Tag Archives: crime fiction

Book Award Season

I hope everyone enjoyed a fabulous holiday season. 2011 is upon us, which means it’s time to get ready to submit books and short stories for award consideration.

My novels are released by Second Wind Publishing, therefore my latest title, SNARE, qualifies for the Independent Publishers Book Awards (IPPY), and the Glyph Awards, sponsored by the Arizona Book Publishing Association. I plan to submit SNARE to the Suspense/Thriller and Multi-Cultural categories.

As for short stories, I submitted “Loose End” which appeared in the Sisters in Crime Chapter Desert Sleuths mystery anthology How NOT to Survive a Vacation for consideration to the Derringer Award.

The award possibility I’m most excited about takes place during the upcoming Left Coast Crime Conference (LCC) which will be held March 24-27 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is one of the most prestigious fan/writer conventions. I networked and mingled with readers from around the globe and some of the finest crime novelists in the publishing world at last year’s conference.

One of the locations of my latest thriller is set in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina. The female lead is Native American and the other location takes place on New Mexico’s Taos Pueblo Indian reservation, therefore SNARE qualifies for The Hillerman Sky Award.

Since this pop/rock music-based thriller was only officially released 12.21.10 I’ve been doing all I can to spread the word about book two of the Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela series. I unveiled the visual of the cover on the Second Wind Publishing blog titled: “Snare – Uncovered” and have received a fantastic response to the cover.

Writers and readers I’ve met since the release of book one of the series, STACCATO, have been very generous with their thumbs up based upon the first pages of SNARE. You can download this sneak peek from my website before the printed version of the book becomes available.

If you plan to attend LCC 2011, I hope you find SNARE to be worthy of a nomination to The Hillerman Sky Award.

Another Second Wind author, Eric Beetner, will be at LCC Santa Fe as well. He and J.B. Kohl co-wrote the fantastic 1940s noir novel Borrowed Trouble, worthy of the Bruce Alexander Award. I hope you will also consider this book for nomination.

Am I missing any other awards you’d like to share information about?

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel STACCATO, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon and Kindle. If you’re in the Arizona area, STACCATO can be found at Borders Scottsdale Waterfront, The Well Red Coyote, and Changing Hands Bookstore.

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RUBICON RANCH – The Suspects are Growing

Summer is over. Fall is upon us. Time for a new project. The second chapter of Rubicon Ranch is now available and I couldn’t be more pleased. I’m thrilled to be one of the writers involved in this collaborative novel. This innovative concept of presenting chapters online, followed by a printed version of the book may very well become a standard, but Pat Bertram thought of it first and Second Wind Publishing is enthusiastically supporting nine of their crime writer novelists in this project.

The first chapter, by Pat Bertram, features Melanie Gray, the recent widow who discovers the body of a little girl stuffed into the console of an ancient television set. Chapter two follows the path of the county sheriff as he begins his investigation. Lazarus Barnhill presents a compelling character who begins to expose the seven suspects living in the upscale California desert community of Rubicon Ranch.

Chapter eight is when you will meet my character, Eloy Templeton Franklin, an 82-year-old ex-military man who acts as sentry of the neighborhood. Riddled with arthritis, all but feeble, he is an outsider who rarely leaves his porch . . . or does he?

Eloy has been a much welcomed break as I toil through the galley of my upcoming thriller in search of dropped words, misplaced commas, inconsistencies, killing passives, all the while doing my best to approach this arduous task as if it is the first time reading this manuscript when it’s got to be the fiftieth.

SNARE is Book Two of my Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series which is scheduled for release in December. Chantelle Aimée Osman has come up with a striking cover guaranteed to entice every suspense lover. Look for “SNARE Uncovered” on this blog December 5th to get a peek at this extraordinary cover and to find out more about the upcoming release.

In the meantime, stay tuned to the Rubicon Road site where a new chapter will be presented every Monday.

 Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel STACCATO, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon and Kindle. If you’re in the Arizona area, STACCATO can be found at Borders Scottsdale Waterfront, The Well Red Coyote, and Changing Hands Bookstore.

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Sisters in Crime, Indeed

Thought I’d take the opportunity to inform all of you about a project other than my Deputy Steven Hawk/Inola Walela thriller novel series for Second Wind Publishing.

