Series Covers by Neil Plakcy


Neil Plakcy

Neil Plakcy

I am not an artist or a cover designer. But I am a reader, and for years, I’ve been using the information I decode from book covers to choose what to read.

The art and science of cover design are complex, and way too big a topic for a quick blog post. But I’ve found two things that help make different titles look like they are part of a series.

The first of those is a consistent font. For my M/M romance Mi Amor, the cover designer hired by my publisher, Loose Id, chose a font that looks like neon tubing.


I liked it so much that I asked for the same font to be used in succeeding books with the same setting and similar themes.



The feel of the covers is very different because of the images and the color palette, but I think the font links them. The curly neon font evokes a light-hearted romantic romp, along with the shirtless guys and the images that relate to the particular plot.

The most recent books in my “Have Body, Will Guard” series of M/M romances, also from Loose Id, also use the font to convey an impression as well as link the books. The sans-serif font on these covers is much more severe, however, and conveys that these books, while still sexy, have a more dangerous undercurrent. You still get the shirtless guys, but the letters are crunched together, giving an impression of strength and determination.





For the covers I designed for my golden retriever mysteries, I picked a font called Vinnie Boombah, because I could use different colors for the interior of each letter and the outline around the letter.






By using a white outline and black interior, the font really stands out against a photographic background. For Dog Bless You, I swapped the black and white so that my name and the tagline “a golden retriever mystery” would pop out better.

In all three series, I think that the consistent typeface helps readers recognize that the books are connected, and also conveys something about the book itself.

Another thing I believe helps a series achieve a consistent look is the use of a frame. When I rebooted the Mahu Investigations series with MLR, I had the opportunity to redesign a whole series, and my cover designer, Vicki Landis, came up with the idea of using a frame around different images. This would be a pretty simple cover to achieve in the future.






Vicki designed the first cover, including the image of the gun and the footprints in the sand, and then I worked with my editor at MLR, Kris Jacen, to come up with images for the other books in the series.  The font is the same, as are the frame, the surfboard, the palm tree and the white plumeria.





Once I stopped using the word “Mahu” in each title, I wanted to add a tagline that let readers further know that these books were in the same series, so we added “A Mahu Investigation” under the title. The font may change – from a serif font to a sans serif, and the tagline gets smaller on the second book, but the impression is the same.


Neil Plakcy is the author of the Have Body, Will Guard adventure romance series:  Three Wrong Turns in the Desert, Dancing with the Tide, Teach Me Tonight, Olives for the Stranger, Under the Waterfall and The Noblest Vengeance, published by Loose Id.


His other M/M romances are Mi Amor, The Russian Boy, The Buchanan Letters and Love on Site, and the novella The Guardian Angel of South Beach.


He is an assistant professor of English at Broward College in South Florida, and has been a construction manager, a computer game producer, and a web developer – all experiences he uses in his fiction. He cannot sing and has only been a model once.

Marketing With Attitude (Practical Tips for Indie Authors) by Robert Walker

Rob and Pongo

Rob and Pongo

Marketing With Attitude


Practical Tips for Indie Authors

by Robert W. Walker, author of 56 Kindle titles, 33 titles


Trust me, Marketing Responsibly can be a barrel of fun, if one comes at it with the right attitude. It helps if you are, or have ever been, a closet Advertising Executive. It helps if you have a steady stream of creative and inventive ideas streaming through your skull or if ideas are being channeled through your fevered brain by the deceased creator of The Pillsbury Dough Boy or the Ajax Dutch girl.

You definitely want to approach selling of your book with a proper good emotional high that involves convincing yourself that it can be done, and then going about doing the job.

Indie authors are lucky today as never before. With the ease of a keystroke nowadays we can access our book on a site like and place our book cover and description onto our Facebook wall or pin it to Pinterest or add it to our Twitter feed. This is tempting in and of itself, and historic in and of itself,  but don’t do it without flair.

How can one add flair to a post about one’s own book? First get into character—the one you conjured up to pitch your book; the one who wrote the book’s dynamic description. Own that character as the way to book sales. You wrote copy for your book when you did the book description. You put copy-writer hat on for that. Now it’s sales marketer hat.

It all begins with humor and insider information that only you have ready access to. Information about your book and a self-deprecating attitude toward your book. First off, do not be afraid to poke fun at your own title or your genre. People love an author who can make himself the butt of the joke.

