Showing posts with label mystery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mystery. 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

Dec 7, 2020

Which Book Was That?

 It happens to me sometimes. A reader mentions a character or a scene in one of my books, and it takes me a second to find it in my memory. Oh, right, Caroline, the protagonist in Somebody Doesn't Like Sarah Leigh. I remember her--kind of.

https://books2read.com/u/4AgVOq
The thing is, authors move on. We have new ideas. We dream up new people. But there's no way to tell when a reader will find a book, read it, and get excited for more. My first book was published in 2006. I just saw online where someone ordered it. Yay...but how much of Macbeth's Niece do I even remember?
https://books2read.com/u/m0xYdY

My newest book, Deceiving Elvera, released on Friday. There are ads for it everywhere, and the introductory price is a bargain, so readers are talking about it. One beta reader suggested I could make it a series. Um, no. Some books are meant to be stand-alones, and this one is...big-time.

https://books2read.com/u/38RZoB


The other day a fan wrote to say she wished Maggie Pill (that's me) would consider another Sleuth Sisters book. I said I'd think about it, but it's probably not going to happen. 

I remember going to a Peter, Paul, and Mary concert late in their career as a group. They sang songs I'd never heard before, songs they'd written recently, and I left a little disappointed. I'd gone there to hear "If I Had a Hammer" and "Puff, the Magic Dragon," but they were tired of singing those old chestnuts over and over. I get it: creative people want to move on and do something new. Audiences want to recapture the joy they felt the first time they heard/read/saw a creative work. Some authors can make themselves keep adding another episode. I can't.

Then what am I doing? Tweaking the characters for my next mystery, The Cutest Little Killer. I'm thinking this one could be a series, but readers will have a lot to say about that. It's kind of a partnership, at least with independent writers. Authors let readers know what they like to write by putting the books out there. Readers let an author know they want more by buying books, reviewing them, and recommending them to others.

Nov 12, 2018

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 few further character revelations to be made.

But the rights are now mine again, so Loser will get re-published at a better cost. I'm required to have new covers, and I'm looking for input. The idea is feet, and we chose pics that represent her three phases: homeless, returning to her roots, and facing her demons.

Here's Book #1 two slightly different ways. Any preference? I was hoping the first (skewed) pic gave a sense of movement, but Hubby says he can't see much difference.


Sep 17, 2018

Simon & Elizabeth Redux

My first successful series was the Simon & Elizabeth Mysteries with Five Star Publishing. Going on the "write what you know" advice new writers get, I focused on Elizabeth I of England, one of my favorite historical characters. She had so much going against her as she grew up--I mean, how many girls can say their father had their mother beheaded?

In the last decade or so, some authors have (very successfully) attacked Anne Boleyn's character, making her seem like Satan's First Date. I'm afraid that's more drama than historical accuracy, but we all interpret history to suit our own thinking...and some knowingly twist it to make a salacious story. I won't argue the right and wrong of that, since Shakespeare did a lot of the same things to make his stories work. It's just sad to me that those who read only fiction might believe it.

Anyway, my series focuses on Anne's daughter Elizabeth, and she's a very sympathetic character. In Her Majesty's Mischief, the last of the series, Her Highness is queen, and she's fallen into the age-old tendency for those with power to use it without considering others' wishes. Elizabeth sends Simon, practically kicking and screaming, to Scotland, where he gets in a heap of trouble. Worse, he leaves behind a mystery that needs solving at home. His son Henry steps in to take up the challenge.

My original plan was to have a fifth S&E mystery in which Henry became the investigator because both Simon and Elizabeth were old. Two things got in the way of that: Five Star stopped publishing mysteries, and several of my other series ideas took off. One can only write so many books/year, and I'm amazed at how much time it takes.

