If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our July author interviews: Ellen Byerrum (7/5), Day of the Dark anthology authors (7/12 and 7/19), and Nancy Cole Silverman (7/26).

Saturday Guest Bloggers in July: 7/1--Fran Stewart, and 7/8--Nancy Cole Silverman. WWK Saturday bloggers write on 7/15--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/22--Kait Carson, and 7/29--E. B. Davis.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.”

In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on October, 18, 2017. Look for the interview by E. B. Davis here on that date!

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Memories of Summers Past


Although summer officially came a week ago, I always think of summer as beginning on the first of June, a time when we were finally through with school. Because I lived by my grandparents’ farm, my siblings, cousins and I spent much of our time running free. Back in those days no one worried about child molesters or kidnappers. Traffic wasn’t as heavy as it is today, either. And there was no TV until I was in my teens, and certainly no cell phones.

Sometimes we hiked back to a stream that ran under a train trestle where the water was deep enough to go swimming, but not deep enough to drown. We stopped going there when I discovered leaches all over my legs. Most of our swimming was done at Eagle Creek or another swimming place north of us when we could talk my father into taking us. We piled into the car sitting on each other’s laps when it got too full. Sometimes my Aunt and Uncle went, too, so more kids including some neighborhood kids could go, too.


There was a stream that went through my grandparents’ farm, too, but most of the time it was shallow and some septic tanks drained into it. However, one spring when it flooded, we took an old barn door out there and floated down the stream on it. Another time we took our grandfather’s boat without permission and paddled down the stream. As I remember it, we were in trouble for taking something without asking.




An old picture of some of my cousins

One summer my brother, Jerry, and our cousins, Norman and Dolores, built a club house out of scrapped of lumber we gathered up. It was no larger than a rather small kitchen table. The boys did the sawing, hammering and nailing while Dolores and I handed them the tools and nails. When we finished it we loaded it on a red wagon, which shows you that it wasn’t very large, and we hauled it across the road and back on a farm track to the woods. The boys took turns pulling and Dolores and I pushed. We had water in an empty peanut butters jar, and the boys drank most of it because they said they were working harder. I remember the water had a definite taste of peanut butter. We put our club house under a line of trees next to a wide path and across from the woods we played in. The four of us barely fit in and, of course, we couldn’t stand up. Because Dolores and I loved Roy Rogers, we put up a poster of him for decoration. The following day we found Roy Rogers with a black mustache and beard. We were so upset, but our brothers thought it was funny. It wasn’t too many days later when a neighbor boy set fire to our clubhouse and almost set the whole woods on fire. Fire trucks came and the fire was put out before it did much more damage than totally destroy our club house. The boy had wanted to be in our club, and we turned down because he was always in trouble, and there was no room for him anyway. I remember reading in the newspaper years later that he went to prison for murdering someone.


I remember my Uncle Zeke, one of my father’s many brothers, taking my brother and I to some place north to pick blackberries several summers. It was before he married and had kids of his own. It was sort of fun, but also hot. My mother made blackberry jam with the blackberries we picked, and that was good.





Summer time also meant there were the county fairs. Mostly our grandfather took Jerry and me to the Geauga Fair north of us. He’d give us each fifty cents to spend, and often we spent it all on the games like throwing a ball to knock down the wooden milk jugs, or trying to fish out a yellow duck to see if we’d get a prize. Grandpa always bought us cotton candy or some other treat to eat, too. One of the things we liked was watching the horse and the two wheeled sulky races on the fairground track.


Other things I remember were playing softball evenings at our neighbor’s house. I was and probably still am horrible at the game. Still I almost always made it to first base because when I hit the ball it didn’t go very far in front of me so I could make it to first base before the pitcher or catcher could get the ball. What I lacked in batting and throwing skills, I made up for by being a very fast runner in those days. Other games we played were kick the can and hide & go seek, and as I grew older, the neighbor girls often came over and we played Monopoly or Canasta  afternoons.


When the sweet corn ripened on my grandparents’ farm, a table was set up near the road to sell sweet corn. I didn’t sell it often, but my brother Jerry did and  cousin Norman. Grandpa preferred having Jerry sell rather than our older male cousins because there was always more money for Grandpa when Jerry sold than when the cousins. Obviously, they helped themselves to the money.




