Showing posts with label murder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label murder. Show all posts

Nov 28, 2021

It's Getting Close!

 


You might think "Christmas!" when you read that headline, but for me it's the release of SISTER SAINT, SISTER SINNER on December 15th.

The launch of a new book is both exciting and nerve-wracking. I dread some mistake that I and the many editors and beta readers missed. I drive myself crazy trying to come up with exactly the right categories and keywords to make Amazon and all the other search engines offer up my book when people go looking for something new to read. I'm excited to see what readers think. I'm afraid of what readers might think.

It's complicated.

"So what is this book?" you might ask (Oh, please ask.)

It's not a mystery per se, though it has a murder that eventually is solved. It's more a family drama that spills onto the larger, national scene. But it's not one of those "Aren't these women sweet?" books. These women take matters into their own hands. For better or for worse, they're proactive. And if you have sisters, you'll recognize that the actions of one sister don't always sit well with the actions of another.

Here's a boiled-down version of an advance review from Readers' Favorites:   "Sister Saint, Sister Sinner by Peg Herring was a captivating novel…brilliant plot and unpredictable storyline… fantastic page-turner through stylish writing and flawless character development… a masterpiece."

Aw, shucks... 

Anyway, it's up for pre-order at Amazon and most everywhere. Here's the link:

https://books2read.com/u/bwaGPY

May 29, 2017

New Life for a Book

One of the things authors need to recognize is that books don't just take off and become bestsellers. Some lie around for months, even years, waiting to be noticed. We're encouraged not to neglect our backlists, but it's difficult when there's something "NEW! NEW! NEW!" to talk about. That's been the case with the Loser series, which ended a couple of years ago.

Killing Silence is one of my favorites among my books. I love the protagonist, Loser, who is homeless and damaged but not down and out. The idea that homeless people are counted out of society, ignored by most and assumed to be incapable of paying attention, makes her a perfect sleuth.

The publisher of this series has decided to make Killing Silence free on Kindle for May 29-31. I'm really excited about this, since I think freebies are a great way to introduce a book to new readers.

If you've already read the book, you can help by passing the news on to your Kindle-reading friends. If you haven't, here's a chance to meet a unique character. Some get the impression the book is "dark" but that isn't true. While Loser begins in a bad place, the story traces her reclaiming herself as a person. Still, it scares some. At a library talk last week a woman confessed that she'd been reluctant to begin it, though it came highly recommended. "I thought, it wasn't my thing," she told me. "But you really get wrapped up in the story."

Aha! That was my plan all along. Once you get to know Loser, you'll want to read the other two books in the series--which will make both me and my publisher happy.

https://www.amazon.com/Killing-Silence-Loser-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B00A87IAQG

It's also available in print and audio. Just not free :(

 

Aug 15, 2016

Why Did the Amateur Sleuth Cross the Road?



Unless an author writes only police procedurals and P.I. novels, the question of why the protagonist gets involved in the mystery is present. I've never in my life wanted to investigate a murder, and I'm guessing most readers would say the same. We trust the police to do an adequate job, and while we might grumble that they didn't turn every stone in a specific case, we seldom jump in to help.

If you're going to write a mystery with an amateur sleuth, he or she has to have a reason to get involved that departs from what is good behavior and good sense in real life.

Loser wants to help the father of a little girl who reminds her of her daughter.












Caroline is suspected of killing her former best friend.
Many authors choose to have their protag or someone close to him as the suspect. This is certainly a driving force, as long as the rules of logic are applied. If you're accused of murder, are the people involved in the case likely to sit down with you and talk about it? And why would they be honest? It isn't like you can arrest them for perjury. If you testified in court that someone confessed to you, his lawyer would have you for lunch. "So you are a suspect in this case, but you want us to believe that Mr. X confessed to you that he did it. How convenient for you!"

Four vagrants witness a murder but can't report it to the police.



