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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Get cozy with Sharon Pape


Sharon Pape describes her writing career as having two stages. Back in the dark ages, before computers were in every household, she had three paranormal books published. The first one was condensed by Redbook Magazine, the first paperback original they had ever condensed. (WOW!) She has just re-released that book under the title FOR EVERYTHING A SEASON.   

Then life brought her an unexpected challenge, by the name of breast cancer. After treatment, she started a not-for-profit organization to provide information and peer support to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. Once the organization didn't require as much of her time, she returned to her first love - writing. During this second stage of her career, she's been writing cozy mysteries with a  paranormal twist. She's also one of the thirty, cozy mystery authors who blog monthly on Killer Characters. To learn more about her and her books, you can visit her website: http://sharonpape.com  or her Amazon page: http://goo.gl/vKb3cZ 

Susan: Sharon, it's a pleasure to have you over. How many books have you written?

Sharon: I was bitten by the writing bug at an early age, writing stories in first grade and book length pieces in seventh grade, none of which deserved to be published or even read by anyone other than friends and family. So, counting just  the ones that have been published, there are eight.

Susan:  Give a short synopsis of FOR EVERYTHING A SEASON.
Sharon: My most recent cozy mystery was published in December 2013 and is the fourth book in my Portrait of Crime Mysteries from Berkley, but FOR EVERYTHING A SEASON, the paranormal I mentioned earlier, was re- released in June. Here’s a brief synopsis:
Not all the witch trials took place in Salem. And there are people in nearby Rachael Crossing who believe the abandoned old house in their midst has roots going back to those awful times.
Determined not to be spooked by vague rumors, Deborah Colby leases that house and when she meets Ethan Burke, she's certain she's exactly where she’s meant to be. But will she live to regret it?


Susan: How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
Sharon:  Probably more than I think there is, because everything I write comes through the filter of my life and experiences. There is a character in SKETCHER IN THE RYE, the fourth book in the Portrait of Crime Mysteries, who shares my obsession with ice cream. Hardly an evening goes by that I don’t have a cone or a dish. If you were to open my freezer, you’d see five or six half gallons from which to choose. In general, though, I’d have to say that there’s a lot more of my daughter in my protagonists than of me. She’s bright, courageous and never lets obstacles stand in her way when she has a goal. I call her my role model.

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

Sharon: Very few writers become overnight successes, so you have to love the process itself enough to keep at it in spite of setbacks and disappointments. I sometimes find that the hardest part of writing is applying the seat of one’s pants to the computer chair. My favorite quote, one that keeps me going when I hit a rough patch, is this one by George Eliot, “It's never too late to be who you might have been.” So if you’re wondering if you have the right stuff to be a writer, there’s only one way to find out.

Susan: That's so true, Sharon. Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

Sharon: I’m currently working on a new cozy mystery series. Like my previous mysteries, it also has a light, paranormal aspect. I think the paranormal adds an extra creative layer to the stories. It’s fun to tease the mind with elements that can’t be easily pinned down. In essence, each book winds up with two mysteries, the murder mystery and the mystery that surrounds the paranormal element. If I had a slogan, it would be: Have you exercised your imagination today?

Susan: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Sharon: On my website: http://sharonpape.com/  Facebook page:   https://www.facebook.com/  Amazon link: http://goo.gl/7XYKvu
If you visit my website, there’s a also a free short story.
Susan: Are your books available in print and ebook formats? 

Sharon:  A Portrait of Crime Mysteries:
                Sketch Me If You Can (print and ebook)
                To Sketch a Thief (print and ebook)
                Sketch a Falling Star (print and ebook)
                Sketcher in the Rye (ebook)
                       
               The Crystal Shop Mysteries:
               Alibis and Amethysts (ebook)

              For Everything a Season (ebook)
           
           Here’s the link to my Amazon page: http://goo.gl/7XYKvu

Thanks for the interview, Susan!
My pleasure, Sharon. Continued success! Now readers, head over and pick up a few of these cozies;-)




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I'm interviewed on my own blog! Ha!

(Good morning, everyone. I'm reposting a unique interview from 2011. I invited David Fingerman back over to talk about his new book, but as you will see, David turned the table on me. I hope you enjoy the conversation.)

