Lessons I’ve learned along the way and a Pet Peeve by Nancy Boyarsky

nancyboyarskyNancy Boyarsky was born in Oakland, California. After graduating from U.C. Berkeley, her first job was as an assistant editor in a tiny, long-gone publishing company in San Francisco. She has worked as a writer and editor all of her life.

She is married to the journalist Bill Boyarsky and lives in Los Angeles. She devotes herself to writing, editing, and reading and has added painting to her list of hobbies. She loves the theater, films and travel, especially to the UK, where her first mystery, The Swap, takes place.

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It’s tough to get your novel noticed among the 60,000 some odd fiction titles published each year. Here are some of the tricks I learned along the way. With some, I could see a direct correlation with sales or online reviews. With others, I couldn’t find that connection. But, I figured, the more times my book was mentioned anywhere, the better. So here goes.

 

*Do hire a publicist for your first novel. There are many books out on how to do this yourself, but I tried with my first theswapmystery, The Swap, when I self-published it several years ago. I found the job overwhelming. I wrote to a number of book review blogs with little result. I gave up and hired someone to handle it for me. The publicist got my book reviewed in an influential on-line and print publication. This attracted a publisher who signed me on and agreed to reissue my first two novels with new covers. That, in itself, was worth what I paid the publicist.

 

*If you self-publish on CreateSpace (Amazon’s self-publishing service), be sure to read the fine print that goes with the different type of ISBN (book identifying number) you use. At least one prohibits sales to libraries. Another ISBN option seems to close the door to sales other than through Amazon.

 

*Don’t bother advertising on Facebook or other social media. Just a few years ago, these ads really boosted sales if you were willing to pay for enough ads to reach a lot of people. We’re talking about $100 or more a day. Now, even for those willing to part with that, the ads don’t seem to do much. There are so many ads, so many elements on each webpage, that people tend to ignore book ads.

 

*Do have your book read and corrected for typos and plot glitches by professionals. I’ve noticed complaints in a number of reader reviews about typos. These don’t bother everyone, but they do detract from your story for people who notice such things.

 

*Don’t let bad reviews get you down. I have a friend who’s written a number of books and has a solid fan base. Her books have a solid four-plus rating. But she refuses to read her reviews on Amazon because the negative ones upset her. I can understand that. These don’t bother me (as long as the majority of reviews are positive). Some authors actually consider reader complaints as a learning opportunity.

 

*Do take advantage of Goodreads giveaways. During these giveaways, my book appeared on hundreds of Goodreads members’ “to-read” lists, although I can’t say for sure if these people ever actually bought the book. But the giveaway did attract reader’s attention. This said, I’d advise you to limit your giveaways to three books and restrict it to the U.S. The U.S.P.S. has recently raised its rules and rates. The last book I sent to a blogger in the UK cost me $23. It’s been nearly a month, and it still hasn’t arrived.

 

Pet peeve of publishing and promoting:

*Amazon’s new policy of showing only reviews of “verified purchase” customers unless you can find the link that lets you see all the reviews. This devalues reviews contributed by those who bought their books elsewhere or received a free advance copy for a review on a site like NetGalley.

 

When The Best Laid Plan goes a ‘Stray’ by: Lynn Chandler Willis

a1l6y-9iaol-_ux250_I have a dog. I have a very pretty dog. She’s a border collie so she’s super smart, too. She’s also a ham. The dog loves belly rubs and any attention anyone will pay her. Trust me, she is not lacking in that department.

 

Her name is Finn. Nothing fancy. No registered name for the AKC or other dog organizations where stuff like that matters. She’s a shelter dog, picked up as a stray, wandering the streets with a puppy that looked just like her. A rescue group took the puppy and sent Finn to the shelter. That’s where our stories merge.

 

Just one look was all it took and she was mine. That was almost a year ago. Since then, she’s been my constant companion, my hiking buddy, my dog park goof ball, my writing muse, and now my marketing gimmick.

 

From her early days with me, I’ve posted her antics on social media and she’s developed a bit of a fan base. So when I was recently confirming a book signing and launch at my local Barnes & Noble, the manager asked if I was bringing Finn. I replied with something along the line of “seriously?”

