Flying into the Clouds Without a Compass by Nancy Means Wright

NANCY MEANS WRIGHT COLORFLYING INTO THE CLOUDS WITHOUT A COMPASS  (by Nancy Means Wright)

Since 1996 when my first mystery novel came out from St. Martin’s Press, I’ve been with traditional publishers. Patti Nunn was my security blanket through her wonderful BreakThrough Promotions, sending out flyers and getting me on radio gigs (I loved curling up in a chair and chatting about books).  I marketed a number of adult mysteries  this way, and two middle grade novels, which won an Agatha Award and Agatha nomination. I was content to make my advance each time and to remain a midlist author.

Then midlist writers became a thing of the past, and hundreds of new writers appeared, selling or giving away their books online. I suddenly wanted to be part of all this, and in control! So I turned my backlist into e-books, and an in-progress adult mystery, Broken Strings, into a partially self-published book.  I say ‘partially,’ because I panicked at the thought of doing everything from manuscript conversion, to e-and-print book.

Cruising the web one day, I discovered Great Minds Think Aloud Publishing. I envisioned folks shouting out their books in subways, groceries, and coffeehouses! I discovered that publisher Kitty Bullard would convert my manuscript into an e-book with frequent chances to offer it free. She included artwork, a blog tour, and a print book through Create Space. She didn’t offer any editing, but she put me in touch with a professional free-lance editor who charged a reasonable rate

My sleuth is a failed actress named Fay, who is shocked to find a puppeteer friend dead of poisoned yew. She’s an offbeat character from my St. Martin’s series, who will carry on the troupe and track down the villains. I gave her three lively foster kids, a kooky psychic friend, and a shy but attractive male neighbor to help with the puppets. The editor liked the book, which I call a “dark cozy,” and held me hostage until I “got it right.”

The finished novel looked great, but had none of my usual reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, who only deal with traditional publishers. I tried to buy a PW review (for $140), but, for some reason, the online application process kept rejecting me. (Did it know I wasn’t wholly self-published?). I found a few review sources through a Step-by-Step self-publishing list, and spent hours writing blogs and answering questionnaires.

A Vermont bookstore invited me to do a book launch, and I asked my Very Merry Theatre son to direct A Tale of Two Lovers—my one act riff on the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, which figures in my book. Working a marionette is truly an art, so my puppeteer spouse taught the six players only the basics. But the date the bookstore gave us turned out to be the eve of an eighth-grade graduation for three of the actors. They thought they could act and graduate the same day, but their parents disagreed!  So we’ve had to reschedule the event until fall.

And now I must expand the play into an hour-long production, my son insists, with song lyrics and parts for fifteen players.  And more string, rod, and hand puppets to create, of course.

Oh dear. It seems the novel I thought would take less marketing time has ballooned into a major flight!  I only hope I don’t end like Amelia Earhart who tried to BROKEN_STRINGs_Tradecircumnavigate the globe, but finally sank into the Pacific Ocean.

But a writer has to take risks, right? So here we go: sailing into the clouds… And hoping for a happy landing!

Nancy Means Wright has published 18 books, including 6 contemporary mysteries from St Martin’s Press and two historical novels featuring 18th-century Mary Wollstonecraft (Perseverance Press).  Her two most recent books are the mystery Broken Strings (GMTA publishing) and Walking into the Wild, an historical novel for tweens (LLDreamspell).  Her children’s mysteries have received an Agatha Award and Agatha nomination. Nancy lives in Middlebury with her spouse and two Maine Coon cats.

(www.nancymeanswright.com).

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An interview with L.C. Hayden

lchaydenAuthor Elsie “L.C.” Hayden has been a friend and colleague of mine for many years and it’s been exciting to watch as her career has grown and her work has evolved. I never know what she’s going to do next!

PJ:  How long have you been writing?

LC: Not too sure, but I think I was born with a pen in my mouth and a piece of paper in my hand.  Then I grew up and became one of those who wrote page after page when the teacher assigned a composition. Teachers hated me because I made their grading harder. When I was in college, I had my first piece, a folklore article, published.

