Christine Baltimore Thanks for an Awesome Review!

November 25th, 2014 → 6:47 pm @

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Full Text: I received a copy of Is it Still Murder Even if She Was a Bitch? by Robin Donovan for free through NetGalley. The title of this book caught my attention. I was looking for a fun witty read and was not disappointed. Donna Leigh owns Marcel, agency and her former colleague, Claire Dockens, ends up murdered after leaving a charity dinner. The first thing Donna wonders is if she will be a suspect. She, like many others, had been subject to Claire’s abusive personality and was not saddened when she left the company. I loved the characters in this book. In fear of having the finger pointed at them, Donna and her colleagues decide to do some detective work on their own. They are impulsive and fumble their way through their investigative adventure. Donovan does a great job with dialogue and the main character, Donna Leigh. This was truly and humorous and entertaining read. This review, or links to this review, may also be found on my profile pages as follows: Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/28942609-christina Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/A3RJL9VH4Z2PYU Pintrest http://www.pinterest.com/baltimore333/ Twitter https://twitter.com/chb548s Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/107592987780010474834/posts

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Thank you Janis Levonitis for a wonderful review!

November 16th, 2014 → 9:12 pm @

Janis Levonitis

Recommends This Book

Yes

WOOHOO, for all us menopausal ladies over 50. Robin Leemann Donovan’s: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was Bitch?, is a hilarious story of a group of menopausal co-workers and a few male coworkers thrown in, who decide to investigate the murder of a former coworker, Claire, who was a back-stabbing, manipulative, hateful excuse of a human being. WHY? To keep suspicion off themselves, because they all could have had motive to do the deed. Lead by Donna, whose inner monologue rolls with humorous observations of others as she deals with God awful hot flashes, memory issues and the ever dreaded hormonal induced emotions that strike at the most inopportune times. But through various misadventures, destruction of public property, they actually, inadvertently catch the killer. This book takes water cooler office talks to a new level. The characters are quirky and a special mention of Clovis, just to help her out with her extreme narcissism. She would be over the moon with happiness with the very mention of her name. This book starts out slow like a day at work that ends up being an extra exceptional day! I liked this book, as an over 50 gal myself, I’d like to think I’ve still got an adventure or two left to experience. I look forward to more of Donna’s adventures.
This book was provided by the publisher and Netgalley for an honest review.
Go to this link to see it in its original form: http://tinyurl.com/mcmercd

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Check out my guest blog post on Fiction University

July 29th, 2014 → 2:35 pm @

Janice Hardy invited me to guest blog on her Fiction University site. Check out my column here:

Character Evolution: Don’t Restrict Your Characters to Your Original Vision of Them

By Robin Leemann Donovan

Characters have a way of evolving in a story, sometimes for the better, sometimes to the utter frustrations of their creators. Despite those hair-pulling moments, though, a character who comes to life on their own often turns into a star. Please help me welcome Robin Leemann Donovan to the lecture hall today, to share the story of one such character.

Robin is president of the advertising/communications firm, Bozell and author of the blog, Menologues, a humorous yet informative look at the trials and tribulations of menopause by someone who’s been there. Menologues is republished on two commercial sites: Vibrant Nation and Alltop, and has won regional honors for social media at the AMA Pinnacles and PRSA Paper Anvil awards. Her first book in the Donna Leigh Mystery series: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? won an AMA Pinnacle award.

Robin was born and raised in New Jersey but lived and worked in Connecticut for a number of years before moving to Nebraska in 1999. Starting her career as a high school English teacher, Donovan moved into advertising in the early 80’s. In 1999 she accepted a job offer from Bozell. Donovan lives with her husband and three bulldogs, Jasmine, Roxi and Sadie (Sweet Pea).

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Take it away Robin…

When I started writing my first comedic murder mystery, Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch?, there was no Clovis Cordoba Seville character. All of my characters were utilitarian. I had a murder victim, some amateur sleuths, and some cops.

Having loosely based the murder victim on a less-than-favorite acquaintance, I had plenty of opportunities for humor in my ability to mock her. Early in the process I began to realize that too much focus on mocking the murder victim would make my protagonist really unsympathetic.

