Mystery Mondays: Dave Butler on MYSTERY WRITERS PAYING IT FORWARD

DaveButler_profilepicThis week on Mystery Mondays, I’m pleased to host author, Dave Butler. Dave lives a couple of hours from my home in British Columbia, Canada.

I’ve hosted authors from all over the world, and this is the closest one has been in distance. Kinda cool, I think.

And congratulations are in order. Full Curl was short listed for the 2015 Crime Writers of Canada Unhanged Arthur Ellis award for best unpublished crime fiction. Now Full Curl is published by Dundurn Press!

So over to Dave…

MYSTERY WRITERS PAYING IT FORWARD

By Dave Butler

Paying it forward: “beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor.”

 Coming to mystery writing from the world of business, I was ready for the worst. In the list of literary genres, mystery/thriller is second only to romance/erotica in sales (there’s a cross-over opportunity there, but I digress…), so I knew that the potential for fame and fortune was very high (😉). I expected that writers would jostle with each other in dog-consumes-dog, winner-take-all battles, that trade secrets would be held close to protective chests, that there’d be fisticuffs for the right to be noticed by a tiny pool of hungry agents and publishers, and that despairing writers would pounce on every opportunity to trip up competitors and then step over (or on) their cold corpses to get ahead.

And with many of us living lonely solitary lives, with long hours and little in the way of validation or gratification, I assumed that the potential was also high that I’d be interacting with people who were one rejection slip away from being basement-dwelling serial killers.

However, I was wrong. It has been a pleasant surprise to discover that it’s not like that at all (with the possible exception of the serial killer potential … that I’m still not sure about…). Instead, I’ve found writers, particularly in the mystery/thriller world, to be incredibly gracious, open and friendly, and welcoming to newcomers.

In my own situation, I was lucky to have Full Curl, my first novel, shortlisted for the Unhanged Arthur Award in 2015. I had no idea what to expect when I attended the Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis awards banquet in Toronto. While I didn’t win (way to go, Elle Wild!), I was immediately overwhelmed by how welcome I felt.

As an example, I shared dinner that evening with Ian Hamilton (author of the successful Ava Lee series). He was patient with my rookie questions, and kind in sharing experience and advice. In a Toronto bar later that evening, over a glass or two of Forty Creek whisky, he asked me the pivotal question that then played a role in a multi-book deal for me. “Why don’t you write a series?” he asked.

That same pattern has been repeated many times. I see it when I share a coffee with other mystery writers, when I read communications from the Crime Writers of Canada, and when I attend workshops and conferences. It’s almost as though “paying it forward” has become what we do in our genre.

One could argue that holding everything close to our chests might mean that we can grab more of the pie for ourselves. But I’ve realized that growing the genre, both in readers and writers, is good for all.

It’s clear that deciding to “pay it forward,” or not, is very much an individual decision. Perhaps it’s a moral and ethical responsibility, but it depends on your own perspective and your own experience. And it doesn’t mean spending so much time helping others that you miss deadlines, or lose the muse. But by sharing information on the writing life, on the business of writing, we all move ahead.

For me, there’s no doubt that I’ll “pay it forward” to recognize the kindness and generosity of those who have helped me. But at the same time, if I meet a writer who invites me in to see his/her pile of rejection letters, I refuse to go in their basement!

Who is Dave Butler?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADave Butler is a mystery/thriller writer from Cranbrook, BC who is the author of the Jenny Willson mystery series (Dundurn Press). Full Curl, the first in the series, in on store shelves now.

He’s a forester and biologist living in Cranbrook, British Columbia, in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. His writing and photography have appeared in numerous Canadian publications. He’s a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal winner, and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. When he’s not writing, Dave is professionally involved in sustainable tourism at local, national and international levels and he travels extensively. www.davebutlerwriting.com

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Mystery Mondays: Will Macmillan Jones on What Makes a Mystery Successful

Demon_s_Reach_Front_CoverWelcome to this week’s edition  of Mystery Mondays. This week, author Will Macmillan Jones is here. You can probably tell by the cover, Demon’s Reach – 5th in the series – falls under the horror category.

Demon’s Reach will be released Oct, 20 2017 but you can pre-order now. Congratulation, Will!

The first in the series is The Showing.

Will is shares his journey in writing and along the way gives us his take on a successful mystery.

 

What makes a Mystery Successful

By Will Macmillan Jones

 Come on admit it: we all love a mystery. There’s the challenge of trying to outguess the author by picking up clues too early*; the sneaky pleasure of realising that you were right all along where other readers would have failed to identify the killer so soon – more commonly achieved on the second or third reading of a book, in my personal experience; the satisfaction in a decent denoument; and (hopefully) appreciation of the author’s skill in hiding the real villain of the piece until almost the last minute through careful misdirection.