I am honored to be making my third appearance on Susan Whitfield’s blog. Other than the release of my new mystery, Playing the Hand She’s Dealt, the amazing and fantastic sequel to the equally amazing and fantastic Silent Kill, my life hasn’t change all that much since my last interview here. So, for something a little different I thought it might be fun to turn the table on Susan and interview her.  Happily (for me), she agreed.
And as you can tell, David is sooooo modest. LOL.

Susan, welcome. First off, how does it feel being the interviewee instead of the interviewer on your own blog?
LOL. Well, David, I’ve been interviewed quite a few times but not on my OWN blog. I’m honored that you’re interested.

I'd be willing to bet a lot of people are interested.
When and how did you know you wanted to be a writer, and then a mystery novelist?

I’ve been writing since about third grade, so it’s pretty much been a lifelong dream. However, I didn’t really get serious about it until I was retiring from a high school principalship. They say write what you read, and I truly love a good mystery. I tried to write a steamy novel, but I blushed so much I just couldn’t go through with it.

What’s a typical day for Susan Whitfield?

Normally I grab a huge cup of joe (some people refer to my cup as a planter) and start writing. Unfortunately, right now I have to dress and go to physical therapy in the mornings because I tore me Achilles tendon, power-walking between writing sessions to get into better shape. That’s thrown my routine off and now I’m writing sporadically in the afternoons. So my routine is quite atypical right now.

Ouch! Here's wishing you a speedy recovery.
Thank you. I'm wearing an ugly heavy boot and my husband calls me a platypuss:-( 

LOL, brave man.
You’ve completed four Logan Hunter novels thus far.  How do you keep Logan Hunter fresh and exciting?
I have to remember to let her age and change over the course of the novels. She was inexperienced in Genesis Beach as an intern at the Genesis Beach Police Department, and then once she was an official North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agent in Just North of Luck, she tackled (quite literally) a serial killer in our beautiful Appalachian Mountains, got herself into all kinds of jams in Hell Swamp, and had truly life-changing experiences in Sin Creek.

In each book, she matured a little more, changed from heavy dark eye glasses to contacts, and married another agent. (I use internal thoughts in my first-person novels so readers can get inside Logan’s head and emotions.) Sin Creek was difficult to write because there’s so much raw emotion in it. Punch Street, the fifth novel in the Logan Hunter series, is about seven pages at this point. I’m currently writing a non-series novel, entitled The Goose Parade of Old Dickeywood, about lifelong friendship.

We'll get more into the Goose Parade in a couple minutes.
How are you and Logan Hunter similar/dissimilar?
Boy, that’s a loaded question.

I try.
First of all Logan is over six feet tall, blond, and toothpick thin. I, on the other hand, am 5’6” and shrinking, have salt and pepper hair, and am not a toothpick. I have to admit there is a lot of me in Logan. I believe in saying what I mean and meaning what I say. I believe in doing what’s right even when it’s not popular. I like bending rules as much as Logan does, but I seldom break them completely unless there’s no other choice. She’s more adventurous than I am; I write adventures but you won’t find me sky-diving…unless I develop more courage or dementia as I age.

Well, let's keep a happy thought.
Changing gears for a moment, please tell us the history and thought processes behind the cookbook, Killer Recipes.
Ah, good question. I met a lady here in North Carolina who came to an event just to meet me. She’d written a cookbook and I bought one. Later, as we kept in touch, she told me how good sales were, and she was considering another cookbook. I started to think about that and all the wonderful recipes I have. Since I had a fairly large audience of writer friends from networking, I asked if folks would consider donating recipes for the cookbook in exchange for promotion at the bottom of each one.

I decided that all proceeds from this book would be donated to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life in honor of my grandson, a cancer survivor. I didn’t think it would be right for me to pocket proceeds since the book  couldn’t happen without the support of other writers. Authors all over the country responded in an overwhelming way, and Killer Recipes has become a unique cookbook we can all be proud of. My publisher, L&L Dreamspell, liked the idea so much that they didn’t give me a chance to query, and they donate all of THEIR profits for this particular book as well. Good folks, indeed.

Indeed they are ~ and a great cause! And what a great holiday gift (hint hint).

Yes, giving this book is giving twice. You can order all of my books through my site, www.susanwhitfieldonline.com or www.amazon.com and other online stores. They're all available in print or digital formats. I love having the cookbook on my Kindle.