In addition, everyone loves a clever SEGWAY and a good joke. Use humor. Especially self-deprecating humor. For example, I might call my Instinct serial killer series “palatable—raw yet crunchy and binding” followed by a hehehe or an LOL. Else post a line in the story that might get a laugh, or a bit of dialogue that might be humorous. I will also make jokes surrounding the genre. A specific example here:  Speaking of my title Werewolf’s Grief, I might easily joke thusly:  “And you thought only Charlie Brown experienced GRIEF. It’s not easy being hairy all over.” The fine line between humor and horror is as thin or as thick as blood. 50 Shades of Blood Read Orange. You get the picture. Utilize what is current, what is in the hopper. Read Orange not Red Orange. “Blood Red is the New Black.”

Another approach to getting a look-see at your opening pages via the peek inside the book on for Indie authors is to work with your platform or one of the issues raised in your book. If autism, for example, is a part of the storyline or child homelessness or the supernatural, or if said issue has a part in the list of characters, highlight and emphasize the issues close to your heart in your ads. These issues would not be in your book if not important to you, and if important to you, then they will be important to others.

Finally, the tried, the true, the clichéd are all wonderful boons to crafting clever commentary surrounding your gem of a book. A quick run through of a book of clichés could really help here, but I simply use print magazines. Pick up lines, I call them. “A book is a terrible thing to waste…”  or “Here is your book, here is your book on speed!”  Open any magazine and scan the advertisements for any and all products, be it cereal or soap or electronics. Clever advertisers utilize that which is familiar. Familiar comes from the collective unconsciousness ala family. Familiar is warm and cozy.

A familiar line such as “The Sky is Falling” actually fits in my Pure Instinct where the sky indeed is predicted to fall and it does. So I’ve utilized the phrase for that title. You see an ad for Campbell’s Soup that reads: “It warms you to the bone” but for my suspense novel it reads: “It WARNS you to the bone.” I often cite the “Surgeon General’s Warning” against reading my books while anywhere but below covers, and certainly to not listen to one of my audiobooks while driving.

A familiar turn of phrase or new twist on one is an immediate attention getter, and that is what all advertising is meant to do – get attention for your book.  So you find an ad in a magazine for a muscle car that reads – “Finally, a car with real muscle and torch.”  You rewrite it for your sales ad to:

Finally, a book with muscle, torch, and verve enough for the most jaded reader.” Almost any print ad can be helpful in posting thusly. I suspect you can find between 5 to 10 ads in a single magazine that you can apply to your book. With magic marker, mark out the word CAR and replace it with Book or your title or Novel.

Without a dime out of pocket, these three steps have helped sell many of my books. Set your timer. Go on social media for a set time, visit your book on Amazon, keystroke the link for other venues and ADD your AD. Remember keep a positive and humorous attitude. People respond to confident and positive and humorous and clever approaches to selling any product. Why not the same with a book?



UnnaturalACX Bio: Robert W. Walker is a graduate of Chicago’s Wells High School, Northwestern University, and the NU’s Graduate Masters in English Education program.  Rob has taught writing TitanticCover2[1]in all its permutations (“All writing is creative writing but not all writing sings,” he says.) from composition and developmental to a study of the literary masters to creative and advanced creative writing.  His first novel was one only an arrogant youth could have conceived — a sequel to Huckleberry Finn (now published as Daniel & The Wrongway Railway, Royal Fireworks Press, NY), but his first suspense-techno-thriller-sf-mystery came in 1979, after college, a novel that won no awards entitled SUB-ZERO.


Fat Cat at Large by Janet Cantrell

Fat_Cat_At_LargeFat Cat at Large

By Janet Cantrell

ISBN-10: 0425267423

ISBN-13: 978-0425267424

Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Berkley

September 2, 2014 $7.19


The title of this book alone grabbed me–I have a fat cat of my own! She used to be skinny or at least weighed what she should when I first adopted her—but like Quincey she had other ideas when it came to eating and when.

This is a murder mystery where Chase (who is owned by Quincey) is somehow caught up in some murders thanks to Quincey who is really good at escaping to hunt out food. Chase is always in the wrong place at the wrong time. But before I get ahead of myself Chase and Anna are co-owners of a bakery which makes dessert bars. Gabe Naughily has been trying everything to get them to sell the store to him. He has called the health department and even attempted to put rats in and around the store! Chase and Gabe have a verbal argument in the store and Chase kicks him out. Next thing you know our escape artist has escaped and made his way to Gabe’s condo where the door is conveniently slightly open so that a paw can open it. Chase finally locates Quincey who is eating some freshly made meatloaf while Gabe lies dead on the floor! Chase is now a murder suspect!

