Killing Me Softly by Sharon Woods Hopkins

Sharon and Bill Hopkins

Sharon and Bill Hopkins

I once participated on a panel called “Killing Me Softly” at a writers’ conference. It wasn’t about the 1973 Roberta Flack song, as I first thought. Rather, it was a lively discussion about what that title would mean relative to a mystery novel. Everyone on the panel concluded that that “Killing Me Softly” described cozy mysteries, since the “softly” meant that no hard-core descriptions of the acts of murder, mayhem or sex would appear on the page. We also vigorously agreed that cozies are indeed, mysteries. We all know another key element in a cozy is the amateur sleuth protagonist. Think Miss Marple as opposed to Inspector Poirot.

Why would a______ (fill in the blank with banker, horse trainer, cook, crossword puzzle champion, scrapbook shop owner, cheese shop owner, dressmaker, you name it) be solving a crime in the first place? And, honestly, would they be solving murders? That is a major “willing suspension of disbelief” element critical to all good amateur sleuth mysteries. Outstanding examples of this are the Camel Club mysteries by David Baldacci. Four unlikely partners are positive there is a growing conspiracy in Washington, when, in fact, nothing is going on. Until, something terrible really does happen.

The reader needs a believable reason for the sleuth’s involvement.

One reason could be that the police don’t believe a there is a murder. The sleuth knows otherwise, but the police won’t believe him/her. This was the case in my first Rhetta McCarter mystery, Killerwatt, where Rhetta discovered a terrorist plot, and no one believed her. Another reason could be that the sleuth himself/herself or a best friend is a suspect in the murder. That was how Rhetta got involved in Killerfind.

Yet another reason could be that a chain of events begins happening that only the amateur sleuth knows about, and is therefore the only one who can stop it.

The point is that the involvement of the amateur has to be believable. The normal horse trainer, banker, etc., isn’t a professional and probably gets in the way of the police who are trying to solve the murder. Giving the amateur a reason to be there is vital to holding the story together.

When a waitress’ ex-husband dies of food poisoning while eating in the restaurant where she works, she becomes the suspect. She knows she is innocent, but the police arrest her. The only person who believes her is her best friend. And so on. The best friend becomes the sleuth. Or, if the waitress is out on bail, she may become the sleuth.

Perhaps the amateur has information that no one else believes. He/she is compelled to move forward and act on it if no one else (read: authorities) will.

I’ve read hundreds of amateur sleuth mysteries. Some are terrific, some not too good. I love the good ones so much that I chose to create an amateur sleuth series. My protagonist is mortgage banker. She is always a reluctant participant. She always gets in the way. And so far, she has always solved the cases.

Another element that the amateur sleuth mystery needs is that the protagonist must have a day job. Since they are not professional detectives or cops, sleuths need a visible means of support—unless, of course, they are retired and solving murders in retirement homes. Myrtle Clover, heroine of Elizabeth Spann Craig’s Myrtle Clover Mysteries is an octogenarian. And quite the humorous character, to boot.

Which brings to mind another element: How old should the sleuth be? That has been a debatable issue for a very long time. I’ve had agents tell me that my female protag shouldn’t even be in her forties. That’s too old, many of them said. Hold on. Who are the readers? Only people under forty? Which segment of the population is growing the fastest? Seniors. Which segment of the population has the most disposable income? Baby Boomers.  Most, if not all folks 50+ are very tech savvy and love e-readers, iPhones, iPads, and so on.

So now we have a profile of the cozy mystery and the amateur sleuth of today. He/she can be middle aged, or older, or even retired. But he/she has to have a darn good reason to solve a murder. Or it isn’t quite believable.

 

Sharon Hopkins is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Southeast Missouri Writers’ Guild, and the Missouri Writers’ killergroundGuild. Her short story, DEATH BEE HUMBLE, appeared in the SEMO Writer’s Guild Anthology for 2012, and her story, REARVIEW MIRROR appeared in That Mysterious Woman anthology in 2014. Her first three Rhetta McCarter books, KILLERWATT, KILLERFIND and KILLERTRUST were all finalists in the Indie Excellence Awards.