It is the reason Agatha Christie was so successful. Many of her books have, with some justification, been accused of being formulaic: but all the factors for a satisfying reading experience are there in every book. Be it Poirot, or Miss Marple – the reader knows that the main character will uncover the truth, whether or not the perpetrator is ever brought to justice. In fact, the latter point is usually the least important (with the honourable exception of Christie’s book Nemesis, which is all about Justice, with a capital J), and the intellectual chase is the main point of the book.

This is where mysteries are a step removed from most crime novels, where the murderer is sometimes revealed early, to allow the reader to focus on the efforts of the Detective to uncover the truth. Wire in The Blood, a highly successful crime novel by Val McDiarmid (another successful novel transferred to TV by the way) is a great example, while Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse novels are more akin to a Christie style with the perpetrator hidden for as long as possible.

Next up are the new generation of ‘Cosy Mysteries’. I’ve read more than a few of these, and while the crimes involved are frequently less grisly than Christie’s favoured felonies, for me they feel like the direct descendant of the tradition of Miss Marple, where an innocent (for a given value of innocent!) and certainly non professional character with no real police connections both uncovers and then solves the crime, all in a quite genteel way.

 A successful mystery novel may, but does not need, to hide the malefactor. This is just as well for me, when we move a little outside the comfortable zone I have considered so far, then we can move over to some of the darker stories around. Stephen King is normally considered just as a writer of horror, but that really isn’t strictly true. The supernatural forms a significant theme in a number of his books – Needful Things is a great example, and of course his breakthrough book Carrie, but several are mystery stories in their own right – although the characters involved may not be human, or even alive. Bag of Bones is the example I’d chose here.

Then of course we meet Dennis Wheatley, an author both revered and reviled in equal measure, mostly by people who have never read his work. For the record, he always describes the Black Magic he portrays as fundamentally wrong, and something to be avoided at all costs – and Evil never triumphs in his work, which always seems to me to be fundamentally highly moralistic. But besides the mystery of the abuse thrown his way, there are the mysteries portrayed in his books.

When I decided that I needed a change from writing humour, another niche genre to horror and carrying its own rules and challenges (not the least of which is finding readers!), I knew that I wanted to write in the paranormal genre. Not Romance, of course, anything but that! I loathe sparkly vampires and not-very-hairy werewolves** who have other designs on attractive men or women than ripping their throats out. Besides, as my ex would tell you at great length if you were to ask her, I am one of the most unromantic people to ever walk the earth. My last publisher once invited me to a Romance Writers Convention, probably after reading my work Bass Instinct, which was written just after my ex and I had parted, an event that might have somewhat coloured my views on Romance. I digress. Sorry.

Anyway, I had grown up reading some Dennis Wheatley novels that I had quietly removed from my Grandfather’s library without my parents’ knowledge, and worked out that while the settings of the novels were reliably Gothic and Magical and very dark, the story in each novel was fundamentally a mystery. A murder or an abduction perhaps? Illictly gaining money is always a motivating factor, is it not? Both in life (according to the lesser quality of newspapers) as well as mystery novels. These were in Wheatley’s books, I was delighted to discover when I started rereading them. As, inevitably, was the desire for Power. In fact, all the myriad of vices known to the human race could become the subject of a novel, viewed through the right prism. Just, of course, as they are in conventional mystery or detective stories. The paranormal just adds an extra dimension and offers an opportunity for the writer to deceive the reader in fresh and unexpected ways.

That was the great pleasure that, as a writer, I found in sailing blithely into the Paranormal Mystery genre. The joy for the reader is, in any mystery, accepting the challenge laid down by the author; and trying to discover the hidden secret of the novel from the clues laid out before the reader in the text. The joy for the writer lies in setting out these clues, and then using misdirection and red herrings to conceal the truth of the mystery for as long as possible. Hopefully to the final chapter. Adding the Paranormal into the mix gives the writer many, many more opportunities to have fun!

And of course, to offer the reader a few frights, chills and scary delights along the way. If I make you go to sleep with the lights on for a night or two, well that’s my bonus payment for the labour involved in writing the book, isn’t it?

*I have a friend, a well known author with an Amazon released film or two to her credit, who writes the first draft of a novel, and then rewites it to change the identity of the killer in an effort to prevent readers catching on.

** Ooops. Just alienated a huge potential audience, there, I suspect. But I’m a bit of a traditionalist and like my monsters to be more evil than your local Bank Manager or Traffic Enforcement Officer.

