BROWSING, METAPHOR OF COWS by Nancy Springer

I was fascinated when my first copyeditor told me that “main force” comes from the French for “force of hand” and it was therefore inappropriate for me to have a character kick someone with main force. (It was a fantasy novel, and I was young. Forgive me.) At the time I was teaching a creative writing workshop, and I shared my new and exciting insight with the class, adding similar niceties, such as how “nit-picking” refers to the eggs of lice and is not to be confused with knit-picking the fuzz balls off of sweaters, and a “strait jacket” is not straight but tight, like the Straits of Magellan or the Biblical “strait and narrow path,” which is not straight either. I went on to explain what it meant to be on “tenterhooks,” meaning the hooks on which canvas is stretched to make tents, having nothing to do with fishhooks or tenderness. And I was just about to explain that “spitting image” is ludicrous, the old term being “spit (spirit) and image,” when a student raised her hand and asked plaintively, “Do we have to know all this stuff to be a writer?”

At the time I became speechless, slack-jawed with astonishment at the apparent fact that she did not want to know “all this stuff.” But once I got home and had time to mull over what she had said, in bed, which is where I do my best mulling (not a mixed metaphor; “mulling” as cogitation is simply a homonym for the process of heating, sweetening or spicing beverages such as wine) – once I had time to consider, ponder, and ruminate (metaphor of cows?), YES, I decided, writers should know all this stuff, or at the very least they should want to know it. What had taken me so very much aback, or by surprise (note to self: look up “aback”) was that anyone who wanted to be a writer should ask such a question, because how could anyone possibly want to be a writer if she did not like words?

(“To take aback” turns out to be a nautical metaphor, referring to the wind pushing against the wrong side of sails and sending the ship backwards. It does not, as I had conjectured, refer to being attacked from behind. I am relieved to have cleared this up in my own mind.)

My first copyeditor has long since given up the ghost (or perhaps her spit) and I have had oodles of copyeditors since, and I still welcome every new word or nuance of words I can learn from them. To be a writer one must like words. Arguably, one must love them. And to love them means to learn and respect their nuances, their connotations, and their derivations so as to choreograph them to best effect.

Here are some worthwhile words from my big, new novel, Dark Lie: candor, verity, fulcrum, malar (referring to the rash on my protagonist’s face; she has lupus) and Mylar (balloons). Ascenders, descenders, arcades and garlands as jargon of handwriting analysis. Sociopath as differentiated from psychopath. Psychopomp, meaning shaman without the tribal connotations.

Prismatic, luminous, pellucid, limpid lake of light – all are words that might be used to describe the near-death experience. But I guess maybe the more important words in Dark Lie are simpler: daughter, mother, danger, suspense, dark, secret, love.

AUTHOR BIO
Nancy Springer has written fifty novels for adults, young adults and children, in genres that include mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, horror, and mystery — although she did not realize she wrote mystery until she won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America two years in succession. Dark Lie is her first venture into adult suspense.

Born in New Jersey, Nancy Springer lived for many decades near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, of Civil War fame, raising two children, writing, riding horseback, fishing, and birdwatching. In 2007 she surprised her friends and herself by moving with her second husband to an isolated area of the Florida panhandle, where the birdwatching is spectacular and where, when fishing, she occasionally catches an alligator.

An interview with Shelley Freydont

Shelley Freydont is the author of the Lindy Haggerty Mysteries series and the Katie McDonald Sudoku mysteries. Shelley also writes popular romance novels under the name Gemma Bruceis. She is a past president of the New York/Tri State chapter of Sisters in Crime and a member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, New Jersey Romance Writers and Kiss of Death RWA chapter. A former professional dancer and choreographer, she recently worked on the films Mona Lisa Smile and The Game Plan.I first worked with her through MWA. Hope you enjoy!

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Shelley: I’ve been a closet fiction writer since I was a child. This continued through high school and college and when I was a professional dancer.  I finally bit the bullet and submitted a mystery manuscript in 1998.  It sold and was published in 1999, and I’ve been writing openly ever since.

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

Shelley: I reach that place whenever a scene reads just the way I envisioned it, or when a scene I think stinks and I despair over, actually turns out to be good. As far as achieving “Success,” I think it’s too elusive to chase.