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

LC: Not quite sure I’m there yet. For every goal I achieve, there’s always twenty million more to accomplish. I’ve had some highlights, though: when I signed my first royalty contract; when the first fan told me how much she enjoyed my books; the first time I was nominated for a major award (Agatha Award for Best Novel,) and so many more memorable times.

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

LC: I never knew that being an author meant being a salesperson. Two completely different hats the author has to wear. Also, I probably had a glamorized picture. You know what I mean. You do a book signing and people actually show up.

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

LC: It’s finally beginning to. When I first started, there was no such thing as a monthly income. I was lucky to claim a few thousand a year. But now that my books are steadily selling, I have a nice monthly income that surpasses my early yearly incomes.

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

LC: I concentrate on writing a better novel. If my current novel receives twenty five-star reviews, I want the next to receive twenty-five five-star reviews because it’s that much better.

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

LC: A whopping ten years. That’s the one thing about writing: you should never give up.

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

LC: I feel that my early novels, while basically good, are not excellent. I wish I knew then what I now know. I would have made those novels so much better.

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?

LC: When I’m writing, I devote the majority of time to writing. After that first draft is finished, I set it aside and work on something else—usually promotional stuff. After a few days of that, I go back to writing or editing. This switching back and forth works well for me.

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

LC: I received a call asking me to speak at a major cruise line during their days at sea. In return, I and guest of my choosing (which has always been my husband) would receive a free cruise and the ship would carry my books. At the end of the cruise, I would pick up a check. How can anyone refuse an offer like that? So far, I’ve done the Caribbean and the Mexican Riviera several times, Hawaii, the Mediterranean, and the Panama Canal two times, each time with a different cruise line. I love this part of promoting!

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

LC: I flew to Alaska to do a presentation. I knew someone would be at the airport to greet me. Soon as I stepped off, two ladies approached me. “You’re L. C.,” they said. I was instantly flattered. They had actually recognized me. I was coming up in the world. “Yes,” I answered. “How did you know?” Their eyes indicated my attire. I wore a parka, a wool hat, snow boots—after all, this is Alaska. Then I looked at the other passengers. They wore light to medium jackets, no head cover, and normal shoes. So much for being recognized. Sigh.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

LC: While researching my novel set in Las Vegas, I sat back stage with the impersonators of Legends in Concert. Elvis Presley” looked at his watch and told me it was almost time for the show. Since they had gotten me front row tickets, I asked them for directions back to the stage. I was told to go down the corridor, turn right at the second turn, then go left, up a flight of stairs and make an immediate right. Go through the door at the right. Then . . .  He hadn’t even finished and I was already confused.

I tried to follow the directions but got desperately lost. I opened the door I believe “Elvis” said I should. A tiny village expending several yards greeted me. It immediately captured my attention. The lights twinkled, the car wheels rolled. I could almost hear the children’s laughter. From behind me, I heard some noise. I turned and the audience began to clap. I had walked right into the stage.

Someone thought it was cute as they put the spot light on me.

I curtsied and ran down the stairs.

So you see, folks, I have been an opening act to a Las Vegas show.

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

LC: No matter which mystery is being reviewed or by whom, the reviewer seems to make the same comment: “filled with lots of action and a surprise ending that you never expected.” Therefore, I’d say that what sets my books apart is that each work promises an edge of the seat read with a surprise ending.

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

??????????LC: Never, ever give up. Have faith in your writing and in you. Write the best book possible, get it professionally edited, and be proud of your work.

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

LC: Speaking. If I do a normal signing, I sell X-number of books. But if I speak, I sell an X-number-plus books. That’s one reason I love doing the cruises. I do presentations and get to sell a lot of books.

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

LC: Asking people to buy my books. I hate asking people to spend their money. Consequently, I leave it up to my readers to choose if they want to buy them or not—but I hope they do.

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

LC: Unfortunately, I live in El Paso, TX, and we only have two Barnes and Nobles and no independent bookstores. I wish we were a more literate city. However, although I have a lot of non-local mystery bookstores that I absolutely love, I especially like Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, PA. They hold a yearly Book Festival that is one of the very best.

