Bedazzling Dress

Hello Reading Friend,

As promised, here is a short mystery for you to solve. The winner of this reading contest will receive an Advance Reader Copy of my upcoming book, “Faith on the Rocks.”

Here are the contest rules:

  • Read the mystery
  • Solve the main question of Who Dunnit and how you know this (Check out Women’s World–”Solve It Yourself Mystery” for ideas on this)
  • Click this link that takes you to the submission form
  • Be quick!  I can only send an ARC to the first correct submission

Bedazzling Dress

The tall, elegant woman approaching Rita May and Daisy looked none too pleased. Her heels clicked on the white marble floor of the famous Broadmoor Hotel. She took a garment bag from over her forearm, and shoved it toward Rita May.

“Tell me I did not pay $7,000 for this!” said the woman in a thick eastern European accent. Her voice echoed off the walls of the hall leading into the Grand Ballroom. “Rita, I did not stand for over 30 measurements, only to have you produce a dress I couldn’t wear at all, much less for my dance competition in two hours!”

Rita looked dismayed as she started to unzip the bag. “But Annika–Dr. Habsburg–this dress is—” Rita stopped.

“This is my garment bag. You can see my logo on it. But this is not the dress I made for you.” She pulled a poorly constructed Latin dance dress from the bag. “It doesn’t even come from my off-the-rack collection.”

“It is the dress you delivered through the hotel,” said Annika. “Where is the beautiful outfit of pearlescent cream we’ve talked about? I need to waltz and slow Foxtrot in that.”

“I don’t know, Annika, but I’ll find out,” said the dress designer. Rita turned to Daisy, then back to her client. “My friend here has worked with the Littleton police on some cases, and I’m sure she can help me find out what happened.”

Dr. Habsburg turned to look up and down at Daisy. “Well. Maybe there’s more than meets the eye here.”

Just then, a similarly tall young woman walked up to the group in front of Rita’s dress display. “Something amiss?” asked the young woman.

“Mallory!” said Rita. “Just the person we need here. Daisy, Mallory is my assistant. Mallory, Dr. Habsburg’s dress has gone missing. You did stay here and watch over the booth of designs while I parked the van, right?”

“Right,” said Mallory.

“Did you see anyone go near the garment bag with Dr. Habsburg’s dress in it?”

Mallory bit her lip and scrunched her forehead. “Not that I saw.”

“Two hours,” said Annika. “I must have that dress back in two hours!” She stalked off.

Rita wrung her hands. “Daisy, what am I going to do? Dr. Habsburg is one of my best clients. She’s even been invited to dance at the all-famous Blackpool competition later this year. The Glimmer Ball, here in Colorado Springs, was to be her warm up for that competition. If we don’t find her dress, she won’t be able to dance tonight, and that will hurt her chances of high placement at Blackpool.”

“Hmm,” said Daisy. “Someone obviously replaced your real gown for the other. And the good doctor didn’t ask for a loan from your collection here.” Daisy swept her arm toward a line of dazzling dresses on Rita’s rack. “Could it be our dancing diva has cold feet about Blackpool?”

“Your puns are not appreciated right now,” said Rita, but she laughed just the same. “Cold feet. Dance. Seriously, it’s a thought. But Dr. Habsburg is a renowned organ transplant surgeon at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. She doesn’t crack under pressure that I’ve ever seen.”

“The dancing doctor? Impressive,” said Daisy. “Let’s keep in mind though that even the toughest amongst us has a weak spot.” Still she looked around the hall. Other vendors had displays of shoes, jewelry, and more dance dresses. “Perhaps there are witnesses in the other booths. Let’s go ask them if they’ve seen anyone near your collection.”

Together Rita and Daisy spoke to the other vendors. Almost no one had seen anything, as they were busy with their own customers. The last vendor was a young friend of Rita’s, Ryan Stoner.

“Ryan used to be an ice skater,” said Rita to Daisy as they walked over. “But a couple of blown knees later he followed his mom into dressmaking for ice-skaters and ballroom dancers. Hi, Ryan. Have a couple of minutes?”

Daisy told Ryan about the missing dress and asked if he’d seen any unusual activity near the Rita May Designs booth.

“Stolen dress? I’ll have to keep a closer eye on my designs,” said Ryan. “Mine aren’t as perfect as yours, Rita, but if I had a seven thousand dollar dress, you can bet I would hire extra security to watch my booth. Now you mention it, I did notice your booth was empty for a little while.”

“Empty?” said Rita. “But I left my assistant there.”

Ryan shrugged. “I saw her pick up a cell phone and walk away.”

“Thanks, Ryan. You may have helped solve this mystery!” said Rita. She grabbed Daisy and walked back to her booth.

