Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My RWA National Conference ~ San Antonio 2014

Not Your Usual Suspects! Anne Marie Becker, Sandy Parks, Julie Moffett, Toni Anderson, Dee J. Adams, Sharon Calvin.
Last week, the Romance Writers of America's National Conference was held in San Antonio, Texas. I hadn't planned to go but then I miraculously finaled in the RITA contest (a big deal in the romance community) so decided I couldn't miss the opportunity. It was truly amazing how many people noticed my little green RITA finalist ribbon. I'm short-sighted and can only read the text on those things by peering closely at other attendees' chests (which gets embarrassing) so I'm generally oblivious to ribbons. Other writers pay way more attention than me, obviously. 
Death by Chocolate
I arrived Monday and spent the afternoon stuffing gift bags for the Death by Chocolate party that Kiss of Death (the Mystery/Romantic Suspense Chapter of RWA) hold every year when they announce the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence results. 

Tuesday, KODers visited Lackland Airforce Base, and the Fort Sam Houston Army Base, seeing how combat medics were trained. If you write Romantic Suspense or Mystery I highly recommend the KOD for pre-conference tour alone. 
Military Working Dog Teams National Monument
Wednesday. 
Oh, boy. The week before the conference Amazon Publishing asked me to take part in a video interview to go with an interview about how three romance authors use their professional careers in their writing. It was a lot of fun, but I'm not a natural in front of the camera. Catherine Bybee and Dr. Debra Holland were life savers :)
Dr. Debra Holland, Nurse Catherine Bybee, Dr. Toni Anderson, and Laura (I forgot the camera guys' names, sorry).
Later that day was the literacy signing where authors and publishers sell books to raise money to promote literacy and reading. Great cause, lots of fun (assuming anyone comes to your table ;))
I spent an awesome few days with my critique partner, Kathy Altman. We've been together for more than a decade and only met up once before, on a day trip to the Spy Museum in DC. I'd have gone to Texas just to see her.
I also caught up with my Dangerous Attraction box set pals, Lori Ryan, Rebecca York and Jill Sanders (below). Wonderful ladies :)

What else? There was a panel I sat on for KDP and Createspace (I hope it was useful to some people), lots of amazing workshops on everything from craft, research, industry and self publishing (which is also industry), lots of agent and publisher parties/appointments, and a great general buzz of catching up with old friends, online peeps, and making new friends (yes, that was a run-on sentence, sorry). In a profession as solitary as writing, the conference is a great way to connect. On Friday we were also given our RITA certificates...
Nancy Herkness and me, receiving our RITA certificates.
And I met Eric Spindler...


And Karen Rose...
And I was awed by their grace.
Saturday night was the RITA ceremony. I didn't win. As I sat in my seat with my heart thumping scarily hard in my chest, I wasn't too disappointed when the lovely Carolyn Crane took the Romantic Suspense award instead (and gave a lovely speech). She's the first author to win a RITA with a self published book. Very proud of her. I spent the evening with friends and had a ball!!
Me, Loreth Anne White, Kathy Altman, Kathryn Jane, Olivia Gates
The next day I finally got to see a little bit of Texas--The Alamo. Very beautiful and peaceful, except for all those people ;) Interesting to be in a spot I've heard of my whole life and yet never expected to visit. I do love history :)





My brain is almost recovered (she lied!) and I hope you enjoyed some of my pictures and just a small taste of RWA 2014. The people of Texas were so incredibly friendly and polite. I had my own bellhop, Mike, who walked to the other hotel across the street to help me with my luggage. An older guy in the mall food court got up and gave me his seat--he was packing a nice big hat and a nice big sidearm. They were all charming. 
I, for one, will never forget the Alamo :)

Monday, July 28, 2014

MUSIC, ART AND WORDS




Public radio and television often ask for contributions to keep their stations and channels alive. We’re asked what our lives would be like without the arts—I began to consider all the ways fine art has influenced my career as a writer.

