Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It Was a Very Good Year

When I summarized my writing accomplishments for this year, I was pretty amazed. I thought I'd share it with you, dear Reader. Here goes! 

As most of you know, A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die came out to positive reviews. I learned a huge amount about marketing, selling, and the limits of my own energy. I turned in 'Til Dirt Do Us Part, the second book in the series on time and wrote 62,000 words on the third book. 

I self-published two short stories that had previously been in anthologies: "Yatsuhashi for Lance" and "Reduction in Force." 

My short story "The Stonecutter" appeared in the Fish Nets anthology from Wildside Press. My short story "Breaking the Silence" not only made it into the Level Best Books anthology Stone Cold, but also won an honorable mention in the Al Blanchard Short Crime Fiction Contest. 

I finished writing and signed a contract with Barking Rain Press for Bluffing is Murder (written as Tace Baker), the second Lauren Rousseau mystery. 

I wrote 55 blog posts and contributed to a bunch more. Five other New England cozy mystery authors and I joined forces and started the Wicked Cozy Authors group blog, posting every weekday.

My story of revenge on a literary thief, "Just Desserts for Johnny," was accepted for January 2014 publication in Kings River Life Magazine

I was a panelist at four mystery conferences and spoke at a couple dozen library or bookstore events. And I quit my day job to become a full-time fiction writer. 

It was a fabulous year in my life. Thank you so much to all my readers and supporters!

Monday, November 25, 2013

'Til Dirt Do Us Part!

I've been  haunting Amazon for days, waiting to see the cover for 'Til Dirt Do Us Part, the second Local Foods mystery. And it showed up today!

Isn't that fun? 

The produce is local - and so is the crime - when long-simmering tensions lead to murder following a festive dinner on Cam Flaherty's farm. It'll take a sleuth who knows the lay of the land to catch this killer. But no one ever said Cam wasn't willing to get her hands dirty...

Autumn has descended on Westbury, Massachusetts, but the mood at the Farm-to-Table Dinner in Cam's newly built barn is unseasonably chilly. Local entrepreneur Irene Burr made a lot of enemies with her plan to buy Westbury's Old Town Hall and replace it with a textile museum - enough enemies to fill out a list of suspects when the wealthy widow turns up dead on a neighboring farm.

Even an amateur detective like Cam can figure out that one of the resident locavores went loco - at least temporarily - and settled a score with Irene. But which one? With the fall harvest upon her, Cam must sift through a bushelful of possible killers that includes Irene's estranged stepson, her disgruntled auto mechanic, and a fellow CSA subscriber who seems suspiciously happy to have the dead woman out of the way.

The closer she gets to weeding out the culprit, the more Cam feels like someone is out to cut her harvest short. But to keep her own body out of the compost pile, she'll have to wrap this case up quickly.

The book, the second in the Local Foods Mystery series, will release in late May, 2014. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I was a Bouchercon Virgin

I'm excited to report that my essay, "I was a Bouchercon Virgin," appeared in Crimespree Magazine online. Adeola Saul, our Kensington Publishing publicist, asked me to write it. And they took it. 

Read all about my first time at the biggest mystery fan convention of the year. And what I now have in common with greats Tess Gerritsen and Sue Grafton!

Monday, September 2, 2013

On Marketing

Rae Francouer
JoeAnn Hart
North Shore writer Rae Francouer recently interviewed Berrett-Koehler publisher Steve Piersanti,  another author, JoeAnn Hart, and me on how to market books. It's a nice article so I thought I'd share one of the links to where it appeared in a Wicked Local news outlet, this one in the Daily News of Newburyport. The Amesbury News printed it on the first page featuring my picture in color, too.

Here's how the article begins:

You’ve spent a few years, at least, writing your book. You’ve locked yourself away from loved ones, muted the phone and sacrificed vacations. You’ve gained five pounds from all that sitting and, to add insult to injury, you’ve got a touch of repetitive motion tendinitis.

The good news is your agent sold the book to a notable publisher.

The bad news? Your hardest work has only just begun.

I can attest to the five pounds! Hope you find the article helpful. I think Rae did a great job with it.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Three Years on the Blog Highway

I'm coming up on the third anniversary of starting this blog. At each year anniversary I've written about the past year: Two Years of Blogging and One Year in the Blogosphere.