Meanwhile Quinceys vet thinks he should lose weight. Not easy since Anna sneaks him treats all day long! This vet always seems to be around when dead bodies are found –yup there are more. In desperation Chase dreams up kitty snacks–healthy kitty snacks. Thankfully Quincey approves these and will even eat his diet food as long as it is sprinkled with this delightful morsel his wonderful owner has finally found for him. Not that this is going to stop him from escaping every chance he gets!

Meanwhile the two employees of the bakery do not get along!! Thus, between trying to keep them from fighting in front of customers, and trying to prove that she is not the one murdering people-poor Chase is worn out.

There are lots of twists and turns and don’t even bother to figure out who committed those murders-it will surprise you! This could even be termed a cosy book-and now to wait for the next episodes of Quincey and his human. – Reviewed by Michele Bodemeier/Miki’s Hope

Why You Promote With a Long Tail by C. Hope Clark

2014-06-1316.56.56            A common reason authors use for not going with New York is how these publishers throw a book out in hopes fans will break down doors and stand in lines to buy the title. If such activity hasn’t happened in, say, two months, the title is forgotten as New York moves on to the next. They operate via a long-tail marketing approach that emphasizes big sales up front then a residual decline over time. It looks like this:



Picture by Hay Kranen / PD


As a new novelist of a new release for a new series, I entered the publishing world afraid if I did not perform, my publisher would drop me like a hot coal. So I toured the country, hitting 26 events in nine states in nine months. Luckily I sold enough books to receive another contract. Rinse and repeat.

As I contacted the office yet again to insure books would arrive where I’d be, my publisher asked what the heck I was doing. Heart in my throat, I point blank confessed I fought to remain keep-able. As I almost cried in relief, I learned that most publishers these days, especially since smaller presses have gained such power and reach, prefer a long-tail approach to marketing their authors. I was familiar with the above method, but my publisher soon explained to me that this is the long-tail they prefer.



Picture by Hay Kranen / PD


I could deal with this. As a matter of fact, I was more than familiar with this concept via my freelance brand FundsforWriters. As a freelancer, I’d entered the writing world with the goal to increase my image and notoriety over a period of time, one step at a time on a daily basis until people remembered who I was and told somebody else about me. In FundsforWriters’ 15 years of existence, my readership grew from a dozen to over forty thousand with that mindset, garnering ten thousand in five years. Writer’s Digest chose the site for its 101 Best Websites for Writers 14 times. Why couldn’t this day-to-day ritual work for my fiction?

I’d made a novice’s mistake thinking that mid- and small-sized presses functioned much the same as New York. Turns out they understand there’s more money to be made in continually putting an author out there one book at a time, one right after the other, until the name recognition catches on.

Word-of-mouth is a simple long-tail example. Blogging is another. Frankly, anything you can do promo-wise in this profession aids your long-tail advancement. So why do so many authors fail at becoming known and selling books?


They do not promote daily.


Why don’t writers keep their noses to the grindstone when it comes to promotion? Through conversations with my peers, I’ve learned the thoughts are:

  1. A big event (i.e., conference, signing, blog tour) goes a long way and warrants a reprieve.
  2. A couple of hard promo months allows time to coast.
  3. A peak in success means those fans are solid.
  4. If a reader buys one book, he’ll always buy the others.
  5. Hard promo should create immediate success or it’s not worth the trouble.
  6. Having been famous means you remain famous.


Promotion takes consistent drive to work and take you up that graph. Those who stop promoting, or do so only after a new book, or perform hit and miss efforts every few weeks, never gain serious ground. The gaps kill the momentum.

HopeOKsigning3Authors never reach a point they don’t have to market. Too many others never stop. The authors making daily splashes, over time, becomes the authors that pop up in a search or find themselves on a recommended reading list.

In my first mystery series, I struggled sliding my foot in the door of bookstores and libraries because I was a novice fiction writer. However, I continued on as if I had a strong HopeEdistoBookstoreSignanchor in this profession. I spoke in front of groups as small as two and blogged on many a site with no resulting comments. I spoke on radio shows where nobody called in. I ate lunch with potential readers, media people, librarians, and other authors every chance I could.  I handed out postcards and hung six foot banners where I appeared. I did not see immediate results from any of these efforts, but I kept telling myself that one day I might.

