Friday, November 2, 2012

Deep thoughts for a Friday



"I tell you, we are here on Earth
to fart around, and don't let
anyone tell you any differently."

Kurt Vonnegut
 
 
Bert and Bertrice Bottleheads looking forward to Friday night karaoke at the pub.
 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

She used to be good lookin' but she's gone to heaven now

SOLD!

One of my linoleum block prints, done for Dia de los Muertos.

" Katarina loves to dance in her new boots and hat."

Available at the Dia de los Muertos art show at the Cafe Lafayette in Taylor, Texas

Saturday, October 13, 2012

We're doing the RENFIELD RAP! Just in time for Halloween

Here at Two Sisters Cottage, we're doing the Renfield Rap!  Check it:

Flies? Fliiiies, did you say? I love flies!  
Latrodectus hesperusDrosophila melanogaster!  
Latrodectus variolus! I love them all! 
Crunchy munchy, they’re all so nice. 
 Crunchy munchy with sugar and spice! 
 Flies, flies, flies!”

 I tell ya, he's off his head, and he's rappin'!  And who is that young woman with the absolutely enormous hat?  And who is that strange new neighbor who creeps about the 'hood, wanting to borrow onions in the middle of the night?  And what's happened to poor Miss Lucy?  Lucy, put that poor baby DOWN right now! It's positively fiendish!

You'll read about them all in The Journal of Mina Harker.

 Just in time for Halloween (my favorite holiday), I'm reducing the price of my *THE JOURNAL OF MINA HARKER* stage play e-script to just $1.99, (or FREE with AMAZON PRIME) published for the Kindle on Amazon.com. This is my loose (very loose) fast read adaptation of the classic DRACULA novel, by Bram Stoker, and it's all fun!

http://www.amazon.com/The-Journal-Mina-Harker-ebook/dp/B005UNKLJC

One Five Star  review says:

This is Dracula ala Mel Brooks!  
"Don't be put off because this is a theatre script - it's as enjoyable to read as any book. If you laughed at "Young Frankenstein," you'll love this twisted take on "Dracula." The plot and characters are straight out of Bram Stoker but with a wickedly funny slant. Renfield is a scream! The only thing better than reading this version would be seeing a production."
Look into my eyes!  You are getting very sleepy.  You are going over to the Amazon website now.
Dracula spoof, dracula adaptation, Dracula spoof stage play
"For cryin' out loud!  It's ONLY $1.99!"
Thank you very kindly,

bobbi c.

P.S.  This play is available for productions.  Contact the playwright.  Just sayin'.



Saturday, October 6, 2012

Second Annual Austin Writergrrls Book Festival

Save the date!

Sunday December 2, 2012
4 - 6 pm
Bookwoman, 5501 North Lamar, Austin, Texas


I'm stoked, because I'll be reading *something* at the Second Annual Austin Writergrrls Book Festival. 

I haven't decided what, yet.  Maybe it would be a good time to trot out some of my poetry that no one's ever heard or read.  Maybe it will be good motivation to get a small chapbook done.  Deadlines!  I do love me some deadlines!

At any rate, mark your calendars and join me and other members of the Austin Writergrrls at Bookwoman.

Happy trails!

bobbi c.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What have you written today?

Dear friends,

I just had an epiphany.  I realized that over the last month, I've tweeted, blogged, promoted and talked about my writing.  Have I actually written anything new?  Well, I did make some notes for a new play.  And I submitted three older stories to publishers. And I read a dozen short stories, essays and book chapters.  Does that count?  Not really.  I figured out why I'm out of sorts, feeling sort of blechy, feeling anxious, like I'm about to spew, even.

I haven't done any REAL writing.

This morning, I was reading an excellent book by Priscilla Long, titled The Writer's Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life. 



In it, Ms. Long recommends writing for fifteen minutes every morning.  I USED to do that, before we bought this old house and started the remodeling process. If anything, I should have written more, because there was an experience that can be turned into stories, and perhaps a book. 

Luckily, I took thousands of photos, so I can use those to prompt my memory later on.

Photos can make great writing prompts.  This one reminds me of the barn swallow families that we "raised" at a former home. Perhaps it will lead to an article about the swallows, or a short story about wildlife.

 Julia Cameron, in her classic book, THE ARTIST'S WAY, also recommends writing Morning Pages, three pages of WHATEVER you want.  This is a similar idea, except it's timed.

One thing that Ms. Long recommends that I've never done is to put each day's entry on a separate page, and title it.  Brilliant idea!  That way, when I go back through the writing, I can find where I wrote about my experiences as a kid, living in a bait shop, or I can find the page where I made a list of possible names for a character, or some suggestions for beginning first lines.

She suggests that these little bits of writing can turn into stories, or you can use your 15-minutes to work on any of your Works in Progress.  What a good idea!  I often have to fight with Mr. Inner Critic to get to work, doing the REAL work, which is writing.  I can write ANYTHING for fifteen minutes, can't you?

Write on! and, as always---
Happy trails!

bobbi c.




Sunday, September 30, 2012

Original Middle School Scenes & Monologues

Dear friends,

Over a year ago, I submitted some monologues for middle schoolers to Dramatic Publishing company.  Just a few days ago, I finally got my copies, and they look GOOD!

Edited by Kent R. Brown, Original Middle School Scenes and Monologues contains more than 90 roles created especially for middle-school-aged kids. Different themes and styles will especially motivate young actors to create memorable characters.

This is especially useful as a resource for acting auditions and forensic competitions.

Both of my monologues included are comedies---Telling Stories and Power Play.


I was especially pleased to be included because I'm in good company.  Some of my Playwright Binge Yahoo list friends are also included: Jack Dyville (who also directed my ANNIERELLA and LITTLE RED RIDING BOOTS plays in ND), Nancy Gall-Clayton, Claudia Haas, Maureen Brady Johnson, Shirley King, Robin Rice Lichtig and others.

Pass the word on to any school teachers you might know!

Happy trails,

bobbi c.