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

Mysteries: from latest release to earliest release:

Harry Bronson Mysteries: When the Past Haunts You (2013 LCC Watson Award Nominee)when the past

                                                    When Death Intervenes

                                                    Why Casey Had to Die (Agatha Award Finalist)

                                                    What Others Know (2009 LCC Best Novel Finalist)

                      (please check for my website for earlier titles: www.lchayden.com

Aimee Brent Mysteries: Ill Conceived

                                                 Vengeance in My Heart (coming soon) 

Children’s Picture Book: What Am I? What Am I?

Inspirational: Nonfiction: Angels Around Us

                                             When Angels Touch You

                        Fiction: Bell Shaped Flowers

Writer’s Manual: Help! I Want to Write

                               Breaking and Entering: The Road to Success (edited)

Paranormal: The Drums of Geruld Hurd

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

Did you ever wish you were given a second chance to correct past mistakes? This happens to Harry Bronson in When the Past Haunts You. His estranged sister calls him, begging for help. What follows is a hair-raising journey full of sharp turns and rocky terrain. The refrain Don’t leave me weaves through the book and echoes our deepest longings for connection, for family, and for correcting past mistakes. Goodreads hailed When the Past Haunts You as one of 2012 best reads. Pick up a copy and find out what happens When the Past Haunts You.

 

Where can we buy it?

If you’re looking for the e-book version, go to www.tinyurl.com/LCHayden  If you want the traditional book you can buy it from Amazon or from me. Or you can check with your favorite book store and see if they’ll order it for you.

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

LC: As an author, I get asked a lot of questions, but the one I get asked the most is “What exactly does L. C. stand for?”

The answer goes back to way before I started writing my novels. Before writing mysteries, I freelanced for several magazines. I looked at the various ones and decided I’d like to write for the treasure magazines. I researched, wrote the article, and since this happened before the invention of computers, I typed the piece. I used my real name as my byline: by Elsie Hayden.

My husband, Rich, took the pictures, printed them (told you it was before computers), and I sent the package in. It came back. “Thanks, but we’ve just bought a similar piece.”

I was devastated but did not give up. I researched another buried treasure and eagerly sent it out. It, too, came back. “Thanks, but we’ve just assigned this to someone else.”

Hmm…I wasn’t liking this trend, but I must be from Missouri. I wouldn’t give up. I sent a third, a fourth, a fifth . . . They all came back.

By this time, I felt like a high school dropout. I picked up a copy of the magazine and slammed it down. Talking to myself, I said aloud, “This is exactly what they’re looking for. Why are they not publishing me?”
Rich picked up the magazine and pointed to the title page. “Look at the articles. They’re written by John, by Steve, by Mike. There’s no Marys, no Susies, no Elsies.”
Being a smart cookie, the light dawned on me. I took out the first rejected manuscript and retyped the first page. The only change I made was the byline. I changed it from by Elsie Hayden to by L. C. Hayden.
The article was immediately accepted. So were a second, and a third. . . I got used to using the initials and when it came time to write my mysteries and other novels, it felt natural to continue to use L. C. instead of Elsie.

And thus, L. C. Hayden, the author, was born (or was I created?)

An interview with L.C. Hayden

I’ve known L.C. Hayden for more years than I dare say, and I truly enjoy both her person and her work! I hope you do too…

PJ: How long have you been writing?

L.C.:  I’m afraid to answer this one, because you’re going to find out that I’m … well, old. Seriously, I was one of those kids who wrote all the time. Others would turn in compositions a few sentences long. Mine were pages long! Professionally speaking, got my first novel published in 1998, but before that, I freelanced for magazines and newspapers.

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

L.C.: Every minor step I take pushes me forward, but I still wonder if I’ve reached the successful writer status. Some of those steps include the first time an editor sent me a contract with an advance, my first royalty check, when I won in a contest, the main one being Agatha Award Finalist for Best Novel of the Year for Why Casey Had to Die, when I made the Barnes and Noble Top 10 Best Seller List—and gosh so many more.

