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

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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Chasing the Case, hilltowns

Revealing a Mystery

As I write this piece, the official launch for my mystery, Chasing the Case, will happen in seven days on May 18. Yowza!

On that day, the book, the first in the Isabel Long series, will be available on Kindle. If you pre-ordered, your copy will pop into your electronic device. Paperbacks have been available for a while. Also, there will be a celebratory event on Facebook that Chasing the Case cover copyall can join and win prizes.

For the past few months, I’ve been sharing bits and pieces about Chasing the Case. I have had the great support of fellow authors who have hosted posts on their blogs. (Thank you so much.) That will continue into the future.

And I have two appearances. The first is May 12 at the Worthington Library, 4 p.m. if you live nearby. On May 23, I will read at Boswell’s Books, 6:30 p.m. in Shelburne Falls. Both are in Western Mass., where this mystery series is set.

At the Worthington event, I plan to read from my book and take questions. Ha. I bet a couple will ask how much of the town of Conwell in Chasing the Case is actually Worthington.

That’s only natural.

My family and I lived in Worthington for 25 years or so. It was my first beat when I became a rookie reporter. And although Chasing the Case is strictly fiction, Worthington and the other hilltowns around it, certainly have inspired most of my adult fiction.

Right now, I am pondering the passages I will read Saturday. As a friend asked, how do you share parts of a mystery without giving it away? Good question. And that’s what I will ponder today as I prepare although I know for sure I will read a portion of the chapter introducing the Old Farts, a group of gossipy old men who hold court in the backroom of a general store. I wrote about them in my last post.

Here’s an audio excerpt.

Thank you to those who have ordered or pre-ordered copies of Chasing the Case. I appreciate your support. Here’s the link for those who are interested: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

And for old friends from the hilltowns, I hope to see you in Worthington for the reading.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: The Worthington Library by Ed Pelletier.

 

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Chasing the Case

The Old Farts

I call them the Old Farts. Actually, that’s what Isabel Long, the protagonist of my mystery, Chasing the Case, calls them — with a capital O and a capital F.

The Old Farts are a group of six gossipy old men who hang out early mornings in the back of the Conwell General Store. They appear to know everybody’s business Chasing the Case cover copyfor miles around, including Isabel’s.

For that reason, she finds the Old Farts useful when she takes her first case trying to find out what happened to a woman who went missing 28 years earlier in that town of a thousand people. They know all the players.

Actually, Isabel takes it one step further and gives the men nicknames. Here they are: the Fattest Old Fart, Serious Old Fart, Bald Old Fart, Silent Old Fart, Skinniest Old Fart, and the Old Fart with Glasses. You can guess how she came up with those names.

The Old Farts, of course, don’t know a thing about it. It’s likely the only one they don’t.

And once in a while, there are Visiting Old Farts, but they aren’t regulars.

Isabel starts visiting the Old Farts in the back room on a regular basis after she loses her job running a newspaper and decides to be an amateur P.I. She always sits on a bench besides the Fattest Old Fart because nobody else does.

The conversation is lively although the Silent Old Fart lives up to his reputation and rarely speaks. (When he does, it’s significant.) They like to tease Isabel about her personal life. But they do give useful tips or at least some history because unlike Isabel, they are all natives of Conwell. They’ve know each other forever. And they have no better way to start the day than to drink coffee, eat a donut, and shoot the shit.

Perhaps you have a group of Old Farts in your town. One friend who has read Chasing the Case recalled the ones he encountered in his.

For Isabel, they are her Greek chorus. The Old Farts will also appear in the two sequels for Chasing the Case: Redneck’s Revenge and Checking the Traps.

Here’s an excerpt of Chasing the Case featuring the Old Farts.

A bit of back story: Isabel is going to meet Andrew Snow, the father of the woman who went missing and the store’s former owner. She has her baby granddaughter, Sophie, with her. And one last thing: Sam is Isabel’s late husband and a carpenter.

I hear the Old Farts yakking it up when I step inside the side door and walk along the shelves holding canned goods, jars, and boxes. They go silent when they see me. I know every one of them, retirees with nothing better to do than get up early and drink coffee while they chew the fat in the store’s backroom. There are six main Old Farts: the Fattest Old Fart, the Skinniest Old Fart, the Serious Old Fart, the Old Fart with Glasses, the Bald Old Fart, and the Silent Old Fart. Of course, they don’t know that’s what I call them.

There are others who drop in, the Visiting Old Farts, but these six are the Old Fart regulars. Then there are the blue-collar workers on their way to a job site. This is only a pit stop for them. Actually, two carpenters pass me on their way out. Sam’s worked with both of them. They say their hellos and ask after me.

The Old Farts are likely the biggest gossipers in town, worse than any group of women, I wager. Sam told me they bring up a topic, say a touchy decision the board of selectmen made or a recent divorce in town, and weigh the details they know or suspect. They thrive on being the first to break the news. It’s almost embarrassing how excited they get, Sam said. As a former reporter I can relate to the thrill of breaking news, but I had to attribute every fact. I used the word “alleged,” which is unlikely in the Old Farts’ vocabulary.

There are no females back here, except Sophie and me. They show up later in the morning, the women who drive school bus, or who are married to one of the Old Farts and have come to pick something up at the store.

“Isabel, what are you doing back here?” the Fattest Old Fart asks.

“I felt like bothering somebody today,” I answer. “I don’t get to do enough of that anymore.”

The Old Farts laugh.

“No, really, why are you here?” the Bald Old Fart on the opposite bench says.

I sit on a bench beside the Fattest Old Fart. I unzip Sophie’s snowsuit, so she doesn’t get overheated.

