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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Kiki Lowenstein and the Bad Day (Part 2)

Note: I asked my Facebook peeps to suggest starting sentences for a Kiki Lowenstein short story. There were so many terrific ideas that I have decided to try to incorporate more than one -- and write a progressive short story. You'll be reading this as I create it! Wish me luck!

Note: This short story comes before Ready, Scrap, Shoot—and Kiki is six weeks pregnant.

In last week’s installment—Kiki walked into Time in the Bottle only to discover papers scattered everywhere. Detective Chad Detweiler arrived to pronounce the store “safe,” but Kiki’s still wondering what’s up. Now her friend Margit has shown up for work.

Margit Eichen, my co-worker, blinked at me from behind her sparkling cats’ eye glasses and solemnly looked around at the strewn papers. “What a mess!”

“You’ve got that right,” I said as I ushered Gracie into her doggy play pen. “How about if you open and I’ll clean this up. I have a feeling some of these are ruined. If so, I need to know how badly.”

Margit nodded. “Maybe you can do something with the ruined pieces, ja?”

“Right,” I said, trying to maintain a positive attitude. Between saying prayers for my unborn child and listening to my snoring oversized dog, I haven’t been sleeping well lately. Even with a full eight hours of shut-eye, this situation would be perplexing. As tired as I felt, I really wasn’t prepared to take on this unexpected challenge. *

A few of the papers looked fine, but many had suspiciously shredded edges, almost as if they’d been ripped as they sat in their thin plastic bindings. I sorted the papers into two groups. Because our culprit had chosen to destroy rainbow packs, I stared down at a damaged and an undamaged pile of bright yellow, bright blue, bright red, bright orange and bright green papers.

Hmmm. I knew from experience that if I let my subconscious work on the problem, it would come up with a solution, so I turned my attention to a project that Margit had accepted for me: a customized baby album. Since the child’s gender was unknown, the parents had requested that I create the album in shades of yellow and white. Starting it would be easy. The hardest part about doing a baby’s scrapbook is where does one stop? With the birth? The baptism or naming ceremony? You had to draw a line somewhere!**

There was also another new custom project set aside for me to tackle. These photos screamed to be put on a layout. But what paper? What design? I’m usually creative, but this one stumped me. ***Riffling through the pictures, I saw one image after another of a wedding ceremony held deep in a forest. I thought to myself, “What a perfect setting for a wedding!”****  

But most of the wedding-themed papers we sell are white or cream and very formal--and that would overwhelm these pictures. This bride wore a simple tunic-like dress and a sheer veil pinned to her auburn hair with a wreath of flowers. Her groom’s shirt, jacket and slacks were white linen, while his tie repeated the greens and browns of the scenery. It got me thinking about my own wedding. Would Detweiler ever officially propose? I mean, we’d talked about getting married. But in my romantic heart, I was hoping for him to go down on bended knee and ask.

My face must have given away my longings, because when Margit walked past me on her way to the restroom, she said, “Too many thoughts, ja?”

“Ja,” I agreed and I started pacing. I looked over at Gracie in her playpen. Those expressive brown eyes begged for a dog biscuit, so I fed her one and shared with her my “to do” list.  “First things first. I need an idea for an upcoming crop.”

When she didn’t respond, I rubbed Gracie’s big head. “You know, girlfriend, for the first time in a very long time, everything is finally going right in my life, except that I worry about how Time in a Bottle will run while I’m on maternity leave.” *****

Of course that was many months away, so again, I forced myself to tackle things one at a time. We needed a crop idea for the first week in May. Something new. Everyone does May baskets and May Day celebrations. I want us to go boldly where no scrapbook store has gone before!

Right then the door minder rang, so I trotted out front to greet our customer. Teresa Alvarez gave me a huge one-armed hug as I approached her because in her other hand, she carried a big bright pink shopping bag. “I have a special gift for you,” she said shyly. Teresa’s family came here illegally, and we’ve been cheering her on as she navigates the tricky waters to citizenship. “This is to celebrate. On May 5, I become US citizen!”

“Hurrah!” I cheered. “But what’s in the bag? Is it for me? Really? Can I open it now?”


Thanks to:
*Karen M. Rushton 
**Barbara Tobey
***De-Anne Trasker
****Stella Carsten
*****Mary Patricia Kennedy

PS Stay informed and get involved. Join us on my Facebook page

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Kiki Lowenstein and the Bad Day: A Progressive Short Story

Note: I asked my Facebook peeps to suggest starting sentences for a Kiki Lowenstein short story. There were so many terrific ideas that I have decided to try to incorporate more than one -- and write a progressive short story. You'll be reading this as I create it! Wish me luck!
I woke to the sun streaming through my window and thought, “What could possibly go wrong today?” *

After all, this was the first dry day in two weeks, so it had to be a sign, right? I’m all for April showers, but I was more than ready for those May flowers.  I sang as I made up my bed. Of course, Gracie, my harlequin Great Dane always wakes up in a terrific mood. As I showered, I could hear Gracie’s heavy tail thumping the wall with happiness. Since my daughter had spent the night at her grandmother’s house, no teenage angst challenged my good mood so I was able to get dressed and out of the house in record time.  To make the day even better, I discovered a five dollar bill in the pocket of my khaki pants. I was smiling from ear to ear as I treated myself to breakfast, a sausage and egg burrito plus a large iced coffee at McDonald’s.

But all good things must come to an end.