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out?

L.C.: Not at all. I thought I was supposed to write.

PJ: If not, how is it different?

 L.C.:  A writer must also be a full time sales person and promote his/her books. How many books you sell is the bottom line for a publisher—not the quality of the work.

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

L.C.:  I am indeed wealthy. Wealthy because I’ve met so many readers who have become true, good friends. The value of these friendships: priceless.

Monetarily, since the advent of e-books, my writing income has more than tripled per month. But then, I also spend a lot on promotion bringing me back to the poor house. Oh sigh!

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

L.C.:  My focus is on producing a really good book. My early works are good or okay, as you see fit, but my latest ones show that each book is an education to me and the books get better and better.

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

L.C.: Sit down for this answer, my dear friends: 10 years. Nope, that’s not a typo. Ten years!!

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

L.C.: Wish I knew then what I know now.  I’d spent more time developing characters, setting up the work, and creating an atmosphere.
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?

L.C.: I’m super lucky. I retired and became a full time author. But even with that, time just gets away. But now I’ve learned discipline. Set time limits I spend on the Internet, time limits for the time I spend promoting. Then write, write everyday and always read.

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

L.C.: One of the most memorable things is doing “working” cruises. Major cruise lines invite me to be their Author in Residence. I’m allowed to bring a guest (for free and that’s always my husband.) We cruise around the world, and during the days at sea, I give a one-hour max presentation on writing and/or my books. The ship’s store carry my books that travelers can buy and I have some available after my presentations. Last day of the cruise, I pick up the check and that’s my job. I just returned from a Princess Cruise sailing to the Panama Canal.

PJ: That sounds fabulous! What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

L.C.:  Since I’m published by small, independent publishers, my books are not automatically sold in all stores. Even the paperback editions of my books that Harlequin publishes—and they’re a huge publishing firm—are not on the stores shelves. Sigh.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

L.C.: One day the principal called me over the intercom and told me he wanted to see me during my prep period. That was 6th period, I remember so well. I was a good little teacher, so I didn’t worry. When I walked into his office, instead of the principal being there, there was a man dressed in a suit, tie, vest. He reached behind him and locked the door. Okay, what do I do now? He reached for his back pocket and showed me his badge. “I’m Detective So-and-So from the police department.”
My first thought was oh no, one of my students must have really done something bad.
He asked me to sit down. I did and once again he reached into his back pocket, took out a card, and said, “You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to have an attorney present. . .  and he continued to read me my rights.
What’s going on? I thought. I don’t even speed! He shoved a piece of paper between us. “This is what it’s all about,” he said. I looked at the paper and nodded. My first book Who’s Susan? had just been published and I had been talking to my editor. He said, “Now, L. C., if you want people to buy your book, you’ll have to come up with a brilliant campaign. If they go to the bookstore and say they want to buy. . .and they forget the name of the book, you’ve lost that sale.”
So I thought and thought and came up with a brilliant campaign. I would send out three different mailings to a select group. The first would have no return address and the paper inside the envelope would simply say, Do you know who Susan is?
I knew that as soon as people received this first promotional piece, they would be wondering, what’s all this about? Who is Susan? They’d start talking and word would spread.
Two weeks later the same people would get the second mailing. Again, there would be no return address and this time the paper would read: Did you find out who Susan is? Check your mailbox for a future answer.
       Again, tongues would wag. Word would spread.
Two weeks later, the same people would receive the final advertising and this time the envelope would have a return address and the paper inside would explain that Who’s Susan? was my first novel and I was inviting them to the Barnes and Noble signing I was going to have. That was how it was supposed to work out.
This is how it actually turned out: after people received the first mailings, they called the police because someone was sending them an antiabortion campaign through the mail. How they got that out of the flyer, I have no idea. Naturally, the police ignored it because they have more important things to pursue. But the callers insisted that the police do something about it.
My problem is that I’m basically a lazy person. The post office was two blocks away from the high school where I taught. But did I choose to go to the post office? Nope. I mailed the letters from the school’s mailbox. That made it a federal offense. They had to call the FBI.
Now the FBI knew it couldn’t be an antiabortion campaign. They knew it was much more. It was a new drug, called Susan. So they brought in an undercover agent to ask the students about the new drug. The students simply shrugged and asked, “What new drug?”
When that didn’t work out, they knew they had made a mistake. It wasn’t a drug at all, but a gun movement, code name Susan. Again, they brought in another undercover agent to come investigate. Again, the students shrugged and asked “What gun movement?”
“So who’s Susan?  the frustrated agent asked.
“That’s Mrs. Hayden’s new mystery novel,” one of my students answered.
In the meantime, I was in the principal’s office, having my Miranda Rights read.
Sometime, it doesn’t pay to advertise!