Thursday, September 27, 2012

Free herbal e-book for three days only!


 Dear friends,

As announced over on my Earthly Gardener blog, my COOKING WITH HERBS & SPICES e-booklet is free for three days on Amazon.com, starting today.  Formatted for the Kindle, you can also download free software there to read it on other devices, as well as on a Mac or PC.



Since it went live this morning, there have been almost 900 free downloads, and I couldn't be happier!

http://www.amazon.com/Cooking-Spices-Earthly-Gardener-ebook/dp/B008JHVR08

It's currently #262 Free in the Kindle Store,  and #1 in Kindle Store for Gardening & Horticulture > Herbs, and  #2 in Kindle Store > Cooking, Food & Wine > Reference.

That's a big Yeehaw!

Thanks for looking!

bobbi c.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Readers & Reviewers Rave about LONE STAR DEATH

Dear friends,

I've finally collected all the reviews of my new historical mystery novel into one file. I couldn't be happier with the comments that people are making about the new (improved) version of LONE STAR DEATH (previously published as LONE STAR STATE OF DEATH).

The book is now available in both Kindle and Nook e-book formats, and in trade paperback, also available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble online and Createspace.com.

If you haven't already done so, you can read a free excerpt as a Kindle download, or on the Amazon sales page, where there are even more reviews of the book.



LONE STAR DEATH Sales Page & Free Excerpt

Readers & Reviewers say:

"Lone Star (State Of) Death is the intriguing tale of journalist Samantha Slater in her new move to a small town in Texas and immediate assignment to cover a local murder mystery. When Samantha's boss, George Stanley, is suspiciously killed by a runaway horse, Lone Star Death takes swift turns through an increasingly thickening plot as the mystery surrounding recent happenings, envelope Sam's life in the intricacies of finding the truth. Lone Star Death is very highly recommended reading for mystery buffs with a preference to murder mysteries featuring an inventive tale of deceit, thrills, and colorful characters. " Midwest Book Review, June 2006 review of previous edition

"...Samantha Slater is a young woman who does not wait for her life to come to her - she goes out to make her own. The mystery begins on Samantha's arrival in a small town to begin her new job as assistant editor to the local newspaper. But before she is able to meet her new boss, he is brought in to the newspaper office fatally injured by his favorite horse. Abruptly realizing that she is now the editor in chief, she decides that the editor's death is the news to report. However, when she begins questioning the locals, all she ends up with are more questions. I really enjoyed this story of Texas in the 1800's. The haracter development is wonderful - you really begin to see the people as the story unfolds. The final question is this: Will Samantha survive to write her next story?" from Amazon.com reviews

"LONE STAR (STATE OF) DEATH is a history mystery with a well-researched Texas setting and fine cast of characters, including Sam(antha) Slater, a sleuth with gumption and a sense of humor.  This is a debut you don't want to miss."  Bill Crider, Texas--author of the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series.

"Wow!  I really enjoyed reading your book! It is all your fault that I didn't get enough sleep this week because I kept staying up just a little later to read just a little more....the twists you threw in there were great!  Well done!"  Barbara T., in LA

"LOVED the book!"  Michael M., Texas

"I really enjoyed this one! Couldn't put it down..."  Lou R., Texas

"Just couldn't put it down!  I really liked the details--the meals, scenes and true to Texas observations."  Debbie B., Texas

"I really loved your book!" Elaine S., Texas

Please take a look!  Thanks, and Happy trails!

bobbi c.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pirates--Band of Misfits. Prepare to laugh your booty off!

I am SO THERE today!  I've been waiting for this movie for a while now.

What's not to like?  Rude humor, Aardman Animation and-------PIRATES!
 


Yo ho!

bobbi c.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

LITTLE RED RIDING BOOTS Production Photo!

Just found this photo of my recent production of LITTLE RED RIDING BOOTS & COOTER COYOTE, MASTER OF DISGUISE.

I'm not sure who took this photo.  If anyone knows, I'll be glad to give them credit.  


Little Red Riding Boots, played by Paige Wold, right, and Cooter Coyote, played by Wesley Nygaard, participate in the play “Little Red Riding Boots & Cooter Coyote” at this year’s Summer Shorts 7: Animal Antics Tuesday at the Williston Armory Theatre.

Aren't they cute? :-)  I hear they did a great job.  

By the way, although there are thousands of stories online using the title "Little Red Riding Boots", this is the ORIGINAL play based on a book I wrote way back in 2003.  Since then, it was turned into this Texas style play, then a puppet play.  It's the second in my series of Texas style mashed-up fairy tales.

Happy trails!

bobbi c.


Help your favorite authors sell books

Here's a  short article on how you can help your favorite authors sell books on Amazon.  It's all about tags:

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/2012/08/selling-books-whats-tags-got-to-do-with.html

And thank in advice for doing this for my books.  :-D

Bobbi Chukran's Amazon Link

 Happy trails!

 bobbi c.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A new character---Sister Heliotrope

Dear friends,

Every now and then, a new character will push their way to the front of the line.  I write characters.  That's one of my strengths as a writer.  I guess that's why I also enjoy writing plays.

I have notebooks FILLED with characters, bits of dialogue, descriptions, names---I LOVE naming characters.

In my mystery fiction, some of these characters are a bit more feisty than others.  A new one just emerged this week----Sister Heliotrope Barnhart.  Hard to tell what she'll be getting up to, but she did write a new signature line for me.  For which I thank her.  :-) 

Of course, she curses a bit, which I would never do.  But I know better than to CENSOR her.  She wouldn't take kindly to that.

Happy trails!

bobbi c.

"I have the right to say what I want; you have the right to use your damned delete key."
Sister Heliotrope Barnhart


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Life of a Writer

Dear friends,

Looking back on what I've actually done this week, I realized that other than editing a couple of short stories, I haven't done any actual WRITING.  For crying out loud!  I'm a writer!  Why am I not WRITING?  Well, let's see---

First, there's this garden that's shriveling up in our Texas heat and drought.  Tending to it, keeping it alive, takes time.



