Chapter 1 of “Beware the Sleeping Dog” by k.a. libby.


When I moved back to mid-coast Maine, my life seemed perfect. I’d slammed the door on my not-so-recent past and left my troubles behind. Or so I thought until my mechanic shattered that illusion. She told me there was a global positioning device mounted inside my Jeep’s left front wheel well. Apparently someone was tracking me.

Suddenly the strange things that had happened to me over the past few days—and that I’d dismissed as coincidence or just plain bad luck—didn’t seem so random. The GPS was intentional and personal.

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Failure Is not an Option

What is perseverance? The steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

But what does it mean to me?

1. I must have moxie. What is Moxie? It’s Maine’s signature soda, a mainstay with my Libby-Keith family, but something for which I never acquired a taste. Or shall we say it’s the courage to proceed even when failure is looming.

2. I also need a bit of backbone. Beyond my skeletal spine, I must have the will to stand up to confront the obstacles. Failure is not an option.

3. To risk another cliché, I must be like a dog with a bone and not let go of my goal. Write that book. Done. Publish it with fortitude. Done. Achieve marketing success. A WIP (work in progress).

a. Fish where the fish are. Trying to do that in social media. Facebook. LinkedIn. What else?

b. Let my core audience lead me to my adjacent audience. Trying to figure that one out. Any suggestions? (continued at c. below.)

From  Sally Ande says re: Beware the Sleeping Dog by K.A. Libby: “I enjoyed the subject matter very much, as psychological abuse is not addressed very often. The author is very good at describing her surroundings and soon you are knee deep in suspense and intrigue. I would certainly recommend you read her book!”

c. Become a mastermind of SEO (Search Engine Maximization). This week’s goal is to rework my ADP tags for my book. When I figure that one out, I’ll share.

4. Exercise sedulity. Now there’s a word. I must be diligent. I must work hard. And I must remember that the only time success comes before work is in the dictionary.

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Smartening Up Your Protagonist

I read something recently attributed to Jane Fitch about “smartening up” your protagonist. How might I accomplish this? I’m pondering ways to incorporate this process into my novel-in-progress. Below are some ways I experimented with this in my first mystery which I wrote in the first person narrative.

• Looking (absorbing her surroundings, investigating situations, regarding others).
Was I in danger from the person who tracked me? Would he still be able to follow me even though I’d removed the GPS unit? What was I to do? I couldn’t even identify the person responsible for violating my privacy. Continue reading

A Group Discussion of My E-book!

Writing a book can be a long and lonely process, so hearing a reading group discuss my published product with insight was validating. The activity was productive in a very positive way. I gathered ideas on how to make my second book more powerful. And I walked away with a clutch of comments like hugs to draw on during down times.

October is National Reading Group Month. How fitting that the first (note the optimism) formal discussion of my book took place in October, October 31st—Halloween—as it were. It all seemed particularly auspicious for a discussion of “Beware the Sleeping Dog”.

I anticipated the discussion with considerable nervousness. I’m so much better at writing than at speaking. Imagine a group of esteemed academics discussing my book! One gentleman was the professor for a psychology course which I took years earlier. Little did I know at the time that I would now be discussing my published novel with him and other professors of humanities, engineering, mathematics.

My neighbor Dorothy accompanied me as a special guest. She played a dual role as my friend and neighbor and as the friend and neighbor of my primary protagonist. Afterwards she told me she observed approval and warmth on the faces of the participating group. Aaah, validation! Some writers (including me or perhaps especially me) are a needy group seeking approval wherever approval is to be found: through ratings and comments on; through spoken words of praise from family and friends; and through treasured moments in a book discussion.

I’ve included a motley mixture of comments, most of them closing with great job (or maybe it was “good” job) and some supportive words for my-novel-in-progress. Remember the power is in the pen and so this is all from my perspective.

“I was very impressed that you knew so much about writing.” “I admire you for all your work in getting the book published. I feel honored to have been a part of the process.”