Today I can’t count the numerous situations where something I did, someplace I appeared, or someone I spoke to led me to a bigger opportunity from a meeting that occurred, weeks, months, even years earlier. A radio show led to a book club invitation which resulted in two banquet keynote addresses. A panel appearance led to a reporter taking my picture which triggered a women’s club asking me to be their keynote for a major event. An obscure book reviewer in an online magazine asked for a review copy, showed the review to a film agent who fell in love with the books and signed to represent them. A reporter saw me at a local country festival and asked for a feature interview in the newspaper. The same event landed Palmetto Poison as a book club selection of the month. A twitter announcement landed me another television interview. Never underestimate a connection, and never forget to put yourself out there somewhere on a daily basis.

To keep readers, feed them. Sure you wrote a great book five years ago, but what have you written lately? The long-tail approach works only if you keep pushing it forward, which means not only the daily promo but also producing new material to maintain your fans. You have to feed these hungry people. Otherwise they’ll starve and hate you for it, or find other source of food.

The point is, no matter how small the venue or effort, put yourself out there each and every day. No matter how big you once were or how hard you worked on one book, continue to produce works. This is a path that never ends, but the rewards of putting one foot in front of the other are joyous, rewarding, and satisfying beyond belief. Because you can’t see success on the horizon doesn’t mean it isn’t there.


BIO – Hope Clark is author of two mystery series published by Bell Bridge Books, The Carolina Slade Mysteries and the newest Edisto Island Mysteries. The first release in the new series is Murder on Edisto due out in September 2014. Hope is also editor of, renowned throughout the industry for its resource information for writers, from crowdfunding to grants, contests to freelance markets, agents to publishers. She is frequently asked to appear at conferences and events, but lives on the banks of Lake Murray or visits Edisto Beach, both in beautiful South Carolina. /






An interview with Ben Solomon

BenSolomonBen Solomon grew up with Picasso, Cagney and Beethoven. Classical arts training, comic books and Hollywood’s golden age rounded out his education and provided inspiration for a lifetime. He’s worked across many disciplines, attempting to capture the heart and soul of music onto canvas, translating oils and celluloid into words.
Solomon’s passion for the tough guy world of early gangster and PI flicks led to the creation of “The Hard-Boiled Detective,” a short story series starring a nameless gumshoe in a throwback era seeking truth, justice, and sometimes a living. He launched the ongoing series online in February 2013, offering three yarns a month to subscribers. His sleuth has appeared in e-zines across the web as well as the 2014 anthology “The Shamus Sampler II.” Another adventure is scheduled to appear in an upcoming anthology published by Fox Spirit Books.

Samples and more information about Solomon’s old-school crime series can be found here:


PJ: How long have you been writing?

Ben: On and off for about 30 years. I’ve been all over the map, artistically.

Except for librettos. Have written any of those, yet.

I’ve been driving cars for more than 40 years, but that hasn’t gained me any particular respect or fame either.


PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

Ben: That comes and goes day to day.

I haven’t achieved what I’d call professional success, but every now and then I hit an artistic note that resonates deep.


PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?
Ben: I can’t say I had any expectations. I sure had no idea how overwhelming the isolation of writing can be. Ain’t that ironic? Here you are, recording all your so-called brilliant observations on life, and you do it by chaining yourself to a keyboard and shutting off the rest of the world.


PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

Ben: Is that what the general public thinks? I’ll have to ask them.

Income-wise I’m right on schedule. Some days as I make as much as blind painter.


PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

Ben: A long time ago I founded two monthly magazines. That’s a cheap way, commercially speaking, of getting published.

As for books, I cheated and recently self-published my first volume.
PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

Ben: I’d self-publish a hell of a lot sooner.


PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

Ben: Part of that is done for me. I’ve been writing three stories a month for my hard-boiled detective series since February 2013. My schedule for that is to create one per week, and then final edit and polish the fourth week of every month.

Beyond that, I keep a calendar I maintain by the seat of my pants. I think I need  a good tailor.
PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

Ben: Hard to nail down one, but there’s something that’s floored me on the way to publishing my first book.

Seeking blurbs, reviews and publicity, I’ve been taken aback by the graciousness and generosity of so many other writers and people in the media. Even a lot of folks who turned down my queries did so by falling all over themselves with apologies. It still amazes me.
PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

Ben: Simply put—writing better. I wish my craft was better, I wish I wrote more succinctly and stronger, I wish I had more creative energy…The list goes on and on.


PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

Ben: Talent and voice, two immeasurable qualities unique to every writer out there.

Most of my work’s in the throwback style of Black Mask, Chandler, etc. (That’s not meant as a comparison of quality.) The genre and form is nothing new, but I like to think the way I use it is fresh.


PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

Ben: Keep writing, and write your ass off. And make sure it’s every bit your own.
PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

Ben: For indies like myself, the concrete tools are social media which also translates into word of mouth.

Within that, it comes back to the unique qualities of talent and voice.
PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

Ben: Reaching my audience. I know they’re out there. Maybe not enough for a best seller, but I’m convinced more than enough to create a solid following.

I just took a quick peek out my front door, but didn’t see any at the moment.


PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?

Ben: I’d like to mention City Lit Books and Uncharted Books, both in Chicago, as well as The Book Table in Oak Park. They’re all great supporters of local and indie writers.
PJ: Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

Ben:The Hard-Boiled Detective 1,” 2014.

I’ve already got enough yarns for three more volumes if this one finds its legs.
PJ: Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

Ben: For the first time, the original 11 yarns from Ben Solomon’s ongoing, throw-back crime series are available in one volume. His nameless detective faces murderers, blackmailers, adulterers and racketeers—and that’s only the first story in this collection. Ten more tales cover a never-ending parade of lowlifes, misfits and suckers, all narrated by the hard-luck gumshoe in his statements to the cops. If you’re a fan of “Black Mask,” Chandler and Hammett, you’ll get a bang out of Solomon’s take on old-school detective fiction.
PJ: Where can we buy it?

Ben: As of this writing, the paperback has just gone up on Amazon

The ebook version will be available from major distributors by mid-September.


PJ: What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

Ben: Inspiration’s a funny thing. You could say “The Hard-Boiled Detective 1” goes back to my childhood and watching old Hollywood flicks on late-night TV. I wanted to capture the spirit of Cagney, Bogart and Robinson, the whole Warner Brothers gangster cycle, and reinvent it on the printed page.




The Perfect Coed by Judy Alter

perfectcoedThe Perfect Coed

Judy Alter

Alter Ego Publishing

ISBN 978-0-9960131-1-6 (digital)

ISBN 978-0-9960131-0-9 (trade paperback)



Few mysteries open with a single paragraph of eye-popping intrigue, but The Perfect Coed is full of such moments and its introduction is apt warning that readers will rapidly become involved in something far from mundane or predictable: “Susan Hogan drove around Oak Grove, Texas, for two days before she realized there was a dead body in the trunk of her car. And it was another three days before she knew that someone was trying to kill her.”


True, The Perfect Coed‘s title sounds more like chic lit than a mystery; plus, it tends to not follow the standard formula writing of the mystery genre. And that’s where it gets interesting.


Protagonist Susan is both intelligent and combative. She’s abrasive with those who love her, let alone when a coed’s body is discovered in the trunk of her car, effectively placing her under suspicion of murder.


There’s only one solution to this dilemma: become a self-made investigator. And so the process of Susan’s name-clearing begins: a move which eventually invites the inevitable when someone on campus begins to stalk her.


The stalker obviously doesn’t know who he’s dealing with, however, and Susan’s feisty personality serves her well as she finds herself struggling not only to solve a murder, but to prevent her own demise.


Up till now, The Perfect Coed sounds somewhat predictable. After all, a plethora of murder mysteries center on protagonists who are not professionals and who take on the task of investigation only because they (or loved ones) are threatened.


But a big ‘plus’ of Judy Alter’s approach lies in its ability to gently lead readers up the garden path of predictability, then take a sudden turn. Ergo, what begins as a murder investigation turns into something much more complex as readers discover that Susan’s singular purpose has turned into an unbelievably complex series of events that threatens more than her own life.


It’s the hallmark of a good murder mystery that the stage is properly set, the personalities of all the players are well-developed, and the plot evolves into something much more than a standard read.


Susan’s discoveries on what was a quiet Texas college campus hold far greater ramifications than a single sociopath’s intentions, and will involve readers in a growing web of terror and tension that’s delightfully well-wrought.


Original publication: D. Donovan, Senior E-Book Reviewer, Midwest Book Reviews

Two Are Sometimes Better Than One By Maryann Miller

HeadsshotfromCadilacsigningOther than parenting, I can’t think of anything else that is more difficult for two people to share than one writing project.  But when it’s done right, when everything works’ the results are amazing.