Her fourth book, KILLERGROUND, was released April 15, 2015. All her books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and at bookstores.

WHAT MAKES THE ROCKY BLUFF P.D. MYSTERY SERIES UNIQUE? by Marilyn Meredith

Marilyninpensivemood_edited-1

This is a question I hope I can answer adequately. I suspect every author of a series believes it is different than others in the same genre.

The following is what I think makes the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series unique:

  1. The series has a cast of characters who progress through each book.
  2. The focus may change to a different character in subsequent books—though Detective Doug Milligan has had the lead the majority of the time.
  3. Because of #2, the point-of-view changes from character to character through-out the books, but you won’t have any trouble following it.
  4. Though it’s basically a police procedural it is much milder than many—no bad language or explicit sex. Some have called it a cozy police procedural—but it doesn’t have the requisites for a cozy.
  5. Time moves on, but at a slower pace than real time. Usually the next book starts where the last book ended.huenemebeachislands
  6. The setting is a fictional small beach community in Southern California between Ventura and Santa Barbara.
  7. The focus is as much on the characters as it is about solving crimes.
  8. It isn’t necessary to read the series from the beginning. Each book is written to be complete. Of course it makes me happy when someone does want to start at the beginning.

Perhaps one of the blog readers who has read one or more of my Rocky Bluff P.D. series might have a comment to make about this subject. I’d love to hear a RBPD reader’s opinion.

  1. M. Meredith aka Marilyn Meredith

ViolentDeparturesBlurb for Violent Departures:

College student, Veronica Randall, disappears from her car in her own driveway, everyone in the Rocky Bluff P.D. is looking for her. Detective Milligan and family move into a house that may be haunted. Officer Butler is assigned to train a new hire and faces several major challenges

 

Bio:

F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of over thirty published novels. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Besides having family members in law enforcement, she lived in a town much like Rocky Bluff with many police families as neighbors.

 

Contest:

 

Because it has been popular on my other blog tours, once again I’m offering the chance for the person who comments on the most blog posts during this tour to have a character named for him or her in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery.

 

Or if that doesn’t appeal, the person may choose one of the earlier books in the series—either a print book or Kindle copy.

 

Links:

Webpage: http://fictionforyou.com/

Blog: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://facebook.com/marilynmeredith

My blog tour ends tomorrow with a final interview: http://blog.jamesmjackson.com/

 

Who’s been a Bad Boy? by Lise McClendon

LiseThere are many ways to skin a cat – and promote your writing. One popular way is to create a limited edition box set and price it so low that you’re almost giving it away. The point is to get it into digital readers, not to make money. You can box up your own novels, by series or whatever theme you can conjure up, but joining with other authors can really ease the promotion burden. The idea is that cross-pollination of readers will grow all gardens. You bloom, I bloom, we all bloom with a bigger readership.

 

A few months ago I was asked to join five other authors to put together a box set. My invitation came through an English writer I knew mostly through social media. I had read her book, written about it, became Facebook friends, corresponded, and even met her last year at Bouchercon, the big mystery convention. But I didn’t know the other authors at all, two Americans, a Brit, and an Irish writer.

 

My English friend, Helen Smith, writes comic mysteries and a lot more. Having read her books, and gotten the invitation, I knew we would be compatible. The other authors write a little comedy, a little romance, a little mystery. The theme of the box set was to be “British Bad Boys,” and encompassed humor, mystery, and romance. I had in mind to use my thriller, PLAN X, about a British professor in Montana who is badly injured in a campus explosion.  The story revolves around policewoman and Iraq vet, Cody Byrne, who is tasked to find the professor’s next of kin. The mission turns out harder than it should be, and gets a little twisted when it’s discovered the professor asked several colleagues to hide old documents that look suspiciously like a lost Shakespeare play. Lots of thrills, intrigue, murder, and MI5.

