My Complicated Relationship with the Sea

I’m getting ready for a vacation to Belize where my husband and I will be on a small island resort where we can snorkel each day.  The upcoming trip has me thinking about my complicated relationship with the sea.

When I go swimming in the ocean I always feel like there are a couple of sharks snuffling around my feet, following me. I can feel them behind me in the water swirling around, ready to bite. I read somewhere that sharks have a thing about feet so you could see why I’d be nervous about losing a toe or two—or worse. But here’s the thing—those sharks are incredibly tricky. Every time I stop swimming and turn around to look for them, they’re gone! It’s like they can read my mind and they disappear before I can catch them sniffing at my heels. So maybe they’re psychic sharks that know how to make themselves invisible or are just really good at hiding. Someday I hope I’ll see this on TV: Invisible psychic foot-fetish sharks– Tomorrow on Shark Week! But, I’m not going to hold my breath.

Aside from the sharks, I really do love the ocean. I grew up in Southern California and most the girls that I went to school with were petite, tan, and blonde—pretty much all the things I am not. At all. Ever. The only time I was petite was when I was in utero. My part of the gene pool, we just burn and peel, it is not a good beach look.

But, the ocean, I love being in the ocean, away from all those cute people with their tans and good bodies. (Damn them.) I’m not really a sporty person, but I did get certified for scuba diving, which is probably the sportiest thing I’ve ever done. I found out that I have a problem that doesn’t help me when I dive.

I am buoyant. Soooo damn buoyant.

And that’s the thing about diving is that you have to be able to leave the surface of the water, to go underwater, that is the point of diving. Turns out, my whole body must be made of water wings, because I will not sink unless you load me down with dozens of weights. The last time I went diving, and I mean, it will be the last time ever…we had a boatload of people, and everyone dived—is that dove?—into the water when we got to our dive spot and started descending into the deep water. Me? I just bobbed like a cork on the surface while the leaders of the trip started shoving weights into pouches on my belt. I continued bobbing and peered into the water to see ten other normal people, all down in the water 50 feet, staring up at me.

Finally, the last weight the leader shoved into my belt was the tipping point. I started to drop—like a rock. Having suddenly lost my natural buoyancy, I just kept dropping, and I said to myself, “Self, you could drop all the way to the bottom of the ocean—and that would be a bad thing.” Panicking, I pressed the inflator on my vest which filled up with air—my man-made water wings—and BOOM. I popped up to the surface again. I peered down into the water at the ten people still looking up at me—bubbles rising from each of them. If they had been thought bubbles, they would be filled with words like “why can’t that middle-aged woman get her butt down here?” And so it was, on that day, I decided that what I really wanted was a nice boat ride. I waved to my companions through the water and climbed back on the boat. Ahhh…what a nice day for a cruise, now all I needed was to take off all this scuba gear and find myself a piña colada.

A Peep Obsession

Rumors of my obsession with Peeps, those nearly-plastic marshmallow treats so prevalent at Easter, is highly exaggerated (or is that eggs-aggerated?) I’ll admit that I do love to roast them over my beadmaking torch.  They get crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside when toasted to perfection—and taste like creme bruleé with their delicious burnt sugar coating.

Over the last few years I’ve been doing some fun crafts with Peeps—last year it was a Peep-encrusted apron, the year before it was a Peep crown.  I must admit, I have a penchant for tiaras, so the Peep crown was one of my favorites.

Each Spring the SGB NorCal, our local chapter of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers, comes to my house and studio for a garden party and Peep roast.  We usually jam as many people as possible into my tiny studio and stand around my sleek GTT Mirage torch, delicately waving our shmallow chicks and bunnies in the flame, before stuffing them into our mouths after they have sufficiently cooled. 

This year I decided to make an Easter cake, having been inspired by binge-watching three seasons of the Great British Bake Off.  My husband, Jeff, made the frosting, which turned out fluffy and perfect.  He also tinted some coconut green for me.  I made the cake and decorated it with Peeps and Jelly Bellies. I’m pretty happy with the results, though I don’t think I’ll win any awards for it.  I can’t wait to take a bite, but we must wait until Easter.  I really must.  Really.

If you have some extra Peeps after Easter, you might want to try roasting one. You can toast them over a gas flame on your stove, if you don’t happen to have a oxy-propane torch handy.  Just make sure to let it cool a little before eating it, they are a bit like molten lava if you eat them too quickly after roasting.