When I first met Margaret Sutton, and we decided to write a book together, all I could think of was “The Odd Couple.” Not that either of us matched the personality types of Felix and Oscar, but we certainly were as opposite as opposite could get. How could a humor columnist who was known as the Erma Bombeck of Plano, Texas and an entrepreneur whose writing credentials included invoices, business letters, and a single sale to Ellery Queen’s Mystery magazine turn out anything even remotely appealing to fans of hard-boiled crime fiction?


Finding our way from that brash beginning to the publication of Doubletake, a police procedural featuring a female homicide detective, was a most interesting journey. I juggled five young children and a weekly deadline at the newspaper. Margaret juggled a manufacturing business and a busy social life. But somehow we made it.


The first thing we realized was how much research we needed to do. Collectively, we knew zip about law enforcement – speeding tickets not withstanding – and we had no clue how the criminal mind works. Honest, we didn’t. We were lucky in that we both had connections to people in law enforcement, and those people were happy to help us get it right.  Police officers really do hate it when authors don’t get it right.


After an initial period of research and outlining the story, we each chose sections to write. Usually, that was determined by who came up with the original idea for that part of the plot, and I was sometimes amazed at how effortless that process could be. Our plan was to meet once a week and trade chapters. We each would then add our touch to the other’s work, hoping the end result would be a smooth blend.


Margaret was the epitome of tact when she read my first attempt to get into the killer’s mind. It was… well, how should I put this…so nice. But what did she expect from a mom? She put the pages down and suggested that perhaps the killer wouldn’t be thinking in terms of “Gosh, Golly, Gee.” Maybe he’d go for something with a little harder edge. When I told her I didn’t know about harder edges, she took me out back and made me use words I’d never even heard before. She made me say them over and over until they could come out without making me stammer or blush.


When collaborating, it really helps to have a sense of humor. When egos tended to get a bit sensitive, we found laughing beat arguing and Margaret took that to heart. It became a personal challenge to come up with a bigger and better practical joke to play on me the next time I came to her office to work. Don’t even ask me about the fake puke on the stack of manuscript pages I’d spent weeks typing. (Yes, this all started long before computers and printers.)


A writing partnership that is a complement of talents is a real gift. In the two years we worked on Doubletake, I noticed that Margaret’s strengths bolstered my weaknesses and my strengths bolstered hers. Each of us brought something unique and special to the process and, now reading through the book, I’m never sure where one of us left off writing and the other began. I couldn’t look at a chapter and tell you specifically who wrote which section. I may know who started a chapter. Margaret does have a wonderful way of setting up memorable secondary characters-the introduction of the irascible Dr. Davis is uniquely hers-but beyond that, the lines blur; which is a very good thing. Even though quilts play a central part in the plot, I’d hate to think the book resembled one.



Two brutal murders rock the quiet community of Twin Lakes, Texas, and Detective Barbara Hobkins must catch the killer before becoming the target of Doubletake. First published under the pen-name Sutton Miller, the book has been revised and updated and re-released as an e-book and paperback.  “You’ll hate to put this one down until you have read that last word. Highly recommended by a satisfied reader, and I’m looking forward to the next book by this author. Enjoy.” Anne K. Edwards



Maryann Miller won her first writing award at age twelve with a short story in the Detroit News Scholastic Writing Awards Contest and continues to garner recognition for her short stories, books, and screenplays. She lives in the beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas, where she also loves to play on stage.


Margaret Sutton has headed several unique businesses in the Dallas area. These included the production of home decorating items and a custom-design carpet sculpting business. Sutton has placed short stories in several mystery magazines such as Ellery Queen Magazine. A resident of Texas, Sutton shares her home with a pet monkey and considers herself  “Willie’s Mom”.


Buy Links for Doubletake




You can find out more about Maryann and her other books at her Amazon Author Page  * Website   * Blog   and follow her on Facebook   and Twitter   Margaret likes to remain more of a mystery.

An interview with Linda Hall

LindaHall2Award-winning author Linda Hall has written eighteen mystery novels plus many short stories. She has written for Multnomah Publishing, WaterBrook Press, Random House and most recently for Harlequin’s Love Inspired line. Most of her novels have something to do with the sea. When she’s not writing, Linda and her husband Rik enjoy sailing the coast of Maine aboard their 34′ sailboat aptly named – MYSTERY. Her newest release is STRANGE FACES, a collection of her short mystery stories.


