May Book News

may 2018

Cookie CrumblesLESLIE BUDEWITZ: I’m just back from Malice Domestic, the convention celebrating the traditional mystery, held every year just outside Washington, D.C. It’s a long weekend of fun, friends, and books — the Guest of Honor was Louise Penny, the great Canadian writer, and Nancy Pickard, the first elected president of Sisters in Crime, received a Lifetime Achievement Award. Any fans of Vera — the books by Ann Cleeves or the BBC series? Actress Brenda Blethyn, who plays the smart, crusty homicide detective, was also a special guest.

And it was a thrill to see my June release, AS THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CRUMBLES, the 5th Food Lovers’ Village Mystery, in readers’ hands, thanks to my publisher, Midnight Ink, who made early copies available in the dealers’ room. Conference goers also received complimentary copies of the May-June issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, which includes my historical short story, All God’s Sparrows, set in Montana Territory in 1885 and featuring one of Montana’s most fascinating historical figures. Early response to both book and story was terrific.

And now, I’m getting ready for my upcoming book launch. Join me Saturday, June 9, from 4-6, for a book launch party at the Bigfork Art & Cultural Center, in the village. The staff are calling it “Christmas in June,” and there will be cookies!

Happy reading!

Advertisements

April Book News

spring in nw montana

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Oh, April! Such a tease of a month in Northwest Montana. Days can be wintry or warm, snowy or sunny, often all within a few minutes!

April is also home to National Library Week, April 8-15. The Montana Library Association is hosting its annual meeting in Bozeman, April 11-14, and I’m delighted to be the Author Brunch Speaker on Saturday, April 14. I’ll be talking about the cozy mystery — the light-hearted side of the genre — what it is, a few trends, and some author recommendations.

IMary Fields‘m also pleased to say that my historical short story, All God’s Sparrows, will appear in the May-June issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, available mid April, by subscription and in bookstores and newstands. Set in 1885 in Montana Territory, the story features Mary Fields, also known as Stagecoach Mary and Black Mary, who was born in slavery in Tennessee in 1832 and later worked for the Ursuline Sisters at St. Peter’s Mission near Cascade. On a trip to the mill to pick up lumber for the girls’ school, Mary encounters a young family in trouble, and uses all her wits—as well as the skills of young Sister Louisine—to save a child and mete out justice, or as much justice as can be had in this fallible world. Look for another Mary Fields short mystery next year.

Happy reading!

BOOK REVIEWS

Apple blossom.1Today marked the first day of Spring. The winter doldrums are behind us. If you haven’t accomplished some of your New Year’s goals in writing, maybe now is the time to start. Let the warm sun energize you and your writing. Finish reading some of those books and set a goal to help fellow writers by providing them with a book review on their Amazon purchase page. Writing book reviews is an important part of your writing career.

Indie publishers on e-book platforms like Kindle meet with many surmountable obstacles they may not have envisioned when they started writing a book. Finishing the first draft is exhilarating but is only the first step. Completing multiple rewrites and generating a polished manuscript is a great achievement, but then there’s more.

Formatting, developing front matter, acknowledgments, and a short author bio are all important for a professional finished product. Before launching a book to cyberspace, if you aren’t already on Facebook with an Author Page and have an author website designed, those are important actions to finalize. Once your labor of love is perfected, online with a perfect cover image and title that nail the story and is readable at 25% size, the real work begins – marketing.

Obtaining quality book reviews is part of good marketing that can begin before the book is published. Finding reviewers may sound easy, for those who already have a fan base built from readers of your previous books, it is. If you have “launched your book” with an organized campaign of advertising, writing guest blogs, press releases and giveaways, you may see an immediate boost in reviews for your efforts.

Reviews by loyal fans who know you because of your platform in writing, such as those who have read previous books, including family and friends, are valuable. But, Amazon will reject reviews by known family members and associates, or as some found out, by illicit paid reviewers.

Amazon has prosecuted individuals who earned a lot of money and the company ire for producing rigged reviews. To stop them from appearing on sales pages, Amazon developed an algorithm that removes some reviews. The algorithm crosschecks authors and reviewers from the same source/email. Montana Women Writers members in the same critique group were identified as unacceptable reviewers through the algorithm. After a review was posted appropriately, the author received a notice from Amazon stating it had been removed. It’s worth a try to review a friend’s book, but if you are an author-friend and it is recognized your author-friend also reviewed your book, it may be removed.