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

Shelley: Having been a professional dancer, it didn’t even occur to me was how quiet and solitary it is. Dance is communal.  You start every morning at class with a teacher cajoling, inspiring, and correcting your technique five days a week.  Then you go to rehearsal where the director and the rehearsal director give instructions and let you know if you accomplish it. At the theatre, the applause is a measure of your success. In writing, I go for days talking and listening to people who don’t exist except in my head. And months before even showing my work to others.

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

Shelley: I didn’t really have expectations.  I was at the end of one career, I chose another. I think it’s ironic that I found a career that often pays as poorly as dancing did. I do manage to scrape along.

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

Shelley: I worry a lot more.  Really. Waiting to get published the first time doesn’t prepare you for the nerve-wracking business of staying published, always trying to write a better, more compelling book, trying to juggle the writing, editing, marketing, and getting enough down time to let the brain fill up between projects.

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

Shelley: I was a finalist in the St Martin’s contest, I didn’t win, but I had spent the wait time researching agents. Within three months of submitting, I signed with an agent, and he sold three mysteries a couple of weeks later. A Cinderella story.  The rest hasn’t always been so easy.

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

Shelley: I tend not to look back and wonder.  It’s counterproductive for me.  I try to just look to the now and to the future and try to live by the “It is what it is” philosophy.

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?

Shelley: It’s always changing for me.  I write in several genres: mystery, women’s fiction and romance. So I’m constantly shifting from one to the other. And it depends on where I am in each project.  I pretty much always have a new project in the works.  I try to give it morning priority while the brain is fresh. Though I confess I do start each morning looking at my email, but answering only the most urgent.  When I’ve done as much as I can do productively, I’ll switch to edits if I have any, write blogs, guest blogs and interviews, then to social networking.  I sometimes have to let the internet slide. So much of it’s chatter, so I try to use it for information and some sharing and go easy on the pictures of cats.

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

Shelley: Meeting other authors and talking about writing.  I love to hear ideas being dissected and put back together. So much talk is about marketing and the changing industry, I get a thrill when someone just wants to talk craft.

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

Shelley: I had just started a series for Carroll and Graf when they were sold and eliminated.  I was really in love with my characters. My editor was perfect for the project. I think that sometimes losing anticipation and enthusiasm, having the possibilities of unwritten books thwarted, can be worse than poor numbers or a bad review.

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

Shelley: Well this isn’t good or bad, but it stuck in my mind. I was in Missouri working with the Kansas City Ballet, and they’d agreed to set up some book signings for me.  One of the signings was in a bookstore in a small strip mall surrounded by corn fields as far as you could see.  I was sitting at a table with stacks of books and no one stopping to talk or buy.  Then a man who looked very much like the man in Grant Woods’ American Gothic, came in.  He passed my table, giving it a wide berth, but he came back later and passed by a little slower.  This went on for several passes; he finally slowed so much that I said,  “Do you like to read mysteries?”

He said (from where he was standing).  “Is that what that is?”

I said “yes,” but he was already backing away. Then in a rush of words he said, “My wife’s in the car.  I think I’ll get me one of them things.”  He snatches a book and heads for the cashier before I could even pick up a pen.  He left the store without glancing my way.

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

Shelley: I hope it’s because I hone my craft, I see the humor in life, and speak to the heart.

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

Shelley: Perfect your craft. Try to understand why you write.  So much of what you do and expect is out of your control, you’ll need the commitment to yourself and to your work to see it through.

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

Shelley: For me, it’s still the one on one, face to face appearance.  I was a performer after all.  I relate to people, and I care about them.

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

Shelley: The 140 character post. It’s too faceless for my liking or my comfort zone.

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

Shelley:  I had two.  They unfortunately have gone out of business.

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

Women’s Fiction as Shelley Noble

Beach Colors

William Morrow/Harper Collins

A renowned designer loses everything and returns home to Crescent Cove, Connecticut, where she once knew love, joy, and family, three things she’s lost on her climb to fame.