Website: http://writerhall


Twitter: @writerhall



PJ: How long have you been writing?


Linda: I think I was born writing. When I was a little girl I was forever coming up with stories that would get partially down, before I got bored with the actual process of putting pencil to paper. My favorite ‘game’ with my friends was something we called ‘stories’ (Very original title I know, but hey, we were just little kids.). We would come up with ideas, put them all in a pile and then would draw from this and then have ten minutes to write a story. Or, we would write a paragraph, fold over the paper and pass it to the next person to complete. I couldn’t understand why my friends got bored with the game after ten minutes.  I was happy to play it all afternoon while sitting in the summer grass in the sunshine.

As a young adult I studied journalism and worked for several newspapers before settling on writing novels.


PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

Linda: Do we ever feel successful as writers? Do we ever feel “good enough”? I’m a writer, it’s what I am. It’s what I do, but I still don’t know if I would add the adjective “successful” to it. There’s always someone more successful, ya know?


PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

Linda: Relatively quickly. Back in the late 80s maybe it wasn’t so hard to get a contract with a traditional publisher. You didn’t even need an agent then. I went to a writer’s conference, met with an editor who immediately liked my idea and proposal. About a month later I got a letter (Remember those?) asking for the complete manuscript.

After I printed my novel, boxed it up and mailed it (Remember those days?), it was accepted almost immediately. As the years have progressed, getting things published by traditional publishers has become harder, I think, or at least that’s my perception. Now that I’ve reached what some in this world call “retirement’ age, (although I will never retire from writing)  I’ve decided to go out on my own and self publish. So far I’m loving the challenge.


PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

 Linda: I would have gone Indie way sooner than I have. The past few years – maybe five – have been a wee bit frustrating for me career wise. I was traditionally published by Christian publishers, and I longed to break out of that box and publish general market mysteries, rather than inspirational romantic suspense. That was my “brand,” yet I’d been trying to climb out from under that label for a long time. Just this past year I decided that if I want to do this in my life, I had better do it now. So, I have joined the ranks of the Indie authors and am finally writing general market mysteries.

To celebrate, on my birthday this past May I released a collection of short mystery stories called Strange Faces. I’m very proud of that book because it represents where I am now as a writer. In about a month’s time I will be releasing Night Watch, my first full length Indie suspense novel. And oh my, the cover is GORGEOUS! Can’t wait until the “cover reveal”.


PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?


Linda: It is scary and frustrating. First of all there’s a ton of social media, and more being invented, it seems, every day.  There’s Facebook and Twitter and Goodreads and Instagram and Linked In and Google Plus and the list goes on. Plus, there are websites to keep up and blogs and newsletters to write, not to mention BookBub, BookSends, ENT, eBook Soda, Book Gorilla – and oh my, that list is never ending!

If I do five promotional things in a day, that little voice in my head says, “Yeah, but So-And-So-Bestselling-Author did six things today.” So, the guilt sets in.

I’ve come to realize that I can only do what I can do. And when it becomes un-fun then I’m just old enough and feisty enough not to do it. I enjoy Facebok and love interacting with my readers there. I’m also on Twitter and I blog and love writing my periodic newsletters.

So, I’ve gone on and on about the frustrations of promotion, when there’s also the writing.

Since I’m brightest in the morning that’s when I write. During the afternoons and evening is when I work on promotional things. Some promotional things only require scant attention, so I can sit with my laptop on my lap, watch TV and work on promotional stuff during the boring parts or commercials. I also try to read at least an hour a day – usually in the afternoon.



PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

 Linda: I think there’s nothing like getting that first major acceptance! When I got that phone call back in 1992, I can even remember the room I was in. I was holding the phone and dancing around the room. “It’s finally happening,” I said to myself. “It’s finally happening!”



PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?


Linda: This question is sort of like, What sets you apart as a person? We are all different. And because we are all different, no two books will ever be alike – ever. My faithful readers who read my books will probably not enjoy the books of another author. And that other author’s readers would probably not read mine. The trick is to find those readers who like your books. And then treat them very well.

More specifically, I write general market mysteries set on the east coast which usually involve the ocean and sailing.



PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

Linda: Everyone  will tell you to keep on writing and don’t give up, so I won’t, because you already know that.

