Monday, April 21, 2014

Promoting the Emma Winberry Mysteries

Helen shares her promotional experience:
I belong to a health club. They are my most eager buyers. Always ask when my next book is due. The manager allows me to set up a table in the lobby and sell all day, if I want to.
I have an extensive mailing list and send out postcards when a new book is out. I also e-mail libraries with a large mystery readership and ask them to stock the book.
My publisher sends out press releases and contacts local and regional newspapers and magazines.
Marketing is the most time consuming aspect of being a writer, but it is essential. I am older and do as much as I can. When my energy lags, I take a break.
I've found that attending author fairs and arts and craft fairs can sell books. My most recent book in the series is Locked Within.  website
I have been marketing my books for ten years and the best tool is face to face marketing. I wear a t-shirt with the name of my series on it-The Emma Winberry mystery series. I speak at women's clubs. That has been very effective because they tell other groups about me. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Promoting Outside the Box

I asked a group of authors about their experiences with promotion. Joan starts us off and I hope you guys will get involved in the conversation by responding in the comments section. for a chance to win a free book.
Promoting Outside the Box

My best promotional efforts involve a combination of things. When my first book LISTEN TO THE SHADOWS was published, I didn't have a computer so my promotion was done outside the 'box' literally. Since I belong to writers organizations like Mystery Writers of America and Crime Writers of Canada and Writers Federation of New Brunswick, I made sure news of my book was included in their newsletter.

I did a mass mailing of flyers to bookstores in Canada and the U.S. I introduced myself at local bookstores and set up signings, and I did radio and TV interviews. (Some authors choose to send out postcards, but I like the substance of a flyer) If you are diligent, you will begin to create a bit of buzz that will gather momentum like the proverbial snowball rolling downhill. For example, the day after the TV interview was aired, the newspaper called for an interview. The story came out with the heading: A DREAM COME TRUE FOR LOCAL AUTHOR. Local woman lands New York publisher with first novel. I believe my own excitement and enthusiasm, not to mention hard work, had a lot to do with getting the exposure I wanted for my book.

You really do have to get out there and let people know about you and your book.

Finally, when the complimentary copies of my beautiful novel arrived, I had a poster of the cover blown up and pasted it around town - the library, university, etc. I've also done many interviews since, (like this one) written articles, all of which gets your name and the name of your books 'out there.' Share your experiences with other writers. I had an article coming out soon in THE WRITERS MAGAZINE titled 'My Journey to Publication.'   I also had one in MYSTERY SCENE MAGAZINE.  I was very excited to be included among the pages of these prestigious magazine, and moreso because they’re  ones I've subscribed to for many years, and learned much from.

Since that first book, I’ve written The Abduction of Mary Rose, Night Corridor, Chill Waters, Nowhere To Hide and Defective, all available on amazon.  It’s different now with the internet at your fingertips, literally.   I’ll send out a press release and post on Facebook and Twitter and other social media.  My wonderful publisher will run an on Kindle Daily Nation.  I’ll do a virtual book tour.  There are a number of book tour companies on the net.  Google them.  Compare prices and services. As I get older,  travelling has little appeal for me, so this works great.  

Remember: No one can sell your book like you can. It's your baby. Show it off. It goes without say that you should always present your best self, but I'll say it anyway: be warm, friendly, courteous always. Even when people ask you what you perceive to be dumb questions. Even if a bookstore owner declines to let you sign your books in her store. Be gracious, never be pushy or obnoxious. And remember to say thank you for any kindnesses or favors. A thank-you card to the story/library/coffee shop person is always appreciated.  

Lastly, make sure everything you did for that first book is put into a file for future reference. You'll have accumulated names, addresses for your mailing list, and all sorts of helpful information that will save a lot of time and effort when you get ready to launch your publicity campaign for that second book. Good luck and happy writing!

Coming Soon! The Deepest Dark published by Books We Love



Monday, April 7, 2014

Let's Get Cozy! with Steve Shrott

I'm starting a new interview series with cozy writers.  What, then is a cozy?

Cozy mysteries are considered “gentle” books… no graphic violence, no profanity, and no explicit sex. Most often, the crime takes place “off stage” and death is usually very quick. Prolonged torture is not a staple in cozy mysteries! The victim is usually a character who had terrible vices or who treated others very badly.  And, there are usually connections between the victims (if indeed there are multiple victims… which usually, in a cozy mystery, there are!), even though the reader is not aware of the obvious connections until the amateur sleuth solves the crimes.