On a very serious and scary note, and I’m sure it’s a nightmare of anyone who has reached any level of celebrity status, but I seem to recall you were harassed by a stalker some time back. I certainly won’t ask details, but what would you advise your fellow authors to do if ever in a similar situation?
Your memory is still sharp, David. While the person never came to my house and never called my house, she showed up at several of my signings and tried to discourage people from buying books. I really think it backfired, though, because it 's obvious that she is unstable. She wrote a personal attack on Facebook about me, and posted a terrible review on Amazon about what a bad writer I am. The post was up 3 weeks before I knew about it. I contacted Amazon.com and told them about the woman, our past, and the Facebook comment. They removed the review immediately. The scariest part was that the following weekend, I had a signing back in my home county, and she’d messaged me that she was going to go. I “unfriend” her, and contacted a deputy who worked with me when I was a principal. He arranged for a deputy to ride by the bookstore every few minutes during the hours I was there. She never showed. I guess she was playing with my head.

I’m not sure what I’d advise someone else. My situation was strange and it really wasn’t about writing at all. I’ve never had another experience like that and hope I never do again. However, after that lengthy answer, I will also tell you and readers to whatever you have to do to keep yourself safe. There are plenty of nuts out there.

That had to have been not only scary, but very frustrating and time consuming as well. I'm glad it's long behind you.

Thank you , David. I hope it’s over.
I see on your website that Punch Street is due out in 2012. Would you mind giving us a sneak peek into that novel?

Punch Street (working title) is the next Logan Hunter novel, dealing with bullying, a major issue that’s been around since the beginning of time but seems to be in the news so much more since Internet and texting arrived. Logan and another agent go undercover in a school to get to the bottom of a student’s death. Remember, not all bullies are children. They come in every size and package.

Not only an excellent sounding  plot - but very timely.
I also noticed that you’re working on a stand-alone book, The Goose Parade of Old Dickeywood. Would you be willing to share any secrets on what that is about?

Writing this stand-alone has been a hoot, for sure. It’s about lifelong friends who’re now going through menopause, marital problems, and health problems. Their friendship endures even through misfortune and conflict. The title comes from the fact that they live near a pond that is overcrowded with geese, only one of many conflicts that arise.
I can already sense the fun you're having writing this. That's always a good sign that it will be an equally fun book.

What else does the future hold for Susan Whitfield?

My first goal is to get well and back to full-blown writing here shortly, complete Goose Parade and Punch Street, and dig into all the research I’ve gathered about my ancestor, a Knight of the Bath. I hope to write an historical novel about him, son-in-law of King Henry I.
It certainly sounds like you're keeping your writing plate full.

I have to stay busy. I don’t idle well.
Susan, thank you for being such a good sport and letting me turn the tables on you. I hope you had fun being on the other side of your blog.

I certainly did, David. That was a great idea and I appreciate your support. I also wish you tremendous success with your new book.
Thank you. As mentioned above, Playing the Hand She's Dealt is the sequel to Silent Kill. In Silent Kill, Louise Miller was after a psycho-killer. In Playing the Hand, someone is after Louise. Not only does he want her dead, but he first wants to destroy her piece by piece. A great mystery if I do say so myself.

I can’t wait to read it. BTW, as I repost this interview, I'm walking a mile every day and not limping. It feels good to be back. Hugs!   

NOTE: Since this post first "aired", I have completed the Logan Hunter Mystery series with Sticking Point, created my own publishing company, and re-published my cook book, Killer Recipes, now under the Studebaker Press logo.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lisa Miller

Lisa Miller lives in the beautiful state of Alaska with her family where the spirits of animals and men roam free.She is married to a wonderful man and they have three children and they used to foster girls which brought them lots of joy. She is currently a full-time college student and she writes inspirational poetry. Both are books of poetry with Bible verses sprinkled within the pages.They can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
She is able through the help of The Holy Spirit to write about the beauty and simplicity of life. Through words she wants to reveal the beauty of Christ to the broken and lost spirits of humanity. Through pouring out her heart and tears and trying to be transparent she wants to encourage people to see we are in this together.
Lisa enjoys reading, writing, blogging, walking, family, social networking, scrap booking and photography. Her dad joined the Air Force  when she was little so the world has been her playground. It is where she learned to get along with other people and accept herself.
She is  very comfortable with books and pens and paper. She sometimes feels like she was born with a pencil in her hand and she started writing at six years old and it has just expanded from there. She has never passed a library or used bookstore that she has not liked. 
She is a lady who comes from a Christian background and family. She came to know the Lord on a personal level when she was 17 years old. Since then she has been on a quest to learn more about Him and herself. On her journey she has come to realize her purpose in life is to write what is on God's heart and encourage the broken and lost souls of humanity with it. 
Here are two quotes she thinks sums up her writing life:
"I am a little pencil in the hand of writing God who is sending out a love letter to the world."
Mother Teresa
"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart."
William Wordsworth