After washing my face, brushing my teeth and throwing on my “work” clothes, the first thing I do in the morning—even before brewing coffee—is adjust the dial on our radio to our listener funded classical music station. Often a favorite composer’s work is played encouraging a quick sit-down at the computer and prompting page after page from a now psyched up author. Weekends—a change of pace—I listen to Jonathan Schwartz as he plays and talks about musical comedy and jazz greats. He plays Sinatra and Clooney, the fabulous Ella Fitzgerald and the singer’s singer Mabel Mercer and I inhale the music and lyrics of Rogers and Hart, Kern and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim—oh what lyrics, oh what words—the stories that are told in verse and refrain. What would I do without those stations?

Then there are our museums where I wander through gallery after gallery and lose myself in another land, another century, and another time. I stop and study sculptures of character and nuance—creations that evolve from marble, clay and metal when touched by the shaping hands of masters. Admire and sometimes fall in love with the perfect hero—a hero that I can only dream and write about. Self-interpret paintings that cover every taste from Renaissance to folk to modern to impressionist and the art of early Greeks, Romans, Africans, Asians and perhaps pre-historic ancestors whose DNA I may carry today. When I contemplate a photograph—I receive an impression of time, place, fashions, faces and bodies—the where, when, why, and who that germinate an idea or answer a question that triggers a story or article.

Books mean the most to me. Words make me dream with their brushstrokes of light and darkness, add a glimmer of hope to a sorry period in life, encourage a smile or gales of laughter, launch a voyage into the unknown. Words may lull me to sleep or make me think, imagine and believe. Books open my mind to the possible and—sometimes what I thought impossible becomes viable. Writers make use of a palette of words—words with colors vibrant and tender, charged with passion—words that open a door to another universe. 

What do the arts mean to you?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Meet the Heroes of The Patience Price Mysteries

Hey guys! Guess what I did today? I interviewed the heroes of my mystery series, THE PATIENCE PRICE MYSTERIES. Yeah, that's exactly like having a three way conversation with myself. So, you know, the usual :) 

Book three of the series, MURDER IN REAL TIME, arrives in September and book one, MURDER COMES ASHORE, hits the Harlequin book club in print this November, so these guys are definitely on my mind.  Book three is the final book in the series and it was finished last summer, so I needed this. I had a great time talking with them again and I hope you have fun meeting my guys. 

Enjoy!

Julie: Hey guys. Thanks for agreeing to this interview. I know you’re both super busy, but I’m really excited to introduce you to my friends.
How about we start with introductions? Tell us your name, occupation and how you know my heroine, Patience.

Adrian: Me? Okay, I’ll start. *beaming smile* *shows off that blasted dimple* I’m Adrian Davis. I’m running for town mayor. I met Patience when we were still in diapers. We grew up together. *stormy blue eyes twinkle* She’s my soul mate.

Sebastian: *scoffs* I’m FBI Special Agent Sebastian Clark. I met Patience a few years ago when she worked human resources at the bureau. She interviewed and hired me.

Adrian: That’s why you call her Boss. *laughs* I get it. That’s cute. I just thought it was because she’s the boss of you. *points thumb at Sebastian* This guy. Hey, point of advice. Maybe try something more feminine like sweetie or sugar.

Sebastian:

Adrian: So, they’re dating now. He followed her onto our island right after she moved back home.

Sebastian: I came here to help her clear you of a murder charge.

Adrian: *Sincere smile* Hey, I appreciate that, man. *lifts fist* *shields mouth on one side* I’m not sure that was the only reason he headed over here from the mainland, if you know what I mean. It looked to me like he was smitten from the start.

Sebastian:

Adrian: *winks* You are a smitten kitten.

Sebastian:

Adrian: *laughing*

Julie: Adrian, what do you think about Patience dating Sebastian? You don’t seem upset, but you just called her your soul mate. That’s complicated, right?

Adrian: Ah. Seb’s a good guy and he makes her happy for now.

Sebastian: *watching Adrian*

Julie: Sebastian? Any thoughts?

Sebastian:

Adrian: He’s the strong silent type.

Julie: I see that. (I also see his hooded brown eyes and sidearm. Hot).

Adrian: *leans over to look at Sebastian* So, what do you two talk about? Old cases? Hit men? Serial killers who got away? Wait. Embezzlement. I hear that makes great pillow talk.

