Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Nancy Drew would be so disappointed - update!

Take a look at this 1930 edition of The Hidden Staircase:

I found this in our basement when I was nine years old. I was supposed to be helping my parents clean, but when I found the pile of books that had been my mom's when she was a child, all bets were off. I remember sneaking away to a cool patch of cement under our back stairs. This had once been an outside spot until the home's previous owners walled it in, creating a back porch above and my secret little alcove where dust, spiders, and forgotten building materials took up residence. In other words, the perfect place to read a mystery. A hidden hideout to read The Hidden Staircase.

I zipped through this story the first time I read it and I remember feeling that terrible dread as the number of pages yet to read became fewer than the number of pages I'd already read. I wanted more of Nancy's adventures and yet as I turned each page, I knew I was drawing closer and closer to THE END. Then, to my surprise and infinite joy, I found this on the next-to-last page: 

Indeed, Nancy Drew's days of adventure were by no means over. Before many months had elapsed she was destined to be involved in another mystery case, equally as baffling as the one she had just solved. Readers who wish to follow her strange adventures may do so in the next volume of this series, entitled "The Bungalow Mystery."

There were more?? 
Yep, and from the sound of it, lots more! 
This was turning out to be the best day ever. 

Over the next few years I collected every Nancy Drew I could get my hands on. The books sported yellow spines now and it got so that I could spot them in my local Woolworth's or Korvette's half a store away.

The thing was, I wasn't content to simply read Nancy Drew. I wanted to be Nancy Drew. I set off to conquer bad guys, determined to see justice served and to right the atrocious wrongs heaped on unsuspecting, innocent victims. Looking back, I think I probably terrorized the people I spied on as I fervently scribbled notes about their comings and goings and set up stakeouts outside their homes. I was so convinced of an elderly woman's murderous tendencies that I often spied in her basement windows looking for evidence of her grisly crimes...but that's a story for another day.

When I couldn't find a single conspiracy to uncover, I invented some of my own and began writing the Mary King Mystery series. I was determined to be published by the time I was 12.

Didn't happen.

If you've landed at this blog you probably already know that I did manage to get published. Admittedly, my success came quite a bit past my tween years, but I'm doing well with both my White House Chef Mysteries and Manor House Mysteries. I also have another series that originally came out in hardcover --- the Alex St. James series -- but it went out of print some years back. Thank goodness for eBooks. Alex is back on Kindle, Nook, and on other friendly ereaders near you (eBook tab at top of page).

In all my books and short stories thus far, my protagonists ---Ollie, Grace, and Alex --- are very Nancy Drew-like. They're strong, resourceful, respectful of authority, and unfailingly polite. They have many differences of course, but they're all optimistic in nature and willing to fight for what's right. Nancy Drew would be proud.

Good old Nance would not be so pleased with Riley Drake nor with Bets Tracer. These are my two newest protagonists. Riley -- whose first adventure, Playing With Matches, has been featured on this blog before; and now Bets --- who can't quite get the hang of this PI business, who waitresses in a local joint to make ends meet, and who is more than a little rough around the edges. 

Cover by Robyn Hyzy 

Bets is introduced - fresh today - in Tracer's Blues, an anthology of three short stories that gives you an idea of what life is like for an inexperienced girl trying to establish herself as a PI in Chicago.

She needs help, and though she gets it from an unlikely source, she never seems to rise above the rank of amateur.

The three shorts are "Blue Angel," "Something Blue," and "Blue Morning." All three are available in this single volume, Tracer's Blues on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords and are written under my N.C. Hyzy pseudonym.

Just a reminder... N.C. stands for "not cozy." Language and situations are a little more coarse than you'll find in Ollie's or Grace's adventures. But there's a little bit more humor, too.

I hope you'll give them a try. And to entice you further, I'm offering a Kindle only sale from now through the end of August. Here's the deal:

Buy one of my three mystery ebooks listed below on Kindle between today and August 30, 2011 and send me proof of purchase (forward the receipt from Amazon) via email: JulieHyzy (at) gmail (dot) com (no spaces) before September 4th:

As of August 12, 2011, THESE THREE TITLES ONLY:

Deadly Blessings by Julie Hyzy
Deadly Interest by Julie Hyzy
Playing With Matches by N.C. Hyzy 

As soon as I receive your proof of purchase, I'll "gift" a copy of Tracer's Blues by N.C. Hyzy to you.

I deeply regret not being able to do this via Nook. I love my Nook, but BN doesn't allow me to gift titles the way Amazon does. If you purchase via Smashwords and want to take advantage of this offer, let me know. I should be able to make that work.

If Nancy Drew and Bets were to meet up, I have no doubt that Nancy would quickly enlist her friends Bess and George to help convince poor Bets to undergo a makeover. The foursome would then pile into Nancy's blue roadster and, with Nancy's titian hair flying in wind, drive to the nicest and most expensive makeover boutique in River Heights where Nancy would generously cover all expenses.

