Monday, November 18, 2013

Change of Address

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

Most people have a lot of homes in their lifetimes. These days, a lot of us have internet "homes," too - spaces where we can interact with those whom we might never meet except for the magic of the Internet.

This has been my Internet "home" for a couple of years - 95 posts, blogged more or less weekly, so you do the math. However, they time has come for new digs. I've moved to another place in my writing career, and it is only fitting that my blog come with me.

I have a newly redesigned web site at, which now has my blog as an integral part. I think it looks fabulous (and if you want the name of a good web designer, let me know). I invite you to come and check out my new digs. All the old information and comments have been ported over there. I'll leave this site for archival purposes (some of my old Scrivener posts are still getting decent hits).

I look forward to keeping connected with you in my new corner of cyberspace!

Ooo, and be sure to come visit tomorrow. I'll be sharing big news for a friend of mine - very exciting stuff!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

LUCKY CHARMS: Launch Information

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

Updated launch information below.

If you're friends with a member of the Mary Roberts Rinehart (Pittsburgh) chapter of Sisters in Crime, you'll notice a lot of them changing Facebook and Twitter avatars to this:

Why, you ask? Well, that's because the official launch date has been set for our first anthology, Lucky Charms: 12 Crime Tales - December 2, 2013, Cyber Monday - and it's less than a month away. My story, Batter Down, is included and I couldn't be happier to be among such a talented group of writers.

From the back cover: Inside LUCKY CHARMS you’ll find twelve crime tales from the members of the Mary Roberts Rinehart Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime, Inc. You’ll dig into gritty police procedurals; enjoy a spangle of suspense; tuck into a cozy or two; and thrill to a cool touch of noir. Each story tells a tale of surprising good luck or of good luck gone sour. We invite you to brace yourself for an entertaining read.

To see a full list of authors and stories, see our chapter website.

As we wind down the publication phase, the marketing and launch activities have ramped up. Read on for more details.

Official Launch Party

The launch party for Lucky Charms is set for December 8, 2013 at 5:00pm at Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, PA. The authors will be in the house, signing books and popping the cork on some well-deserved champagne. Come down and celebrate with us, no RSVP needed! There will be books available for walk-ins, but if you want to make sure you have a copy…

Print Copy Preorders

Mystery Lovers is handling preorders for the print version of the book, which retails for $9.99 on launch date. Copies can be picked up at the store, or mailed to you. Want an autographed copy, but you're not in Pittsburgh? No sweat. Here's what to do:
  1. Preorder your copy of the book here or call the store at 412-828-4877.
  2. On the last screen of the order process, specify that you want a personalized copy of the book, or tell the sales staff you want an autographed copy.
  3. Mystery Lovers staff will make sure that your autographed book is sent to you!
Please note that preorders must be placed by November 26 to receive an autographed copy.

Mystery Lovers' ships via USPS media, and charges $5.00 shipping on orders under $25 (and they have a fabulous selection of books, so browse around and support the best independent mystery-centric bookstore in Pittsburgh).

Digital Copies

Ebook copies of the book will be available at all major e-tailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and the iBookstore. See the chapter website for direct buy links on or after December 2.

Like us on Facebook!

Stay on top of all information about the anthology by liking our Facebook page.

This has been a long, hard process - but a true labor of love. If you are anywhere Pittsburgh in December, we would love you to come celebrate with us. And even if you can't be there, pick up a copy in the format of your choice. I promise, you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wasteland Blues - Cover Reveal

Of Mice and Men Meets The Odyssey in a Post-Apocalyptic Future

Having only ever known the uncivilized wake of nuclear and biological apocalypse, three friends and their wheelchair-bound hostage set out on a perilous fool’s mission--to cross from one side of the devastated United States to the other, in the desperate, half-believed hope of finding a rumored haven. 

Spurred by a dark vision and the murder of their father, rageaholic Derek Cane and his over-sized, simple-minded brother, Teddy, flee the only home they've ever known, a struggling shantytown on the edge of the vast Wasteland. Heading ever eastward, they are accompanied by their friend, John, an orphan brought up by a fanatical religious order, and Leggy, a crippled old drunk who brags that, in his youth, he once traversed the Wasteland as a scavenger.
Cover Art by Bradley Sharp

Post-Apocalyptic novel  coming from Dog Star Books in March 2014

Monday, October 28, 2013

NaNoWriMo and Other Stuff

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

So, brief update this week.