“I think I found Mavis annoying and rash in the same way that Alice did! For such a bright person, she clearly shot from the hip at times.” (I interpreted that as a resounding success for my Alice character.) Another gentleman said he thought Mavis was brave in facing her demons. No one apparently had any reservations about the little hound.

One gentleman compared my usage of words to that of Joyce Carol Oates. (Thank you!)

The unique strengths of a book depend on the reader’s expectations. One professor gently indicated my character seemed a little stiff with her internal dialogue, especially about religion. Another indicated that my character’s internal dialogue rang true. Both were right, of course, as it’s all about perspective.

There was some speculation as to whether or not I had written myself into the book. In my opinion, fiction writers almost always share an integral part of themselves with the characters they create. Or maybe it’s the other way around: characters share a part of themselves with their authors. In order to show not tell, I had to experience situations through my characters senses. So really fiction writers are actors playing many roles. Of course, Dorothy is a real person. Sprite and Velcro were my beloved pets. Carl and Gladys were my parents in real life.

Will there be a murder as well as mayhem in my next mystery? Will Ron and Mavis move ahead with their relationship? Will Mavis still shoot from the hip? Time will tell on that. I have a beginning and an ending and 17,000 words written for the second mystery. A lot can happen in the next 53,000 words and through the subsequent flurry of edits and rewrites.

One of the many benefits of this book discussion is the expressed possibility of “Beware the Sleeping Dog” becoming the book club offering of two reading groups. I’m thrilled and honored at that prospect.

Do I walk a little taller and smile a little more after Friday? Yes! Thank you to a group of kind and attentive academics. And to my fellow writers: Keep writing prolifically and embrace every opportunity to discuss your endeavors.

I would be honored if you would comment below in the “Leave a Reply” block!

From “Beware the Sleeping Dog”, kindle version: A Great Read!, October 15, 2014 By Deborah Rentler “Prodigal Daughter”  “… It was hard not to love dear Mavis, even in the midst of her initially passive approach to her dilemma. In the end it was her appreciation of the beautiful Maine landscape and tender heart toward her pets that kept me rooting for her throughout the story. A great read!”

November: National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo: This is my version of the NaNoWriMo madness. If I inadvertently sound like anyone else, I apologize. I’m joining this movement without really joining. And I’m doing it my way. Here’s my plan:

1. Write. Every day in November. I will sit in my desk chair at my computer and actually write.
2. Finish. My 50,000 word whatever will have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Completed in 30 days.
3. Focus. Writing my 50,000 word mystery shall be my primary job for 30 days.
4. Reward. At the end of November, I’m a winner! If you join me and complete your task, you’re a winner also!
5. Caveat 1. A 50,000 word manuscript falls short of the acceptable length for a full-length novel.

Shelby123 “… a perfect weekend read. k.a.libby describes each character in such a way, you feel as if you know them yourselves. …The person whom you suspect to be her “stalker” may be obvious; the twists and turns of her character description leads you elsewhere. Looking forward to the sequel!” All reader comments and ratings at (Search on “Beware the Sleeping Dog”)

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A Novel’s Theme

A theme in fiction sums up the essence of a story and projects the gist of what you’re writing. It’s a few words that describe the concept to someone else, perhaps an agent. Samantha Stone’s “Top 10 Types of Story Themes” resonated with me. It helped me define my theme.

One of my readers commented on that: “I enjoyed the subject matter very much, as psychological abuse is not addressed very often. The author (k.a. libby) is very good at describing her surroundings and soon you are knee deep in suspense and intrigue.” So it seems that “Beware the Sleeping Dog” fits the criteria for a mystery, at least as far as one reader is concerned! (Thank you, S. Ande.) But beyond that it is the story of a woman seeking atonement for a past mistake … her journey from guilt to retribution to forgiveness.