 

Who is Will Macmillan Jones?

fwrness 2Will Macmillan Jones lives in Wales, a lovely green, verdant land with a rich cultural heritage. He does his best to support this heritage by drinking the local beer and shouting loud encouragement whenever International Rugby is on the TV. A just turned sixty lover of blues, rock and jazz he has now fulfilled a lifetime ambition by filling an entire wall of his home office with (full) bookcases. When not writing, he is usually lost with the help of a satnav on top of a large hill in the middle of nowhere, looking for dragons. He hasn’t found one yet, but insists that it is only a matter of time.

When not performing as an oral storyteller and poet, he writes Dark Fantasy, fantasy he fantasises is funny, and books for children. Some of his pieces have won awards but he doesn’t like to talk about that as it draws attention to the fact that other pieces haven’t.

http://www.willmacmillanjones.com

Will Macmillan Jones is responsible for the ‘Mister Jones Mysteries’ collection of books, released through Red Kite Publishing. The latest, Demon’s Reach, will be released on 20 October 2017. They are available in both paperback and all ebook formats.

Mystery Mondays: Lyn Horner on Formatting & Publishing on Amazon

Today on Mystery Mondays we have Lyn Horner here to give us an in-depth lesson on how to format and publish your book on Amazon. This is a great resource if you’re about to embark on a self-publishing journey.  Thanks Lyn!

Over to Lyn…

Formatting & Publishing Your Book on Amazon

by Lyn Horner

Many thanks to Kristina for having me on her awesome site. I’m a self-published author with 15 books on Amazon. Some authors hire a service to format and upload their books to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Amazon’s self-publishing platform, but I do it myself. Today I’ll share what I’ve learned about the process.

**First, make sure your book meets Amazon’s content and quality guidelines.

 Then prepare your manuscript:

  1. Back-up your book file onto an external drive or one of the cloud backup sites (or both.) Copies can be a life saver if anything goes wrong during formatting.
  2. Combine your chapters. If you normally save chapters separately, you need to combine them into one document. Insert a page break at the end of each chapter to prevent them from running together in the uploaded book.
  3. Remove page numbers. Kindle books are reflowable (viewable in different font sizes). Page numbers would cause problems. Also remove any headers with the book title, your name, etc.
  4. Your font style must change sizes easily on a variety of devices. Times New Roman 12 pt. works well. Enlarge font for chapter headings.
  5. Remove paragraph indent tabs to avoid uneven indents in your ebook. To remove, type one tab at the top of your document, select and copy it. Open Find in the Edit menu. Paste the tab you copied into the Find box. (Word won’t let you type in the tab.) Open Replace in the Edit menu but leave the box empty; click Replace All. This will remove all tabs from your document.

To replace indents, select one whole chapter at a time, except the chapter title. Go to Indents and Spacing in your Paragraph drop-down. Set your first line indent at 0.5″ (default width) or smaller if preferred. Click okay. WORD will indent each paragraph for you. This does not cause problems with the Kindle conversion.

  1. Do not double space, no double line spacing and no double spaces after each sentence.
  2. Do not underline to indicate italics. Just italicize the word. Be sure to italicize foreign word. They will be underlined in red by the Word spell checker, but those lines will not show in your uploaded file.
  3. Indicate scene breaks within a chapter by centering three or four asterisks, pound signs or other symbol on a line between scenes. For point of view changes in a chapter, I simply insert a blank line. I want readers to know which character’s POV they’re in.
  4. Front and Back matter: Create a title page at the start of your book. See published books for style ideas. Add a copyright page after the title page. Again, see examples in published books. Next, add a dedication page and/or preface if you wish.

End your book by thanking your reader for purchasing it and include live links to your Amazon author page, website, social sites, etc. Then add a brief author bio and review snippets if you have them. Place a page break at the end of each page in your front and back matter.

  1. Amazon wants a table of contents (TOC) even in fiction ebooks, allowing readers to navigate easily. Some authors don’t include one, but I do. Each chapter title in the TOC must link to that chapter in your book. I also include links to my front and back matter pages. Find instructions for creating a TOC in your Word program.
  2. Create an HTML copy. You can upload your book as a doc or docx file, or in html format. To do that, first save your formatted book as a Word document first, in case you need it later. Then hit “Save As” and choose “Web Page, Filtered” as the file type. This converts it to an HTML file.

 

Another option is to have your book converted to mobi, the Kindle format, by a professional service, but it’s not necessary in most cases.

Okay, your book is ready to upload. Now what?

–Use your Amazon account to sign in to KDP or create a new one.