Another scenario is that the protagonist has special knowledge of the crime that he can't/won't share with the police, or he shares his info and they ignore it. If that were so, I suspect most of us would rationalize our way out of investigating on our own. "Well, yes, I did see Mr. X leaving the scene of the crime, but the police asked him about it, and he claims he was in Hoboken." End of story. Most of us don't have the time, the temperament, or the drive to chase down criminals. We'd grumble, "Nobody ever listens to me," and forget about it.

Princess Elizabeth wants to stop a killer.
Finally, there's the nosy protagonist who simply can't stay out of other people's business. I find these the hardest to relate to, and I've given up on books when the amateur sleuth's pushy behavior didn't make sense. The book I'm reading right now comes close, with a woman who travels all over England questioning people about a death she has no connection to. Her family keeps telling her not to do it, and she's been attacked several times now, but she's determined (dad-gum-it) and just won't stop. Luckily the author presents her as determined and stubborn, so her refusal to give up is at least tenable.

In defense of authors, we need a story, the story needs a protagonist, and the protagonist needs to keep going when the police either stop investigating or never really begin. My concern is with how well the author sets up the story. In the beginning, can I believe this person would take up the challenge of a murder investigation, and as we go onward, do I still like him or her because of it?

Apr 11, 2016

Disposable Bad Guys

There's been a discussion on one of my chat groups concerning the casual killing of "bad guys" in movies and books. There are two schools of thought.

First, it's escapist fiction, so it's supposed to by over-the-top. I enjoy the characters in NCIS-LA, but in almost every episode there is a scene where they blow away everyone who might be a bad guy.
   No one ever investigates afterward. Nobody gets put on administrative leave until it's determined the shooting was "righteous."
   No foreign government demands the U.S. answer for agents who shot up a whole neighborhood. If they even make a peep, someone, usually Henrietta, "handles" it. The question of whether all those deaths were warranted is ignored.
  The assumption is the good guys are the good guys, so they get to kill bad guys. Period.

The opposing arguments hold that indiscriminate killing sends the wrong message, in fact, a whole bunch of wrong messages.
   Shoot first and ask questions later.
   Anyone around a bad guy must be a bad guy, too.
   Death is the only/best punishment for those who hang around with bad guys.

It happens in books, too. Yesterday I finished Lee Child's newest, MAKE ME, and there's a lot of "kill 'em all and let God sort it out" mentality. Child makes his bad guys pretty bad, so the argument can be made that killing them is justified. We tend to like vigilantes when their practices "save the time and expense of a trial." So much for that Constitutional stuff about innocent until proven guilty.

I don't really have a side in this argument, as long as we're talking fiction, but the unfairness of it does flit through my head when I see/read such things. I'm more comfortable in STAR WARS, where the legions of soldiers shot, bludgeoned, and otherwise put out of commission are robots, not people with mothers, brothers, and even sons and daughters to mourn them.

Bang, bang, shoot-em-up is okay for entertainment, as long as we recognize that in real life, those things support the "eye for an eye" mentality that keeps violence going.  Maybe some people need killing, but that's not a task to be taken on lightly, even if you've got a badge, a mission, or what you consider a good reason.

