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Isabel Long Mystery Series, Mystery

Why Not Free?

In mid-March I gave away the Kindle version of Chasing the Case — the first in the Isabel Long Mystery Series — for free. Prior to that experience, I wondered why authors would make their books free for a limited time. What’s the incentive? The answer is to reach more readers and, of course, sales.

For readers who subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, the pages they read from picking up Chasing the Case added up. My hope also was that readers who took advantage of the offer would get hooked on the series and it was evident that happened when Kindle readers bought Redneck’s Revenge and Checking the Traps. People even bought books not in the series. Now that was exciting.

But let’s be realistic. You can’t depend on the positives of one promo to last forever. So I am doing it again. Kindle readers can get Chasing the Case for free June 13-14 (Saturday and Sunday).

I will be honest and say I did pay for promotion through Fussy Librarian and Freebooksy. Afterall both have a tremendous amount of book-loving followers — far more than my efforts at social media could generate. So now I am paying to give my book away … am I nuts? I will know when I get the final royalty numbers from my publisher.

And I am game to try again. Afterall, today I just sent the fourth book Killing the Story to my publishers at Darkstroke Books. There is still work to be done like final edits, covers etc. But it’s good to stir interest in the series.

I have appreciated the support people have given my writing. If you haven’t picked up Chasing the Case, here’s your chance for free. Here’s the link: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

One last thing: Joining me on this freebie weekend are fellow authors from Crooked Cat Books and Darkstroke Books. We will be spreading the word via social media. Here’s your chance to discover a new author or more.

 

 

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Darkstroke Books, Isabel Long Mystery Series, Killing the Story

Ta-Da I’ve Reached the End

Yes, I am writing about Killing the Story, the fourth in the Isabel Long Mystery Series. I typed the last words on the last page this morning. Congratulations to me.

One would think I would be giddy about finishing. But I know full well I have editing ahead. I’ve printed all 302 pages and now I will get out my red markers, looking for weak lines, over-used words, and other pitfalls. I will read the manuscript aloud. (For one novel, I read it backwards, which made me focus on the writing and not the plot. I’ll see if I will do the same for Killing the Story.) Two author friends have volunteered to give it a read.

Of course, I will need to work with my publisher’s editor.

But I will admit I love the editing part of the creative process as well. It’s like taking up a daydream and making it better.

This book took longer than the other three. Normally, I can write a novel in six months. This one took almost a year. Chalk it up to having a full-time job as a newspaper’s editor-in-chief, which certainly means more than forty-hour workweeks. I got up insanely early to write before I left for the newsroom. Then, there were the weekends.

But enough about me.

What’s Killing the Story about? This case takes Isabel to Dillard, another small town that’s down on its luck since the railroad doesn’t stop there anymore. Instead of passengers, the trains haul freight to faraway places. It has a sad little downtown, with a corner bar, a greasy spoon of a diner, and low-end commerce in its storefronts. But it also has a weekly newspaper that covers that part of the world: The Observer.

As a former journalist, Isabel gets hooked on this case because of that newspaper. Estelle Crane, the former editor and co-owner, supposedly died when she slipped on ice and hit her head hard. But a note her son, Emerson Crane finds raises questions about Estelle’s death — and even her husband’s death two years earlier.

In the midst of her investigation, Isabel digs into small town secrets, including one involving a crooked cop who quickly becomes a suspect.

Of course, Isabel has her mother’s sage advice. And her relationship with Jack, owner of the Rooster Bar, makes a turn. Characters from the other books like the Old Farts, Annette Waters aka Tough Cookie, and the Beaumont brothers come along in this one. Of course, I’ve created new characters for this book.

I will certainly let you know when Killing the Story is ready to buy. Now, that will be exciting.

 

 

 

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The Sweet Spot, Western Massachusetts

Read The Sweet Spot for free

Before Isabel Long, there was Edie St. Claire, the lead character in my novel, The Sweet Spot. Edie doesn’t solve mysteries like Isabel. She’s not part of a series. But she gives readers a different take on the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts that I love to write about.

And for three days — April 24-26 — the Kindle version was free on Amazon.

Before I tell you more about The Sweet Spot, I’d like to thank those who got their copy during the free weekend promo. The book did very well: #1 in Women’s Literary Fiction, #2 in Contemporary Literary Fiction and #8 in Contemporary Women’s Fiction. Now if people had paid outright for the book and those were the rankings, I would be over the moon. But I do get paid for each page if people who have signed up for Kindle Unlimited start reading the book. We’ll see if it pays off as it did when Chasing the Case, the first in my mystery series.

But back to The Sweet Spot

Edie’s family has lived in the town of Conwell forever it seems. They’d what I call rough-sawn. Her father runs the town dump. Her aunt, who lives next door, has no brakes on her opinions or mouth. And Edie is usually in the middle of whatever fun there is in this town of about a thousand people — the Rooster Bar, the local softball team and her in-law’s general store. But still, she can’t let go of a deep sadness — the death of her husband in Vietnam. Gil was a sweetheart of a guy and together
they had a little girl he never met.

Edie tries to ease her pain via an affair with his married brother, but when that ends tragically, she attempts to survive the blame with the help of her family and a badly scarred stranger who arrived for his fresh start.

More about The Sweet Spot: The year is 1978. No cell phones or email or home computers. The Vietnam War ended officially three years earlier. The characters are locals, except for one important newcomer.