Recently, Marie Martin told me of a way to have reviews from associates appear on your Amazon Author Central site. An editorial review can be provided to the author whose book you want to review but are not allowed to do it directly on the Amazon purchase site. Send the author an email with the review and she can then type your words into a post on her Author Central page.

Marketing takes knowledge and time, but the time is worthwhile. Ask some of our group members who have crossed many barriers, learned the marketing process, and made more than enough to meet mortgage payments. One goal to get more traffic and more sales is to have more than one book for sale on your author sales page. So get started on another book!

Reviews are important, almost as important as your book cover. As an author, you must first catch the perusing reader’s eye, then snatch her attention long enough for her to take a look inside and read a couple reviews on your book. The goal for a review is to accurately describe the book and generate interest to trigger a purchase.

Writing a brief book review on Amazon may be daunting even for an author, because in just a few words you can generate a sale or lose one. Reviews are easiest to write when you have just finished reading the book. It is helpful to set the time period and location, noting how these drive the plot. Include the theme or message of the book. A brief summary of plot could be included but do not give away key details, called spoilers. Then, include your opinion, like, dislike. Would read other books by the author? Would you encourage others to read the book? Your words are important.

There are hundreds of indie book reviewers online, many are free, others are costly. Check out the link to Publishers Weekly for an overview of numerous options. REVIEW IDEAS

If you are now thinking you’d rather get an agent and have the publisher do all the marketing, you must embark on the journey of finding an agent. Unless you are already a star, traditional publishing with representation is daunting and the publisher seldom supports a marketing program with book tours. Once on contract, it takes about two years before a book is finalized and published.

After failed tries to find an agent, many authors are going straight to self-publishing online. There, the product is sound, readily available and for an e-book on Kindle, the royalty is 70% of the cover price, much higher than traditionally published books and it can be completed in less than a week.

Choosing a paperback or hardback self-publisher is often fraught with high expense and a garage full of unsold books. The print-on-demand platform on CreateSpace through Amazon is an efficient and free. For personal sales and signings, you can order a few at a time that can be shipped to you or drop-shipped to another address.

Today we have many options as writers. Authors of the Flathead is a group of dedicated writers helping writers where four Thursdays each month you can find camaraderie and assistance in your writing, publication and readership goals. If you are looking for a critique group, improved creative writing skills and coaching over some hurdles, check out the group at: authorsoftheflathead.org.

Montana Women Writers is a small group of women who formed a coalition to help each other with product completion and marketing. We meet monthly. Leslie Budewitz is presenting this week on Thursday from 1-3 p.m.: “Going Public – Getting the most out of conferences and other writer’s gatherings.” Coming in April: Jesse Owen will share an overview of Kickstarter and her favorite social media applications. In May: Catherine Browning: Grammar Primer

Thanks for stopping by.

Betty Kuffel

Amazon Author Page

 

Getting Lost in the Reseach

By Janice McCaffrey

Last year during a tour of France my daughter, Bonnie, and I made a quick stop in Marseille; a jumping-off point to Monaco. Our focus was on Princess Grace Kelly; the palace and a drive up the famous, winding, cliff-hugging road.

Our train from Paris arrived in Marseille late afternoon. We picked up a rental car and headed to our Airbnb lodging in the old part of the city. In a blink of an eye we found ourselves on narrow streets filled with cars racing around curves, merging into already clogged streets, with drivers who had seemingly no regard for others.  Very loud motor cycles whipped in and out around moving vehicles, driving not in the lanes, but on the lines that divide them. And Bonnie kept up the pace.

marseille traffic

 

 

 

Yikes!! I held on tight!

 

 

Flying past ancient-looking pastel stone buildings, I caught a glimpse of a Moroccan man standing in front of a shop laughing with a couple of other men.

The GPS system directed us to public parking close to the apartment and we walked from there. After climbing 107 steps of a circular staircase with broken tiles under foot, yes, with our luggage, we settled into the apartment which was definitely worth the climb. Then we walked down the steps (much easier than climbing up) to the old port soaking up the area’s history and atmosphere.