“I wanted to see what I’ve been missing all these years,” I say. “Go ahead. Don’t let me stop you. This is my granddaughter by the way, Ruth’s little girl. Her name’s Sophie. Try not to swear in front of her. Ruth doesn’t want her picking up any bad habits.”

“Cute baby,” the Serious Old Fart says.

I look around as if it’s my first time here.

“Gee, this is awfully cozy back here. I’m an early riser, too. Might be a nice way to start the day, getting all the town news.”

They glance at each other. I’m having fun pulling their legs. Actually, I’m supposed to meet Andrew Snow. He called last night to say he found the box containing the contents of Adela’s car.

A few have guessed I’m teasing them. They snicker.

“So, what were you talking about when I came in?” I offer.

“About getting a vasectomy,” the Skinniest Old Fart says just to see my reaction, I’m certain.

“I wouldn’t think any of you would have to worry about that,” I fire back.

More laughter.

“Nah, we’re talking politics,” the Fattest Old Fart says. “But while you’re here, I’ve got a question for you. How’s your detective work going?”

MORE: Thank you to those who have bought or pre-ordered Chasing the Case. Here’s the link to Amazon: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

Chasing the Case has an official launch May 18. If you pre-ordered a Kindle version, that’s when you will get it. Paperbacks can be purchased now.

If you are on Facebook, please join in on the May 18 launch at 2 p.m. Eastern Time Zone. https://www.facebook.com/JoanLivingstonAuthor/

The public online party will be lively for two hours or so with contests and discussion. I will leave everything up for 24 hours so people living on the other side of the planet can participate. More as the event gets closer.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: A view of the two bridges across the Deerfield River linking the two sides of Shelburne Falls in Western Massachusetts. This spot is a short walk from our home.

 

 

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Chasing the Case, New release

I Killed Off the Husband

Of course, the husband in this case belongs to Isabel Long, the protagonist in my new mystery, Chasing the Case. My own is alive and well, thank you.

But when I wrote this book, I made Isabel a widow. Her husband, Sam, had died of natural causes and not by anybody’s hand. Oh, why not?

Chasing the Case is written in the first person, so I will admit there is more than a little of me in Isabel. We’re both nosy smart asses. She and I live in a small, Chasing the Case cover copyrural town. I was a longtime journalist, and so was she. But she is an amateur P.I. and I’m not. I just get to write about one.

For those who might be wondering, I didn’t start this book thinking I would have a widow as my main character. Like so many other things, it just happened.

Isabel was happily married to Sam, a skilled woodworker who was kinda deaf from power tools. He was a nice guy and a good dancer.

For those who know me, Sam sounds a little bit like Hank, my real-life spouse. Well, as I’ve said before, you take what you know and have your way with it. Most of my adult fiction has a character who is a carpenter. I joke that in this one, I bumped him off. Hank didn’t mind.

Anyway, Isabel loved and grieved for Sam when he died — it was actually the start of her bad year. (The end to her long-time career as a journalist was also a part of that year.)

She chose to mourn him properly before deciding “to do something foolish,” as she says.

And that’s where the book starts. Besides giving a go at being a private investigator, Isabel gets interested in a man. I’m not going to spoil the story by telling you who, but I like the guy. I bet you will, too.

I also believe you will find the inscription Isabel chose to put on Sam’s gravestone amusing. But that’s too far into the book. I offer instead an excerpt about Sam from the first chapter. Here, Isabel is digging a grave in the back yard for a pet cat that loved Sam. It’s late October, but the town is getting hit with an unexpected early snow.

I dip the shovel into the hole and eyeball the depth. I figure I have at least a foot to go. I’ve reached a rocky patch, but if I need to, I’ll get the crowbar from the shed. That’s the way Sam would do it, so I follow his advice. The crowbar is hanging where he left it.

Sam was a master woodworker although he was too humble to say that about himself. Anyone who hired him to build a staircase or do finish work in their house always got more than their money’s worth. He did the same when he built this house.

His workshop was in the basement. I could hear him banging around down there, building something beautiful. I haven’t had the heart to do anything with his tools. Sometimes I take my coffee down there, especially the first months after he was gone, just like I used to when he was alive. I’d bring him a cup. He’d light up a cigarette, the only place in the house he smoked, and tell me what he was doing.

Yes, I miss him like hell.

We met in Boston, got married pretty fast, and started having kids. We moved to Conwell with the first, Matthew, because we wanted to raise him in the country, and then had two more close together. After taking a break to be with the kids when they were little, I started writing for the Daily Star as a correspondent, covering my town and the ones around it. I got paid, first by the inch, and then by the story. I used to be a reporter in Boston, not the Globe or Herald but something a lot smaller and now nonexistent – a victim of the big crash in 2008 and the rise of online news. At the Star, I went from correspondent to staff reporter to editor, and as I joke, clawed my way to the top, where I liked it until the paper got sold.

Sam and I made a good life here for our kids and us. He was a trustworthy guy, a little deaf from the power equipment and used to keeping things inside. But he was kind, hardworking, and a great dancer.

Yup, it still hurts.

THE NITTY GRITTY: Like what you read? Chasing the Case is available from Amazon. Here’s the link: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase 

You can pre-order the Kindle version, which has an official launch of May 18, or buy a paperback now. Thanks for your support.

By the way, if you’re on Facebook, join me for an online launch party that day, 2 p.m. Eastern Time Zone for online discussion and contests.

ABOUT THE IMAGE ABOVE: That’s an alleyway that leads to the Shelburne Falls Candlepin Bowling Alley in Western Massachusetts.

 

 

 

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