It's been a great three years! Anyone who follows me here will have noticed a change in the frequency of my posts in the last year. That was due to several things:

  • Total knee replacement in January  which took the expected recovery and therapy time.
  • Books! A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die released at the end of May and I turned in 'Til Dirt Do Us Part at the end of June. Writing and promotion uses the bulk of my time, which is as it should be.
  • Our new Wicked Cozy Authors group blog, where I blog every week or two, plus
    contribute to the Wicked Wednesday topic every week, plus comment on the other posts and push news of the blog out. I hope you'll stop by and check it out!
I hired Kathleen Valentine to freshen up the look and functionality of this entire web site this spring, which I'm happy with. 

In terms of interesting stats, I find it fascinating that the second and third highest numbers of views come from China and Ukraine. I have to believe this is not from the huge number of mystery readers in those countries, but who knows? Internet Explorer on Windows were the most used browser and operating system, and people got here usually by way of Google searches. No big surprise on those stats.

My post on Finding a Pen Name was viewed the most of all three years of essays. Wow! The one about Quaker fiction also got a lot of views, as did my post about Girl Scouts.

As for the year to come? I'll be right here writing and promoting, and will put up a post now and then. 'Til Dirt Do Us Part will be out next June, with the paperback version of A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die next May. I'm finishing up the first draft of the second Lauren Rousseau mystery, Bluffing is Murder, now, and hope to send that off to Barking Rain Press this fall. Farmed and Dangerous (for a June 2015 release) is already underway. And there might be another series in the works. Watch this spot for news!

What do you think, gentle reader? Are blogs alive and well in 2013? Are they replaced by Facebook? Where online do you prefer to have a conversation? I'll send a copy of A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die to one lucky commenter (US-only, please - if you're from elsewhere, I'll send you an e-copy of Speaking of Murder), so be sure to leave your email address if you think I don't already have it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Essaying Around the Blogosphere

I've been fortunate enough to be a guest at some wicked awesome blogs lately to help celebrate TINE's release. In case you didn't catch them, here are the posts (I'll update it as new essays appear):

And then there are my regular posts over at our Wicked Cozy Authors blog, plus my contributions to the Wicked Wednesday discussions:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Today's the Day!

It's finally here. A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die has launched! 

The book I started writing twenty years ago. The concept of Cam Flaherty and her organic farm that I dusted off a year and a half ago and started writing again from scratch. The first book in a Local Foods Mysteries series from Kensington Publishing, a big press with a wide reach. My first hardcover book. My first reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. 

Am I thrilled? YES! I have so many books to write, so many ideas crowding my imagination, but this one is done. It's now released into the world and it's very, very exciting. It's already in libraries, brick-and-mortar bookstores (including Barnes and Noble), and online sites (see those big buttons on the right?), including UK Amazon.

I owe so much to so many, and hope I thanked them all in the Acknowledgements in the book. Mostly I am grateful for readers, for people who  love to sit down and get lost in a good mystery. I'd love to hear from you, Gentle Reader, and hope you enjoy the story!

I'm also happy to have a lovely updated web site here, due to the talents of Kathleen Valentine, who can not only write great books herself but also design stuff. Thank you, Kathleen!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Calling Librarians Everywhere!

Wow. Library Journal wrote a positive review of my book. This is huge. It's where librarians go to decide which new books to buy. I am delighted! If my only sales were to every library in the country, I would be one happy author. Here's what they said: 

"Computer scientist Cameron (Cam) Flaherty turns her back on the corporate world to manage her great-uncle’s small Massachusetts farm. As a self-described geek-turned-farmer with rusty social skills, Cam finds the whole “getting to know you” process of small-town life tedious. Still, she plugs into the locavore community and does her best to make friends. But things go topsy when her recently fired farmhand is killed with a pitchfork in her greenhouse. Cam is now a prime suspect, while she thinks everyone else is acting suspiciously. At the same time, someone is systematically sabotaging Cam’s fields and crops, upping her unease. The killer astutely figures out Cam’s greatest fear and uses that weapon next. VERDICT Another topically relevant cozy debut introduces a fledgling organic farmer keying into the local foods movement and encountering some whack jobs along the way. This would partner well with Chrystle Fiedler’s “Natural Remedies” series."

Readers, feel free to quote or forward this review to your local library when you ask them to acquire my book. It's one of the best presents you can give an author. And thank you!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Edith's Feline Friends

Over at our new Wicked Cozy Authors blog, I'm talking about my cats! 

