A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!

NOTE: the blog is currently dormant but please enjoy the posts we're keeping online.

Julie Moffet . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Friday, June 30, 2017

Happy Birthday, Canada! And other lessons in objectivity!

I'm feeling a little sad. Today is my last official NYUS post (insert sad face) although I hope to get invited back occasionally ;). It's a little ironic because my Carina Press titles (SEA OF SUSPICION, STORM WARNING and EDGE OF SURVIVAL) are all getting makeovers soon, including new covers. I, for one, am very excited to see them. But I've decided it's time to move on (if anyone perfects cloning or time travel let me know and I might reconsider).

On a more important note, my beloved adoptive country of Canada is celebrating 150 years on July 1st. Happy Birthday! I love this country--snow and all! However, it's also important to remember that the land has been around a lot longer than 150 years and I appreciate the indigenous people of Canada might have a different view of the anniversary.

What does this have to do with writing? Good question. Let me expound (and give you a tip). Whatever you are writing about, always see if you can find an opposing POV somewhere in the news or literature. I guess it's like debate club--but I believe it gives stories more depth than if you simply view a subject from your own inherently limited perspective. (Try to avoid FAKE NEWS though! I'm not actually kidding.)

Another tip, and basically just going deeper into this practice, is to do solid research, especially if you're writing someone completely alien to the real you (hopefully murderers fall into this group). You can't just put yourself in a killer's shoes by picking up a fictional knife and start hacking away. It can't actually be YOU in the serial killer's shoes because you don't understand his mindset--even though you created him. In fact, YOU can't be in the scene at all. It has to be a fictional serial killer in a fictional serial killer's shoes. And the opposing POV would be either the victim/potential-victim trying to get away, or the law enforcement officer trying to bring a murderer to justice. Both sides believe in what they are doing.

Read biographies of and articles on people who live the same lives your POV characters live. Also, because you're thorough, read books by psychologists and cops who deal with these people (Robert Hare, Robert Ressler, John Douglas come to mind). You have to be able to know how they think, know how they justify their actions, how they lie--and not just the killers! You need to become that character on the page, during those scenes.

It's kind of a scary thing.  I scare myself some days.

If that's too much, then tell the story in a different way, but make sure you understand the subject matter from every angle. My latest WIP features some white nationalists with racist ideology. I made a point not to use any racial slurs or derogatory language in the book. It wasn't easy, but I couldn't go there (ironic, as killing the masses isn't an issue). Instead I used a POV character who'd been fully immersed in that world but with whom the reader could sympathize.

So my last whisperings of advice for NYUS readers are...
To always see issues from both sides.
Always do your research.
To be fearless, but don't turn off your reader.
(And, as always, advice is something that works for some and not others, so feel free to ignore :))

I'll be around the internet even though I should be writing. Hope to see you there!

If you want to check out the blurb for COLD MALICE it's on my website.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Goodbye Sweet Blog: The Ending of an Era

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been a regular blogger on this site for four fast-flying years. I’ve shared details about my new releases, tips for writing, experiences at conferences and adventures in parenting. I’ve been through a lot, but while I was always quite busy in my world beyond your computer screen, I was never alone. Thanks to you.

My journey here began in 2013, after Carina Press offered me my very first mystery contract. My then-editor pointed me in this blog’s direction, and that, they say, is where it all began. In the four years that have followed, I published 4 young adult titles with Lyrical Press, and SIX mysteries with Carina Press, completing two three-book miniseries: The Patience Price Mysteries and The Geek Girl Mysteries. I like to think that my time both here, on this blog, learning about my fellow bloggers' trials and triumphs, and also at Carina Press where my editors made me a cozy-writing machine, sculpted, cultivated and ultimately supercharged my baby writing career.  

In short, my life has become immeasurably busier.

