I’m beyond excited to announce A HOLE IN ONE, the second book in my Glass Dolphin Mystery Series is now available for pre-order on Kindle, Kobo, and Nook. The official release date is Tuesday, March 6, 2018, which means there are 14 more sleeps!
For those of you who have read THE HANGED MAN’S NOOSE, you’ll recognize a familiar cast of characters. Here’s a bit about the book:
Hoping to promote the Glass Dolphin antiques shop, co-owners Arabella Carpenter and Emily Garland agree to sponsor a hole in one contest at a charity golf tournament. The publicity turns out to be anything but positive, however, when Arabella’s errant tee shot lands in the woods next to a corpse.
They soon learn that the victim is closely related to Arabella’s ex-husband, Levon Larroquette, who had been acting as the Course Marshal. With means, opportunity, and more than enough motive, Levon soon becomes the police department’s prime suspect, leaving Arabella and Emily determined to clear his name—even if they’re not entirely convinced of his innocence.
Dogged by incriminating online posts from an anonymous blogger, they track down leads from Emily’s ex-fiancé (and the woman he left Emily for), an Elvis impersonator, and a retired antiques mall vendor with a secret of her own.
All trails lead to a mysterious cult that may have something to do with the murder. Can Arabella and Emily identify the killer before the murderer comes after them?
Okay, so that’s the back jacket cover, but what are early reviewers saying? I’m so glad you asked!
“With its sharp, smart writing, and engrossing plot, Judy Penz Sheluk’s latest addition to her terrific Glass Dolphin Mystery series is a hole in one.” — Ellen Byron, award winning and USA Today bestselling author, Cajun County Mysteries.
“What fun! A twisty tale chock full of clues and red herrings, antiques and secrets, and relationships that aren’t what they seem. And who doesn’t love an Elvis impersonator?” — Jane K. Cleland, award-winning author, Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries and Mastering Plot Twists
“A bang-up mystery! Two friends, two murders, secret pasts, and a touch of romance. Who could ask for more?” — Lea Wait, USA Today bestselling author,
Shadows Antique Print and Mainely Needlepoint mysteries
“A captivating page-turner set in the world of antiques dealing where dangerous secrets simmer until they lead to murder. Sheluk is an expert at writing intriguing characters, delivering a fast-paced story with twists that keep you guessing until the very end. You don’t have to be a love golf to love A Hole In One.” — Kristina Stanley, bestselling author, Stone Mountain Mysteries
A HOLE IN ONE will be available in ebook and trade paperback on March 6th. Pre-orders are available in ebook format only.
I first met Shari Randall through the Sisters in Crime Guppies online digest. It turns out that Shari, like me, loves antiques, and for good reason: Her folks have an antiques store. We finally met in person on the Washington, DC Metro after Malice Domestic 2016 and had a chance to talk. Now, we refer to ourselves as the Girls on the Train! It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Shari and the first book in her Lobster Shack Mystery series.
Author Name: Shari Randall
Book Title: Curses, Boiled Again!
Book Genre: Cozy mystery
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Synopsis: Welcome to the seaside hamlet of Mystic Bay, where the fish is always fresh, the folks are ever-friendly, and murder is on a roll. . .
Allie Larkin was living her dream as a ballet dancer when a bad fall put her out of business. Now she’s back home in Mystic Bay to heal a broken ankle while also helping her Aunt Gully get her Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack off the ground. Nothing would help Gully more than winning the local food festival’s Best Lobster Roll contest. The competition is sure to be killer—especially after one of the contest judges dies after eating a roll from one of Gully’s biggest rivals.
Soon, all eyes fall on Gully as the prime suspect. Allie may only have one good leg to stand on, but she’s not going to let her aunt go down for a crime she never could have cooked up. Can Allie, along with her devoted crew of friends, family, and customers, find a way to trap the killer and claw herself out of this hard-boiled murder case?
About the author: A native New Englander, Shari loves hanging out at her fictional Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack, where the company’s good and murder’s always on the menu.