–Make sure your browser is updated.

–Go to your KDP Bookshelf. In the “Create a New Title” section, click +Kindle eBook and

enter your information for each section:

Kindle eBook Details: Enter title, description, keywords, categories, etc.

Kindel eBook Content: Upload manuscript and create your cover. (That’s a whole different post.) Preview your eBook to make sure everything looks good.

Kindle eBook Pricing: Select the territories where you hold distribution rights. (In most cases you should select Worldwide.) Select a royalty plan and set your list price.

  1. Click Publish Your eBook. Wait ’til your book is live on Amazon, then celebrate!

WHO IS LYN HORNER?

Lyn in cat shirt cropped.2Lyn Horner resides in Fort Worth, Texas, with her husband and several very spoiled cats. Trained in the visual arts, Lyn worked as a fashion illustrator and art instructor before she took up writing. She loves crafting passionate, action packed love stories, both historical and contemporary. Her Texas Devlins series blends Old West settings, steamy romance and a glimmer of the mysterious. This series has won multiple awards and nominations.

 

Lyn is now writing book 7 in her Romancing the Guardians series. These books combine her trademark psychic phenomena with chilling apocalyptic prophesies and sizzling romance. All feature suspense and adventure in settings ranging from Ireland to Texas, the Navajo Nation and other exotic sites.

Profiling Nathan

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]Nathan Maguire just wants to make a living inking tattoos in steamy Tampa, Florida, but a serial killer is murdering young women near his shop. Latino gangbangers are giving him trouble. On top of all that, he’s a covert Guardian of Danu sworn to protect one of seven ancient scrolls containing apocalyptic prophesies.

When sexy FBI profiler Talia Werner delivers a message from one of the other Guardians, Nate instantly distrusts her. No one outside the top-secret group is supposed to know they exist, but despite his suspicions, a fiery attraction ensnares the pair. Then, to save Talia’s pretty neck, Nate must help catch the murderer. His psychic gift may come in handy.

 

Five Star Review from mystery author Craig A. Hart

Lyn Horner doesn’t waste any time getting into the meat of the story with this book. One thing that bothers me about a lot of writers is that they take forever to get to the actual story–not an issue here!

I also enjoyed the characters. Nathan Maguire, a psychic tattoo artist, and Talia Werner, a sexy FBI profiler are both larger than life and help move the story along.

The story itself is a good mix of romance and murder mystery, so there’s something for everyone! Horner also does a good job of creating some great Florida atmosphere, although early on in the book, I got hungry for a Cuban sandwich and had to stop reading to eat something!

A great read!

Profiling Nathan buy links:

US Amazon     UK Amazon     CA: Amazon     AU Amazon

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/Y3aotC

Lyn’s Romance Gazette: (http://eepurl.com/bMYkeX

Lyn Horner’s Corner: (http://lynhorner.com)

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Mystery Mondays: Amy Reade on Setting

HighlandPerilToday, we are celebrating tomorrow’s release of Highland Peril by author Amy Reade.   Congratulations, Amy!

Amy hosts a fabulous blog called Reade and Write. Today she’s talking to us about one of my favorite subjects: SETTING.

Setting the Scene

by Amy Reade

Whether I’m on a panel or at a book signing or visiting a book club, one of the questions I’m frequently asked is whether I consider setting to be a character in my books. I get the question so often that I’ve started putting it in the back of each book as one of the discussion topics.

Here’s my short answer (and yes, I’m answering a question with another question): would the book be the same if it were set someplace else? If no, then I would consider the setting a character. If yes, then setting is probably not one of the characters, however important it may be.

Novels with a strong setting tend to be my favorite books. The main reasons I read are to learn and to be entertained. When a book has a strong atmosphere and sense of place combined with a strong plot, not only do I lose myself in the story, but I also get the opportunity to learn about a new place (or learn more about a place I already know). This is even true for places that don’t actually exist, such as a fantasy world or a fictional town. Two examples that immediately spring to mind are Hogwarts (from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series), and Loch Dubh (from M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth series).

So how can a setting be a character? Let’s break down some of the qualities of well-drawn characters. Such characters generally have at least three components: personality, emotion or lack thereof, and the ability to change or move the plot along.

In some books, setting has those same three characteristics. Personality, emotion, and ability to move the plot forward can be indefinable when applied to a place rather than a person, but they are easily understood through examples.

Just as with a human character, a setting’s “personality” is its essence. Personality includes a place’s heritage, its culture, its climate; in other words, its specialness. Take, for example, a book set in New Orleans. New Orleans is a place of music, of storied cuisine, and of sultry heat. In any book I’ve ever read that takes place in New Orleans, at least one of those three components are essential to the plot. Such a book could never be set in Chicago without losing its essence.