I had characters that could give me some slapstick and some playful co-worker banter but I was worried about too much of the same type of humor over and over again. I was short on diversity and range in recurring comedic characters.

That’s when I introduced Clovis.

She is loosely based on a former co-worker with a stunning ability to make herself the center of absolutely everything. How had I forgotten about the importance of narcissistic humor – the backbone of any creative enterprise – in the mix? So Clovis was born.

Throughout the writing process I was able to introduce Clovis as the “irrelevant logic voice of reason,” a role the deranged woman who inspired her had mastered. The beauty of this was that I didn’t have to make fun of her – she took care of that all by herself!

One fairly typical comment by Clovis causes Donna Leigh, the protagonist, to ruminate, “I was really beginning to think that the only thing that would satisfy her would be to make her the murder victim, and it was getting more tempting by the minute. But, of course, being the second murder victim just wouldn’t do.”

Initially, Clovis was nothing more than an outsider looking to insert herself into the action, making her the antithesis to most characters in a murder mystery who labor to distance themselves from any possible suspicion and/or danger. The complexity of her character is based on the fact that fulfilling her self-centeredness is the main driving force in her existence trumping every other basic need. How many of us have not known someone like that?

Further along in the plot, her thoughtless selfishness (in her case this is not really redundant) causes the protagonist to contemplate murder, “At that moment the thought of killing her and spending the rest of my life behind bars seemed like the only logical course of action.”

Ultimately, Clovis proves to be more integral to the plot than I’d initially anticipated. As she moves deeper into the plother character’s sense of triumph grows palpably.

Clovis is ridiculous. One of my editors questioned whether or not anyone would believe such an impossible to believe character. Ironically, the very aspects of Clovis that are so ridiculous are behaviors I have absolutely seen her inspiration exhibit on a quasi-daily basis. Honestly, I couldn’t make this stuff up!

I take great pride in the believability of all my characters. They are all based on real behavior patterns plugged into a fictional story. Unfortunately, for many who are not in a creative profession themselves – these characters can be a stretch of the imagination. I cringe whenever I see that my work has been reviewed by a scientist, knowing that they’re generally surrounded by logical, orderly minds on a daily basis, and that they don’t easily suffer fools. My work is not for them.

As writing progressed it became clear that Clovis could be so much more than just a comedic figure on the periphery of the plot fighting to get in. Her penchant to project her own self-aggrandizing behaviors onto Donna Leigh in a constant dogmatic tirade enables us to view the protagonist herself through a, probably more realistic but definitely less flattering and far more amusing, filter.

Clovis becomes the mechanism by which Donna’s own character flaws are illuminated in a way that enables us to laugh with her more than at her.

Clovis has gone from being a late-to-the-party add on to being my favorite character. She enables me push the envelope of the ridiculous and explore the machinations of a totally self-absorbed individual.

About Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch?

How does one react to the shocking news that a former colleague has been brutally murdered? Worse yet, you realize that your vitriolic relationship with the victim could land you squarely on the suspect list. That’s exactly what happens to Donna Leigh, the energetic and somewhat sardonic owner of an Omaha ad agency, who jumps right in to the investigation – despite annoying menopausal symptoms – in order to keep the wolves away from her door. She manages to amuse as well as impress with her effective but unorthodox sleuthing.

As Donna and her colorful colleagues work feverishly to solve the case, they leave a trail of unintentional destruction in their wake; from injured police officers to collapsed buildings. Donna and her team stir things up enough to make the murderer nervous; after Donna receives a threat to “back off” things take on a more serious bent for her, but not for her ever vigilant colleagues who continue to animatedly bungle their way through the investigation until the murderer is behind bars.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

http://blog.janicehardy.com/2014/07/character-evolution-dont-restrict-your.html

 

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KOIL It’s The Beat Interview – Jody and Karen are totally cool!

May 23rd, 2014 → 10:15 pm @

Check out Saturday’s It’s the Beat at 12 noon. It was so incredibly fun! Jody and Karen were hilarious!

20140521_192119 (3)I want to hang out with them from now! And their engineer was awesome as well!