Well, I might be jumping the gun just a bit, but a release date has been set for Lucky Charms - December 2, 2013. That's Cyber Monday for all you holiday shopping types (books of all types make superb gifts). The book will be available via all e-book outlets (Amazon, B&N, Apple, Kobo) and in print from CreateSpace. And, I'm sorry, but the cover is to die for (pun intended).

Cover for Lucky Charms
My story Batter Down is included (written as Liz Milliron), along with eleven other fantastic stories. A little bit of suspense, a little bit of police-procedural, a little bit of paranormal. I am so honored to be included in such fantastic company!

My major contribution to the project (aside from the writing) is formatting and compilation of the book files, a task I've been hard at work at all weekend. I'm pleased that we have a pretty solid print file, and only a few tweaks to make to ebook files. It's been quite the learning experience. At the same time, I've learned a ton so I can (maybe) use it for my own writing some day.

Launch festivities are in the works, so stay tuned!

NaNoWriMo Starts this Friday!

So, NaNoWriMo kicks off this Friday. I've got my outline, and I've got my scenes mapped. I'll be drafting the first novel in The Laurel Highlands Mysteries and I'm super-excited to start. I'll be posting weekly word count updates here on the blog, so check back to keep up to date on my progress. And feel free to crack that virtual whip if I'm slacking! To be a NaNo "winner," I need to put down 1,667 words per day, every day from November 1 to November 30.

Wish me luck - should be a wild month!

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Hardest Writing Job Ever

By Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

Over the weekend, I completed what I consider to be the hardest thing I've ever written.

I planned an entire novel.

Now, this is not to say I wrote the novel. But I planned it. I sat down with Structuring Your Novel, by K.M. Weiland and thought about things like plot points, and pinch points, and a three-act structure. I wrote a twelve-page narrative of how this story was going to go, and then turned that into a list of 64 scenes.

It was tedious, time-consuming, and exhausting.

"But wait," you will say. "Haven't you done this before? Don't you do it all the time?"

Well, yes - and no.

Much of the other things I have written to date are much shorter. The Hero's Sword series, for example, is almost all novella length. So while I do write a "road map" (that's what I call these things - I'm not sure they are what a literary agent would call a treatment or synopsis, but it's my map to the story) for those, they usually don't exceed five pages.

All of my Laurel Highlands Mysteries stories have been short stories or novelettes (6,000 to 12,000 words). So while I've worked out the story question and key plot elements, I've never done a full-blown road map.

This was different. This was sitting down and saying, "Okay, what needs to happen? What needs to happen before that? How is this scene going to flow into the next one? How does this plot point affect the story?"

I wrote. I changed. I moved paragraphs. I rewrote. By the end, my brain felt like a wet sponge.

Yes, it's harder than writing the actual story. It's still not a true "outline" - I'm still what they'd call a "pantser" at heart (someone who makes it up as she goes). But I think I'm going to be very glad I did it.

I have, on a couple of occasions, compared this to a construction project. You draw plans. You measure. You write up lists of required materials and tools. And you do this all before you start, not in the middle. The purpose is to do everything you can to make sure you have what you need before you start and minimize those middle-of-the-project trips to Home Depot because you didn't buy enough dry wall (I mean, it might happen anyway, but you're doing your best).

You are also trying to make sure that you lay a firm foundation, so your masterpiece doesn't fall in on itself when you're done.

I'm also taking an online scene writing workshop. Based on today's homework, I finished just in time. I'd never be able to complete the work without what I finished last night.

The next step? Write the darn story. That will happen in November as part of NaNoWriMo. My hope is that since I've planned out all of the scenes, the actual writing will go much smoother because, well, I'll already know where I'm going. I might take a side trip or two, but it shouldn't derail me completely. At least I hope not.

So onward! Wish me luck - I'll let you know how I did at the end of November.

