Playing pin the tail on the donkey by Judy Alter

judySome days I feel as blindfolded mentally as the children who play that classic birthday game are visually blindfolded. Only sometimes they peek, and peeking does me no good.

I always wrote with focus on one project, just didn’t believe it was productive to have too many irons in the fire. I remember asking an author to judge a novel contest once, and he declined, saying he would be in the midst of his own project and to do that might distract him. I understood his point of view.

Over the last decade, changes in publishing have made such focus almost impossible. Authors are expected to do their own marketing—sales kits, social media, including blogs and Facebook which is a big time suck. I have shied away from online launch parties, though I know they’ve done wonderfully well for some writers, and I’m not as active as I should be on Twitter, Google+, not at all on Linked In and Instagram or Pinterest. Who has time? No wonder it’s hard to focus. Gone are the days of writing and publishing a book a year which your publisher marketed.

That may be one reason many of us keep several balls—err, manuscripts—in the air at once. Right now I have several projects in the air:

–a historical novel set in Chicago’s Gilded Age; it’s complete, edited privately, has a lovely endorsement from a prominent Chicago author. I tried a couple of publishing houses I thought had promise, one in Chicago, but at their reply rate it would turn out to be a posthumous publication. I keep hoping some magic will swoop out of the sky and give it life. At least two books about people from the same era have done well recently, so I’m anxious to get mine out there.

I know better than to rely on magic and wishful thinkin. I’ll probably self-publish it, which means the next step is for me to do a detailed marketing plan. I’ve truly been haphazard about marketing but I consider this a “big” book and need to be serious. Luckily I have a role model in Susan Wittig Albert who published A Wilder Rose under her own imprint and will do so with Loving Eleanor in February. So that’s one or two projects, depending on how you look at it.

–I have 30,000 words on a sequel to The Perfect Coed. For a mystery, that’s almost half a book, and some days it seems foolish not to go ahead and finish it. A couple of half-hearted attempts haven’t gotten me very far. But the subject—open carry laws—makes it timely, and I ought to get it out 3Peacock Mansion -darker topthere.

–I have an idea, some rough notes and 500 words on a fourth Blue Plate Café Mystery. Seems like that should be low on my priority list.

–I have two books just out—Texas is Chili Country (Texas Tech Press) and Murder at Peacock Mansion, the third Blue Plate Mystery, published under my own Alter Ego Publishing. I need to devote some time to them, including an upcoming blog tour.

Maybe just writing this has helped me sort it out. Then again, maybe I should say, “Eeny, meeny, miney, moe.”


About Judy

An award-winning novelist, Judy Alter is the author of six books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series: Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, Trouble in a Big Box, Danger Comes Home, Deception in Strange Places, and Desperate for Death. She also writes the Blue Plate Café Mysteries—Murder at the Blue Plate Café, Murder at the Tremont House and the current

Murder at Peacock Mansion. Finally, with the 2014 The Perfect Coed, she introduced the Oak Grove Mysteries.

Her work has been recognized with awards from the Western Writers of America, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame. She has been honored with the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement by WWA and inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame and the WWA Hall of Fame.

Judy is retired as director of TCU Press, the mother of four grown children and the grandmother of seven. She and her dog, Sophie, live in Fort Worth, Texas.


Murder at Peacock Mansion

Arson, a bad beating, and a recluse who claims someone is trying to kill her all collide in this third Blue Plate Café Mystery with Kate Chambers. Torn between trying to save David Clinkscales, her old boss and new lover, and curiosity about Edith Aldridge’s story of an attempt on her life, Kate has to remind herself she has a café to run. She nurses a morose David, whose spirit has been hurt as badly as his body, and tries to placate Mrs. Aldridge, who was once accused of murdering her husband but acquitted. One by one, Mrs. Aldridge’s stepchildren enter the picture. Is it coincidence that David is Edith Aldridge’s lawyer? Or that she seems to rely heavily on the private investigator David hires? First the peacocks die…and then the people. Everyone is in danger, and no one knows who to suspect.




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Twitter: @judyalter




2 thoughts on “Playing pin the tail on the donkey by Judy Alter

  1. Hi Judy — I’m so right there with you on feeling blindfolded and always two steps behind in the dark. I’ve decided to cut back on marketing efforts and focus on getting more books out. Don’t know if that will do any good, though!

  2. Widdershins says:

    The old guard has been swept away that’s for sure. 😀

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