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

WWK's May interviews will be: 5/2--indie author Bobbi Holmes, 5/9--TG Wolff (aka--Anita Devito), 5/16--Chocolate Bonbon author Dorothy St. James, 5/23--Lida Sideris, 5/30--Food Lovers' Village (and multiple Agatha winner) Leslie Budwitz. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our May Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 5/5--John Carenen, 5/12--Judy Penz Sheluk, 5/19--Margaret S. Hamilton, 5/26--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), will be available on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here.

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

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. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with the authors in this anthology on 4/14! Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in August, 2018.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ann Charles Interview-Part 1

Ann Charles writes romantic mysteries with a strong dose of humor. She is the 2010 winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, and she has been a Golden Heart and Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest finalist. When she is not dabbling in fiction, she is penning writing-related articles or standing on her workshop soapbox, sharing what she has learned over the years about the craft and self-promotion. Stay tuned for Ann Charles’ and her partner, Jacquie Rogers’, upcoming, non-fiction book available in early 2011 about the secret of building an effective fiction writer’s platform.

Visit her at Ann Charles, or read her weekly antics at Plot Mamas. You can also find her on Facebook under Ann.Charles-Author. In addition, Ann is co-owner of the 1st Turning Point website where they and over two dozen other authors, reviewers, and PR consultants have joined together to teach and share (and learn from each other) all sorts of great information about promotion for both unpublished and published authors.

EBD: Your title, NEARLY DEPARTED IN DEADWOOD sounds paranormal, and yet you entered and won the Daphne Du Maurier Award in the Mainstream Mystery/Suspense category. Is there some subgenre elements? Or am I reading more into the title than there is?

ANN: I classify Nearly Departed in Deadwood as a mystery with romantic subplot and paranormal elements. Yep, I’m a genre mixer. My brain just has too much fun mixing different elements into a story to stay true to one genre. Because of this mixing, when I was trying to select a category for my entry, I had to consider the main plot and choose where it fit best, which was the Mainstream category. If the paranormal elements had played a bigger part in the main plot, I would have chosen that category. This book is also the first in a series, so it didn’t fit the Single Title category.

EBD: Did you already have a manuscript written, or did you write a manuscript with the Daphne in mind?

ANN: I had the manuscript written when I decided to enter. I was in the revision process when someone mentioned in one of my Yahoo groups that the Daphne was open for submissions. I’d heard of the Daphne, but I hadn’t considered entering it before. I read the instructions and liked what it had to offer in regard to judges’ comments. I entered with the hope of getting some good feedback on my story and maybe (a pipedream) landing a finalist spot if the stars aligned and I sacrificed a chicken or two. I didn’t tell even my agent I’d entered, though, because I really didn’t figure I’d place as a finalist. Why? Because if you read my first chapter on my website, you can see that my “voice” is a little quirky. So, again, my main goal was to get honest feedback from readers who didn’t know me, people who don’t have to sit across the table from me at Thanksgiving dinner when I’m holding a fork.

EBD: Tell us about your book. What is your hook?

ANN: Following is the back cover copy for Nearly Departed in Deadwood:

Little girls are vanishing from Deadwood, South Dakota. Fearing her daughter might be next, single mom, Violet Parker, is desperate to find the monster behind the abductions.

With her savings dwindling and just three weeks left to sell her first house or lose her Realtor job, Violet must convince her only buyer to stop rejecting the vintage homes she shows him as if they’re haunted. So when a handsome jeweler hires her to sell his century-old, Victorian masterpiece, she’s ecstatic…until she sees the dilapidated dwelling.

Short on time and long on worry, she refuses to give up her dream of a fresh start in Deadwood. But with a malicious coworker trying to get her fired, a secret admirer sending her creepy messages, and a sexy, dark-eyed stranger hiding skeletons in his closet, Violet could end up as one of Deadwood’s dearly departed.

My hook? I’m playing on fear—losing one’s child. It’s a horribly frightening concept for any parent, myself included. Unfortunately, the boogieman really exists in this world, and Nearly Departed in Deadwood is the story of how a lone mother juggles life’s struggles and stresses while fighting off the boogieman at the same time.