Last year, the Desert Sleuths (Arizona) Chapter of Sisters in Crime published the mystery anthology How NOT to Survive the Holidays. My short story “A Christmas Tail” appears there—my only slightly humorous story written to date. HNTSAH has received a great reception, quite a few glowing reviews and will soon go to its fourth print run.

Many of you know how prestigious Sisters in Crime is, yet for those who don’t, SinC is an International writers organization and the Desert Sleuths (DS) is one of 48 chapters. Nearly every acclaimed female, and quite a few male, mystery authors are members. Much like a sisterhood, the Desert Sleuths have been extremely supportive and provided me with opportunities to present STACCATO in ways I could only have crossed my fingers and hoped for.

Although confident I’d be able to come up with an acceptable story for their upcoming anthology, I didn’t know at the time the Desert Sleuths had another mission in mind for me to undertake. When talented writer and lead editor, Chantelle Osman, asked me to be one of the co-editors of How NOT to Survive a Vacation, I immediately said “NO!” . . . on the inside. Don’t get me wrong, I was honored to have been considered, let alone asked to help select and work personally with the writers. Yet I was apprehensive that this task would mean a lot of effort and that I would need to not only curtail my professional editing assignments, but also put my writing projects aside.

The yearning to be involved with what I knew would surely be clever stories, written by gifted members of the Arizona Chapter, overtook my fear of failure and in January I found myself at the first meeting with the other three editors, ready and willing to do everything I possibly could to help make the anthology truly shine.

Desert Sleuths released How NOT to Survive a Vacation at their annual conference last month. This anthology features exceptional authors. I’m thrilled that my story “Loose End” can be found there as well. And due to the caliber of writing and our confidence in the collection, novelists on the cusp of rocketing to fame: Sophie Littlefield, Rebecca Cantrell, Kelli Stanley, Juliet Blackwell and Simon Wood, provided spectacular back cover blurbs.

Chantelle and I proved to be an excellent team and now I actually miss the seemingly endless hours, weeks, months we spent accomplishing everything we possibly could to make the writers, Sisters in Crime National, and especially the members of Desert Sleuths proud.

It’s too early to gauge yet, however with Ms. Osman’s clever, eye-catching cover design, the 18 fabulous stories featured inside, and the enthusiasm of each and every Desert Sleuths member, How NOT to Survive a Vacation is certain to receive a warm reception by reviewers and readers alike.

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel STACCATO, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon and Kindle. If you’re in the Arizona area, STACCATO can be found at Borders Scottsdale Waterfront, The Well Red Coyote and Changing Hands Bookstore .

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Authors You Admire

There are only five authors I follow without question: Pat Conroy, Michael Cunningham, John Irving, Kate Atkinson and Lisa Gardner. Unfortunately the wait was 14 years between Conroy’s Beach Music and South of Broad. Four years between Irving books. Cunningham’s By Nightfall: A Novel comes out next month after a 3 year absence of his words.

Thankfully Gardner and Atkinson come out with a book per year. Count on crime writers and their avid fans who demand a religious release date. Gardner is the first woman to receive the Best Novel award from the International Thriller Writers Association for The Neighbor. Her latest, Live to Tell, is one of her best. The second chapter will absolutely blow you away. 

Atkinson is a British author, but don’t let that turn you off.  Her tight literary prose are handled masterfully and always feature quirky and vulnerable yet strong characters are ones readers empathize with. Started Early, Took My Dog will be released in March.

I can now add two new authors to my must read list. Rebecca Cantrell’s historical mystery A Trace of Smoke continues to be one of my favorite books of the year. I’ve been reading the second book of her Hannah Vogel series, A Night of Long Knives, and this one is every bit as good as her debut.

The other author I highly recommend is Sophie Littlefield. A Bad Day for Sorry is fresh, full of memorable characters and a theme that screams to be on the big screen. Her second, A Bad Day for Pretty, is a fun, fast-paced read as well.

I have had the honor of getting to know these two talents recently and both have provided blurbs to the upcoming Sisters in Crime Chapter Desert Sleuths anthology, How NOT to Survive a Vacation, I had the pleasure of co-editing.

So which authors to you follow? Which do you recommend and are there any you’ve lost faith in?