Stop by and let us know your feelings about pets, and what you expect from a cozy mystery. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Another Giveaway

I've set up another Goodreads giveaway. Five books to five randomly selected winners.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Tine to Live, A Tine to Die by Edith Maxwell

Tine to Live, A Tine to Die

by Edith Maxwell

Giveaway ends May 04, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

I really enjoyed sending off the five copies from the first giveaway to readers around the country, plus one in Canada, and one reader already posted a glowing review, here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/579824679/

With only six weeks until release date, my excitement is mounting. I'm lining up more and more events, so please check the Events tab. And both my wonderful sons will be back in the state for my Newburyport launch party on June 9! It's happy times in Maxwell-land.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Publishers Weekly Review

So this is exciting. Publishers Weekly has reviewed A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die! Their Facebook page describes them as " the leading international trade magazine of the publishing business.

Friends and colleagues tell me being reviewed in PW is a big deal, because libraries read it and it governs purchasing all over the place, with a circulation of somewhere around 25,000. My publisher, Kensington Publishing, submitted the book to PW, but a review is not guaranteed by any means. 

When I ventured an opinion to a couple of fellow authors that it isn't really a rave review, I was assured that any positive coverage is great, since at least it isn't negative. 

And the words "absorbing" and "exciting" are actually pretty, well, exciting! 

Here's the actual review:

A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die (Edith Maxwell. Kensington, $24 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7582-8461-7)
Maxwell (Speaking of Murder under the pen name Tace Baker) brings her expertise as a former organic farmer to her absorbing first Local Foods mystery. Cam Flaherty, who has taken over her great-uncle’s organic farm in Millsbury, Mass., feels obliged to fire farmhand Mike Montgomery after he admits he was going to use pesticide on the beetles he was tired of handpicking off asparagus and potato leaves. That evening, Cam finds Mike lying dead, her pitchfork stuck in his throat. Suspected of the farmhand’s murder, Cam must contend with Mike’s angry mother and an unfriendly police detective. Lending support in her hunt for the real killer are her fellow organic farmers and childhood friend Ruth Dodge, who’s now a police officer. Issues involving immigrants and a local militia group add weight to a plot that builds to an exciting climax. Agent: John Talbot, Talbot Fortune Agency. (June)

Note: the town in the book is Westbury, not Millsbury.

I'm still looking for smaller-scale reviewers for the book, but this is a lovely start to the release now less than two months distant!

And I'll say it again: if you have a sizable network, be it on Goodreads, your local farm's CSA newsletter, or your own blog where you could circulate a review, let me know if you'd like an advance copy and we'll see what we can work out. I'm always looking for readers.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Thoughtful Review

In my traditional mystery, Speaking of Murder (published under pseudonym Tace Baker), linguistics Professor Lauren Rousseau occasionally falls back for comfort and guidance from her Quaker faith as she searches for her student's murder amid small-town intrigues and other threats.

Callie Marsh, a Friend I do not know personally, has reviewed the book for the West Branch Friends Meeting of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) newsletter. She gave me permission to share her very thoughtful review from the point of view of a mystery lover AND a Quaker. I copy the review here unaltered. Thanks, Callie!

Review of Speaking of Murder by Tace Baker

Tace Baker is a pseudonym for Edith Maxwell, a Quaker writer from New England Yearly Meeting of Friends. She chose her pen name before she knew that one of the first Quaker printer/publishers was also named Tace. She was Tace Sowle, (1666–1749), who inherited her father’s print shop and made a good busi-ness of it, an unusual feat for a woman of her time. Speaking of Murder, published in September 2012, is Maxwell’s first full-length mystery, and I am looking forward to more. She writes well. The pace is good, the characters, likable and real. Her protagonist is Lauren Rousseau, a college professor of linguistics at a small New England college in Ashford, Massachusetts. The story moves, however, from the life of academia and its own intense political ins and outs out into the wider community, including the sea front of a coastal town and the daily comings and goings of a variety of townspeople. Maxwell introduces her reader to the rich and lively world of an old New England small town without sentimentality or romanticism. She creates her novel with integrity and care.

I was delighted to see how well Maxwell navigates across social and economic differences. Her portrayal of the community is sensitive, without suffering from self-conscious anxiety about racism or classism. This is no small task. It is encouraging to see Maxwell’s writing reflect how Friends and the broader European-American views and cultural mores about race and sex can shift with work and time. The novel reflects this transition and invites us to grow with it.

Maxwell writes comfortably about her Quaker professor. Lauren is a Friend many of us might know and enjoy. Her Quaker understanding of the world is woven into who she is and how she lives without being preachy or overly theological. I felt very comfortable with her. It is fun to read a novel when one feels a bond of common beliefs and customs with the protagonist. Yet the book will read well for a general audience too, perhaps raising some mild curiosity in the non-Quaker reader.