And whether you roast any Peeps or not, I hope you have a very Happy (or is that HapPeep?) Easter!

Off the Beadin’ Path Blog Tour Itinerary

Time for a Blog Tour

I’m celebrating the launch of Off the Beadin’ Path with a blog tour and am thrilled to announce the list of stops on my Great Escapes Book Tour!

Please visit these sites each day to read reviews and more. I’m doing several guest posts on these blogs, both as myself and as Jax. Many of the bloggers are giving away sets of all three ebooks from the Glass Bead Mystery Series, plus a pewter and glass bead bookmark that I made. You’ll find instructions on how to enter the giveaways on the blogs. Please leave comments on the blogs, just to let me know that you stopped by.

I hope you enjoy the tour!

Here’s where I’ll be each day.

March 15 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

March 15 – My Journey Back – REVIEW

March 16 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY

March 16 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

March 17 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

March 17 – Books,Dreams,Life – INTERVIEW, SPOTLIGHT

March 18 – Sleuth Cafe – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY

March 18 – My Reading Journeys – SPOTLIGHT

March 19 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

March 20 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 21 – Varietats – REVIEW

March 21 – Queen of All She Reads – GUEST POST

March 22 – Book Babble – REVIEW

March 22 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

March 23 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

March 23 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

March 24 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY

Off the Beadin’ Path – Release Day Reflections

A few years ago I had an idea for a book. I’d never written a novel, although I’d been a writer for most of my professional career.  I wrote—and still do from time to time— scintillating technical training material for the high-tech industry.  Well, not that scintillating.

The idea I had for the novel was to write a murder mystery that was set in a glassblowing studio, often called a “hot shop” by people who work in glass. As a glass beadmaker, I’d spent some time in hot shops, although making glass beads doesn’t require the large-scale furnaces required to create vases and sculptures.

The plot that developed in my mind just kept growing. These book ideas simply would not fade. Character names, humorous scenes, interesting settings, and even creative ways to kill fictional people all rattled around in my brain. Write fiction?  I’d never really considered it. Yes, I loved reading. Yes, I was a word geek. Who else but a word geek would get an advanced degree in Linguistics?

In the months before I wrote my first novel, several other plots all featuring the same quirky cast of characters, continued to form in my mind. I diligently wrote them all down. I still have those notes, and refer to them from time to time.

In the end, I decided to start with a different story than the one that takes place in the hot shop. In the fall of 2012, I wrote High Strung during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It takes place in a bead shop in Seattle. When I finished, I knew I was hooked. I loved the exhausting process of writing fiction. That same autumn, I wrote A Bead in the Hand, in which Jax and Tessa go to a bead bazaar at a funky old hotel in Portland, Oregon.

Today is the official release day for Off the Beadin’ Path, Book Three in the Glass Bead Mystery Series! I have finished writing the story that in my mind was the start of the series and my career as a novelist. I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Off the Beadin’ Path. The links to the websites where you can purchase it are the bottom of the post.

And me?  I’m going to spend the day making glass beads. I could use a break from staring at words on my laptop screen.  And next month I’ll start working on To Bead or Not to Bead, Book Four in the Glass Bead Mystery Series.  It’s waiting for me and I’m ready for it.

Amazon

Barnes+Noble

iTunes

Smashwords

Kobo

 

Guest Post from Gilian Baker on How to Budget Your Time

Guest Post Today!

Today we have a special treat.  New cozy mystery author Gilian Baker is here with a helpful post about how to budget your time—something that’s a constant struggle for me. Details about her book and how to get in touch with Gilian are at the bottom of the post. Her new book, Blogging is Murder is now available at Amazon.

I’ll be back soon with a new blog post. —Janice

How to Budget your Time between other Projects and Your Writing

by Gilian Baker

Budgeting time for writing, I’ve found, is just like budgeting for anything else that’s important to you. It can’t be something that only happens if you have the time and energy at the end of the day. You have to make it happen. But how? These are the techniques I’ve found most helpful.

Switching up Mindset
Since I’m still new at publishing my cozy mysteries, I have a “day job,” like most new authors. I’m a freelance writer, among other things, so I work a lot. When I decided to complete my first book, Blogging is Murder, it felt like too much fun to be labeled work. So, it ended up getting put at the end of my list every day. With a deadline for publication looming, I had to change my mindset and fast! If authoring fiction was going to be another branch of my writing business, I had to make it a priority, not something I did when I had time. (I never did.)