Then there are the kittehs.  We have a whole herd of these critters right now, and they take time--feeding, watering, scooping poop, buying food/litter, grooming (especially these two),  breaking up the skirmishes that occur on a daily basis, playing, cleaning up after them.  We do a LOT of cleaning up after them.  Aren't cats supposed to be CLEAN animals?


Then there are those things that LOOK like writing, but really aren't.  Like tending to blogs, for example.

There's this one----A Murder is Announced---where I feature a handful of small press and indie published mystery novels and their authors.

And this one---Earthly Gardener---my long-time garden blog where I post photos of the garden, talk about organic gardening and sometimes even guest posts from friends.  A recent one was about planting a pollinator garden.

And this one---Two Sisters 1930 Cottage---where I am chronicling our efforts to remodel an abandoned 1930s bungalow/cottage that we named "Two Sisters Cottage" after the former owners.

Isn't blogging writing?  Of course it is, but it seems I spend more time tweaking colors, fonts and wrangling other little bits 'n bobs of problems with them than I actually do writing them.  Then there's the promotion of them, getting the word out that you've actually written them.

What else?  Oh yes, there was the cover design work I did for my next published book, PRINCESS PRIMROSE & the CURSE OF THE BIG SLEEP---a crazy P.I. noirish fairy tale spoof mish-mash of at least five different tales turned on their heads---the novelization of my award-winning play.

Not to mention the last, final edits.


Here's the first cover, which friends and other authors said was too pretty.  I kinda liked it.  The little froggy is a clue to what the book's about, but otherwise, not.  I wanted to put the two sleuths on the cover somehow.


Then there was this one---book cover two.  I think it's a bit too dark and drab.  This is supposed to appeal to middle graders and those "tween" creatures, so it needs to be bright and colorful.  I kinda like that whole noirish P.I. vibey-thingy, but it's not quite there yet.


Book Cover Three.  Brighter and more colorful, for sure, but a bit too shabby chic for what I want.

middle grade fairy tale spoof, Rapunzel Snow White spoof, comedy novel for tweens

Ah, now this is more like it.  Cover four, which one children's author said looks like a cross between the Lemony Snicket books and the Purple Fairy.  Hmmm, I'm kinda diggin' this one.  And that little bit of the castle that you can see through her magnifying glass?  TOTAL SERENDIPITY, due to a quirk in Photoshop.  Damn, I love it when things like that happen!

(By the way, that's  R. Rapunzel and S. White on the cover.)  I'm sure you're wondering, when will this book be OUT?   Soon, very soon!

In between all that frenzy, I read three new books, read samples of dozens more, made notes for my new mystery novel,  participated on at least six online list-servs and forums, posted links, tweeted a few things and yacked it up on Facebook.  Drank a lot of coffee.

Then, on Tuesday, I....LOL!

All I can say is I'm glad Husband loves to cook, or we'd all starve.

OK, so I didn't do any real WRITING this week.  But you know, this is what the life of a writer who decides to go the self-publishing (or indie publishing) route looks like. There are all those other things that you MUST do in addition to the writing. And it's so different from that fantasy we all had at one time about what it would be like when we were finally able to write full-time.

Maybe I'll start that new story next week.



Is she mocking me?  Looks like she's mocking me! 

Happy trails from La-La Land!

bobbi c.







Monday, July 23, 2012

All Things Writing Interview Today!

Dear friends,

If you get the chance, please visit my friend Kaye George's All Things Writing blog today, where she interviewed ME!  I KNOW, exciting, right?

Kaye was a tough interviewer, but asked questions that really made me think about my work.  And that's a good thing.

http://allthingswriting.blogspot.com/2012/07/interview-of-bobbi-chukran.html

And while you're at it, check out Kaye's excellent mystery series.

Happy trails!

bobbi c.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sneak Peek! Cover Art for PRINCESS PRIMROSE & the CURSE OF THE BIG SLEEP

Dear friends,

This is the third cover I've done for my upcoming middle grade/'tweens book---PRINCESS PRIMROSE & the CURSE OF THE BIG SLEEP--From the Case Files of R. Rapunzel & S. White, In Service to Her Majesty, the Queen.

Yes, I should win an award for the longest titles in the world!  LOL.


The book is the novelization of one of my award-winning plays that I wrote a couple of years ago.  I couldn't leave those two crazy gals behind, so decided to turn the play into a series of books.  This is the first in the series.

 The artwork has morphed from showing a boring brown office door to a much brighter, colorful illustration featuring the two sleuths---S. White and R. Rapunzel.  In general, I probably need to flip them since I use Rapunzel's name first, but this is just a rough draft of the finished cover.

I can't decide if I love it or not enough to actually use it on the published book.  I'll have to ponder it a bit.  The thing about publishing e-books is that you need a color "cover" that's basically just an image that's used online.  It also has to show up well in black and white, which this one does.

 I'll probably go with this one, maybe with a few tweaks.  Once the cover is finalized, I have a few more edits to do on the text.  I also want to do some black and white line drawings for the inside, basically making it an illustrated chapter book.

From there,  it will go through my publishing committee (which consists of Me, Myself and I).  Bottom line---the book should be available for sale by the end of September, if not before.  I have to brush up (heh) on drawing witches, frogs, elves and other motley creatures.  :-D

Happy trails!

bobbi c.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Interview on No Wasted Ink

Check out my interview by Wendy Van Camp that appeared today on her No Wasted Ink writing blog.

http://nowastedink.com/2012/07/18/author-interview-bobbi-a-chukran

Thanks again, Wendy, for having me!

Happy trails,

bobbi c.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

LONE STAR DEATH discounted on Amazon

Dear friends,

I was just notified that in their wisdom (and quirky marketing ways), Amazon has discounted my historical Texas mystery, LONE STAR DEATH, from $12.99 down to $9.35 with Free Super Saver Shipping if you buy at least $25 there.

http://www.amazon.com/Lone-Star-Death-Samantha-Emmeline/dp/1477673970

 So if you were on the corral fence, so to speak, about buying the paperback version, this would be a good time to do so.

