Category Archives: My Publishing Journey

My Publishing Journey: Audiobook News!

I’m beyond excited to announce that both my books are now available in audiobook format! Find them on Audible, Amazon and iTunes, and if you’re cozy with your local library, I would really appreciate it if you could spread the word (or let me know if your local library might be interested, and I’ll contact them directly).

Here’s a recap of both titles:

The Hanged Man’s Noose: A Glass Dolphin Mystery #1

Narrator: Suzanne T. Fortin

Small-town secrets and subterfuge lead to murder in this fast-moving, deftly written tale of high-stakes real estate wrangling gone amok.

Journalist Emily Garland lands a plum assignment as the editor of a niche magazine based in Lount’s Landing, a small town named after a colorful 19th-century Canadian traitor. As she interviews the local business owners for the magazine, Emily quickly learns that many people are unhappy with real estate mogul Garrett Stonehaven’s plans to convert an old schoolhouse into a mega-box store. At the top of that list is Arabella Carpenter, the outspoken owner of an antiques shop, who will do just about anything to preserve the integrity of the town’s historic Main Street.

But Arabella is not alone in her opposition. Before long, a vocal dissenter at a town hall meeting about the proposed project dies. A few days later, another body is discovered, and although both deaths are ruled accidental, Emily’s journalistic suspicions are aroused.

Putting her reporting skills to the ultimate test, Emily teams up with Arabella to discover the truth behind Stonehaven’s latest scheme before the murderer strikes again.

Skeletons in the Attic: A Marketville Mystery #1

Narrator: Claira Jordyn

What goes on behind closed doors doesn’t always stay there.

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville – a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.

Callie’s not keen on dredging up a 30-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?

PS: If you’re an audiobook reviewer, I will happily email you a coupon code to download FREE the book(s) of your choice from Audible.com or Audible.co.uk (sorry, offer not available in Canada; it’s an Audible thing…) in exchange for an honest review. Contact me to arrange!

 

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My Publishing Journey: It Never Gets Old

Any original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work is automatically protected by copyright the moment it’s created. But it’s still recommended that authors file for “official” copyright. I wrote about this at some length when I filed for my very first copyright in 2015 for THE HANGED MAN’S NOOSE, the first book in my Glass Dolphin mystery series, and my debut novel. You can read that post here.

But here’s the thing: First time, second time, third time…filing for copyright NEVER gets old. At least, it doesn’t for me. There’s something exciting about getting that certificate in the mail and seeing your name attached to something you created.

A HOLE IN ONE is the second book in the Glass Dolphin series, and it picks up a few months after NOOSE ends. Many of the characters are the same, but there are some new additions, and some character who, for a variety of reasons, didn’t make the sequel. Here’s a brief synopsis of what you can expect:

Murder, mystery, and mayhem—small-town secrets have never been bigger…

When the Glass Dolphin antiques shop agreed to sponsor a hole in one contest at the Miakoda Falls Golf & Country Club “Kids Come First” charity golf tournament, co-owners Arabella Carpenter and Emily Garland never dreamed it would bring them anything but positive publicity. That is until Arabella’s errant tee shot on the third hole landed in the woods—right next to a dead man with a gunshot wound in the middle of his chest. A dead man they soon learn 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 Levon’s innocence.

The duo’s investigation leads them to a mysterious cult, Emily’s ex-fiancée and the woman he left her for, an Elvis impersonator, and a “going out of business” antiques mall vendor with a secret of her own. Along the way, an anonymous blogger complicates their lives even further with online posts rife with rumor, innuendo, and accusation.

Publication of A HOLE IN ONE is scheduled for March 2018. A limited number of ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) will be available shortly in print, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and PDF formats. If you’re a reviewer or blogger and would like a copy in exchange for an honest review, please contact me.

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Publication News!

I’m beyond excited to announce that the sequel to THE HANGED MAN’S NOOSE has been picked up by Barking Rain Press for publication in March 2018. If you’re wondering what that has to do with golf, here’s the first hint: the title is A HOLE IN ONE, and yes, the murder takes place on a golf course…more details closer to publication.

Those of you who know me personally (or have friended me on Facebook) know that I’m a passionate (if not particularly good) golfer. I wish I could say I was allowed to write off some of my golf games in the name of research, but alas, such was not the case. That said, I’ve played plenty of nasty par 3s that served as a template for the crime scene.

