Isabel Long Mystery Series

Now for Following the Lead

Today’s the day, Nov. 3, for Following the Lead — the next book in my Isabel Long Mystery Series. Readers who have been following Isabel for five cases can now join her for the sixth.

I decided to throw Isabel into a really challenging case this time. After all, it’s been almost a year since she started her first in Chasing the Case. That’s when she decided to find out what happened to a woman who disappeared 28 years ago. Both women lived in the same town and the disappearance was Isabel’s first big story as a rookie reporter. Since then she’s investigated the deaths of a junkyard owner, a poetry-writing highway worker, the owner of a small town newspaper, and the beloved grandson of a poor, distraught woman.  

But this case is different. It involves a baby who was abducted 50 years ago and never found. Lin Pierce, Isabel’s former boss, was just a boy when that happened as his mother was giving a music lesson in their home. He believes he might have met his sister. The woman did look a lot like his mother and shared a distinctive family feature — different colored eyes.

Now, Isabel isn’t going to let something like 50 years stop her from taking this case. Besides, she has her mother Maria, who is 93, to help her. 

Of course, I make sure Isabel encounters danger actually from two sources. But I will let you read about that. Does she find Lin’s sister? Mum’s the word.

When I wrote Chasing the Case, I didn’t anticipate I would create a series. But I got easily hooked by the mystery genre. And frankly, the positive feedback I’ve received has been so encouraging — so thank you readers. I love reading a good series. I like even better creating one. This is the second book in the series released this year. And, yes, I’ve begun the next. You’ll be hearing more about it in the future.

Also a series enables me to hold onto my characters, good and bad, who are very real to me. I used to be a big day dreamer. Now I put those skills to use writing.

In writing this series, I was mindful that I wanted each to stand on its own in case it was the first book a reader picked up. So, I don’t do much rehashing from the previous books although I do include hints and coded references. I try to develop each character and their description as if this was on the only book I wrote.

The same goes for those readers who have been following the series. I want these readers to feel like insiders.

I hope you will enjoy reading Following the Lead as much as I did writing it. 

LINK: Following the Lead is now available on Kindle. Soon it will be in paperback. Here’s the link to Amazon: https://mybook.to/followingthelead

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Chasing the Case, Isabel Long Mystery Series

Batting a Thousand

Technically, it means a ballplayer gets a hit every time they’ve been up to bat in a game. But for me as an author, it has a whole different connotation because Chasing the Case, the first in my Isabel Long Mystery Series, broke a thousand reviews Friday on Amazon. As I write this, sixteen more came in.

First, thank you to those who chose to read my book and made the effort to tell people what they thought of it. These days, many people do ratings while others give a bit of feedback. Both are welcome. The general outlook is 4½ stars, which makes me smile.

I will admit I am not obsessive about reading reviews, especially since you will get a couple of stinkers like the person who gave a one star for another book and wrote he/she doesn’t do reviews. One person complained it was obvious I wasn’t into religion because my main character isn’t and couldn’t finish the book. I am aware not everybody is going to love or even like what I write. And being a journalist for 35 years gave me the hide of a rhino when it comes to criticism.

What did captivate me was watching the reviews grow. I recall being excited when Chasing the Case broke a hundred, then two hundred. A successful promo in January with BookBub got it downloaded by 31,000 readers. It was no. 1 for free books in the U.S., U.K. and Canada. That promo threw the proverbial gasoline on the fire. (Thanks BookBub.)

Yes, the book was free but my publisher and I get royalties for pages read if the reader subscribes to Kindle Unlimited. Of course, those who aren’t subscribers got the book outright. That’s to be expected.

Here’s a sampling of the most recent reviews, all except two, which I note, gave five stars. By the way, Amazon requires reviews to come from a verified purchase.

A solid whodunnit — enjoyable read.

The author has created believable characters and a relatable community. She builds the story patiently and discloses just enough information to keep you guessing without being totally blindsided by the ending. I will be checking out more of her work!

A great read

I really enjoyed this book. I loved all the characters . They felt so real. The mystery was excellent. Very well written, even a touch sad.

Good Mystery

The author dumps the reader in the middle of Isabel’s life and it’s hard to get away from her. Isabel is a great character. Her mother is also. I liked the way Livingston plotted Isabel’s investigation and let the story lead the action. The Old Farts are a particular enjoyable part of the book. Good mystery. (This one gave four stars.)

Small Town Secrets

I loved the small town feel, the closeness and protective nature of the residents. The Old Farts are perfectly adorable. I’m glad Isabel has her mother for company and I’m happy Jack came back.

A decent read but a long way to get there  

There were so many space-filling dead ends and smoke screens plus descriptions about the town(s) and just stuff, that this could have been told in half the time. It needs more honest insights and ‘distractors’ to be a better-than-average read. (This one gave three stars.)

My hope is that if readers like the first book, they will want to buy the next four in my Isabel Long Mystery Series, actually five since I am two-thirds of the way writing number six. I typically aim for 500 words a day, a manageable and enjoyable pace. But on Friday, I surprised myself and wrote a thousand. Yes, it was a good day.

PHOTO ABOVE: On my daily walk Monday, I came across this flowering bush, so fragrant I kept inhaling its blossoms. I returned yesterday just to smell it again.

