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The Final Step That Never Ends

Truth in Advertising: My hair is no longer this color! Over the last few months, I've written about how I came to self-publish and what I do in that process. Once your cover is great, your MS is perfect (we hope), and your formatting is set for whichever sites you plan to present on, there's just promo left to do...always...forever...eternally.  A person trying to make a living by writing has to promote. Those who aren't (like me) do as much as we choose. Writers understand that promoted books, (often books that aren't as good as yours) will sell, while unpromoted books mean that no one even knows you've got a new one out there. We begin promo long before a book is available for sale. We talk about it online. We do cover reveals. We offer samples. We try to get bloggers interested enough to feature the book. We solicit reviews. Add standing on our heads and screaming, "IT'S MY NEW BOOK!" and you have some idea. The biggest problem is that no one kno

New Reader Site Hits the Target

 Though I'm not sure how, I recently heard about Shepherd.com The people there are trying to change the way we find new books to read online, and I'm all for that. When you type in "mystery" or "crime fiction" in most book-finding sites (like Amazon), you get a list of the 8 or 10 biggest-selling writers, like James Patterson, Michael Connelly, and Janet Evanovitch. The problem with that is that telling me Michael Connelly has a new book is useless. I've already bought it, read it, and passed it on to a friend. Also, some of those big names don't interest me, for a variety of reasons. I'd like new suggestions, new authors to try, but it's hard to choose, and the list goes on forever, with no hints as to which ones I'll really like. Enter Shepherd.com. Right now, things are in the beginning stages, but the site categorizes books with a clever teaser: "The Best Books about..." You can search by title or author and along with the

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

Have You Missed a Book in a Series?

A word I hear sometimes when people talk about me is "prolific."  Yes, I do have a lot of books out, and that can get confusing. Did you miss a book? Maybe a whole series? To help readers decide if they're up to date, I've devised a list a la Seinfeld, using "The one where..." THE LOSER MYSTERIES     Killing Silence- The one where we meet Loser, a woman who lives on the streets of Richmond, ignoring just about everyone until she feels compelled to help a little girl and her dad. Killing Memories- The one where Loser goes home to West Virginia, intending to live alone, but finds connections to people who need her, especially her crime-solving expertise. Killing Despair- The one where Loser goes back to Richmond to face her past and learn what exactly happened the night her husband died. THE KIDNAP CAPERS KIDNAP(.)org- The one where Robin becomes a criminal by helping her neighbor right a wrong--and decides she likes putting cheaters in their place. Pharma Con

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/

Choosing Your Next Book

    Whether you open a website or walk into a bookstore, there's nothing like the feeling of choosing what you're going to read next. Sadly, I've been disappointed more often than thrilled this year, and at lunch with a friend the other day, she said the same. "Maybe we read too much," she told me. "We've heard it all and seen it all as far as stories go." While that might be true, I can still get pulled into a book if it's done well, as I have been with my current read, WE BEGIN AT THE END by Chris Whitaker. It's not an easy book, but when I find myself thinking, even worrying, about the characters when I'm not reading, I know it's because of good writing. Of course, reading is as individual as writing. I can't tell you the book will affect you the same way. I can only give you my reaction. Choosing a new book is both easy and hard in our time. There are tons of books and tons of places to find them. Still, I've noticed tha

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.")

Writing, My Precious

We sometimes hear writing described as precious , which, according to one definition I found, is some combination of 1. self-absorbed – the author inserting his own personality too much in the narration. 2. autobiographical – the story is about something that changed the author’s life, turned into fiction. 3. trying too hard to make the text sound nice/pretty 4. trying too hard to effect a style Last night I dumped a book after about 20 pages for reasons I can't pinpoint except to call the writing precious . I felt like the author was standing at my shoulder, asking, "Didn't I describe that character completely? Isn't she stunningly beautiful?" Every character was described in great detail before he/she ever said a word. In addition, they might just as well have worn signs that said, "LIKE ME" or "DON'T LIKE ME." The "good" characters were perfectly beautiful or incredibly handsome, and the "bad" characters had bea

...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

Free Books and All That

I'm kind of bad at selling things (which is odd because my dad was a used car salesman. He wasn't the stereotypical one, though, and worked hard to find the best car for the money for each customer.) Anyway, even with years of watching people sell things to other people, I can't make myself tell readers that my books are amazing and will change their lives. Nor can I follow the advice of one writer I met who said, "When people come up to your table at a signing, shove the book at them so they have to take it into their hands. They'll be embarrassed to put it down, so they'll buy it." Really? I'd be embarrassed to be that pushy. So here's the deal. It's the holiday season and people are looking for gifts. If you know a mystery reader, you might consider giving one of my books. I've listed below the first in each series, and I'm giving the Kindle versions away over the next month on Amazon. I won't hide my motive: if a person re

Parents Reading Poems

...and reciting. My mother was a great reader of poems, and she always had a book of them nearby. A Child's Garden of Verses was one of my favorites, but there were many more, and as we grew older, the poems grew more complicated: Poe, Whittier, Masters, and Dickinson. Later she discovered Shel Silverstein, and she read his work to her kids at school, unaware that some of them were banned for promoting cannibalism ("Someone Ate the Baby") or other silly non-reasons. My dad was a reciter of poems, and he had a million of them. They were generally less literary than mom's, and from time to time he got scolded for choosing ones with words like poop in them or topics we were too young to understand, like marital infidelity. (No, I didn't get it, but I liked the fact that Mom was afraid I might.) They made me a life-long lover of poetry, and I actually use poetry to calm myself down. If I can't sleep, I recite some of the two-dozen or so long poems I memori

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

Stuck on Historicals

For some reason I ended up with a bunch of historicals at my last visit to the bookstore. It could be that there are a lot of them out there, and it could also be that I'm drawn to them. Here's what I've got: The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman-I'd read good things about this one, and I did enjoy the gradual narrowing of the distance between the two protagonists. Lots of interesting stuff about the times, when it was perfectly okay to display "freaks" and pretend it was science--although I guess today we do the same thing through television and pretend it's altruism. A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger-This one isn't for the casual reader of historicals. Like Hilary Mantel's work, it's a book that immerses one in the time, with references to real people the reader is expected to recognize and words I wouldn't have known except for good old Dr. Calver's Chaucer class back at U of M many decades ago. I had

In Defense of Cozies

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

Where Do You Stop Reading?

Last week I posted about the reader's delight: four great books I read all in a short time. Today I'd like to talk about the ones we don't finish. My most recent "I'm not reading any more of this" book started on a weak note, but I stuck with it while the author rehashed the previous installment, figuring maybe I needed to know the stuff to get Book #2. Then the protagonist put himself in a situation where he was locked in without telling anyone or giving himself an emergency escape. I thought that was unwise, but as an author I know that we sometimes ignore what real people would do in order to make a story work. It's a story, after all. The stopping point came in a scene that was clearly included only to shock the reader. The event had nothing to do with historical detail and didn't advance the plot an iota. It was simply degrading to the protagonist and uncomfortable for me to "watch." It was almost as if the author yelled from beh