My single most important recommendation is to read. And read a lot. Read every day. Join a book club. Stephen King in On Writing says that he writes in the morning and reads in the afternoon. I know this is true (‘name dropping’ moment here) because I live right next to Maine and a friend of mine saw him in a coffee shop in Bangor one afternoon reading a novel.

If we expect others to buy and read our books, then we darn well better be prepared to buy and read theirs. Am I sounding like a broken record? I hope so. If anything is going to make me run screaming through the city with my can of spray paint is the writer who says, “I’m too busy to read.” If you are too busy to read, then quit writing and read for awhile. Books are a writer’s job. Okay. Now I’ll step away from the edge and get my breathing back to normal.

My second most important recommendation is to read writing that’s better than yours. The single best way to improve your writing is to let good writing sink into your brain, your heart, your very pores.


PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

 Linda: Probably my email newsletter. I’m trying something different this year in terms of contests and giveaways. To reward my faithful readers, I’ve decided that my contests and giveaways will only be for my newsletter subscribers, rather than my Facebook followers or on my website.


PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?


Linda: Probably trying to figure out which one of the medias I should spend time on
PJ: Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:LindaHall


Strange Faces, May 2014, Independently published with the Alexandria Publishing Group

Critical Impact Oct. 2010, Love Inspired/Harlequin

On Thin Ice, April 2010, Love Inspired Harlequin

Storm Warning, January 2010, Love Inspired Harlequin

Shadows on the River, April 2009,  Love Inspired/Harlequin

Shadows at the Window, July 2008, Love Inspired/Harlequin

Shadows in the MirrorOct. 2007,  Love Inspired/Harlequin

Black Ice, 2007 by Waterbrook Press/Random House

Dark Water, 2006 by Waterbrook Press/Random House

Chat Room, 2003 by Multnomah Publishers, Sisters, OR

Steal Away, 2003 by Multnomah Publishers

Sadie’s Song, 2001, Multnomah Publishers

Katheryn’s Secret, 2000, Multnomah

Island of Refuge, 1999, Multnomah

Margaret’s Peace, 1998, Multnomah

April Operation, 1997, Evangel Press, IN

November Veil, 1996, Evangel

August Gamble, 1995,  Evangel

The Josiah Files, 1993, Thomas Nelson


 PJ: Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

Strange Faces is a collection of seven stories that will take you to a place where killers can linger in your backyard but where magic can sometimes change everything.



PJ: Where can we buy it?








Google Playbooks:




PJ: What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?


Linda: I’m an “old folksinger.” Writing is my vocation, but music is my eternal avocation. Early on I remember coming to the place where I had to make a career choice – will I choose music or will it be writing. I chose writing. I had this mistaken idea that it might be Even so, back in the day I never refused an opportunity to play in open mike bars. Currently, I sing in two city choirs and once a week me and my 45 year old Martin guitar go to the nursing home where I get to sing all the songs I love. Hand me a guitar and I will sing for you.


An interview with Chris Redding

2013authorphoto2Chris Redding lives in New Jersey with her husband, two sons, one dog and three rabbits.  She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. When she isn’t writing, she works for her local hospital You can find her at and Her books are filled with romance, suspense and thrills.


PJ: How long have you been writing?


Chris: I’ve been writing for publication for 16 years.



PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?


Chris: I haven’t reached that place yet. I’ll let you know.



PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?


Chris: No, but I’m still hopeful.



PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?


Chris: I still focus on publishing, but I spend more time on promotion than I ever thought I would.



PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?


Chris: Six years.



PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?  


Chris: Probably having someone so excited that I chose them as  a beta reader. A close second would be when someone tagged me in a photo of them reading my book.



PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?


Chris: I think I have a unique view of the world. I don’t write exactly like a woman so I think my work can appeal to both men and women.



PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?


Chris: It takes perseverance. A lot of it.



PJ: Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:


The Drinking Game

Corpse Whisperer

A View to a Kilt

Blonde Demolition


Which Exit Angel:Book 1 of the Angels Down the Shore Series

Along Came Pauly: Book 1 in the Dog Matchmaker Series

License to Nerd: Book 1 in the Nerds Saving the World Series



PJ: Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:l2ncoverAmazon


What if a nerd has to save the world? Both are trained by the government, but he doesn’t want to use his skills. She wants him to. If they don’t, the world will lose.



PJ: Where can we buy it?


Chris: Amazon.



PJ: What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?


Chris: That every few years I have a crisis of confidence and wonder why I am doing this.