Welcome, LIsa. What are the titles of your books?
Godly Inspirations for the Troubled Soul
Inspirations from Heaven's Gate                             

Give a short synop of your most recently published book?
She writes through the whispered power of the Holy Spirit. She wants to write about the beauty and simplicity of life and reveal the beauty of Christ to the broken and lost souls of humanity. She has been given the ability to write simply and honestly from the heart so it is understandable. She believes writing is a language of the heart and is a beautiful way to share one's innermost feelings.

Lisa C. Miller is an author working under the Holy Spirit's daily direction. She focuses on the Holy Spirits daily direction for her life and writing. She has enjoyed a creative partnership with the Holy Spirit for many years.
It is a book of poetry with Bible verses sprinkled throughout it.

What challenges did you face while writing this book?

Time to write. I am a college student and I am married with three children. My challenge was and still is time to do everything.

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

The greatest lesson I have learned about writing so far is the writing never ends. There is always something to write about.
Advice I can give new writers is this: write about things you are passionate about and write simply and be as honest as you can.

Where do you store ideas for later use? In your head or or a notebook?
     
 I write ideas in my journal/notebook. I always try to have paper and pens scatter everywhere around the house. You never know when inspiration will strike.

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

Word of mouth. My friends and family have helped a great deal with this. I have a website for my writing and a blog. I also use social networking. I use the top six sites in the world which are facebook, twitter, linkedin, pinterest, google, tumblr. There are many more.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

 I am currently working my third book of poetry and I am writing a book about how Asperger's Syndrome has affected/impacted my family.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

    There are three places:
     Amazon.com: Lisa C Miller: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle

 http://askdavid.com/reviews/book/inspirational-poetry/5267


Monday, July 7, 2014

World Blog Hop

I'm participating in a World Blog Hop. Thanks to my pal, Lynette Hall Hampton aka Agnes Alexander for the invitation. Lynette writes mysteries as Lynette Hall Hampton and as Agnes Alexander. You can learn more about this lovely and talented lady at www.Agnesalexander.com.

I am considered a multi-genre author. I'm a native of North Carolina and set all of my novels somewhere around the state in order to showcase different places. I've written five published mysteries, Genesis Beach, Just North of Luck, Hell Swamp, Sin Creek and Sticking Point.


I also authored Killer Recipes, a unique cookbook that includes recipes from mystery writers around the country.  All proceeds from this book are donated to cancer research.

Slightly Cracked is my first women’s fiction, set in Wayne County where I live.


My books are available in print and all ebook formats.

I am currently researching a medieval ancestor for an historical mystery titled Sprig of Broom. Learn more at www.susanwhitfieldonline.com


Okay, so I've written five Logan Hunter Mysteries, one women's fiction, and authored a unique cookbook which I'm especially proud of (thanks, all you writers who submitted recipes!). I am currently writing an historical fiction about my ancestor, Sir Geoffrey Plantagenet, a Knight of the Bath. The book is titled Sprig of Broom because he wore a broom straw in his hat. King Henry I sent for 15-year-old Geoffrey, knighted him and had him marry his daughter Matilda, who was 26-years-old. I'm having a great time reading every historical account I can get my hands on. While I want to be as accurate as possible, I will put my spins and twists on the story for extra measure.

I think my historical fiction differs from others because this man was an ancestor of mine. He actually lived and is down in the trunk of my family tree! How awesome is that?

Being multi-genre has become quite exciting for me. Easily bored, it's nice to move from mystery to women's fiction to historical fiction. I hope in the future to write another women's fiction because I had a blast writing Slightly Cracked. I love the idea of not being limited to one genre. It's very liberating to write in several genres.

I write in the mornings. I have a wonderful sun room where I can see the pond and wildlife while I write. I find that I'm much sharper in the mornings and much more creative. Lots of coffee and quiet keeps me going all morning long. What upsets my writing? Noisy TV, phone calls, and unexpected visitors. I'm a nice person but these things break my concentration. I think I have adult ADD and I'm not kiddin'.

