IMG_5812
Chasing the Case, Readers

Viewed and Reviewed: Thank You Very Much

My parents taught me good manners. Say please when you want something and thank you when you get it. It’s pretty simple, really.

I’ve been saying please read my new book, Chasing the Case. Now I say thank you for those who have, and especially those who took the time to leave a review on Amazon.

Why are reviews important? As I’ve said many times, there is writing and then there is the business of writing. Books that get a certain amount of Chasing the Case cover copyreviews get love from Amazon. From what I’ve been told by fellow authors, 30 is an important number.

Chasing the Case doesn’t have 30 reviews. It has 14, and for those I am grateful. A couple are hefty. Most are short. The majority gave the mystery five stars. I am thankful for each one.

Here’s a sampling. (I will omit the names. You can find them on Amazon.)

“Love it.”

“Just finished Chasing the Case by Joan Livingston. This talented storyteller has woven an intricate tale of love, betrayal, and family loyalty. The perfect read to begin the summer!

“This book is an auspicious start to a promised series all featuring the same detective. The book is set in Western Massachusetts and, after reading it, it seems that I lived there for a chunk of my life. The characters are nicely drawn and developed and the plot is suitably complicated. All in all, this was a fun read! Indeed, Ms. Livingston has create a cadre of fascinating characters and has set herself up nicely for the future books that I am now eagerly anticipating.”

There are the international reviews, thanks to my connection with my publisher Crooked Cat Books. Amazon has UK and AU branches, where people from the United Kingdom and Australia buy anything — and can leave reviews.

I’m chuffed, as my friends in the UK would say, that my mystery set in the rural U.S. resonates with people in other parts of the world.

Here are fans from the UK site.

“I heard great things about the first title in Joan Livingston’s Mystery series… and book 1 has certainly lived up to the hype, and some. Sassy female characters who break every stereotype, a rugged array of male suspects, and a fabulously quirky style of writing, kept me up late 2 nights in a row and turning the pages. I can’t wait for the next installment!”

“I really enjoyed this book. The characters are well drawn and very engaging, the murder mystery well plotted. I loved the setting too — a small town where everybody knows everybody else’s business. I particularly enjoyed the way Isobel, the main character, develops as the story unfolds. I love coming across a new-to-me author and discovering that the book I’m reading is the first in a series. (In this case, The Isobel Long Myseries) I can’t wait for the second in the series, Redneck’s Revenge, which I have already pre-ordered.”

Here is one from Australia:

“It’s always a good sign when I finish a book less than 24 hours after starting it! I literally couldn’t put this book down (apologies to my family). Everything about this story was unique and refreshing – the writing style, the setting, the storyline and my favourite part … the characters. I was in awe of the stereotype-busting silver-haired widow and her 92 year old mother, who were the lead sleuths solving this case. We need more books like this! Which is lucky for me (and you!) because I believe there is a second book coming out soon.”

And not to seem ungrateful, I do get a kick out of meeting people who tell me in person they read and enjoyed Chasing the Case. How much fun is that?

So here is my pitch. If you read Chasing the Case, again thank you very much. If you are so inspired, please leave a review on Amazon. I’d like to hit that number 30. You didn’t have to buy the book on Amazon, and yes, it can be very short and done with a pseudonym.

UPDATE: So what am I working on now? I am heavy into the final edits of my novel, Redneck’s Revenge, which is the next in the Isabel Long mystery series. The book will officially launch Sept. 26. The Kindle versionRednecks Revenge small is available to pre-order now: http://mybook.to/rednecksrevenge. Paperbacks will be out in August.

Of course, Chasing the Case is available in both forms now: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

And in the midst of all this and moving into the home we renovated, I’ve been writing the third book in the series: Checking the Traps. To use baseball terminology, I am rounding third on that one.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: That’s part of my office in the home we renovated. Yeah, I will be getting a more comfy chair sometime in the future.