There was a hollow old willow tree behind my grandparents’ house, and on summer afternoons I’d often climb up in it with a book to read in a wide crouch of the tree where people didn’t notice me, and where it was quite comfortable. I loved climbing trees. In fact, once I climbed almost to the top of a maple tree back by the woods and when I tried to go higher, the branch didn’t hold me, and I bounced all the way down to the ground. Fortunately I didn’t get hurt.



Sometimes on summer evenings, we’d camp out. One day Norman, Dolores, Jerry and I put up my grandfathers’ large canvas tent across the road from the farm house with plans to sleep in it that night. One of us looked out to see Grandpa and my dad coming down the lane towards the tent. Dad had a hand behind his back. Worried we were in trouble, we crawled out. My dad asked, “Who told you that you could put up the tent?” He was scowling. One of us said, “Grandma.” Then Dad brought his hand out with a gallon of ice cream and told the four of us to come home for ice cream. Ice cream was a real treat in those days. That night we slept out and I remember scaring my younger brother and cousins with some spooky ghost stories, even Norman who was a year or two older than I was.


Other evenings my cousins Sally and Judy, who lived a quarter of a mile away, would camp out in their back yard. After their parents were asleep, we’d sneak off and do naughty things like turn
over a neighbor’s lawn chairs, and once we went up to the corner bar across from the Presbyterian Church and looked in and then ran off giggling.

 
My mother with one of my younger sisters and me at a picnic.
Summers also meant almost every Sunday, my mother’s sister, Aunt Millie and Uncle John Kapp along with the four Kapp kids and my three siblings and me, went on a picnic. Every Sunday, either my mom or her sister would take delicious fried chicken while the other took ham. They also alternated between who would bring the baked beans or potato salad and a pie or cupcakes.
We always had cold drinks like lemonade or Kool-Aide. Sometimes we’d head for Lake Erie, sometimes to Warner’s Hollow, or any number of other places. Sometimes to an amusement park if it was when where my dad or uncle worked had a day planned there. We always stopped on the way home at some little park in the middle of a town or village with picnic tables, swings and sliding boards to eat what was left of our picnic lunch for supper. We traveled far and wide in our Buicks – no SUV’s then – and once when we were hungry and were lost on some country road in Pennsylvania, we ate next to a pretty stream in a cow pasture.


When we were teenagers, my brother bought an old Model A or Model T, I forget which, and had it towed home. He managed to get it running, but he was too young to get a driver’s license, so he drove it all over Grandpa’s farm with our cousins and me either inside or hanging on to the car from the running board. He was a crazy driver speeding and turning in sharp circles. Once my cousin Sally fell off and the back wheel ran over her foot, but fortunately it didn’t break any bones.
My brother and me climbing trees.

We didn’t have all the things that today’s kids have, but somehow I feel we were lucky that we had the freedom to explore and enjoy the simple life.


What do you remember about summers when you were young?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Diva Author Krista Davis--An Interview By E. B. Davis




 “She disappeared. I remember seeing her picture in the paper day


after day. Such a pretty young woman. They searched for her everywhere.
I heard they found some bones partly buried in the riverbank
a while back and confirmed they were hers.”
Krista Davis
The Diva Serves High Tea (Page 123)

I must admit few cozies make me feel cozy. Krista Davis’s Diva series does. I’m sitting in my beach chair, sweating. I pick up her book, begin to read, and become enveloped by the coolness of fall nights, the taste of spiced cupcakes with caramel icing, the belly-warmth of bourbon sauce and hot cider with rum, the smell of wood fires, the crunch of leaves under foot and the sound of a panting dog by my side.

The Diva Serves High Tea was released earlier this month. What does tea have to do with it? Tea is a worldwide industry, spawning dishware and silver services. More than a beverage—it’s history and culture, part art, science, and protocol, a meal of delicious and beautiful pastries—and it could be death. Just ask Sophie and Natasha.

Welcome back to WWK, Krista.                            E. B. Davis 

The Diva Serves High Tea was set in the fall and released in June. The Diva Wraps It Up was set at Christmas and was also released in June. I have to admit your fictional season seems all the more cozy out of season. Does Berkley do that on purpose? Is there a psychology used in timing book releases?

Berkley set up the Domestic Diva Mysteries to release every year in June. They think it’s better to have them release at the same time every year so that readers know when to expect them.

Because your books contain a lot of good meals, there are many poisons and toxins you can use to kill. Had you always wanted to kill someone with Botulism? Was there a specific reason your chose Botulism? Have you ever tried Botox?