PJ: Oh no! That is unbelievable! I wonder how fast your heart was beating that day?? With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

L.C.:  The fact that I give everyone a $100 bill when they buy my book! That would be cool, eh? Actually, what people find appealing about my detective in the continuing series is that Harry Bronson isn’t a drunk, loves his wife and his daughters, has a stable life filled with good friends. If you haven’t met Bronson yet, you’ve got to. Guaranteed: you’ll love him.

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

L.C.: Whatever you do, don’t give up. This is a hard business but believe in your books, because if you don’t, nobody will.

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

L.C.: Doing the “working” cruises. I meet people from all over the world and they help to pass on the word. Also, any time I have a speaking engagement, I tend to sell lots of books.

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

L.C.: The part where I say, “Buy my book, please.”

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

L.C.: I live in El Paso, TX., and there’s no independent booksellers here. We only have two Barnes and Nobles and that’s it. So sad!

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

From most recent to oldest:

Harry Bronson mysteries: When the Past Haunts You

When Death Intervenes

Why Casey Had to Die

What Others Know

Where Secrets Lie

When Colette Died

Who’s Susan?

Inspirational books about miracles and angels: Angels Around Us

                                                                           When Angels Touch You

Bell Shaped Flowers (fiction, young adult)

Horror: The Drums of Geruld Hurd

Writing: Breaking and Entering (editor, published by Sisters in Crime)

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

Retired police detective Harry Bronson is forced to face a painful, secret past when his estranged sister begs him to help her. What he learns about her life over the past decades leads him on a serpentine path in unfamiliar territory. This mystery will keep the reader guessing until the very end as Bronson follows the trail of his lost sister through the corrupt underbelly of the rich and powerful

Where can we buy it?

Best place is at Amazon or directly through me.

What last thing would you like to share with us?

Befriend me on Facebook at Lc Hayden and check out my website at http://lchayden.com Thanks for your time! Now, go read!

Wow, she’s had an interesting time with her book promotion efforts, hasn’t she? Kudos to you L.C. and thanks for sharing! Now, like she says, “Go read!” But I’ll add a little – Go read a book by L.C. Hayden!

An interview with Avery Aames

This lady reminds me a lot of the energizer bunny, although she’s not annoying =) I just don’t know how she gets it all done and done so well. If you haven’t been introduced to her work before, it’s high time because I know you’re going to be hearing a lot more about her in the future!

PJ: Avery, how long have you been writing?

Avery: I have been writing a long time. Lo-o-o-ng time. I started my career as an actress. I turned to writing television and screenplays, hoping that I could write something that I could “star” in. That didn’t happen, though I did sell a television show for which I created the format: OUT OF THIS WORLD. It was on NBC for 4 years in first-run syndication. I turned to writing mysteries and thrillers when my family moved out of the Los Angeles area (for my husband’s career). I’ve always loved mysteries. I grew up on Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie novels. I even attempted to write my own “Nancy Drew” episode around the age of nine. Granted, you’ll never see that one published. J

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

Avery: When my first Cheese Shop Mystery came out, I felt “successful” as a writer.  Seeing the book sitting on a shelf at the bookstore was a major thrill! {Getting a copy of the cover, sans book, prior to publication was a “wheeeee” moment.}

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

Avery: Writing is still the same. I make deadlines. I write an outline. I write, write, write, and I enjoy the process. I love developing stories and characters. What is different is that I had NO IDEA how much publicity was required to help make a book a success. I had no idea of the time involved to do publicity and the expense. It’s exhausting. While there is help from my publisher, there is not enough to cover all the costs and time.