Mystery as Shelley Freydont

 

Celebration Bay Mysteries

Manhattan event planner, Liv Montgomery and her Westie terrier, Whiskey, leave the city for the small town of Celebration Bay, Where Every Day’s a Holiday, and murder crops up in the strangest places.

Foul Play at the Fair

Berkley Prime Crime

The Katie MacDonald Mysteries

 

Puzzle museum curator and Sudoku champion, Kate MacDonald solves murder with the help of her teenaged near-genius assistant, Harry and her Maine Coon cat, Aloysius.

The Sudoku Murder 2007

Sudden Death Sudoku 2008

Serial Killer Sudoku 2009

The Lindy Haggerty Mysteries

Backstage Murder 1999

High Seas Murder 2000

Midsummer Murder2001

Halloween Murder 2002

A Merry Little Murder2002

Show Business Is Murder

Anthology edited by Stuart Kaminsky

 “The Dying Artist”

Nineteenth Century actor learns the meaning of the “Method.”

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

My latest title is a mystery, Foul Play at the Fair-A Celebration Bay Mystery (Berkley Prime Crime)

Sick of the bridezillas, the mad men, the anything but sweet sixteens, a burned-out Manhattan event planner takes a job in a small upstate town. But her dream job turns into a nightmare when an itinerant entertainer is murdered during the annual harvest festival.  Aided by two retired school teachers, a rebellious teenage farm girl and the handsome, but lazy, editor of the local newspaper, she must navigate lies, secrets and Yankee ingenuity to save her town and herself from Foul Play at the Fair.

Where can we buy it?

Anywhere books are sold.

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

Shelley: I’m not sure.  You pretty much put yourself out there when you write a novel.  But one thing I do, being from the theatre, is sometimes act out my scenes to see if they really work. It can also be pretty entertaining for your critique partners.

Shelley, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today! Looks like you’ve provided a wealth of books from which to choose. Happy reading everyone!

An interview with Ellen Byerrum

I first had the pleasure of working with Ellen some years ago and have followed her progress ever since. She’s delightfully talented and always comes up with something unique for Lacey. If you’ve not yet met Ellen, she writes the popular Crime of Fashion mysteries, set in bustling Washington, D.C., The City That Fashion Forgot. Featuring Lacey Smithsonian, who solves crimes with fashion clues, Death on Heels (Number 8), takes Lacey out of her comfort zone and into the Wild West. While researching fashion, Byerrum has collected her own assortment of 1940s styles, but laments her lack of closet space. She has been a D.C. news reporter, a playwright, and holds a Virginia P.I. registration. Here’s what she has to say today:

PJ: Hi Ellen! How long have you been writing?

Ellen: Seriously writing, since college. I was a journalism major at a university that has since scuttled the J-School program, and I discovered playwriting in the last semester of my senior year, and I fell in love with that. I have been writing mystery novels for about the last decade. So for awhile.

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

Ellen: That feeling definitely comes and goes, and some days I wonder when it will happen. However, having something published—between two covers—really helps feeling successful, at least for a fleeting moment.  When my first play, A Christmas Cactus, was published by Samuel French, it was ahigh point.

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

Ellen: It depends on which style of writing. Being a reporter was pretty much what I expected: low pay and long hours.  As for playwriting, I had no idea it could be the agony and ecstasy that it is. When I started out as a mystery writer, I knew I would have to promote my work, but who could have predicted that Facebook, Twitter, Web sites, and more would come into the picture and soak up so much time? Or that publishers would put more and more of the burden of promotion on the author? It is a huge juggling game to keep up the quality of books in between the promoting end of things. Sadly, I am reading way too many books where most of the effort seems to have gone into the promoting and not the writing.

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

Ellen: Hmmmm. I’d go with no.  Luckily I have been practicing living economically all my life. Of course I wish that could and would change. Living extravagantly is a long-held dream.

PJ: LOL  Yes, for most of us I expect. But here we are. Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

Ellen: Finding the time and energy to write. I would like to broaden my audience and finish a thriller I’ve been working on and explore an idea for a YA novel. And there is a play I would love to return to.

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

Ellen: The first book I wrote, KILLER HAIR, was published, but it took about a year from the time my first agent had it in hand until it was sold. After that, the publishing process itself takes about a year or year and a half.