I have never tried Botox. I chose botulism poisoning because it’s unusual and would normally be dismissed as an accident. But it would be so easy for an ordinary person to use botulism to poison someone. Some poisons are hard to come by but botulism is homemade. Anyone could easily create it or find it when opening a jar. And if you happened to be caught, the perfect defense would be to claim that you had no idea the food was tainted, because that’s usually the case.

I had forgotten that Nina’s husband was a forensic pathologist. Have you ever used him in a plot?

Not yet. He’s always working out of town. But he may still make an appearance sometime.


“I didn’t know what to say. Natasha had coveted my life for a long time
but I had dismissed her feelings. I hadn’t realized how long she had seen me
as the recipient of all that she didn’t have.”

In the quote above (admittedly I may be on a rant):
·      Has Sophie really been dismissive? Without insulting Natasha, what could Sophie have said or done to make Natasha’s life better?

I don’t think anyone except Natasha’s father could have made her life better. We all carry burdens of some kind. Natasha tries to be perfect and succeeds on one level. Anyone looking at her would see a beautiful woman, impeccably dressed. She has all the trappings (nice house, great job) other people covet. But the truth is that she is driven to be perfect by deep wounds from her childhood.

Sophie hasn’t been dismissive, but she doesn’t dwell on or give much thought to Natasha’s underlying insecurities. We all have a lot going on, and I think it’s even more difficult to consider the internal insecurities of someone who tends to create havoc in our lives.

·      Why do people become jealous and resentful of someone when they don’t make the same choices or decisions resulting in different outcomes?    

I’m not a shrink, but as a child, Natasha saw Sophie with the family that she wanted. Now that they’re adults, when Natasha sees Sophie succeeding at something, Natasha wants it, too. Natasha thinks big, but doesn’t think things through.

·      Is Sophie responsible for Natasha’s feelings?

Only in the sense that we don’t like to see other people be unhappy. Sophie has compassion for Natasha, especially after Natasha’s outburst.

·      Sophie works hard to maintain her values and her standard of living. Is there something she must apologize for?

No, of course not.

Have you ever made hash browns on a Panini press?

Yes! And they’re great!

At the beginning of each chapter, you have a letter asking advice of either Sophie or Natasha. Is this the first time you’ve had the writer ask the same question of both of them? Did you do it before and I missed it? Sophie’s and Natasha’s answers are hysterically opposite.

I do it at least once in most of the books. Or sometimes two people involved in an argument write to Sophie, each with a different perspective on the same problem. Some readers write to me and ask if I know that I made a mistake and used the same question twice. But I enjoy showing the difference between Natasha and Sophie, and it’s usually good for a chuckle or two. In addition, there often isn’t one way to do something. It’s okay to do things your own way.

What is a halberd and why does Bernie have one?

Bernie is British. His eccentric mother has been married more times than Elizabeth Taylor and lives in various exotic locales abroad. She bought a halberd (supposedly antique) and shipped it to him. We’ve all seen halberds in movies. They’re medieval weapons that consist of a long pole with an ax blade and a spear. They’re probably very practical in hand-to-hand fighting.

Why did Nina allow Hunter/Ed to take Peanut?

Because I like a happy ending for everyone. Nina often fosters animals and finds homes for them. Hunter/Ed and Peanut were a perfect match.

When the musicians bail on Natasha, Sophie writes her a script to say on the phone to make amends and get them back on the job. Okay—Sophie feels sorry for her, but Natasha never “gets” it. Are they really friends?

One of the true tests of friendship is accepting a person as she is, warts and all. Sophie feared that the event was in trouble but didn’t want to take over. Handing Natasha a script was an easy way to let Natasha resolve the problem so Sophie wouldn’t have to do it herself. Yes, they are friends.

Berkley seems to be shelving cozies. What types of mysteries will they publish?

I’m glad you asked this question, Elaine. I think there is a mistaken impression that cozies are disappearing. Cozies are still popular and selling well. Under new management, Berkley is following a different business model that favors big books and fewer midlist books. They will continue to publish cozies in addition to other types of mysteries. However they plan to publish fewer cozies than in recent years.

Which is your favorite—dark or milk chocolate, Krista?

I know I should love dark chocolate, but I confess that I prefer milk chocolate. I hang my head in shame.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Last of It




We writers love the first lines. We work them, revise them, make them punchy. Readers often use them to judge the book to come. But I must confess a special fondness for last lines. 