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

Avery: Didn’t you know, I’m a millionaire?  We all are. LOL

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

Avery: I’m so lucky and thrilled to be published by a wonderful, well-known publisher. What my publisher is able to do is get my book into the biggest stores, the chains and independents, and the publisher (certainly on the first in the series) did a big promotion to get the title out there so that bookstores and reviewers jumped all over it. I have a fabulously talented editor who is my great cheerleader. She has a good eye and has made my writing better. My print run was quite sizeable and nice. That offers me the chance to find more readers.

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

Avery: A lo-o-ong time. Ten years at least. I wasn’t a bad writer; I didn’t have luck and that “it” factor when it came to my books. Agents liked my work but they couldn’t sell “that one” that I had submitted. They often asked for my next book. I have a number of previous manuscripts on my shelves. I intend to rewrite at least four of them (when I can find the time). I was crowned the “Queen of Rejection” by one of my writing groups. I like to think of that title as queen of perseverance. I was just about ready to give up, maybe go back to acting, but then along came an opportunity – the Cheese Shop Mystery series – and I was on my way.

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

Avery: I would try to understand what a “hook” is (earlier) so that I could fashion a book better in that regard. I would work with an independent editor so that I could have had my writing at a top-notch level. And then there’s luck. I think I might have spent more time searching for lucky pennies and four-leaf clovers.

PJ: I’m glad to hear you say that. I don’t hear it enough. If you’re writing as a career move, you have to make some effort to write what publishers want to buy. 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?

Avery: I try to write five days a week for at least two to four hours. I really need concentrated time. If I hit my mark on pages, then I can go do promotional things. There are times I find I don’t hit my number of pages (word count) and I’ll have to focus harder the next day. Some days are totally devoted to rewriting and outlining. But I create a schedule for producing a completed manuscript, and I try to keep to that schedule at all times. My family is very supportive. They don’t like when I’m pulling out my hair.

PJ: Must be working. You hair looks good. What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

Avery: Being published. Seeing my book in print. And then I was lucky enough to win the Agatha Award for best first novel in 2011. That was a huge high point, though I do have to admit that it was wonderful just to be nominated. There were some terrific writers alongside me, including Alan Orloff, Sasscer Hill, Laura Alden, and Amanda Flower. This year’s flock of new writers is just as outstanding. Janet Bolin, Rochelle Staab, Kaye George, Sara Henry and Kari Lee Townsend.

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

Avery: There isn’t a “single” thing. Constant rejection was hard. I had to continually buoy myself up. I got “close” many times with agents, as I said previously. Hearing “I like you, but…” over and over is a blow to the ego.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

Avery: What has been so much fun is meeting all my writing pals online. I have many. I adore them. The group has blossomed over the years. I started out by joining a group called the Guppies, an online division of Sisters in Crime. That group, which was small when I joined, gave me so much support. It continues to foster good writing and good conversation among writers. And then I went to conferences and met many of my friends in person. There’s nothing better. Friendships with those who understand the ups and downs of a writer’s life is invaluable. And then, of course, there are the fans. I LOVE hearing from and meeting fans. It’s so much fun connecting with them online and at conferences.

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

Avery: Cheese. Food. Good stories. Fun. Family. Good characters. Snappy dialogue.  A sense of pace.  But, honestly, lots of writers offer these same things, so really it comes down to luck again. And possibly beautiful artwork on the covers. I love my artist Teresa Fasolino!!

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

Avery: Don’t give up. If you do, you won’t be published. And don’t sell yourself short. You have a voice. Nurture it. Develop it. Keep it fresh.

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

Avery: There are so many opportunities: Facebook, Twitter, a website, conferences. I can’t point to any one that really works. I have sent out postcards, done radio spots, gone to book signings in lots of different states. I have a newsletter that I send out every three months. I’ve had contests.  Who knows, really? I know authors that don’t do any of this and they are successful.  Uh-oh, here comes that word again: luck.