Mar 21, 2016

Taking Criticism

E-book available on Amazon. Print soon
Writers have to learn to accept criticism. It starts with your editor, who takes out some of your favorite passages because they don't advance the plot.
"But it's a commentary on society!" you whine.
"You're not a philosopher. You're a mystery writer," is the reply.
Then you get the beta reader who wants the story to end differently. "Why didn't she hook up with the sheriff?"
"I preferred to suggest that she might and let the reader imagine it. I didn't want to start another whole thread in the last few pages."
(Pouty face) "I think you should say it."
Later come the readers, who go on Amazon and say things like, "The author speaks of a 'dollar' but there were no dollars in Tudor England."
Actually, the word was slang for a coin called a crown in the 1500s. But don't let my months of research top your assumption you know what you're talking about.
Of course, there is criticism that's justified. My favorite story is the person who wrote to inform me that though the first Simon & Elizabeth book was interesting and historically well done, I'd put in rhododendrons, which didn't exist in the 1500s.
Okay, I'll take the blame for that one. Who knew? And who'd have thought to include it in her research? (Well, I do now!)
Writers have to learn not only to take criticism, but to not take it as well. Tastes vary. Best-selling authors sometimes leave me cold, since they don't write things I like to read. I try not to conclude they're bad writers because of my tastes. It's hard when a reader assumes that because he/she felt a certain way about a book, that's the final truth of it. "I didn't feel connected to the characters because they were not well-developed" is hurtful. It helps, though, when the very next review says the exact opposite. "Great characters that felt like people I knew well. I was eager to know what they'd do next."


 

Dec 1, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 7: Let's Surprise an Author!

Guess how this author picks winners for giveaways and such!
These days as many of my friends are authors as are not. I thought for the Dec. 1st post I'd tell you about someone else's books for a change. These people have no idea what I'm doing, so I'm hoping it's a nice surprise for the next few Tuesdays for them and possibly some new reading for those who read this blog.

Today's "honoree" is Janet, who has a book releasing today. She has two series published under pen names, and both are worthy of a read if you like cozy mysteries and haven't yet tried them.

The PTA Murders series is published under the name Laura Alden and features Beth Kennedy, recently divorced with two kids. When she gets drafted into more involvement in the local PTA, things start happening, and Beth is reluctantly drawn into sleuthing. The five-book series is notable to me because the humor is genuine, not derived from exaggerated characters who do unbelievable things.
Murder at the PTA
Foul Play at the PTA
Poison at the PTA
Curse of the PTA
Plotting at the PTA
See more here: http://www.amazon.com/Laura-Alden/e/B0058QKBH8

Janet's newer series, written as Laurie Cass, is the Bookmobile Cat Mysteries, which feature bookmobile librarian Minnie Hamilton and a cat named Eddie. Set in Michigan, the books again feature my type of humor, not zany but more observational, pointing out life's oddities in a droll way.
Lending a Paw
Tailing a Tabby
Borrowed Crime
Pouncing on Murder DEBUTS TODAY!!!
See more here: http://catmystery.com/

There really is an Eddie, and he really does help out, as you see above.

Aug 1, 2015

FREE E-book!

THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY is free for Kindle right now: August 1st through the 4th.

http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Detective-Agency-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B010MF5J9E/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

This is a re-release, so you might have read it, but if you haven't yet met Seamus, Dead Detective, and if you have a sense of humor about the Afterlife, you might enjoy this series (follow-ups are Dead for the Money and Dead for the Show. I'm working on Dead to Get Ready--and Go.)

One reviewer made me giggle when she said though SHE liked the book, she wouldn't want her children to read it and conclude that this is the way heaven actually is.

Really? Can you say FICTION?

I had fun with what we're taught about the Afterlife as I wrote this mystery, which another reviewer says is "Sam Spade meets Quantam Leap." Not sure about that, since there isn't much sci-fi stuff here, but I think you'll enjoy the book, which won Best Mystery of 2012.

Here are some snippets of the reviews, since Amazon hasn't yet put the old version (published in 2011 with the female close up and looking outward) together with the new one (published recently, with the female looking at the semi-transparent man).

"The story and writing proceed at a furious, breathtaking pace, and when we finally come to the end of our voyage, it's with deep regret, as if saying bon voyage to a dear friend we have known and loved for years." New York Journal of Books, Reviewer Sam Millar.

"A fun concept of afterlife and well-developed characters makes this an entertaining page turner. I am certainly looking forward to the next in the series. Would be good material for the big screen. A refreshingly new idea." Amazon Reader

"Loved the whole idea for this book. I enjoyed the comparisons about what we think of as ghosts as actually the dead using our bodies. Can't wait to read the next one!" Amazon Reader

Apr 20, 2015

New Dead Detective Mystery

DEAD FOR THE SHOW is scheduled for release today. It's ready on Kindle for sure. (If you don't have a Kindle, there's an app you can download to get your other e-readers to read Kindle books. I know nothing about this, being a Kindle owner, but I'm told it's great.)