She earned her BA in English from Connecticut College and her MLIS from the University of South Carolina. A former children’s librarian, Shari now volunteers at her local library and is the Library Liaison for Sisters in Crime National.
When she’s not committing murder (on the page, of course), Shari enjoys walking the beach near her house, reading, visiting her globetrotting children, and dancing. She’s currently trying to talk her husband into a salsa class. Find out more about Shari at www.sharirandallauthor.com/
In Part I of this series, I shared the “how-to” produce an audiobook using ACX from a Rights Holder’s perspective. In Part II, I’ve interviewed the Producers:
Judy: What do you look for when selecting a project based on royalty share?
Suzanne T, Fortin: I always try to answer three questions for myself before auditioning for a project (advice from Award-winning Audiobook Narrator and Coach Sean Allen Pratt): 1. Will it be fun? 2. Will it make money? 3. Will it move my career forward. I don’t audition if I can’t say yes to two out of the three. As I build my brand, I am looking for titles that can expand portfolio in meaningful ways, and also play to my vocal strengths. I am looking to build lasting relationships with authors and the publishers that I work with. I’m also looking for authors and publishers that are committed to promoting the work, as RS is a gamble where I take all of the financial risk on the project.
The business end of things: An eight hour audiobook takes approximately 48 hours of studio time to complete if the narrator is doing their own post-production. Hiring out post-production costs the narrator 50-100 Per Finished Hour (PFH), but ultimately saves a huge amount of time and improves the quality of the product. Alternately, the base pay rate for Union narrators is $250PFH. In order to break even at that rate on a RS project, it needs to sell 1000 copies, assuming that we are averaging $2 royalty per book. (An author who paid PFH rather than royalty share would need to sell 500 copies before they were making a full profit on the book royalty) I have one project that has sold 8 copies in the year that the audio has been released. My current PFH rate for that title is .64. My current actual hourly rate is…0.
Claira Jordyn: I look for projects that I believe in when doing royalty shares. Do I like the authors previous work? And frankly, do they have followers/ people that also love their work?
Kate Tyler: I look for projects that are personally appealing to me. If I’m going to spend a significant amount of time over several weeks or months with a project, I want to enjoy the subject matter.
Judy: What raises a “red flag” to you?
Suzanne T. Fortin: Excessively long or very short books. For RS, 8 hour is kind of the sweet spot. Under 5, customers are less likely to use their Audible credits, over 10, and the amount of work required makes it harder to turn a profit.
Books that have been published for a long length of time with almost no reviews, or only 5 star friends/family reviews.
Authors that refuse to share sales numbers if requested, have no promotion plan, or are requesting complex work (duet or duel narration, lots of complicated accents) on a short time frame with no knowledge of how much work is required.
Claira Jordyn: Red flags come when an author boasts incessantly about how successful they are, but upon looking into them nothing can be found. I tend to mistrust the situation then.
Kate Tyler: I don’t bother to engage in anything that conflicts with my personal beliefs. Other than that, occasionally I’ll see something that is non-fiction but is not well researched. And rarely I’ll see projects that are not edited properly – grammar errors and incomplete sentences or punctuation errors. Those I’ll pass on.
Judy: Do you research the author, and if so, how?
Suzanne T. Fortin: I generally look at their available work on Amazon, read samples and reviews. I google them and look at their websites.
Claira Jordyn: I do search the author! I use all forms of social media and try to find out if they have followers, if people think they’re great story tellers and if it looks like a relationship I’d like to be in!
Kate Tyler: If it is a series or a longer book (more than 2 hours), I’ll check to see how the books are doing on Amazon. ACX provides some sales data, but the data just reflects how the book has done “lately” which is not necessarily useful. I’ll check out the book on Amazon and check out the reviews. If the reviews are positive, it may have a following. Also, I will check out the Facebook page or website for the Author.
Thank you, Suzanne, Claira and Kate for your narration and for your feedback!