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel STACCATO, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, Kindle, and independent bookstores.

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Left Coast Crime Conference Experience

Earlier this month I joined nearly 500 published authors, as-of-yet unpublished writers and readers for the Left Coast Crime conference. This year the conference was held in downtown Los Angeles, California. The Omni hotel was great and we pretty much had the facility to ourselves where we all but took over the entire second floor.

I had the opportunity to feature my debut thriller STACCATO in The Mystery Bookstore set up for the conference, as well as at the Rue Morgue table. Exposure was excellent for the debut authors where we took the spotlight during one morning’s breakfast to present our titles to all those in attendance.

Kris Neri, author of the recently released Revenge for Old Times’ Sake, and High Crimes on the Magical Plane (nominated for The Lefty Award at the conference) was kind enough to introduce me to a slew of published authors.

I met Eric Beetner, co-author with K.B. Khol of One Too Many Blows to the Head, also released by Second Wind Publishing. Eric did an excellent job on his two panels, one about noir fiction, the other featuring newly published authors.

Biggest honor was appearing on the panel “The Art of the Short Story” with venerable award-winning authors Gar Anthony Haywood and Toni L.P. Kelner who co-edits anthologies with Charlaine Harris (famous for her Sookie Stackhouse True Blood series).

I’m currently reading Gar’s literary crime fiction novel Cemetery Road and must say, this is an incredible novel. One word description: Magic.

I hope and intend to keep in touch with the authors I had the pleasure and honor to meet. I look forward to seeing my new “friends” at the Bouchercon conference in April.

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel STACCATO, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, Kindle, and independent bookstores.

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Prologue–Yes or No?

I’ve begun to tweak and polish the next book of my Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series and have come up with a bit of a stumbling block. ICE ON FIRE begins with a Prologue, followed by Chapter 1 which takes place 15 years later.

Many say not to begin with a Prologue—readers skim them, but I’ve never had an objection and do not skip a single word of how a book starts out (as long as the read is compelling, of course).

It is somewhat essential to preface the opening pages of ICE ON FIRE as a Prologue due to the passage of time . . . however maybe I’m wrong. What do you think? Do you have an objection to a novel starting out as a Prologue? 

I’m sure many writers and readers would be interested in whatever advice you care to offer.

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel Staccato, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, Kindle, and independent book stores.

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A Little Advice – by Deborah J Ledford

I’m getting ready to submit my next thriller novel to my publisher Second Wind Publishing and find myself in a bit of a quandary. In the first book of my Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series, Staccato, Hawk is the deputy of a sleepy county in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. ICE ON FIRE is the title of the next book and as the novel is now written, Hawk is the Sheriff. My agent wanted me to essentially promote Hawk to a higher level, but I’m thinking perhaps I should wait to elevate his position until the final book in the series: REDEMPTION.

Since I already have a publisher I am honored to be aligned with, I no longer have the need for an agent and I can do whatever I want with my words. But of course I wish what is best for the novel and certainly don’t want to risk what I already have written any harm. Changes can be dicey—there’s always the fear of missing something (even if merely a name change). And although the manuscript will be re-read and revised until my mind is numb, there’s a chance that some elements may be overlooked.

What do you think? And have you ever been faced with a similar situation?

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel Staccato, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, Kindle and independent book stores.

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Staccato: Script vs Novel – by Deborah J Ledford

As I mentioned in a previous article to the series Staccato: Inception, the novel actually began as a screenplay. Staccato was the third script I wrote back in the ‘90s. After the visual of the hands hovering over a piano keyboard, clasped in handcuffs captured my attention (a rendition of what is now the cover of the book), I knew I had the basis for a great sub-plot. Motion picture scripts are ideal for my way of writing—captivating visuals, intriguing characters and most of all, dialogue, dialogue, dialogue.

Those of you versed in screenplays know that you cannot go into too much detail, especially how the characters react to situations because this is the actors job, and even the mention of “ticks” or body language is not to be implemented within the pages of the script. Your job as the screenwriter is to merely provide the locations, vaguely set up the characters, and give them lines of dialogue to propel the action.