But...I like Bets the way she is. I hope you do, too.

***UPDATE***

Robyn decided to tweak the cover and has presented me with this new version. I'm in the process of updating the Kindle and Nook sites. Smashwords to follow.

Robyn put a gun in Bets' hand and added these incredible bricks to the background. I love it! What do you think?


Thursday, July 21, 2011

New Life for an Old Blog - I'm going with my gut

It's like this: I believe there are a lot of people in this world who are blogged out. Readers and bloggers alike. There are exceptions, of course, and let me take this opportunity to send a shout out to my friends at the oh-so fabulous Mystery Lovers' Kitchen where the wonderful women there come up with great stories and great recipes every single day. I do miss being part of that group, but I couldn't keep up with the weekly posts.

I'm digressing. Let's try this again...

I've had this blog for years now, but I don't think I've ever posted more than three days in a row. I could go check (I won't) but I bet I've averaged fewer than five posts a month. If that.

Internet-savvy experts tell us that if you don't post every single day, you risk losing readership. Or, at a minimum, you risk losing the opportunity to build readership.

That may be true, but I find blogging to be so "me, me, me-" centered that I'm uncomfortable doing it. When I have news or want to share a success I'm happy to do it here, but then - again - that's all about me. I get tired of talking about myself. And - I dunno - maybe it's just my upbringing, but it feels icky and conceited.

So what to do?

Being an author these days means you must have a way for readers to contact you. I have a website, so that's covered. Websites, however, have limitations. I don't have personal control over content because I'm not that tech-savvy. It often takes weeks to get updates implemented or a new book cover put up there. There are times I want things done... now. Or I have a fun story to share... now

Facebook is great for interacting, and believe me, I do. But (shocker!) not everyone is on Facebook, and while I can get away with fun quips and questions there, if I want to share a particularly poignant or profound story, that isn't the place for it. I can leave a link there and get into the nitty gritty here.

So what's all this about, anyway? And what does it have to do with my gut?

I'm glad you asked.

From now on I'm going to post only when I actually have something meaningful to say. Or when there's information to share. Despite what all the experts say, my gut tells me it's wrong to use this space to simply blather about nothing, just as long as I do it every day. I haven't done that very much in the past, and I've felt guilty about *not* blathering. Can you believe it? No more.

Starting today I'm revamping. I may post once a week, I may post once a month, I may post two days in a row if necessary. But when I do post it will be because there's a story to share. Something worth reading.

I hope you'll continue to stop by. I've added a subscribe button to make it easier. If you don't want to worry about visiting or missing a blog, just subscribe in the box above and we'll be all set.

In the meantime, please take a look around. Even though the setup and design are new, even though I've added pages and learned (sort of) what RSS means, I'm sure I can still make improvements. Let me know what you like and what you don't. My favorite thing is to hear from readers... leave a comment or drop me an email! The next couple of days may see a few glitches. I expect that, and if you happen to visit during one of them, my apologies.

Help me give new life to this old blog.
Thanks for listening.

Stay cool out there...
Julie

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Changes in the works...

As you can probably tell from the haphazard look of things, this blog is changing.

A whole new look, a whole new feel, is in store.
Stay tuned...

New Short Stories soon...

***COVER HERE***

I'm very excited! My new short stories - the Blue Trilogy by N.C. Hyzy, is coming soon. I came up with a fun character named Bets Tracer who desperately wants to be a private investigator. Problem is, she's not terribly good at it. She keeps a waitress job to pay the bills, but is determined to succeed despite her lack of talent. These shorts are little bit rougher around the edges than my usual stories - which is why I'll publish them under the N.C. Hyzy name - and they're a little funnier. At least I think so.

As you may have guessed from "Cover Here" above, all I'm waiting for now is my cover to be finished. My daughter Robyn Hyzy is finishing it right now. Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Clue in the Conservatory

I thought this photo was appropriate. You may have already seen it on Facebook, but as I'm in the middle of PLANTing CLUEs in Grace #3 (ha ha, get it?) I wanted to share a picture that inspires me. LOL Not really. But I think it's fun. Curt is Mr. Body, of course. And, if you haven't already guessed, this is taking place in the Conservatory. You can spot the stand-ins for Colonel Mustard and Mrs. Peacock. What you can't see are Professor Plum's purple shorts. But they're there. And this photo was taken at the Biltmore Estates, which... as you know is a wonderful inspiration to me whenever I'm writing for Grace.

Mostly this photo sums up our family vacation. Lots of laughs. Lots of pictures capturing goofy moments. But I played, so now I need to pay. I need to get a whole bunch of words written, pronto. Don't get me wrong, I'm having a blast. Love when I can just sit and pound out stories. The humid weather outside is just making ever more grateful to be at my computer in the cool house.

