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Checking the Traps, Isabel Long Mystery Series

Checking the Traps: Full Speed Ahead

As mentioned in a post last week, things are moving faster toward the release of my next mystery, Checking the Traps. We now have a release date, a cover, and I am working with my editor to get the novel in the best shape possible. Read on for the details.

For those new to my blog or just need a gentle reminder, Checking the Traps is the third book in my Isabel Long Mystery Series set in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. Isabel is a longtime journalist turned P.I., who is handling cold cases in her neck of the woods. Her clients tend to be on the country gritty side. Her 93-year-old mystery-loving mother is her sidekick.

First: March 22 is the official launch date of Checking the Traps. That’s when the Kindle version will be released. (The paperback version will be earlier.) I will let you know when pre-orders begin.

Second: Above is the cover created by Laurence Patterson, co-publisher at Crooked Cat Books. The other two book covers feature the back view of a woman outside in black and white. This cover matches that theme well while capturing an important element of the book: a bridge.

Third: My editor, Miriam Drori, and I are going over the manuscript very carefully. It’s great having someone who has fresh eyes — and mind — give my book a close read. Certainly, I’ve read it a gazillion times. We are on round two.

However, for this book, I have a not-so-secret weapon: the “read aloud” mechanism of my newly purchased Word program. Alas, my old version stopped working, so I was forced to upgrade, and I’m glad I did. I click on “read aloud” and a man reads my book aloud. It’s slow and I can only take listening for so long. (I am amused at some of “his” pronunciations.) But in the process I have found missing words, typos, and overused words. Dang, I wish I had used this for my other books.

Finally: I want to say congrats to anyone who picked up the Kindle version of Chasing the Case, the first book in the Isabel Long Mystery Series, which was free this past weekend. By my standards, it did well, including reaching #7 in the popular Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Murder category in Amazon US.

Of course, this is for free books. But as I explained in my last post, I’m hunting for readers who will get hooked by this series. It’s all part of the publishing game.

 

 

 

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Chasing the Case, Isabel Long Mystery Series

Yes, My Book Is Really Free

Such a deal. The Kindle version of Chasing the Case, my first mystery, is free for two days but only this weekend, Jan. 12 and 13. Here’s the link on Amazon: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase. And for those who think I must be nuts giving away a book I worked so hard on, let me explain.

Actually, let me back up a bit and express my gratitude to those who bought the Kindle version at the $2.99 price. I appreciate your support.

But what I’ve learned is there is writing, and then there is the business of writing. And like any business, I have competition. Lots of competition when you consider the books being pushed by big and little houses, plus the gazillion people who are publishing themselves. How do you get your book to stand out? Good question.

I have been flattered by what people who have read Chasing the Case and the sequel, Redneck’s Revenge, have had to say. Some have even left reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. (Hint, hint, if you haven’t, please do!) Having people enjoy my books is exactly what I — or any author for that matter — want. I loved writing them. I want people to love reading them.

Ah, but first they have to know about my books.

So for two days, I want to catch mystery-loving readers who will be swayed by a freebie. They hopefully will read the book, get hooked and want to pay for the second and the third, Checking the Traps, which will be launched officially March 22. And, yes, the fourth, is in the works.

Here’s a brief synopsis of Chasing the Case: How does a woman disappear in a town of a thousand people? That’s a 28-year-old mystery Isabel Long wants to solve.

Isabel has the time to investigate. She just lost her husband and her job as a managing editor of a newspaper. (Yes, it’s been a bad year.) And she’s got a Watson – her 92-year-old mother who lives with her.

To help her case, Isabel takes a job at the local watering hole, so she can get up close and personal with those connected to the mystery.

As a journalist, Isabel never lost a story she chased. Now, as an amateur P.I., she’s not about to lose this case either.

That’s it in a nutshell.

Know a mystery lover? Then please spread the word. I thank you very much. And I will make it easy. Here’s the link again: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

 

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Checking the Traps, Isabel Long Series

Up Next: Checking the Traps

I have news for fans of my Isabel Long mysteries series. The launch of the third book — Checking the Traps — is getting closer. My publisher and I haven’t set a date yet, but expect an announcement in the next few weeks. Right now, I’m working with my editor on the final edits. A cover is in the works.

With two cases under her belt, Isabel Long is ready for her third. So, is her ‘Watson’ — her mother, Maria, who turns 93 in this book. Isabel is a bit banged up from her last case. I won’t reveal how it happened for those who haven’t caught up with the second, Redneck’s Revenge, but I will say her souvenir from that case is a broken collarbone. Isabel spends the entire third book with her arm bound up in a sling. Fortunately, she only needs one to pour beer at the Rooster Bar.

Then she gets an intriguing call from an unlikely person — Gary Beaumont. As you may recall from the second book, Gary and his brother, Larry, are drug dealers who terrorized Isabel. The brothers live in a dump of a house and have the manners of feral dogs. But for reasons I won’t divulge here, Isabel has grown fond of them.

Anyway, Gary wants Isabel to find out what happened to their half-brother, Cary. He doesn’t believe for a second that Cary jumped off a bridge in a neighboring town that is known for suicides. He is sure somebody murdered him.

Cary was a bit of a boozer who worked on a local highway crew. But what clinches it for Isabel is that he was a sensitive soul who wrote poetry in his spare time. The chief suspects are one of Gary’s business associates and a famous poet who plagiarized his brother’s poetry for an award-winning book. Yes, Cary was that good.

One of the reasons I so enjoy writing this series is that it gives me a great excuse to hold onto the characters I love. They have become dear to me even the bad guys. That certainly includes Gary and Larry.

