Category Archives: Writing

Writing books and articles

Murder Over Kodiak

NewCoverAs I mentioned last week, my novel, Murder Over Kodiak, will be re-released soon. I self-published this novel a year ago, and then I signed with a publisher this past fall, and he is now in the process of distributing the new edition. Before I published the book, I edited it numerous times and then had it professionally edited. It has now been re-edited; although, not much was changed this time. The biggest change in this edition is the cover, which I think is a huge improvement and will hopefully result in more sales. I have Publication Consultants, the publishing house I am now working with, to thank for the eye-catching design.

These are tumultuous times in the publishing business. Self-publishing a book has become easier and easier to do, and if an author works with Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing or an e-book publisher such as Smashwords, it costs nothing to self-publish an e-book. The booksellers make their money by retaining a percentage of the book’s sales. Print copies are also fairly easy for an author to produce. Companies such as Create Space allow an author to design and upload the cover and text of a book for no charge. Once the author correctly formats the book to the website’s specifications, the book can then be listed for sale at any online bookseller. The book is printed on demand and shipped to the buyer within hours. Of course, a physical book is much more expensive than an e-book to produce, so the list price must be higher to pay for this service.

The wonderful thing about self-publishing is the author has control over her creation. Of course, I have learned that it is wise to get help with the cover design and to have the text edited at least once by a professional editor. It’s a good idea to have it proofread by as many volunteers as you can find, and unless you are a computer whiz, formatting can be a headache. In my opinion, though, the real downside to self-publishing is that you also must self-promote, and that is not easy! Following the boom in the self-publishing industry are numerous legitimate businesses as well as scammers with their hands out promising you they will help you sell your book. These businesses include everything from high-end publicity companies who will manage your writing career for you to individuals who, for five dollars, will tell everyone they know about your book on Twitter. I couldn’t afford a publicity company, but I did sign up for several publicity opportunities, mostly newsletters that promoted my novel to their readers. It’s depressing to remember how many I tried, but only a very few produced results. I read every book, blog post, and newsletter I could find on promotion, and I tried most of the suggestions that didn’t cost me anything and too many that did. I have an author Facebook page, and I even tackled Twitter and am now taking an online course on how to better use Twitter. It is overwhelming, but I have learned a great deal in the last year about what works and what doesn’t.

Last September I attended the Alaska Writer’s Guild Workshop in Anchorage, and that is where I met Evan Swensen from Publication Consultants. He was interested in publishing my book, and I was thrilled. Rightfully or not, I felt validated as an author, because someone in the business thought I was worthy of publication. Evan told me right away, though, that I would still be the one primarily responsible for advertising and selling my book. That’s just the way it works anymore. Publishing houses can’t afford to spend time and money promoting an author unless that author has already proven himself, and the publisher knows he will be worth the investment. “So why am I doing this?” I asked myself. I’m giving up control of my creation – my baby – for what? I will get a lower percentage of the profits, and I can’t really expect to sell more books. Of course, Evan and the folks at Publication Consultants will help me, and with their resources, hopefully, I will be more successful. Probably the most frustrating part of working with a publisher is that things happen on his schedule instead of on mine, and I must exercise patience and trust his expertise. While I wait for my novel to be released, I keep busy working on other projects, such as my next novel. The best advice I’ve heard is that to be a successful author, you must keep writing books, and that is something I enjoy doing.

I noticed last night that the new edition of Murder Over Kodiak is now available on amazon.com for presale, and that is an exciting step forward. I’ll invite you all to my online book release party once my book is released. I plan to give away some copies of my book, as well as other prizes, including gift certificates. The best part is that you don’t have to dress up for this party. I don’t care if you arrive in your underwear!

Next week, I’ll tell you about some of my other writing projects. Don’t forget to sign up for my mystery newsletter if you haven’t already done so. This month’s letter will be about the most infamous serial killer in Alaska’s history.

 

Spring

Bald Eagle in Flight

According to the calendar it is spring, but in Alaska, we won’t see much evidence of spring for another six weeks. The days are getting longer, and when the sun shines, I can feel some warmth in its rays, but it easily could snow six inches tomorrow, and no one would be surprised if the temperature dropped into the low twenties or even the teens.