 

When she came back with “Sure!” I jumped at the opportunity. Afterall, Finn is featured in my newest book, Tell Me No Lies. 12931060_10206190394900729_3351691464145447843_nThe family dog in the book is a — wait for it — border collie named Finn. And so a star was born, and a marketing plan re-routed to seize the moment.

 

I have a stack of bookmarks and postcards to hand out, tote bags for give-aways—all with the book cover and catchy blurb. All of that was planned for and budgeted for in my “marketing plan.” And guess what I’m doing the weekend before my book’s release and launch party? I had planned on, oh, maybe a manicure. Instead I’ll be spreading ink on Finn’s front paw then holding it to a piece of paper. I’ll take a picture of the paw print, upload it to my computer, add a cute little signature-looking font then print four to a piece of cardstock. Then I’ll cut them out with some fancy, scalloped little scissors and BAM—Finn now has a “signed” card to give out at her first book signing.

 

My readers, whether returning or new, are who they are because they like mysteries and maybe they like my writing. Dog lovers, on the other hand, may not have bought my book otherwise, but can’t say no to those sweet, amber eyes.

 

When it comes to marketing, sometimes the answer is outside the box. You may not think of it at the beginning of developing your marketing plan, but recognize it when it presents itself. And seize it. Then scratch its furry head and give it a belly rub.

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Lynn Chandler Willis has worked in the corporate world, the television industry, and owned a small-town newspaper. Her novel, Shamus-Award finalist, Wink of an Eye, (Minotaur, 2014) won the SMP/PWA Best 1st P.I. Novel, making her the first woman in a decade to win the national contest. Tell Me No Lies is the first title in the Ava Logan Mystery Series with Henery Press. She lives in North Carolina with a border collie named Finn.

Back Copy:

tellmenoliesfrontAva Logan, single mother and small business owner, lives deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, where poverty and pride reign. As publisher of the town newspaper, she’s busy balancing election season stories and a rash of ginseng thieves. And then the story gets personal. After her friend is murdered, Ava digs for the truth all the while juggling her two teenage children, her friend’s orphaned toddler, and her own muddied past. Faced with threats against those closest to her, Ava must find the killer before she, or someone she loves, ends up dead.

http://lynnchandlerwillis.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Tell-Lies-Logan-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B01N3PXOVZ/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Pay Attention to Your Blurb! By Karen McCullough

karen_mccullough_2015_200I was casting around for a topic for this blog post when just this morning something arrived in my email box that said “perfect topic for blog post.”

 

I’m on the lists for several of those email newsletters that give you daily selections of free and low-cost ebooks. I read a lot and I’m always on the lookout for new authors and series that I can get into.  Those newsletters have introduced me to several authors whose works I’ve really enjoyed and whose backlist I’ve bought at full price after reading their sample.

 

But today as I was scrolling through one of the newsletters (all names and titles will be omitted here), I came across a boxed set that had an intriguing premise. It’s a series of romantic suspense stories connected by a group of investigators. That’s my catnip. Reading the initial blurb for the set, I was pretty sure this was going to sell me.

 

Then I read the description for the first book and tripped over a misspelled word, the kind that wasn’t likely to be either a typo or a possible homonym. But I forgive the occasional error and went on to the blurb for the next book. It contained a badly used word. Not a totally wrong one, but it made the sentence read oddly to anyone with an ear for language. It was the kind of usage that suggested the author didn’t have a good grasp on the nuances of word meanings. The blurb for the third book had another of those—not as egregious as the previous one, but it was the third strike. To cement my decision, a series wrap-up description included another badly used word. Done.

 

As interesting as that set of books sounded, I wouldn’t buy it based on the problems in the blurbs. I’m an author and former magazine editor myself so I’m super-sensitive to language mechanics and usage. I’ll forgive the occasional error in a story. I know all too well how easy it is to miss things. My own books all go through multiple rounds of editing and still the occasional mistake sneaks through. But I can’t forgive multiple errors in a short space like four paragraphs. It completely kills my confidence that the author can deliver a story I’ll enjoy.