This is true for me as a reader, but it is especially true for me as a writer. In fact, when I begin a novel, the very first thing I write is the last line. The beginning and middle and climax and resolution are the territory, with lots of signposts, maybe a few detours and dead ends along the way. They are hard driving. But the last line in the book is a destination, an exhale, a neat lover's knot.

Or it should be anyway.

The final line in my very first book, The Dangerous Edge of Things, is one of my favorite things I have ever written: "I swung into the left lane and made a U-turn." Not only does that bring the story line to a conclusion, it gives the reader a very good idea of what's next for Tai. And even though a whole lot of stuff happens five minutes after this line, I wanted to conclude on words that both looked back and looked forward at the same time. I owe my editor that one – she's the one who made the suggestion that I let the book end right there.

I have lots of favorite last lines, most of them from short stories. Oh, I know novels routinely get noticed for their exquisite codas, many of them well-deserved. Who can forget that great final line from George Orwell's Animal Farm?: "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which." That sentence could serve as a thesis statement for the entire book. But the best short stories do something even more miraculous they manage to pull off a singular final line that is both twist and resolution. The thing you never saw coming that you now know was always inevitable. The last line as wallop.

In that light, I share with you my ten favorite short story closing lines. Not all would be considered crime fiction, but each one does revolve around a killing (although in one case, it's entirely imaginary). Some will be familiar; others are rarer treasures. Take "The Premonition" by Joyce Carol Oates, which is from her collection Haunted. "The Premonition" is one of the finest mystery stories ever written, with every clue perfectly placed, assimilated, and orchestrated. Its final line is a chilling summation that everything you thought had gone wrong has indeed gone wrong, more wrong than its naïve narrator could possibly imagine. And if you don't know "Manly Conclusions" by Mary Hood, a short story from her collection How Far She Went, seek it out as soon as possible – its final line is as stunning and complete as a thunderclap.

So now I present, in no particular order, my top ten favorite closing lines from short fiction. Share any of your favorite lines in the comments! 

*    *     *
One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair.
"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner.

He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided.
– "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell

Romance at short notice was her specialty.
–  "The Open Window" by H.H. Monro (Saki)

"Answer it," he said into the dark, avoiding her eyes.
  "Manly Conclusions" by Mary Hood

Mrs. Hale's hand was against the pocket of her coat. 'We call itknot it, Mr. Henderson."
– "A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell

"It isn’t fair, it isn’t right," Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.
"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

How characteristic of women, how sweet, that they trust us as they do, Whitney was thinking; and that, at times at least, their trust is not misplaced.
–  "The Premonition" by Joyce Carol Oates

And in the other room, Mary Maloney began to giggle.
–  "Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl

In pace requiescat!
 – "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe

"'That's fine, Daddy," I said, forcing some cheer into my voice. "Why don't you invite her over next Sunday? We can have her for dinner."
 – "Necessary Women" by Karin Slaughter



Monday, June 27, 2016

How to Keep Your Favorite Writers and Books from Disappearing

Ever since mystery publishing had a major upheaval just a few months ago in which many writers of mystery series were dropped by their publishers and many long-time editors in the field were laid off, I’ve been thinking seriously about book sales. I’ve written and spoken a number of times about what an avid reader can do to support the authors s/he loves, and so I thought I’d compile all of those actions into a blog post for today.

As a reader of novels, I was often disappointed and horrified when authors that I loved disappeared or stopped writing series I loved and started writing another that I might not be as fond of.  After I became a published novelist and got to know many other published novelists, I discovered how these things happen and what I as a reader can do about them. A couple of examples—one writer’s books always get rave reviews in the big journals, usually starred reviews, she always earns out her advances, and every single book has been a finalist for some of the biggest awards, but her publisher, one of the Big Five, has dropped her. Why? Her books aren’t increasing in sales enough from book to book, even though they are increasing and are profitable to the publisher. She is looking at writing novels in a different genre now. Another writer had an award-winning series of witty, well-written private-eye novels. He was dropped because it was determined that private-eye novels wouldn’t be selling well soon (a prediction that turned out wrong). He couldn’t get a publisher then. So he had to take a woman’s name and start writing very successful cozies under that.