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

Avery: I can’t seem to figure out how to do things on Facebook so I’ve hired someone to help me navigate. I can post and add pictures, but all the specialty things on that site confuse me.

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

I love a couple of them around the country: Mysterious Galaxy, Mysteries to Die For, Book ‘em Mysteries, Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Murder by the Book, Mysteries & More, and Foul Play Mystery Bookshop.

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

The Long Quiche Goodbye, July 2010

Lost and Fondue, May 2011

Clobbered by Camembert, March 2012

To Brie or not To Brie, February 2013 (not out yet)

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

Charlotte Bessette—proprietor of Fromagerie Bessette, affectionately known in Providence, Ohio, as the Cheese Shop—is busy setting up her tent for the town’s Winter Wonderland faire, where she’ll offer fine wines and scrumptious cheeses. In the midst of the preparations, Charlotte meets an old friend of her mother, Kaitlyn Clydesdale, who has come back to Providence with plans to start a new honeybee farm. When Kaitlyn is found dead, suspicion falls on Charlotte’s assistant’s boyfriend, a honeybee farmer himself. Charlotte knows this beekeeper wouldn’t hurt a fly, so she decides to find the real killer.

Where can we buy it?

Barnes and Noble, online at B&N, Amazon, Walmart, Target, and all the independent mystery bookstores. To make it easy, here’s a link on my website that takes you write to an order page for all of those stores: http://www.averyaames.com/book_sellers.html

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

A little tidbit about me…my real name is Daryl Wood Gerber. I’m very excited to announce that starting next year, I (Daryl) will have a new series out in July called The Cookbook Nook Mysteries featuring an avid reader, 
admitted foodie and owner of a cookbook store in picturesque coastal California. I have two websites: www.Averyaames.com and www.Darylwoodgerber.com  and two identities on Facebook and Twitter, but they’re both “me.”  And another “little known fact,” as an actress, I did a co-starring role on “Murder, She Wrote.”

Like I said, she’s one busy lady, and deserves much success on the heels of all that work. I love cheese, I love her books and I hope you will too!

An interview with Lea Wait

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Lea Wait for several years and I find her work unique and entertaining. She’s a “mom” after my own heart and I thank her for coming to visit us today!

Hi, PJ – and thank you for asking to interview me!

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Lea: I’ve been writing all my life; the usual high school newspaper and poems and plays in college, and then I supported myself by writing executive speeches, corporate films, strategic plans and other nonfiction for many years. I didn’t turn to fiction until my mid-40s, and I started writing fiction full time in my early 50s.

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

Lea: I was lucky early on. (Lucky after having written for years and studied writing, and reading everything I could when I wasn’t writing!) Although the first full book I wrote was turned down by 40 agents, the second book I wrote (an historical for children, Stopping to Home,) was bought by the first editor who saw it, a top editor at Simon & Schuster’s McElderry Books, and was lauded in book reviews. Then, a couple of years later, an editor at Scribner saw that mystery no agent had wanted (Shadows at the Fair), published it, and it was a finalist for a “best first mystery” Agatha Award. For several years I had both a new mystery and a children’s historical published, both by Simon and Schuster. I was getting good reviews from The New York Times. I wasn’t getting rich, and I was working like crazy, but I felt successful. I just kept pushing to try to make every book better than my last.

PJ: Wow, that’s quite a story! Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

Lea: That early success didn’t prepare me for the major changes that were coming in the economy and in the publishing industry. My editor at Scribner retired and, as a mid-list author, my series was retired with her. And when school and library budgets in the country were cut, so were publishing sales staffs who sold to them, and historical novels for children gave way to fantasy and vampires. My editor at McElderry was laid off.  So, in a large sense, after having had eight books published in five years with a major publisher, I was back to ground zero. I’d been naïve enough to think that the contacts I’d made and the reviews I’d had gave me a platform I could stand on. I was wrong.