By the way, I may have already told you this, but Grace #3 may be titled Grace Among Thieves. I mentioned it to my editor when I was out at Malice Domestic and she seemed to like it. I do.

And... I'm posting two days in a row. Do I get an attagirl?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Long overdue updates

My new cover!!
Affairs of Steak
coming January 3, 2012


I just love the covers Berkley comes up with! This one has a particularly sinister feel, don't you think? I'd have to say that this new story is a bit darker than prior Ollie adventures. But then again, this time she's assigned to work with Peter Everett Sargeant on a project. Poor Ollie!

As you probably know, I'm no longer posting weekly at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. Do I miss it? Oh, yeah. Every day! But I have a couple of deadlines and I've fallen far, far behind. As much as it broke my heart to do it, I had to give up the kitchen. And I had to give up Killer Characters as well. Both blogs are fabulous places, and if you haven't already, I encourage you to get to know the wonderful authors there.

I don't want to disappear completely from the blogosphere so I'm going to do my best to post here more often than I have been doing. Yep, you've heard that one before. This time, however, with fewer commitments, I may be able to get posts up at least once a week (I'm shooting for more often). Of course I'll be talking about books, but also just regular stuff.

First of all - a writing topic. If you don't get the Chicago Tribune, or you didn't see this article, take a look here. My husband saw it in the paper yesterday and pulled it out for me. I think he's tired of all my punctuation complaints. I'm always chastising him for his misuse of apostrophes, and catching mistakes on signs. The nice thing about this article was the conversation it generated yesterday morning. My husband, youngest daughter, and I had a nice chat about serial commas. Pretty exciting life we lead, don't you think?

Second - health and wellness. My husband and I went to listen to a wellness coach at the local library last week. The guy, Tom Kens, is also a friend from our Toastmasters club so we had another good reason to go. The place was packed, and although Tom stressed a lot of healthy changes we already knew about, or had already adopted, he did offer a few tidbits of information that inspired us to try harder. The goal is not necessarily to lose weight - it's to eat healthier and be healthier. I'll update from time to time. Maybe...

Third - our family vacation. Yep, we survived. Three daughters, one minivan, two weeks. We visited Biltmore Estates, Colonial Williamsburg, Washington D.C. (lots more on that later), Boston, and Niagara Falls. Throughout all the driving, we listened to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on CD.

After two weeks of 24/7 companionship, we're all still quite fond of each other and we have a lot of great pictures to prove it. I'll share some stories in upcoming weeks.

Lastly - my trusty old desktop died when we got home. I had a long, nasty week trying to get a new one set up only to find out that it would hiccup (screen freeze) whenever I was typing. Of course, this problem didn't make itself known until I'd transferred all my files. Anyway, after hours on the phone with a tech, I wound up taking it back to Best Buy. I then headed directly to my nearest Apple store and bought a desktop there. Paid roughly twice as much for it, but peace of mind is worth a lot.

So, what's new with you?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kindle Book Two-for-One (sorta) Offer



My ebook, PLAYING WITH MATCHES by N.C. (Not Cozy) Hyzy, could sure use some reviews on Amazon. So, I'm willing to trade...

If you write and post a review on Amazon.com (it's not required that you like the book, though I hope you do), alert me via email (see details below) after the review posts and I'll "gift" you your choice of one of my other Kindle ebooks or short story collections below. It's kind of like getting a two-for-one. A BOGO sale. Buy One Get One. You buy, read, and review Playing With Matches and you get one of the following for free:

Artistic License - a standalone romantic suspense and my first published novel

Deadly Blessings - Alex St. James is a news reporter in Chicago. In this "first in series" book, she takes on corruption in the Catholic Church.

Deadly Interest - Second in the series, Alex seeks to find out who killed her elderly neighbor and along the way discovers much more than she bargained for.

Deadly Shorts - Two Alex short stories

Short Story Collection - Two non-mystery stories

Mystery Short Stories - Two short stories by N.C. Hyzy

Science Fiction Short Stories - Two short stories by S.F. Hyzy

I have no idea if this will take off and hundreds of people will want to write reviews, or if no one will even notice this post  I plan to announce it on Facebook and Twitter over the next day or so. Because I'm paying for the gifted books myself, I need to limit this offer to the first 25 people who post reviews. 

Here are the important details in order to get a free Kindle book:

- You need to read Playing With Matches by N.C. Hyzy (a slightly harder edged mystery than what I usually write) and be one of the first 25 to post a review on its Amazon.com page. There are five reviews there right now, so there are only 20 chances left.
- Once the review is posted and available to the public, let me know by contacting me at my email: JulieHyzy(at)gmail(dot)com. Please use the email address associated with your Kindle account.
- Please also tell me which book you want gifted to you.

*NOTE* If you've already read and reviewed Playing With Matches on Amazon, thank you! Now, drop me an email with your choice of the above ebooks and I'll get it right out to you.

Do you have any questions?