Image courtesy of Linus Bohman; used under Creative Commons.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Growing and stretching

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

Last weekend, I went to my annual writing retreat with my fellow Sisters in Crime. It was my third retreat and, as always, great fun. Our weekend instructor was Tim Esaias, and he provided not only tons of useful information, but made me laugh so hard Saturday night that my sides hurt. And he let me help with an impromptu self-defense demo Sunday morning, which is always fun.

As I always do, I returned home full of energy and holed myself up in the den to work on the story I'd submitted for critique (that was fairly well-received). And after the weekend, all sorts of things started jumping off the page. I thought I'd gotten rid of them. But suddenly, I wondered why people weren't falling over all of the eyeballs rolling around, and why someone hadn't reported a hurricane with all the sighs blowing through the rooms.

It was eye-opening - and awesome.

Later, as I was still bouncing around about this, I was talking over imagery with my husband, who has read all of my stories. I was looking for the metaphor for the series. And he just said, "Duh, it's the dog, dummy." But isn't that too obvious? "It doesn't have to be rocket science, dear. I'm your target audience. It's fine."

And much later, when I reported completion of the revisions, my husband said, "It's really exciting to watch. You've moved from gifted amateur to a real professional."

The comment caught me off guard. There are days when I really don't feel like a professional. After all, while I've garnered a few publication credits, I still have a day job. I still don't get to get up and spend all day playing with my make-believe friends. I'm still so far away from where I someday want to be.

But when I go back and look at what I wrote three years, a year, or even six months ago, I can see the difference. My first Laurel Highlands story, An Idyllic Place for Murder, was published this month at Mysterical-e. I had to professionally edited, and I know the editor liked it, so it's a good story - and readers have told me they like it. But while I re-read, I found lots of places where, if I was writing the same story today, I'd change things, craft a sentence differently, go for a different visual.

And, in that sense, I guess I am further down the road, a professional. An amateur just writes. A professional studies the craft. She enjoys her publication, but never stops learning, looking for yet another tool for the box. I spent part of the weekend reading Structuring Your Novel, and light bulbs went off as I finally had words and techniques for the things I always sort of "felt" rather than "knew."

Even reading the book is a change. Three years ago, when I wrote my first novel, the word "structure" was a foreign concept. Structure? I don't need no stinking structure. I'm going to wing it! And man, does it show.

So on a rainy Monday morning, I am making a conscious decision. I will not lament where I am not, I will celebrate how far I have come, all while I acknowledge that there is much more to learn.

And maybe that's the sign of a true professional.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Seventh Equinox - book trailer reveal

THE SEVENTH EQUINOX by Matthew Warner will debut on November 6th but the pre-order starts today and we're celebrating with the reveal of the book trailer:

“The best part of Warner’s easy-paced, almost pastoral tale is the friction between Bessie’s attraction to Robin, her longing to believe in magic, and her fear of trusting again—all of which run deep. This is a world-shattering crisis acted out in small scale, with a subtle appeal to romantic fantasy.”
Publishers Weekly
The Seventh Equinox

From the Back:
Her recent divorce left Bessie Henderson on guard against being exploited by any man. When she escapes to Augusta, Virginia, she’s captivated by the small town’s charm, but also its quirks: her intrusive elderly neighbor, the secret labyrinth of caverns beneath her Victorian house — and the man hiding from the law in her root cellar.
But Robin Goodfellow is not just a criminal. He’s a fertility demigod called the Hunter. He’s been injured, and he needs Bessie’s life force to survive. By the spring equinox, he must complete the grand Hunt, an ancient ritual of environmental renewal, or the planet will slowly die.

As the equinox nears, the couple must reconcile their growing feelings for each other. Bessie may not be ready to trust and give to another man, especially one who takes so much from her. And Robin must choose between love and duty — a duty that means life for the planet but death for himself.

About the Author:
Matthew Warner’s publishing credits span a variety of formats, although readers mostly know him through his horror novels and short stories. Dramatic works include films from Darkstone Entertainment based on his screenplays, plus a radio play and stage play premiered by theaters in central Virginia. Warner lives with his wife, the artist Deena Warner, and sons, Owen and Thomas. Readers can visit him at

Pre-order NOW for $2 off