Stay tuned for Part III: Marketing Audiobooks
Available in the U.S. and UK for some months, in 2017, ACX finally opened their production facilities to Canadian authors. If you’re not familiar with ACX, it’s a marketplace where authors, literary agents, publishers, and other Rights Holders can connect with narrators, engineers, recording studios, and other Producers capable of producing a finished audiobook.
Before the Rights Holder can start the process, they will have to set up an account (including banking information) and a Title Profile which confirms that you do hold the audio rights to the book.
The Rights Holder—in my case, I own the audiobook rights to all of my books—has three options. Note that royalty rates vary on whether the Rights Holder signs an “Exclusive” contract with ACX (meaning the audiobook will be available only on Audible, Amazon and iTunes) or a non-exclusive contract. Complete details can be found on ACX, but here’s a quick summary:
- Hire a narrator/producer to produce the book, pay them a mutually agreed upon fee, and thereafter receive full royalties from Audible on a monthly basis. This option is only available for non-exclusive contracts. Royalty rate: 75% ACX/25% Rights Holder.
- Narrate and produce the book yourself, and thereafter receive full royalties from Audible on a monthly basis. Royalty Rate: 75% ACX/25% Rights Holder for non-exclusive contract; 60% ACX/40% Rights Holder for an exclusive contract.
- Hire a narrator/producer to produce the book on a royalty share basis. In this case, Audible/ACX will take care of paying the narrator’s royalties on a monthly basis. This option is only available for exclusive contracts. Royalty Rate: 60% ACX/20% Rights Holder/20% Narrator.
I opted for option 3, royalty share on an exclusive contract. For each book, I sent out an Audition Request with a selection of specific requirements (Gender of narrator, any accent required, narration style etc.) You also need to include a 2-3 page PDF from the book and not just the first 3 pages — in fact, it’s a good idea to select different sections from the book to hear how the narrator handles the voice of different characters.
Once an audition was submitted, I listened to each audition (roughly 10 minutes) with an ear to finding someone who would be believable to the story. (ACX recommends going with your gut feeling: Is there the right level of emotion and expression? Does the narrator sound the right age for the part? Finally, would a customer enjoy hearing the voice?)
When someone’s audition “clicked” with me, I checked out their other titles on Audible. Since each Audible title is rated by listeners on a 1-5 scale (Story, Performance, Overall), I was most interested in the Performance Rating, and comments that were directed at the narration.
Making an offer is easy, since ACX supplies the contract, although the timelines are set by the Rights Holder and Producer. The contract includes when the first 15 minutes is due (generally 10 days) and when the final product is due (varies by project). After the contract is accepted, the Rights Holder will upload a PDF of the manuscript, and the Producer will start working on the first 15 minutes.
The first 15 minutes gives both Rights Holder and Producer a chance to fine tune anything that isn’t working before diving into the complete manuscript. If your book has odd/regional pronunciations, it’s a good idea to supply a list of these to the narrator (for example, Penz Sheluk rhymes with Mercedes Benz and Tom Sellick).
Once the first 15 minutes are approved by the Rights Holder, the Producer will begin the project, and when complete, upload the audio files, each chapter a separate file. At that point, the Rights Holder will listen to each chapter, and make notes of any corrections required. The Producer is only required to do 2 revisions, so it’s important to catch everything early on.
Hitting the “Approved” button is exciting, but that’s not the end of the journey. At that point ACX undertakes a quality control check. This can take up to 10-14 days. If you’re exclusive, ACX will take care of sending the book to Audible, Amazon and iTunes. Note that the retailer will set the pricing; the Rights Holder has no control over this aspect of the production. Prices are typically set by length.
If you’ve never purchased an audiobook from Audible, there’s great news! You can download any audiobook FREE with a 30-day trial (and you can cancel without penalty if you decide Audible isn’t for you). Here’s a link to their Help Page. If you purchased the Kindle version of any audiobook, you’re eligible to purchase the audiobook at a greatly reduced rate.