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

Lea: Yes, I think so. First, while I was still at Simon & Schuster I would have asked more questions about what direction the publisher saw my mystery series taking. It turned out we disagreed about that, and no one told me until they ended the series. If someone had mentioned it earlier, that might have made a difference. Maybe not. But I would have liked to have known earlier that they thought there was a problem. After I left Simon & Schuster I wrote a literary historical mystery, but it didn’t sell, and I partially blame my agent for that, but I also blame myself for not pushing enough. I don’t think it was submitted to the right publishers. I should have recognized that earlier, and tried to move to another agent. And I should have written a mystery that was more marketable at that time: a contemporary with more suspense. Instead, I focused on writing more historical novels for children, which I loved to do – but which didn’t sell, for the same reason Simon & Schuster hadn’t published them. I don’t think my strength is in fantasy, but I should have shaken myself and realized that this is not the time for historicals.

PJ: What are you doing now?

Lea: I kept getting letters from fans wanting to know about the fate of the characters in the discontinued mystery series, so when a small West Coast publisher wanted to pick it up, I decided to do that. Last year Shadows of a Down East Summer was published, the fifth in the series, and next year Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding will be out. So that keeps my hand in the mystery world and my series alive. I’ve written a contemporary mystery for children, which my agent for children’s books is shopping now, along with those historicals which I still hope will some day come back in style. At the moment I’m not writing any more of them. I’m also in the process of changing agents for my adult books, finding someone who will be more pro-active, to work with me in re-inventing myself. I have several ideas in mind, for stand alones and for series’. In the next month I’ll be deciding which will be my next project. I’m very excited about starting in a whole new direction.

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

Lea: My characters and settings are my strengths. I take time with my writing; it’s strong, well-crafted, and evocative. Years of working in the theatre when I was in high school and college has given me a good grasp of dialogue. Most of my published books are set in the north east United States, from New Jersey to Maine, areas I know well, and they reflect the people who live there.

PJ: What do you do to promote your books?

Lea: I have a website (http://www.leawait.com) and I blog with nine other Maine mystery authors at http://www.mainecrimewriters.com . I’m a member of the speakers bureau of Sisters in Crime of New England; if you contact that organization they can arrange for one or a panel of mystery authors to speak at your group or library. I’m on Facebook (friend me!) where I post about reading, writing, and living in Maine. When I have a new book out I do signings and talks in New England, and sometimes beyond, and I make author visits to schools throughout the country. There’s more information about that on my website. If someone wants to know when my next book is out, I’ll either send them a postcard or an email. I’ll also visit book groups via Skype if they live a distance away.

PJ: What are your published books?     

For adults:  The Shadows Antique Print Mystery Series

1 – Shadows at the Fair

2 – Shadows on the Coast of Maine

3 – Shadows on the Ivy

4 – Shadows at the Spring Show

5 – Shadows of a Down East Summer

6 – Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding (2013)

For Children

Stopping to Home

            Seaward Born

            Wintering Well

            Finest Kind

Give us an elevator pitch of your latest title.

Shadows of a Down East Summer. Two young women posed for artist Winslow Home on the coast of Maine in 1890. What happened that summer; the secrets the women kept, the lies they told, changed their families forever. Now one of their descendants has been murdered, and Maggie Summer must find out which family myths are true before someone she cares about becomes the next victim.

Where can we buy it?

At any mystery bookstore; or order it at your local bookstore – or, of course, on Amazon.  In trade paperback or e-book.

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

Sneaky question! But, OK! Each of my mysteries is a take-off of a classic mystery style.

Shadows at the Fair = Weekend house party in country;  suspects snowed in

Shadows on the Coast of Maine = gothic (and takes place in my house)

Shadows on the Ivy = academic

Shadows at the Spring Show = terrorist plot!

Shadows of a Down East Summer = something happened in the past resulting in

murder today …

Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding = wedding mystery (of course!)

Thank you for the chance to share some of my secrets and plans! Lea

    How very interesting! I never saw that. But these books are great – I hope everyone will go out and find one to read! Thanks Lea. Stop in any time!