 

Standard
IMG_5628
Chasing the Case

There’s a Bar on Every Novel

I recently wrote this blog post for Jennifer C. Wilson, who just had her latest Kindred Spirits Westminster Abbey released. I thought it was worth sharing on mine. It includes a fun excerpt from my own recently released novel, Chasing the Case. Enjoy yourself.

One constant is my adult fiction is that each one has a bar. In my new mystery, Chasing the Case, the local watering hole is called the Rooster Bar and Grille. It was Chasing the Case cover copythe Do-Si-Do Bar (that’s a move in square dancing) in my previous novel, The Sweet Spot. There are others.

I will confess I’m not a big drinker — one good craft beer will do it for me — or someone who hangs out in bars. But I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent in them, raising a glass or bottle, and dancing with my husband when there’s a band. I especially like bars where the cliental knows each other, and those are the kinds of bars I have in my novels. For many small rural towns, bars are gathering spots for the locals. Many don’t have them. In my mystery, the town of Conwell only has one — the Rooster — but then again, it only has a thousand people.

Early in Chasing the Case, the protagonist Isabel Long takes her mother, who lives with her, to the Rooster for dinner. Isabel, who has left a long career in journalism, is seeing if she could hack being a private investigator. Her first case involves a woman who disappeared 28 years earlier from Conwell. Isabel ends up getting a part-time job at the Rooster, in part to get up close and personal with many of the people connected with the case.

Jack Smith, the Rooster’s owner, runs a friendly bar, but do something stupid and you’re out for six months. Do it again, and you might be banned forever. There’s music on Friday nights and his sister, Eleanor serves food Thursdays through Sundays. There’s a jukebox and televisions, so customers can watch sports.

Isabel used to go dancing there with her late husband, Sam. That’s another big change for her — being a widow. But she enjoys her new job and being in the middle of things.

In this excerpt, Isabel is working on her first night at the Rooster.

It’s Friday night and I’m behind the bar, fetching Buds for two guys who want a fun night out. They order four because two women wait for them at a table. I flip the caps, toss them in the can at my feet, and slide the cold bottles across the countertop toward them. One of them has the dollar bills curled in his hand. 

“Keep the change,” he says. 

“Thanks. Enjoy yourself.”

 They leave me an extra buck, which appears to be the standard tip for a round. I know Sam always did. I stuff the buck in the tip jar with the rest of the bills.

The Rooster is full. My station is behind the bar. Jack is on the floor, taking dinner orders and carrying the food out as fast as Eleanor can dish it out. She and I only spoke a few words. She grunts when I ask how she’s doing. She grunts, too, after I ask about her dogs. I get the feeling she’s not happy I’m working here, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Jack, who keeps up a friendly banter whenever he passes. Jack grins and winks. He’s what I’d call a big tease.

I pop caps off beer bottles. The King of Beers reigns supreme at the Rooster. I’ve only had two requests for beer on tap by newcomers, of course, and I was pleased I got them done correctly.

I call home once to see how Ma is doing. She tells me she and the cat are fine. She’s watching an old movie. I say I’ll be home around eleven. I would tell her not to wait up, but that’s not necessary. 

The music started a half-hour ago and the Lone Sums are stinking up the place. I didn’t think you could blow a song like “Sweet Home Alabama,” but these guys are doing just that. Just wait until they try “Free Bird.” Somebody always requests that one, usually one of the young drunks, who’ll shout it from across the room just for the hell of it. 

“These guys play here before?” I ask Jack when he brings a tray of empties behind the bar.

“Nah. I doubt if I’ll bring ’em back,” he says as he drops the bottles into the carton at our feet.

 “They’re pretty bad. But I guess if you drink enough you can dance to almost anything.”

MORE: Like what you read? Then get your own copy at http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: A window box outside Nancy L. Dole Books in Shelburne Falls and a couple of books to tempt readers inside the store.