 

But comedy? Funny stuff? Hmmm. I love to laugh but wasn’t sure this novel fit the bill. To their credit the authors only asked: “There’s sarcasm, right?” Well, I thought, I certainly hope so. What’s life or fiction without a little snark? I was in.

 

Several of the authors had been in sets together before and knew the ropes. They had a formatter and cover designer lined up. The six of us discussed the design of the cover, and the sexy quotient of the bad boy on the cover. Our ring-leader, Florida author Barbara Silkstone, kept us up to date and on task.

 

The box set went into production.  Some of us wrote original stories. All of us wrote blurbs. We okayed the cover and sent it all into the formatter. BRITISH-BAD-BOYS-Box-Set-KOBOAnd voila! The box set of British Bad Boys sprung on the world on Easter. So happy to be in the talented company of Helen Smith, Barbara Silkstone, Gerry McCullough, Anne R. Allen, and Sibel Hodge.

 

The e-book box set is just 99 cents. Pocket change! We hope readers are tempted by the bargain. The box set will be available through the summer only. That’s key, the limited time edition. Most of us are also selling our novels or stories individually but we hope this exposure to more readers will help all our novels get more readers. Because that’s what it’s all about, right?

  • • •

 

Amazon: http://smarturl.it/britishbadboys

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/british-bad-boys-barbara-silkstone/1121689967?ean=2940151581530

KOBO: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/british-bad-boys-1

Shop at an independent bookstore that sells KOBO e-books,

like Mysterious Galaxy: http://www.mystgalaxy.com/ebook/1230000341172

My Potpourri of Promotional Strategies – Helen Dunn Frame

Helen Dunn Frame

Helen Dunn Frame

A famous writer is reputed to have quipped that writing a book is five percent inspiration and 95% perspiration. I would add that afterward the author in most cases must handle 100% of the promotion.

In years long gone publishers would assign an editor to fine tune the manuscript with the author, and at least help promote a book, even for a relatively unknown writer. Today the author needs to present a totally edited manuscript even to a traditional publisher and is expected to execute most of the promotion efforts, unless the writer has an outstanding track record.

The real challenge, no matter how a book is published, involves finding ways to promote it by traditional means such as at book signings; by new avenues, for example, social media, and especially by innovative means that require being especially creative.

After having two successful book signings for my first mystery at a branch of Barnes and Noble in Dallas, I asked the manager for a third one in June 2004. He said that the month was devoted to books dealing with weddings. Luckily I had written about a Greek Orthodox wedding in the book and was able to read about the traditional ceremony to attendees, thus fitting into the theme.

Since that experience, I put scenes in my books that might facilitate promotions. Remember the reason for including a possible promotional bit in a tome has to be plausible to the reader, not just stuck in illogically. In the first book, the couple met in Greece and married in a Greek Orthodox Church in the country. The protagonist Ralph and his fiancé in the most recent one vacationed in Costa Rica where he had gone as a child when his mother won a trip. He runs into a friend he played with, now a grown man, who wants to open a business in Dallas but needs a partner who is a U.S. citizen. Ralph wants to open a business, hoping by doing so he will avoid being investigated for his part in the scandal.

It’s important to think out of the box and to realize that authors cannot afford to be shy. For example, when I call a company for some reason, I manage to enthusiastically tell the rep that I write books and suggest they look me up on Amazon. During a trip to visit friends in Alabama I was invited to speak to a breakfast group where members were old enough for retirement. In North Carolina I spoke to members of a women’s group in a church about writing a book.

Every month an online forum I’m a member of has an “anything goes day.” I use the opportunity to write something of interest, perhaps about or from one of my books. I list the names of my three books that are available on Kindle and in paperback, and sign the posts with links to my Facebook pages for my books; website, and author’s page on Amazon. The rest of the month such promotion is prohibited. Last summer I participated in a book fair highlighting the United States in San Jose, Costa Rica and sold books while making friends with other authors, one of whom helped to edit my recent book and has offered to read my current manuscript.

