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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

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 t

Audio...Again

  Deceiving Elvera is now available as an audio book as well as print and e-book formats. Here's the link: https://www.amazon.com/Deceiving-Elvera/dp/B093C89MC7 Let me say something about narrators in general, and Naomi Rose-Mock in particular. They take an author's baby and interpret it aloud, so others can enjoy it. To do this, they must be able to read well; that's a given. But in a book like Deceiving Elvera , there's a lot more to think about. The book is set in Michigan and Thailand, so I had to provide a pronunciation guide (provided for me by someone who lived in Thailand for a time) that Naomi could consult. A third setting is a cruise ship, and the crew comes from all over, so she had to switch accents from Norwegian to Australian to Texan and so on. I would bet that requires a lot of highlighting and pre-reading to be prepared for conversations. Finally, the narrator interprets the characters and the action. Too much "color" and a character like El

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 P

The Terrors of Publication

Today I sent a newsletter to over two thousand readers, telling them about the book that will release on December 4, DECEIVING ELVERA. I also bought an ad on Facebook, letting readers there know how to pre-order the book. Terror. I'm gripped with terror, I tell you! Why? Because it's a little like navigating a minefield, this publishing thing.  *The print cover looks great on Amazon, but it's wonky on Draft 2 Digital (see spine above), and I haven't yet figured out why. *I have a FINAL final review copy on the way, so I might find a few leftover errors that will now have to be fixed on several sites before December 4th arrives (actually it's earlier than that, because they need time to get the files changed. More like November 30, then.) *Over the past week, I've slated ads with a half-dozen sites like Great Books, Great Deals and Kindle Daily Nation, so their readers will see the cover and read a bit about the book. Each one is different, and I dread that I mig

What Are You Working on Now?

 Many writers will agree that the Corona virus has been horrible but also helpful. Afraid to go out, unable to do what we once did, what can we do besides write? Since the virus hit big-time, I've published two books (one as Maggie Pill, one as myself) and worked on one that's been a couple of years in the works and is now with the copy editor for its final corrections. Hoping that will come out before the end of the year,  I teased you with the cover above. The downside to Corona for me is mental. With that and other national concerns, I've had trouble concentrating for any length of time, which means my work gets done in fits and starts. When I stop each day, I feel like the work is disjointed, but when I go back the next day and start reading, it's not. It's one of those, "it's not you, it's me" things. I'm writing the same as usual, but stress makes me feel like things aren't right. And what am I writing? A book called THE CUTEST LITTLE

In Praise of Editors

 Yes, I taught English for....many years. Yes, I'm good at commas and quotation marks and all their little friends. I know about story arcs and character development and figurative language. That does NOT mean I don't need a bunch of helpful friends and professionals to check my work. I start with a first reader . This person reads the manuscript in really rough form and gives me feedback on what she sees as its strengths and weaknesses. With her "outside" view (meaning outside my head), I begin to see where I spent too much time with unnecessary explanation or where I didn't "take the reader with me" on a plot point. I kind of feel sorry for my first reader, because she often has to piece things together and wade through a lot of junk that won't make the final cut. When I've reworked the story to my satisfaction, I hire a content editor. This is a professional who will comment on the story's development, strengths and weaknesses. I've h

Looking at Covers-Please Weigh In

The Kidnap Capers is a three-book series starring Robin and her "hoods," who take down crooks by unorthodox, often humorous methods.  Book 3 will be out on September 1st, so we're trying to settle on a cover. I'd like input from readers on what's eye-catching and gives the sense of a humorous but suspenseful story. Here are their covers (these are for the audio books because that's what I can find right now): Keeping the red/black theme, we got these two possibilities. They'll be fine-tuned once we choose a basic idea. If we skip the idea of coordinating colors, I like this one too: Please tell me which cover you prefer, or choose elements that work for you that might be incorporated into a new cover (e.g., "I like the lettering in X but the picture in Y.")

It's Been One of Those Months

We all have them, and at some point we wake up and ask, "Where did the time go?" My wake-up was my hair. I was trying to make it behave two mornings ago, and I'll confess, I had unkind thoughts about my stylist. What did she do wrong? Then I looked at the calendar and saw how long it's been since she cut my hair. Oh. My bad. The time between early May and mid-June has been a blur of not good things, but I did a radio interview yesterday with Patzi Gil of Joy on Paper, a syndicated author-talk show out of Clearwater, FL. Patzi has been great to me since she discovered, wholly on her own, the first of the Kidnap Capers, KIDNAP.org. Not only did she contact me for an interview last summer, but she also promised to do a second if I let her know when Book #2 came out. It did, so I did. Here's the website, the interview should be searchable there soon. https://radio-joyonpaper.com/ All that to say that I realized I hadn't yet added PHARMA CON to my website