20140521_193723 (3)They all made me feel so comfortable – and encouraged me to talk as much as I want.

Naturally, there will be  some edits!

In addition, they invited me back when book 2 comes out – which should be any time now!

Watch for it – and check out Saturday’s show – it might give you a laugh!

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A Talented Photographer Can Make Your Book Cover

January 21st, 2014 → 9:27 pm @

I feel very fortunate. Being in the ad business I have access to many very talented artists. When it came time to design my book cover, my designer strongly recommended commissioning a photograph by the incredibly talented Scott Drickey. Scott read the book, asked a few questions and then came up with a cover photo that offered mystery and intrigue. It created a visual tension befitting a suspense-filled story about murder, yet it maintained a whimsical posture which enabled it to pave the way for the comedic nature of the book.

And Scott managed to convey all of these things within an extremely sophisticated framework.

It fit the book to perfection!

So many of my cozy mystery colleagues select covers that are exaggerated and cartoonish in nature. I’m not sure how that trend came about – but I knew right from the start that it did not fit my work.

I relied very heavily on my designer, Jill Rizzo, to find a “look” that would convey my brand accurately, and with the help and talent of Scott Drickey – my expectations were far exceeded!

 

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Review from Granite Cove Mysteries author Sharon Love Cook

January 7th, 2014 → 5:46 pm @

By Sharon L. Cook on September 11, 2013

Format: Paperback Amazon Verified Purchase

The title alone tells you this isn’t a cozy about embroidering or making fudge. The central character, Donna Leigh, isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. But even when she finds herself in trouble, she never lacks for a witty response. This amateur sleuth compares herself to Miss Marple, albeit a “younger, hotter ” Jane Marple. And though she may unwittingly do ditzy things, such as propping a ladder against the dead woman’s house, thereby attracting the attention of the police, she is a savvy businesswoman. In fact, part of the book’s charm is the insider look at the world of advertising. Author Robin Leemann Donovan is part owner of a high profile advertising agency in Omaha, Nebraska, the setting of this mystery.

There’s something for everyone: fashionistas will love the descriptions of clothes worn by Donna Leigh and colleagues, a coterie of women who aren’t afraid to pile into the car and go investigate a murder. And though they’re bold and daring, they don’t always think before they act. Impulsivity runs rampant in that office. Nonetheless, they’re fiercely loyal, the kind of friends any woman would love to have in her corner–providing they remain in the corner.

Is it Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? is brimming with madcap fun, dark deeds, humorous musings and asides and old fashioned suspense along with a victim you love to hate. The protagonist is a whirling dynamo who never slows down, and never lets the reader down either.

 

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FAQs on Authoring a Book: Getting Started – Part 2 Continued

January 28th, 2013 → 9:55 pm @

We’ve already addressed three of the four basic categories that new authors tend to fall into:  the I have an idea I’d like to share with the world group, typically consisting of business advice – an idea, the I have a story to tell group, often about overcoming adversity, and/or self-help advice and the I want to write a book and give my business, or personal brand, a boost folks. We’ve given these author-types some advice on the best way to get things started.

Let the creative juices flow!

Let the creative juices flow!

That leaves our fourth and final category, consisting of the I love to write and I’m pretty good so I should probably write a book folks. For them the subject of the book is often secondary to their desire or even need to express themselves in writing.

At the risk of seeming immodest, that’s where I place myself. As an English major and a former English teacher, I have always wanted to write a book and I’ve never been shy about sharing that fact. When I finally got around to actually writing a manuscript there were those who asked “why did you wait so long?” And the answer is simple. I envisioned pouring my heart into my life’s work and spending the next decade receiving one rejection after another from heartless publishers who would ignore and overlook my brilliance, thus shredding my very soul.

Getting to know a publisher gave me the courage to take a shot. Once I’d made the decision to finally write the damn thing – I hadn’t a clue of what to write. A chat with this publisher helped to get me focused.

“What do you love?” he asked.

“I love comedy.”

“Then write your comedy and show it to me,” he suggested.

That was it. Next challenge – decide what funny things to write about. As a lifelong aficionado of murder mysteries – both serious and comedic – the old adage “write what you know” seemed applicable.

