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Showing posts with the label mysteries

You Gotta Love Suggestions...or Not

 People love to tell you what you should do. I guess it's part of being human. Many suggestions are horribly wrong, and they can feel almost willfully so. I saw a post on social media recently asking for book recommendations. The poster wanted to read about an era of history, but she specified she wanted a standalone book. She got no less than three recommendations for series that are "really good." As my writing career lurches along, I get lots of advice on what I should be doing. My first books were historical, but then other ideas came along. I wrote contemporary mysteries and what I call 'vintage' mysteries set in the 1960s. As a result, Peg Herring's books are scattered through various mystery sub-genres, and of course there are fans who would like more of this type or that. "You should write more ---" Maybe some authors can churn out endless books of one type. I can't. When I decided to try writing a cozy mystery, I invented a pseudonym, no

Such A Deal for You!

Often I have stories that are funny to me but might set other people thinking, "The woman doesn't have a clue." I know that, and mostly, I don't mind. At the beginning of the month I signed up for a promotion that required I reduce the price on a boxed set. I did that, making The Simon & Elizabeth Mysteries (all 4 books in that series) just $.99 for the month of September. When I went back to list it on the promo, I realized it didn't fit the criteria. Result: The e-book boxed set is really cheap this month, for no good reason. I did manage to get one promo right, so KIDNAP.org will be free for download on BookFunnel starting Friday., Sept. 20 and going until Oct. 19 (link: https://books.bookfunnel.com/feel-goodcrime/xb92i6xlq7 For that promo an author lists how many books she's willing to give away, and they stay available until that # is reached. If you haven't yet started that series, it's fun, and the second book, PharmaCon , is a

There's Too Many Kids in this Tub!

That's a poem by Shel Silverstein, but sometimes I feel that way about my books. I was packing for a book signing on Saturday, and I simply can't haul all of my books (and Maggie's) along anymore. I ended up taking a suitcase full, leaving it in the car, and checking with Horizon Books to see which books they already had. That way I only had to bring a few books from the car to the store, since Traverse City is a bit of an obstacle course all summer long. Gawking tourists (and I'm not complaining, since I've been that person many, many times), dogs, kids, cars, and protestors make the streets an adventure. Luckily, Horizon Books carries my work in good quantities, so I was able to navigate the streets with only a small tote bag containing the newest release. But back to the too many kids thing. I once heard a very famous author comment that it was frustrating for him when people asked questions about his older books. "I forget them as soon as I write them,&qu

Being All-Indie

I reported recently on the reversion of the Simon & Elizabeth Mysteries, my historical series, to my own again. When you sign with a publisher, they get the rights to a book or series for X number of years. They're professionally edited, and the publisher builds an audience that can speak for their quality. Downside: the cost is high due to people other than the author needing to make a profit. When I got Simon's stories back, I got new covers and re-published the series at a much lower cost. Now Loser will get the same treatment. The Loser Mysteries center on a homeless woman who finds herself involved in solving a murder. From the beginning I knew it would be a 3-book series, since the stories begin with her at her worst and follow her recovery from trauma. The books are beloved by a certain set, and many suggested I might extend it, but once Loser is back to (almost) normal, I felt that further stories would only have presented more murders to solve. There were too f

Simon & Elizabeth Boxed Up

Last post was about getting the rights to the Simon & Elizabeth series back and re-releasing them with new covers. I went one step farther in the last week and put all four books into one e-book. Better price. All four adventures in one place. Still the same lovable Simon and unstoppable Elizabeth. To quote Publishers' Weekly, "...this historical series shines." Links: Amazon   or Everybody Else

...and Then the Monsters Showed Up

I'm not a big reader of science fiction , but I love it when it's well done. (Michael Crichton comes to mind.) Good sci-fi writers explore interesting social questions while constructing cool plots about things that haven't happened...yet. My complaint with SF is that all too often the story ends with "and now we must kill the aliens before they kill us." The last few chapters are the all out battle for the survival of our species, with lots of things blowing up and gallons of green blood spilt. That's not my thing. In the most recent example I read, the story began well, with questions about how time travel would actually work and what the resulting physical and mental problems might be, but it ended up with monsters pouring out of the portal and lots of shooting. We started with questions and ended with an arcade game. SF isn't the only predictable genre, which is why genre fiction has a bad name with literary folks. Who hasn't started a romance

Authors in Strange Situations

Nobody tells you that promoting the books you write requires you to be adaptable and have a sense of humor. We picture authors jetting all over the country, sipping champagne and telling adoring fans about their latest novel, but that's not reality for the vast majority of us. I loved the story one author told about arriving at a bookstore where he had an audience of one. The fan told him he'd really liked the book, though he admitted he might not have chosen to read it except, "It was the only one they had in solitary confinement." I haven't met any ex-cons who are fans (that I know of), but I have ended up in strange situations. I want to state here for the record that I am EXTREMELY grateful to libraries and bookstores who allow me to come for a Sit & Sign or, even better, a talk. However, it doesn't always go the way one might imagine. *** There was the library where they'd booked two events at the same time in the same room. The othe

What Are You Working On?

