Count Basie and Sisyphus walk into a bar…

Sometimes art can be found in the most unexpected places.

Sometimes help can be found in the most unexpected places.

Question: what do Count Basie and the mythical trouble-maker Sisyphus have to do with my writing?

More on that question in just a bit. First – some good news. I have just received some awesome feedback from Henery Press about my first novel, The Apple Pie Alibi. No, it’s not quite ready for publication, but major strides will be made thanks in large part to the personal comments from the staff readers at Henery. You can’t buy this kind of assistance. Well, maybe you could. But it would cost a lot more money than I have in my pocket right now. And who would have thought a literary press would take the time to do this? It was as unexpected as finding a big band in the desert.

Not familiar with Henery Press? Based in the greater Plano / Frisco area just north of Dallas, Texas, Henery focuses much of their attention on bringing cozy mysteries to the market. And I must say, their book covers are awesome. Every so often, the good people at Henery sponsor what they call a Sub-Spree. They choose a sub-genre (oh, say culinary cozy, for example) and then open a separate mailbox for those submissions – for one week and one week only.

You don’t know what genre they will choose next, so it would be near impossible to read the announcement and then write a novel to fit. Your best course of action is write your novel, and if it fits the sub-spree requirements, fine. Otherwise, you can always submit the traditional way to Henery.

What’s the difference? Neither sub-spree nor regular submissions require agents. As long as you fit their genre and style requirements, you are cleared hot to submit. But here’s the inside scoop: sub-spree submissions will be read within 10 days or so – and personal comments from the editors and staff will be sent to the author. It’s like getting 10 minutes with an agent at a writer’s conference, except there is more than one agent, and you get more than ten minutes, and you find out not only what they dislike, but also what they like. No form letter at all; just help from an unexpected source.

Henery Press. Not my publisher – yet. But still, a group you should take a minute to check out if you write cozy mysteries. If you like reading cozy mysteries? Take two minutes. Maybe three. Plenty of great stuff to peruse.

Now, after I take the next few weeks to finish the recipes for The Milk Chocolate Murders, I will return to the first novel and see how I can employ the suggestions from Henery. Who knows? By the time I finish the draft of book 3, working title The Wedding Cake Witness, I may have a published book on my shelf!

The answer to the question about how Count Basie and Sisyphus are related to my writing? That’s an easy one. It may be April, but this ain’t Paris, so it’s back to the depths of revision hell – “one more time.”

A new novel shows itself unexpectedly?

So it seems that Grandma Kepler and the old police captain, J.B Larson, had just returned from a vacation on the subcontinent of India. And just in time, I might add. When the good police officer walked into the holding cell at the station, he found one prisoner dead (with a note saying “Now we’re even!” clutched in his hand) and another prisoner quite ill. To make matters worse, over half of his force had come down with similar symptoms. Things were not looking good in tiny Seaview, Virginia.

While intrepid cafe owner and girl about town Winnipeg Kepler investigated the crime, from a distance of course, Grandma Kepler whipped up some Mango Lentil Dal. She had tried some in Punjab and declared on the spot it would cure what ailed you. Doc Jones said it couldn’t hurt; and besides, it would be a few more hours before the CDC quarantine team could get to the little, out the way coastal village.

Winnie hadn’t a clue about the medicinal properties of the Dal, but at this point figured there was no stopping her grandmother. And since she wasn’t yet sick with the mystery illness, Winnie decided a little preemptive cooking was worth a chance. Her logical brain told her the Dal was no substitute for sound medical advice from a licensed physician, but the aroma alone boosted her taste buds with a nice punch of flavor.

“It’s not chicken on a stick, Grandma, but after seeing all those red spots on the sick guys, I’m up for any cure – FDA approved or not!”

How will Winnie solve the crime when she can’t even get near the body? What about her new beau, recently promoted Corporal Parker Williams? He hasn’t caught the mystery bug yet but can’t leave the station house because of the quarantine. Meanwhile, Winnie’s grandmother has infiltrated the station with a pot of Indian food, thinking she can cure all concerned – except the dead guy, of course.

“It’s always too late for the deceased,” she said.

“He should of tried the curry,” I replied.

“Well, next time, maybe he will.”

“So, live and learn, I guess?”

“Unless he…you know…”

“Unless he what?”

“Unless he’s -”

Already Dead.” The second novel in the Winnipeg Kepler series. Stay tuned – and pass the dal.