In the meantime I've got the rights to this series back, so I'm re-releasing them under my own banner, which calls for new covers (Five Star owns the originals). The advantage for readers is the books are much more reasonably priced. In fact I will probably make the first one, Her Highness' First Murder, free in e-book format. (It's a clever ploy to get you to buy the other three!) Once I get this one ready to go for e-book (I'm shooting for next week sometime), I hope to make a boxed set of all four. A print version of this one will follow, early in October, if all goes well.
NOTE: When you click on the links below, the covers that show up might still be the original ones. Amazon has a policy of showing the cover that's sold the most copies, so it's going to take a while for my versions to surpass their sales. Price should be $2.99 if they're mine. Same books.
If you're not an Amazon user, here are the links for everyone else, B&N, Kobo, Apple, etc.:
Her Highness...https://www.books2read.com/u/38gN8a
Poison...: https://www.books2read.com/u/mYg5zP
The Lady...: https://www.books2read.com/u/3yD2dv

Book#1Amazon 

Book #2Amazon

Book #3Amazon



Aug 27, 2018

Everything Old Is New Again


Amazon is great for authors. Their print book division, CreateSpace, has been very helpful for me in publishing books on my own, either from Day One or when the rights revert to me from a publishing contract. Recently the news came out that CreateSpace will be going away, and KDP, Amazon's ebook division, will take on both print and ebooks in the future.
I decided to convert my books to KDP now rather than later. It's pretty easy if the book is already in CS, though one needs to pay attention to the details. In the process, I did some updating, including altered covers and even new covers for some of my books.
Above is Shakespeare's Blood, the old version on the left and the new one on the right. I'm going to do a print version, which I hadn't done before, and that one will have the cover on the right as well.
I like having Mercedes featured and like it lighter, both in mood and actual light. I still might make some changes in placement, depending on how the proof copy I sent for looks when it arrives.

So...old book, new cover. It's pretty exciting for an author, maybe not so much for the rest of the world.
BTW: This doesn't change anything about buying books from Amazon. They're all still there, so don't worry...and don't stop reading!

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 :(

 

Dec 19, 2016

Not a New Book--Just a New Look!



From time to time, authors pick up on readers' opinions, either directly ("I hate that cover!") or indirectly ("That sounds too scary for me.") I learned from listening that readers didn't consider one of my books because the cover looked dark and the title seemed harsh.
Hence, a new title and a new cover:


The old title was GO HOME AND DIE, and the old cover looked a little like a thriller, with two figures silhouetted against a city skyline. At the time I thought it was okay, but when I looked at the book honestly, it's more girl meets boy, grows up a little, and solves a murder along the way.
If you haven't tried it, here's the link so you can download a sample and see if HER EX-GI P.I. doesn't bring back some '60s memories for you.


Here's what you might want to know about Peg and her work:

Writes: Mysteries, mostly. There's suspense and death but no graphic violence, sex, or language.

Unique Qualities: In each book/series, the characters have an interesting view of the world. Though single, small-town females who just opened a small business is all the rage for protagonists, but I don't find that interesting unless something more about their character makes me want to get to know them. So yes, I have written books about small-town women, but the stories explore their character, their relationships, and their personalities along with a puzzling mystery.

Recognition: Authors these days love to tell how they're Amazon Bestsellers and such. I've received those kinds of benchmarks and more, but my favorite thing is when a reader contacts me to say, "I loved that book!"

Current projects: I've been updating my books online, making the links better and refining the wording. It should be done every couple of years, since technology keeps changing, but it's an exhaustive process! Now I'm on to something new--just not sure what that will be yet.

Cutesy facts about me that readers will love:
Hmmm. There's the 22-year-old cat, of course. She's very lovable except for last Friday night when she brought a live mouse to me when I was asleep in bed. Result: chaos for one human, one feline, and one (now deceased) rodent.






We live in northern Lower Michigan, where the daffodils are braving our cold spring quite well.→→→→→→→→→→→










I have the love of my life (well, the last 47 years of it), banging around downstairs as I write this. Here he is at a Tigers spring training game.