This once-aspiring YA author fell wholly in love with mysteries and suspense. I found my writing stride and turned my focus 100% to the genre. Before my last Geek Girl Mystery released, I had a three-book contract with Crooked Lane Books for a new Kitty Couture Mysteries series set in my favorite place on earth, New Orleans. The Kitty Couture books are written as Julie Chase, simply to separate the Crooked Lane adventure from my not Crooked Lane adventures. The third installment in that series, Cat Got Your Secrets, releases this fall (September). And in October, my debut Christmas cozy mystery arrives. Twelve Slays of Christmas, written as Jacqueline Frost (a pen name chosen by Crooked Lane to align with the subject and audience), is nearly as cute as its cover.

Remember how I said I was busy? Well, while I diligently wrote, edited and published the titles above, I’ve also joined forces with Harlequin Books. Yep, I am officially a Harlequin Intrigue author! Harlequin Intrigues are mass market paperback, romantic suspense novels, and I love them. So far, I’ve written three of the six under contract, completing one new series of four and beginning a second within the line. Those books won’t see the racks of day for a while, but they are written as myself, Julie Anne Lindsey, and they are coming. Tentatively in April, May & December of 2018, and January, May & June of 2019. I hope there will be plenty more of those to come. Harlequin is home to many of my favorite suspense authors, so while I’m still waiting for my debut, I’m very proud to have become a Harlequin author and to be part of a writing community I have long respected.

But wait! There’s more!  Busy? Remember? Well, while all that has been coming to fruition, my personal friend and Yoda (*read as dream agent / beautiful magician) Jill Marsal has also found my new cozy mystery series-idea a home with Sourcebooks.

Add three delightful, but non-driving kids to the mix, (and it’s summer break), plus a house, husband and community commitments…The bottom line is that I can no longer do this blog justice. I don’t want to risk missing my dates. I don’t want to rush through my posts.

I’m woman enough to say, “My day is full. My cup overfloweth. And I must step down.”

I don’t do it lightly, and I will miss you every day.

With all my best
All my love,
Every possible best wish to each of you


Monday, June 26, 2017

Sports In Romance

Many of you know this about me already, but I'm an avid (rabid) Tampa Bay Buccaneer fan. I have been since their inception. Granted, I was a little tyke when they came to be, but that was how it began for me. I was living in Tampa at the time, and all the local stores were practically giving away clothes for this new NFL franchise that no one cared about. Football in Tampa? Seriously? Sundays are for going to the beach. Anyway, my mom, always looking for a deal, bought up every children's shirt they had (probably totaled $25), and I ended up with an entire Tampa Bay Buccaneer wardrobe. Naturally, the whole "fan" thing just evolved.

But, football is in my blood. My grandfather played in the NFL (for one game!). He destroyed his knee in what nowadays could be cured by surgery, and expensive NFL insurance. His glory days were college, though. He was a rock star. A handsome Italian who could have any woman he wanted. He found my grandmother (who was four inches taller than him), and they were married for over sixty years.

With this history, you'd think I'd lean towards sports personalities in my romance novels. Strangely, no. I don't mind reading someone else's sports romance, but I can't ever bring myself to entertain the idea. I'd have plenty of material. I've been around football my whole life. That's probably the problem, though. For me, football is romantic. That is the romance for me. I have cried. I have cheered. And Lord knows, I have toiled (anyone who knows the Buccaneers would understand this). And I have loved. I have loved a team through every adversity.

So, no. No sports romances from me. But, if you ever sit down with me on a Sunday, I'll talk enough to fill a novel...

Any sports romance writers/readers out there? Any closet sports fans?