After an abnormally warm winter this year, I don’t mind waiting until late May for wildflowers and leaves, but before the first forget-me-not blooms, other signs of spring will be evident. Bald eagle pairs will soar, circle, dive, and even cartwheel during their mating rituals; schools of herring will arrive to lay and fertilize eggs; and baleen whales, seals, and sea lions will follow the tasty herring into the bays. I dream about sitting on our dock on a sunny day, watching whales and other sea mammals chase and feed on herring. Some years the show is spectacular, and other years, the herring run is insignificant, and the whales are absent. The red foxes are also active in the spring, and their haunting mating screams often awaken me. By early June, we should start seeing does and their newborn fawns. By then, the eagle pairs will be tending their nests as their eggs hatch and the chicks depend on them for a nearly constant supply of food.

I am busy this time of year getting the camp ready and the meals cooked for the spike camps for our spring hunting season. I also have a trip planned to visit my family in Kansas in mid-May, so I can watch two of my nephews graduate from high school. Meanwhile, my novel, Murder Over Kodiak, is being re-released by a small publishing company in Anchorage, so I’m preparing for another round of promotion, and that is hard work. The first thing I’m planning to do is to host a “virtual” book-release party on Facebook. I’ll write more about this next week. For now, I’m trying to learn everything I can about hosting a virtual party. It’s overwhelming, and I hope I’m not in over my head! I admit that I have an uncomfortable relationship with social media.DSC_0168

Between my day job, promoting my novel, keeping up with my blog and my mystery newsletter, working on my next novel and my other writing projects, and getting ready for a trip to visit my family, my spring will be busy. No matter how rushed I am, though, if the sun is shining, and the wind is calm, you can find me sitting on our dock, craning my neck to watch eagles circle and soar, and inhaling the sweet, salty scent of the low tide while scanning the beach for foxes eating clams and mussels. I’ll also be glancing hopefully at the ocean for roiling schools of herring, and listening for the powerful exhalations of large fin and humpback whales. Spring is my favorite time of year, and I am never too busy to enjoy it. I’ll let you know what I see.

Fin Whale near Kodiak Island

Tell me about your spring. I want to hear about the beautiful tulips, daffodils and other flowers already blooming in most places, or if you live in New Zealand or anywhere else in the southern hemisphere, how is your autumn?

If you haven’t already done so, sign up for my mystery newsletter. I am working on my next edition. Also, I apologize to anyone who has recently tried to order my novel Murder Over Kodiak. As I mentioned above, it is currently being re-released, and it will be available again soon with a bright, new, shiny cover. I’ll give you a sneak preview next week and tell you about my mixed emotions going from an indie author/publisher to working with a publishing house.

 

New Year’s Resolution

It’s New Year’s resolution time again. I used not to make resolutions, because I thought they were a sure way to set myself up for failure, but over the last few years, I’ve decided resolutions are a good idea for me. A few years ago I made a resolution that I would be more diligent about going to the doctor. I ended up having two surgeries and countless floatplane trips to Kodiak and flights to Anchorage for medical care that year, so since then, I’ve focused my resolutions on my writing. After all, these resolutions are apparently powerful things, and I’d better be careful what I resolve!

Last year I resolved to finish my second novel and to reach the editing process on my wildlife book. I did finish my novel, and it will be re-published in a few weeks, but I didn’t do as well on the wildlife book. That book is hard work, and progress is slow, but I’m getting there. On the other hand, I couldn’t have imagined last January 1st that in one year, I would not only have my website up and running, but that I would have written 40 posts by the end of the year. I hope to continue my weekly blog posts and to begin my monthly mystery newsletter soon.

I plan to set a lofty writing goal again this year. I know it may be unrealistic, but it is where I dream of seeing myself one year from now. I once again hope to have my wildlife book ready for an editor, and I would like to have the first draft of my third novel finished.

Writing goals are easy to set, and in a perfect world, I could reach these goals, but there is more to life than writing. Not only is there my day job, but promoting myself and my books is time-consuming and makes me uncomfortable, and then there is social media!!! An author today must have at least a Facebook and Twitter presence and preferably also accounts on Linked-in, Instagram, and Pinterest at the very least. There’s barely enough hours in the day for all of that, even if you don’t have another job, but it’s overwhelming if you do.