And how about emotion? In much the same way a human character expresses emotion, a setting can be cheerful, spooky, stormy, listless, or almost any other adjective you can think of. This notion can be applied equally to any setting: towns and cities, houses, islands, boats, schools, hospitals, mountain tops, etc. You get the point.

When I think of a setting’s emotion, often what comes to mind is weather. Weather can play a huge role in a story—think of how wintry weather and blizzard conditions can affect the outcome of a particular plot. That same plot isn’t going to work as well if it’s set in a place where there are no blizzards; in other words, the frigid, blizzard-prone setting is essential to the story.

And when it comes to moving the plot forward, setting has the ability to do that as well as any character. In my first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House, the main character, Macy, can’t swim. The setting of the story is the Thousand Islands region of northern New York, on an island. When a person who can’t swim is put on an island, you can imagine the dread that can develop. And that story couldn’t have taken place, say, on a busy barrier island along the eastern seaboard—it had to take place on a small, isolated island in a region where the weather can be harsh and unpredictable. Just like a human character. There are several instances in Secrets of Hallstead House in which the direction of the plot is determined by the very nature of the island setting.

Now for my favorite part of this post. I’ve made a short list of some of my favorite books which feature setting as one of the characters. Though you may not be familiar with all of them, you are no doubt familiar with most of the titles. I am confident you’ll agree that setting is one of the main characters in each of these books. Remember, ask yourself this question: could this story have taken place anywhere else without losing its very essence?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: the setting is an absolutely essential part of each of these books, both of which take place in the American south. I would go so far as to say these books wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the American south.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: the setting of this book, the Cornish coast of England, is reflected in every action the characters take. Just like the characters, the cliffs and moors, the mansion, and the grounds in Rebecca are stormy, moody, and dark. The book would be fundamentally different if it took place anywhere else.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri: everyone knows the story of the little girl who went up the mountain to live with her gruff grandfather. The mountain is as important to the book as the main characters: Heidi loves the mountain just as she loves her grandfather and her friend Peter; the mountain provides a stark and necessary contrast to the bleak city where she lives temporarily. The story just wouldn’t be the same if Heidi lived in an area that was simply rural without being mountainous.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg: if you’re not familiar with this book, the majority of the action takes place in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The main characters, a brother and sister, run away from home and live in the museum for a time, trying to solve a mystery they find there. Whenever I think of this book, it’s the museum that comes to mind, not the human characters, not the mansion in the suburbs where they find someone who helps them in their quest, not the streets of New York City. It’s the museum—a setting-character if ever there was one.

Black Amber by Phyllis A. Whitney: this book, probably my favorite of Whitney’s works, is set in Turkey. The plot and setting are inextricably linked—you can’t have one without the other. The story wouldn’t be the same if it were set in, say, Michigan (not that there’s anything wrong with Michigan).

Finally, to my new book, Highland Peril, which comes out tomorrow. As in all my novels, the setting in Highland Peril is one of the book’s most important elements. The main characters live in a little village called Cauld Loch, and though I had to send them to London and Edinburgh for short stints, they always return home to the Highlands. The beauty, the majesty, and the rugged landscape are as important to the story as any character. If you get a chance to read the book, I hope you’ll agree.

Please share your thoughts about books with setting-characters. What are your favorites? Which ones stick in your mind?

Kristina, thank you so much for having me here today. I love the Mystery Monday posts because they make me think, and I hope I’ve done that for your readers.

Who Is Amy Reade?

Amy M. ReadeAmy M. Reade is a cook, chauffeur, household CEO, doctor, laundress, maid, psychiatrist, warden, seer, teacher, and pet whisperer. In other words, a wife, mother, and recovering attorney. But she also writes (how could she not write with that last name?) and is the author of The Malice Series (The House on Candlewick Lane, Highland Peril, and Murder in Thistlecross) and three standalone books, Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of the Hanging Jade. She lives in southern New Jersey, but loves to travel. Her favorite places to visit are Scotland and Hawaii and when she can’t travel she loves to read books set in far-flung locations.

Where Can You Find Amy?

Website: www.amymreade.com

Blog: www.amreade.wordpress.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/amreadeauthor

Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/AmyMReadesGothicFictionFans

Twitter: www.twitter.com/readeandwrite

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/amreade

Instagram: www.instagram.com/amymreade

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Amy-M.-Reade/e/B00LX6ASF2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8189243.Amy_M_Reade

And Finally, Where Can You Buy Highland Peril?

