Thursday, April 26, 2012

Query letters are hard.

Today I've been chewing on my query letter. Much like my daughter (shown below in her bald stage. She has hair now.), I'm reduced to a drooling mess.  

I'm posting it here, and I welcome any comments, because I'm at the point where I can't see what's wrong with it.  Please feel free to shred. 

Fine, I'll chew my way out!

Dear Super Awesome person,

In REMINGTONS KILL PEOPLE, Mercy and Justice Givens, twin sisters and co-owners of the Givens Detective Agency, are having a bad week. Taxes are due in three days, and their bank balance is lower than a rattlesnake’s belly. Their only case, proving ditzy debutante Genevieve Simmons didn’t stab her boyfriend, seems hopeless. Just before they’re forced to borrow money from their Aunt Irene to pay Uncle Sam (again), another case to find an amateur embezzler provides a stay of execution.

Their hopes of a quick fee are crushed when someone parks a forklift on an accounting clerk’s head and dumps the body in the back of their truck, implicating them in murder. The twins ignore the warning, and the next body is hung in the handicap stall, right where Mercy, a paraplegic, is sure to find it. Now they’ve got to find the murderer before Justice is the third casualty of the frantic murder spree.

Worse, they don’t know that the killer isn’t the one who really wants them dead. Genevieve’s been framed, and the framer's hell-bent on making sure Justice and Mercy stay out of the picture. The twins aren’t used to being double-teamed, and Mercy’s genius plus Justice’s thirty-eight may not be enough to survive a Machiavellian murderer pairing up with a panicky killer.  

REMINGTONS KILL PEOPLE was recently selected as a finalist in Janet Reid’s Liz Norris Pay it Forward competition for debut novels, and is approximately 77,000 words in length. It is set in San Antonio, Texas and has the potential to be the first in a series featuring Mercy and Justice Givens. I am a native West Texan who likes to torment her Canadian husband with Tex-Mex cooking, lament my neglected concert pianist career, and recreate medieval illuminated book-pages in pre-1600 styles, when I’m not engaging in armored combat or changing diapers. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Kind regards
Britni Patterson

Monday, April 23, 2012

Domestic As-SALT. Ah-ha-ha-ha.

So the baby was screaming in the car on the way home, having hit her personal time limit for being out on the town.

I put on the local 80's / 90's rock station instead of the club/dance music station that usually lives on that radio, and she goes right to sleep.

I tell my 80's rock-loving, guitar-playing husband who was in an 80's cover band for 2 years about this, and his response?

"Clearly the child has managed to develop better musical taste in 10 months than you have in 30-plus years."  (Which is unfair, as I love me some hair metal.)

I was cooking at the time of this conversation, so I threw some salt at him.

"Take that!"


"I just assaulted you."

He stared at me for a moment. "Oh. Ah ha. And this is the mind of a mystery writer?"

"It's also the mind you go to sleep next to every night. I'd think that'd be scarier."

He conceded the point, and took the daughter down into the man-cave, I assume, to have a talk about respecting the brilliance of her mother.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


FINALLY I can tell everyone!  I'm a finalist! My novel was good enough to be a finalist!

Imagine if you will, a quiet family tableau.  Gramma is visiting and is happily watching Dancing with the Stars, while drinking Busch Light.  Two Chihuahuas are sleeping in the dog bed.  Daddy is sitting on the couch watching Dancing with the Stars because Gramma is his mother, and he has no choice.  BabyGirl is sitting on Mommy's lap, while Mommy tries to check her email and hold a baby until it's bath time.

Then all of a sudden, Mom flings the baby at Daddy, and proceeds to leap up and go jumping around the house, screeching and whooping, and yelling things like "I don't suck!" and "YEE-HA!"  Because Mommy is from Texas, and that's what happens.

Luckily, Daddy catches the baby, but the chihuahuas are startled awake and start barking.  The cats, who were asleep until Mommy went berserk and the dogs started barking, start racing around the house to fight over the best hiding spot until the Apocalypse is over.  The dogs, assuming the cats know something, start chasing the cats.  The cats run faster because they are now being chased.

Gramma spills her beer, and starts yelling about the waste of beer.

Daddy uses the baby to mop up the beer, and is yelling at Mommy to please explain what the hell is wrong with her brain and is she having a reverse stroke?

Mommy eventually manages to find enough words to explain that she's a finalist in the debut novelist competition she spent two weeks killing herself to enter. 

... Daddy says I'm exaggerating a bit, but it was TOTALLY like that.

Today is officially declared "I Don't Suck!" day.  Have some carrot cake and tea.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Procrastination is Productive

So far, I've made breakfast sandwiches (scrambled eggs with MAE farms sausage on leftover hamburger buns, sprinkled with the Sargento Mexican blend cheese), homemade carrot cake with cream-cheese icing, and Italian wedding soup is simmering on the stove.