Another way to get exposure for your creations is to review other writers’ books. Usually you can include a short bio and list your credentials with it. Get your books reviewed and look where you might be interviewed on others’ blogs. Rarely do I buy advertising, but when I do, I carefully determine that the venue is worth the money.

Years ago an associate claimed that business cards were the cheapest form of advertising. Every time he entered an elevator, he would turn his back to the door and hand out one to everyone on it. For authors, using a bookmark instead might encourage book sales. Authors still enclose these with their hard copies.

Try to sell your book in different shops, not just the obvious outlets. For example, an author of a book about his experiences traveling to nearly 100 countries sold it on consignment in a store that stocked travel related products. Travel agencies might use such an item as a favor. Real Estate companies and restaurants listed in a featured country might recommend it.  You won’t know unless you ask.

Most importantly, if you get an acceptance, before proceeding, make sure to establish procedures and put all agreements in writing, making everything legal. Giving away something for free with purchase also helps. Buyers of my Costa Rica book simply email me at a special e-mail address for a password to download a free Moving Guide from my website. Having moved at least 30 times from within one city to other continents and having handled the PR for American Mayflower Moving and Storage for over four years when I also became a Certified Packer, qualifies me as an expert. The requests provide the start of a mailing list for future books.

Bottom line, it is important to do something to promote your book every day of the business week or every day if possible. It can be as little as posting on your business Facebook page. Mine is set up so that whatever I post is sent to Twitter and to my Website.  My goal is to promote so well that all the books sell enough that I could give up my day job, if I had one.

 

 

Bio:

Helen Dunn Frame is an accomplished businesswoman (a commercial real estate broker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, specializing in retail and restaurants, for example) whose professional writing skills, living in England, Germany, and Costa Rica; and her love of travel (in 50 GreekGhostsCovercountries at least once where she gained an appreciation of the value of diverse cultures), have culminated in several books.

Many threads of Helen’s experiences have been woven into the intriguing fabric of GREEK GHOSTS soon to be followed by the second in the mystery series with a working title, WETUMPKA (Alabama) WIDOW. Living in Dallas during a major scandal resulted in SECRETS BEHIND THE BIG PENCIL. Expecting to update to a third edition this year, Helen advises Baby Boomers in her third book about RETIRING IN COSTA RICA or Doctors, Dogs and Pura Vida.

A graduate of Syracuse University (Journalism School), and New York University (Master’s Degree in Sociology/Anthropology), Helen has been published in major newspapers and magazines as well as trade publications in the United States, England, and Germany. She has edited newsletters and a newspaper and other author’s books, created business proposals for clients, and spoken to groups.

Links:

Website: www.helendunnframe.com

Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/helendunnframe.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/RetiringInCostaRicaOrDoctorsDogsAndPuraVida

I do declare…by Duffy Brown

Dianne_Castell_Eq

I live in Cincy  but sort of moved to the South when I started to write the Consignment Shop Mysteries. With the books set in Savannah I had to suddenly start thinking and living like my characters. I guess I’m a bit of a method writer just like there are method actors. I have to live the part I’m writing about to make it real.

 

The first thing I did was acquire a taste for sweet tea. Sweet tea is big…huge…in the South and with Cincinnati being north of the Ohio River the only sweet tea we get is if you add your own sugar. Another Southern essential is fried okra. I got out my Southern Living cookbook and found the recipe. I don’t think I’ll win any prizes for the dish but it’s a start.

 

Other way I had to adjust are that I no longer carry Chapstick in the back pocket of my jeans but now wear lipstick every-single-day-of-my-life-no-matter-what-and-no-matter-where-I’m-going. And I have poof hair. Not more straight hair. Think Betty White with her finger in a socket

 

I’ve turned the thermostat to 80 and my thick wool sweaters are relegated to the back of my closet and I’ve made room for light cottony cardigans. I have a front porch so I put a white rocking chair on it and as far as my speech goes my family thinks I’m crazy as a June bug.