In Part II of this series, I’ll be posting interviews with my three Producers/Narrators to find out what they take into account before signing on the dotted line for a royalty deal. In Part III, I’ll discuss marketing strategies. Stay tuned!
PS: Great news! I have 3 free Audible codes left for LIVE FREE OR TRI. If you’re interested, and are willing post an honest review on Audible, Amazon and Goodreads, please leave a comment saying “I’m interested” or CONTACT ME. First come, first served!
Another connection made via Sisters in Crime, Guppies, it’s my pleasure to introduce award-winning author Leslie Wheeler.
Author Name: Leslie Wheeler
Book Title: Rattlesnake Hill, a Berkshire Hilltown Mystery
Book Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Release Date: February 16, 2018
Synopsis: It’s November in the Berkshires, a dreary time of dwindling light when the tourists have fled along with the last gasp of fall foliage. So when a stranger shows up in the sleepy hilltown of New Nottingham and starts asking questions, the locals don’t exactly roll out the welcome wagon.
Bostonian Kathryn Stinson is on a deeply personal quest to solve a family mystery: the identity of a nameless beauty in an old photograph an ancestor brought with him to California over a century ago. But, as Kathryn quickly discovers, the hills possess a host of dark secrets – both ancient and new – that can only be revealed at the price of danger and even death.
Her suspicious neighbors on Rattlesnake Hill become openly hostile when Kathryn starts seeking answers to a more recent mystery: the murder of Diana Farley, who once occupied the house Kathryn is now renting. Was it Diana’s husband, who killed her to keep her from divorcing him, or her lover, Earl Barker, a backwoods charmer and leading member of a wild clan known for their violent tempers?
When Kathryn plunges into a passionate affair with Earl, she puts herself on a collision course with past and present. She must find out if Earl killed Diana, or risk becoming a victim herself.
About the author: An award-winning author of American history books and biographies, Leslie Wheeler has written three living history mysteries: Murder at Plimoth Plantation, Murder at Gettysburg, and Murder at Spouters Point. Her short stories have appeared in such anthologies as Day of the Dark, Stories of Eclipse, and Level Best Books’ New England Crime Stories series, where she was formerly an editor. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, she is Speakers Bureau Coordinator for the New England Chapter. Leslie divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Berkshires, where she writes in a house overlooking a pond. www.lesliewheeler.com.
I’ve wanted to revamp my website for some time, for a variety of reasons. One major reason, however, was that the old site didn’t have a Home page, and so my Blog became the landing page. That meant the first thing you saw was a bit like organized chaos. And while I tried to streamline my other pages, I was never entirely satisfied with the results. Then again, I built the website from nothing and I never claimed to be a techie type.
In December 2017, I finally decided to bite the bullet, and hired Mary Hahn, the genius behind the layout of New England Antiques Journal. Mary got to work on my website behind the scenes in January, starting with selecting a color palette (I’d never considered a color palette before).
On Saturday, February 3, we went live. There were a few things that needed tweaking. Nothing major, a link missing here and there, some spacing issues with photos on the home page, that sort of thing, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed over the next couple of days.
The good news is that even though Mary has done all the heavy lifting, going forward I’ll once again be able to manage the website without her. That control was really important to me because I like to do things NOW (patience may be a virtue, but it’s not one of mine) and because I can’t afford to pay someone every time I need something changed.
Today, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to my website’s brand new look. It’s cleaner, easy to navigate, and hopefully, clutter-free. It’s a bit like cleaning your clothes closet, cleaning up a website. You know that sweater you haven’t worn in 3 years? I had information on my previous site that no one had clicked on in months, if ever. I summoned up my courage and hit the delete key. Guess what? It wasn’t that scary. If anything, I felt as though I’d given myself, and my website, a fresh start.
Now I’m off to tackle my closet. I seem to remember a navy blue pantsuit with extra-wide lapels…
It’s great fun to be able to introduce my very own new release! Live Free or Tri has been available in print and Kindle on Amazon since January 2016, but today marks the first time it’s available in audiobook format. Here’s the deal:
Title: LIVE FREE OR TRI: A Collection of three short mystery stories
Author: Judy Penz Sheluk
Narrator: Kate Tyler
Synopsis: Death and deception: Appearances are often deceiving and that is the underlying premise in this collection of short crime fiction.