Friday, June 23, 2017

When Different was Illegal

Occasionally I pick up a book with a different lifestyle featured. A book about gay men (mm) for instance, or a ménage (three people in a relationship together). I enjoy them if they’re done well, and the way the characters cope with their dilemma. In fact, I enjoy them enough to write one of my own. Sinless, set in the mid-eighteenth century, about the love affair between an aristocrat and a lawyer, was utterly fascinating to write. It's part of the Shaws trilogy and it's out next year. Now I want to write more. Okay, commercial over! But I did find a world waiting for me when I wrote it, and I do want to share some of what I learned.
I’ve seen these books called anachronistic when they have a historical setting.
They might be, but the premise is not.
There have always been people who need something different. However, right up until the Georgian era, homosexuality, or to be more precise, sodomy, was illegal, punishable by death.
There were prosecutions, but most of them weren’t for the “crime” itself, but for something else, like creating trouble, and in a fascinating series of prosecutions and executions in the 1720’s, they were associated with a Jacobite spy ring. At the time the Jacobites were closely allied with the French, who were happy to use the exiled royals as pawns in a bigger game. And there was a faction in British, or more precisely, the English, who distrusted and disliked the French.
Back to the gays. They always existed, but when the punishment was to be hanged, there was little to be gained in “coming out.” So they married, had children, but also had boyfriends, or they went to houses where they could meet with others of the same inclination. Unfortunately, driving them underground put them in the same bracket as true criminals in many people’s eyes, and thus the confusion with spying and even murder.
Here’s the most famous case from this time, Mother Clapp. A window into the past.

“Margaret Clap was indicted for keeping a House in which she procur'd and encourag'd Persons to commit Sodomy , on the 10th of December last and before and after.
Samuel Stevens thus depos'd. On Sunday Night the 14th of November. I went to the Prisoners House in Field-Lane, Holbourn . I found near Men Fifty there, making Love to one another as they call'd it. Sometimes they'd sit in one anothers Laps, use their Hands indecently Dance and make Curtsies and mimick the Language of Women - O Sir! - Pray Sir! - Dear Sir! Lord how can ye serve me so! - Ah ye little dear Toad! Then they'd go by Couples, into a Room on the same Floor to be marry'd as they call'd it. The Door at that Room was kept by - Ecclestone to prevent any body from balking their Diversions. - When they came out, they used to brag in plain Terms, of what they had been doing, and the Prisoner was present all the Time, except when she went out to fetch Liquors. There was - Griffin among them, who was since hang'd for Sodomy. - And Derwin who had been carried before Sir George Martins for Sodomitical Practices with a Link Boy, he brag'd how he had baffled the Link Boy's Evidence and the Prisoner boasted that what she had said before Sir George, in Derwin's Favour, was a great Means of bringing him off. - I went thither 2 or 3 Sundays following, and found much the same Practices as before. They talk'd all manner of the and most vile Obscenity in her Presence, and she appear'd wonderfully pleas'd with it.
Joseph Sellers depos'd to the same Purpose and added he believ'd there were above 40 Sodomies commited that Night.
The Prisoner in her Defence, said that Darwin was taken up only for a Quarrel and that it ought to be considered, that she was a Woman, and therefore it could not be thought that she would ever be concern'd in such abonsinable Practices. But the Evidence being full and positive, the Jury found her Guilty .”

Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

In fact it’s been a rough couple of weeks for me. I took a huge emotional/personal hit. Boo. My physical health has been crappy for three months now. I thought I would be totally recovered by now, but I’m not. Probably have another month to go. Double Boo.
Are you feeling sorry for me yet?
My laptop was threatening to go to that place where computers go to die. I rushed it to the ER and was told it would be around $500 to have it repaired. It’s four years old by the way. I was not amused. I weighed my options and decided no end of life resuscitation heroics for laptop. Better to let it transition gracefully. It’s so sad.
I’m sure you must be feeling sorry for me by now.
Before I go any further, let me tell you that I live on an island in Florida. It’s not primitive but we frequently have power interruptions and power surges. Having previously lost a monitor and computer to such an event I have a battery backup for my computers. Okay. The day the new laptop—which shall be called B from here out— arrived. I unplugged the transitioning laptop— which shall be called A from here out—from said backup and plugged new one in. I’m desperately attempting to be sure I have everything on A saved so, I plugged it into a normal surge protector and within an hour the power wet flicker, flicker, flicker. I think great, now it’s a gonner. But wait. A is doing all kinds of gyrations. Well, I won’t go through everything that happened I’ll just say that the flipping thing is sitting here all bright and shiny, grinning at me and working perfectly again. It’s like electrical shock therapy brought it back to life.
Never fear, I’m not trusting it. There’s a distinct possibility A took one look at B, saw how sleek and wonderful it is, got jealous and decided to try and worm its way back in my favor. Ha! Not happening. I may be the most un techy person on the planet but I’m old and been around the block a few times.
Purchasing B has put a large hole in my wallet. Consequently I’m thinking of doing a GoFundMe.  In the last couple of weeks I’ve seen three people on Facebook with a GoFundMe to support their writing careers. One wanted $15,000 to take care of their expenses for 2 to 3 months (that is the time it will take to write a book and they couldn’t work at the same time while they were writing.) Another wanted $5000. Their book was finished but they needed the money to fund editing and marketing. Another needed fund to travel and promote their book. I mean who knew? I’ve been doing it all wrong. Not only should people buy my books they should financially back my writing career. Palm to head smack. I wish somebody had told me this before.
Now, since I know by this time you are all feeling very, very, very, sorry for me I know you’ll want to contribute to my GoFundMe to help. $50,000 should be enough. First, it will help me pay for my new purchase (B). Second, I need a four-month world cruise, where my every desire will be met, to relax me completely allowing the words to flow from my fingers to the page. Plus, I can purchase the premium drink package for liquor, wine and chocolate to get me over my physical and emotional disappointments.  
Oooooooooo. I’m already feeling the sympathy flow. I’ll let you know soon where to send the cash flow.
Have a great weekend.
PS. For those who don’t know me the GoFundMe part is a joke.

Rita writes about extraordinary women, military heroines, and the men they love. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Genre Jumping


Do any of you have this problem?  

Almost everything I write has some elements of suspense and/or mystery.  That’s the way my thinking process works.  I have to have some kind of hidden motivation underlying the gist of the story, or I tend to get bored.  My longest series is romantic suspense (New Orleans Connection Series), and it will be fourteen books long after my release next month. 

But, lately I find myself easily distracted and wanting to change things up and switch genres.

My brain is crammed full to overflowing with story ideas, and there is no way I’ll ever be able to tackle them all—not unless cloning becomes possible and legal anytime soon.  LOL 

But recently focusing on one idea is a struggle, because I can’t seem to concentrate on just one thing.  I’ll start outlining and story-boarding a series that sounds amazing, with fully developed characters, and before I start the actual writing, my mind is off onto another tangent, wanting to switch things up and write a cozy mystery.  No, wait, let’s do some paranormal.  Nope, I wanna write that urban fantasy series.  Wait, a hard-boiled detective dark noir sounds awesome.  Oh, maybe it’s time to write some werewolves and vampires.  You get the picture. 

Anybody else have this problem, or is it just me?  What do you do to muffle that little voice that wants to work on all the things—at the same time? 

Kathy Ivan is a USA TODAY Bestselling author who is currently working on a new series—if she can settle onto one idea, and can be found at and

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Magic of Venice


Do believe in magic?

I do, but then I'm a writer, and writers are great believers in magic. We dream up stories, write them down and make them real--if that's not magic, what is?

But until recently I hadn't realized that there were truly magical places in the world, places where enchantment is the norm and not the exception--a place like Venice.

It was my first visit to Italy, and as I tend to approach travel from a historical stance, I did my homework and learned that the people who would become the first Venetians fled to the lagoon on the Adriatic to escape the "barbarians" that swarmed the mainland after mighty Rome's fall.  

Lady Venice's Triumph over Italy
The Doge's Palace

The Doge's hat
This isolation proved advantageous and during the middle ages the Republic of Venice became a great empire, ruled by a series of Doges, a series of pompous-looking white guys in funny hats. 

Though interesting none of this sparked my imagination and all those pudgy Doges paled, especially when compared to a Caesar or Medici. 

Or maybe it was the hat. I really didn't like the hat.

And then I'd heard all the stories about the beauty and romance of Venice, stories sounded too good to be true. Wasn't that just travel-book fluff?