 

Some of the Southern sayings I’ve tired out with limited success here in Ohio are…

 

Oh! Bless your heart…” My kids think this is sort of adorable but actually this expression is commonly used when Southerners need an excuse for speaking ill of someone. Example- “She’s as ugly as a mud fence, bless her heart.” Even though the line was an insult it is made better by showing that you, in a way, feel sorry for the person.

 

And of course there’s Well Butter my butt and call me a biscuit. The fam thought I’d hit the vodka when I tried this one.

 

She looked like she’d been ridden hard and put away wet. Actually I’ve used this one a lot all my life. That’s what I get from living so close to the Kentucky border.

 

He could sell a Popsicle to a lady wearing white gloves. Meaning the individual is so good at persuasion that he could talk his way into anything. The sales lady at Macy’s ran when I tried this one.

 

You can’t get blood from a turnip. Meaning you can’t get something from someone who doesn’t have it. My accountant got this one right off the bat.

 

Madder than a wet hen and  He’s like a bull in a china shop and Cute as a bug’s ear. I’ve used these for years too so the fam didn’t blink an eye when I started working them into the conversation.

 

We were just sittin’ around chewin’ the fat. The kids told me I needed more veggies and fruit and forget the fat

 

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. I used this one on my nextdoor neighbor and she was tickled pink she’d be getting fresh eggs

 

She was all over him like white on rice. I used this one on my other next door neighbor and  she smacked her husband upside the head.

 

You can’t see the forest for the trees. Is another one I’ve used tons but my new favorite is Easy as sliding off a greasy log backwards.

 

DemiseinDenimSo, now that you’re sittin’ here chewin’ the fat with me what are some of you favorite sayings? You never know when they just might pop up in the lunch toteConsignment Shop Mysteries. I’ll give away two  Demise in Denim lunch totes from the answers. Thanks for playing along.

Go whole hog today and have yourself a mighty fine time.

 

Hugs, Duffy Brown

My Five Best Website Tips By Karen McCullough

KarenMcCulloughLike many authors, I have a day job to support my writing habit.  I’m fortunate that it’s something I love and can do on my own schedule. I’m a website designer/developer. I’ve run my own website design company for almost ten years now. My specialty, not too surprisingly, is websites for authors and small businesses.

 

The technology end of the business has changed a lot in the last ten years. When I first started out, I created websites in straight HTML, which meant that I had to do most of the maintenance for those sites as well.  Today nearly all the sites I create are done in WordPress. The back end technology is solid and it lets my clients do their own routine text maintenance. It also makes the development process simpler because so much of the basic set up is already done. I can concentrate on the design and extra functions rather that building out the basic structure.

 

However, some things haven’t changed at all, like what it takes to make a successful and useful author’s website. Here are five things I’ve learned about author websites over the years.

 

  1. It’s your face on the web – make sure it reflects your brand. Every bit of the look of your site – colors, layout, background, images, even the fonts—is part of the branding. Be sure it’s working for you. If you write noir thrillers, a site with a pastel background and frilly curlicue graphics isn’t going to impress visitors looking for information about your next book.
  2. Put a little effort into it. That basic WordPress default theme? Everyone recognizes it and knows that you aren’t interested enough in your site to try to personalize it. Very likely they won’t be too interested in hanging around in it either. Too boring. If you don’t have the interest to go hunt up a more appropriate theme, then at least get someone to design a custom header for you. Make it look like you cared enough to try to build something that would really complement and promote your books.
  3. You don’t have to spend a lot of money for a website, but going entirely free has its dangers as well. Don’t rely on Blogger or wordpress.com to be your main site. I’ve heard too many horror stories of people who found their Blogger sites suddenly shut down due to a complaint about their content. Google can and will do that to you, and you have very little recourse. Wix and Weebly are viable options, but there is a learning curve, and you have to pay them to do anything very interesting and individual with the site. They, too, have complete control over your site and can make it disappear entirely should they choose. For those on a budget, I recommend going with one of the many reliable, low-cost hosting sites that support WordPress. Most have one-click intall options for WordPress, and then you can play around with themes to your heart’s content.
  4. If you can’t afford to do anything else, at least buy your own domain name. At $15-$20 per year, it’s more than worth it, and probably the single most important investment you can make in your publishing career. Even if you’re not published yet, and don’t have a site, buy the domain name. If you have a fairly common name and yourfirstnameandlastname.com isn’t available, find something similar. Yourfirstname-lastname.com is an option, as is com.  There are plenty of other alternate options available. And if you’re not ready to set up a site, you can generally park the name for free with the registrar until you’re ready to set up a site.
  5. Don’t do anything to drive your visitors away – Music or videos that auto-start when someone loads your website, lots of moving, blinking graphics, hard-to-read text or blinding color combinations are all bad idea. Many authors think that those things are good ways to attract attention, and in reasonable doses that’s true. But it’s easy to go overboard with it and end up with a site that makes people click off it as quickly as possible.