I've been a little scattered for the last few months, so my workday jumps from book to book. I was stalled on the sequel to KIDNAP.org, but I think the breakthrough is close. I got the audio files (Authors have to listen to the whole thing and okay it before it's released.) and as I listened, I got inspired to continue the story of Robin and her gang of non-hoods. The narrator, Megan Scharlau, is excellent, and that's what I needed to get busy and finish the half-done manuscript from last summer. Audio will be available by the end of January Maggie has another Sleuth Sisters going (release date is March 23 if I recall correctly and it's up for pre-order on Amazon). It's been sent out to beta readers who'll tell her what needs tweaking. A fan wrote to say that Maggie missed a book when she published to the non-Amazon sites, which meant only Amazon had Sleuthing at Sweet Springs . A day was spent last week getting that fixed. I did a boxed set of The Dead

People Ask Cool Questions #1

https://www.amazon.com/Killing-Silence-Loser-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B00A87IAQG I'm on vacation for September, so for the blog I thought I'd address some questions people ask at personal appearances. QUESTION #1 Where do you get the names/inspiration for your characters? Often from real people I know. I need an image in my head to create a character. (Brag here: one site said last week that my characters are people you think about long after you finish the book. YAY!) I start with someone I've known--perhaps a coworker or a former student--and imagine how that person would react to the scenario I'm creating. I always add when I admit this that those people NEVER stay real. As soon as I have a firm picture in mind, the character becomes a whole new person, with his own personality, attitudes, and personal details. For example, Verle in the Loser Mysteries started out as a man who was sort of my second dad, since I practically lived at his house as a kid. Readers

Buchbrauchen

Okay, I made that word up, and I never studied German, so don't criticize! There should be a word for wanting something good to read but not being sure what you want or able to find it. Apparently what I want to read isn't very popular right now. I've been sick of serial killers for years, but that's mainly what Amazon offers when you type in mystery . I'm also sick of protagonists who aren't much better than the criminals they seek. I gave up on two books this week. In one the protag shared his client's cocaine with him and spent waaaaaay too much time describing the physical attributes of the sleazy, slimy women the client surrounded himself with. In the other, every cop was corrupt and every lawyer was shady to the point I was sick of all of them. I've never been much for books where the mystery takes second place to something else, like growing kumquats or shopping. I'm disappointed by books where the killer comes totally out of the blue

Why Do You Write Mysteries?

Why Do You Write Mysteries? I get asked that question a lot, so I've thought long and hard in order to be able to come up with a good answer. Here it is. I don't really know. Why do you read mysteries? might be a place to start. If we can agree that we read mysteries because we enjoy having a puzzle to solve, like seeing characters tossed into unusual and often dangerous situations, and feel satisfied when everything works out in the end, then I guess the logical extension of that, at least for someone who likes to write, is attempting to create her own  mystery. I like coming up with unique characters: a homeless woman, a dead P.I., a famous princess/queen. I like salting the plot with clues, both false and real. I like filling in details once the main story is in place and adding subplots like the relationships among sisters or the joys of growing up in a small town. I get to know my characters through a series, so my mind stops me if I try to make a woman or even a dog

All Kinds of Mysteries

http://www.amazon.com/Macdeath-Ivy-Meadows-Mys…/…/B00OQJG9NI I love reading, and I especially love mysteries. That doesn't mean all of them, of course. I don't like the ones that are too silly. I can't stand the amateur who should stay out of the way and let the police investigate. I don't like the best friend who gets the protagonist into trouble with her antics. I want some sense of reality in the world an author creates. That's why I like MACDEATH. The main character is real, funny but not silly. http://www.amazon.com/PLAN-Rory-Tate-Thrillers…/…/B00D68H8PI I also shy away from thrillers that have over-the-top heroes (unless they have a sense of humor). I don't want anyone tortured, even the bad guys. I don't care to read three full pages of gun description. That's why I like PLAN X. The hero has things to deal with. The action moves quickly. Nobody gets waterboarded. http://www.amazon.com/Nine-Days-Evil-N-West-eb…/…/B007P