I want to thank the authors who will continue to blog hop on July 14th. Please support:

p.m.terrell, the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of more than 20 books in five genres. A full-time author since 2002, she is best known for her historical adventure/suspense and her contemporary suspense. She is also the founder of Book 'Em North Carolina, an annual event that brings together more than 75 authors and publishers to raise money for literacy campaigns, and the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation, whose mission is to raise public awareness of the direct correlation between high crime rates and high illiteracy.
www.pmterrell.blogspot.com




Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, writing books, and a new love story, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming releases, DEVIL’S LAKE(2014), and THE LIAR’S GALLERY (2014).







Marni Graff is the author of the Nora Tierney mystery series, set in the UK. The Blue Virgin introduces Nora, an American writer living in Oxford. She becomes involved in a murder investigation to clear her best friend as a suspect, to the chagrin of DI Declan Barnes. The Green Remains follows Nora’s move to Cumbria where she’s awaiting the publication of her first children’s book and the birth of her first child. When Nora stumbles across the corpse at the edge of Lake Windermere, she realizes she recognizes the dead man. Then her friend and illustrator, Simon Ramsey, is implicated in the murder of the heir to Clarendon Hall, and Nora swings into sleuth mode. The Scarlet Wench finds Nora once again involved in an investigation when a theatre troupe arrives at Ramsey Lodge and a series of pranks and accidents escalate to murder.

Graff is also co-author of Writing in a Changing World, a primer on writing groups and critique techniques. She writes crime book reviews at www.auntiemwrites.com and is Managing Editor of Bridle Path Press. A member of Sisters in Crime, Graff runs the NC Writers Read program in Belhaven. She has also published poetry, last seen in Amelia Earhart: A Tribute; her creative nonfiction has most recently appeared in Southern Writers Magazine. All of Graff’s books can be bought at Amazon.com or at http://www.bridlepathpress.com and are available as eBooks.


The Nora Tierney Mysteries:

The Blue Virgin: A Nora Tierney Mystery
 (Oxford)
First Place Winner: Mystery and Mayhem Award for British Cozy, Chanticleer Book Media

 The Green RemainsBook 2 (Lake District)

The Scarlet Wench: Book 3 (Lake District) 
www.bridlepathpress.com
www.auntiemwrites.com





Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Doc: Tim Desmond

Tim Desmond was raised in Madera, California. He attended, on scholarship, California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, CA. Later, after graduating from California State University Fresno with a BA degree in Zoology, he earned his Teaching Credential. While writing since the college years, he taught biology, chemistry and physics for thirty-six years before retiring. He has written two novels, in 2005 a World War II flashback For Thou Art With Me and in 2010 the conspiracy thriller ebook version The Doc. He is married and lives in Fresno, California. He spends time painting and Civil War reenacting.

How has your environment affected your writing?
TD – It has affected in every way. Most of my settings have been in rural California. It’s not that I haven’t lived in a larger city, which I did in college years, but I have included what I have learned from travels.

How many books have you written?
TD – Three. The first book length was an unpublished thing in 1983.

Give a short synop of your most recently published book.  

The Doc –revised edition
The troubles of father and daughter Civil War reenactors, Matthew and Dana Sweet, would not have mattered to most people. However, California physician Henry “Hank” Houston cared. You will be immersed into the reenacting world and these troubles. From the yellow grain fields of the San Joaquin Valley to the granite monuments of the Washington, DC area, Hank uncovered what Dana Sweet found. Her lover DHS agent Jim Calder went missing, but not before giving her two encrypted flash drives. It was only weeks before that in the glass walled cubicle of the Intensive Care Unit, Matthew asked Hank to find answers about his daughter. Hank is not a private investigator or a cop.  But, as a pilot, past gun dealer, and a shooting sports enthusiast, he has his resources.  While Hank learned that his life is in danger by a domestic black ops unit that does not want to be exposed, by Dana’s knowledge of DHS and the information on the drives, he questions everything he ever knew.  He is changed, as he tried to be true to his friends.  

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
TD – Part of me is in all of them, but I don’t know if it is actually hidden. I would think as with most of us, trying to bring characters to life, we have to write some characters as completely different from ourselves.

What challenges did you face while writing this book?
TD – It was originally a screenplay I wrote in 1999. Though registered, it never sold. In 2005, I began to novelize it, adding back story and new scenes. That became the ebook only version with a previous publisher. This version for the first time in print needed more work. A lot had happened with the characters since 1999, which included 9/11, and Patriot Act, which I had not really addressed in the 2005 version.