Once my genre was set I sat down to write. The first three chapters virtually wrote themselves. I packaged these up and sent them to my “publisher acquaintance” to await his verdict.

A few weeks later confirmation arrived. My chapters were of enough interest to warrant finishing the book. It was a bittersweet moment that juxtaposed the thrill of having a publisher’s interest and the terror of being clueless as to how to write a whole book.

For me, the next step was to continue writing while simultaneously creating a writing process. There are some who would say my journey appears to have been backwards. But it’s what worked for me.

Here are a few pointers for those of you raring to go:

  1. The writing is so much fun! If it’s not, maybe you have the wrong topic (obviously if you’re writing about a somber subject it won’t be a laugh riot – but it should “feel good”).
  2. You need some kind of a process. Everyone asked me if I had an outline – I never did. I found that the writing just took its own twists and turns. What I did need, however, was a process to determine:
    1. How long before I start to write the ending: I decided to split the book into quarters – and not start writing the ending until the fourth quarter – that was an enormous help.
    2. How many pages does it need to be:  I did some checking on several books in the genre – and they were books that I enjoyed so I knew that the length did not prove to be an obstacle in the enjoyment of the work.
    3. How to determine how many instances of physical comedy should be included: Again, research other authors in the genre – try to focus on books you thought worked well and see how many individual times they used physical comedy.
    4. How to remember details so I could tie up loose ends: I kept a notebook with notes on every chapter. I chronicled when every character was introduced and when every plot turn occurred – it’s impossible to remember every detail – notes are a godsend. I also took notes on every character’s name – you’d be surprised how you can forget a character’s last name – or how you spelled their name.
    5. In my case, folks always ask me if I knew who the murderer was in the beginning. The answer is “no.” At times I thought I knew, but as things progress I changed my mind – several times. Letting the prose take you where it does is known as creativity – don’t try to jam your creativity into a pre-determined outline!
    6. Let the editors do their work! If you are self-published, make it your business to find some great editors and ask them to be ruthless. If you publish traditionally or collaboratively your publisher will take care of that for you. Remember, a suggested change by an editor is not a failure of your manuscript – if you let the creative juices flow there are bound to be mistakes or awkward areas. A great editor will honestly improve the quality of your end product – we don’t always see the flaws in our own creation – nor do friends and relatives!
    7. If all else fails, just write and see where it takes you! You can always turn it into a book later. The whole key to your success is to let yourself go! After that, process and editing (not to mention proofing) will clean things up and make you ready for “prime time!

Donovan heads Bozell Books, a division of Bozell designed to help authors and budding authors from inception through promotion of their published work. She has authored a novel entitled: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was a Bitch? www.rldonovan.com, and the second in her Donna Leigh Mysteries series is currently being published. Her next installment of FAQs on Authoring a Book will address the prospective author with confidence in their ability to write and how it impacts their process of “Getting Started.”

 

 

 

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FAQ’s on Authoring a Book: Getting Started-Part 2

January 14th, 2013 → 4:30 pm @

Lately I’ve been fielding a lot of questions from folks who are thinking they’d like to write a book. They typically fall into these four basic categories:  the I have an idea I’d like to share with the world group, the subject here often boils down to business advice – an idea, the I have a story to tell group, the subject is often one depicting how they or a loved one has overcome adversity, and/or self-help advice; then there are the I love to write and I’m pretty good so I should probably write a book folks, and for them the subject is often secondary; last and probably least we have the I want to write a book and give my business, or personal brand, a boost folks.

Want to Write a Book?

Want to Write a Book?

Getting started varies depending on which group you fall into.

In the first, second and fourth groups, you know what you want to write about but are often intimated by the task of organizing your information and doing the actual writing. For these folks, I recommend that you begin by vetting your idea or story carefully, i.e. make sure no one has beat you to it. That doesn’t mean that the topic has never been addressed in a book before, but it is imperative that your particular slant on the topic is fresh and not in danger of getting you busted for plagiarism.

Once you’re sure that your topic is a fresh perspective, you need to determine the goal of your book; what are you hoping the reader will take away? And what skills, if any, will your book help readers begin to develop?