I think the best resolution I can make this year is to prioritize my writing and promotional goals. What do I want? Do I want to be popular and sell a bundle of books, or do I want to finish some projects that make me proud? I’d love to do all the above, but I think, for now, I’ll focus on doing the best job I can on the books I’ve already started. These include not only my next novel and my wildlife book but also a cookbook/history of Munsey’s Bear Camp that I am writing with my friend, Marcia, and my mother-in-law, Pat. As long as I make progress on these three projects this next year, I’ll be happy, and who knows, maybe I’ll learn how to tweet too!

Happy New Year!!! Don’t forget to sign up for my monthly Mystery Newsletter. It is almost ready to go!

Review of Murder Over Kodiak

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This week I am excited to share with you a book review from a reviewer at Readers’ Favorite.
 5star-shiny-web
 
Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite:  Murder Over Kodiak is an Alaskan adventure by author Robin L.  Barefield with plenty of thrills and suspense. The plot centers on Jane Marcus, a biologist researching deadly toxins on Kodiak Island, who tracks down her beloved assistant Craig, only to find he’s been blown to pieces in a plane bomb incident. Jane is determined to discover who planted the bomb, but when she starts digging into the lives of the other victims who perished on that flight, she realizes the methods of murder deduction aren’t that simple. Everyone related to the victims had a motive for blowing up the plane, and eventually Jane escapes to the remote wilderness of Kodiak to clear her head. And it’s there that her most harrowing adventures begin.
 
I have read plenty of dialogue-driven mysteries with multiple suspects, but author Robin L. Barefield has done something totally new with the genre by throwing it straight into the wilds of Alaska. I found myself immersed in a vivid and fascinating world where the wild nature of the surroundings seemed to bleed into the nature of the people who may or may not be vicious killers, and Jane’s position as a researcher gives her a strong intellectual angle on events. There were plenty of red herrings thrown in to keep you guessing right up to the story’s conclusion, making for an involved and delightfully unpredictable read. Overall, I’d say Murder Over Kodiak is one of the best adventure and mystery novels of its kind, and I’d highly recommend it.

My Second Novel: Murder Over Kodiak

My second novel, Murder Over Kodiak, is based on Kodiak Island, Alaska, where I live. Most of the story takes place in the town of Kodiak, where Jane works as a biologist at a marine science center. Later in the novel, Jane travels to the west side of Kodiak Island to Uyak Bay to collect clams to test for the presence of a natural toxin. Her campsite on this field trip is approximately fifteen miles from my actual home in the Kodiak wilderness, so describing the ambient temperature and other weather conditions Jane might encounter on a July day, as well as what she would likely see and smell, is easy for me, because I’ve spent many July days in this pristine wilderness. At one point, Jane has an encounter with a bear, and since there more than 3500 Kodiak bears on the Kodiak Island Archipelago, seeing a bear in the woods or on the beach is a common experience.

When thinking up an idea for a new mystery, I like to think, what if . . . . In the case of this novel, I thought, what if a floatplane crashed not because of bad weather, pilot error, or a mechanical malfunction, but what if the cause was something much more sinister such as a bomb? How would the residents of Kodiak react when problems from the outside world invaded our normally peaceful island?

Kodiak Island is beautiful with lush vegetation, steep mountains that rise nearly straight up from sea level, fjord-like bays, and at times, some of the worst weather on the planet. We see a few storms each year where storm-force winds spawn waves towering over 30 ft. Throw 3500 bears into the mix, and you have an awe-inspiring setting that can evoke many “what if” questions in an author’s mind.

The rugged men and women who call Kodiak home include commercial fishermen, bush plane pilots, guides, fish and wildlife researchers, and Coast Guard pilots and rescue swimmers, all who do their jobs by being willing to brave the challenging environment in which they live and work. I don’t have to use much imagination to create colorful, inspiring characters for my books. In fact, I know some actual people who are so colorful that no one would find them believable as characters in a novel.

I am lucky to have this rich, unique environment to inspire me when I write. I think and hope my novels will appeal to readers who love mysteries, but also to people who enjoy reading about Alaska and the wilderness.

Murder Over Kodiak

 

I am taking a break this week from my “Springtime on Kodiak” posts to make an exciting announcement.  My novel, Murder Over Kodiak, has just been published as both an e-book and a paperback.  Above is a link to the novel at amazon.com.  It also at barnesandnoble.com, ibooks, and is or soon will be available at most other online booksellers.  The e-book price is $4.99.  If you do read my book, I would be most appreciative if you leave a review of it, either at the site where you purchased the book or at Goodreads.  I would also love to have you leave comments, positive or negative, about the book on this website.