And no, I don't know how long this price will last.  Wish I did!  Amazon didn't tell me nuthin'.  LOL.

Yeehaw!

Happy trails,

bobbi c.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Don't you hate it when this happens? Dreamus Interruptus!

Peeps!

So, I dreamed that I was in some sort of week-long camp of some kind with a lot of girlfriends.  I'm not sure where it was, but the Queen was supposed to make an appearance, and she invited me to have tea with her.  Not only once, but TWICE in one day.  Of course, this set me all a-flutter with anticipation.

Alas, Husband woke me up before I could actually do that, but I did catch a glimpse of her across the way.  Don't you hate it when that happens?  I call it "dreamus interruptus."  Turns out, it was Queen Floribunda, from my work-in-progress.  I'm pretty sure it wasn't THE Queen. Because well, um, they look a bit different.  I'm pretty sure Queen Floribunda's hat is pointy at the top, and THE Queen's isn't.

So, what brought this on, you might ask?  Well, I'll tell ya.  Yesterday I got one of my Wild Hairs that I often get, and decided that I wanted to not only do the cover for my upcoming PRINCESS PRIMROSE & the CURSE OF THE BIG SLEEP middle grade novel, but I also wanted to do some inside illustrations. In essence, it would be turning it into an illustrated chapter book instead of just a book with a color cover.  I spent hours looking at book covers online, working through a  few cartoon tutorials and learned how to draw a puppy, alien, and zombie.  All much needed skills.

This isn't totally outrageous, since I do have an (mostly unused) art degree.  But two years ago I announced that I was retiring from art.  It often takes me a while to process things, and to "get it."  I finally "got it."  I was doing a lot of really different and crazy drawings back then, using simple things like marker and ink, then decided to turn them into ginormous paintings.  That's where I took a wrong turn.  I should have stuck to the drawings, because that's where my absurd sense of humor really comes out.  The paintings were interesting, and colorful, but how many of these can one person really hang in a very small house?  You get the picture.  Yes, I sold a few of them to creative types who appreciate an absurd sense of humor.  (Thank you again, Little Sister!)

So, here's one of them. Yeah, I know it's a crappy photo.  Deal with it.  The point is---aren't those strange?  In an endearing sort of way?   I think at the time I was fighting an infestation of squash beetles in my Earthly Garden. 

So....the point to this is, maybe I can do the drawings for my book.  The cover is the hardest part, because it needs to appeal to adults with money, and the kids who will be reading the book.   (And practically, it has to look good in teeny-tiny size because it'll be an e-book at first.)  But if I can pull this off, well, heck, the sky's the limit. 

Because in those old sketchbooks I also  have a parade of crazy clowns, a whole lot of punkin head creatures, witches, cats with wings, strange and wonderful characters of all sorts who would just LOVE to get out and cavort around in a story of their own.

BTW, PRINCESS PRIMROSE is the novelization of my award-winning play I wrote back a few years ago. It's a hilarious mash-up fairy tale spoof featuring my series sleuths--R. Rapunzel & S. White, In Service to her Majesty the Queen.

Stay 'tooned for further developments.

Happy trails from la-la land!

bobbi c.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Looking for a Christmas Play?

Dear friends,

I just uploaded a long sample of my DOT & the (AMAZING TECHNICOLOR) QUEST FOR THE REAL SANTA CLAUSE on my website.  DOT is one of my family-friendly, award-winning comedy plays that has yet to have a production.  So it's a BRAND NEW, original play.  How about premiering it at your school or theatre?



Click on the title to see more information about the play and to download the PDF file.  I'll be happy to answer questions about royalty rates (affordable!), just e-mail me.

Happy trails!

bobbi c.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How to make a book trailer

Dear friends,

I'm pleased as punch at all the wonderful messages and such I'm getting today about my new book trailer for LONE STAR DEATH.  In general, the reviews are good and I've had quite a few views overnight.  And some even think that the "silent movie" treatment suits the book.  That's great, because I've still to figure out how to put audio with the thing.  Still, it was a first project, is a tad rough, but it did strike a fire in me to do more of them.

I've always loved multi-media projects.  Back in school, I was always the kiss-up who begged the teacher to let me run the film projector.  One of my projects for Speech class was a "multi-media extravaganza" using an opaque projector, cheap tape recorder, a poster and hand-outs.  LOL.  In college, while studying for my Early Childhood Education certificate (before my art degree), I took a few courses in multi-media where I got to play with bigger, fancier equipment.

Then, when I was chosen to set up one of the first Macintosh networks in Austin, I really had fun.  And recently, I've discovered GarageBand, iMovie, iTunes---and it's all multi-media again, just a bit more high-tech this time.

I had sort of forgotten about all this until I started messing around with Powerpoint two days ago.  I worked for Microsoft back when they first bought Powerpoint, and I have to say that it's been greatly improved since then.  It's still buggy as hell (LOL) but still fun to use for slide shows, etc.

So, this morning everyone's asking me HOW I made my book trailer.  Here's the short version:

It's not that hard to do--unless you want music in it.  Let's just say I'm a bit balder today from that audio thang.

Write a short script for the text, distilling your story into as few words as possible.  Mine is a tad long, but nobody's complaining much, yet, so I'll leave it for now.  The longer, though, the more memory it gobbles, so that's one consideration.  Audio also gobbles a LOT of memory.

Use Powerpoint and make a slide show, adding text, photos, pictures, whatever.  Then save it as a movie, and upload to YouTube.  That's the simplified version.

The long version-----insert where needed---pull at  your hair, go find some snacks, open a bottle of wine, drink a little, eat a little, drink some more, go yell at the cats who are scratching at the door wondering what all the strange noises are, go gobble down dinner, drink a little more wine----repeat.  Oh yes, and there was cursing.  Lots of cursing.

 The only step I didn't take, and should have, was to ingest massive quantities of chocolate. 