I unlocked the backdoor of Time in a Bottle, the scrapbook store where I work, and walked in to discover papers scattered everywhere. **  The entire backroom (at least as far as I could see) was a blizzard of loose papers. It was as if someone opened all our extra stock of paper and tossed the sheets around like confetti.

“What on earth?”  I gasped. Gracie and I stood in the doorway, staring at the mess. My fiancĂ© Detective Chad Detweiler has warned me repeatedly never to enter a place if there are signs of an intruder. His words echoed in my head as I turned around and walked out with Gracie trotting along at my side.  I helped my dog climb back into the backseat of my old BMW, I hopped into the driver's seat, and called my sweetie.

Once I explained what had happened, he immediately asked if I was okay. “Stay in the car. Lock your doors. I’m on my way.”

Coming up with new and inviting ideas for crops has always been a challenge. *** My plan for the day had been to hit the ground running and get started working on a nifty cool promotion for Cinco de Mayo. Now my great start to the day had ground to a screeching stop. Even though I knew Detweiler would hurry, I could still feel the time awasting as I waited for him.

Besides, I had to use the bathroom.

True to his word, Detweiler arrived quickly. With a quick wave to me, he went inside the store. After he cleared the store, he came over to get a quick kiss from me. “No one’s in there. I can see papers are scattered all over the place, but I need you to tell me if there’s anything else amiss.”

“Sure, but can I use the restroom first? I really need to go!”

He laughed. “No problem. I’ll take care of Gracie.”

While I took care of my needs, he loved up Gracie, with whom he had a mutual admiration society. In short order, I determined that except for the blizzard of papers, nothing was damaged. Better yet, nothing appeared to be missing or ruined.
"Weird, huh?" Standing on tiptoe, I kissed my guy good-bye and thanked him for his help.
"Lock the back door," he said. "Keep your cell phone on your person. How long will you be working alone?"
"Margit will be here any minute," I said.
Thanks to Michele Fowler (*), Victoria Rockford Hrabe (**), and Yifat Glassman Cestare (***).


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Why Kiki Lowenstein LOVES Diet Dr Pepper

Years ago I attended a lecture by a bestselling author. I hadn't published a book yet, so I took copious notes and committed his every word to memory. One of his pearls of wisdom was this scintillating thought:

"Never align your character with a product you don't like."

He went on to explain that he'd created a protagonist who loved a certain brand of beer. "Not my favorite brand," said the novelist. "I just randomly chose a brand. Pulled a name out of the hat."

Lo and behold, everywhere this author traveled, fans brought That non-favorite brand. Then they'd expect him to either 1.) drink it or 2.) be thrilled. Which got pretty old. Fast.

So when I was trying to flesh out my character of Kiki Lowenstein, I thought, "What do I love?"

Right at the top of the list was Diet Dr Pepper.

This can is ice cold. Yum.
So Kiki became a Diet Dr Pepper fanatic. (By the way, the word "fan" is actually short for "fanatic.")

And guess what? Very, very often when I visit a city and do a signing, some kind soul will bring me...

A can of DIET DR PEPPER!!!!!


And guess what? Very, very often I  happily drink it or squeal with joy. (Unless it's warm. Then I take it home with me and put it in the 'frig.)

Now you know why Kiki Lowenstein LOVES Diet Dr Pepper.

Because I do, too!

Monday, March 4, 2013

How to Get Your Book Published in Four Easy Steps

How to Get a Book Published in Four Easy Steps

By Joanna Campbell Slan

(Joanna is the author of twenty published books, including three mystery series. For more information, go to )

1. Write your book. (I'm assuming your work is fiction. Yes, you need an entire book, start to finish.)

2. Determine what genre your book is. (No idea? Go to Barnes & Noble, find a couple of books that are closest to what you've written. Now, on the upper left of the back cover it will say, "Mystery" or "Literature." That's your genre.)

3. Find someone who will either a.) represent your work; in other words, an agent or b.) publish your work; in other words, a publisher. (Note: You need to match your genre to the agent/publisher's area of interest. Every agent/publisher has specialties.)

4. Decide to self-publish.

Let's break Step #3 down...

Getting an Agent

1. Determine which agents might represent your genre. a.) Look at those books that are like yours. Did they thank an agent? Probably. Now you have an agent's name. Skip to Step #2 below. b.) Go online and Google "agents who represent (genre)." c.) Buy a copy of Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents for the current year. (Very important that it's current.)

  2. Approach the agent. a.) "Pitch" an agent at a writers' conference. (Best way.) b.) Send a query letter either by email or regular mail. (Do NOT send your entire manuscript.)

Now you wait. And wait and wait.

Getting a Publisher Without Using an Agent

1. Determine which publishing houses handle your genre. a.) Look at those books that are like yours. The publisher's name is on the book, and inside of it, too. (Note: You will want to address your correspondence to a specific editor within the publishing house. Often, an author will mention an editor by name in the acknowledgements.) b.) Go online and Google the publisher's website. Many list their submission requirements. c.) Buy a copy of Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents for the current year and see if your target publisher accepts unagented submissions. (Again, it's very important that your copy of Jeff Herman's book be current.)

  2. Send the publisher a letter either by email or regular mail. (Do NOT send your entire manuscript.)

And wait and wait and wait.

Any questions?

Yes, you are welcome to share this. (That's why I included the headline twice, so it would be easy to copy and share.)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Charlotte You Won A Copy of Whimsey!

Would you please pop me an email at with your postal address--or if you prefer an electronic copy, please tell us!


Kaye and Joanna