Mallory met Rita and Daisy. “I just remembered something, Rita. Dr. Habsburg told you she was nervous about dancing in the Broadmoor. The architecture and elegance are so reminiscent of her days growing up in Prague, and her end to dancing when she was intimidated as a little girl there. Do you think Daisy might be right about her being afraid to dance? Could she have switched out dresses?”

“I’ll think about it, Mal, but for now, are you absolutely certain that you didn’t leave our booth here for even an instant?”

“Let’s see,” said Mallory. “We brought the dresses in from the van and hung them up. Then we took Dr. Habsburg’s dress out of the bag to show Mrs. Winger, that nice lady who is looking for a new designer. Remember? She was very impressed with all the beads you and I put on Dr. Habsburg’s dress.”

“You’re right, Mal,” said Rita. “Over ten thousand beads, each put on individually will do that for a person. But I put the dress back in my bag immediately after that. I hung it right here, and asked you to watch the booth while I went to park our van.”

“And so I did,” said Mallory.

Daisy cleared her throat. “Mallory, I see you have a little tissue stuck on your shoe heel there. Are you sure you stayed at the booth the entire time Rita was gone?”

Mallory blushed. “Oh! I may have stepped away, but I was only gone for a minute. That doesn’t count, does it?”

Rita glared at her assistant. “I know how much you like the Habsburg dress. I know how much time you put into helping me bead it. But Mallory, would you really have”—

“Mallory isn’t our thief,” said Daisy. “But I think I know who is. Let’s go find hotel security.”

__________________________

While the characters and events in this story are 100% fiction, I couldn’t have written this without invaluable help from Joey of Joey Santos Designs, a wonderful dress-designer in Littleton, Colorado.

The ARCs Are In–Now What?

I knew they were coming. Had sat watching out the front door for a couple of days.  No delivery person, no delivery person.  Then, Friday afternoon, when all hope for receiving my ARCs had drifted away and I had settled on the idea that I would not receive my Advanced Reader Copies of my book before leaving to visit my daughter and granddaughter for the weekend, I saw the boxes.

Two containers filled with rough copies or “galleys” of my book sat quietly on my front porch.  I might have missed them but for the tiny bit of hope that refused to leave my brain. Yipee!!

So what is an ARC and why is it so exciting?

Faith on the Rocks with a Not For Sale note.

Advance Uncorrected Proof is a copy of your almost ready for prime-time novel

An ARC, or Advance Reader Copy, is the book in its almost-finished-state. Authors can see what the cover looks like first hand, and have one last chance to make small corrections to their story before it goes into mass print.  It’s like the astronauts sitting in the pod that will take them to outer space.  Everything looks ready and you just want to have someone count down already, but the scientists back in home base need to make their final checks before hitting the blast-off button.

And thank goodness for those final checks!  I re-read my book in this ARC or galley form, and  found a couple of typos, a few small errors and then, in chapter 39, there it was–the error I would have been so embarrassed not to catch. Wanna know what that error was?

Okay.

You know how I have a story bible to keep names and characters straight.  Well a bible also helps remind you if you’ve named two separate characters with the same name.  Huge no-no.  Huge.

Well, yours truly did just that.  I have a minor character called Matt Hawkins sprinkled throughout my books (yes, he shows up in more than one story).  I accidentally named another character Matt.  You see, there used to be this boy … Oh, but I digress. That’s a true confession for another time.

Anyway, I named a second minor character Matt.  While I corrected the  first reference, there were four other Matts who should have been Clints on the following pages.  Oops!  My bad.  Big time.

Thank goodness for ARCs. All forty of ’em.

Why did I receive 40 ARCs?  Because authors are supposed to send these out into the world for reviews by famous authors, booksellers, reviewers et al.  They are NOT for family, or friends because, after all, this book thing is a business.  The ARCs are for me to use to promote my first book.

Problem: I don’t know any authors, booksellers or reviewers.  I want to send 40 books out so that people will start to talk about this book, and put it in writing so that the back of my book isn’t all just a blurb about me and what prospective readers will find inside.  Where will I find these advance readers?

I will make my lists today.  First of all, I’ll contact Writer’s Digest.  Perhaps being a subscriber more on than off for thirty years will help.  And then there are a few famous authors who are also members of my own Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers who may give a helping hand to a newbie.  Hometown newspapers in Michigan might pick up my book for a review (especially if I mention I’m coming into town right around release time), and my nephew has a contact that runs a review blog out east.  Half the world swarms into Colorado for ski season, and I’ve generously sprinkled local places of interest in my book, so perhaps that might help.

Do you have any ideas?  I know my “real” job is marketing, but this promoting yourself is a bit of a bear.

BUT,  I have an idea! It’s a contest.

Next week, I’ll try to write a quick mystery.  It will be pretty straight forward, as I’m not feeling particularly tricky this quarter.  If you read the mystery I write, and perhaps encourage your friends to do the same, you could win a copy of my ARC.  Just remember this is not in final polished form, but you can think of it as a limited edition print.  I’ll also be sure to autograph it just for you. Pretty cool, huh?