 

Perhaps the books themselves are better, but I doubt it. Based on a badly written blurb, I don’t trust that this author realized she had problems and took steps to fix them. I don’t believe she hired an editor and copy editor to help her iron out her problems with language mechanics and usage. My time is too limited and the possibilities of other books too enticing to take a chance on something that shows every evidence of serious flaws.

 

The lesson here? Authors, pay attention to your blurbs. If you don’t have a good grasp on grammar and/or usage, hire an editor. Even if you do, you should still hire an editor. It’s tough to see all of your own mistakes. I spent ten years as an editor for two multi-national trade publications, and I still hire someone else to review my self-published books before they go out. The editor should review your blurb as well.

 

Get it right the first time. You may not get another chance.

 

Karen McCullough is the author of a dozen published novels and novellas in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres as well. She has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy, and has also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Daphne, Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the mystery, fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, an increasing horde of grandchildren, and 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

 

A Gift for Murder Blurb:agfm_v2_200

The Gifts and Decorative Accessories Show is a long week for the event location’s staff, and particularly for Heather McNeil. As assistant to the director of Washington, D.C.’s, Market and Commerce center, she’s point person for complaining exhibitors, missing shipments, and miscellaneous other disasters. It’s a job she takes in stride—until murder crashes the event.

Buy links:

What Makes for a Good In-Person Promotion? by Channing Whitaker

book-signing-panelHave any other authors out there ever been invited to or heard about an author event somewhere within driving distance, which boasts there will be five, ten, maybe twenty authors at an indie bookstore or some such place, so you signed up? You watched as the event posted dozens of times on Facebook, you shared all the posts with your own followers (as if they didn’t have your books already) you loaded up your book stock, drove over, and then spent most of the day chatting with other authors while everyone collectively sold an average of half a book per person?

 

I’ve only published one book, and I still have lots to learn about book promoting, but I’ve tried a lot in the way of live appearances. I’ve self organized book signings at book stores and once in a coffee shop, I’ve participated in a small bookstore’s “author day” with several authors. I’ve been to a special author event featuring more than 50 authors in the fourth largest city in the country, and yet in my experience, as an essentially unknown author, results have been less-than-encouraging.

 

Now, maybe you’re thinking, I don’t have the personality to generate interest and sales, that I’m too introverted, not engaging people. However, I’ve also tried my hand at pop-culture events such as comic-cons, places most attendees aren’t coming to find authors and books, and at some of these events, I’ve sold boxes of my novel. I’d even go as far as to say that I can turn about one in five people who slow down long enough to be spoken to into a sale at such events – not a bad batting average in my opinion.

 

So I have to ask, why do I have such poor results with book events, and so much better results at events where books are at best one small part of a much bigger focus on pop-culture and entertainment? Is it simply a number’s game? Perhaps. The author event with 50 of us word crafters only drew in 300 people, even in a huge city, while a comic-con, in a city less than half the size can pull in 30,000. Is success dependent merely on the quantity of foot traffic?

 

My intuition leads me to think the attendees of a specific book event come ready to purchase several books, while most the comic-con-goers, as I mentioned before, weren’t even expecting to see authors peddling their works when they showed up in their costumes. I suppose you can’t account for the quality of the product, at least not until you go buy and read my novel (wink, wink) but I wonder if the issue is more one of how routine and avid readers behave in the first place?channing-book-reading

 

Reading is more solitary and less flashing than the other kinds of entertainment out there. Is merely speaking to authors and seeing a bunch of them sitting around waiting to sign books not enough of an event to get readers out of the house? Do we need to start including live bands, acrobats, or celebrities in our author gatherings in order to elevate them to event status?