Sebastian: You’re a marshmallow.

Adrian: *Laughs* I like him. He keeps her safe. Until she comes back around, at least I know she’s safe.

Sebastian: *groans* *shoulders slump slightly*

Adrian: *facing Sebastian* Right? I mean, she needs at least a special agent to keep her out of trouble. She gets shot at, car bombed and abducted more than anyone on this planet. *shakes head* Loving Patience is hard. Takes a lot of….well…patience.

Sebastian: *chuckles*

Adrian: *smiles* She’s a trouble magnet. Patience runs headlong into firestorms trying to satisfy her insane curiosity. She’s a nightmare to care about.

Sebastian: *brow scrunches*

Adrian: *to Sebastian* Where is she now?

Sebastian: She’s covering phones at the station while Frankie runs out to pick up lunch.

Adrian: You left her answering phones. At the police station?

Sebastian: *eyes slide shut* *swears* *pulls off mic, stands, strides away*

Adrian: *watches him leave* *cracks up* See what I mean? She’s a handful. He’s got his work cut out for him. She’s probably already knee deep in an investigation. *sighs* I’ll be here when she’s tired of being rescued.

Julie: So, what? You wouldn’t rescue her?

Adrian: *leans in conspiratorially* I will always come for her. I just know how to make it seem like she was the one who did the saving. Hero-Complex back there can’t resist swooping in and saving the day. Patience isn’t the kind of girl who appreciates all the saving. *winks*

Julie: *swoons over the dimple* Well, there you have it folks. Patience has her work cut out for her. Charismatic love lost, Adrian, is back and waiting with open arms. Sexy alpha male boyfriend, Sebastian, is already in place for new love. I’ve gotta tell you. Those aren’t the worst problems a girl can have, but I don’t envy her the choice. Good luck, sister.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2014 RWA® Annual Conference


Hey San Antonio! Are you seeing large groups of people carrying tote bags and talking about writing? Are the elevator doors of the Marriott Rivercenter covered with images of books? Are you seeing ads everywhere promoting authors and books? Guess what. The RWA® Annual Conference is underway.

This year the party’s going on in San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter and Marriott Riverwalk hotels, San Antonio, Texas beginning today and running through Saturday. A fair number of the Not Your Usual Suspects authors are attending and will be participating tonight in the Literacy Booksigning, which is opened to the public. Over 500 authors will be together signing their books from 5:30 -7:30 p.m, 3rd Floor Ballroom, Marriott Rivercenter. The proceeds will benefit ProLiteracy Worldwide, Literacy Texas, Restore Education, and Each One Teach One San Antonio.  

Then over the next several days attendees will be treated to the best in writing and business workshops the industry has to offer, not to mention the hobnobbing with editors and agents. Many a book deal has come out of the conference.

However, this group will be focused on Saturday night when the Awards banquet is held as one of our own, Toni Anderson, is up for a RITA® for her book ‘The Killing Game’. How big is Toni’s nomination?

The purpose of the RITA® award is to promote excellence in romance genre by recognizing outstanding published romance novels and novellas. The award itself is a golden statuette named after RWA’s first president, Rita Clay Estrada. Every year up to 2000 romance novels are entered in the contest. 2000.  Ultimately, only ten authors will walk away with the award, but what Toni has accomplished already deserves all the congratulations in the world.

While I can’t be at the conference this year, I will be glued to all the tweets [#RWA14]and facebooking from my friends. Best of luck to Toni!

J Carol Stephenson




 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Let them dig a wider hole




On the wall above my writing desk, I have three foot-square cork tiles. On these tiles are pinned postcards, greeting cards, covers, cards that accompanied flowers, images, framed artwork—anything and everything that provides inspiration anytime I lift my gaze from the writing computer.

Prominent among this collage are a bunch of sayings. One of my favourites is “DARE TO BE BAD,” which is something Dean Wesley Smith and Nina Kiriki Hoffman would say to encourage each other to write and finish a story a week. Dean explains it better here.  
 