Maybe I'll try that today. 

Happy trails!

bobbi c.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Little Red Riding Boots is a Winner!

I'm pleased to announce that my LITTLE RED RIDING BOOTS & COOTER COYOTE, MASTER OF DISGUISE play won FIRST PLACE as well as AUDIENCE FAVORITE in the recent production in Williston, ND. 

The Summer Shorts 7: Animal Antics Festival, sponsored by Youth Education On Stage was directed by Jack Dyville.

LITTLE RED BOOTS is my Texas-style, insane crazy adaption of the Little Red Riding Hood story, except with a wiley coyote, a talking horse, fried chicken and an armadillo Sheriff ("Matt Dillo" natcherly).   As they say about most of my fairy tale mish-mashes, this ain't yo mama's fairy story!


Thanks to Jack Dyville, Director, and all the wonderful cast.

By the way, LITTLE RED BOOTS is available for productions right now.  Just e-mail me for details.


Happy trails!


bobbi c.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Now available in Print! Lone Star Death

For lovers of horse mysteries with feisty young female sleuths!

https://www.createspace.com/3910806



Now available in print







Monday, June 18, 2012

Self-Publishing is a whole new thing!

I'm publishing printed copies of LONE STAR DEATH for sale to libraries, schools, and of course, anyone who wants one. :-)  It's been quite an education going from a very old Word document, to a Kindle e-book format, to a Nook format, and now to a printed digital printed-on-demand format.

I published the trade paperback book through Createspace, Amazon's print-on-demand company.  Over all, it was a very easy process, and I'm still blown away by the idea that I can submit it today and get a finished paperback book next week.  WITH full color cover.  Amazing.  Technology has finally caught up to me.  Now all those finished books and manuscripts sitting in my drawer can see the light of day.

 I had to scramble around and design a logo to put on the cover, and came up with this simple design:


Publishing the first e-book is always the most complicated.  If I did dozens everyday, I could do it a lot faster.  But I've learned so much in the last month, I feel like my brain has been stretched.  
Next thing, I'm teaching myself to do book trailers.  Piece o' cake, right?  LOL!

The whole field of digital publishing  has given many authors a new way to get their writing out there.   And with print-on-demand, there are no returns, no wasted paper, no books sitting around in cartons collecting dust.

Amazing stuff, this e-publishing!

Oh, by the way, as soon as I get a copy of the printed cover, I'll post it.  It's different from the e-book cover, but still has that familiar horse on it.  :-D

Happy trails from Texas! 
bobbi c.
Lone Star Death
Available in Kindle, Nook and Printed editions (coming soon)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Featured on Literary Austin

I was pleased to see that I and my new book, Lone Star Death, are featured this week on Literary Austin. Thanks to Allyson Whipple for having me!

Happy trails!

bobbi c.

And the Doctor said...

Quote for the Day

"You want weapons? We're in a library.  Books!  Best weapons in the world!  This room's the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself1"

--Doctor Who


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

One Little Thing---A free mystery short story


Mystery writers can be strange.  It's just the way we're drawn.  On one of my online listservs, we've been talking about the logistics of how to hide a body in a septic tank, a landfill or some other not-easily-located place.  On another list, we're talking about amateur sleuths and what bugs us about them.  I can't help myself sometimes; I just have that Inner Spoof thing going and this stuff has gotta come out!  When a member of the group mentioned the time worn idea that the amateur sleuth finds way too many bodies, this short story came to me.  Enjoy!  And yes, it's a spoof, and yes, it's the brand new, unedited version.  :-)

Happy trails y'all!

bobbi c./b.a. neal
http://bobbichukran.com

 -----
One Little Thing
By  B. A. Neal

“Aren’t you the one that found that body last year?  The one stuffed into the septic tank at that old farmhouse?” the Sheriff asked her.

“Well, yes, Sheriff, as a matter of fact, that was me,” she answered, modestly.

“And here you are again—right in the middle of another big mess!  How do you explain that?” he asked.

“I just have the knack, I guess.” She shrugged.

“Either that, or you’re the killer!”  He looked her up and down, suspiciously.

She smiled. “Who, me?  I’m just a little old lady who loves to knit.  I saw all the lights and thought I’d come over and check it out.  I’ll go back home now, if you don’t need my help.  I need to get two more rows finished on this damned afghan before bedtime.”

“No, we don’t need your help. Please go home.  We're the experts here."

She started to walk away, then stopped. “There is just this one little thing….” 

The End
--------------

Animal Antics! in Williston, North Dakota

Anybody near Williston, ND on the 19th through the 21st of this month?  That's coming up soon, folks!

If so, go see my LITTLE RED BOOTS & COOTER COYOTE, MASTER OF DISGUISE play at the Old Armory Theatre.  Wish I could be there, but I can't! 

Summer Shorts 7: Animal Antics, Youth Education On Stage, Williston ND June 19-20-21, 2012, directed by Jack Dyville.

LITTLE RED BOOTS is my Texas-style, insane crazy adaption of the Little Red Riding Hood story, except with a wiley coyote, a talking horse, fried chicken and an armadillo Sheriff ("Matt Dillo" natcherly).   As they say about most of my fairy tale mish-mashes, this ain't yo mama's fairy story!

Good luck to the cast, and break some legs!  :-)

Yeehaw!

bobbi c.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Writing is not a linear activity.

An oldie but goodie, reprinted from my previous writing blog......

Being a writer doesn't feel like you think it will...

When I was ten years old, writing my first poetry and submitting them to contests, I'm not sure what I thought the life of a "real" writer would be like. All I knew was that I loved to write, and wanted to do a lot of it. I don't really remember a lot more of how I felt back then.

But as I got older, perhaps a starry-eyed teenager, I guess I formed a picture in my mind of what it would be like when I finally became published, became well-known, or at least, well-read by intellectual types. Maybe I would sit at a wonderful old oak roll top desk, with a little lamp on the corner sporting a cheerful green glass shade. I thought I'd be sitting at that desk all day with an old typewriter clacking out page after page of wonderful Stuff. Or I'd be sitting by a crackling fire, sipping cognac, pondering Great Thoughts.