MY BOOKS: Interested in reading my series? Here’s the link to all of them on Amazon: Joan Livingston books

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Darkstroke Books, Isabel Long Mystery Series, Killing the Story

Killing the Story: Ready for Pre-Order

Today’s a big day for this author. My latest novel, Killing the Story, number four in the Isabel Long Mystery Series, is available for pre-order for Kindle readers.

The official release date is Aug. 26. Yeah, yeah, that’s a ways off. But you can order the Kindle version of book now and forget about it until that day arrives when it will mysteriously appear in your device. Or if you can buy the hard copy, when it’s ready soon, and it will be making its way in the mail on that date.

The last several days have been busy for Laurence Patterson, of Darkstroke Books, and I. We worked hard to to find just the right image for the cover. It was important that the fourth match the other three in its theme, color and composition. There were other design parameters. But in the end I found the right image and then Laurence worked his magic.

What else? I came up with a new bio, dedication, acknowledgment, and the all-important blurb for the back cover. Here it is:

An accidental death that was no accident…

For the record, Estelle Crane, the gutsy editor of The Observer newspaper, died after a hard fall on ice. But years later, her son discovers a cryptic note hinting her death might not have been an accident after all.

Was Estelle pursuing a big story that put her life in danger?

That’s what Isabel Long — along with her 93-year-old mother, Maria, her ‘Watson’ — agrees to investigate in Dillard, a town whose best days are in the past.

A former journalist, Isabel follows leads and interviews sources, new and familiar. She quickly finds a formidable threat in Police Chief James Hawthorne, who makes it clear Isabel is not welcome in his town — and who warns her against poking her nose into Estelle’s death.

Of course, that’s after Isabel has discovered the chief’s questionable policing and a troubled history with Estelle that goes way back.

Killing the story means dropping it because there aren’t enough facts to back it up. But Isabel won’t make that mistake. She’ll see this one through to the very end.

Can she uncover the plot that led to Estelle’s murder?

Killing the Story is the fourth in the popular Isabel Long Mystery Series.

Of course there is more work to be done like edits. I am collecting endorsements from fellow authors. And I am planning on how to celebrate and promote release day. For something new, I may do a Google Hangout or a Zoom session. Would you be interested in participating?

So here’s the link to place your pre-order: Killing the Story on Amazon

And thank you if you do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Book Sale, Crooked Cat Books, Kindle

Such a Deal: 99 Cents for a Really Good Book

Who loves a bargain? I sure as heck do, especially when it comes to books. Readers who use Kindle have three days — July 24-26 — to buy themselves some great books from Crooked Cat Books’ authors for 99 cents. What could you buy these days for that amount of money?

Crooked Cat Books is my publisher. So, yes, you can buy my first mystery, Chasing the Case for 99 cents. And just in time because the second in the Isabel Long Mystery Series, Redneck’s Revenge, will be out very soon. Chasing the Case cover copyHere’s the link: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

But I’m not going to be selfish about this promotion because Crooked Cat has gathered together a pride of great authors writing in several genres: mystery in all of its ramifications; romance; historical; fantasy; and non-fiction.

It’s an easy way to load up your Kindle without breaking the bank and to try out new authors.

When I first signed on with Crooked Cat Books in November, I used its winter sale to stock up on books and to get a feel for what my fellow authors write. By the way, they are an international group, including the UK, other parts of Europe, Australia, Canada, and the U.S.

That’s how I got to know: Katharine Johnson, the author of three books including her latest The Secret; Lorcan Kavanagh, who wrote the dark thriller, Texas Dakota; and Nancy Jardine’s mystery Topaz Eyes. Then there was Olga Swan’s memoir Pensioners in Paradis, and Sue Barnard’s intriguing Never on Saturday. Others include Alice Castle’s London Murder Mysteries, Anne-Marie Ormsby’s dark fantasy Purgatory Hotel and Isabella May’s Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar.

I found I was in very good company.

Let me make some other recommendations.IMG_5824

History buff? Try John Jackson’s Heart of Stoneand with a ghostly twist, Jennifer C. Wilson’s Kindred Spirits Series, and Kate Braitwaite’s The Road to Newgate. Romance your thing? Lizzie Chantree, Sue Roebuck, Carre-Anne Schless, Jess B. Moore, Miriam Drori, Awen Thornber, and Kate Armitage have books for you.

For fantasy, check out Heidi Catherine’s Soulweaver Series. An Australian author, she explores the concept that we fall in love with the same people life after life. Yup, she makes me believe in love everlasting.

Crooked Cat has a strong collection of thriller fiction including those written by J.V. Baptie, Maisie Porter, Alex Macbeth, Daralyse Lyons, Seamus Heffernan, Columbkill Noonan, and C.J. Sutton. Also look for Val Penny’s Hunter’s Chase, the first in the Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. Then there are Angela Wren’s books set in France.

I could go on and on, but this gives you an idea of the variety available.

So this is how you do it. Starting Tuesday, June 24, go to Amazon’s book session and plug in Crooked Cat Books to search. You might get a few books that have cat in the title but don’t be fooled. The right books will cost 99 cents in the U.S. or 99 p if you are in the UK.

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