Often even famous writers are just a breath or two away from tumbling down the slopes in the fickle game of publishing, and success is even more volatile for midlist authors. There are dozens of other stories like these that I could tell. This is what’s happening to the authors you love who vanish and what may well happen to the authors you love now. Even selling enough to earn out their advances is not enough, if they are not increasing their sales drastically with each book. How can we help the authors we love to do that so we can keep reading the books we’re addicted to? Here’s a little list. (And incidentally, most of these tips will help your favorite authors who are indie published or hybrid authors, as well.)

Pre-orders— pre-orders have become more and more important to writers. Publishers often decide how big a print run and how much, if any, promotion they will give a book based on pre-orders. Bookstores base orders on that, too. So pre-orders can determine whether your book will be on the shelves in bookstores around the country or have to be special-ordered.  This can be critical for indie published authors since bookstores tend not to carry their books—and Amazon is making it more possible for them to set up pre-orders, as well.

Other things you can do to help are clicking "likes" and "tags" on Amazon. Reviews on Amazon and Goodreads count more toward sales than those longer ones on my blog or elsewhere, and don’t forget Barnes & Noble and Library Thing. Post your author’s book in your WantToRead file on Goodreads when you know the book is coming. Publishers tell us that is important, that other readers look at those and often decide whether to buy the book based on how many other people have listed it as something they want. But reviews on your blog or other review sites do help, as well as in-person book recommendations. I know I’m doing a lot more book recommendations now and not just waiting for folks to ask me.

As soon as I know a book is coming out by one of my favorite writers, I request my library system order that book—and my own pre-orders for those books are through local bookstores because that helps them decide whether or not to order in that book to have on the shelves. Ask your library to order the book, and then check it out. Library sales are important to most authors, and we love libraries. If you check out our books, the libraries will keep buying them and won’t sell us off for pennies at the Friends of the Library book sale. (Many libraries get rid of books that haven’t been checked out in more than a year, so even if you own a book, checking out from your local library helps keep your author alive there.)

When we order books from our local bookstore, we need to tell them what we like about that author and why s/he might be a good fit for the store. That not only can convince them to order the book, but also gives them something to tell people when they ask about it.

Talk up your author and book on Facebook and Twitter. I know for a fact that people have bought my books because of wonderful things some of my fans have posted on those two platforms about them. Word of mouth is still the best advertising.

If you’re in a book club or book discussion group or anything like that, suggest your author’s book for the group to read and discuss.

If you take one or more of these actions for your author, you have given great support and taken steps to make sure that s/he will be able to continue writing and publishing the books you love. Anything we can do to help others learn about the authors and books we love helps to keep them available to us, too.

Publishing is particularly volatile right now. Many of our favorite authors have lost not only their publishers, but even their agents. Check their websites and author pages to see if their series will be continued by another publisher or through their own efforts. If not and they’re having to start a new series, please give it a chance, even if you’re mad that their other series you loved is now gone. They loved it, too, but had no say about it being dropped. Don’t get angry with the author. If you liked their other series, you may well love this new one. At least, give it a chance.


The rocky state of publishing is causing authors to make serious adjustments and will require the same from dedicated readers, I’m afraid.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

On the Road Again

View from Wildlife Viewing Platform
(Dael's Rock in the early morning fog)
Today Jan and I kick off a month-long road trip. In talking about past road trips with friends, I’ve discovered they generally split into two camps: those who think long trips are delightful and those who can’t stand being away from home for that long.

I understand both perspectives. Earlier this week I sat on our “Wildlife Viewing Platform” (a fanciful and sometimes wishful name for a rectangular deck my son and I built at the lake’s edge) reading a book, and I realized I was perfectly content with that spot at that time. The sun was shining and keeping me warm on a cool Michigan day. The breeze kept the bugs down and caused waves not much larger than ripples to lap over and against the nearby rocks. A belted kingfisher flew along the far shore, giving its rattling call. Overhead, a red-eyed vireo called and from a distance came the clear calls of a pair of rose-breasted grosbeaks. Dragonflies patrolled the air and used the platform as a landing field.

Nope, it can’t get much better than that, and I could easily convince myself there is no reason to leave my property except for the occasional trip into town to gather mail and provisions.

Autumn morning view from
Wildlife Viewing Platform
But then I get in the car and wander off to some new or remembered place. Traveling forces me to abandon a perhaps overly comfortable routine (read rut?) and explore new geographies, watch plant forms change as I move north or south, to higher or lower altitudes, to warmer or colder climates. I visit family and old friends. I meet strangers and learn from them. I get to see and experience things I read in books come alive (Civil War battlefields, geology’s effects on the land, museums full of history and arts). I make time to stroll an interesting cemetery, spend a few hours watching birds, take a hike to a hidden waterfall, put a camera on a tripod and find a different perspective, a new lens if you will, with which to explore the world.