That’s not why I put it up on my inspiration board, however. I read “DARE TO BE BAD” as permission to take risks rather than the safe route in my writing. So what if I risk writing something bad? It could also turn out to be wonderful and I wouldn’t know if I didn’t take the chance.

Another writer I admire, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, encourages writers to “WRITE LIKE A TWO-YEAR-OLD,” by which she means we should write as if we don’t care what polite society says. A two-year-old doesn’t care that society says you must go around clothed. She’ll take her clothes off if she feels like it. Or wear a tutu if she wants to. She doesn’t care about “appropriate.” A two-year-old doesn’t give two hoots about what adults want. She hasn’t figured out that she has to play nice in order to be liked. There’s no filter. All of that comes as she grows up. Writers have to be like that two-year-old and not even take into consideration what society wants. We have to write what’s in us to write and to hell with the rest. We have to be fearless.

One saying has been up on my wall for a while now, and I kept staring at it, wondering why I had put it up. It reads:

LET THEM DIG A WIDER HOLE

I know it meant something when I put it up there. I had a vague recollection that it had to do with graves and being overweight, but really, that wasn’t much of a clue. Finally, the other day, I googled it and found the article I’d read that inspired me to put it up in a prominent position.

In 2002, Jennifer Crusie wrote a column for Romance Writers Report entitled “A Writer without a Publisher is Like a Fish without a Bicycle: Writer’s Liberation and You.”

In the article (you should read it; it’s very good) she refers to a novel by… oh, what the heck, I’ll just quote directly from her article:

“This was beautifully illustrated in a Gail Parent novel from the seventies called Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York. As Parent chronicles her heroine’s increasingly manic attempts to attract a husband, whiny Sheila becomes more and more unattractive to both men and the reader. Then something wonderful happens: Sheila decides to kill herself. In exactly one year, she vows, she’s going to commit suicide. In the meantime, she’s going to live life her way. She’s going to stop dressing uncomfortably and laughing inanely and just be herself. In fact, since she’s going to die anyway, she’s even going to stop dieting: the hell with it, Sheila says, “Let them dig a wider hole.” And ironically and inevitably, men flock to her. I can’t promise that publishers will flock to us if we stop trying to get published, but I can testify that making “Let them dig a wider hole” my mantra has paid off well for me.”

The point Crusie is making in her article is that writers should abandon writing for publication as a goal, and just write for themselves.

I love the line “let them dig a wider hole.” Don’t you? I can’t stop thinking about it. It encapsulates everything I wish for myself as a writer. I want to be bigger than the sum of my upbringing and my hang ups. I want to transcend my fears (oh, I can’t write that—what if my mother/boss/neighbours read it?) and dare to be bad. I want to let my inner two-year-old writer out.

So here’s to being fearless and getting out of our own way. May we become better writers for it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Janis Susan in Wonderland, or My Adventures in Self-Publishing

by Janis Patterson

If you haven’t heard that I’m doing a backlist/new story publishing blitz releasing a book every two weeks from 30 June to 30 October, I haven’t been doing my job. I mean, it’s an incredible amount of work, and I want people to know about it and buy some books so I can at least pay my formatter and cover artist and perhaps have enough left to take The Husband out for a dinner that isn’t frozen pizza.

To be serious, this started as a lark. I got back the rights to a number of backlist books from several publishers and they were just sitting there on my hard drive, staring reproachfully at me. Books should available to the public, not just imprisoned in an ageing laptop.

I had self-published before, half-heartedly releasing some of my backlist in electronic only, using some inexpensive pre-made covers. They did okay, but… I had been dreaming of early retirement. I got a couple of nice dinners out.

When I got this newest bunch of backlist back, I decided to invest the money (with The Husband’s blessing and assistance) and go more professional. I got a wonderful formatter and a superb cover artist and released one, a tasty little gothic romance called FAMILY OF STRANGERS, in May. It’s done okay, recouping the costs of formatting and art in a fairly short time.

I also released it in paperback. No paperback copies have been sold yet, but I didn’t expect many to. But they’re there! I published my first novel in 1979, when paper was all there was, so it’s nothing new to hold a paper version of my words (and what a feeling that was!) but holding a version for which I was totally responsible – re-editing, layout, art – was a definite rush. And yes, I am a control freak.