The following is a short synopsis of Murder Over Kodiak.  You can read the first several pages of the novel at amazon.com.

Research biologist Jane Marcus senses something bad has happened as she stands on the dock waiting for the overdue floatplane carrying Craig, her young research assistant.  Craig has been on the other side of Kodiak Island digging clams that Jane plans to test for the presence of a toxin that may have caused the death of a woman on that side of the island.  It is a beautiful day for flying, but the plane is an hour late, and when the head pilot for the air-charter company arrives at the dock to go in search of the missing plane, Jane accompanies him.  The pilot assures Jane that the plane is probably stuck on the beach somewhere, but when they fly through a mountain pass, they spot pieces of the plane and debris scattered in a remote valley. Very little remains of the five passengers and the pilot, and investigators soon determine that the plane was blown apart in mid-air by a violent explosion from a bomb placed inside the cabin.

Jane grieves for Craig and feels responsible for sending him on the field trip instead of going herself.  She is determined to find out who planted the explosive device that killed her assistant, but to find the murderer, she first must determine who the intended target of the bomb was.  The passengers on the plane included a U.S. senator in the midst of a nasty re-election campaign and the senator’s husband, a corporate raider with no shortage of enemies.  The FBI and Alaska State Troopers focus their investigation on the senator and her husband, but Jane knows that each of the other passengers, and even the young pilot, has at least one person in his life with the means and motive to blow up the airplane, and she convinces FBI Special Agent Nick Morgan to investigate these suspects as well.

Darren Myers, the owner of a salmon cannery was going through a bitter divorce, and his wife, Maryann, admits she is happy he is dead.  Dick Simms, the wildlife refuge manager was threatened by renegade guide, George Wall, after Simms conducted a sting operation to catch Wall in the act of breaking several fish and game laws.  Jane also learns that Wall served a prison sentence several years earlier when he was convicted of blowing up his girlfriend’s father’s truck.  Bill Watson, the pilot of the ill-fated plane, had a girlfriend who was possessive and demanding and also has a violent streak.  She once smashed in the windshield of Bill’s truck when he went out with his friends instead of spending time with her.  Furthermore, she grew up in the wilderness and was heard talking about how she had enjoyed helping her dad use dynamite to excavate an area of their property.  Jane’s many questions pull her into the center of the investigation, and soon her own life is threatened.

Since the clams Craig collected were blown up with the airplane, Jane must fly to the other side of Kodiak Island and repeat the collection.  She is happy to head out into the wilderness and leave town and the threats on her life behind her, but is she flying away from danger or toward it?  Will the mystery of who blew up the airplane follow her?

 

Kodiak Wilderness

Welcome to my blog. I have wanted to start a blog for a long time and am finally taking the leap. Let me begin by introducing myself. I live in a very remote area on Kodiak Island in Alaska. I live by the ocean, so we have boats, but there are no roads, and we don’t have a car. We get our mail and most of our freight by float plane. We have one mail plane a week in the winter, spring, and fall and two planes a week in the summer. A barge delivers our fuel, lumber, and larger freight a few times a year.

My husband, Mike Munsey, and I own Munsey’s Bear Camp, a hunting, fishing, and tourism lodge. The lodge was started by Mike’s parents in 1956, and Mike bought it from them in 1980.

Camp

I have a master’s degree in fish and wildlife biology, and in the summer, I am a wildlife-viewing and sport-fishing guide.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My passions are wildlife and writing.  I have written two mystery novels. My first, Big Game, is set partially in Kansas where I was raised, and partially in Alaska where I have lived most of my life. My second novel, Murder Over Kodiak, is set on Kodiak Island.  Big Game was published in 2012, and Murder Over Kodiak will be released in April.  For more information on Big Game, click the link below.

I am also working on a book about the wildlife of Kodiak Island.  This has turned out to be a very-involved project, but it is a labor of love, since I am able to combine wildlife and writing.  Mike is an excellent wildlife photographer, so the book will include many of his photos and a few of my own.

In my blog, I plan to discuss writing, life in the Alaskan wilderness, and particularly, facts, research, and news about the wild animals that are my neighbors here on Kodiak.  I hope to get my readers involved in the discussion.  I encourage  your input, and I will be happy to answer any questions.

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