 

Another difference maker I’ve noticed is that at comic-con sort of events I’m usually able to sit in on or host some sort of short discussion or panel. I get to stand in front of a few people and talk, either about my material or about general genre topics. This activity has translated to a handful of readers heading over to find me and buy my book afterwards. However, I’ve also gone to a huge book festival which held a tight schedule of 15 minute talks by authors in blocks of four hours straight over the entire weekend, and then watched as one after the other authors stood and gave talks to a dozen empty chairs, or maybe to eleven empty chairs and the next author in line who was waiting their turn.channing-wine-and-sign

 

So I ask, what makes for a good live appearance? Is it a must that some other, crowd-drawing activity be included? Is it a must that we authors are given time to speak, at least in panels? Does every author event simply need big name author signings, so we lesser-known authors can hope to draw a few sales as the under-card? Or is it out of our hands, where how the event promotes itself is the real difference?

 

 

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Channing Whitaker is a novelist, screenwriter, and filmmaker originally hailing from Centerville, Iowa. An alum of Indian Hills Community College, Channing went on to study cinema, screenwriting, literature, and mathematics at the University of Iowa.

Post graduation, Channing began his career in the production of television news, independent films, and commercial videos, as well as to write for websites, corporate media, and advertising. His 10-year career in writing has taken Channing from Iowa, to Alaska, Oklahoma, and currently to Texas.

Channing has written five feature-length screenplays, co-written another feature screenplay, and penned a novel. In that time, Channing has also written and directed over 50 short films.

The April 2015 publication of Channing’s debut novel, “Until the Sun Rises – One Night in Drake Mansion,” comes in tandem with the first production of one of Channing’s feature screenplays, “KILD TV” – a horror mystery. “KILD TV” has already filmed, and premiered in a March 2016 release.

 

Website URL: http://www.channingwhitaker.com

Blog URL: http://www.aboveallstory.blogspot.com/

Facebook URL: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorChanningWhitaker/

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/channing-whitaker-4120a614

Skype: Channing Whitaker (williamchanning@hotmail.com)

 

Buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Until-Sun-Rises-Channing-Whitaker/dp/1610091639/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458157959&sr=8-1&keywords=until+the+sun+rises

 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/until-the-sun-rises-channing-whitaker/1121808573?ean=9781610091633

Mystery Subgenre: the Gothics by Amy Reade

20131548           A friend asked me to write a post recently on the definition of “gothic” mysteries. When I tell people I write gothics, often their initial expectation is vampires and fangs. But that’s not what I write.

This subgenre of mystery has indeed encompassed monsters, vampires, ghouls, and crones in its storied history, but it has evolved to have a more nuanced meaning.

“Gothic” fiction began in the 1700s with Horace Walpole’s novel The Castle of Otranto. And in that title lies one of the most recognizable elements of the gothic novel: the castle, often crumbling and decrepit, always spooky, always evoking a feeling of terror. And the castle, or its modern counterpart, the decaying mansion, is often present in more contemporary gothic novels.

 

Today gothics tend to have several, or all, of the following elements:

  • Female protagonist (with mid-twentieth century gothics, you can almost always tell you’re looking at a gothic book by the wispy, gauzy-clad woman on the front cover, running in fear from the forbidding mansion behind her)
  • Hero (almost always a male)
  • Villain, either male or female
  • Aristocratic characters
  • Dark family secrets, often something that happened in the distant past that haunts the minds of the characters in the present
  • Remote and desolate landscapes
  • An overall sense of fear and foreboding, or even evil
  • A brooding setting as important as any character
  • Love, whether powerful, unrequited, forbidden, or broken

The gothic mysteries I like to read and write also have components in common with today’s cozy mysteries; notably, the absence of gore, the absence of foul language, and the absence of explicit sexual passages.

How is the gothic different from the traditional mystery, you might ask? It’s a hard question to answer, but I believe it’s generally true that a traditional mystery tends to move a little faster while a gothic tends to take its time building suspense and fear in the reader. A gothic might also tend to have subject matter that is a bit darker than a traditional mystery, though that isn’t always the case.

houseofthehangingjadecoverwithusatoday2          So if you’re interested in reading gothics, where do you begin? I have some suggestions, but I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe

            The Monk by Matthew Lewis

            Tales of Terror and Mystery by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Dracula by Bram Stoker

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Black Amber by Phyllis Whitneysecretsofhallsteadhouseebook

The Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt

Stolen Memories by Mary Miley Theobald

My favorite thing about the gothics? So many of them allow me to travel to exotic and fascinating locales without leaving my home. I’ve learned about history, other cultures, and other faiths. And through all my armchair trips, these books keep me guessing until the last delightful, suspense-filled page.