When I had first released the e-only editions several years ago, I bought 10 ISBNs from Bowkers. They didn’t last long. Seeing that I would need more, I bought 100, paying roughly the equivalent of a good car payment for them, but I’m set for a couple of years – maybe even the rest of my life. (Yes, I'm older than I ever thought I would be!)

My father always told me if you’re going to do something, do it right, so when The Husband and I finally made the decision to publish both my backlist and some frontlist, I created a publisher name (Sefkhat-Awbi Books) and got a DBA from the county. When I commissioned my first custom cover, my wonderful artist asked me if I had a logo; on hearing ‘no’, she immediately designed one that I just love and have a tendency to stick on everything.

Then after FAMILY OF STRANGERS was released, a project that took six weeks from inception to first sale day, I went to work on the other books. And accomplished nothing. I thissed and thatted around, getting a lot done but nothing finished. Having grown up in journalism and advertising where deadlines are sacrosanct, I needed a deadline.

Then the insanity set in. I wanted these books out and this project over so I could go on to new writing projects. (One of the downsides to this is that I haven’t written a new word in over a month… I barely have time to sleep!) I decided to release a book every two weeks. After hyperventilating, both my formatter and cover artist said it could be done, and we were off!

To keep from drowning in sticky notes and scribbled-on napkins, I created a spreadsheet with one line per book and a column for every step of the process. Currently I have 34 columns, and that should grow by 6 or 8 as I begin releasing more frontlist. Sigh. I can’t imagine being able to do this without my trusty spreadsheet! I even add color coding.

If you’re interested in seeing some of the results, the release schedule is :
June 30 – PASSION’S CHOICE – time travel
July 15 – THE FAIR AMAZON – traditional Regency
July 30 – THE JERUSALEM CONNECTION – romantic mystery/adventure
August 15 – SHADOWED LEGACY – gothic
August 30 – THE EGYPTIAN FILE – romantic mystery/adventure
September 15 – THE AVENGING MAID – traditional Regency
September 30 – THE OTHER HALF OF YOUR HEART – romantic adventure
October 15 – THE DEVIL OF DRAGON HOUSE – gothic
October 30 – LACEY – traditional Regency

All are released under my Janis Susan May persona, and all are romances of some stripe, though a few are pretty heavily laced with mystery elements. This is primarily backlist, remember, and I did start in romance many years ago. There are, I promise, some Janis Patterson mysteries coming!


Once I get rested up!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I hate summer


Okay, I'll admit this up front. I'm kind of down these days. Reverse SAD? Actually, I looked it up and Seasonal Affective Disorder doesn't only afflict people in the winter—it can get you in the summer too. I find that reassuring, because I'm usually okay in the winter. I like the cold because you can just put on more clothes if you're uncomfortable, right? In the summer there's only so much you can do if there isn't a body of cold water nearby to jump into. Humidity makes me want to die. And yes, I know I should be living in the desert, but here I am in the nation's capital, which, if you didn't know, was built on a swamp. Which is exactly what it feels like in the summer.

At least I'm not in Florida, where, aside from being disgustingly humid, apparently there are Burmese pythons and giant alligators crawling around people's back yards trying to eat their pets. Eww! I went up to New England to cool off but the black flies bit my neck and eyelids and flew up my nose, so I raced back here where the bugs are too exhausted from the humidity to do any real damage. When I'm at home I fight with the air conditioner—too little and I'm limp, too much and I feel violated by the cold air blowing around my legs and drying out my eyes and nasal passages. In a pinch I blast it and wear sweats and wrap up in blankets while I drink Prosecco and do my crossword puzzles.

Oh, wait, I'm supposed be writing about my latest romantic suspense. Correction: I should be writing romantic suspense. Well, I'm not feeling romantic, and I'm too depressed to feel anything remotely like suspense. I tried picking up one of my keeper books to inspire me; you know the type, a big gorgeous alpha guy rescuing a beautiful kick-ass scientist on an archaeological dig…but it was set in the jungle! 

Please, somebody, can you recommend a delicious, sexy book set in a very cold climate??