I was fully engrossed in the story itself. The book is hopefully the first of a series, setting the stage for future books. Not unnaturally in a first book, I came away wanting Maxwell to deepen her characters, give me more understanding of why and how they are who they are. As Maxwell continues to write about these people, first she and then we, her readers, will come to know her characters more fully, developing a lasting friendship with them. I look forward to that.

Maxwell also writes the Local Foods Mysteries, in which organic farmer Cam Flaherty has to deal not only with eager locavores but also murder on the farm. A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die will be published later this spring. Maxwell promises she will get back to Lauren Rousseau and the town of Ashford, Massachusetts. You can buy Speaking of Murder at quakerbooks.org, the Friends General Conference website, or on amazon.com. It is available in electronic or hard copy. You can find Edith at her website, edithmaxwell.com. Enjoy. . .

Reviewed by Callie Marsh

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Value of the Brown and Green

Growing up in Southern California, I was a Brownie and then a Girl Scout from second grade all the way through senior year in high school, in the Santa Anita council.

It was an important part of my life. My older sisters were in scouting, too, and my mother was a leader for many of those years. She was Leader of the Year for our council in 1968 and also worked at a couple of summer camps.

Here's me my first summer at Girl Scout camp. 

My family's summer vacation was always camping for two weeks among the giant Sequoias in Sequoia National Park, so I was accustomed to being able to live simply outdoors.  But our troop did so much more than camp.

Of course, with the era I grew up in, scouting sometimes reinforced traditional roles for girls. I remember learning as a Brownie how to make a hospital corner with a bed sheet, a skill I found fascinating (and hadn't learned at home), and we sewed our own skating skirts when we took roller skating as a group. 

But we also learned about Juliette Gordon Low. We were taught to tie knots, brush and ride a horse at summer camp, sing in harmony, live with dirty knees and hiking boots, and, of course, how to become excellent little sales people when cookie and calendar time came around every year. I even studied judo with my older sister's troop. Despite being decidedly non-militaristic as an adult, I must confess that I loved wearing a uniform and marching (wearing white gloves) in step in parades. 

Being competent and self-reliant was part of the Scouting package and that identity has carried through my life to this day. We also learned to work well with others, to support other females on our team, and we were led by kind, strong women. I never experienced any of the cliquish in fighting that went on among girls in my larger world.

When I was a Senior Scout, our troop volunteered with a disabled girl who needed directed limb exercises. We put on a community pancake breakfast to raise money for some charity. We wore our camp uniforms to meetings: white blouse, green bermuda shorts, and knee socks in a time when girls couldn't even wear pants to school. Over the blouse we had light-blue cotton jackets on which we sewed patches collected from every trip we took.

The picture above shows a happy-but-tearful me being sent off by my troop to my exchange year in Brazil halfway through my senior year in high school. One of the best parts of my year of living with a Brazilian family, attending high school, and learning Portuguese by immersion? You guessed it: being welcomed into an equipe de Guias Bandeirantes, a Girl Scout troop.

In my Local Foods mysteries, a central character is Ellie Kosloski, a plucky 14-year old Girl Scout just entering high school. In the first book, she's working on her Locavore badge -- one of the newest badges  -- and she's volunteering on Cam Flaherty's farm. She ends up being trapped in a near-fatal situation with Cam toward the end and the two work together to forge their escape. We see her mature as the series continues but she continues being a Scout.

I'll admit that when I read about the new Locavore badge, I just had to add Ellie to my series. But it was a natural addition for me who, like many of my author peers, grew up on Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames, strong girls who solved intriguing puzzles. When I informally surveyed a number of crime fiction writers in Sisters in Crime, forty-one reported having been a Girl Scout with only two saying they hadn't. Some who had didn't stay in long, but many said it really formed their self-perception as a person who could do whatever she wanted.

What about you? What childhood experiences shaped your best adult traits? Was scouting part of it?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Finding Reviewers

I'm looking for readers. 

It's a little over two months until A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die releases and I have a couple dozen advance review copies of it to give away (Preston stays here, though!). What I want is reviewers with a wide reach. 

I've contacted several respected reviewers who I met through Facebook and they agreed to read the book. The Natural Farmer, the newsletter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association agreed to review it for their June edition, which goes out to 10,000 subscribers. I even asked Johnny's Selected Seeds to read one and they said they could mention it on their social media.