Here’s the rub for authors who write gothics: it’s not a huge market when compared with romance or thrillers or fantasy, so sometimes it can be hard to find readers who don’t even realize they’d love gothic books.

So what’s an author to do? Here are a few ideas that have worked for me:

I follow bloggers who write about and review gothic books, and I leave comments on those blogs. This has the advantage of getting my name out there to people who are interested in gothic-style books and it keeps me engaged with communities of readers who have interests similar to mine.

I join social media groups devoted to reading the gothics.

I write posts like this, to introduce readers to a genre they might not have known about.

I cross-market my books in gothic, horror, and suspense categories.

I started my own Facebook group devoted to gothics. My plan is to transition my author page fans to the gothic page and that way the group members will see all my posts. This is still in the planning stages, but if you’re interested in being one of the inaugural members, please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/1072888142732536/.

When I’m at a book signing and meet readers who don’t know me, I discuss the gothics with them. Often they’re familiar with the more recent gothic theghostsofpeppernellmanor_ebookcovernovelists (Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt), but they don’t realize there are others out there right now (like me!) writing the type of books they love to read.

If you’re a readers, I hope you’ll give the gothics a look—and if you do, don’t forget to leave a review! If you’re a writer of gothic mystery, don’t give up! Try some of the tips above and let me know how they work for you. And if you have ideas of your own, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments.

Thanks for having me on Bookbrowsing. It’s been an honor and a privilege.

 

Author Bio:

Amy M. Reade, a recovering lawyer, lives in southern New Jersey. She is the author of Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of Hanging Jade. She is currently working on Book Three of The Malice Novels, a series set in the United Kingdom. The first book in the series, The House on Candlewick Lane, will be released in February, 2017. She loves cooking, reading, and traveling.

Amy can be found online here:

http://www.amymreade.com (website)

http://amreade.wordpress.com (blog)

http://www.facebook.com/amreadeauthor

http://www.twitter.com/readeandwrite

http://www.pinterest.com/amreade

www.goodreads.com/author/show/8189243.Amy_M_Reade

www.amazon.com/Amy-M.-Reade/e/B00LX6ASF2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0.

And finally, here’s the publisher’s copy from her next release, The House on Candlewick Lane:housecandlewicklane_final1

It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Greer Dobbins’ daughter has been kidnapped—and spirited across the Atlantic to a hiding place in Scotland. Greer will do anything to find her, but the streets of Edinburgh hide a thousand secrets—including some she’d rather not face.

Art historian Dr. Greer Dobbins thought her ex-husband, Neill, had his gambling addiction under control. But in fact he was spiraling deeper and deeper into debt. When a group of shady lenders threatens to harm the divorced couple’s five-year-old daughter if he doesn’t pay up, a desperate Neill abducts the girl and flees to his native Scotland. Though the trail seems cold, Greer refuses to give up and embarks on a frantic search through the medieval alleys of Edinburgh—a city as beguiling as it is dangerous. But as the nightmare thickens with cryptic messages and a mysterious attack, Greer herself will become a target, along with everyone she holds dear.

What’s Good About A Bad Review?—by Nancy LiPetri

9851187It had to happen sooner or later. A real stinker of a review got posted for my novel. After all, I had made countless reminders to the online community, book clubs with whom I’d discussed the story, and anyone else I knew read it, about the value of reviews no matter how long, short or critical (honesty is the best feedback, right? And any boosts Amazon promo). So, as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for.

 

My first beneficial realization came, ironically, from the fact that the low number of stars hurt my feelings. Don’t readers study the Amazon key that tells what each rating means? Didn’t my reviewer think my novel was at least well written, regardless of content she didn’t appreciate? No and no. How self-absorbed I was to think the non-author reader cares enough about Amazon’s definition of each star’s significance. Considering how that person felt about my story, I was lucky to get any star at all. We authors, experts in empathy, understand that, don’t we? So after my emotional response cooled, I realized a low star rating doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad book as much as it can mean it just wasn’t for that reader. I now keep that in mind when checking ratings to decide what I myself want to read.