—Ana 


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

WINNER of the JULY 04 PRIZE DRAW at NYUS

The winner of our fabulous INDEPENDENCE DAY Prize Draw is
LORA BAILEY

Lora, our authors will receive a note of your email today, and will contact you about your prize book(s). Please be ready to let us know what format you'd like, also what book you'd like if a particular prize is "choice of backlist". All their websites are below.

Many thanks to EVERYONE for taking part and visiting the blog! And here's hoping all your wonderful celebrations and thanks continue for many years to come.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


All prizes are in ebook (your choice of format, where available) unless otherwise stated.
Julie Moffett - No Place Like Rome
Shirley Wells - Dead End
Ana Barrons - choice of backlist
Jean Harrington - Designed for Death
Clare London - Freeman
Anne Marie Becker - choice of backlist
Julie Anne Lindsey - Murder by the Seashore AND Murder Comes Ashore
Toni Anderson - A Cold Dark Place
Rita Henuber - boxed set Fatal Obsession OR choice of backlist
Marcelle Dube - choice of backlist
Cathy Perkins - The Professor OR an ARC of Cypher, releasing in August
Josh Lanyon - choice of AUDIO books 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Who Do You Least Suspect?

The title of this post is probably a little deceiving, but you'll see why...

I have to admit to some excitement this month because three weeks from today is the release of Imminent Danger. The fifth book in the Adrenaline Highs series. I'm looking forward to sharing Abbey and Blake's book and bringing back a couple of characters that people might not have expected.  Here's my most awesome cover for Imminent Danger!



Have you ever written - or read - a character without any expectations of seeing them again, then all of a sudden they show up (in another book) and it's like visiting with friends you didn't realize you had? Maybe that's why I'm so jazzed about this book. I hope to surprise people and show that what you see isn't always what you get.

I'm curious if you've ever read a character in a series...never expecting them to be a hero or heroine in their own book. Some characters are so quiet until all of a sudden they're in front of the crowd (in my head) raising their hand saying, "I want a happily ever after!" And I can't really deny them because I WANT them to have that HEA.

So I'd love to know if you were ever surprised to find a character - and I'm not talking a secondary character, but someone even further down the line - in a series have their own book. Were your expectations met?

P.S. I've got an Imminent Danger countdown happening on my FB page and blog. Stop in for snippets 2 times a day! (Some are suspenseful. Some are fun. Some are sexy.)

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Friday, July 11, 2014

The Blog Tour

Yesterday, I happened upon a post about blog tours by Parajunkie.com--the high and the low points. It is a great post, so I hope you take the opportunity to read Dishing Blog Tours.

During my ten years as a published author, I’ve written hundreds of guest posts and traveled throughout the blog world on tour. I’ve hosted authors at my blog and met lots of wonderful bloggers, readers and authors. This year I’ve begun to ponder the benefit of blog tours.

From a writer’s perspective blog tours are time-consuming and sometimes expensive. It takes time away from writing to schedule and write posts, answer interview questions and to prepare the promotional material required by each blogger. Once a promotional tour starts, extra time is required to comment on posts, interact with readers and to do the social media posts necessary to advertise your tour.

It seems to me that the latest trend with blog tours is to do a release day blitz or a cover reveal. This is where dozens of blogs post exactly the same material on the same day. I’m not a fan of this type of post, because if like me, readers follow many different blogs, they’re bound to come across posts that are exactly the same.

As both a reader and a blogger, I prefer material that is original, something that offers entertainment value. I want to learn about the author and how they came to write their book. I want further information about the book’s setting or special research the writer carried out while writing their book. This type of post is more likely to entice me to purchase a book.

While I’m speaking of the downside of blog tours, I might as well mention those authors who don’t bother to stop by and comment on their blog post or to interact with those who comment. Very frustrating for the host! Occasionally, there are bloggers who book a date with a blog and don’t send the relevant material in a timely fashion. On the opposite side of the coin, there are host bloggers who don’t post at the correct time.

Confession time—to my shame, I screwed up once and didn’t get my post up at the right time. I was mortified by my mishap and have made very sure I haven’t repeated this mistake. The author was very gracious and accepted my apology, but I still feel bad about this lapse on my part.