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2uaP5dq

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2uzgzcD

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2v9ooHB

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2vKh6Hh

iTunes: http://apple.co/2ePwnTf

Independent Bookstore: http://www.indiebound.org/book/978151610018

Thanks for reading…

Mystery Mondays: L.J.M. Owen on Self-Publishing v. Traditional Publishing

Today on Mystery Monday is another first. We have author L.J.M Owen here and she’s going to share her experience with self and traditional published novels. She’s done both!  It’s all very interesting and insightful.

Mystery Mondays: L.J.M. Owen on Self-Publishing v. Traditional Publishing

In 2015 I accidentally performed the ultimate newbie experiment: self-publishing and traditionally publishing the same book in one year. I’m often asked which option I’d recommend to aspiring authors. Here are my thoughts.

 How did it happen?

The day I finished drafting Olmec Obituary, the first instalment in my Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth archaeological mystery series, I faced The Question: how do I publish it?

After calculating the odds of my Midsomer Murders-meets-Temperance Brennan tale rising from the collective slush pile, I decided on self-publishing. After all, there had to be other Amelia Peabody devotees out there who would love my awkward archaeologist-librarian protagonist as much as I did, right? All I had to do was find them. Enter crowdfunding.

On 12 December 2014 I launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise sufficient funds to print a 300 copy run. Just five days later I was contacted by a commissioning editor from Bonnier Australia asking to see the manuscript. The ensuing celebratory dance was, I’m told, a sight to behold!

Several nail-biting weeks later and not only did I reach the Kickstarter goal, Bonnier also offered me a book deal.

So, in 2015 I found myself publishing my first novel twice—once as a limited edition self-produced run, and then with a traditional publisher.

 How did the processes differ?

The differences between the two experiences were stark.

To set up a Kickstarter proposal I had to sell the book to potential readers, which involved developing a project outline, financial spreadsheets, and a promotional a video and blurb. Then I stumbled through crash courses in Twitter and Facebook in an effort to reach my prospective audience. It was a month of incessantly promoting my work to others, not a comfortable undertaking for any introvert.

In order to complete the self-published run I had to develop brand new skills in editing, design, typesetting in multiple formats, printing, distribution, shipping, finances, social media strategy, marketing and events.

The exhaustion was overwhelming. I failed basic hair shampooing. Twice. (Despite the limited options in the confines of a shower cubicle I have no idea what I put in my hair. Can body wash and face scrub combine to form builder’s putty?)

Ultimately, I found self-publishing as a first-time novelist arduous but gratifying. The fatigue was the most difficult aspect to manage; if I had continued with self-publishing I honestly don’t know how many instalments I could have produced in the Dr Pimms series before collapse. Yet there was a special joy in sending books I had personally created to readers that, to this day, remains unmatched.

Publishing with Bonnier, by comparison, meant a team of experts handled cover design, typesetting, printing and finances. I was involved in editing, marketing and events, but not responsible for organising them. Oh, and the distribution! My traditionally published Olmec Obituary was on the shelves of every major book chain in Australia, something I could only dream of as a self-publisher.

The one difficulty I faced with traditional publishing was having to let other people in to largely control the process. If you’re used to (in life) being responsible for all aspects of delivery, as I am, it’s a touch unnerving to share the process. The benefits, however, far outweighed any considerations of personal comfort.

I’m three books into my planned series of nine now, and I honestly don’t know if I would have made it this far as a self-publisher. Apart from the innumerable practical aspects of publishing taken care of by Bonnier, having the support and encouragement of a commissioning editor who believes in my work is invaluable.

 Which would I recommend?

Is self-publishing suitable for you? If you’re passionate about getting your work out there and confident you can handle the editing, typesetting, cover design, publishing, marketing and events on your own–or hire people directly to do those things for you–then yes. You’ll have the certainty of knowing your novel will be published, as long as you can shoulder the burden of managing the entire project.

If you want the machinery of a publishing house behind you, and are prepared to wait until you connect with the right publisher (I’m aware of and grateful for my ridiculously good fortune in having been plucked from obscurity via the internet), then the long-term benefits to an emerging author of signing on with a good publisher are incalculable.

Of course, you can always go for a combination by self-publishing some work while pitching other pieces to traditional publishers. If you’re successful as a self-publisher–that is, you build a significant social media following and demonstrate that your work sells–you’ll be an attractive proposition when the right publisher comes along.

WHO IS L.J.M OWEN?

2015-07-03 20.36.06 (3)DR L.J.M. OWEN escapes dark and shadowy days as a public servant by exploring the comparatively lighter side of life: murder, mystery and forgotten women’s history. An author, archaeologist and librarian with a PhD in palaeogenetics, L.J.’s focus is on transforming science and history into accessible fiction with a broad appeal.