 

The next good thing came from admitting to my author network that I had received the dreaded stinger. The outpouring of support was touching. I received congratulations for getting my number of reviews up to the point where statistically it had to happen. Was repeatedly reminded you just can’t please everyone. And my favorite congrats: for eliciting any strong reaction in a reader, for writing well enough to accomplish that.

 

What else was good about a bad review? It reminded me not to take myself too seriously, to keep perspective and remember why I got published in the first place. I didn’t seek a publisher for the purpose of getting rich or famous or collecting reviews. No. I was driven to submit my manuscript because I wanted to prove to myself that my fiction writing was worthy. And every review has simply been icing on the cake. I entered the book business wondering if anyone would even take time to read what I wrote, remembering the words of an old advertising copywriting mentor who said, “Nobody has to read a single word you write; it’s your job to pull them through every sentence.”  If someone leaves a review, at least I know I pulled them through.

 

Have I adjusted my content to avoid angering/offending another reader like that one? Beyond assuring my audience that I am someone who values my marriage (after 30 years, and yes, I was married at five ;), and who does not condone everything my characters say or do…the answer is nope, not a bit. In my writing, I embrace controversial ideas and enjoy the what-if’s in all sorts of relationships and other aspects of life that might lead us to struggle with being honest with others and with ourselves. As a reader, I enjoy discovering new perspectives and quirky characters (it’s no wonder one of my favorite writers is John Irving). The advice that you shouldn’t write to please other people holds true, in my opinion, even for those writing with sales in mind. Maybe try to please readers who like your genre. But if you’re not writing with a passion that drives yourself, where will the reader find the spark to keep engaged?

 

Another advantage of the bad review was that it showed me how different readers are from each other, not only due to tastes in genres but also due to their life experiences. As my friend Judith says, a book can mean something different at different stages of your life, different moods in which you read it. I have been absolutely thrilled to have reached readers who tell me they relate to my characters and were moved by the story especially because of what they have been through personally.

 

While I strive to share true-to-life dilemmas and feelings within a tale that entertains, that doesn’t mean I take my subjects of infidelity, death, family and friendship frustrations lightly. On the contrary, the significance of those topics is exactly what makes them worth writing about. I actually expected more than one complaint about edgy/provocative content, and now that I’ve weathered one, bring ‘em on, because good or stinker, they’re all good in one way or another.

 

 

About The Wooded Path512t2rluv6l

 

The disappearance of a woman on Lake Norman, NC, shakes her neighborhood, leading friends to reevaluate their own lives, bringing about dangerous temptations and surprising confessions. One woman finds herself risking her seemingly perfect life and marriage… and afraid of what really happened to their friend.

 

 

About Nancy LiPetri and the sequel

 

Nancy lives with her family on Lake Norman, North Carolina, the setting for her first novel, The Wooded Path, and the sequel in progress, working title Across the Lake in which the character you least expect to return is back, taking you to the other side of the lake, pushing boundaries to experience life a whole new way. Again readers will find facts about the area, its natural aspects and culture, woven into a tale of varied characters for entertaining, thought-provoking contemporary fiction.

 

Where can readers connect with you?

https://www.facebook.com/nancy.lipetri

http://nancylonlakenorman.blogspot.com/

https://twitter.com/NancyLiPetri

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9851187.Nancy_LiPetri

www.pinterest.com/nancylipetri

and

http://www.amazon.com/Nancy-LiPetri/e/B00P04YUFC/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

 

 

Where can readers find your books?

OakTreeBooks.com, anywhere they can order with an ISBN number, and Amazon:  http://viewbook.at/TheWoodedPath

Using an Event to Trigger a Tale by Helen Dunn Frame

dsc09287What does a mother do when she outlives her son and her elderly Greek friend senses his widow may have a played a role in his death? Whether true or not if you are a writer, you write a novel. Using a tragedy to create a book is cathartic, helps one to deal with grief, and to come to terms with the loss.