If the back cover copy hooks you enough to open the cover and peek at the first paragraph, you’ll read the following:

The first time I came to Deadwood, I got shot in the ass. Now, twenty-five years later, as I stared into the double barrels of old man Harvey’s shotgun, irony was having a fiesta—and I was the piñata.

You get a flavor of what’s to come in that first paragraph, and my hope is that you like the taste and keep on reading...all the way to the end.

EBD: You mentioned the great rewards of winning the contest. What are they?

ANN: To be honest, I’m still finding out all of the great rewards that come with this win. To start with, however, we have to go clear back to the beginning when I first sent in my submission to the contest. I received an email from one of the coordinators confirming she’d received my entry and asking if I’d be willing to judge entries for one of the other categories. I noticed in her signature line and then on her website that she had her first mystery coming out from St. Martin’s Press this fall. I’d been struggling to get Nearly Departed in Deadwood published for almost a year by this time, so I told the coordinator that I would judge if she would tell me what she did different to land her first book contract.

I knew there was more to it than just writing a great story. She agreed and showed me her platform, which would make many marketing department members drool. This was the first reward I stumbled across, learning more about the things I needed to develop further in my own fiction platform. On top of that, I made a new friend—we still keep in touch and I hope to run into her in person someday soon.

Next, I judged the entries assigned to me and got an idea of what several other authors are writing and how they are going about it. Judging entries is a great learning tool!

After the news came out that I was a finalist, I looked up the other finalists in my Mainstream division and emailed them a note of congratulations. They replied to me and were very friendly. A few of them have kept in touch with me periodically, and one of them I got to know very well. She has since become a good friend, too, and getting to meet all of them and sit with them at the awards ceremony was a lot of fun. I plan to continue to keep in touch with them, and so there’s another reward—more great writing friends.

After the Daphne win happened, I received a lot of congratulatory emails from other writers, friends, family, and strangers who were kind enough to want to wish me great luck with my book. Many of these folks want to read my book now, and I’m going to send out quite a few ARCs to these folks. The benefit here is an increased readership base, and for an unpublished author, that’s golden.

After returning home from the awards ceremony, I wrote a press release with some help from a few reporter friends of mine and targeted an audience who I thought might take an interest in my announcement about winning this prestigious writing award. I sent out seven press releases to mid-sized and smaller papers (the big papers wouldn’t care about this too much, I figured, so why waste any of our time and energy there). Of those seven releases, three of the newspapers are going to put something in their newspapers about my book and the award. I will be contacting the other four again soon to see if I can convince them to play along, as well.

On this front, the reward is huge because I’m reaching out to a targeted audience, who are most likely to have an interest in me or my book, with a carefully crafted message which I hope hits them on a personal level. On my website, I also have a “Join Ann’s Mailing List” option which may help me acquire more names in my reader database.

In addition to what I’ve said so far, I’ve been asked to write on some other blogs and I have increased my name recognition with all of the announcements going out after the win.

Now, these are just some of the benefits that come with a Daphne win. Check back with me in another six months and I’ll let you know more on the long-term benefits of this award. I’m fortunate to have studied marketing and promotion for fiction authors in great depth over the last four years. I have a lot of plans yet for the Daphne and my book, and I’m excited to get hopping.

Thanks for your insight Ann. I’ll continue my interview with Daphne Award winner Ann Charles next month when we discuss her book promotion. Congratulations on your win and good luck with the publishers.


Nancy Naigle said...

What a great journey! I can't wait to see part two of this interview.

I'll take as much feedback and advice as I can get to make that next step toward getting a book of my own on a shelf!
Nancy Naigle
Love stories from the crossroad of small town and suspense.

Susan Schreyer said...

Congratulations, Ann! Your book sounds exactly like the type I enjoy reading--multiple genres and all!
The whole Daphne experience sounds like it was enormously helpful on many levels. Did you receive the judges' score/critique sheets back from the contest?

Donnell said...

Ann, I'm delighted you had a wonderful experience in the 2010 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, presented by RWA's Kiss of Death Chapter. For those who may not be familiar with this prestigious award, Ann won the highest ranking score of 287 entries. She also had to hurdle four judges, the lowest score dropped, and for mainstream, our largest category, she had to have perfect scores to earn the Overall Daphne Award.