Another thing I did was start a Goodreads giveaway.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Tine to Live, A Tine to Die by Edith Maxwell

Tine to Live, A Tine to Die

by Edith Maxwell

Giveaway ends April 04, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
I don't hang out on Goodreads much but probably should!  

My publisher is handling the big review sites, like Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and major newspapers, as well as publications like Edible Boston. I'm not sure how that works but am leaving it up to the publicist there. 

If you have a venue where you could circulate a review to a lot of readers, please contact me and we can talk about arranging an ARC for you. I want to get the word out!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Deborah Crombie Marathon

I am thrilled to report that I have finished reading through Deb Crombie's entire series, except for The Sound of Broken Glass, which released last week.

I hope you'll do the same. I had read one or two of her books in the past. But with a long series - and this one started in 1996 with A Share in Death - it's really worth it to read it start to finish. You see how the characters develop over time, you experience how the author deals with loss and love and deepening relationships. Most of all, you totally fall in love with Scotland Yard officers Gemma James and Duncan Kinkaid, and with London through Crombie's eyes.

While Crombie lives in Texas, she has said that she always felt like she should have been British. She travels to England and other parts of Great Britain every year and has lived there in the past. When you read her writing, she certainly sounds British. She gets the dialect, both in dialog and in how observations about life are expressed. She makes you feel like you are walking the streets of Notting Hill or shopping at the Columbia Road flower market. Here she is on her recent US book tour with an actual Brit, her fellow blogger Rhys Bowen, whose Molly Murphy series I love and want to enact a marathon on, too!

Crombie is one of the regular bloggers over at Jungle Red Writers where I drop in first thing every morning and often leave a comment. I was really excited recently to hear that my randomly selected comment made me the winner of a copy of  The Sound of Broken Glass. I can't wait to get it, except that I know after I finish reading it, I'll have a year or more to wait for the next one. As a writer myself, I know how long it takes to finish writing an entire book, and how hard it is. But as a reader, and a fast reader, I'm appalled at how quickly I can finish reading a work that took so long to produce!

I did a couple of series marathons before, with Julia Spencer-Fleming (also a Jungle Reds blogger) and Louise Penny, but now I'm reduced to eagerly waiting for their next book.

And right now, as before, I'm in withdrawal. Sure, I have other books to read, and am greatly enjoying Toni L. P. Kelner's Blast from the Past, with Wicked Eddies by Beth Groundwater and One Hot Murder by Lorraine Bartlett queued up behind. But what I really want is The Sound of Breaking Glass!

What series have you read start to finish? Do you think a series marathon is a good idea, or would you rather read the books as they come out, one per year (or so)? Which stand alone novel did you wish would become a series?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Knee Rehab Reading - Part Two

My knee-replacement reading binge continues!

Buried in a Bog by Sheila Connolly is a delightful start to her new series. She evokes village County Cork so beautifully I felt I was there in the rainy green hills hearing the locals speak, tasting the Guiness in the pub, and seeing her American protagonist find out she was related to just about everybody in the tiny town of Leap. I couldn't put the book down right through to the surprising end.

August Moon by Jess Lourey continues her Murder by the Month series. I'm behind, as the December book is already out, but August Moon did not disappoint with another funny mystery solved by Mira James in small-town Battle Lake, Minnesota.

Mourn Not Your Dead brought me along in my project to catch up on Deborah Crombie's fantastic Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series. 

SW Hubbard has been off the publishing radar for a few years, but her new book, Another Man's Treasure, was worth the wait. In Audrey Nealon's hunt for the story behind her disappeared mother's ring, she uncovers more intrigue and danger than she bargained for. The characters are well drawn and the story keeps twisting all the way through.

Polly Iyer's Murder Deja Vu is an intriguing thriller with twice-falsely accused Reese and his new love Dana tracking down the real killer in the first case as well as in the new copycat murder.

Next up? Julie's Hyzy's latest in the Presidential chef series, Fonduing Fathers.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Susan Oleksiw Books

I finished reading not one but two books by Susan Oleksiw last week and loved them both.

The Wrath of Shiva is her second novel featuring Anita Ray, who solves mysteries in Kerala, South India. Anita has an American parent but is comfortable living in her Auntie Meena's hotel and doing photography. When a cousin fails to arrive on a plane and a servant starts to go into trances and then blames it on an angry goddess, Anita investigates and is drawn into more intrigues than she bargained for. 