 

 

As a bonus, I’m throwing in five of my best WordPress tips, gleaned from having set up more than fifty sites on that platform in the last few years.

 

  1. Never use “admin” for a user name! It’s not common now, but it used to be the default user name you got when installing WordPress. If you have a site that still has a user name of “admin,” change it now. Massive brute force attacks have been launched to hack into sites that have the admin user name, trying out a long list of common passwords to go along with it. (You should also have a strong password, at least 15 characters long, including both upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.) Changing passwords isn’t hard, so do it now if you have a short, weak one, like your mother’s first name. Changing the user name takes a few more steps but it isn’t hard. You first create a new user account with administrator privileges, using the “Users” option on the WP dashboard, then you can delete the old admin user.  NOTE: Never delete the admin user unless you have a new user with administrator privileges set up.  Your site MUST have at least one administrator.
  2. Keep your WordPress upgraded. Although upgrades add new features to WordPress, they also frequently plug security holes that hackers may have already figured out how to exploit. WordPress has made it much simpler to upgrade. Since the 3.0 version, WordPress provides a one-button-push way to update your site. Do it!
  3. Use a backup utility. If your site gets hacked or your hosting service goes away without warning, you can lose the site entirely. Do you really want to have to recreate the entire thing from scratch? Of course not, which is why you really should have a way to back up the entire site. There are any number of good backup plugins around, some free, some not. WPBackup is a good choice for a free plugin, while Snapshot is a pricier utility that offers deluxe restore ability as well as good backup options. Just be sure that your backup is stored somewhere other than on your site. (If the site goes down, you’ll lose access to the backup as well as the site.) Most backup utilities will save the backup to your Dropbox account, email a copy to you, or at least remind you to log in and download the backup.
  4. Shift + Enter – This is a simple little tip that solves a problem that confounds many people. In WordPress, when you press Enter, you get a blank line between the previous text and the new text. What to do if you don’t want a line in between? Hold down the Shift key while you press Enter and you can type on the very next line.
  5. Plug-ins are your friend – WordPress has plugins to do an enormous variety of things. Want a contact form on your site? Different sidebars on different pages? A fancier image gallery? An easy way to put images in your sidebar widgets? There are plugins to do all of those things, and many, many more.

 

 

Karen McCullough’s wide-ranging imagination makes her incapable of sticking to one genre for her storytelling. As a result, she’s the author of AQOFCover_Kindle_220more than a dozen published novels and novellas, which span the mystery, fantasy, paranormal, and romantic suspense genres. A former computer programmer who made a career change into being an editor with an international trade publishing company for many years, she now runs her own web design business to support her writing habit. Awards she’s won include an Eppie Award for fantasy; three other Eppie finals; Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards, and an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future contest. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.

 

Website: http://www.kmccullough.com

Blog: http://www.kmccullough/kblog

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarenMcCulloughAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kgmccullough

 

 

Blurb for A Question of Fire

When Cathy Bennett agrees to attend an important party as a favor for her boss, she knows she won’t enjoy it. But she doesn’t expect to end up holding a dying man in her arms and becoming the recipient of his last message. Bobby Stark has evidence that will prove his younger brother has been framed for arson and murder. He wants that evidence to get to his brother’s lawyer, and he tries to tell Cathy where he’s hidden it. But he dies before he can give her more than a cryptic piece of the location.