The book is also available in paperback from Ingram, which means you can order it at a bookstore and they'll have it in a day or two.

I don't see the print version on Amazon yet, but it's in the works. There's no way to predict how long it takes after we approve the proof copies.

So what is this one about?
DEAD FOR THE SHOW is Book #3 of the Dead Detective Mysteries, featuring Seamus, a throwback to the '50s who operates pretty well in 2015. In this one he's investigating the death of a the woman who refuses to believe she's dead. She was a member of a a theater group in Toronto, and Seamus ends up trying to protect her sister so she doesn't end up dead as well.

The series has a lightly humorous slant on the Afterlife and how life on Earth is viewed there. When a person is murdered, he or she can engage a dead detective to go back to Life and find out the whos and whys of the case. The situations the dead detectives get into are sometimes humorous and often suspenseful, but justice always wins out.

I enjoy writing the Dead Detective series and plan at least one more, hopefully for 2016.
Book #1
Book #2


Book #3
Note: Books 1 & 2 will be getting new covers soon when they go into new editions. They'll feature the "new" Seamus pic (center above), so don't buy them a second time by mistake!

Apr 10, 2015

Freebie Day 1: April 11, 2015




The Dead Detective Agency

Want 2 free copies of this book? Respond here or on Peg’s News on Facebook to be entered in the daily drawing.





Book #1 of the Dead Detective series
Setting: Grand Rapids, MI
Tori can hardly believe it when she wakes up dead. The Afterlife is nice, but she really wants to know why someone would murder the secretary at an investments firm. The solution to her problem? Get a dead detective and launch an investigation.

NOTE: This is one of the two that will be re-released this summer with a different cover. Same book, new edition, so watch the titles.


Mar 30, 2015

I Really Mean It This Time: Dead Detective #3

Taking the bull by the horns is dangerous, but I had to. The third of the Dead Detective series languished at my publishers for over a year. It had been edited, but that was as far as it got: no cover, no release date.
So I asked for the rights back. Luckily they were great about it, and now the book can move on with a cover from Phillips Covers and formatting from Greenerside Digital.

I took a guess at a release date and made it April 20. I'm guessing the e-book will come earlier than that, since that's a simpler process. The print copies might come later, since there's the whole "mail-me-a-copy-of-what-it's-going-to-look-like" thing. If there's something wrong, that would delay the release.

Anyway, it's up for pre-order on Kindle right now, and I'll be sure to let everyone know when everything is in place.

Here's the teaser:

Dead Detective Seamus Hanrahan is bored on the ship that takes the dead from one phase to the next. It's a perfect existence, but since when is perfect exciting? When new arrival Cassie Parker refuses to believe she's dead, Seamus agrees to return to life on Earth and find out what happened to her. The hope is that something Seamus discovers will convince the young woman her life really is over, though Cassie insists she isn't dead and she'll never believe she is.
  In a small theater in Toronto, Seamus finds Christy Parker, who came to visit only to learn that her sister was killed backstage in what appears to be an accident. When she's convinced to take over Cassie's job as wardrobe mistress, Christy's life changes so fast she can hardly keep up. The loss of her only remaining relative, the demands of the new job, her interesting and eccentric coworkers, and a chance meeting with an old friend keep her mind more than occupied.
  Seamus travels through the theater troupe, trying to learn who might have hated Cassie enough to murder her. There are lots of secrets, but he finds neither guilt nor any definite sense of what happened the day Cassie died. Christy struggles on, disappointed that the police have closed the case on Cassie's death.
  Christy's friend has his own investigation to conduct, and Seamus begins to suspect the two crimes are connected. Soon Christy's life is in danger, though she doesn't know why, and she engages in a desperate fight to survive in the old, deserted theater.
  To make matters worse, Seamus, who's trying to protect Christy and figure out why Cassie had to die, senses something he's never encountered before, an odd presence that shouldn't be there. Can a dead guy be haunted, and if so, is it a good thing or really, really bad?


