this end, but there's a final step required that the recipient has to complete. Okay. Got it. I added myself back and then clicked the email confirmation. Whew! At least I was back in on my list.

But how did this happen?
You won't believe it.

In the past I've always asked my newsletter recipients to forward the email to friends who might be interested in my books. Why not, right? Books are always best when recommended by others. At the bottom of my emails I included a "Forward" link and I even offered a prize to one lucky person who forwarded my information.

Foolish, foolish me.

Let's say that you kindly and generously forwarded my email to a bunch of friends. Let's say one of those friends looked at it, thought "Oh, no, something more for me to deal with!!" and decided he or she didn't want to ever receive emails like this again.

If that person clicked "Unsubscribe" in the bottom of the email, he or she effectively unsubscribed you from ever receiving my newsletters again.

So, in essence, I've been shooting myself in the foot by asking folks to forward.

I have no idea how many of my unsubscribes are genuine, and how many are because of this forwarding issue.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Working on Grace #3

Feeling pretty good about my writing today. Just over 2,000 words, so far.

Finally, finally got started on my third Manor House Mystery after Grace Under Pressure and Grace Interrupted (coming in June).

It took quite a while to figure out what sort of plot I wanted to work out this time. Although I don't know the details, I like to have a sense of what's going on in a book before I start. I used to outline like a fiend. Then a little less so. Now I outline loosely, and I use that term loosely. I've got a few basic ideas going for the start of the story, and I expect to grow it from there as I write.

This time, too, I've decided to try a new approach. I'll write the entire first draft as fast as I can to get the story in place. At that point I'll go back and actually make it into a story, rather than just a list of "what happens next."

I'm trying out titles, too. My front-runner: GRACE AMONG THIEVES.

What do you think?

PS - Next newsletter is scheduled to go out tomorrow morning!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Newsletter Sign-up

I'm putting the finishing touches on my next newsletter. The last one I sent was back in January, so I think I'm a bit overdue.

If you're interested in receiving it, please sign up on this blog. One thing to remember -- Vertical Response (the company I work through) won't allow me to send unless readers "confirm" in the follow-up email they send.

I actually have 82 people who signed up, but never confirmed. Vertical Response won't let me manually input the addresses, because they're extremely afraid that clients who do that may actually be spamming.

So, if you signed up, but you haven't been receiving newsletters, you may need to sign up again. And confirm.

Lots of steps. I wish I could streamline things, but they won't let me.

Anyway -- it's coming soon! Please sign up today!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Grace Interrupted Bookmarks!

Okay, here goes...

I'm excited to offer bookmarks for GRACE INTERRUPTED, the second Manor House Mystery. The book comes out June 7th, but I'm hoping to let the world know it's out there before the big day.

Would you be willing to help by sharing bookmarks with your friends?

Here's the plan...

If you're willing to take 5 (five) bookmarks and pass them along (mailing 5 costs the same as mailing one, and since I only make a few cents more than the cost of a postage stamp per book, I'm doing the best I can to maximize promo dollars), let me know and I'll get them in the mail to you.

Last time I did this I was inundated by requests from people who saw the word "Free" and wanted 1 bookmark. Because some of these were clearly auto-generated requests by machines not interested in books, or mysteries, or human beings, I'm now forced to make a few rules.

1) Email me at:
Put BOOKMARKS in the subject header

2) Your request must provide some proof that you're human. "Hi, Julie," would work. Or "I belong to a book discussion group. Please send me X number of bookmarks."

3) U.S. addresses only.

4) The minimum request is 5 bookmarks. If you'd like 10, 20, or even 100 because you work in a library, or have boatloads of friends who read, or plan to hand them out at your place of business or next party - by all means, let me know. BTW - this counts as your "proof that you're human."

5) If you don't think you'll be able to pass bookmarks out (for instance: you're unable to get out or are otherwise limited), but you really, really want one, send me a note separately.

6) I will post a notice on this blog when this offer ends. Not sure when that will be. Last time I had to do it almost immediately because of so many out-of-U.S. requests and because of all the computer-generated ones. Ack! What a headache!

7) I reserve the right to refuse any requests that don't meet the above guidelines. I likewise reserve the right to fulfill requests that don't meet the guidelines.

I think that about covers it! Sheesh, so many rules for bookmarks. But you wouldn't believe the requests I received. Crazy!

Thanks for bearing with me.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

S.F. Hyzy makes her debut on Kindle!

Okay, it's official - S.F. Hyzy (my science fiction pseudonym) is now live with two short stories on Kindle.

The first short is "Dissident" which won the Phobos Award a few years back and was originally published in the anthology ALL THE RAGE THIS YEAR.

The second was my also-ran. It made it to the semi-final stage of the Phobos contest, but wasn't ever published. Until now.

Hope you enjoy them!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Two Mystery Shorts

Woo-hoo! I got my first mystery short stories up on Kindle!

Here's the link:

Included is my Derringer Award winning short, "Strictly Business." It originally appeared in THESE GUNS FOR HIRE, an anthology about hitmen edited by J.A. Konrath.

Also included is a brand new short about a mom taking her daughter to college in Florida. That would be tough enough, but throw in a serial killer...

Lastly, I've included the first chapter of Playing With Matches... just to give you a sample of N.C. Hyzy's new protagonist, Riley Drake.

All this, for 99 cents! Gotta love these new ebooks, don't you?

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, March 03, 2011


A couple of days ago I called a local business about getting an estimate for some work to be done here at our house. We spoke on the phone for a few minutes and I discovered she's not just the estimator, she's the owner of the business. Cool. We made an appointment for 10:00 this morning for her to come out to assess.

Ten came and went. So did 10:10 and 10:15. At 10:20 (because I've become less willing to tolerate rude behavior and because it should take fewer than 5 minutes to get here from her office) I called. Left a polite message, "Weren't we on for ten o'clock this morning? Please call me."

No return call. Nothing.

Hours later, I found an email on my old, little-used AOL account. In my spam folder. She'd written it last night, letting me know she needed to reschedule. In the message she said she hesitated to call because she believed the number I'd provided was a daytime number.

What the heck does that mean???

I *never* gave her my email, so I never expected her to contact me that way. If she thought she wouldn't reach me via my "daytime number" (which, for the record is my all-the-time number) in the evening, why didn't she call first thing in the morning? Sure would have saved me an hour of checking out front to make sure I wasn't missing the doorbell.

Sheesh. I lost time today. I *hate* losing time. Like -- grind my teeth hate it.

I replied to her email telling her that I would have much preferred a phone contact. She and I had *never* emailed, so why she chose that method of contact I'll never know.

Part of me wants to write her off and take my business elsewhere. Part of me wonders if some emergency made her brain go wonky and that's why she messed up. Either way, I'll have to assess ... assuming she ever gets in touch with me again.

Most business owners bend over backward to make sure they don't lose a sale. I would have expected an explanation by now.

Oh well...