My husband and I arrived in the afternoon and while I was charmed by the gondolas and labyrinthine streets, and enjoyed the tour of the Doge's Palace, something was missing. After an early evening rain, my husband and I walked back to San Marco's Square. 

The Piazzo was almost deserted, at least by Venetian standards.  We walked up and down the Piazzo, listening to the various orchestras in front of restaurants, stopping if we heard something we liked. 

An Adriatic breeze had blown the last of the storm clouds away, and the sky was a unique shade of indigo blue. I was gazing at the silhouette of the winged lion of St. Mark, and at that moment, the violist started playing Moon River.
And that's when it hit me--the magic of Venice.

The appreciation of true beauty always contains a tinge of sadness, and as the notes of Moon River floated over the Piazzo, I knew that this moment was just that--a single moment that would soon pass. But since nothing gold can stay and beauty doesn't last, we should grab the moment when is comes and hold on for dear life.

The Venetians know this. Their forebears built this city out of desperation and fear. Riding Fortune's Wheel, they won and lost an empire, but they left us this place, and made this beautiful night possible, questa bella notte.

Once back in the States, I put together a video to try to express my experience that magical night.

Venice is my magical place--what's yours?

Friday, June 9, 2017

To hide or not to hide!

I have far too many days during the course of writing a book when I feel the need to run and hide under the duvet. 

Sometimes, the writing process seems impossible and I’m so convinced that I’m incapable of stringing a coherent sentence together that I feel the need to hide. 

When those magical words The End are finally written, I think my worries should be over - but no. They only increase. I have to send the book to my editor and that brings on another of those days. Nails are chewed and nerves are strained to breaking point as I convince myself that she’ll hate every single word. 

Publication day should be a doddle, right? I’m happy that my book’s worthy and my editor likes it so what’s to worry about? Plenty. That brings on a hide under the duvet with a very large bottle of alcohol day. I know I should be out there promoting it but all I want to do is hide in case the whole world hates it. 

Publication day comes and goes and I should relax. World War Three didn’t break out. No Worst Book Ever headlines appear. Time to relax, right? Sadly, not. For me, the worst worry ever then raises its ugly head. The reviews. I know that not everyone likes every book. I know I’ve plucked up courage to read a one star review only to see “Haven’t read it yet”. (What’s that about?!?) I know that books destined to top the bestsellers lists for months pick up a lot of negative reviews. I know all this yet I never stop worrying. I tell myself not to read the reviews but can never resist a quick look. 

My latest book, The Final Echoes, hasn’t received many reviews yet but they’re coming in slowly and surely. And they’re good. All very positive. (Don’t feel obliged but the book is on sale at Amazon for the whole month of June. :o)) 

Time to stop worrying? No, because the whole sorry process has started again. You see, I’m writing the next book. Yes, the whole process seems impossible. And yes, I’m convinced I can’t string a coherent sentence together. 

Maybe I should forget writing and take up something that’s easier on my nerves. Sky diving or perhaps swimming with sharks springs to mind.

Does anyone else feel the same or is it just me?  

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Publicity – Boon, Bane or Just Dratted Distraction?

by Janis Patterson

Whether you self-publish or go with a traditional publisher, the burden of publicity falls on you. Yes, even with a traditional publisher you are responsible for getting your name out there – unless, that is, you are already a household name, in which case you needn’t read any further.

Publicity is one of the banes of a writer’s existence. At least it is for me. I’m gregarious in public. I have a lot of friends and I enjoy talking. Seems I would be a natural for doing publicity, doesn’t it?

Wrong. I was raised in an old-fashioned manner, where it was considered crude and vulgar to push oneself forward, which is just about what publicity amounts to. Plus, I love the ‘aloneness’ of writing. I love sitting in a room, playing with my computer as I invent populations and worlds and events. (Some call it a god-complex; I call it fun.)

