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Friday, February 15, 2013

Guest Post & Excerpt: Scraps of Paper by Kathryn Meyer Griffith #FMBAuthor

This book is FREE at Amazon until Feb. 19th! :)

The Story of Scraps of Paper
A murder mystery by Kathryn Meyer Griffith


I’ve been writing for over forty-one years and have gone through a lot of frustrating or downright infuriating situations with publishers and editors.  Since 1981 I’ve had eight of them. I’ve suffered 4% royalties, dreadful covers, bad editing and shoddy proof-reading, confusing statements, late royalty payments (or nonexistent ones) and other near-criminal acts committed against me by publishers and editors I’d so naively put my trust into over the years. Now days I like to look back at those occasions, write about them; smile or even laugh over them, though they weren’t so funny when they were happening. This is one of those smiling times…because the conception, writing, publishing and, finally, self-publishing of my murder mystery Scraps of Paper has had such a long vexing journey but has finally ended, for me, happily.
On January 15, 2013 I self-published it as an eBook, for the first time, on Amazon Kindle Direct, after waiting ten long years as it languished beneath a terribly unfair hardback contract with Avalon Books that had a sell-off limit of 3,500 hardcopies. Ten years where they claimed it barely sold (no joke…their asking price was ridiculously high at $26.00) and that it didn’t sell one copy in the last two years of its contract–though the book was on sale everywhere on the Internet. I never received one royalty statement and had to beg in yearly emails to be told how many copies had sold that year. Of course, since the totals never got near the 3,500, , they said, I would get no royalty statements. And I never did. Not one. Ever. Last month my book was finally mine again and I was free of that atrocious contract and now, after a revision and commissioning a new stunning cover from my cover artist Dawne Dominique, I’ve released it into the world without the publisher’s shackles to imprison it. Fly little bird, fly!
Originally I wrote it be the first of a series set in this quaint, quirky little town I tongue-in-cheek called Spookie. I mean, most of my books before were horror novels and I was basically considered a horror writer, so the town’s name was the tip-of-the-hat to my horror roots. It’d
be my first venture into that genre, which I’d always loved. Sherlock Holmes. Murder She Wrote. Detective Frost. Miss Marple. I wrote it and then, quickly after, a second in the series All Things Slip Away for Avalon Books. I got a modest advance up front for each one.
It was 2002. I’d come out of a lengthy publishing dry spell. My seventh paperback novel, Zebra’s The Calling, a ghost story with an ancient Egyptian theme, had come out in 1994. Then they dumped a lot of us mid-list horror writers, me included, saying horror was dying; and for eight years I couldn’t sell another book. Well, living my life got in the way during some of that time. I’d lost my long-time good-paying graphic artist job in 1994 and had to find another one. The pay was a lot less. No good for my budget or my standard of living, which really fell. I went from one of five bad jobs to another over the next six years…each worse and lower paying than the one before.  Each more demanding. I needed to make money. No longer could I live with pie-in-the-sky literary dreams. I had to face reality. So I stopped writing for a while.
When I finally came up for breath and my head was back on straight again I decided to write something different…a mystery. I’d always loved mysteries.  I began writing Scraps of Paper. About a woman, an artist named Jenny, whose husband has been missing for two years, and who’s just learned he’s been dead all that time–a victim of a gone-wrong mugging. She begins a new life and moves to a small town full of fog, quirky townspeople and mysteries. And right away she’s drawn into one of her own when she buys, renovates, a fixer-upper house and uncovers hidden in it scraps of paper written by two young children who once lived there with their mother, and who supposedly drove away thirty years before and were never seen again. The town thought they simply went somewhere else; began a new life. But Jenny suspects they never left the house; suspects they’d been murdered. Then she finds three graves in the back.
Of course, with her history of a missing husband she develops the overpowering urge to find out what happened to them. The scraps of paper she continues to find makes the bond, the desire, stronger. She forms a friendship with an ex-homicide cop, Frank, and together they try to solve the mystery. Only thing is there’s someone still living in the town that just as desperately doesn’t want them to. Someone who’d kill to keep the murderer’s identity secret.
When done I was proud of it. Thought it was good. I sent it to Avalon Books in New York. They loved it and bought it. I signed the contract, though I didn’t like some of the things in it. But I was desperate. I hadn’t had a book published in so long and, as my mom always said, beggars can’t be choosers.  I sold them the second in the series, hoping it’d help sell the first. They got great reviews. But I came to regret signing both those contracts more as every year went by because I never received one penny more for either book for the next ten years. I know, it sounds impossible. But it happened to me. I’m sure it happened to a lot of their authors. Probably one of the reasons Avalon Books sold themselves lock-stock-and-barrel to Amazon Publishing in June of 2012 and, without their authors’ knowledge or permission, including mine, sold away their authors’ contracts from under them as well.  I guess you live and learn. I was just lucky Scraps of Paper’s contract had run out. I took the book back.
But, all that is in the past, and my revised Scraps of Paper-Revised Author’s Edition is now available, on sale for $3.99 (much better than $26.00), at Amazon Kindle here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B1W4A2K   And I hope people will have the chance to read it this time around and like it.


While cleaning the baseboard in the living room, she noticed it was loose and had the hammer in her hand ready to nail it down again when she spied a scrap of paper sticking out from behind the piece of wood.
Such a simple act, yanking at that slip of paper, but it would change everything. Pulling it carefully from its hiding place, she saw it was a tightly folded and yellowed scrap of white paper laced in spider webs and dust. The sort of white drawing paper she used to sketch on as a child. She unfolded it slowly. There was printing on it, bright red crayon scribbling as a child might do. At first Abigail wasn’t sure what it was. Then she looked closer and read:

ME AND CHRIS ARE SO SCARED. HE WAS MEAN TO MOMMY AGAIN, MADE HER CRY. HURT HER. WE HATE HIM!!! in a childish scrawl. There was a J at the bottom.

She stared at the scrap of paper and reread it. It was obviously old. No telling how long it’d been behind the baseboard. She refolded it and tucked it into a compartment of her purse. The two children’s names who’d once lived there, if she recalled correctly, had been Christopher and…Jenny. Amazing, the note could have been from them. How strange, after all these years, for her to find it. But who was HE?
Abigail couldn’t stop dwelling on the note as she resumed her work. She made it a point to search for other scraps of paper sticking out from hidden places. A treasure hunt. By the early evening, when she had to quit painting for the day because her body refused to move, she’d uncovered yet another scrawled note in red crayon, all caps, similar to the first one from under the baseboards.

It said: WE WENT TO BED AGAIN WITHOUT SUPPER. SHE WAS MAD. I AM SO HUNGRY. C

Was it from Christopher? She put the note in her purse with the other one. She was trying not to feel sorrow for the mistreated children. After all it had been so long ago. But she couldn’t stop thinking about them and what these notes meant. Had they been abused and in danger? From whom? And why should it bother her so?***



Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had sixteen (nine romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel and two murder mysteries) previous novels and eight short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.

I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-four years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. LouisMo. We have three quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha, live cats Cleo and Sasha (Too), and the five of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die…or until my memory goes.
All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Books available at Amazon.com here.

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