Most Important Task List Making (MITs)
I’m famous (or is that infamous?) for my list-making prowess. I make lists for everything, and then I combine them onto a master list. (Yes, I’m serious.) Making an MIT list each day is a must to ensure I get around to plotting murder on a regular basis. Without this focused list of three or four tasks, it’s too easy to get sidetracked on other projects that are important, but not as urgent as meeting a book deadline.

In Blogging is Murder, my protagonist, blogger Jade Blackwell, uses her MIT lists to make sure she gets her work done while helping get her friend off the hook for a murder she didn’t commit. If Jade and I didn’t use MIT lists, she wouldn’t have her own series and her friend, Liz would be serving a life sentence.

 Scheduling
As with lists, I must schedule things into my week or they just won’t get done. This even includes doing fun things like meeting friends for lunch and going to yoga class. I kick it old school with a paper planner and a big desk calendar. I also have a schedule for client work, just like Jade does. She and I both use an online project management system to keep ahead of our work.

I’ve learned that writing my schedule in pen stresses me out, so now I write it in pencil. Only “today-or-never’s” get added in ink. That little trick helps me be flexible so I get it all done, but not stress myself out too much.

Outsourcing and Project Management
Many online entrepreneurs and authors outsource work to freelancers. Like Jade, I have a virtual assistant (VA) and freelance writers I contract work out to. As an author, I also have a publicist who manages my marketing tasks, a graphic designer who makes my book covers, etc. and an editor who proofs my books before they are published.

Outsourcing time-consuming tasks makes sure I have time to actually sleep.

Jade also has a VA who performs a lot of different tasks for her, including managing her team of writers. Readers meet Jade’s VA, Geena, in the first book and will get to know her better throughout the series.

If you’d like to see how Jade juggles her days between blogging and sleuthing, grab a copy of Blogging is Murder, the first book in the Jade Blackwell Mysteries series.

BLOGGING IS MURDER on Amazon
BLOGG
ING IS MURDER on Goodreads
GILIAN BAKER’S WEBSITE
BOOK TRAILER

I Made the Beads: How I Started Making Glass Beads 24 Years Ago

Faux Opals Necklace by Janice Peacock

Faux Opals Necklace by Janice Peacock

Oftentimes when I’m wearing jewelry that I’ve made, I’ll get a compliment about it. Sometimes I simply thank the person, but if I’m ready to have a conversation about my personal adornment, I’ll say something like, “Oh, these beads? I made them.” Which usually leads to a myriad of questions like, “How do you make glass beads?”

That was a question I asked myself nearly twenty-four years ago. I had made a charm bracelet with beads I’d bought at a local shop but was disappointed in what I had to choose from. As I looked at the beads dangling from the chain around my wrist, I wondered who made them—and how.

This was 1992, and those of us of a certain age remember that there was a time when there was no internet, no Google, and certainly no Facebook page about lampwork beads. I was left with a telephone and a lot of perseverance to complete my research. The first person I called said I needed a glass furnace that runs 24/7, holds several pounds of glass, and costs thousands of dollars a month to run. That was not an option for me. The next person I found said he could teach me how to fuse glass in a kiln—sort of high-temperature cooking-baking, only with glass. This would have made a lot of flat things, plates and tiles and such, which was not what I wanted to make.

Finally, after many phone calls, I found a studio in Oakland, CA, just a few miles from my house. The studio owner was bringing in a guest instructor from Washington state. He was going to teach a class on how to make beads using a torch to melt glass. When I showed up at class, I had no idea was to expect. I watched, mesmerized, as the teacher melted a brightly colored rod of glass with his 2,000 degree torch. While the glass was molten he wrapped it around a thin metal wire and sculpted it. When the glass was cool, he removed the metal wire and a hole remained—a bead!

This was what I wanted to do.

As soon as I sat down at a torch to try it for myself, as soon as I melted my first piece of glass, I knew there was no turning back. I was hooked. I made a dozen beads that weekend, all lumpy, and all my own personal works of glass art.

I went on to buy a torch of my own, and over the years I have made thousands beads and created one-of-a-kind jewelry with them. There have been times when I’ve done other things creatively: knitted, worked in clay, and made quilts. Most recently, I wrote a couple of books (with more to come) about a glass beadmaker who solves murders in between firing up her torch to melt some glass. (You can learn more about the books in the Glass Bead Mystery Series at www.janicepeacock.com.)