Susan does an amazing job of making you feel like you are there under the tropical trees near the sea. You feel the humidity, hear the night sounds of birds and animals, and become immersed in the local culture of tradition. She brings the local dialect into dialog in a natural way as we get to know her grandmother, her Muttachi. Anita also grows closer to her handsome friend, Anand, who plays a part in solving the mystery not only of her cousin's disappearance but also of valuable antiquities missing from the family. 

The twists toward and at the end were superbly done. I can't wait to read the next Anita Ray!

I've been waiting years to read the next Joe Silva book. Susan published the Murder in Mellingham series but it was discontinued before Last Call for Justice came out. I'm so pleased she decided to self-publish this book. Joe was a good cop with some conflict in his past. Joe is now happily settled with Gwen, his woman friend and her teenage daughter, and brings them to visit his family for the first time.

This book takes place entirely at his parents' home for a family reunion his elderly father has arranged. It's a big Portuguese family with lots of traditional views. Two estranged siblings show up from across the continent who haven't visited in decades and the tension mounts. When a relative is killed at the party, Joe has very little time to find the murderer before more damage is done.

This is almost a psychological suspense novel. The characters are drawn in depth and we see what Joe has to go through to reconcile justice, love for his family, and wanting to make everything right for everyone.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rehab Reading

I've been quiet around here because I went in for knee-replacement surgery on January 15. The recovery is very painful and sitting at the computer is particularly uncomfortable. I'm certainly not getting any new writing done yet.

The upside is that all I'm really capable of doing is reading and sleeping, and watching the occasional movie. And that means I get to read almost ALL THE TIME. For a woman like me with a way-too-busy normal life this is a huge treat. 

When I was recuperating from my back surgery two years ago, I did the same. I wrote a review on this blog of each book I read. I'm already behind schedule, but I hope to catch up, at least for the books that I really loved.

So far I have read the following novels:

I got halfway through a novel on my Kindle by an author new to me until I realized I just didn't like the story and the writing enough to finish it. So many books on my list and so little time!

Short stories and novellas include the following:

I'm even reading some non-fiction:

So stay tuned for reviews!

Friday, January 11, 2013

On Self-Publishing

I went on a new adventure last week. It occurred to me that two of my short stories that were published in the last ten years included some dark back story for two of the main characters in Speaking of Murder.

My story "Reduction in Force" describes revenge after corporate layoff and was published in Thin Ice, an anthology of mystery and crime fiction, by Level Best Books, 2010. The main character is Lauren Rousseau's sister, Jackie, who is an important secondary character in Speaking of Murder.

"Obake for Lance" was a short story about murderous revenge published in Riptide, an anthology of mystery and crime fiction, by Level Best Books, 2004. This story describes a dark incident in the past of Lauren's best friend, Elise, who plays a pivotal role in Speaking of Murder.

The rights to both stories reverted to me a year after publication. People who read Speaking of Murder have asked me when the next Lauren Rousseau book is coming out. It won't be out anytime soon, despite being mostly written, because I need to keep writing and promoting the Local Foods mysteries around the demands of my day job and daily life.

But it occurred to me that these two stories are directly related to Lauren and might satisfy some of the hunger of readers. So I read my writing colleague Kaye George's booklet The Road to Self-Publishing and cleaned up the formatting.

With the help of Kaye's booklet, I figured out how to publish the stories for most formats through Smashwords and for Kindle through Amazon. And while it requires some careful attention (that is, don't start doing it at night if you're a morning person), it really isn't that hard.

Through the unfailingly helpful Guppies I found a cover artist, Stanzalone Design, who uses open-source stock photographs and adds the lettering, which makes her covers very affordable, so I commissioned a cover for each. Which I love!

I also realized that Obake was the wrong word to use in that story. The real name of the triangular rice-dough pastry filled with sweet bean paste is Yatsuhashi, so the newly published story is called "Yatsuhashi for Lance."  It's up on Amazon and is already #25 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Travel > Asia > Japan and #77 in Books > Travel > Asia > Japan > General. Cool! (We won't worry about the fact that it isn't nonfiction...) It should be up for Nook, Kobo, and Apple formats before the end of January. 

I also liked the cover for "Reduction in Force" since it takes places in a software company and tea plays a critical role in the revenge. It's up on Amazon, too. 

This exercise gave me confidence in the world of self publishing, even though I have "non-me" publishers for all my books so far. I can track sales and let people who ask know that there is more of my writing out there they can read. For a mere ninety-nine cents! I'm not expecting to get rich on a couple of short stories but I like having them available. And you never know...

Have you self published anything? Do you order short stories for your ereader?  If you don't have an ereader and a story isn't available in paper, would you buy it and read it on your PC?