Professor Mavis Walker addressed her feelings of guilt thusly:
Perhaps I should focus on my own psyche before I tried to solve another’s problems. Therein lay the conundrum for me: how could I even consider giving advice to someone else as long as I was struggling to find my own peace? Yet, it was the work I did with my students that helped me believe in my own worthiness.

As to retribution, she said:
I’d earned my way back into my own good graces by standing up to him. I’d confronted my fear and walked away with my pride intact.

I’d faced my nemesis and gained strength and confidence in the process. I thought with satisfaction that no one could take that away from me.

And lastly, she embraced forgiveness:
Alice asked, “Do you feel better now?”
I said, “I do. I can finally forgive him.”
“And yourself? Can you forgive yourself?”
I thought about this for a moment. I wasn’t sure it was as much about forgiving myself as it was about accepting that it was a part of my past. I was ready to put it all behind me and move on. I said, “Yes.”

The Science of Browser Categories and SEO

If a book garners lots of clicks, then it will rise in—or maintain—its ranking in Amazon. I’ve been studying browser categories and SEO (search engine optimization). My book “Beware the Sleeping Dog” with my author name of k.a. libby was missing in action when I searched on ‘mysteries’ and ‘women sleuths’. I was the classic invisible person.

However when I searched on ‘Maine mysteries’, my book came up as the 21st result out of the listing of 1,200 hits. And when I searched on ‘professor mysteries’, it was the 12th result out of 1,200. Then when I searched on retribution, it came up as #504 out of 1,200 hits. That’s pretty far into the search results but at least it’s there!

Those results validate what I have read, in that fledgling authors fare better with very specific searches than with the larger, general searches—which of course is quite intuitive.

I would love to hear how you manage your browser categories and your SEO. To do so, please enter your comments in the Leave a Reply box below. Thank you!

Kindle is software!

An ‘aha’ moment for me was when I discovered Kindle is software not just an e-reader. Probably everyone else in the world–especially YOU!–were almost born knowing this.  Despite my best efforts to avoid any thoughts about the nuances of software, my role as publicist and entrepreneur is pushing me into it, once again with much gnashing of my teeth. I now understand that anyone can download a “free Kindle reading app” by searching on that phrase and then executing and running the program on a PC or Mac; through Kindle Cloud; or for an iPad or an Android or Windows 8. Once again you probably already knew that. But me, with my Comp Sci degree and 7 years’ experience as a programmer in my previous life, hadn’t a clue. It’s a good thing for me that my husband Wayne Reidinger has the patience of Job! Writing my Maine mystery–despite the years’ of effort–apparently was the easy part. Marketing is not just a chapter in the process … it’s a whole book unto itself.

The agony-ecstasy of publishing.

My heart beats an irregular staccato; my pulse races; my stomach is queasy. Why am I so stressed? I just e-published my first mystery/suspense. Will people hate it or worse yet ignore it? Why would I put myself through such misery? I’ve accepted this risk for the pure adventure of writing and finessing my own novel; with the hope that others might be entertained by it; and because I am passionate about confronting humanity’s abuse in its many forms.

Product Details Edition]

Mavis Walker has a stalker, but that’s not her only concern. Her past is dogging her as well. The more she struggles to cope, the harder her troubles hound her.


Congressional Servants vs Military Service Personnel

When Democratic Congressman Jim Moran refused to answer a disabled veteran’s legitimate question Friday night, I wish the town meeting attendees had walked out in outrage. Our military personnel put their lives on the line, why must they also have their economic solvency put to risk? Far better ‘twould be for members of Congress—our public servants—to sacrifice their own pay for their lapse in consensus and appropriations.

The veteran asked Congressman Moran what our government would do to assure that our military personnel received their paychecks, even if Congress failed to pass a FY 2011 appropriations bill by the midnight deadline. Congressman Moran rudely refused to answer the question.

Is it not disgraceful that our nation’s leaders would put the pay of our servicemen and women on the cutting block without first sacrificing their own pay? Where is their sense of honor?