Dael's Rock on a still morning
with reflections on the lake
While traveling, I sometimes wonder why I bother having two homes that tie me down when there is so much more to see.

A bit schizophrenic, wouldn’t you say? But each sensibility works for me in its own place and time. When I am traveling, I want to suck in the new or relearned experiences. But, as soon as I start heading for home, that’s where I want to be. The trip becomes a mad dash to get back home. I want to know if the phoebes nesting under the deck are raising kids this year, whether the moose have walked down our road, what flowers returned and whether any new volunteers have risen in our wildflower meadow.

How about you? Do you enjoy traveling or would you prefer to stay near home without all the hassles?


~ Jim

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Meeting and Greeting – A Marketing Plan – Part Deux By Kait Carson


As a member of the Gulf Coast Chapters of Sisters in Crime I attended a marketing day at the Sarasota Barnes & Noble. I have to admit, initially I only did it because I thought I had to. Not for me, but for my publisher. First of all, Sarasota is 100 miles away from my home—and that’s a crow flies distance.  Second, I had to be there by 9:45 AM. Third, like most writers, I’d rather hunker down in my cave and write. Fourth, the Florida rainy season has been hitting with a vengeance most days this week and the thought of driving an hour and a half through gator gushers... Why then, did a reasonably sane woman leave her house at 6:30 AM with thunder lighting the western sky? Did I mention about my publisher? And, oh yeah, bookstores are catnip to a writer.
This is the second part of a two-part blog, the first part appeared on Motive Means Opportunity on Monday, June 20, 2016.  Tricky, huh.
I previously mentioned the book signing table up front. I have to admit; it was a pretty intimidating place to be. There I was, books on display, sitting right smack dab at the front door. Behind me the Sisters in Crime poster was in full display. My role was clear—I’m here to sell you some books. I felt like the perfume lady at the mall. Nobody wants to get that squirt. The poor woman must have face ache at the end of every shift. To say nothing of self-esteem issues!
My second thought was far less personal. If someone had asked me (and I base this on my sales and on the sale of other writers) I would have said that book stores were in their death throes. The majority of my sales are e-books. It’s rare to see someone with a paper book anymore. These days, it’s far more common to see someone with an e-reader. The volume of folks coming through the door, and the volume of folks walking out the door with packages told a far different tale.
My third thought really warmed my heart. I loved the number of kids running (not walking) into the store. Parents well and truly in their wake while the kids bargained for more than one book. It was exciting to see this new generation of readers. One family walked in and the older child ran to the children’s table, grabbed up a book, thrust it at her younger brother and said, “You have to read this, it was my favorite when I was your age.” It was intoxicating to see the whole family in the checkout line – each with at least one book in hand.
Following my abysmal performance at the solo signing table it was time for lunch and then a panel discussion. I’d never participated in a panel so I was very intrigued to see how they worked. Wendy Dingwall was the moderator (she’s also President of the Gulf Coast Sister in Crime Chapter) and I shared the podium with Susan Klaus and Shannon Esposito. Many of you may know Susan from her Authors Connection radio show as well as her books She writes both thrillers and fantasy. Shannon writes two cozy series, one featuring a pet psychic, and the second featuring a yoga instructor who runs a doga (doggie yoga) class. Two great co-panelists.

Wendy had some really fun and insightful questions for the group and each of us had a turn to answer. What amazed me was the similarity among the responses. All three of us felt that marketing was the hard part. What we really wanted to do was spend our time writing. We’d each thought if we wrote it, readers would come. That would be osmosis marketing. It didn’t work for any of us. Our books were all character driven. Didn’t matter what we plotted. At some point, the characters took over. We differed on our themes, the degree of heat in our books and how we approached our writing.  It was as much of a learning experience for me as it was for the audience. And the audience questions were really, really, insightful. They wanted to know where the characters come from. How much of us were in our books. Did we really write for our own motives or to tell a great story? 
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. I had a great time, and I think the audience did too.
Kait loves to hear from fans, check out her website at www.kaitcarson.com; follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kaitcarsonauthor, on twitter at @kaitcarson, or e-mail her at kait.carson@gmail.com.