I'm NOT a cozy writer, as my Logan Hunter series smacks with violence and verges on horror at times. EGADS! I'd never planned it that way. Anyway, I read lots of cozies and have many friends and colleagues in the business who write them. Welcome to the first showcase:

Steve Shrott's short stories have been published in numerous print magazines and e-zines. His work has appeared in ten anthologies––two from Sisters-in-Crime (The Whole She-Bang, and Fishnets). Steve, recently, had his humorous mystery, Audition For Death, published by Cozy Cat Press. In his other life, he has written comedy material for well-known performers of stage and screen. Some of his jokes are in The Smithsonian Institute. His non-fiction book, Steve Shrott’s Comedy Course, has been sold all over the world.

Welcome to the "Let's Get Cozy!" blog series, Steve.

Thanks, Susan.

How many mysteries have you written? Are they a series? If so, does the series follow a certain theme (like knitting, painting, etc.) Why did you choose that theme?

I’ve written two mysteries. Audition For Death is out now and the other will be out later this year. They are the first books of different series. The theme of, Audition For Death, is acting, and actors. I chose that because I’ve acted and hung out with a lot of actors. A lot of them are very interesting, sometimes, off-beat characters. I thought that would add a lot of fun to a cozy mystery.

Wow! I can't imagine writing two different series at the same time.
Has your environment or background affected the genre you write? How?

I have a background in humor, having written jokes for many performers, as well as comedy screenplays, funny articles and humorous short stories. So when it came to writing a mystery, I thought my forte would be in doing something that had humor.  

Give a short synopsis of Audition For Death.

It’s a fun mystery about struggling actor, Joshua Mclintock. Although, he’s appeared in numerous films and stage productions, most of his roles have been as dead bodies. When he’s about to be arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, he makes a run for it. (Mostly, because he has an audition for Hamlet.) He soon discovers sinister forces threatening to destroy Hollywood, and he must try to save it, and himself, before it’s too late. 

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?

One of the key things I’ve learned is that no matter how tough things seem at the time, you have to keep going. Even, though I may not like what I’m writing, I know that, eventually, I’ll find a way to make it better.

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out to  cozy readers both off and online?

I have a website, blog and Facebook. I’m just in the learning process about twitter now. My key thing about promotion is that I want people to know about my book, but I don’t want to become that guy who hijacks every conversation or email to talk about it. My actual preference is to sell books at live events—signings, readings and talks. Even before my recently published novel, I was doing talks on various subjects, so I’m very comfortable doing that. 

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

I’m hoping to write some more cozy novels, some in the two series I’ve started. I really like to create unique characters so I’m sure I’ll be writing some new mysteries as well. I also enjoy writing short stories, having published forty so far. So I will keep writing those. At some point, I would like to attempt something more serious, perhaps a thriller.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

My website is 
My facebook page is
My book, Audition For Death, is available in print and ebook format at Amazon and other online sources. You can get it at 

Thanks for the interview, Susan!  
My pleasure, Steve. Happy sales!                            

Monday, March 24, 2014

J.D. Holiday: Children's Picture Books

J.D. Holiday is the author and illustrator of the children's picture books- JANOOSE THE GOOSE and THE SPY GAME, and the chapter book for 6 to 8 year olds, THE GREAT SNOWBALL ESCAPADE. She is the host on "It's Story Time" & "Halo Kids Tales", children's reading radio shows, and "The Authors' Words" on the Book Garden Radio on Red River Radio at Blog Talk Radio.  She is a member of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Her sites:
Blog Talk Radio:

Wow! You're a busy lady, J.D. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions.

My pleasure, Susan.

How has your environment affected your writing?
If you mean by environment, my life experiences, then I would say in every way. I can't write without finding a place I've been or a feel I've had that my characters will escape feeling or walking those streets. For me writing is very personal.

How many books have you written?
 I have three children's books in print and e-book form. Janoose The Goose, my first book, which is a picture book, The Great Snowball Escapade, a chapter book for 6 to 9 year olds and my latest book is The Spy Game, a picture book as well.

Give a short synop of your most recently published book.
In The Spy Game, the young boy, Eddie would love to have a puppy to play with. But his Uncle Reese brings Eddie an older dog named about a famous spy. What can you do with an old dog? It probably couldn't learn new tricks, and the only thing this dog did was stare. It's what they find to do together that makes them the best of friends!