Do you travel to do research or for inspiration? Can you share some special places with us?
TD – Both. Being in foreign cities, either in Europe or the Americas, is a special experience. A friend once told my wife, “Once you travel to Europe, you will never be the same.” It is inspirational, and we have been fortunate to travel to Germany, the UK twice, Mexico. But a special place I am using as a setting in a current new work is Florida and the Keys. That will be different from my usual California locations.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?
TD – One must learn to delete your own words, words that don’t work. I tend to ramble initially, and write in tangents. If that gets too long, it stops your story. Genres have rules. Keep to those rules. Use Elements of Style by Strunk & White.

Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?
TD – I have manila folders and files of notes scratched on various scraps of paper. There are some computer files of ideas. Last couple years I’ve used SmartPhone memo pad app. But, once I lost everything there as I had to get the phone reformatted, and, well, you know.
We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?

TD – It’s a tough business. With one novel printed in mid 2000s, I had set up my own events and while I was out there, I had sales. But, in that era I did not use online much. I had a website, but no traffic. I did hard sells by email, and currently that is what is being advised as opposed to pitching hard on social media. Blogging seems to be the online route way to go. So, on FB and Twitter I reference to my blog and author sites. A book in print gives you something in your hands to promote at your own events.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?
TD – The latest novel was started in November 2012, but was a story I had several buried outlines in a folder over several years. A frustrated physics teacher has a theory that he has been working on, and writes several papers and thesis type works, but he can’t get published. Some of his theory is what in the past was called meta-physics, now more referred to as “paranormal” things. In the academic world, these topics are not considered “serious” by real PhDs. My character also has troubles with his high school administration, his wife, an enemy colleague on campus, and eventually the police. This is the Florida setting I alluded to above.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Are your books available in print and ebook formats? (please provide the buy link for easy reader accessibility)
TD – Yes, print and all ebook formats are available at:
Black Opal Books at: http://www.blackopalbooks.com
All Romance: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/       






Monday, May 26, 2014

Let's Get Cozy with Elaine Macko



Elaine Macko is the author of the Alex Harris mystery series. The books are set in Elaine’s native Connecticut, and each book has a bit of a European flair bringing together Elaine’s love of both places.
They say write what you know and Elaine’s career working as an office manager, executive assistant and a report editor gave her the impetus for centering the series around the Always Prepared temporary employment agency Alex owns along with her sister, Samantha.
Alex is a Winston Churchill-quoting, M&M’s-addicted woman with a mind of her own who discovers being an amateur sleuth is her true calling, much to the chagrin of a certain police detective.
In addition to Alex and Sam, the books include their parents, a couple of retirees who love playing board games; a bingo-playing, loan-sharking grandmother and her gang of goofy eighty-somethings; and Alex’s adorable nephew, Henry, who talks in percentages.
Elaine currently has five books in the series—Armed, Poisoned, Flossed, Mahjonged, and Smoked—and is working on the sixth, Pickled. She says she’s always on the outlook for a cool way to murder someone and welcomes fun suggestions at elainemackobooks@hotmail.com.

So you write cozies. How did you make the decision to write them rather than mysteries with a bite?

I’ve enjoyed reading them and I think my personality is somewhat irreverent and quirky and just lends itself more toward cozies.

How many books 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 do write a series and so far five are available. The sixth one should be out in a couple of months. I set the series in the fictional town of Indian Cove, Connecticut. I have a protagonist who owns her own office temp agency. I’ve always worked in an office so it just fit and I grew up in Connecticut. Only two characters in my series are actually based on real people: Meme is based on my beloved grandmother who died when I was 14. I gave Alex, my protagonist, the relationship with Meme that I wish I had with my grandmother if she had lived. I also base the character of Henry, Alex’s nephew on my own nephew, Nick.

Has your environment or background affected the genre you write? How?

Yes, I think it has. I loved growing up in New England and in a certain time when family and values were important. I instill a love of family in my character and of course she lives in Connecticut.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book (or in the series)?

My protagonist is definitely like me but I’ve made her a bit taller and thinner! She’s also more kind, I think. We’re both quite impatient and we need to work on that.

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

Keep at it if this is really what you want. Don’t expect overnight success, and do everything you can to fine-tune your writing—join a critique group, have trusted friends read your work, join writers groups. And most importantly, develop a thick skin. Not everyone is going to love your work and you will get some bad reviews. I try to really read the bad ones, and a lot of the time the criticism is spot on so I’ll be aware of that when I go to write the next one.