In “Live Free or Die” naive 21-year-old Emmy falls hard for 31-year-old Jack, an efficiency expert from New Hampshire who is not all what he seems.
In “Murder in the Marsh” cyclist Carrie Anne Camack discovers more than she bargained for in the fertile farmlands of Ontario’s Holland Marsh.
In the final story, “The Cycopaths”, a triathlon team’s open-water swim training in Collingwood, Ontario, has deadly consequences.
The Florida Keys, a scuba-diving scientist, and a fast-paced story that kept me turning the pages well into the night. I loved everything about this book: the well drawn characters, a believable and intricate plot, a hint of romance with two men on the “possible” list, and non-stop action and suspense. Debut novels can be clumsy, the language not quite refined. Browning’s prose shines page after page, the awards won for Adrift richly deserved. Next stop: Beached, book 2 in the Mer Cavallo mystery series. Do yourself a favor and take the dive. You won’t regret a minute of it, though I guarantee that once you get started, you’ll be reading well past your bedtime.
I first met Keenan Powell at Malice Domestic 2016. I’d just come off the author signing table, having sat next to Malice Grants Chair and author Harriette Sackler, and she invited me to have lunch with her and Keenan. So began my friendship with both women, and I’m so happy to be announcing Keenan’s debut novel here.
Author Name: Keenan Powell
Book Title: Deadly Solution
Book Genre: Legal mystery
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Synopsis: Less than a year after drinking sidelined her career as a public defender in Anchorage, Alaska, Maeve Malloy is asked to defend an Aleut Indian accused of beating another homeless man to death. With no witnesses to the crime and a client who claims to have no knowledge of the night of the murder due to a blackout, the case is stacked against them.
As Maeve works to maintain her sobriety, she and her investigator Tom Sinclair search for answers in homeless camps, roadside bars, and biker gang hangouts. When they uncover more than a few people with motives all their own for wanting the victim dead, they are determined to prove their client’s innocence before he is sentenced to a life behind bars for a crime he swears he didn’t commit.
When Maeve and Tom discover there may be a link to an unusually high number of deaths among the homeless community, the search is on for a killer hunting among the most vulnerable members of society.
About the author: One summer during law school, Keenan Powell visited a friend in Anchorage, Alaska. Upon stepping off the plane, she picked the next place to go. The day after graduation, she moved to Anchorage.
A past winner of the William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic grant, her publications include Criminal Law 101 in the June 2015 issue of The Writer magazine and several short stories. She currently writes the legal column, Ipso Facto, for the Guppies’ newsletter, First Draft, and blogs with Mysteristas.
She lives, and practices law, in Anchorage. Find out more about Keenan her on her website.
I first “met” author Susan Van Kirk through Sisters in Crime Guppies. I was looking for an editor before sending The Hanged Man’s Noose out into the world, and Susan recommended Lourdes Venard, who she’d been working with. I ended up hiring Lourdes (find her at Comma Sense Editing) and I credit Lourdes in large part for helping me get Noose “ready.”
Today, Susan has three books and one novella out in her Endurance Mystery series, and is hard at work on a new series. She was kind enough to host Calamity Barnstable, the protagonist in Skeletons in the Attic, recently on her blog:
My name is Calamity Doris Barnstable and I was named after Calamity Jane, a Wild West frontierswoman of dubious repute, although to be fair, my mother actually named me after the considerably softened version of Calamity Jane played by Doris Day in the 1950s. Honestly…if you want to have a good laugh, you need to check out this YouTube video clip from the movie, where Doris sings Secret Love. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fU8tQpCZEzg
Be that as it may, no one calls me Calamity and gets away with it. I’m Callie, and this is my story.
To read the rest of this post, click here.