But I always return to glass because it is my passion. And that’s why, when the moment is right, and a random stranger asks me about the colorful necklace I’m wearing, I’ll often say:

Thanks, I made the beads.

This article was originally posted at Cozy Up with Kathy on February 7, 2016.

A Bead in the Hand, Book Two in the Glass Bead Mystery Series

A Bead in the Hand by Janice Peacock

A Bead in the Hand by Janice Peacock

I’ve spent so much time talking about High Strung, A Glass Bead Mystery that I’ve not spent enough time talking about the next book in the Glass Bead Mystery Series—A Bead in the Hand. Everyone who read High Strung has been eagerly awaiting the next book in the series, myself included. After self-publishing High Strung, and then re-releasing it with Booktrope as my publisher, A Bead in the Hand has been waiting in the wings, impatiently I might add. Now, finally, book two in the Glass Bead Mystery Series is ready to be released into the world.

The first thing you should know about A Bead in the Hand is that it’s the first novel I ever wrote—but it’s not the first one I published. The first time I sat down and said, “I’m going to write a novel,” I had the plot of A Bead in the Hand swirling around in my head. In October of 2012 I started writing as part of National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo. If you’d like to learn more about NaNoWriMo, visit nanowrimo.org.) In a nutshell: People from all over the world commit to writing 50,000 words in one month. Each person – not all of us together.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that NaNoWriMo was in November not October. I worked for a couple of weeks on my book before I realized I was writing during the wrong month. I was already so far along with the manuscript that I thought: what the heck, I’ll just write my book anyway. And I did! I completed 30,000 words that month. Most of those words were what ultimately became A Bead in the Hand. Writing in October was a great warm-up for what came next.

Since I’d committed to NaNoWriMo I decided I’d write a second book during November. So, the following month I wrote High Strung, making it all the way to the end of the month and writing 50,000 words. After completing High Strung, I realized it should be the first book in the series because it takes place in Seattle where Jax, Tessa, and Val live. I thought it was better to learn about the characters on their home turf. In A Bead in the Hand Jax and Tessa travel to Portland for a bead bazaar.

A bead bazaar turns bizarre when jewelry designer and glass beadmaker Jax-2It took me a couple of years to finish High Strung, all the while A Bead in the Hand has been marking its time, ready and waiting. And now its time has come.

A Bead in the Hand will be released on December 5th. You can pre-order the ebook on Amazon right now using this link.

http://www.amazon.com/Bead-Hand-Glass-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B01721C3XQ/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1445794260&sr=1-5&refinements=p_n_date%3A1249102011

On December 5th, you’ll be able to purchase the paperback edition and the ebook editions on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.

 

 

Welcome, October

Some people don’t like Mondays. Me? I don’t like Octobers. I have my reasons.

The first was a car crash fourteen years ago when my Jeep was flung from the freeway after a car hit it. The jeep, my daughter and mother with me, rolled over a couple times, landing in a field at the bottom of an embankment. We were banged up a little, okay, maybe a lot, but we survived the experience. A CHP officer said at the time he was surprised that there had been no fatalities given the extent of the damage to my car.

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My husband, in grey with sunglasses, being hoisted into a Blackhawk helicopter.

And then there was what we euphemistically call “the snow adventure.” My husband, father-in-law, and two neighbors were trapped in a snowstorm in the Sierras for several days in October, eleven years back. They were not lost, just unable to hike out from their camping spot. As the days passed, the reporters on my driveway became more aggressive in their pursuit of a quote from me, the soon-to-be-widow. News vans lined our small street. I received calls from the Sheriff, who told me that he couldn’t risk another life by sending someone into white-out conditions to search for my husband. I understood and accepted it, but it was difficult to hear, to say the least.

The men were rescued on a Thursday by a Blackhawk helicopter, which pulled them up on cables to safety high above the valley where they had been hunkered down. They were all fine, but shocked to see the media frenzy that had developed while they were stuck in the snowy wilderness. They survived, and their wives and children, relieved to have them home safely, had survived as well.

Each year, I’ve dreaded the arrival of October, and in the past have celebrated the ending of the month with friends who had also had terrible events occur during those rotten 31 days.

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My new wreath from Target. 20 bucks well spent.

This year has been different. I’ve been excited for this October to arrive. To celebrate, I bought a spooky-silly wreath with eyeballs on it. I’m looking forward to getting my art glass pumpkins out and placing them on the mantle. I’m grateful for this: All of us are here today, having survived some awful experiences. We are alive to enjoy October, in all its autumnal glory.