Novels are another beast and the major reason I switched to writing novels. Composing full-length prose allow you the freedom to create the characters and scenes as they come to you. It is important to completely flesh out locations, especially setting the scene at the top for the reader so they can put themselves there. The way you the writer indicates body language is also acceptable and necessary to make the characters come to life.

Hidden clues are also much easier to show. For example, the mere foreshadow of a clothes hamper which will later contain a bloody shirt can prove to be a captivating visual. Images are more lasting and hard-hitting when used with finesse as well. If you thoroughly give the reader mouth-dropping images, they will remember your book, and look forward to your next.

Most of all, it is a must for the novelist to convey realistic, lasting characters. Characters the reader can connect to, those with heroic capabilities, as well as human flaws, rife with ticks, fears and foibles. The screenwriter must rely on performers, directors and editors to convey these elements.

The novelist has more “power,” if you will, to present the complete picture that comes to them, an ideal representation of their original concept.

I plan to re-write the original screenplay for my second novel in the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series, Ice on Fire, but not before this manuscript is available in printed format—the fleshed-out, full blown, complete version of the “Movie in my mind.”

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel Staccato, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, Kindle, and independent book stores.

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With Gratitude – by Deborah J Ledford

I’ve been thinking for days what I should present for this book launch blog promoting my debut thriller Staccato, and my thoughts kept returning to how grateful I am, not only to have this novel in print, but to all of those tireless and committed souls who made this book release a possibility.

Staccato is being featured on the Second Wind Publishing blog along with three other equally intriguing novels. I am thrilled to be in the company of Mickey Hoffman and Amy DeTremp for their first novels from Second Wind, and the very talented writer Christine Husom for her second book. I know they share my excitement in being members of this unique and cutting edge publishing company.

Because the entire Second Wind team is first-rate I shouldn’t play favorites, however Pat Bertram is as instrumental in seeing Staccato to fruition as anyone else involved in the process. Pat is not only a gifted novelist, she is a tireless promoter of Second Wind authors, often putting herself in the backseat when it comes to touting her own exquisitely crafted novels. I wish her the best with the upcoming release of Daughter Am I.

Lazarus Barnhill, novelist extraordinaire, is also an influential force in my decision to see Staccato through to publication. Laz, Pat and I made it to the semi-final round of the TruTV (formerly CourtTV) Crime Writer Contest sponsored by Gather.com in 2007. I am grateful that none of us actually won this contest because now we all reside in the same Second Wind Publishing home.

Second Wind executive assistants Tracy Beltran and Stacy Findley really pulled out the stops as well. From providing and submitting formatted proofs, configuring a killer back cover, to making sure my author and book pages on the Website were exactly as I wished. I could not be more happy with what you ladies have accomplished in order to make Staccato as professional and aesthetically pleasing as I could ever have envisioned.

My gratitude would not be complete without the heartfelt thanks to Second Wind publisher, Mike Simpson. Mike expressed confidence in Staccato when all others had turned their backs. This kind and generous gentleman is a dream maker who put me at ease so many times with his assurances that we would make the September 15th release date. Somehow he pulled off this monumental and sometimes daunting effort. Kudos to you, Mike, Staccato is every bit yours as it is mine.

For those of you who visit this exceptional blog often, I thank you as well. We all look forward to your comments and appreciate your support of Second Wind Publishing.

 

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel Staccato, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, Kindle and independent book stores.

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Staccato: Novel Tie-In – by Deborah J Ledford

Continuing with how my upcoming suspense thriller Staccato came to be, I thought I would discuss how important the music element was to the overall aspect of the novel.

Countless hours were spent selecting the piano pieces featured in Staccato. It was my full intent to implement the ideal classical musical compositions that would convey the mood of each scene where music was indicated. The highly-charged scenes were ideal for crashing concertos, whereas the scenes of reflection feature soothing sonatas. Each and every piece was selected to emphasize the mood, setting and characters’ feelings as this psychological suspense thriller progresses.

In writing the novel, the music became a motivating factor as well as a subplot—as if composing a complicated piece of music…with words.

 Because of this, I’ve considered adding a CD tie-in to the novel which features the classical music I have showcased so that readers have the full impression of what I have presented to them.

Would this be an endeavor worth pursuing? I would be very interested to know what you think about this idea.

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel Staccato, scheduled for release by Second Wind Publishing, September 15, 2009.

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