When I started writing this book years ago, I typed the first draft of The Sweet Spot with only one hand. It was summer 2004, and I was recuperating after getting hit by a car as I walked across the street. (The driver claimed he didn’t see me in the crosswalk.) The impact threw me into the air and broke my collarbone. It could have been much worse and I used that experience in the second book of the Isabel Long Mysteries Series when Isabel was banged up after a car crash.

I remember coming home and letting the words flow one after the other. I don’t know where they and this story came from, but there it was, 80,000 words later.

I also got quite good at typing with only my right hand.

Two agents tried to sell the book, and there it sat until I published it myself.

Those who have read the Isabel Long Mystery Series — thank you — will find a different tone in The Sweet Spot. Although Edie is a lively character, she’s not a smart-ass. She makes mistakes and pays dearly for them. But I sure love that woman’s determination.

Here’s the link to Amazon: The Sweet Spot

 

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COVID-19, Shelburne Falls

My Very Quiet Village

When Hank and I returned to New England, we wanted to live in the country but be able to walk to things. That’s what we got when we moved to Shelburne Falls in Western Mass. We live on the Buckland side and it’s a short walk, oh, less than a half-mile, to a coffee shop, restaurants, small shops, a candlepin bowling alley, and our son, Zack’s Floodwater Brewing. You get to know the people living here very easily. And then there is the bustle of visitors who want to take in the quaint village, and in season, our famous Bridge of Flowers, and the potholes on the Deerfield River.

Ah, but all of that is on hold while we get through this COVID-19 health crisis.

Hank and I walked down to the village Saturday. Businesses had signs on their doors explaining why they were closed. The governor issued an order last week that only allows restaurants to do takeout; bars were closed. The village’s two markets, McCusker’s (part of the Franklin Community Co-op) and Keystone (owned by a family) were open, as well as the liquor store. So was Mocha Maya’s coffee shop, for takeout only.

And then our clever son, Zack was set up at the door of his brewery. He had scored bottles that he filled with the beer he makes. People could place an order on their phones and he would have the bottles, the outside sanitized, ready for them to take. By the way, he was donating $2 from each bottle sold to a local education foundation.

Zack said his experiment turned out very well. (I believe sometime this week his order of growlers should be in.) We were there when a woman said she was driving by and saw his setup and had to stop. She place her order standing on the sidewalk. Another man pulled in as we were leaving. While these sales can’t make up for a bustling, music-filled weekend at the brewery, I admire our son’s ingenuity.

Sunday I stuck to home. It was just too cold to venture into the woods, my hope that morning. So, I got back into my new book. I now know whodunnit and it’s up to Isabel to find out. But first I have to put her in some danger.

Today I am back in the newsroom. We are an essential business, providing news, which we are even making available for free on our website: https://www.recorder.com/

We are quite isolated there, as no one has been allowed in the building for a week now. It’s just a small crew; the rest are working from home. That is an option for all of us, but for now this works.

FREE WEEKEND: Thanks to all who got a free copy of Chasing the Case this past weekend. It was a hugely successful experiment. Not only were people getting a free copy, they were buying the two other books in the series … and a book I self-published.

 

 

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free, Isabel Long Mystery Series

Free for the Taking

Well, you’ve got to start somewhere, and that includes writing a series although frankly, it was not my original intention. One day I decided to write a mystery, fell so in love with the characters, the plot twists, the setting etc. I couldn’t let them go, and now I am closing in on the end of book number four in the Isabel Long Mystery Series.

So my gift to Kindle readers: you can have the first book, Chasing the Case, for free. Plain and simple, I want you to get hooked on my series. Here’s your chance, but only for three days: March 20-22, so hurry.

I have had wonderful support from family, friends, acquaintances, who have bought my books. I express my deep appreciation to them, so I am reaching out to more recent acquaintances, many of whom are authors themselves. And if you don’t mind, let your mystery-loving friends know as well.

So what is Chasing the Case about?

Isabel Long has just come off a bad year. Her husband, Sam, died and she lost her job running a newspaper when it went corporate. So she decides to put those transferable skills to good use as a private investigator solving cold cases in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts where she lives. Besides, she has a perfect “Watson,” her 92-year-old mystery-loving mother who’s come to live with her.

Isabel’s first case was also her first big story as a rookie reporter: the disappearance of a woman 28 years earlier in her small town of a thousand people.

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

That’s the bare bones to that story. When I decided to attempt a mystery, I wanted my protagonist to be a woman. She wasn’t going to be a sweet, young thing. She was going to be a woman with some good miles on her — what the French call une femme d’un certain age. Isabel has three grown kids and a granddaughter. She’s also a recent widow. As for looks, she’s attractive enough to gain the attention of older men.

And Isabel had a long career as a journalist — starting as a reporter covering the dinky hilltown where she lives to being the managing editor of a newspaper. When the new owner said everybody had to reapply for their job. Isabel said, “To hell with that.”

Yeah, Isabel is a bit on the sassy side. She doesn’t take crap from anybody. She’s also savvy, which made her a good journalist. Now, it will come in handy as a private investigator.

Isabel’s also ready to reinvent herself — as a private investigator and as a single woman. The second part means after a year of properly grieving her late husband whom she loved, she’s ready for relationship with another man — and she finds it. Her relationship with Jack, owner of the Rooster Bar, is complicated. But I’m not going to spoil what happens for readers.

So, how much of me is in Isabel? I’d like to say the sassy and savvy part, especially since I wrote these books in first person. I, too, was a journalist who started in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts, where I’ve lived twice. But unlike Isabel, I didn’t become a P.I. Instead I write about one, and that’s fine with me.

Here’s the link to Chasing the Case: Chasing the Case on Amazon

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