The Point Where a Book Takes Off

As a reader, you feel a point where you're inside the story, at least if you and the story are sympatico . When you get a good book that happens almost immediately. I recently read MERCY DOGS by Tyler Dilts, which was recommended by a friend, and I fell into the story right away. I liked the protagonist. I empathized with his situation and his father's. I was interested in the mysterious disappearance of his renter. I wanted to know how they were all going to end up. I love it when that happens. For me, writing a book has that same moment. Intellectually I know I'm going to write a story that comes floating into my head, but emotionally, it often doesn't click until I'm in the middle of actually writing it down. I'm at work on the sequel to KIDNAP.org, which got nice attention from people in the book industry as well as readers. I knew I wanted it to be a three-story arc, and with my editor's suggestion, I figured out what the 2nd and 3rd books would de

Another Oldie Reborn

I wrote recently about re-releasing my historicals now that I have the rights from the publisher who originally launched them (2 down, 2 to go!) I explained that they have to have different covers because the original ones aren't mine. There's another book I'd like to tell you about, but we have to talk about some additional things. First, sometimes a book title just doesn't work. You might have seen FORMER TITLE on some of your favorite authors' novels (Did you know that Fitzgerald almost called his book Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires? I think THE GREAT GATSBY is a better title! ) Titles aren't etched in stone, and if one doesn't work, the smart thing to do is change it. The book I once called A Lethal time and Place is a good example. I realized over time that it sounds scary and dark, while the story is whimsical and fun. Hence a new title, NOT DEAD YET... The same is true with covers . The cover artist listened to my ideas and did as I asked, bu

Double Toil & Trouble x 2/3

Here's the new historical romance, and the answers to a few questions. 1. Another romance?     I know! I didn't think I'd ever do it, but the story was so much fun I had to. 2. Available where?     Amazon for e-book for sure.     Amazon in print any minute now.     Ingram in print someday soon. Since Ingram connects to bookstores, it's nice to have the book offered there, but they take longer to get things set up. Give it a week before you ask your favorite library or bookstore to get it for you.     Hometown folks-It will be at Tom's, but probably not until March. It's just the way things worked out for me. 3. So what's it about?    Jenna and Jessie, two more of Macbeth's nieces. If you remember Tessa from Macbeth's Niece , my very first book, you'll see her again. Because it's ten years later, I didn't call this a sequel. It's more like a relative. 4. Where do the characters come from? If you happen to know sisters name

Soon-to-Be Book--Not What You Expect

Many years ago, my first book came out. Macbeth's Niece is a romance set in--well, the time of Macbeth, around 1053. Here is what Five Star Publishing did for its cover. And here's what I did when the rights reverted back to me and I re-released it as an e-book. Theirs is prettier, but mine shows more of Tessa's fiery personality. Why did a mystery writer start with a romance? Well, they say to write what you know, and as a long-time English teacher, Macbeth is very familiar to me.  I always loved the story and felt sorry for Macbeth, who didn't comprehend that things seldom turn out the way you imagine they will until it was much too late. The story of a girl living at his castle who has her own adventures and comes to the same conclusion (though with a happier ending) seemed to form itself in my head without much effort (though writing it down was a little more difficult.) I was shopping two books at the time, and two different agents tried to find a pub

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. T

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

What It's Like When You're Expecting...a Book

My copies of KILLING DESPAIR arrived yesterday, and it got me thinking that expecting a book is a lot like expecting a baby. *When you tell people about it too early, all those months of waiting detract from the excitement. *You can't be sure when it's going to happen, despite the dates the experts throw out there. *There are periods of discomfort, and you have to remind yourself that something good is going to result. *Friends are supportive, but they're seldom as excited as you are about the coming event. *You wait for it to be "over" but soon learn there's more work after it's "over" than you ever imagined. E-book:  http://www.amazon.com/Killing-Despair-Loser-Mysteries-Three-ebook/dp/B00MKBH3MU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408621189&sr=8-1&keywords=killing+despair Print: http://www.amazon.com/Killing-Despair-Loser-Mysteries-Three/dp/0990565513/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1408621189&sr=8-1 My signing itinerary

*Killing Despair* Countdown

The third Loser Mystery, Killing Despair , launches on August 9th from LL-Publications. (Trust me; I'll remind you when it's available and post the buy-links!) Loser returns to Richmond in Book #3, drawn there by new information about the murders of her husband and child three years earlier. Once there, she becomes a suspect in a current murder and must disappear into the world of street people, sleeping in alleys and hiding in the places no one goes. This time, however, Loser has more than her street friends for help. This time she might find the truth and escape her despair--if she survives. The books in this series ( Killing Silence, Killing Memories , and Killing Despair) were compelling stories for me to write, and fans tell me they are compelling reads as well. Loser is one of my more intriguing characters, difficult to write in many ways (like not talking much) but also very real to me. After three books, I'm done with her for a while, but there might be a time