What happens now that the contract has been signed? That depends on the individual publisher. With Barking Rain, it means that I’ve had to break down the manuscript into 52 separate .rtf documents (one per chapter). The co-editors have been assigned (thank you Ti Locke and Anita Lock for taking this on) and our deadlines have been set for each stage of the editing process as we prepare for ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) by October 31st.

Stay tuned. The journey has just begun. FORE!

 

 

If you haven’t read THE HANGED MAN’S NOOSE, you can find it at all the usual suspects in trade paperback, Kindle, Kobo, and Nook. Read some of the reviews here. 

 

 

My Publishing Journey: 10 Tips for a Successful Friends & Family Book Launch

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00072]On Saturday, October 29th, my friend, Carolyn, was kind enough to host a Friends & Family Book Launch for Skeletons in the Attic. This was my second time organizing a book launch (the first one, for The Hanged Man’s Noose, was hosted by my friend, Sharon, in September 2015). Both events were well attended and really successful, although I learned a lot from the first event, and incorporated those lessons into the second launch. I thought I’d share 1o tips here:

Pick your location: If you’ve got a huge number of friends and family, you might consider renting a place, but unless your publisher is contributing to your expenses (neither one of my small press publishers have a budget for that), it’s best to minimize your expenses. Having it in your own home seems a bit desperate. The solution: ask a good friend with a house in a central location to host it for you. I was very fortunate to have two friends offer. NOTE: Hosting simply means providing their home as the venue. As the author, it is your responsibility to provide everything else: the food, drinks, napkins, plastic glasses, paper plates etc., as well as doing the set up and clean up.

Judy, Donna, Nina, Carolyn

Judy, Donna, Nina, Carolyn

Ask two friends to help: Ask a friend to be “bookseller” for you, and another to be “bartender.” For both my events, my friend, Donna, acted as bookseller, but I priced the books, had lots of change for her, and made up a paper that allowed her to simply tick off a column every time she sold a copy of Skeletons or Noose, thereby keeping inventory at the same time. Donna used to be a librarian, so she’s a natural as a bookseller. Nina was my bartender both times, which involved pouring wine or water. Keep your drinks simple. I had a box of red and a box of white, and bottled water. Nina has a very outgoing, sparkly, personality, making her the perfect bartender!

edac7290fc51f192443677b24a724e24Pick your date and time: Select a date at least a month out to give you time to sort through the details and invite people. My first launch was 2-4 p.m. on a Saturday. The second launch was 1-3 p.m. on a Saturday. I think 1-3 is a better time slot. This way, if people do linger, you’re not getting close to dinner time. Be sure to let your guests know that this is like an open house; guests can come at any time and stay for as little or as long as they’d like.

Select your guests: Both my hosts were comfortable with about 3o guests. I invited 40 to each event, knowing that 8-10 people would likely have other plans. This turned out to be the case.

Send your invitations: I used E-vite, which lets you manage the invitation. People can RSVP and message you. E-vite also sends a reminder a couple of days in advance. E-vite has several free template options which are easy to work with and personalize.

jam-paper-grad-party-supply-assortment-pack-plates-napkins-cups-tablecloth-orange-and-brownBuy your supplies: Start this early to take advantage of sales. The dollar store is the cheapest place to buy napkins, paper plates, and plastic glasses/cups. In addition to the wine and water, I also had cheese and crackers, a fruit tray and a veggie tray. For dessert, I bought a large box of chocolates, which I split up and put on small paper plates here and there. You want everything to be finger-foody, and you also want to keep your costs down.

Selling books: Not everyone will buy a book (some may already have bought your book on Kindle, for example). Others might buy two! Have bookmarks as free takeaways (I recommend GotPrint.com). I personally sold about 30 books at each launch. I also gave a free signed copy of my book to Donna, Nina and Carolyn as a thank you for helping me. Bring more books with you than you hope to sell. You can always take them home with you! If you’re lucky, you’ll break even on the day, but remember, this is about celebrating your success, not making money.

img_5885Be prepared to do a reading: I didn’t read at my first launch, but I’ve gotten more comfortable with this now. I prepared a three-minute reading for Skeletons, and it was well received. Be sure to thank everyone for coming and especially your host and helpers.

Be prepared to mix and mingle: Mingling can be difficult if you’re signing books, but be sure to take time to talk to everyone who took the time to come. It can be a bit overwhelming. Donna was quite good at keeping me on track.

Have fun: This is your day. Savour every moment and count your blessings that you have friends and family who will support you on your journey. It doesn’t get better than that.