Whatever one calls it, to me that is what writing is about. The publicity circus is something else. I don’t see where adding my voice to the cacophony of “Buy My Book!” out there is good for me, people in general or my book. A couple of announcements upon release or winning a prize I can tolerate, or a couple of discretely placed ads, but not this constant “Here’s an excerpt – you’re going to love it so much you’ll want to buy my book!”, even though there are loops devoted to nothing else. I cannot help but wonder how anyone has time to buy any of these books if they read all the excerpts posted.

On one of these excerpt loops there are two women (whose names I am not going to reveal) who post two or three excerpts every day. Every single day. They must be faster writers than I, because with doing so much publicity how do they have time to write or have any kind of a life?

We won’t even talk about the tsunami of free books out there, which have to be promoted just as much as a full-price one, let alone the problems and frustrations of getting a book out there for free. I’m not allowed to use that kind of language.

I had an interesting call from one of the minions in one of my publishers – yes, I’m a hybrid, and no, I’m not going to name names here, either – chiding me for not doing enough publicity for my books with them. If I would only push my books more, she said, like holding giveaways and engaging with my readers through social media and buying ads I would be selling so much more. Needless to say, this is a big publishing house – one with which I do not intend to publish again, for this and several other reasons.

I was polite to her (my mother raised me to always be polite) but basically told her I was waiting out my contract to get my rights back – if I can get them back. Big publishers are becoming notorious about not giving rights back at all through one dodge or another. She was horrified. Didn’t I want to sell books and make money?

Well, duh! Of course I want to sell books, but making money with them is problematic. On my self-published ebooks I make between $2-$4 dollars each sale. On the books through that big publishing company I make less than a dollar – and sometimes as little as six or seven cents, depending on how much of a ‘sale’ they’re having. If I’m going to go to the time and trouble of doing all that publicity stuff it’s going to be for the books where I make money instead of small change.

Somehow some of these publishing companies can’t get it through their collective heads that most writers write for money, not for the perceived glory of being published by them!

As for social media and interacting with my readers, it’s a time sink. I really don’t care about interacting with my readers. I’m sure there are some very nice people out there, and I might like them, but between my writing and my life I am very limited on time. Surely sensible readers who like my work would rather me be writing another book instead of being on-line comparing gardening techniques or swapping recipes or telling them how I write a book or whatever else we’re supposed to do to ‘engage’ our readers.

So what are we to do? Some writers can juggle all this and jobs and families and whatever else – my hat is off to them. I can’t, but that doesn’t make my books any less interesting. Some people hire assistants and publicity agents – I can’t afford to, at least not until my books start to sell better. It’s a vicious circle – you can’t afford not to get your name out there, but getting your name out there takes money and time, two things which far too many of us don’t have a lot of.

I ask again, what are we to do? I don’t know. I believe that writers should write and readers should read. I should not have to mortgage my time or my house to sell books. If anyone comes up with a workable solution, I wish they would share it.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Research Dividends

When I first conceived of my Coast Guard series (Gulf Coast Rescue) I didn’t know enough about the different assets like small boats, cutters, fixed and rotary wing aircraft to determine how they might play into my story world. The more I researched actual missions and the kinds of rescues each asset was used for and why, I began narrowing my focus to aircrews. Eventually I decided to concentrate on the MH-60T recovery medium-range helicopter, or Jayhawk.

However, during my discovery phase, and later as I developed my heroine for Jayhawk Down, I researched the Coast Guard Academy and learned about the Barque Eagle, the only active duty square rigger tall ship in use today. Since 1946, she has been used to train cadets and officer candidates what sailing is all about. As a cadet in the academy, my heroine would have spent some time on the Eagle.

When I heard the Eagle was going to visit Port Canaveral, Florida at the end of May first of June, I knew I had to visit the ship known as the perfect lady. Will I be able to apply what I learned in my next book or two? I have no idea. I have discovered not to turn down opportunities to learn more about the important historical elements that make up the unique branch that protects our coasts and inland waters while conducting more civilian rescues than any single organization.