 

Standard
view-from-blue-rock
Chasing the Case, sex

PG-13: Writing about Sex

I wrote this post for author Susan Roebuck’s blog. Eh, I felt it was too much fun not to have it on mine.

Of course, there’s sex in my new mystery, Chasing the Case. It’s a given because I wrote about people and what they do. Sex is a part of that.

But writing about something so personal without being vulgar is a bit tricky. I Chasing the Case cover copybelieve I give enough, so readers can use their imagination.

There are no descriptions of body parts. Nothing is throbbing. The sex scenes aren’t icky or embarrassing.

By the way, my characters are consenting adults who are having a good old time in the sack, and in Chasing the Case, actually mature consenting adults.

This is my third book out. In the first, Peace, Love, and You Know What, a group of hippie friends have a three-day bash. This is the early seventies, so there is nudity, free love, and dirty professors. Lenora, the main character has sex with three guys in two days, including a ménage à trois — her instigation by the way.

My second novel, The Sweet Spot, is a more serious novel. Edie St. Claire has a rather hot and heavy relationship with her married brother-in-law until that ends tragically. Then she has to pay for it when the town turns against her.

Things are a more light-hearted for Isabel Long in Chasing the Case. After all, she tells the story. She’s a long-time journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. after she gets canned from the newspaper she was running. She decides to solve a mystery of a woman who went missing in her town of a thousand people 28 years earlier. It was her first big story as a rookie reporter.

It’s also a big change in another way for Isabel. Her husband died and after giving herself a year to grieve, she’s ready to move on. How did she put it? It’s time to do something foolish or at least, have fun.

That’s what she does. And she doesn’t have to look far to find it.

I’m not going to spoil the plot by giving away who Isabel has sex with in Chasing the Case. It had been some time since the man was in a relationship that included sex.

As he warns her on their first night, “I may come awfully fast. It’s been a while.”

Isabel’s response? “That’s okay, I’m a little nervous, too. It’s been a while for me, too.”

She removes the photo of her dead husband to another room. And during their first romp she lights candles on the bureau and nightstand beside the bed. She tells herself: “I believe there’s just enough light for me to be firm and beautiful in his eyes. Maybe.”

I will say there’s a lot of playful banter about sex between Isabel and her lover in this book, but then again she is a bit on the sassy side.

Besides being an amateur P.I., Isabel takes a part-time job tending bar at the local watering hole called the Rooster. Her plan is to get up close and personal with people connected to the mystery.

Here is her observation about the bar’s customers on the night a band is playing. The Rooster is jumping and bumping tonight, and from my vantage point at the bar, I can tell a lot of the customers will be humping later on. Yeah, I’m being a bit crude, but I’ve seen more men and women getting felt up here tonight than by the TSA at the airport in Hartford.”

Finally, one last thing about sex, at least for this post: an anecdote about my 94-year-old mother, an avid reader of romance novels. (She is the inspiration for Isabel’s mother, who is her Watson in this series.)

I will admit a few of my adult kids were uncomfortable about the sex scenes in my first book. So, when I gave my mother a copy, I added this warning, “Mom, there’s a bit of sex in it.”

Here’s what she told me after reading it: “Oh, I’ve read a lot worse than that.”

Really, Mom?

Chasing the Case is available in paperback and Kindle. Thanks for all who have bought and read it. Here’s the link for those who don’t have their copy: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: This was the view last night from the porch of the Blue Rock in Shelburne Falls where we ate dinner. That village is our new home.

 

Standard
Chasing the Case launch party (dragged)
Chasing the Case, Isabel Long Series

Virtual Party, Real Fun

It was my first rodeo, as they say, for a Facebook launch party last Friday for my new mystery Chasing the Case. I had already done a physical reading, but this online event would be a way to reach people who live around the globe and obviously couldn’t attend in person. Yes, a lot is possible on the Web.