When it came time to go to college, I decided to major in art. To this day I wish ONE person had said “You have talent. You should write.” It took years of frustration trying to sell my artwork before I started writing about it instead and stumbled onto a whole new path.

Well, you know what? I finally got published. And it was NOT the way I thought it would be. My first desk was a fold-up, rickety card table in the corner of my bedroom in a low-rent apartment. I had an electric typewriter by then, but produced a manuscript using plain white paper and a lot of White-Out.

My first advance for a 250-page book was $500. In those days, that paid about two month’s rent and a few bills. Over the next few years, the royalties weren't much more than that. But I didn't care; I was published!

My first books were dry, dull, resource guides that took hours and hours of research and correspondence. After twenty plus years, even that got old, and my old dream started nibbling at the corners of my mind. To tell stories--that was the dream.

You think you’ll sit down, and begin at the beginning, and write a story from beginning to end. You think that if you have your little stack of color-coded index cards, that you’ll have your plot all worked out, nice and neat. Little do you know that once you put two characters in a room alone, they’ll start a conversation and pass you by so fast your head will spin. You’ll have no control over them, what they say or do. You’ll be freaked out about this, but go with it.

You won’t have set hours to work. You’ll feel like crap all day, have a cup of tea at 5pm, then next you know it’s 4am, you’re freezing, and you have a stack of pages beside you. You have no idea what you wrote, or where it came from.

You feel Out of Control. You are a writer.

You think that you’ll “dream up” the beginning of a story, and if you keep working on it, you’ll work straight through from beginning to end. Nope. Doesn’t work that way. The first inkling you have of a story might be a snippet of conversation you hear over breakfast in the neighborhood diner…”…after my first son was born, I had a flap of skin that hung down to the floor, honey…” Take that and go with it. Turn it into a character. Write about her, then see what she wants to do. Or it might be a news story you hear in passing about a mutant rodent. Go with it.

Here’s the Big Secret that it took me years to learn. You don’t always start at the first sentence. Writing is not a linear activity, it’s more of a spiral thing. It’s organic, it grows, a little this way, a little out that way. You don’t have to know the ending until you get there! Wow, what a mind-boggling idea that is!

I sure wish I’d known this before the age of 50. I think it would have helped me be a little freer with my writing and get to the authentic stuff before now. I would have written more without having to know the first sentence. I would have paid better attention to the folks in the back corners of old diners.

Here’s the other Big Secret…you are not in control. Not really. You are a writer.

Bobbi A. Chukran
Copyright 2010

Now available for the Nook on Barnes & Noble

Less than 2 days later, my novel Lone Star Death went live and for sale on Barnes & Noble, in Nook e-book format.  Click on the links below to be magically whisked away to the Amazon.com or the Barnes & Noble sites where you can read free samples of the book, or to order. :-)

 



Happy trails from Texas!  bobbi c.
AKA "B.A. Neal"



Friday, June 8, 2012

LONE STAR DEATH for the Nook!

Dear peeps,

After a lot of hair-pulling, cussin' and cursin', I finally got my new mystery novel, Lone Star Death, formatted correctly and uploaded to the Barnes & Noble website (in spite of hours of "technical difficulties" where I wasn't sure if it was something I did, or something really wrong with their system.  Yep, it was THEM. :-) )

Hopefully, within 24 to 72-hours, it will be published and available to buy there for the Nook.  Yay!

It's a minor thing in the grand scheme of things, but a milestone for me.  It's been years since any of my printed (on paper!) books have been for sale in the Barnes and Noble stores.  I'm just glad I'm able to make the book available for the folks who have Nooks AND Kindles.

And since I still love holding books in my hot little hands, AND love seeing my books on library shelves, I'll be signing up with CreateSpace to make that happen.  Soon, very soon.

Ginger Snap Ann says "You can't sit on an e-book, dagnabbit! Whassup with THAT?"


Baby steps, people, baby steps!

Happy trails from Texas--
bobbi c.
http://bobbichukran.com


Friday, June 1, 2012

LONE STAR DEATH--now available!

Now available for sale on Amazon.com, for the Kindle. 
BUY LONE STAR DEATH here.

And remember, you don't have to own a Kindle to read Kindle books.  You can download free reading software on Amazon.com.

Happy trails!

bobbi c.

Lone Star Death---new title!

My Texas historical murder mystery, LONE STAR STATE OF DEATH, published back in 2006,  has a new title, new cover, and a new author!  Well, not exactly a new author.  Same ol' author (me!), with a new name.

For some time now I've been pondering using a pseudonym on the updated Kindle e-book version of this book.  I finally decided on B. A. Neal, my maiden name, and a little more generic.  Also, easier to spell and pronounce.  :-)

Since the book is totally updated, I wanted a new title, something that would set it apart from the previous version and be a bit shorter.  I pondered many hours over this, and finally came up with LONE STAR DEATH.  Close enough to the old name to be found by Google, but different.

As for the cover, I've always loved that photo of the horse, but wanted something a bit more "western-ish" in design and color.  Luckily, I have an art, graphics and publishing background and was able to easily redesign it.  Using a little Photoshop Elements magic, here's the new cover I came up with:


The plot and characters are the same.  The new version takes care of some pesky typos and formatting errors that ended up in the original one.  I also fixed the problem of the doctor whose eye color changed from chapter to chapter!  LOL

To read a synopsis of the book, read about my inspiration for the book and a little background, check out the book's blog, here.


I'll post more news when the book is available for sale on Amazon.  Hopefully, that will be within the next week!

The book is now live, and available for purchase!

BUY LONE STAR DEATH

This book has been through an exciting adventure since I first wrote it sixteen years ago, and I'm happy to see it available once again, this time for the Kindle.

Happy trails!

bobbi c.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Maybe you quit too soon, she said.