My son died in 2000 after a “minor” operation during which he developed Swiss cheese-like gangrene in his stomach and infection in his entire body. Months later, work began on Wetumpka Widow with the same sleuths from Greek Ghosts because it would be the second book in the series. At the time, I was working two jobs, grieving, and dealing with other losses. For example, one friend ended our 10-year relationship because she was uncomfortable with my feelings that she failed to understand. When my son’s widow invited  another man into their house three months after my son’s death, and married him six months later, my Greek friend felt she had to know her third husband before becoming a widow. She had waited five years after her first husband was murdered to marry my son.

In 2005 I moved to Costa Rica on my own. After settling into my new adventure, writing books and articles and editing others’ creations became my modus operandi. As the complicated story evolved from several viewpoints it provided the added benefit of keeping my brain active to avoid dementia. The result was an epic story fired by greed, manipulation, murder, romance, and sex.

As part of my brand the titles of all the books in the series would be alliterative. During a visit to  Montgomery, my friends took me to Wetumpka, a nearby town discovered online. Seeing the rapids clinched my belief that it was the place to start the novel. Its title became Wetumpka Widow, Murder for Wealth. As the cover is the first point of sale, the designer created a new cover for Greek Ghosts similar to that of Wetumpka Widow to link the books.

Events in all my books feel real because descriptions are based on actual locations. Over the years I have created many albums about trips and events with photos and saved menus from a variety of restaurants. Because I picture the places in my mind’s eye, scenes pop for the reader.

Beyond researching Wetumpka and incorporating perceived circumstances surrounding my son’s death I investigated the death of my daughter-in-law’s first husband. Information garnered from newspaper clippings became the basis for one of the other husbands in the book. The third husband comes from a family from Greece that opened a branch of its business in San Diego.

Readers called Greek Ghosts a page turner. How is it possible to compel people to keep reading? First hook them within the first chapter, or in a prologue even though some editors frown upon writing one. Keep the chapters short to enhance the feeling:  “I can read one more chapter before I turn out the light.” Without forecasting future events, end each chapter with a hint of a future situation. In Wetumpka Widow after a reader learns about one character, I switched to another’s viewpoint for a chapter or three before resuming the first’s story.

To prepare for the next book in the series leave a way to start the next story. In Greek Ghosts, a sleuth’s lover disappeared. He returns in Wetumpka Widow. Jennifer and Jason leave for London at the end of the novel which sets the scene for the next one in Great Britain. I lived in Gerrards Cross outside London for two years which will add reality in the third book in the series.

Was it Hemmingway that quipped, writing a book is five percent inspiration and 95 percent perspiration? To that  add 100 percent marketing. So think of logical situations to include in a novel that fit seamlessly into the tale and provide possible pegs for promotion.

For example, in both books, Greek Orthodox weddings are celebrated. This justifies a book signing in June. In Wetumpka Widow, one minor character owns one of the first Mustangs. When an anniversary is touted, maybe Ford would be willing to tie an event to the book. If a restaurant still exists, perhaps the owner would sell copies. In other words, think out of the box for ways to promote your books.

Having read about my inspiration, what memorable event in your life inspired an idea for your book?

 

Books Written by Helen Dunn Frame:

Retiring in Costa Rica or Doctors, Dogs and Pura Vida (Second Edition). (Look for the third edition in the next few months.)9407aa2c-2b83-46ed-a76e-ffc4f8d389b8-jpgentirewwcover

Greek Ghosts; Book One in the Series

Wetumpka Widow, Murder for Wealth; Book Two in the Greek Ghosts Series

Secrets Behind the Big Pencil, Inspired by an Actual Scandal.

 

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

 

Helen Dunn Frame, whom I had the benefit of having on my writing team at Inkwell Newswatch, and for whom I have consequently had the privilege of proofreading her work, is an enormously talented writer. She’s flexible, professional, and very thorough in every writing assignment; whether it was from other sources, her own books, or me. She’s definitely a top notch writer with the desire to perform beyond the call of a “normal” writer. Rowdy Rhodes