 And of course I love books, not all at the same level, but still. Here are my personal categories.
 🌟: Don't care about these people: 20 pages max
 🌟🌟: Might care: Finished but no more from this author
🌟🌟🌟: The end is worth working for, but it might take me a while and others books in between
🌟🌟🌟🌟: Oh, I like this one! Bedtime delayed.
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟: Did I remember to eat today?


A "Good Book" recommendation from my recent reading: .
Currently reading:

Started Dennis Lehane's SINCE WE FELL. Gripping, though I fear tragedy awaits. Same with Anne Perry's SHOULDER THE SKY, a WWI story.  I'll read on in both cases, depression or no!

Aug 22, 2016

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 do something that isn't in her nature.
So why do I write mysteries? Well, it's great to have people write to tell me they enjoy them. When I opened my email this morning, there was a glowing review from a woman who'd listened to one of my books, nine hours of audio, in one day. That's a great complement to that first cup of coffee!
Mostly I write mysteries because I read them, love them, and am always looking for another good one. If I write it, that's okay too.

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?

Jul 25, 2016

In Defense of Cozies



Product Details
Upcoming Release of a Series I Enjoy
When authors get together, there's a tendency to disparage cozy mysteries, and many of my friends think of themselves as "just" cozy writers. To be honest, cozies can get pretty silly, with amateur sleuths bumbling through situations that no sane person would put herself into. Often they have only the faintest of reasons to do so, and most of us would have called the police, told them our suspicions, and gone back to canning green beans.

So why do zillions of people read zillions of cozies each year?

Possibly because we trust them.

We trust cozies to provide a few hours of entertainment that won't depress us, scare us, or force us to ponder the darker side of humanity. Cozy villains might be a little papery, but we don't imagine them showing up in our bedrooms with a butcher knife or shadowing us in a dark parking garage as we hurry to our cars.

It might be my age, or it might be TV's predilection for long-running segments on cop series where a single crazy-but-oh-so-clever killer menaces the hero and his/her family and friends for months, even years (think Red John), but I'm tired of psychopaths. It seems dishonest to me for an author to create a character whose psychosis allows him/her to do just about anything with only his own delusional thoughts for a road map. Traditional mysteries, including cozies, rely on logic: the killer has to have a reason for what he does, and the reader should be able to believe he was pushed to the point of murder by his situation, whether by greed or hate or whichever deadly sin it turns out to be.

I also hate blood, torture, and mental anguish in books (well, actually, anywhere). When a character is helpless and the killer is standing over him with a knife, things better get more positive pretty quickly, or I'm closing that book. Many times I've stopped reading when it felt to me like the author was just seeing how sick things could get (see last week's blog), and my tendency is to not return to that author again once she's done that.

Finally, cozies restore justice in the end. The killer is caught, life in the small town returns to normal (until Book 2 or Book 22!). With 24-hour news telling us about every abnormality they can dig up, it's nice to have that Shakespearean return to order in our fiction.

Do I read cozies all the time? No. I prefer straight traditional mystery, but I'm pretty careful about who I trust to write it for the reasons listed above. I completely understand why people stick to cozies, because if you like a little murder and a good puzzle, they're comforting and comfortable. 




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."


 

Mar 14, 2016

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…/…/B007PJ5PYU

I don't like mysteries where no one is likable. I recently finished one where everyone in the book screamed insults at each other through the whole thing, and I wondered why I bothered. Yes, I wanted to know who the real killer was, but it wasn't really worth it in the end. Time spent with mean, nasty people never seems like a reward. That's where NINE DAYS TO EVIL is good. You like the main character immediately, and you want her to get her life straightened out. I need someone to cheer for,
or a book is disappointing.
http://www.amazon.com/Shakespeares-Blood-Peg-H…/…/B0053GCTLE

And if you know me, you know I love history. That's why I like (and wrote) SHAKESPEARE'S BLOOD. Like the other books, it's set in modern times, but there's a connection to one of my favorite plays, Macbeth. It doesn't hurt to learn a little bit from reading a novel, even if it's alternative history.

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...