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
As you can see by my answer to question one, quite a bit. For instead, my brother, Ike's dog Sheeba had puppies. He ask me to take this one puppy he named, Sidney Reilly after a spy series he and I watched together.  At the time I had a dog and didn't think my older dog  would be happy with a new addition.
My brother felt sure this dog was for me and he kept it with that in mind. When the puppy was 11 months old, my brother died of a heart attack. AND Sidney came to me. I was wrong to think that my dog, Snoopy and Sidney would not get along. They did, in their own way. In The Spy Game Eddie's Uncle Reese who is modeled about my brother brings Sidney to Eddie's house to live.

Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?
For most of my stories, when I come up with one, I write an outline for it to get it started. Then I place it in a notebook or binder. From there on, I will jot down notes on bits of paper and shove them in between the pages of the notebook or binder that's dedicated for that particular story.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?
I have many stories written or started that need to be done. Right now I am working on a collection of short stories I have written for adults that will be in a bookcalled Short Stories and Other Imaginings For The Reading Spot. And I'm doing pictures to a sequel to my first children picture book, Janoose The Goose called The Fall Feather Fair co-written with my grandson when he was 6 years old. Luke is now 8.  I am also working on a collection of short stories I have written, for adults called Short Stories and Other Imaginings For The Reading Spot.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
People can find out more aabout me, my books and my radio shows on my site:
If they want to follow me they can find out where I am there as well.

Are your books available in print and ebook formats?
My books can be bought on Amazon and Barnes & Noble on line and ordered in bookstores.

The Spy Game book:



The Great Snowball Escapade book:


Janoose The Goose book:

I wish you the best of sales and artistry, J.D.    

Thank you, Susan, for having here!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Conda Douglas

Conda Douglas grew up in the ski resort of Sun Valley, Idaho. Her childhood was filled with authors and artists and other creative types. She grew up with goats in the kitchen, buffalo bones in the living room and rocks in the bathtub. Now her life is filled with her cat and dog and permanent boyfriend and writing.
She's traveled the world from Singapore to Russia (in winter!) and her own tiny office, writing all the while. She delights in writing her cozy Starke Dead creative woman mystery series with amateur detective jeweler Dora Starke. The more Dora discovers cursed jewelry, her aunt digging graves, and a rampant poisoner, the more fun Conda has--although sometimes Dora complains about her plight! Next up, Starke Raving Dead, in which Dora's mad Aunt Maddie proves the aptness of her name.

Welcome to the blog, Conda. 

Thank you , Susan. It's nice to be here.

How has your environment affected your writing?

Without having grown up in Sun Valley, Idaho, I would have nothing to write about! Okay, partly kidding. But the huge majority of my writing takes place in a version of a small town in the mountains of Idaho. My mystery series is placed in the Sun Valley I knew growing up, which I renamed Starke so I could move the mountains to my own choosing.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in your books? 

With any luck, I've managed to squeeze all of me into my main character, Dora Starke, of my Starke Dead series. Since she's younger and thinner, sometimes it's a tight squeeze.

My main character, Swoop, in my Mall Fairies series, possesses plenty of flaws, but also strengths which, in another life, I would hope I possess—and sometimes hope I perhaps do in this life.

What challenges did you face while writing your series?

The main challenge in Starke Dead series is how much of a world I know intimately and perhaps too well should I include? How much to leave out? After consulting my beta readers, I concluded that I needed to do what worked for me as one reader would say "too much" and the next would say "too little"!

In my Mall Fairies series the huge challenge is not in creating the fantasy world, but in remembering it for each separate book! And yes, everyone says to keep a "bible" but I'd much rather be writing the novel.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?

What I've learned over and over in the course of my writing career is one simple caveat: It's the writing, stupid. What other people are writing, what's the newest best seller, who is doing what to sell and when, none of that matters a whit. It's only the writing that matters.  Because, at end of day, if I can tell myself I worked hard on my greatest passion, writing, and did the best I could to write the best I could, it's a good day.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

Next up is the second novel in my Starke Dead series: Starke Raving Dead, in which Aunt Maddie goes mad as she always does, but has she gone insane? Perhaps, her niece Dora thinks, when Dora discovers Aunt Maddie digging a grave in the back yard!