Once clear on the objectives of your book, it’s time to create an outline. This exercise will begin to formulate your process. It will help you organize your information and make it manageable for the reader. As you contemplate the various facets of your idea, or story, and how to articulate it you will also begin to identify the various ways in which your idea can be applied or your story can be relevant to your public. You might even have examples of how it could, or already has worked for others. As you think these things through, your outline will bulk up, enhancing and guiding your content. The more thorough your outline the more it will begin to parallel the structure and content of your book. This will take a lot of the intimidation away from the writing process and the age old question: I have a great idea, but how will I be able to fill an entire book?

If the actual writing of the book is still a concern for you the best way to proceed is to start with your outline and fill in the details of each key point and sub-point. Just start writing and remember your first draft is never final; you will add and delete and move things around as you go back over your work.

Be sure to articulate yourself clearly and methodically in a linear fashion, i.e. keep things simple and easy to follow and don’t jump around because that confuses readers. Once you’ve written your first draft, make sure you have a first rate editor. Your editor will make the difference between a book that makes perfect sense only in your head and a book that readers will be able to follow. Your editor will also ensure that the rough edges are smoothed over. Remember, with you folks, it’s more about the idea than the prose articulating it. A good editor can turn a confusing and disjointed manuscript into a masterpiece.

And if the writing is just too painful – there are always ghost writers!

In our next post we’ll explore the I love to write and I’m pretty good so I should probably write a book folks!

Donovan heads Bozell Books, a division of Bozell designed to help authors and budding authors from inception through promotion of their published work. She has authored a novel entitled: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was a Bitch? www.rldonovan.com, and the second in her Donna Leigh Mysteries series is currently being published. Her next installment of FAQs on Authoring a Book will address the prospective author with confidence in their ability to write and how it impacts their process of “Getting Started.”

 

 

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FAQ’s on Authoring a Book: Writing, Publishing and Promoting – Part 1

December 20th, 2012 → 8:44 pm @

First Novel

First Novel

The origin of Bozell Books and Managing New Author Expectations:

The Bozell Books division was started as a direct result of my own personal need. I had just published my first book: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch?, and I hadn’t a clue as to how to promote it.  www.rldonovan.com.

 

I learned through glimpses of more experienced authors that promoting a book in this day and age takes an Herculean effort. I hasten to add that it has been something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember – and it has absolutely been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life! I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Promoting a book seemed so easy based on all the movies and TV shows depicting authors and their exciting careers. From my vantage point things looked dramatically different. In the movies and in TV, once your book is published you just sit back and let the world gather at your feet. Your publisher sets up reading/signing/speaking engagements and provides a stretch limo (complete with chilled champagne) to convey you from one glamorous event to the next.

Reality bore little resemblance to the glamour of fiction as the promotion of my book began. I felt extremely fortunate to have worked closely with an established author of Harlequin Romance novels before undertaking my own career as a novelist. At last count she has written and published 17 books and her painstaking experience in trying to promote them has helped to manage my own expectations.

I find that the most difficult part of helping a budding author is in trying to manage their expectations. There is at least a little part of all of us (myself included) that thinks “that’s you, but my work will be received differently.” It can happen, but it’s pretty rare.

The most difficult part of managing new author expectations is in getting the point across without going so far that it kills motivation. It’s a finely balanced art.

As challenging as it is to promote a book, the thrill of getting out into the public and sharing your work with new audiences is a rush like no other. A relative recently asked me in a somewhat sardonic tone “so, do you get the star treatment?” The first thought that flitted through my head was the backbreaking amount of work I was doing to promote the book; but my second thought took me right to that place where I’m in front of an audience comprised of folks that want to know any number of things about me and my book. “Yes,” I answered in all honesty, “there are times when I really do.”

Donovan heads Bozell Books, a division of Bozell designed to help authors and budding authors from inception through promotion of their published work. Her next installment of FAQs on Authoring a Book will address the age old challenge of “Getting Started.”

 

 

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Check out my book trailer

September 13th, 2012 → 6:47 pm @

My book trailer just went up on the WriteLife YouTube channel today. Check it out:

 

 

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