When it comes to blog tour companies, not all are made equal. It pays to ask around because some are more efficient and organized than others. If an author spends hours writing posts, they need to know readers will see their efforts. Sadly, some of the host blogs don’t receive much traffic and excellent, original posts languish and die unread.

This year authors are holding Facebook parties as an alternative or in addition to a blog tour. Facebook parties are fun and quick, and although they require preparation time, I’ve found they attract a large number of readers and generate buzz. Maybe parties of this nature are the new blog tour?

What do you think about blog tours? Have you done a blog tour before and did you find it/them beneficial? Do you intend to do more blog tours in the future?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Where’s the motivation?

One of my pet hates is reading about a killer who just, um, kills. There are no reasons given as to why he’s become this axe-wielding maniac. The reader simply has to accept that he has. Maybe he was born evil. We don’t know. We’re not told.

I like my own fictional killers to have valid reasons. The motivation can be lust, greed, love or a dozen other things. They can, after suffering years of some particular torture, be driven to kill. Or perhaps events during their childhood have damaged them beyond repair. Whatever, I need to know why they kill.

One of the most notorious killers in the UK was Harold Shipman. Shipman was a family doctor who, at one time, practiced about 5 miles from my home. (Yes, I’m SO glad I didn’t book an appointment with him. :)) He was found guilty of 15 murders and was believed to have been responsible for around 250 more. Many of his victims were elderly, most were women. He was sentenced to life imprisonment but hanged himself in his cell on the eve of his 58th birthday.


So what made this man a killer? Why, when working in a profession that exists to save lives, was he compelled to take lives? I don’t have any satisfactory answers and that really bugs me.

His family were Methodists and he was very close to his mother who died of lung cancer when he was 17. She was given morphine by the family doctor to ease the pain, something Shipman witnessed, and, years later, this is how Shipman killed his victims. He administered lethal injections of diamorphine, signed the patients’ death certificates and then altered their medical records to indicate that they’d been in poor health. But why? Was witnessing his mother’s slow and painful death reason enough to turn him into a killer? I don’t know. 

What about you? Do you need to know why a killer kills? Or can you just accept that he/she does?

(Oh, and don’t forget that there’s still time to enter our Independence Day prize draw. There are lots of books up for grabs, including my Dylan Scott mystery, DEAD END, that was released on Monday. All the details are here.)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day PRIZE DRAW - what's YOUR celebration?




HAPPY 4th JULY to all our readers, and a WONDERFUL PRIZE DRAW for you all!


The authors at NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS have plenty to celebrate this July - new books, new awards, life and job changes, the support and love of family and friends. And we recently passed 150,000 HITS on this blog! Thanks so much to everyone who's visited, supported and promoted us. We really appreciate it, and we really enjoy sharing our posts with you.

So ....What about YOU? We'd love to hear from you as to what YOU can celebrate this year, whether it's something in the world at large or something closer to your home. We can all identify with these. It may be celebration of a new law, a sports win, appreciation of your family and pets, or maintaining your health. It may be as huge as winning the Lottery (we wish!!!) or more personal such as mastering Facebook, getting a promotion, putting on/losing weight, or finally finishing that DIY that's been nagging at you since last year! In other words, we'd love to hear anything and everything, there are no rules (apart from basic decency, of course).

We'd just like to celebrate and share the positive with you all :)

And anyone who comments will be entered in the Prize Draw for TWELVE books from a selection of our fabulous authors. Yes, there's one prize and it's made up of 12 BOOKS and one lucky commenter will win it! That's definitely something to celebrate :D. Just make your celebratory comment on this post, and the winner will be chosen at random on July 14.


So here what's our authors have to share with you this July 04. Please feel free to browse their website, see their books, and enjoy keeping in touch with them.