Hi-res NewFIND THE HANGED MAN’S NOOSE

FIND SKELETONS IN THE ATTICPageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00072]

My Publishing Journey: What’s in a Name (Part 2)

calamity-jane-movie-poster-1953-1020203311In Part 1 of this “What’s in a  Name” series, I shared the inspiration behind the names of four of the major characters in The Hanged Man’s Noose. Part 2 is dedicated to Skeletons in the Attic. Here goes:

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable (protagonist)

In my day job, I’m the Senior Editor of New England Antiques Journal, and over the years I’ve learned a lot about antiques. I found myself fascinated by some auction lots of Calamity Jane that came on the block and started researching her life. martha-calamity-jane-canary-a-very-rare-cabinet-photo-with-letter-of-transmittal-from-the-wyoming-photographer

It amused me that this manly-looking woman from the Wild West would have been portrayed by Doris Day in a 1950s musical. When it came time to name my protagonist in Skeletons, I decided to go with Calamity Doris Barnstable, Callie for short (it seemed important that she have a name that could be shortened).

What about the Barnstable you ask? I googled Callie Barnes, and there seemed to be at least a couple of women with that name. I wanted something unique. Barnstable was born!

And yes, for those of you who haven’t read the book, that movie poster is part of the story!

craigleithLeith Hampton (lawyer)

Leith Hampton started off life as Craig Leith, which is actually the name (although all one word) of a town in Ontario on Georgian Bay. But somehow, Craig Leith didn’t sound like a lawyer to me. Leith, however, sounded like the kind of first name someone educated at the best schools might have. And Hampton…for The Hamptons, of course! Money and power…the name Leith Hampton captured both.

mistyMisty Rivers (psychic)

Years ago, I saw a Clint Eastwood suspense movie called Play Misty for Me. I don’t remember much about the movie, but the name Misty always stuck with me. When I was looking for the name of my scheming psychic, Misty seemed perfect. Originally she was Misty Riverside, but at some point I decided I liked Rivers better. Sometimes it’s just about the name that works in your head.

photo-jpgRoyce Ashford (neighbor/love interest)

Royce is a contractor, but I wanted him to come from a wealthy background. His father is a stockbroker who has done well in the market. I thought about Rolls Royce and decided Royce would make a great first name (Royce’s sister is named Porsche). I’m not sure how I came up with Ashford…but the moment I thought of it, I knew it was a fit.

If there’s a character name in either of my books — or any of my short stories — you’d like more information on, leave a comment or send your question on my contact form. I may just do a Part 3!

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Skeltons in the Attic is available on Kindle and trade paperback.

Find Skeletons in the Attic

My Publishing Journey: What’s in a Name? (Part 1)

1839c3c5ce3d43791d1c6986a2c403f4Do you ever wonder how authors come up with their character names? I suspect the answer is different for every author. For this author, the answer is “it depends.” So without further ado, here are a few of my characters’ names from my debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, and the inspiration behind them:

Emily Garland (protagonist)

When I was about eight-years-old, a family friend bought me a hardcover copy of Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery (best known for her Anne of Green Gables series). The story goes that Montgomery, tired of writing the Anne series, created a new heroine, copying her journal from her early years, and heavily influencing the Emily trilogy.

I loved everything about Emily’s quest to become a writer. From the moment I read that story, I knew that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up. It took a few decades (some of us grow up at a slower pace than others), but it seemed only fitting that my protagonist would be named Emily. As for the Garland, I was named after Judy Garland. Mystery solved!

closetoyouArabella Carpenter (sidekick)

This one honestly came out of nowhere. I was taking a creative writing course and the assignment was to write a mystery with the words “blue” and “dolphin.” I started writing a story about an antiques shop called the Blue Dolphin, and for no reason I can remember, the name Arabella popped into my head. I don’t think I’d ever heard the name before (although I have since…it’s sort of like when you drive a white Honda Civic..all of a sudden, all the cars you see are white Honda Civics). The Carpenter? I was listening to the radio and Close to You,  an old song by The Carpenters, came on.  Arabella Carpenter, I thought. That has a nice ring to it. [Sidebar: I changed the name of the shop to the Glass Dolphin after I found out there was a real life Blue Dolphin antiques shop in Maine.]

elton_john_-_madman_across_the_waterLevon Larroquette (Arabella’s ex-husband)