I was surprised the other day when some new friends mentioned that they didn't know I was an artist.  After all, I've been working at trying to sell my art for over 35 years.  Yikes, that's a long time. 

Here I am, back a few years ago, with one of my mixed-media paintings in the Cedar Park Regional Medical Center Permanent Art collection.  They specifically looked for local artists when commissioning the art, and since I lived very near there, I was honored to be a part of it.

 I told my woeful tale of how hard it is to make a living as an artist, much less get by.  And I told them how frustrating and depressing it was to watch the art pile up, year after year.  I admitted that I had *officially retired* from the art business two years ago, and was now concentrating on my writing.

The installation of my three pieces, in their own beautiful niches, in the Cedar Park Regional Medical Center

As I looked at my new friends' amazing art collection that includes sculpture, paintings, prints and outsider folk art, I commented that I always heard that there were people who loved art, and collected lots of it, but I had NEVER, in all those years, ever met any of them.  Isn't that strange?

One of them (thanks, Ms. P!) later said "Maybe you quit too soon."  Hmmm.  Ever since then, I've been thinking about the incredible amount of artwork I've created over the years.  I've worked in almost every media imaginable. Before we moved, I'll admit I either destroyed or gave away a good bit of my collection.  I'm sure some would think that's horrible.  But my new home is much smaller than our previous home, and my office doesn't even have a closet.  In the back of my mind, maybe I was thinking that the small cottage out back of our house *might* possibly become an art studio one day, once it's protected against the elements.  I made the conscious decision to spend full-time writing.  After all, I had ALSO been writing all those years.

I do have digital photos of most of my artwork, and for me, that's OK.  Many artists, I've learned, periodically destroy some of their art.  Another new Taylor friend, also an artist, told me to keep one good piece from each of my new directions.  I liked that advice, and so did keep a dozen or so pieces. Will I regret destroying those others?  Time will tell, but in general, I very rarely regret my actions.

"Sun in a Circle" Abstract Painting on Paper

As I looked through the photos, I made the decision to add a new page to my official website for samples of my artwork.  In general, it reminds me that all those years I spent weren't wasted, that some beauty came out of them, and many people did see my paintings and such--even if they don't own them.  That's the beauty of the Internet and digital images.  And since I do have digital images, the artwork can still be shared over and over, and even printed if I choose.

Right now, I'm happy writing full-time, because our house remodeling project, and my new garden design (yes, we do all our own work), have been taking up any extra time I have.  Once we're settled in, though, I expect I'll be eyeing that space out in the cottage and dreaming of a new work space, and maybe even a painting area.

Actually, come to think of it, I have written poetry about painting, and about art.  Can I separate the two, without feeling that I'm missing something?  Maybe someday I can find a *satisfying* way to combine the two.  I hope so.

Happy trails!

bobbi c.



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Southern Humorist Featured Columnist


I'm a featured columnist over on the Southern Humorist website with my "The Good, The Bad & the Naughty" story about snails in the garden.  Check it out! 

http://www.southernhumorists.com/chukran.htm

And while you're there, check out some of the other writers, too.  Funny stuff!

Happy trails (snails?) from Texas!

bobbi c.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Edgar Allan Poe Short Story Published!

My fun Edgar Allan Poe short story I mentioned a few weeks ago was published today.  Take a peek, and enjoy!

http://kingsriverlife.com/05/12/edgar-allan-virginia-forevermore/

Happy trails!

bobbi c.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

LITTLE RED RIDING BOOTS MADE IT!

Dear friends,

My comedy fairy tale mash-up  play, LITTLE RED RIDING BOOTS & COOTER COYOTE, MASTER OF DISGUISE, made it into the YES competition this year! YEEEHAW!  Here's the official announcement, with a list of the other plays that made it---written by several of my online playwright buds, and directed by Jack Dyville.

Youth Education On Stage announces the selection of Our 2012 SUMMER SHORTS: "Animal Antics" to be produced in Williston, North Dakota at the Old Armory Theatre June 19-20-21.

 ARCTIC AFTERNOON by Christine Emmert (Valley Forge PA)
 HISS HISS KISS KISS by Marjorie Conn (Asbury Park NJ)
 LIONS & TIGERS & BEARS, OH MY! by Shirley King (Benicia CA)
 THE DOG & THE GIRAFFE by Katie Labhan (New York, NY)
 THE FLEAS WHO FLED THE FUR by Marti Johnson (Seaside OR)
THE NEW ADVENTURES of KATIE KITTY! by Jack Dyville (Guttenberg NJ)
WHISKERS LEARNS A LESSON by Martha Patterson (Boston MA)

My play ANNIERELLA & the (VERY AWESOME) GOOD QUEEN FAIRY COWMOTHER was in this competition back in 2009, where it won First Place and was subsequently published by Brooklyn Publishers.

LITTLE RED RIDING BOOTS started out about five years ago as a  children's picture book, then turned into a play.

Happy trails!

bobbi c.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Flash fiction, anyone?

Dear friends,

I'm not sure why, but the older I get, the more frustrated I get with long books or stories.  Maybe it's because of all the blogging I do, or because I'm so busy that by the time I get a chance to sit down and read, I'm exhausted and can't stay awake!

Recently, I've realized that my best work tends to be short--both my plays and my stories.  I discovered *flash fiction* a few years ago, have just discovered *flash memoirs* and have to say that I'm really excited about some of the stuff I'm reading out there.

I have had two short flash stories published online, at the Clockwise Cat blog.  Check 'em out, HERE. The editor called them "absurd" fiction, which I found interesting.  I call it quirky-strange fiction, maybe even a bit macabre.  OK with me!  LOL.

Here's a short garden story I wrote.  Actually, I guess it's a "flash memoir" because it really did happen.  Hope you enjoy reading "Help!  Mantis Attack!"