Cathy Perkins: I’m grateful for friends and family. This year, we’ll celebrated one daughter’s marriage and another’s career change, cheered when my books hit category lists, worked with an architect on house plans, and been blessed by good health. Wishing all of you a wonderful upcoming year full of fun and adventures of your choosing.
Julie Moffett: I'm celebrating a move to a new house, a son who graduated from high school with honors, another son who just finished 1st grade, and a nice day job with a wonderful company!!
Julie Anne Lindsey: I'm celebrating because book three in the Patience Price series arrives in September and book 1 was selected for the Harlequin Book Club and all the mystery club readers will get a copy of book 1 in the mail this November.
Jean Harrington: In 2014 going forward into 2015, I'm celebrating the vibrant life of my wonderful country--despite its flaws and problems.  In that regard, a country can be a lot like the hero of a novel, wonderful though flawed.  And well worth the read!
Rita Henuber: I feel grateful to all those who have given so much to allow me to live the life I do. I hope I do them justice.
Ana Barrons: I've just had my first book released in print version (Son of the Enemy), and I'm so thrilled! I only wish my mother was still alive so I could put it into her hands. She would be so proud of me. 
Anne Marie Becker: I released books 4 and 5 in my Mindhunters series this year, and am writing the final installment. I’m excited to wrap up the mystery that’s run as a thread throughout them. I’ll also be celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary with my own, real-life hero, later this year.
Toni Anderson: I've had a lot to celebrate, writing-wise this year. My self-published book, THE KILLING GAME, is a finalist in the Romance Writers of America® RITA® Award, and both it and my Montlake Romance title (DARK WATERS) are finalists in the National Readers' Choice Awards. And to cap it off, my other self-published book, HER LAST CHANCE, finalled in the Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence in Romantic Suspense. Results for all the contests are announced at the RWA national conference at the end of this month. Another milestone is that I published my tenth novel in June. It feels like a good year with plenty of reasons to celebrate. I am so very, very grateful.
Clare London: I've recently left work - amicably! - and am looking forward to a significant change of lifestyle, and hopefully more time for writing. My family are employed, relatively healthy, and all have a great sense of humour! I'm also welcoming what will be the 6th annual UK Meet for GLBTQ authors, where I'm on the organising team; launching my own "accountancy for authors" service; travelling to the US again in Oct for the GayRomLit convention. Oh, and I'm meant to be finding enough time now to clear out my shoe cupboard...:)
Marcelle Dube:As for my causes for celebration, they are too numerous to list, so I'll limit it to a few. First, I'm Canadian, so my day of celebration actually falls on July 1st, Canada Day. So by the time you read this, I will already have celebrated all things Canadian. On the 4th, I will celebrate my good neighbours to the south. I celebrate the fact that I have two healthy, smart and wonderful daughters, a bevy of great friends, and a great job. And finally, I'm thrilled to be finished the first draft of my latest Mendenhall Mysteries, featuring Chief of Police Kate Williams. Yee haw!
Shirley Wells: On a personal note, I'm celebrating moving into my new home which will be lovely when I've cleared a bigger path through the maze of boxes. On a professional note, I'm celebrating the release of my 7th Dylan Scott mystery, Dead End.
Josh Lanyon: I have been so angry and bitter over a number of recent decisions by our Supreme Court that it was actually difficult for me to consider what I had to celebrate this Independence Day. And then I remembered that however biased and unconscionable these latest decisions are, I still live in a country where I am not only allowed to feel anger and frustration, I can express that anger without fear of legal reprisals or state-condoned violence. I can work openly to change what I don't like. And -- as anyone who watches the nightly news can contest -- that is no little thing. So yes, there remains much to be grateful for -- and to celebrate.  


HAPPY JULY 04!

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All prizes are in ebook (your choice of format, where available) unless otherwise stated.
Julie Moffett - No Place Like Rome
Shirley Wells - Dead End
Ana Barrons - choice of backlist
Jean Harrington - Designed for Death
Clare London - Freeman
Anne Marie Becker - choice of backlist
Julie Anne Lindsey - Murder by the Seashore AND Murder Comes Ashore
Toni Anderson - A Cold Dark Place
Rita Henuber - boxed set Fatal Obsession OR choice of backlist
Marcelle Dube - choice of backlist
Cathy Perkins - The Professor OR an ARC of Cypher, releasing in August
Josh Lanyon - choice of AUDIO books