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

Ellen: I’d start writing books sooner.

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

Ellen: That question makes me want to go right back to bed!  For my first six books, I also had a full-time job as a reporter inWashington,D.C.. When I look back, I have no idea how I did it.  I try to check in on Facebook every day. I’d like to be more consistent on Twitter, and I add something to my blog every month or so, and write for other blogs whenever I get the chance. But there is no way I could write a weekly blog, the burnout factor is huge. I am mentioning this last, but the writing is the most important thing—striving to keep up the quality. I try to write every day, but there are simply times when I cannot do that.

PJ: I understand. Some days there just aren’t enough hours! What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

Ellen: Ranking up there: Two Lifetime Movie Network films were based on two of my Crime of Fashion mysteries, Killer Hair and Hostile Makeover.  They aired in the summer of 2009 and occasionally show up on Lifetime, but I cannot predict when.

PJ: I remember! That was so exciting! What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

Ellen: At the moment, I can’t think of that, and if I did, I’d be whining.

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

Ellen: Though they are about fashion and murder, and are funny, my books are not gimmicky. They have subtext. They build on each one. Every story is different, my heroine and I have to learn something new each time.  I think the voice of the books is distinctive, and I try to give all the major characters, not just Lacey Smithsonian my sleuth, a distinct voice, a distinct way of looking at the world.

PJ: I think you do that very well.  What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

Ellen: The quality of the books, if it’s not there, readers are not going to come back for more. People who love the books and encourage others to read them might just be the best tool.  And I have very good and consistent covers by the very talented artist Craig White.

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

Ellen: Recently I moved across country and it’s very hard to find the connections that I enjoyed in the Washington D.C. area, where I knew other writers and bookstores, and where there were lots of opportunities for cross-promotion and great friendships. I’m slowly learning the ropes here inColorado and of course, going to my local Mystery Writers of America meetings.

Mystery Loves Company

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

Ellen: Yes!  In Oxford, Maryland there is the fabulous Mystery Loves Company run by Kathy and Tom Harig. In Arlington, Virginia, One More Page, has really been great. And of course, I would be

One More Page

remiss if I didn’t give a great big shout out to The Mystery Lovers Bookshopin Oakmont, PA, formerly run by Mary Alice Gorman and Richard Goldman.

Mystery Lovers Bookshop

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

The Crime of Fashion Mysteries, published by Signet/Obsidian, an imprint at Penguin, are:

KILLER HAIR

DESIGNER KNOCKOFF

HOSTILE MAKEOVER

RAIDERS OF THE LOST CORSET

GRAVE APPAREL

ARMED AND GLAMOROUS

SHOT THROUGH VELVET

DEATH ON HEELS

My plays are published by Samuel French, Inc.

A CHRISTMAS CACTUS

GUMSHOE RENDEZVOUS

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

DEATH ON HEELS

When three young women are murdered, and the accused is a former boyfriend of fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian’s, she cowgirls up and heads West to prove Cole Tucker’s innocence. And perhaps to resolve the last of her old feelings for the man she had loved and left. Lacey’s plan doesn’t sit well with her current beau, private investigator Vic Donovan, who has his own history (and game plan) in Sagebrush.

Tucker takes one look at Lacey and abducts her in a daring courthouse escape into the badlands of northern Colorado. On the run from the law with her old flame, in stolen vehicles and on horseback, with Vic and the posse in pursuit, Lacey’s world turns upside down. Caught between two men, with a vicious killer on her trail, Death on Heels is a whole new—and potentially fatal—frontier for this fashion reporter.

Where can we buy it?

Mystery bookstores, Barnes & Noble, and other bookstores. And if you don’t see it on the shelves, remember that any bookstore can order any of my titles. They are all in print. Also, DEATH ON HEELS and all the others are available on line at all the usual electronic suspects.

Ellen, thank you for stopping in! I thoroughly enjoy your work and know a lot of others do, too. My hope is that your sharing with us here will get the attention of a few more and you’ll add some new fans to the growing list. If you have a comment, please share it and by all means, pick up one of Ellen’s books!