Here are the contest rules:

  • Read the mystery
  • Solve the main question of Who Dunnit and how you know this (Check out Women’s World–“Solve It Yourself Mystery” for ideas on this)
  • Click the link that takes you to the submission form
  • Be quick!  I can only send an ARC to the first correct submission

This is not a rule, but it would help me a lot if you would send a link to  your friends and librarians about this.  The name of this game is, after all, promotion.  What do you think?  Are you up for receiving your copy of my ARC, or will you wait until June and the real thing?

Have a happy writing day.

It’s A Mystery: Senior Moments Are Murder

Book cover for "Senior Moments Are Murder"For most of us, “starting fresh each day” is merely a pleasant sentiment, but for character Paul Jacobson, starting fresh each day means starting from scratch.  Can you imagine waking up to a total stranger in your bed every morning?  That’s what Paul does when this octogenarian widower decides to get married for a second time.  The problem is Paul suffers from short-term memory loss.  Every day is fine, but each night when he falls asleep, his short-term memory is wiped clean. Throughout the delightful book, Senior Moments are Murder, Paul has to keep introducing himself to people, places and murder suspects.

It all starts with a walk near a canal in Venice, California.  How Paul ended up in Venice when he’d spent most of his adult life in Hawaii, is beyond him.  Anyway, when Paul looks into the canal and has a dead body float up in front of him the fun begins.  Paul meets Detective Quintana of the twitching mustache, and meets him again and again throughout the book. As more bodies show up around Paul, the detective’s suspicions grow, especially as he has to keep introducing himself to the old geezer.

Luckily, Paul’s new bride, Marion, has a big heart and a great idea.  She has Paul journal each evening to give him a leg up on the new day.  Now if only he could remember to read his journal!

With the help of Paul’s granddaughter, the precocious Jennifer, his new grandson by marriage, Austin, and some wonderful characters along the way, Paul discovers more about life in Venice, the art community there, and how homeless people in the area live and get by.  All this, and he’ll need to solve this murder mystery quick, in order to go on an Alaskan cruise for his upcoming honeymoon.

I loved the expressions found in this fun and funny book by Mike Befeler.  Paul’s self-deprecating humor along with his sharp, if somewhat dysfunctional mind lead the reader through a page-turning romp.  Good stuff!

ABOUT MIKE BEFELER

Author Mike Befeler from Boulder, Colorado.

Mike Befeler lives in Boulder, Colorado, where he writes the Paul Jacobson, Geezer-Lit mystery series.

I had a chance to catch up with Mike Befeler, the author of Senior Moments are Murder and three other Paul Jacobson Geezer-Lit mysteries at a recent meeting of  Mystery Writers of America at the Denver Press Club.  He is the newly elected local chapter president, and we were about to listen to a talk on fingerprinting–but that is a story for another time.

Mike let me know that he made the conscious decision to retire into the writing life some time ago, so when he hit 56, he began writing in earnest.  Before that, he was involved with high technology marketing. He audited a CU Boulder writing course and started submitting short stories.

“After 111 rejections, I became an overnight success,” said Mike with a laugh.  His 112th submission, Never Trust A Poison Dart Frog, was a contribution to a short story anthology, Who Died In Here?, a collection based on death in bathrooms.

Then in 2005, Mike met Deni Dietz of Five Star Publishing.  “The great thing about Deni,” said Mike, “is that she has you send her the whole manuscript.  None of this send a couple of chapters, and then send more.”  Two months after his submission, Mike received his contract for Retirement Homes Are Murder.

Today, Mike has a writing routine that’s very comfortably allowing him to produce his work. He works in the morning for a few hours, then takes a walk in the area around his Boulder, Colorado home.  The afternoons, when he’s not at his most creative, are spent in administrative work, like social media management.  But what excites this author is starting a new project.

“Once I have an idea, I get wrapped up in it,” said Mike. “I’ll do some basic outlining, but mostly I’m writing.  I want to see what happens as well.”  For Retirement Homes Are Murder, Mike said he was about two-thirds the way through writing the book before he figured out it was a mystery.  Now, when he writes, he knows it’s a mystery, but often doesn’t know who the murderer is until late in the book.  “Then I go back, change a couple of clues and add a red-herring or two.”

Mike is currently working on a paranormal geezer-lit book, so keep an eye out.  This is one author on the move in lots of directions, and because Mike says he can’t stay serious for long, you’re sure to be entertained.  Me?  I’m going to check out “Cruising In Your Eighties Is Murder Next.” Something tells me it will be set in Alaska, with a honeymoon somehow involved.

Title: Senior Moments Are Murder
Author: Mike Befeler
Publisher: Five Star Publishing