A passionate advocate for reclaiming women’s history, L.J. incorporates human genetics, forensic science and ancient cultures in her Australian-set mystery series: Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth. The first book in the series, Olmec Obituary (2015) was awarded a Highly Commended in the 2016 ACT Writing and Publishing Awards. The second in the series, Mayan Mendacity (2016), will be followed by Egyptian Enigma in 2018.

In addition to writing, L.J. is a panellist, interviewer, workshop provider and public speaker. Rare moments of free time are spent experimenting with ancient recipes–under strict feline supervision, of course.

 

Mayan Mendacity

Mayan Mendacity_COVERDr Elizabeth Pimms has a new puzzle.

What is the story behind the tiny skeletons discovered on a Guatemalan island? And how do they relate to an ancient Mayan queen?

The bones, along with other remains, are a gift for Elizabeth. But soon the giver reveals his true nature. An enraged colleague then questions Elizabeth’s family history. Elizabeth seeks DNA evidence to put all skeletons to rest.

A pregnant enemy, a crystal skull, a New York foodie, and an intruder in Elizabeth’s phrenic library variously aid or interrupt Elizabeth’s attempts to solve mysteries both ancient and personal.

With archaeological intrigue, forensic insight and cosy comfort, Mayan Mendacity takes readers back into the world of Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth.

Really cold cases.

You Can Find Her…

Website:  ljmowen.com

Facebook Author Page: @DrLJMOwen

Facebook Book Series Page: @dr.pimms.intermillennial.sleuth

Twitter: @Bleuddyn_Coll

Instagram: Librocubicularist (@ljmowen)

Mystery Mondays: Kathleen Duhamel on CREATING MEMORABLE HEROINES

Welcome to Mystery Mondays. Today we have author Kathleen Duhamel here to talk to use about creating memorable heroines. Kathleen and I connected when Kathleen joined the group of authors published by Imajin Books. I’ve since read all her books, and love them. You might too!

So over to Kathleen…

CREATING MEMORABLE HEROINES

By Kathleen Duhamel

A few years ago, when I began writing what became my first novel, Deep Blue, I had no idea it would ever be published, much less met with positive reviews. To begin with, I worried that my characters were too old to be relatable. Until recently, conventional romance and women’s fiction seldom featured characters past their thirties. When Deep Blue begins, Claire Martin is a 58-year-old “barely not starving” artist and her love interest is 62-year-old musician, Robert Silver. Would readers be turned off by the idea of these two enjoying a healthy love/sex life?

Deep Blue is also not a conventional “romance” in the sense that not every problem in the relationship gets resolved before the last page. Life tends to get a lot more complicated when you’re attempting to balance the demands of children, grandchildren, health issues, career pressures, and aging parents, and I wanted to touch on these issues in the book. Surprisingly, the age issue I worried about turned out to be a bonus for some readers, who found the senior love story “refreshing.”

What began as one book has morphed into three, with Deep End, the third book in the trilogy, due out in fall/winter 2017. As in the first and second books, what drives the plot is Claire’s emotional journey. While love is certainly part of that journey, she also is forced to deal with several unresolved issues in her life as a new wife and unexpected stepmother.

Here are my tips on how to create a strong female character that readers will remember.

Give her a spine.

At 58, Claire is certainly older (and presumably wiser) than younger heroines, having been through a few failed relationships, an acrimonious divorce, and financial struggles. She’s also a cancer survivor, which makes her identifiable with millions of others. Although she hasn’t given up on love, she’s somewhat wary of it, especially when a famous and charming man enters the picture and wants to sweep her into his overblown lifestyle.

She insists on solving her own problems without having to be “rescued” by her man.

However, she’s also a bit of a risk taker, and after being advised by her BFF to “go for it,” she begins an improbable, long-distance relationship with Rob. The same risk-taking behavior emerges in Book 2, Deeper, when she’s forced to acknowledge her husband’s eight-year-old love child and must decide if she’s willing to continue her marriage under vastly different circumstances.

Drawing on the same inner strength that got her through cancer treatment, she is ultimately able to express her disappointment and anger to Rob, while re-affirming her commitment to him and her new step-son.

Perhaps the greatest test of her inner resolve occurs in Deep End, when a disaster forces her to confront the possibility of life without her beloved husband.

Give her a guiding principle.

Claire’s favorite quote, which also becomes her mantra, is from Goethe: “Nothing is worth more than this day.” It is the perfect summation of who she is and how she approaches her post-cancer life. Not even a life-threatening illness could take away her fun-loving spirit and her determination to live fully, the very qualities that initially attracted Rob to her.