An interview with Jeri Westerson

I’ve never had the pleasure of officially working for Jeri, but we’ve been online acquaintances for quite a while and I love her work. She works hard and creates characters that seem like real people. If you haven’t yet started reading her books, it’s way past time!

PJ: Jeri, how long have you been writing?

Jeri: Forever, since I could pick up a crayon, all for my own amusement. Never intended to be a professional novelist. But as far as professionally–or with the intent to publish—I started in 1993, wrote lots of historical novels for the next ten years—became a reporter in the intervening years –switched to medieval mystery in the last few years, and finally got somewhere.

PJ: That’s a circuitous route! Glad you made it. At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

Jeri: Depends on the definition of success. If you mean “published” as success, then yes, I finally made it! That, to me, was quite the accomplishment after over a decade of rejections. But if you mean “success” as in “worries are over,” then no. As a midlist author and with all the crazy stuff happening in publishing, it’s always a crapshoot as to whether your sales numbers add up enough that you’ll get offered that next contract. I think there are very, very few of us that have that kind of success, the kind that means you can make a living at your writing and not have to worry whether there will be a next contract (however, currently, I am writing full time. But that wouldn’t be possible without my husband’s emotional and financial support).

PJ: I know what you mean. I’m hearing all sorts of answers to that question and a variety of definitions for the word “success”. Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

Jeri: I researched the industry before I started out so that I would be forearmed. And I knew that it would involve more than writing; that it would entail a lot of self-promotion, but now that social media has exploded there is more for me to do than just blogging. I find I really have to organize my schedule so I can get in Facebook, Twitter, and blogging time, juggle it with my personal appearances, and still have time to research and write. If there was anything I learned, it’s that networking is the key to it all…besides writing a good book.

But now that I’m writing full time, well…it’s just marvelous. To have the leisure to go to the local University library to do my research, to spend all day at writing and late at night without worrying about having to get up early to get to a “real” job, is just heaven. But I don’t loll around in bed, either. I’m up early and get into my home office in the morning to start my day just like everyone else.

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

 Jeri: Ha! I guess that’s a yes. Because I never expected to make too much money, though I did expect to eventually make a living at it. I think that is harder and harder to do today, despite the rosy future others paint of self-publishing. The people who have exploded in that market are still to be counted on one hand.

But in general terms, common wisdom says it takes till about the fifth book to make a profit—because you are now receiving royalties from the previous books. I’ve also got foreign sales and audio sales to throw into the mix. But right now, it’s still a very lowly living. Something like a badly paid office assistant would earn, which is a little demoralizing when you think of all the work you put into research, writing, rewriting, promotion, and travel.

PJ: Indeed. There is obviously job satisfaction, but it’s interesting to speculate on how the industry will evolve in coming years. Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

Jeri: It has shifted to promotion in order to stay published. Just because you are published doesn’t mean that your publisher will be clamoring to get your next novel out there. You still have a lot of work to do to get your name out there. I make sure librarians and booksellers know me and my books, and that I can get the opportunity to connect directly to readers through my blog, through social media, through personal appearances, and through my newsletter.

 

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

Jeri: For novels, fourteen years.

PJ: Again, persistence pays off. Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

Jeri: I’d start off writing mysteries instead of fooling around trying to get historicals published! But of course, the reason that mysteries worked out so well was because there was a network of authors to connect to in order to learn about the industry, and numerous places to meet readers (indie bookstores catering only to mysteries, fan conventions, and organizations like Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America). I would have tried to find more ways to network. I became a believer when I discovered how it worked and how well it worked.

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?

Jeri: It’s just part of the business of writing. You have to be professional about it. I don’t know how people do it when they work full time, though. I just have to work out what I’m doing and prioritize. For instance, while I was working on the outline of the next book, I slipped in writing two short stories for two different anthologies. When I got down to the wire and really had to finish, I took myself to a restaurant that didn’t have wifi to finish the writing of those short stories, so I wouldn’t be distracted by the internet. You have to play these games with yourself sometimes. When I’m working on a new novel, I have a minimum of ten pages a day I assign myself. Once that’s done, and only once that’s done for the day, do I get on the internet to answer emails, go on Facebook, Twitter, and so on.