I've also made a hell of a mess out of the kitchen that my darling husband cleaned this morning, but he doesn't mind because of the soup.  It's his favorite dish, and I swear it's one of the easiest to make.

Sausage, sauteed garlic, veggie and chicken broth, baby spinach, tarragon, nutmeg, lemon pepper, and sage if the sausage doesn't have it already in it.  Let the soup simmer deliciously until boiling, then add tortellini of whatever variety makes you happy.  Sprinkle with parmesan and serve.

I also did a massive shopping trip to restock the fridge.

I've also managed to procrastinate off most of the day instead of working on the e-pub format for my monograph for pre-seventeenth century pigments, hopefully titled "The Illuminator's Palette."  I'd initially submitted it for publication to the Compleat Anachronist, which is the academic publication of the Society for Creative Anachronism, but there've been "issues".  (One editor passed away suddenly, the other one didn't respond to five emails over 8 months from me.) 

But now I have something else to procrastinate - I.E. cleaning the kitchen, so I can now go happily work on my monograph.  I swear most of my major accomplishments are the direct result of avoiding accomplishing something else.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Free SIGNED copy of a book!

If you're interested in a signed copy of UNRAVELING by Liz Norris see the link below

Liz Norris is on my definitely-to-buy list, not just because she's getting fantastic reviews from EVERYWHERE, but because she's a super-generous author.  Not only does she have the book giveaway, but she's the cause of the Liz Norris Pay it Forward contest that helped me get my novel finished.  (A fantastic contest by the way.  The winner gets an all-expenses paid trip to the Backspace convention in NYC, and to eat lunch with Janet Reid, literary agent of internets fame!)  Utterly brilliant idea.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Mother-in-law season is over! There are no more chihuahuas defiling any carpeted surface in the house! 

There is no more crappy beer in my fridge!  (She likes Busch Light)

 Peanut butter may now be eaten with impunity! (The very idea of peanut butter makes her twitch. A knife dipped in peanut butter sitting in the sink makes her shriek like she saw a giant cockroach.)

In fact, I just had two peanut butter sandwiches, and a cappuccino.

I found an espresso machine at a garage sale for $2 last week. I figured there was something wrong with it, (and there was - it's missing a $8 filter widget that sits at the bottom of the brewing cup), but I love espresso so much I was willing to try it out.

I jerry-rigged around the missing filter widget by cutting down a paper filter, and hand-packing the espresso powder.  So now I have cappuccinos. (It's not quite good enough espresso to be by itself. It doesn't do the light brown color on top of the espresso after brewing like it should.)

But Mother-in-Law season is over!!  ...  For now.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

It's Mother-In-Law Season! (I mean, spring.)

The winter has passed, and with it, the first mother-in-law of spring has appeared.  Flitting down south from Canada, (early this season, most likely due to the mild winter), the mother-in-law appeared a couple of weeks ago. 

The grandchild surely played a strong attracting force for the mother-in-law to roost for a few weeks.  The mother-in-law arrived with two chihuahuas, (scientists suspect some sort of symbiotic relationship), and built a nest in the spare bedroom. Cases of Busch Light appeared in the fridge, along with some Frank's Red Hot sauce, and a special jug of milk.  (Yes, cases. Beer time starts at five o'clock, and extends until she goes to bed, or about five or six beers.)

The guilty party
The chihuahuas have pooped on the bathroom rug far too many times to bother counting. 

The grandchild has been harangued for not walking or crawling yet. (and also played with, cajoled, adored, petted, gifted, and generally treated like the only and favored grandchild that she is.)

Garage sales and thrift stores have been perused and studied. (To great success on my end - new bedroom furniture, mixing bowl, silver platters, table linens, and all kinds of things.)

Frank's Hot sauce has been put on everything I've cooked. Omelets, pork chops, rosemary and salt-crusted lamb chops, savory crepes, corn chowder.  She really does put that shit on EVERYTHING.

The mother-in-law has also spent quite some time "scratching" in the yard, along with the robins and the brown threshers.  [Scratching in this connotation = raking up the leaves]

The baby's interactions with the mother-in-law, known to her as "Nana", appear primarily positive, though I am unsure about teaching her to play hockey with her toys and a wrapping paper tube, or having her hold the reins to the chihuahuas when they're in harness, and she's in a stroller.  Luckily one of the chihuahuas is ancient, decrepit, and not pulling anything anywhere, no matter how furiously the leash is whipped around.

The mother-in-law is already showing signs of preparing to wend her way back up north for the summer.  Cases of dog food (significantly cheaper in the states than Canada) have been purchased and stowed, the beer is showing signs of depletion, and the mother-in-law can be found muttering to herself about which stores she wishes to visit before leaving.

Mother-in-law season can be an entertaining time for all concerned, as long as proper care is taken to ensure that there is enough beer and meals at regular times. Oh, and that the bathroom is acceptably clean at all times.