Then it's on to the last of the Mall Fairies trilogy, The Mall Fairies: Destiny. The fairies, pixies and human Grace believe there problems are over—until the arrival of their old nemesis, Aunt Diane. That's just the beginning of their troubles—trolls anyone?

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Are your books available in print and ebook formats? 

The best place to find the majority of my published works, whether in ebook, print or audio is on my Amazon page:

 Wishing you the best of sales, Conda!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Coryell's Red, Red Rose

A RED, RED ROSE by Susan Coryell – The Wild Rose Press
Sometimes even the most fiercely guarded secrets are destined to be revealed.

A native Virginian, Susan Coryell is a career educator and a lifelong writer. She has taught students from 7th grade through college-level and is listed in several volumes of Who’s Who in Education and Who’s Who in Teaching. A favorite activity is to talk with budding writers at schools, writers’ conferences, and workshops.
Susan has always been interested in Southern culture and society, as hard-felt, long-held feelings battle with modern ideas. She was able to explore these concepts in her cozy mystery/Southern gothic A Red, Red Rose, whose fictional setting is based on Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. The ghosts slipped in, to her surprise.
When not writing, Susan enjoys boating, kayaking, golf and yoga. She and her husband love to travel, especially when grandchildren are involved.

Welcome to the blog, Susan. How many books have you written?
My first published novel, Eaglebait, a young adult work involving school bullies was published over twenty years ago. It won The International Reading Association’s “Young Adult Choice,” and the NY Public Library’s “Books for the Teen Age” awards. I have recently updated Eaglebait to include cyber-bullying and it is available in print and e-book via Amazon and Barnes and Noble. A Red, Red Rose is my second published book.

Give a short synopsis of your most recent book.
When twenty-year old Ashby Overton travels to Overhome Estate for a summer in Virginia, she hopes to unearth her ancestral roots and the cause of a mysterious family rift surrounding the death of her Grandmother Lenore years ago. From the moment she enters her room in the oldest wing, Ashby feels an invisible enfolding presence. She learns the room once belonged to a woman named Rosabelle, but no one is willing to talk about Rosabele—no one except Luke, the stable boy who captures Ashby’s heart. As Ashby and Luke become closer, she realizes he can be the confidant she needs to share the terrifying secrets unfolding. Ever present is a force Ashby never sees, only feels. Candles light themselves, notes from an old lullaby fall from the ceiling, the radio tunes itself each day. And roses appear in the unlikeliest places. Are the roses a symbol of love, or do they represent something dark, something deeply evil?

Q: What challenges did you face while writing this book?
I started writing A Red, Red Rose while living in Northern Virginia, the scene of an actual ancestral home reputed to be haunted. After retiring to Southern Virginia, I decided to switch the setting there. The problem was I had not lived there long enough to fully understand the cultural nuances. So, I fictionalized the setting as Moore Mountain Lake and made up whatever details I wanted. That’s the great thing about writing fiction!
Q: Do you travel to do research or for inspiration. Share some special places.

Research was key for the history background of A Red, Red Rose. Fortunately, Virginia is very big on history. I believe seven US presidents were born in the state and George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are sacred! I spent hours in the Bedford Museum, which specializes in local history. There I found my prototype for Overhome Estate, as well as information on the formation of Smith Mountain Lake. I talked to the historians at Booker T. Washington’s birthplace in regard to slave cemeteries and consulted professors about Civil War activity in Southern Virginia. Lots of work, but lots of fun and I met some fascinating folks.

Q: What is your greatest lesson learned about writing so far. What advice do you have for new writers.
Like most writers, I have to edit, edit, edit. I find putting my work aside for a day or so and re-reading it from a fresh point of view helpful. For new writers, I suggest joining a critique group. For writers of all ages, I say read constantly.
Q: Promotion—how do you get the word out both off and online?
Ah, promotion—my most dreaded aspect of being a published author. I work hard at what I call hands-on promotion. I’m good at holding signings, workshops, author talks and panel discussions. I enjoy speaking to any group who invites me—be it schools, book clubs, community organizations or church. It’s the online promotion I find most challenging. I have a good website, a pretty decent blog (which I need to write on more frequently), and I belong to Face Book, Linked In, She Writes, Goodreads, and my Authors Helping Authors publisher’s group. An English major through and through, I find technology baffling and frustrating, but I battle on. Just opened a Twitter account—so we’ll see how that works. 