I will admit this was new to me, so I was lucky enough to have the camaraderie of my fellow authors at Crooked Cat Books. I popped into their Facebook launches. They were free with their advice such as writing posts and gathering graphics ahead of time, so they can be inserted easily.

I planned my prizes: appearances in a third Isabel Long book plus signed editions of my earlier books. I created a welcome video.

Just have fun, my author friends said. Hmm.

The hardest part was choosing a time given friends live in Europe, the Mideast, Australia, and of course the U.S. So I settled on 2 p.m. Eastern Time Zone. I planned to keep the discussion up for 24 hours, so people could join in when it was convenient.

The fun actually began before 2 p.m. with authors posting celebratory good wishes. Thank you.

Then 2 p.m. came. First the video and then a contest question. Here it is: “I always have a bar in all of my adult fiction. Chasing the Case has the Rooster. In my novel, The Sweet Spot, it’s the Do-Si-Do. It’s your turn to create a name for a bar. I will use your name as a character in my next Isabel Long mystery. Fair warning: the character could be a suspect.”

I was a little worried because it started slowly. But my son, Zack, weighed in and then my longtime friend, Fred. Then things started rolling.

In all I had six contests, all connected to Chasing the Case.

I was surprised who came to the party — a delightful mix of family (my husband’s cousins who are now my cousins had a strong showing), authors, high school and college friends. Oh, the list goes on.

I returned in the evening to find my author friends from Australia weighing in. I was glad to go back and forth with them.

The contest winners have been notified. To tell you the truth, it was hard. There were some clever people on Facebook that day.

I believe the launch went well. Others said the same. A few who were also rookies to these sort of events said they look forward to the next one. Yes, there will be another Sept. 26 for the next in this series, Redneck’s Revenge. I will let you all know. I hope you can make it.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: A portion of the conversation at my Facebook launch party.

GET YOUR OWN COPY: Here’s the link to get your copy of Chasing the Case: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

 

Standard
WO joan 1
Chasing the Case

The First Read

On Saturday, I was at the Worthington Library to give the first reading of my new mystery, Chasing the Case. It’s only fitting since my family and I lived in the Western Mass. hilltown of Worthington for 25 years. That town and the ones around it inspired the setting for Chasing the Case and most of my adult fiction.

WO joan 23

Photo by Christine Charnosky

For me it was a bit of a homecoming. After all when I was a Worthington resident, I spent countless hours at the library with my kids.

I knew almost everybody who came Saturday. Many I hadn’t seen in 12 years or longer — before I moved to New Mexico. People bought books, including a novel I released last year, The Sweet Spot.

Yeah, it was a great feeling.

I read three excerpts: the very start of the novel;  a scene at the Rooster Bar and Grille; and a peek at the Old Farts, the gossipy men in the backroom of the general store. Then I opened it up to questions and discussion. It was an attentive audience.

WO joan 5

Photo by Christine Charnosky

And when I mentioned its sequel, Redneck’s Revenge is due out in September, they were happy for my return.

Can you go home again? Sure you can. I just did.

ABOUT THE PHOTOS: Thanks to Christine Charnosky, the editor of the Country Journal, for these and other photos she took at the event. In the one above, I sign a book for Ed Shanahan, who was the editor in chief of the Daily Hampshire Gazette, when I was a rookie reporter covering the town of Worthington.

FACEBOOK LAUNCH: Join me for a different launch, this one on Facebook. It’s Friday, May 18, 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Discussion will run for two hours. There will be contests with prizes. Want your name to be used for a suspect in the third sequel? I will keep everything open for 24 hours so people on the other side of the planet can join. https://www.facebook.com/events/164518200901454/

ORDER: Didn’t make to the reading? Here’s how you can get your own copy: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

NEXT READING: I will be at Boswell’s Books on Wednesday, May 23 at 6:30 p.m. The store is in Shelburne Falls, my new home in Western Mass.

 

 

Standard