We were greeted by bright sunshine, clear blue skies with a warm breeze off the sparkling Mediterranean Sea’s varied hues of blues and greens. My kind of perfect day.

marseille w bonnie

                           I fell in love.                          And the story began.

Back home committing my imagination to paper I needed the name of the Moroccan man’s attire. Yea for Google!! After finding info and photos of the jabador more Googling got me a suitable name for him, place of birth, and back story.

 I have to admit that I can get lost in the research. I have spent hours on internet searches and studying the results. And Google maps is indispensable for settings and determining distances. Their street views are wonderful and were invaluable as I orchestrated a chase scene around Marseille.

Besides giving me many enjoyable hours investigating and learning, one thing always leads to another. The history of Morocco pointed the way to the Phoenician peoples where their history gave me the item of antiquity the story would center around.

An article entitled Research for Fiction Writing in Cornell Research by Alexander Chang explains how J. Robert Lennon, author of See You in Paradise (Greywolf, 2014) and teacher of English at Cornell University uses the internet searches to find details for his stories. Here’s a quote:

In doing research as a fiction writer, Lennon embraces a term his wife once called [him and his friends] them: professional dilettantes. “I like that as a description for writers,” he says. “I love going to parties with writers—they always have super shallow knowledge of a zillion different things.”

I had to Google the definition, but it made me laugh out loud!

                                  diləˈtänt,diləˈtäntē/ noun 1. a person who cultivates 

                                  an area of interest without real commitment or knowledge.

That’s me! Due to my love of research I know a multitude of unrelated facts. Like:

Did you know the Phoenicians were the first known people to establish an alphabet? They were industrious and successful merchants who needed a method of keeping their accounts. This was back between 1500 and 1050 B.C. They devised 22 letters, only consonants, to represent the sound of their language. Over time the Greeks and Romans adjusted the original symbols which eventually gave us our 26 letters that represent the sound of our language. This chart shows the changes.

alphabet changes

                                                                       

 

 

And now . . .  we’re hooked on phonics!

 

 

 

These people also invented ink and paper. And when they bound pages together for the first time in the city of Bylos its name led to two of our modern-day words—book and bible.

I can tell you the history of sweet potatoes. Indigenous of South America Columbus took them back to Spain and Portugal. From there Portuguese sailors introduced them to Nigeria where their main crop was another tuber they called yams (not to be confused with our yams, theirs is white and round and belongs to a different plant family). Eventually the slave trade ships brought seedlings to North Carolina which is now our main growing area for the delicious tuber.

Oh, yes. And then there’s Queen Anne’s nephew Edward Hyde Lord Cornbury who held the office of Governor in both New York and New Jersey from 1701-1708. To open the New Jersey General Assembly he dressed as a woman of fashion. His rational was that since he represented a woman, Queen Anne, he should look like one.

lord cornbury

lord cornbury explained

And if you ever want to know the particulars of the early Pennsylvania-German’s Groundhog traditions, just ask.

For some writers research may be a drudgery to avoid at all costs, but for me it opens the world of ideas, events, characters, and settings.

I love getting lost in the research!

 

May Book News

dafadills

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: I’m on the road today — or in the air, heading home from the annual Malice Domestic Mystery Convention held in Bethesda, MD, a fan convention celebrating the traditional mystery, and home of the Agatha Awards. It’s a fun time, attending panel discussions and interviews, participating in the panel on food in mystery, and visiting with readers and authors from across the continent. Of course, afterwards, my “To Be Read” pile will reach mountainous proportions!

On May 12, I’ll be participating in the Whitefish Library Association’s annual Dorothy M. Johnson Book Festival, honoring the enduring legacy of one of Montana’s best-known and best-loved authors. Join the fun Sat May 12, 6-9 pm, at the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish. Authors from around the Flathead will be signing books and visiting with readers. I’d love to see you there.

leslie

 

Marie Martin: I am also attending the Dorthy M Johnson Book Festival.  I will present a work shop titled marrying Characters and Settings at the Whitefish Library from 1-3 in the afternoon. In the evening, I’ll be at the O’Shaughnessy Center with my books. It will be a nice time to visit with readers and friends. Hope to see you there.