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

Jeri: In college, I was a big fan of science fiction and fantasy. One of my all-time favorite authors from this period was Barbara Hambly. I kept those books from college because I loved them so much. A few years ago, I was on panel at Literary Orange, a big book festival on the campus of UC Irvine in Orange County, California. My panel mate was…Barbara Hambly. Never in a million years did I ever think that I would be a peer of this wonderful author and that I would meet many more bestselling household names. It’s very strange. (And by the way, I brought those books with me and like any fangirl, had her sign them!)

PJ: I bet that was cool! I don’t think we ever get over those first fascinations. What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

Jeri: It’s disappointing that authors don’t make more money, that they can’t make a living when they are giving so much of their time and talent.

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

Jeri: At another literary event, the keynote speaker, John Lescroart, came to my break-out session when I talked about the middle ages and demonstrated my medieval weapons. He graciously bought my book. I thought that was cool. A few years later we were on a panel together at yet another literary event. That was also way cool. Later, he showed what a class act he was by giving me a wonderful blurb for my most recent book, TROUBLED BONES.

PJ: Those are definite perks of being in this business! With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

Jeri: It’s a niche genre, so there is a modest but ready market waiting for it. There are readers who just like historical mysteries, and then more who like the sub-genre of medieval mysteries. Then there are other readers who are intrigued by the idea of a hardboiled PI in the Middle Ages, a sub-sub-genre that I call “medieval noir.”

PJ: I have to say it was the medieval that drew me in. I generally don’t care much for historical novels, but I fell in love with one when I was in high school. I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember the name of it now or who wrote it, but your books remind me of that one and I’ve loved them ever since. What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

Jeri: Don’t give up. Educate yourself about the industry, the genre you write, and what it takes to get yourself out there even before you sign that contract. Take the advice of others that have gone before and save yourself a lot of grief.

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

Jeri: Me. I prepared for the day I was going to be published so I could hit the ground running. I put together presentations that would intrigue and entertain so that when I would speak on panels or go solo at libraries people would remember me, because half of selling the book is selling the author.

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

Jeri: Travel, because it’s expensive and I never know when funds will be available.

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

Mystery Ink in Huntington Beach CA

Mystery Ink in Huntington Beach. The owner often comes to my solo events to sell my books. She has lots of signed books at her store from far bigger authors than me.

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

As Jeri Westerson, I write the Crispin Guest Medieval Noir Series:

Veil of Lies 

Serpent in the Thorns

The Demon’s Parchment

Troubled Bones

Blood Lance (to be released this October)

As Haley Walsh, I write the Skyler Foxe Mysteries (gay mystery series):

Foxe Tail

Foxe Hunt

Out-Foxed (to be released this fall)

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

TROUBLED BONES: Crispin Guest, disgraced knight turned detective, must travel to Canterbury to guard the bones of saint and martyr Thomas Becket, but encounters murder. Was the killer old friend Geoffrey Chaucer? Surrounded by a cadre of familiar pilgrims from The Canterbury Tales, Crispin must prove his friend innocent, find the real killer, unmask a hidden heretic, and discover a solution to the riddle that will allow him to return home.

FOXE HUNT: High school English teacher Skyler Foxe finally hooks up with gorgeous assistant football coach Keith Fletcher. But is the man what he seems to be? Skyler still has his doubts when he spies Keith in some shady circumstances. And there are still some questions as to what exactly is going on at the high school. Meanwhile, Skyler’s friends from college Evan and Jeff were kicked out of the Army for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and the depressed Evan is found dead. Suicide, says the police, but Skyler thinks otherwise. It’s Skyler Foxe on the hunt for a killer once more!

Where can we buy them?

The Crispin Mysteries are found at Barnes & Noble, some mystery independent bookstores, and Amazon,  in both print and ebook. The Skyler Foxe Mysteries can be found on Amazon and at the publisher’s site at MLRPress.com in both print and ebook.

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

Jeri: With social media these days, there’s precious little people don’t know. And what they don’t know, I’m not telling here. 🙂

PJ: LOL Nuff said! Thanks so much for sharing your time with us! Folks, you really want to go get some of these books. Jeri is master at taking readers to another place and time. Better than Calgon =)