Q: What are your future writing goals/projects??
I am so glad you asked! I have just finished the sequel to A Red, Red Rose and am editing, editing, editing until I muster the nerve to submit it to my publisher. Called Beneath the Stones, the cozy mystery/Southern gothic finds Ashby Overton five years later, mistress of the manor and planning her wedding when a big problem emerges. Of course, there are spirits involved and these ghosts originated during the Civil War. Talk about research! I have become quite the expert on Confederate history—visiting battlefields, museums and ancient houses—attending lectures, perusing books and scouring the Internet. It was a learning experience, for sure.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
Eaglebait is available at Amazon in print and as e-book for Kindle. It is also available for Nook.

A Red, Red Rose is available on Kindle:
It will be offered FREE from Jan 21 – Jan 21 – Jan 25.

A Red,Red Rose is available in print from Amazon or The Wildrose Press.

Thanks for the opportunity to blog on this awesome blogspot and I hope to hear from lots of readers!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Suicide Kings

Christopher J. Ferguson is an associate professor of psychology at Stetson University where he studies violent behavior and the effects of media violence.  His research has generally questioned whether media such as video game violence contributes meaningfully to societal violence and his work has been cited by the US Supreme Court.  He lives in Winter Springs, Florida with his wife and son. 

Do you travel to do research or for inspiration? Can you share some special places with us?

I love to travel and have often been inspired by places I’ve been.  Suicide Kings came about due to a trip to Florence.  I had gone there for an academic conference and went myself for that trip without my wife and son.  Homesickness set in pretty quick and I found myself unusually despondent despite basically being on vacation.  Florence as a city is both very beautiful and very imposing, still having many tall Renaissance buildings that loom over you and cut out a view of the horizon.  I remember thinking to myself, “This would be an excellent city to die in.” And thus was Suicide Kings born.  I wrote what would become chapters 2 and 3 there in Florence or in the airports on the way home.

Give a short synop of your most recently published book.

As a young woman in Florence, Diana Savrano’s life is a privileged one of elegant balls, handsome suitors and frivolity.  But the sudden death of her mother leaves her adrift and abandoned.  As she sobs over her mother's casket, another member of the procession reveals the awful truth: that before her last days, Diana's mother had joined a Luciferian cult.  Despite knowing little beyond her pampered world, Diana determines to unmask those responsible for her mother’s death.  But someone does not want such secrets revealed, and they are willing to send assassins to keep her silent.  Paranoia and loneliness set in as even her closest friends reveal hidden agendas.  Worst of all, the further she follows the intertwined threads, the closer they appear to lead to her own father. 

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

That’s a particularly interesting question since the lead characters are mainly female!  I’ll let readers psychoanalyze me if they wish!  But I think, of course, as writers, some of ourselves ends up in characters, particularly characters we identify with.  And for a character like Diana Savrano, I drew as well from the strong women in my life, particularly my wife and my mother.  That’s one element of myself as well that was crucial to this book, and a lot of my writing really: I am most interested in strong women characters.  I’ve written some stories with male leads but, overall, don’t find them to be quite as interesting.  And I think there is a need for more books (and movies and television shows) with strong women (and girl) characters.

What challenges did you face while writing this book?

The biggest challenges for me are time and energy.  I have a full-time “day job” and a family that likes attention, so with that, finding a few hours here or there to write can be tricky.  And I’ll be honest, that time also competes with things like compelling television!  Given the enormous amount of hours that go into writing a book, maintaining some degree of diligence to get it done is always the tricky part.  It’s easy to come up with a great idea, harder to write it down!

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?

Persistence, I’d say, is the greatest virtue of the writers, whether writing fiction, non-fiction or academic publishing, it’s all the same.  Rejection is our lot in life, and being able to persist and believe in what we’re doing in the face of that rejection.  That may sound bleak, but it’s the way of things.  People who are able to persevere, to improve their craft, to remain sure of what they’re doing in the face of early rejection will be the ones to ultimately succeed.  If you let fear of rejection stop you, it will be impossible to advance in any kind of career in writing. 

Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?

It’s all in my head!  I’ve tried other approaches before, particularly notes and outlines, but ultimately I prefer to let things be a bit more free-form.  I think that helps stories to develop a bit more organically.  Very often the way a story comes out is quite different from what I’d originally envisioned.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?