Another name inspired by a song, in this case the Elton John classic, Levon. Originally on the album, Madman Across the Water, it’s one of my favorite songs by Elton John (and favorite albums). Notice the cover looks like denim. Whenever I’m describing Levon, he’s wearing head-to-toe denim, to match his indigo eyes. As for the Larroquette, I was watching an old episode of Boston Legal and thought…Levon Larroquette. That would work.

featured1Garrett Stonehaven (antagonist/greedy real estate developer)

Stonehaven is actually the name of a upscale subdivision in Newmarket, Ontario,  the town that neighbors Holland Landing, where I lived while writing The Hanged Man’s Noose. I thought it would make a great last name for a real estate developer. As for the Garrett, there was this guy in high school…

AnnvSale-HangedMansNooseAll ebook versions of Hanged Man’s Noose are currently on sale for 50% off ($2.99US) at all the usual suspects (Amazon, B&N, Kobo, GooglePlay, iBooks). The trade paperback version is on for 50% off directly from the publisher, Barking Rain Press ($7.99). Sales ends September 30, 2016.  Click on the image for the link!

 

My Publishing Journey: Small Town Life

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 10.24.21 AMFor those of you who don’t “know” me, I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Toronto has grown in leaps and bounds since I left at the age of 23, but even back then, it was a big city with subways and traffic gridlock (the Don Valley Parkway, which runs north-south, has justifiably earned the nickname the Don Valley Parking Lot).

Unlike a lot of 23-year-olds, I didn’t move to a bigger city. Instead, I moved to the relatively small town of Peterborough, Ontario, roughly 90 minutes northeast of where I grew up. I left for a good job (Personal Credit Manager – Canadian Division, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company) and stayed for about four years, earning a promotion to Canadian Division Credit Manager. At the time, I was the youngest Division Manager in the company’s history.

My first month in Peterborough was tough. It seemed as though everyone knew everyone and I was decidedly an outsider. Not only that, I was a “boss,” and  on top of that, I was from Toronto (city folk were treated with a modicum of suspicion). I can still remember the day  when a young woman by the name of Earlene invited me to her home for Sunday dinner. “My mom thinks you must be lonely,” she said, clearly nervous about inviting a manager (although not her manager) to dinner. I jumped at the chance.

It was clear that Earlene’s family lived a modest existence. There was homemade mac and cheese and coleslaw for Sunday dinner, and coffee with CoffeeMate (I’d never had CoffeeMate before that) for dessert. I think there might have been some sort of apple crisp or cookies, as well, although for the life of me I can’t recall. But that coleslaw was the best I’ve ever tasted to this day.

Earlene’s invitation and friendship led to many other friendships. By the time I left Peterborough four years later to move to the much bigger city of Mississauga (for another job opportunity, and with somewhat of a broken heart), I’d been a bridesmaid in two weddings.

It’s been a few years, and more than a few moves, since those Peterborough days, and sadly I lost touch with Earlene long ago, but I was reminded of the warmth and hospitality of small town life when I opened the September issue of The Briar Crier. The Crier is a community news magazine for the residents of Green Briar and Briar Hill, a golf course community  in the smallish town of Alliston, Ontario. It’s published locally by a wonderfully supportive woman, Marie Fischer. The September issue includes a two-page feature about my writing journey. Two pages. Now that wouldn’t happen in Toronto!

The article was written by BL Storrie, a talented and hard working freelance writer who took the time to interview me on my back deck on a warm summer afternoon. I’m so appreciative of (and somewhat embarrassed by) her kind words (honestly, I’m not that nice — though I do LOVE to golf). If you’d like to read it, here’s a link to the  PDF: P.22 23.

Do you have a small town story? I’d love to hear about it. Be sure to leave a comment! 

 

 

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My Publishing Journey: Facebook Release Day Party (the good and the not so good)

facebook-logoRegular readers of my blog know that I have been very honest about my publishing journey, starting with my very first post The First Cut is the Deepest. Part of that journey has required marketing, something I had virtually no experience with before embarking on this venture. If I’m being perfectly honest, it’s my least favorite part of being an author, but I recognize that it’s a necessary part, and I’ve tried any number of things from guesting on other blogs to Goodreads and other giveaways.