The man who killed Bobby saw him talking to her and assumes she knows where the evidence is hidden. He wants it back and he’ll do whatever it takes to get it, including following her and trying to kidnap her.

Cathy enlists the aid of attorney Peter Lowell and Danny Stark, Bobby’s prickly, difficult younger brother, as well as a handsome private detective to help her find the evidence before the killers do.

 

Buy links:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002W5RBZS

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-question-of-fire-karen-mccullough/1004338298?ean=2940012198129

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/43245

Kobo: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/a-question-of-fire/9781452411699-item.html

Judging Books by Gayle Trent

GC4In addition to judging books by their covers, we judge them on so many other things—most of which have nothing to do with the stories written.

For years, I refused to pick up a book by Dean Koontz. I thought, “Dean Koontz writes horror. I don’t like horror novels.” So I didn’t check out the back cover blurbs or the reviews of his books because I assumed I already knew enough about the books to make a decision. Then a friend said, “You have to read Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. You’ll love it.”

To humor her, I read the book. She was right. I loved it. I was surprised by this love…so surprised that I told another friend at lunch about the experience.

“Oh, you’ve got to read Watchers,” she said. “It’s wonderful.”

Now convinced that Mr. Koontz could weave a mighty fine story that didn’t have me sitting in bed with the covers pulled up to my chin while I bit my fingernails and waited for some unknown evil lurking in the dark to attack me, I read Watchers. I can now assure you that I’m a full-fledged Dean Koontz fan, eagerly awaiting the next installment in the Odd Thomas series (which I’ll likely have read by the time this is published).

When I wrote In Her Blood, the consensus among my editors was, “This isn’t a cozy!” As both Gayle Trent and Amanda Lee, I’d been corralled into inherbloodthe cozy mystery niche. Don’t get me wrong—I love writing cozy mysteries and have just been contracted to write a new cozy series. But in this case, it was working against me. To those within my current publishing circle, In Her Blood wasn’t right for them because it wasn’t a cozy mystery. To those outside my current publishing circle, the book and, for all intents and purposes, its author, was an unknown entity.  I was fortunate that an editor I’d met was willing to take a chance on the book and on me.

I enjoy reading psychological thrillers, so I wasn’t surprised when this book began seeping into my subconscious in that form. While a book like In Her Blood could possibly lend itself to a sequel, it isn’t likely to spur a series in the way a cozy mystery can. There’s no small town, no cast of endearing characters…just one dysfunctional girl, with a majorly messed up family, dealing with a crazed killer.

As I said, I enjoy thrillers. I enjoy suspense. I love a good cozy mystery. In fact, I like a lot of books that fall within different genres. I simply urge you not to disregard “bodice rippers” or “horror novels” or “sweeping family sagas” just because you “don’t like that sort of thing.” You might be missing something really, really good.

 

The latest embroidery mystery, WICKED STITCH, is now available for pre-order in paperback and ebook forms! Release Date: 4/7/15

 

Wicked Stitch

When murder strikes the small town of Tallulah Falls, embroidery shop owner Marcy Singer isn’t afraid of getting into the knitty-gritty to clear her own name…

 

For most small-business owners in Tallulah Falls, the upcoming Renaissance Faire is a wonderful way to promote their specialty shops. For Marcy’s nemesis, Nellie, and her sister Clara, it’s an opportunity to finally put Marcy and her shop, the Seven-Year Stitch, out of business. Apparently the sisters like to keep their grudges all in the family and have set up a competing booth right next to Marcy’s at the Faire.

 

When Clara is discovered dead in her own booth—strangled by the scarf she had almost finished knitting—Marcy becomes the prime suspect. Now she has to do whatever it takes to keep her reputation from unraveling and get to the bottom of a most deadly yarn…