Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Oct 1, 2022

A Messy Writing Career

 I'm usually pretty neat. I like my house in order. I keep a regular schedule. I pick up items dropped on the floor at Kohl's and rehang them so they won't get stepped on.

Neat is good.

But if you look at my writing career, you might think, "This woman has no sense of order at all!"

I started writing historical novels, using my own name.(I used Peg instead of Peggy because there's another author with that name.)


I got an agent, she found a publisher, and I was on my way...sort of. I had an idea for a paranormal mystery, and I met a publisher at a conference who liked it, so suddenly Peg Herring writes about Elizabeth I but ALSO about a detective who solves crimes from the afterlife.

In the meantime, I wrote a mystery about a homeless woman. My second publishers loved that one,


so now I had THREE series going. I also wrote a stand-alone mystery that I called "vintage," meaning it took place in the past but not that far back (the Vietnam era, which is considered historical now, but it wasn't then😕). Found a third publisher for that one.

Around that time, I started going to a lot of mystery cons, where I met authors who wrote cozy mysteries. They were having fun and getting recognition as well. I thought I'd like to try a cozy, but I was afraid my publishers wouldn't like me branching off into yet another sub-genre. I decided to try it on my own, though back then the idea of self-publishing made many in the writing community turn up their noses. I invented Maggie Pill, hired an editor and a cover artist, and released a cozy. I found I liked many things about publishing independently, which was good, because one of my publishers went bankrupt while the other two struggled to get recognition (and $$) for their authors.

I hadn't intended to continue my work as Maggie until her book was suddenly in demand. I wrote a second Sleuth Sisters mystery and then another and another. It became clear that Maggie wasn't going anywhere. Someone asked when it would be out in print. Then someone else asked about audio. Suddenly I was learning all sorts of things about publishing (and it never stops!)

Eventually my Peg Herring books joined Maggie Pill's in the independent publishing world, but Peg has an odd conglomeration of mystery sub-genres. The books are sometimes funny,


sometimes serious. 


Lately, they've crossed genres into suspense and "women's fiction," stories about women and their struggles, written mostly for women. Though the WF genre ranges from comedy to drama, Peg's WF books land on the serious end: friendships in the midst of crisis.

Sisters with gravely different views on life.

These days, I've sorted out my two writing personalities and reached a neater division. Readers of Maggie Pill's books know they'll get books that are funny and light, though I strongly believe that even a cozy mystery has to make sense and engage the reader in the puzzle. Peg's books have a wider range, so readers need to read the blurbs to see if the theme appeals to them.

See? I'm getting my writing life in order. I just hope I'm not hit with an idea for a horror romance!

Sep 4, 2022

What a Month!


I was thrilled with the response to my giveaway in August, so thanks to all who requested a print book. I'm sorry if you didn't get one, but they went fast! I've been receiving emails from readers, some letting me know the book had arrived in the mail, and others letting me know the reader had finished and would be posting a review. One clever girl even put a pic of the book on Facebook, so I got some free advertising. To one and all, thank you!

The process was hectic for a while, since I wanted to get the books in the mail ASAP. The people at my little post office were patient and helpful. I combed local dollar stores to get enough bubble mailers of the correct size. There was time spent, and money. Why would I do that?

Writers often spend hundreds of dollars on advertising that goes out into a world of people who don't care much about their books. I chose to spend that money to send books to people who'd already noticed me, either here on the blog or by signing up for my newsletters. In requesting a free book, maybe they tried a series they hadn't read before. Maybe they filled in a book they'd missed in the progression. Or maybe they tried a stand-alone to see what it was like.

I don't see any of that as a bad thing for me. I probably won't get the chance to do it again, but I'm always giving away e-books on one promo site or another, so ... stay tuned!


Dec 23, 2021

Are You in Panic Mode Yet?



 It's two days until Christmas. You have someone to buy for. Maybe you forgot. Maybe that person is difficult to buy for. Maybe you feel like the trite gift card is just too...trite for this person. You're desperate.

How about a book?

No, it probably won't arrive before Christmas, but you could present the description and cover art, creating anticipation for that 'something nice' that will arrive later, when things have calmed down a little.

Each book is a personal choice, but there are so many to choose from, so many great hours of enjoyment to come.

And if it happens to be one of mine, well, you'll make another person happy. Bonus!

Find all my books (and Maggie's too) 

https://www.amazon.com/Peg-Herring/e/B002JK5FKY

https://books2read.com/pegherring/


Dec 10, 2021

Book Clubs Take Note: Discussion Guide: Sister Saint, Sister Sinner

Book Club Clip Art  

When I sent Sister Saint, Sister Sinner to my editor, she was (as usual) helpful about pointing out areas that needed more development, parts that repeated information already given, and places where the logic  temporarily failed. At the end, she made a comment that stuck with me: "People are going to be talking about the things you deal with in this book."

To me, that meant the story was destined for book clubs. Having visited a few in my years of writing, I knew that they often begin with a list of discussion topics. Now, they often don't stay focused on them, and that's okay. Sometimes it's the wine. Sometimes it's a natural progression. But discussion leaders like having questions that can get the conversation back on track when it strays too far from the story.

Every person who reads a book gets something out of it that no one else does. I had the experience once of visiting a book group where one reader didn't like the book and kept bringing up her objections, much to the dismay of the discussion leader. I remained polite when she asked why I did this and didn't do that with the plot. The leader kept moving on to someone else's comments. It wasn't my most pleasant experience, but I recognize that readers will never agree completely on the quality of a book. Authors have to get used to it.