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 do book signings and I use social media, but I think it’s very difficult to get the word out when you don’t have a large network. I work a full-time day job so I’m not on committees, and boards, and I just don’t have a lot of time. It’s hard. I get such great reviews so I think I have a good product but now where do I find all the cozy readers?

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

I lived in Europe for a long time and because I was on the board of a charitable organization, I had an interesting life. Plus there was the time I almost got deported and friends offered to smuggle me across the border in the trunk of their car! Every time I talk about my adventures in Europe, people tell me to write a book. I’m working on it, but it’s not quite right yet. Hopefully in a year it will be out.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events? (provide links)

They can check out my web site: www.ElaineMackoBooks.com



Monday, May 19, 2014

Christi's Promotional Experiences


Promotion for me took off with vetting Ghost Orchid through Barnes and Noble New York Small Press Department.  The requirements included a marketing plan and I had to think through that.  In the process, I made a plan that I followed!  However, the plan itself was the best marketing tool.  It gave me goals and target dates that kept me going even when some promotional ideas failed to make a measureable difference.
My number one success with promotions came from preparing a talk about ghost orchids, Sex, Myth and Magic, that I could deliver in ten minutes to one hour for local organizations or present on the local radio and television stations.  From those presentations I received press coverage, word or mouth from those in attendance, and favorable promotion at the organizations also.

The next best success was book signing events that were singular, just me and my book.  At the same time, my worst experiences were book signing events with multiple authors.  The benefits of signings are the same as the organization presentations, multiplied exposure.   I had great benefits from signing books in restaurants and at organizations.  The Independent book stores were great, but there are none left.

Initially, joining Redroom.com, also a vetting process, gave me a great web page that did promote quite well.  Joining The Authors Guild, another vetting process, provided another great web site and their promotion.   Writing blogs for Redroom.com did lead initially to sales, but the market became saturated.
Writing for author and readership blogs is another great promotion that initially led to sales.  The time limit though is constraining.  Exchanging reviews falls in the same category – great support and promotional benefits but also taking quite a bit of time.

Writing a column for the local paper started out as a benefit.  Over time, however, the paper quit saying I was an author or wrote specific books and just had my name on the articles, which grew in number to become a small income of immediate gratification, but little support other than branding and name recognition for my novels.

I didn’t gain much from writing conferences or festivals except aching legs, a sore throat and a stack of cards from other authors.  This is a valuable exposure for most authors so my lackluster benefit must be uniquely mine.

I also write a column for Examiner.com that I found brought zero benefit but does contribute to my ranking on Google so I hang in there with a few columns per month and earn literally a few pennies.  I do know that a few other writers for Examiner.com established themselves with a readership and both make money and promote their work well. 

Of course, the standard postcards, book marks and business cards branded with the web site and a blog are helpful.

I did sell a lot of books at the flea market, but this is a high end neighborhood with lots of visitors in winter.  I don’t think flea markets are the best place to sign new books, generally.  I picked the holidays so I could tout them as gifts.

I wrote a few press releases for freepressrelease.com and similar free distribution of press release sights.  For $300 you can get a guarantee of a few major publications.  I didn’t have the $300 to risk.
I have received zero payback from paid advertisements.  I had one exception.  FirstChaptersPlus, an ezine of books of all sorts brought me a lot of sales and exposure when it first started and I ran a cheap, $15 per month ad.  Unfortunately, their ad prices are much higher now, but I think librarians actually look at it.  Also, online book sites pull the book descriptions for their listings, or at least they did in the past.




D. K. Christi, M.Ed.,journalist, author and speaker has two published novels, Arirang and Ghost Orchid and short stories published in seven anthologies including Forever Travels and Forever Families by Shelagh Watkins and a contribution to Killer Recipes, the unique cookbook I authored.
She writes a monthly dog column and eight or more feature articles per month for Spotlightt magazines, in print and online and writes for Examiner.com . She is an editor, entertaining presenter and freelance marketing content writer.

Ghost Orchid is a mystery in the mystical Everglades, a life unfolding wrapped in the aura of the magical ghost orchid.                  


D. K. Christi, M.Ed., CWDP
Consultant, Speaker, Author & Journalist
Member, Authors Guild & Naples Press Club
Spotlight Magazines
dkchristi.com
Ghost Orchid book trailer by Darryl Saffer (click)