First, the Eagle is a beautiful ship. Under full sail, she can attain speeds up to 17 knots in the open ocean. There are over 22,000 square feet of sail, five miles of rigging, and over 200 lines. Looking up at the top of the masts (147-foot-tall), knowing those young cadets must climb up there to do their jobs, gives you a real appreciation of what the young men and women are required to do as part of their training. Hmm, good thing my character didn’t have a fear of heights!

It was fun to read the information placards, along with historical facts about sailing ships of all ages and designs.
I’ve visited many ships while attending RWA national conferences and it always gets me thinking about resurrecting one of my historical novels. One of these days I just might do that—or maybe a time traveling Coastie? Now that could present some interesting challenges!

Have any of your research discoveries led to unplanned story dividends? Do you fancy going in a different direction when you learn a new or arcane fact you hadn't known before?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

I-SPY Free Books?? How, Where, and What to Watch out for!

Join the authors and friends of Not Your Usual Suspects for an occasional series of posts about their world of reading, writing and publishing.

Short and sweet, hopefully both informative and entertaining - join us at I-Spy to find out the how's and why's of what we do.

TODAY'S POST: I-Spy something beginning with ... Free Books!

Instafreebie/bookfunnel campaigns - and please accept those example names in this post as relating to ANY other similar sites - have recently burst on the scene, as a way of offering free books in multiple formats

As a reader? They're great! I've been able to download backlist books from authors I love, and sample new books from authors I've yet to "meet". Admittedly there are some drawbacks, even when the product is free:
* some books are poorly presented and written. I DoNotFinish, and avoid that author in future, but it means having to trawl through some dreck to find the gems.
* my Kindle is so full after a campaign that it takes me ages - if ever - to get around to reading all the new books! It does slow down my buying habits, which you could take as a good or bad thing.
* and I get myself subscribed to future free offers and early sneak peeks from the author.

As an author? It's a very useful marketing tool.
* if you send out Advance Reader Copies for a new book, this is a quick, low workload, and efficient way to do it.
* you can personalise the copies - in case one gets into the hands of book pirates, you can track where it came from,
* you can use a giveaway campaign to increase your mailing list, to attract future fans. You can set conditions to your giveaway, where the subscriber can choose to - or must - subscribe. Then the free book program will connect them to your list on the platform you use for newsletters e.g. MailChimp.

So, but... what happens when the Honeymoon is over??

As a reader: Some authors are too pushy for me, following up with weekly newsletters, often checking in on me to see if I've read the book / what did I think / can I leave a review / do I want to hear about the next project?
In most cases, the answer will be positive, but I'd like to choose my time to engage. Gradually, I peel away the newsletters that *don't* appeal to me. After all, we can all use the internet to follow up on a new treasured author, at our own time.

As an author: I recently banded together with 80 other authors for just one week, offered a self-published backlist novel, and doubled my newsletter subscriber list to 1000+! Of course, it meant I gave away a whole bunch of books for free (though it was a slow-moving title in the first place). Nor is it just a numbers game - I can only hope it generates some new reviews, or interest in my other books. It's difficult to measure that success or not, but exposure for my author name is always a plus for me.
And a small percentage of the newsletter subscribers gradually peel away, just like I have done myself.

There are conditions to Instafreebie, and they do monitor drastic ups and downs on an account, in an attempt to minimise spammers using them. However, it's relatively easy to set up and use, and the basic account is free, though you have to pay a modest monthly subscription if you want to link your giveaway to your mailing list (which I think currently is worth the money for me).

And a plea? If you do subscribe to newsletters and then want to unsubscribe, please be careful not to tick the reason as being "inappropriate" or "spam", if all you want to do is back away amicably. Choosing those options (unless they're true, of course!) can flag up the author and cause them to lose their account.

Overall? I recommend it as a great way to share free fiction, meet new books and authors - because they're appearing every day in their multitudes! - and also reach out to readers of your own with writing updates, fun news and treats. You know, NOT everyone spends 12+hours of the day online like me *cough*, so a newsletter is a valuable way to reach new, and unique, readers.

And everyone loves the occasional free book, right? :D

~~Clare London~~
And my newsletter is HERE!


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