We're proud of Ann as we are proud of this contest. I'm thrilled that you found the coordinators helpful. And, yes, Joelle Charbonneau's platform is as fantastic as she is. Her book is coming out this month... Maybe you've heard of it...Skating Around the Law.

Congratulations, Ann, I'm wishing great things for you.

Donnell Ann Bell
Outgoing Overall Daphne Coordinator
but continuing Daphne advisor

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Congratulations, Ann! I agree that judging is a terrific education--it also shows you how quirky publishing is. Some of the unpublished entries I read are fantastic...so many talented authors.

Plus, it's very exciting to feel as if you're reading something that someday will be a big hit! LIke getting in on the ground floor. Highly recommended!

The multiple genre question is a toughie--but I think readers today are a lot more accepting and eager to break the boundaries. Bookstores? I'm not so sure.

Anyway! Ann, lovely to see you...and Joelle, did I just see your name on a BOuchercon panel?

(This is making me wonder if I ever paid my this-year's KOD dues...hmmm.)

Ramona said...

Congratulations, Ann, and thanks for sharing your experiences, both about winning the Daphne this spring and with building a readership platform.

You mentioned that your book was written when you entered, which is great. But one very positive thing about contests is that they sometimes push writers to finish a WIP. So, good on RWA, Malice, St. Martins, MWA, etc. for providing awards and grants opportunities, and good on the writers who enter them.

Pauline Alldred said...

Congratulations, Ann. Thank you for sharing your experiences. You seem very knowledgeable about publicity and I'm sure you put much effort into acquiring that skill. I'm looking forward to reading your book. Mixing genres doesn't bother me at all. Publishers and bookstores can use the main plot to specify genre, as you did, and then let the reader discover the pleasure of being involved in a broader reading experience.

Joelle Charbonneau said...

Hi Ann! I loved your opening pages to Nearly Departed in Deadwood and was excited to be a part of your Daphne journey. Your writing is fabulous and I can't wait to see how the rest of the book turns out.

Donnell - thanks for the shout out. I'm biting my fingernails a bit in my living room while waiting for SKATING AROUND THE LAW to hit shelves on Sept. 28th.

Hank - Hi! Yes - you did see my name on a Bouchercon panel. I am looking forward to seeing you there.

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone. Ann was such a pleasure to work with that we scheduled another interview. Look for it on October 27th. Thanks Ann!

Ricky Bush said...

Great hat! Oh, and congrats on the award and here's hoping it pays back many rewards for you.

Ann Charles said...

Thank you all for stopping by and saying, "Hi!" and then some. I really appreciate it. I apologize for being so quiet all day. I'm on a business trip in Florida and don't have email access until after I get off of work.

Susan, I did get my scores/critiques back and they were great. There was one very good catch two of the judges made that I tweaked in the novel. It wasn't a show stopper, but I was able to strengthen the scene with just a line or two that clarified something. I really got a lot out of this contest. It's a wonderful one and the feedback is first rate!

Donnell, you make me blush. I appreciate all of the work you and the coordinators did to make the Daphne happen. It's incredible how giving of your time you all were/are. Thanks!

Again, thanks everyone for stopping in. I need to run out quick and get some dinner, then I will stop back and do another read through on the comments to see if there is some thing more to address.

Ann C.

Kaye George said...

Nice job, E.B. and Ann! I love hearing success stories.

Kaye George said...

And I look forward to the next installment!

DR. NORM said...

Good interview. I enjoyed reading it. Part two will be even better.

Ann Charles said...

Congrats to Kaye George on winning the offer I put out on Facebook and some Yahoo Groups for a free Daphne 2011 entry review/critique for one lucky commenter. I'm looking forward to checking out Kaye's entry!

Thanks again to all for your comments.

Ann Charles

Polly said...

Sorry I missed the date of this post. I've been on a 2500 mile driving trip. I'm back and just catching up. I wanted to say that one of the great joys of the Daphnes for me was meeting Ann. I know we will continue the friendship over the years. She's talented and fun and she'll do well. Best of luck to a new friend.