What I’ve discovered is this: Regardless of the platform, there’s the good and the not so good. [An example of the not-so-good would be the time the guy who won a paperback copy of The Hanged Man’s Noose immediately turned around and tried to sell it on Amazon as a signed author copy.] But this post is about my Facebook Release Day Party, held August 21st on my Facebook Author page.  I’d never hosted a FB party before, but my publisher, Imajin Books, was keen on the idea, and so I referred a lot to this post by author Kristina Stanley when I was setting it up. Here’s what I learned:

Advance Preparation

The first step was to pick a date and time. I decided on the actual release date of Skeletons — August 21 — and the time as 3 to 5 p.m. EST. You can’t please everybody in every time zone, so I went with what worked best for me.

The next step was to contact other authors via my various Yahoo groups (Sisters in Crime – Guppy Branch, Short Mystery Fiction Society, other Imajin authors, as an example) to see if any of them would be willing to donate an eBook copy of one of their titles. I suggested eBooks, as this keeps the cost affordable for authors. This was a definite “Good.” I had several authors offer (so many, in fact, that I had to turn some down). In the end, I had 20 authors, plus me, donating eBooks as prizes. You can see the list of authors here.

sheet1That “Good” turned out to be too much of a good thing. There was no way I could reasonably expect to giveaway 20 books individually in two hours, while trying to  help promote those authors at the same time. I created an Excel spreadsheet with the authors’ names, email address, book title, genre, and decided to “bundle” the books. For example, the “Colorful” bundle included Blood Red Homicide by Gail Baugniet and The Blue Diamond by Lynn Franklin. A “Short Story” bundle included collections by Terrie Farley Moran, B.K. Stevens, and Conda V. Douglas.

Once I’d done that, I added a blurb about each book to the spreadsheet, as well as a trivia question and answer (these I got from Amazon). The idea was that folks would answer the trivia question for a chance to win — but they’d also visit the author’s book page. I also created a folder of book covers.

At this point I was feeling pretty smug. My spreadsheet had all the information I needed and my folder had all the book covers. I then proceeded to create posts on Amazon, scheduled for December 25th (so as not to inadvertently post before the party). Each post included information on the bundle and the book covers, with the authors tagged in the post. Here comes the bad. The Events page does not allow you to use pre-prepared posts. Unfortunately, I figured that out AFTER I’d created all of them! I was, however, able to post a detailed description of the event, which I did about two weeks in advance.

13872958_1032006416907191_5322465021050189040_nThe next  pre-event step included getting a banner made to use on Facebook and on my website as a promo. I tried to do this on Canva, but couldn’t seem to come up with anything professional. I hired a graphic artist on Fiverr, and was very pleased with the result ($5US).

The final step was to send out invitations. Facebook limits invitations to friends, and caps at 500. I was told to send out about a week in advance, and that timing seemed to work. I also posted the banner on Facebook in various groups, and on Twitter.

Event Day

My plan was to post one bundle every 10-15 minutes, followed by individual posts about each book. I used my previously scheduled posts and copy and pasted them (I still had to add the photos, but at least I didn’t have to rewrite them). If I was doing this again, I’d make a word document with each post. Simpler to copy and paste!

Things went well for the first 30 minutes or so, but quickly went south. It was hard to keep up with posting, commenting, selecting winners — and I’d neglected to pin my “Welcome” thread to the top and so completely forgot about it. Somewhere along the way, my earlier party posts stopped showing up.  To this day, they remain frozen in cyberspace, completely inaccessible. That is a definite “Bad” and to my mind, a real failing in the Facebook party platform.

The Results

14054258_661721003980702_437727548453053318_nThe purpose of a Facebook Release Day Party is, of course, promotion. Did it work? Probably. By the end of the day, Skeletons in the Attic was #2 as a Hot New Release: Psychics (ahead of Stephen King and next to Heather Graham) and #7 as a Hot New Release in International Mystery and Crime.How much these results had to do with the party and how much had to do with my pre-sale promotion and release day blogs is difficult to measure. I do know that of the 249 people I invited, only 39 people attended, and several of those were the authors who donated books.

Would I do it again? I don’t know. Definitely not without a helper, someone to post while I replied to comments. I’ve also been told by other authors that the first Facebook party you host gets the most attendees; some authors I know have had as few as 14 guests, and 20 seems to be about the average. There’s also the amount of prep work involved, which as you can see from the beginning of this post, was considerable. And the whole “frozen in cyberspace” snafu. So I’m leaning strongly towards “no” and will probably look for an alternate Release Day strategy for my next book. That won’t be until sometime in 2017. Who knows what the next hot thing will be by then? I suppose only time will tell.