 

Want to read about the snow adventure? Here’s a link:

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/12-stranded-hikers-found-safe-SIERRA-SURVIVAL-2640576.php

Want an eyeball wreath of your own? Here’s a link:

http://www.target.com/p/halloween-led-lit-eyeball-wreath/-/A-17361069#prodSlot=_9_3

High Strung is Out, Now Onward and Upward

On Monday September 14th, 2015 my first book, High Strung, A Glass Bead Mystery was re-released by Booktrope. Here’s the link to Amazon, go check it out. I’ll wait.

High Strung, A Glass Bead Mystery

Here’s a little blurb about the book:

High Strung by Janice Peacock

High Strung by Janice Peacock

After inheriting a house in Seattle, Jax O’Connell is living the life of her dreams as a glass beadmaker and jewelry designer. When she gets an offer to display her work during a bead shop’s opening festivities, it’s an opportunity Jax can’t resist—even though Rosie Perez, the store’s owner, is the surliest person Jax has ever met.
The weekend’s events become a tangled mess when a young beadmaker is found dead nearby and several oddball bead enthusiasts are suspects. Jax must string together the clues to clear her friend Tessa’s name—and do it before the killer strikes again.

I self-published High Strung in 2014. At the time, I was deliriously happy with my accomplishment and the reception the book had received. I hoped that I’d eventually find a publisher, but figured that would take years.

Last spring the stars aligned just right and I found a publisher that wanted me.  I recounted that story a few months back on this blog. There’s an even better version of the story on the Book Country Blog, where I was honored to be featured on my book’s launch day.

http://blog.bookcountry.com/janice-peacock-serendipitous-path-publisher/

Do I get to rest on my laurels? (What a funny phrase—a laurel branch poking me in the bum—no thank you. But I digress.) There’ll be no rest for the weary as my Booktrope team and I shift into high gear to release the next book in the Glass Bead Mystery series before the end of the year.

Ohhh…you want to hear about that? Sorry, you’ll have to wait until next time.

 

Not in Wonderland Anymore

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The infamous Deb Crowley and yours truly.

My head continues to swirl with ideas even days after Glass Stock has ended.  This year’s theme at Glass Stock was Alice in (Glassy) Wonderland, and last weekend was indeed a world of glassy wonder. A huge thanks to Deb Crowley, the mastermind behind Glass Stock.  She has created something beautiful—a collaborative environment for teaching and learning.

On Sunday, there were just a few events before we left for home.  With a gung-ho attitude I jumped behind a torch to do an elimination round.  What the heck is that, you may ask?  Basically, everyone gets a bag of mystery glass and a theme and then all the contestants have 20 minutes to make a small sculpture. The artists with the best sculptures move on to the next round, everyone else gets the boot. We all opened our bags and dumped out the contents. A tube, a rod, and a couple bits of color. It was all borosilicate glass— not my speciality. Although I do have some secret boro skills, they have not been used for many years.  Oh, and we could only use three tools to sculpt our masterpiece.  Our theme was “what grown-ups should not wear.”

I created a weird looking head with a blue mohawk (adults should not have mohawks, unless they are named Gremlin.) On the face of this lumpy head, I added a patch over one eye (adults should not wear eye patches like pirates unless they are named Dale Chihuly). This strange figure had a long, bizarre nose, nearly a chicken’s beak.  And, no, adults should not wear them.

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Housemates: Donna, Leslie, (me!), Kris, Felicia, and Jennifer.

It’s probably no surprise that I did not make it to the next round in the elimination contest.  Those who moved on had such masterpieces as “The Mullet” and “Superman Underwear.” There were other entries that were, how shall I say…less suitable for my PG-13 blog posts, so we’ll just leave those to your imagination.

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A gathering of plastic animals, sad to see the fate of their friend the gecko who apparently is soaking in vodka.

I made some terrific new friends during Glass Stock.  I especially enjoyed getting to know my housemates, and wished I wasn’t such a wimp that I needed at least 7 hours of sleep in order to be a functioning member of society.  Otherwise, I’d have stayed up to the wee hours with them.  We did discover who the trickster was. She continued leaving small toys in our bedroom over the long weekend.

Jennifer and I blasted home on Sunday, doing the long 8-hour drive all the way through, trading off driving duties every couple of hours.  I was happy to be home, back in my own Wonderland, ready to try some new things in my studio. Ready to play.