So who else is back? Jack, the owner of the Rooster and Isabel’s guy, of course. So are Annette aka the Tough Cookie and Marsha aka the Floozy, plus the Old Farts, those snoopy old guys in the backroom of the general store. There are a few more.

Who’s new? The people Isabel interviews for this case, including the plagiarizing famous poet.

Over the next few months, I will be posting stories here and elsewhere about Checking the Traps. It’s all part of my concerted effort to get you all interested in Isabel Long’s next adventure.

P.S. I am currently working on the fourth. Isabel sure likes to get herself in trouble.

FIRST TWO BOOKS: Need to catch up with the series? Here are the links:

http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

http://mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: Lake Fitzgerald in Northampton, Mass., where were took a recent hike.

 

 

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Our Perfectly Imperfect Tree

For the first time in 13 years, we have a Christmas tree standing inside our living room. When we lived in New Mexico, we never got one. It somehow didn’t fit the place where we were living, and besides the guy selling trees had a real shady past. Last year, we were renting an apartment while we renovated the home where we now live. But this year? It’s time to get out the ornaments that have been stored inIMG_6458 boxes all these years.

But first the tree. I really didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg for one. Our son, Zack, told us about Pieropan Christmas Tree Farm that grows its trees from stumps instead of replanting them — it is billed as one of the oldest farms that grows this way. It’s located only one town over. And any tree is $30. Sold.

So, on Saturday, after paying our money to co-owner Emmet Van Driesche, we hiked around the sloping hill looking for a tree worth cutting. First, I haIMG_6451d to get over the fact that these trees are on the funky side. But what did I expect? They grow out of the stumps of previously cut trees. Fortunately for us, the tree would back against a wall in our living room, so really we could get a tree that was indeed a bit funky. It took a while, given my spouse’s tendency toward perfection — although I did say for a guy who didn’t want a tree in the first place, he was being awfully fussy.

But we found the tree. The sharp saw the farm provides did the job and it fit easily in our car.

Sunday it took a while for me to get the tree to stand upright in its stand. The trunk’s wood was so tight, it wouldn’t sink into the metal points inside the stand. Brilliant me, I chopped at it with a hammer’s claw until it could.

Then I hung the lights, the wooden beads and dug into the ornaments, many ofwhich date back forty years when we didn’t have a pot to you know what. These are the ones I made from cloth and clay, plus ones I picked up over the years. ThereIMG_6460 are the ones the kids made in school or bought when they grew older.

In anticipation of a visit by our toddler granddaughter, I arranged the tree so the fragile stuff is up high. She can freely touch whatever is low. And Hank wired the tree to the woodwork, so, kid, it ain’t going anywhere.

I like our tree. It fits nicely against the wall. It holds a lot of memories. And I like that it came from a place that makes Christmas trees sustainable.

Want to learn more about Pieropan Christmas Tree Farm? Here’s a link to a news story in the Greenfield Recorder: Recorder story

And happy holidays to family and friends near and very far away.

 

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Now for Some Cheap Laughs

Peace, Love, & You Know What is a comedy inspired by an exciting period — the early seventies — when I was a young adult and finding my way in the world. And in keeping with the holiday spirit, I am making it dang cheap to buy. For three days, Dec. 14-16 (Friday-Sunday), the novel is on sale for 99c/99p for those who want the Kindle version. I’ll tell you more below.

The novel starts in 1972 on graduation weekend for Westbridge State College. What better excuse for a three-day bash at one of the local hippie pads?

There’s Tim, who is actually faking his graduation, and his roommates Mack, Manny, and the poetry-spouting Joey. Then, there’s Lenora, their queen, who has her act together, so she is PeaceLoveYouKnow What_cover_200graduating and splitting for Europe. Tim and Lenora have been tight friends for four years, and he figures this might be his last chance with her.

The three-day bash is a big hit for every hippie freak and dirty professor at Westbridge State College. You name it, they do it — from a softball game between rival tribes to a dinner prepared from government surplus food to so-called free love. Oh, yeah, there are plenty of drugs and music.

Here’s an excerpt.

Tim held the joint aloft, making Lenora reach for it. She grabbed his side, tickling him so hard he fell back, and then she was lying on top of him, laughing with him. He stuck the joint between her lips. She held the smoke in her mouth and blew it into his.

“Take a hit.”

Tim did as he was told. He would have done anything Lenora said. She took the joint and brought it to her lips.

“You’re such a crazy girl.”

Smoke streamed through her mouth as she laughed. She held the roach.

“Uh-oh, all gone.”

Somebody changed the record. Sly and the Family Stone played “I Want to Take You Higher.” Lenora rolled off Tim, and he said, “Hey, come back,” but she sat against the wall to get out of the way of the stampeding dancers. The volume was up so loud, the funky guitar riffs buzzed through the speakers. Sly wailed like a tomcat. It was a miracle the cops hadn’t showed up.

This graduation bash is the start of an adventure called adulthood, whether it’s a commune for Lenora and her baby, or Tim finding purpose in his life.

Upfront I will say Peace, Love, & You Know What is a work of fiction and not a memoir. None of it happened. Like many writers, I took what I know and had my way with it.

Perhaps the book will be a bit nostalgic for those who lived through this period and a curiosity for those who didn’t. There’s enough sex in it that I embarrassed my kids but not my 94-year-old mother, who says she’s read a lot worse in her romance novels. Really, Mom?

ON SALE: So back to that holiday gift. For three days, Dec. 14-16, get thee to Amazon for a bargain. Here’s the link: mybook.to/PeaceLoveYouKnowWhat. Have yourself a good laugh.

 

 

 

 

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