Nov 24, 2014

I Am Not Just Sitting on My Hands

Sunday Update: The promo is finished. 80,000+ people downloaded the book, and there was a big jump in sales for the audio book as well.

Friday Update: Down to #3 in Free Books on Amazon but #1 for Women Sleuths. I'll take it!

Thursday Update: THE SLEUTH SISTERS is now #1 in Amazon's Cozy Mystery List. Imagine me dancing around the kitchen!

Wednesday Update: THE SLEUTH SISTERS is currently #1 on Amazon's list of FREE books. The FREE days last until Saturday, so if you haven't downloaded it yet, now's your chance.


Most people know by now that Maggie Pill is also me. She writes cozy sleuth mysteries, and her first, THE SLEUTH SISTERS, will be FREE for Kindle from Tuesday, November 25 to Saturday, November 29, 2014. Here are a few tidbits:
        Set in northern Lower Michigan
        Concerns sisters who start a detective agency for widely different reasons
        Deals with sisterly issues in a funny way
        Involves some tromping around in the U.P. (while getting shot at)
        Has a sequel coming out on Dec. 5th called 3 SLEUTHS, 2 DOGS, 1 MURDER. (To be honest, it's available now. Release dates don't mean  what they used to!)

For those of you who wonder why Maggie Pill: She's a new persona for a different sub-genre, and her name honors my grandmother, Margaret Ruth Pillsbury. (She would get SUCH a kick of of all this!) A cozy series isn't much like the Losers mysteries or the Dead Detectives or the Simon & Elizabeth historicals. Maybe I should have 5 different names, but it's a lot of work just keeping up 2!


For those who wonder why I'm not working on the other series: I am. It's the publishers who are slow. I finally got a date for the next Simon & Elizabeth mystery, HER MAJESTY'S MISCHIEF: July 8, 2015. It seems very far away, but I haven't even got a release date yet for the next Dead Detective, DEAD FOR THE SHOW. The wheels of publishing grind slowly!



May 21, 2014

Body Parts & Five Mystery Suggestions

The quiz, "Body Parts" is at the bottom of the page. You might have to scroll.

With the new blog, which combines two older ones, we're expanding the Five Mystery E-books/week a little. These are books someone on my team read and enjoyed. No helping out friends in the publishing business. Just honest appraisal of our favorite sub-genres, from moderately cozy to moderately hard-boiled.




South of Hell  by P.J. Parrish (part of the Louis Kincaid series)
   Parrish is actually sisters. They began their Louis Kincaid series in Florida, but Louis spends a lot of time in
   Michigan lately. Hell, Michigan, in this entry.
Another Man’s Moccasins by Craig Johnson (part of the Walt Longmire series)
   If you've seen Longmire on TV, great, but you need to read Johnson's prose to fall under the spell of this   
   series.
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King (part of the Sherlock Holmes & Mary series)
   The first of the series, in which Mary & Sherlock meet and fall instantly into dislike. Temporarily.
Burn Marks by Sara Paretsky (part of the V.I. Warshawski series) 
   Paretsky's tough female detective was a ground-breaker back in the day when there were no female P.I.s, 
   in the world of books, only nosy old amateurs.
Callander Square by Anne Perry (part of the Thomas Pitt series)
   Perry's Victorian series cleverly encompasses several memorable characters, allowing mystery-solving to
   range from amateur to procedural to private investigation. All of the sleuths are worth meeting.

It's Getting Close!

  You might think "Christmas!" when you read that headline, but for me it's the release of SISTER SAINT, SISTER SINNER on Dece...