In anticipation of book club interest, I'm posting 20 discussion questions here. You might not want to read them until you've finished the book, since there are spoilers. Mostly they serve to start discussion of a character, a plot point, or a theme. Here are examples from the list:

1.     1.  At the beginning of the story, the sisters have been living separate lives. Now that you’ve finished the book, do you see any significance to their distance from each other?

1.    14.  The relationship between Kim and Drew seems like it was meant to be. What factors in Drew’s makeup contribute to Kim’s attraction to him? 

1 1818. Olin Dobbs becomes for Nettie the son she might have had. Do you believe her support of Olin is a form of redemption for her?


Buy it HERE




Nov 16, 2021

Something Stinks

 


Last week, Amazon decided that I'm not the author of one of my books.

My first reaction was to make a joke about it on Facebook. Then I sent Amazon a happy little note assuring them that Maggie Pill and Peg Herring are one and the same person.

I got the identical email a second time.

In the meantime, my FB friends made suggestions, some facetious, some not. A lawyer friend said to get a DBA (Doing Business As) for Maggie Pill and send them a copy. That would be a great idea if I weren't in Florida. I called the county clerk for my home in Michigan, and they won't accept an application that isn't signed by a Michigan notary public. 

Another author said she'd had the same problem. She'd sent Amazon an email from her pen name's email address, saying that she had the right to make changes on the book. I did that, also sending a copy of said email in reply to theirs, so they had one from "Maggie"  and a copy of it from Peg.

No dice. This time, I did get a list of things I might be doing wrong. Perusing the list, I learned that the message had to be signed by hand by both parties.

Okay. Print the message, sign Maggie's name and my own, scan it, send it.

Got the same generic email back.

Angry now, I sent a message listing all the things I'd done and asking for a specific reason why ONE of Maggie Pill's eleven books had been singled out as a forgery. The sales are still getting credited to me. It's still listed as part of the Sleuth Sisters Mystery series. I ended with "and SHE IS ME."

This morning I got a message saying that I can now resubmit the book for publication, after making sure my metadata is correct.

Since I have no idea what was wrong in the first place, I'm a little lost, but I did it. I played it safe, leaving blank any line that isn't compulsory. 

In 72 hours, I'll know if it worked.

I don't really blame Amazon or anyone who works there. This is the way the systems we have in place work, and they're designed that way because people don't read instructions. The first thing I did was wrong, because near the bottom of the original email, they said they wouldn't just take my word for it that I'm Maggie Pill. 

Still, it's hard to correct something when you're not sure what the issue is. What has changed since the book was published back in 2018? 

We've all been led through looping instructions that take us back to the beginning, no wiser than we were when we started. Somewhere in the system there's an algorithm that says, "Okay" and moves you forward, but good luck finding it. A human being might have been able to see that Maggie's books are listed on my bookshelf and always have been, but I doubt that humans are involved in the initial stages. To be fair, the big entities we deal with daily are inundated with people who don't read, don't understand, and don't follow directions. Companies insulate their human beings from the frustration of having to explain over and over in the simplest terms what customers should be able to understand.

On the other hand, those who design the systems might do better with the specifics. Customer confusion often results from the assumption that we speak their language and use their terminology, so while we're scratching our heads at instructions about metadata and pixels per inch, they wonder, "Why don't those idiots understand?" 

Decades ago, I read John Hersey's My Petition for More Space, which highlights the absurdities of bureaucracy. These days I find myself avoiding contact with automated systems whenever possible, aware that I'll end up angrily screaming, "Customer representative!" and often end up unable to do what I intended.

I used to wonder how people in the Middle Ages survived with the threat of things like beheading and branding hanging over their heads, but then I consider that we live in a world where the appointments we need, the concerns we want to lodge, and the items we want to buy force us to deal with a faceless, uncaring, often non-human bureaucracy that cannot interact with us on the level we seek. There's only a box to check or a phrase to speak. No explanations accepted.

It's a lower level of stress than beheading, but since it's long term and unavoidable, it might kill you anyway.

 



Oct 4, 2021

At the Point Where I Can Tell You

 I sent my next book to the copy editor a few days ago, which for me is a major turning point. It's a commitment of sorts; the book that for a looooonnnnngggg time has been only mine is close to being offered to others. I've certainly talked about it at length to friends and family, but no one has read it except my first-draft beta reader, my content editor, and me (many, many times). And yes, I do pay three different people to critique a manuscript before I inflict it on the public.

Sending a book to the copy editor indicates that it's in its final narrative form, so now it's her job to find the silly stuff that would take away from readers' enjoyment: spelling errors, extra commas, etc. Once that's done, it will be formatted and prepared for print, e-book, and audio offerings.

In other words, I'm saying I don't intend to make substantial changes anymore, and that's really hard for me. Any time I look at past work I think, "I could have done this differently." It's really, really painful to say, "I'm done. This is what they get."

So what is this book about? It's not a mystery, though it has mysterious elements. Not social commentary, though it explores relationships, both family (the sisters in the title) and general attitudes we adopt as we move through society. I'm not a literary fiction type, so that leaves women's fiction as the category closest to accurately describing it.

The premise: Three sisters, close in their youth, have grown apart as adults, due to the way their lives evolved. When events push them back together, they face their differences and make choices that will change their relationship forever.

One is a murderer. One is unsure about her future after her long-time marriage falls apart. And one might well be the next First Lady of the United States.

Here are some possible versions of the cover. Comments?








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