Let her have flaws.

She’s far from perfect. Claire worries about her scarred abdomen, disfigured from cancer surgeries. She continues to obsess over Rob’s first wife, a brilliant screenwriter killed in a car accident. Doubts about her relationship and endless taunts by Baby Mama land her in legal trouble and cause her to lose a promising new client. Her loathing of the news media manages to gain her more publicity, instead of less.

Like so many of us, she tends to suppress her negative feelings until they erupt in a damaging way. Although she struggles at times, the fact that she is able to move past her struggles and re-focus on what is most important in her life makes her a well-rounded and likeable heroine, scars and all.

 WHO IS KATHLEEN DUHAMEL?

kathleen-duhamel croppedKathleen Duhamel is the author of the Deep Blue Trilogy (Deep Blue, Deeper, and Deep End) and At Home With Andre. She wrote and illustrated her first short story at the age of eight, and has been a writer for most of her life.. Her love of the written word continued throughout her varied career as a newspaper journalist and editor, public relations executive, freelance travel writer and owner/operator of two small businesses. A native of Texas, she has spent most of her adult life in Colorado. She lives in the Denver area with her husband, a geriatric standard poodle and a spoiled cat. She is a lifelong devotee of rock and soul music, contemporary art, and pop culture.

Kathleen’s latest novel is coming out this fall DEEP END:

When her close-to-perfect world falls apart, can love still prevail?

After years of struggle and harsh criticism, happily married rock star wife Claire Martin has finally achieved the career success of her dreams. As the featured artist in an international traveling exhibit, she looks forward to her best year ever, while her husband, singer Robert Silver of the legendary band Deep Blue, contemplates a return to touring.

Things are also looking up for Claire’s best friend, Denise Hrivnak, who’s planning her wedding to Robert’s musical partner, Art Hoffman. However, what should have been most joyful day of Denise’s life turns to tragedy when an unexpected event forces both woman to contemplate the terrifying possibility of life without the men they love.

Besieged by the paparazzi and sick with worry, Claire waits for answers in a Las Vegas hotel room, thinking over her improbable relationship with Rob and praying that love alone is strong enough to bring her husband back from the brink.

DEEPER

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 9.51.39 AMSecrets of the past seldom stay buried forever…

Now married to the love of her life, landscape artist Claire Martin’s peaceful world is rocked by an unexpected revelation that crushes her dreams of the future and causes her to question everything she thought she knew about her famous husband, legendary singer Robert Silver of the band Deep Blue.

Although Robert is now clean and sober, and embarking on a new opportunity with his musical partner Art Hoffman, the consequences of one night long ago fracture his family and threaten his marriage to the woman who loves him like no one else.

Will love survive, or will career pressures, family turmoil and the ever-present specter of the paparazzi destroy their new life together?

 

 WHERE TO FIND KATHLEEN:

http://www.kathleenduhamel.com/

https://www.facebook.com/kathleen.duhamel

https://twitter.com/KathleenDuhamel

http://mybook.to/DeepBluenovel

http://mybook.to/Deepernovel

http://mybook.to/athomewithandre

 

 

 

 

Mystery Mondays: Call For Guest Authors

Promoting Reading – Promoting Authors

Mystery Mondays began in July 2015. Authors from many genres who write with a hint of mystery have told you about their books, answered your questions about writing and shared their thoughts with you. Every Monday, you’ve been introduced to another author and maybe discovered someone you’re not familiar with.

Are you interested in guest blogging?

I am now accepting guest blog requests for the remainder of 2017 starting on August 28th (although some spots are books throughout the fall). If you’re interested contact me here.

If you’d like to participate, here’s what you need to qualify:

  • you are a published author – traditional or Indie or any other way that I don’t know about,

OR

  • you are about to publish and have a launch date within a week or so of the blog post,

AND

  • you want to promote other authors and spread success,
  • you write novels with a hint of mystery,
  • you are willing to engage in the comments section when readers comment on your post.

All I ask from you is that you follow my blog, comment on author’s posts and help share via Twitter and Facebook.  If you’re interested send me a message via my contact page.

The Requirements:

You’ll have to send me your bio, back text of your novel, author photo and book cover.

I’d like you to write something about yourself, your novel, your research, a writing tip or a publishing tip. Please keep in mind I am a family friendly blog.

I do reserve the right to edit anything I think might be inappropriate for my audience, which I will discuss with you first. I think anything under 700 words is great, but it’s your book so up to you.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you and sharing your novel with the Internet world.