I love taking a snippet of conversation, an observation about a quirky character I see, or an idea, and running with it.  I had one of these flashes of inspiration yesterday while sitting in the garden, dripping with sweat, covered with mud, listening to the chaos from a house down the street from us.  Seems they decided to cut down a pecan tree.  That idea, coupled with a chance comment a friend of mine made last week, turned into the draft of a short story that I hope will be a good one.  If not good, then at least amusing. :-)

As I practice writing flash/short fiction, I look around the 'net for great examples of other stories.  I learn more by reading fiction by others than I ever have from how-to books.  (I'm still trying to find the ultimate how-to-write-flash-genre-fiction book.  So far, no luck.)

This morning I ran into the new (to me) WIGLEAF website that focuses on  (very) short fiction.  Lots of good stuff there and great artwork, too.

If you have never read any flash fiction, I suggest you "do a Google" for "flash fiction stories" and go from there.  There are thousands of great short stories online for you to read--for FREE!  AND great collections of them for sale inexpensively on Amazon.com.

Happy trails,

bobbi c.








Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dark Shadows and Vampires


I can truthfully say that I've been a fan of DARK SHADOWS since I was ten years old.  It first showed up on TV waaaay back in 1966 and ran for five years, until 1971.  A gothic soap opera, the likes of which nobody had ever seen, titillated and thrilled with the story line that included vampires, werewolves, witches and dare I say---leviathans!

I was one of those rabid fans, and had a serious crush on Jonathan Frid, who played the vampire Barnabas Collins.  Sadly, he recently died on Friday, April 13th, at the age of 87---RIP.  I'm sure I wasn't the only young girl who sent away and anxiously awaited the free fan photo.  It finally came in the mail, and had a constant place under my pillow at night.

Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins

On the days when our school bus was delayed (my memory is a bit sketchy at the reason), my mother would tape the show on an ancient reel-to-reel tape recorder, and I'd listen to the audio later that night.  Those were back in the days before VCRs, and it took a lot of imagination sometimes to figure out what exactly was happening in the scene---all those dreaded, heavy silences drove me mad--wondering.

 I obsessively collected the novels and read them under blanket cover late at night, scaring the bejeebers out of  me.  They were written by gothic novelist W. E. Daniel "Dan" Ross under the pseudonym Marilyn Ross (his wife's name).


I recently learned that two former actresses on the series have their own novels based on the show--Lara Parker (who played Angelique) and Kathryn Leigh Scott (who played Josette).  And I even developed a crush on David Selby, who played the werewolf Quentin Collins.  How could anyone resist those sideburns?

David Selby as Quentin Collins, werewolf
I also had his fan photo, and it lay safely under my pillow, along with Barnabas'.

And oh!  That music!  There was something about that haunting, eerie music.  I bought the record album (remember those?) and played it over and over.  I still have that album, forty-six years later!  According to Wikipedia, the original soundtrack made the top 20 on the Billboard national  chart in 1969 and still ranks as one of the top-selling TV soundtracks ever.


Well!  Let me just announce right here that I was beside myself with joy---giddy, one might say, when I heard that there would be a new DARK SHADOWS movie.  And I was even more excited when I heard that none other than Tim Burton would be directing it.  I've been a fan of his work from the get-go, and knew that something special would come of it.   Then to find out that Johnny Depp would play Barnabas?  I tell ya, that was a swoonable moment.  Not to mention the lovely Ms. Pfeiffer.

Johnny Depp and the cast of the DARK SHADOWS movie

When I saw the first trailer, I was blown away.  WHAT?  A SPOOF?  of my beloved DARK SHADOWS!  Yes!  It totally works!  I love the idea.  I, ahem, recently wrote my own vampire spoof, THE JOURNAL OF MINA HARKER, and am totally delighted that the writers and director decided to play it this way.  After all, there are many who say that the original show was played a bit tongue-in-cheek anyway.  (Oh come on, yes it was!)

If you go back and watch the show on DVDs (yes, of course I own them!), you just have to laugh.  At the time, of course, I didn't see it as funny--it was serious stuff.   I've been watching the trailers over and over, and I cannot wait to see the movie.  Stay tuned for a review, right here!

In the meantime, listen to this interview of the writer, Seth Grahame-Smith.  BTW, he also penned the script for the new ABRAHAM LINCOLN, VAMPIRE HUNTER movie coming out in June.

RIP, Jonathan.
But in the meantime, won't you meet me down at the Blue Whale, where we'll hoist a pint of ale (or root beer) in honor of the original DARK SHADOWS cast.

 In memory of those who have crossed.  Or have they?  ;-)

 (Cue the howling wolf. Cue flapping wings.)

Happy trails!

bobbi c.





Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dracula ala Mel Brooks!

   If you laughed at "Young Frankenstein," you'll love this twisted take on DRACULA.
http://amzn.to/ItLBH6   The plot and characters are straight out of Bram Stoker but with a wickedly funny slant. Renfield is a scream! The only thing better than reading this play script would be seeing a production.
--From a review on Amazon.com


Friday, April 6, 2012

Short Story Published!

Dear friends,

I found out last night that my short story "Edgar Allan & Virginia, Forevermore" will be published in the May 12th edition of King's River Life magazine.  Great timing, since The Raven movie is also out now!  It's a story about those who live with writers, and the sacrifices they have to make.  And yes, of course, it's a comedy.



This is a "love" story that started out as a short play I wrote for Valentine's Day last year in response to a call for plays about love.  When the producer never acknowledged my submission (something that happens way too often these days), I decided to turn it into a short story.

It's especially exciting because it's my first short mystery story publication and first fiction  ever in a professional online magazine.  I'm honored to join all the other authors who've been published in KRL.  Thanks to Lorie for putting out the call for stories.

I'll remind y'all again once it's out.  LOL.  In the meantime, check out King's River Life, where you'll find lots of other great mysteries, reviews, news, etc.

Happy trails,

bobbi c.
http://bobbichukran.com

Friday, January 27, 2012

ANNIERELLA Productions Coming Up!

Alton Schools in Alton, Missouri will be doing two performances of ANNIERELLA & the (VERY AWESOME) GOOD QUEEN FAIRY COWMOTHER on March 9, 2012.

Yeehaw!