Tag Archives: Sisters in Crime

Sisters in Crime Speaker Bureau by Christine Husom

I’ve been a member of the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime for a few years and reaped many of its benefits. Last year at the Midwest Library Association, we helped host a Killer Cocktail event which I wrote about in a blog about a year ago. One of the things we offered was a drawing to “win” a mystery panel of authors. Three libraries were lucky winners.

I signed up to be on the Sisters in Crime Speaker Bureau Panel, and traveled to the quaint little town of Grand Marais on the North Shore of Lake Superior last month for an event at their newly remodeled library. It’s a five hour drive–one way–but my life has been so busy, I decided to drive up and back the same day, with only a few hours to spend in the fine city. A shame, really because  I love Grand Marais–eating Chicken and Wild Rice Pizza at Sven and Ole’s, browsing through the shops, shopping at the Trading Post, sitting by lake, hiking the trails, having coffee and sweets with the breeze blowing off Lake Superior.

But those activities were from other visits over the years. Instead of sight-seeing, our panel was able to spend a couple of hours with the people of Grand Marais, which was a great experience. They were gracious and grateful that a panel of seven mystery authors traveled to their hometown to share the joys, frustrations, highs, and lows of the writing life. I truly appreciated the questions our moderator Dan Bernier, and the members of the audience, asked and answers the other authors had in response. I always learn so much from forums.

So thank you moderator Dan, authors Jenifer LeClair, Mickie Turk, Pam Leonard, Wendy Webb, and Jessie Chandler for your insightful, honest answers. And to the library staff for your hospitality and treats, the bookstore for selling our books and Grand Marais residents for making us feel right at home. I’m a sucker for Minnesota Nice.

I’m excited that I’ve been selected to be on the panel, “You Have the Right to Remain Silent” moderated by Jim Doherty at Bouchercon in Cleveland next month. I’m really looking forward to sharing the table with some fine mystery writers. Are any of you going to the conference? And have any of you been part of a Speaker Panel?

Christine Husom is the author of Murder in Winnebago County, Buried in Wolf Lake, An Altar by the River, and The Noding Field Mystery.

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Summer Writing Conferences – by Deborah J Ledford

Okay, six full months have passed in this new year…have you kept your promise to focus and finish that manuscript you’ve been working on for far too long? If you need a little nudge, here are a few conferences certain to motivate.

The Book Passage Mystery Conference is a highly respected, small and intense conference July 19-22, 2012 – Corte Madera, CA. Two of my favorite authors will be featured during this four-day event: Cara Black, author of the Paris-based Aimee Leduc mystery series, and my all time favorite female thriller author, Karin Slaughter.  Also stoked that my critique group colleague, Arthur Kerns, will be appearing on the Law Enforcement panel where he’ll discuss his time as an FBI Special Agent and a CIA agent.

The Taos Summer Writer’s Conference, July 15-22, 2012 looks to be an intriguing conference. Touted as one of the top 10 writer’s conferences in the US by USA Today, is held in stunning northern New   Mexico. Taos is one of my favorite areas in the nation, which is why I selected the Taos Pueblo Indian Reservation for one of the main locations of my latest thriller, SNARE, book two of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. If anyone out there has attended this conference, please leave us a comment about your experience.

As current President of the Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter, I would be remiss not to mention our annual mystery writers conference, “Criminal Minds: Investigating Today’s Writing Scene” August 11, 2012 at the Millennium Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. We have a fantastic lineup this year, including licensed psychotherapist and author Dennis Palumbo, publicity guru Dana Kaye, multi-award-winning author Sean Chercover, and an FBI Special Agent. In addition, acquisitions editor for the East Coast-based Five Star Publishing (an imprint of the internationally renowned Gale Publishing), Denise Dietz, will be accepting 15-minute pitches.

I’m most excited about learning more about marketing and PR from Dana Kaye, owner of Kaye Publicity. She has created innovative media campaigns for award-winning, bestselling authors such as Jaime Freveletti, Jesse Kellerman and one of my all-time favorite thriller authors, Gregg Hurwitz—methods that have proven successful.

I’d love to see you if you’ll be in the Phoenix, AZ area in August. Please visit the Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter website for complete conference and registration details.

Wishing you a fantastic summer of writing!

Deborah J Ledford’s latest suspense novel SNARE, The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, is book two of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. STACCATO, book one of the serial, is also available. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. To find out more about Deborah, receive a Free Download of the first chapters of her novels, and to read a few previously published short stories, she invites you to visit her homepage at the Second Wind Publishing website and her personal website.

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Sometimes Publicity Just Happens by Coco Ihle

My first mystery novel, SHE HAD TO KNOW, was published last April. Authors are told we have to start publicity for our books well in advance of the publication date. That includes setting up a website, blog (either our own or lining up guest spots and making comments on other blogs), starting a Facebook page, and maybe a Twitter account. We are encouraged to attend conferences and conventions that will be beneficial in networking and sales. Library talks and civic organizational events are also helpful in our quest to become known. Sometimes businesses that connect with our books can be tools for promotion. The more creative we become in getting our names out there, the more chances we have for future sales.

I was an avid reader long before I became a writer, so I had already made many connections by being a fan. For ten years before my novel came out, I attended various mystery conventions and made quite a few author friends who generously offered suggestions and encouragement.

My first mystery writers’ group in Alabama was active in Sisters in Crime. The SinC meetings we had were smaller than the normal big conventions, thus I was able to meet authors in a more intimate setting, which gave me more time to ask them, one on one, about their work and experiences. I can’t say enough about the benefits of smaller writer events for beginners, especially. They help us gain confidence as we learn that authors, famous and not so famous, all go through the same trials and tribulations with which we are struggling. We soon discover that getting published doesn’t just happen magically, but by having a good support system, a willingness to work diligently, persistence in taking all the steps necessary,we do have a chance.

Getting recognition once your book is out can be another challenge. My book is not  considered a mainstream mystery, meaning it doesn’t quite fit into some of the genre subtitles like, cozy or thriller. It is a traditional mystery and has been described as a book with a Gothic feel. That classification has been good, because it’s descriptive, but it also has been somewhat at odds with the kind of material that is usually reviewed. Word-of-mouth has been my greatest aid in getting results for sales for both the trade paperback and e-book, so far. That word-of-mouth has come from readers who liked my book, through the DorothyL Digest, Facebook contacts, my publisher’s blog, my agent’s blog and other bloggers. But trying to get reviews (other than two wonderful blurbs on the back of my book from Vicki Lane and Lillian Stewart Carl), has proved to be elusive.

With that said, imagine my surprise when I got an e-mail from Rosa St. Claire, book reviewer for the Miami Examiner requesting an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) of my book. I can’t remember exactly where she found me, but she was fascinated about my life’s story and wanted to read my writing. I sent my book to her along with some other information she requested. To be truthful, I was so busy, I kind of forgot about it. Then on January 1, 2012, Ms. St. Claire sent me a message to check out my Facebook page. There, in all its glory, was her article about her favorite twelve fiction books of 2011 and a list of nine special recommendations. Some of my favorite authors were on that top 12 list. Reading on, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw my book listed in the special recommendations. After all, I’m a first-time novelist. Here I was sitting among such greats as Sue Grafton, Tess Gerritsen, Mary Higgins Clark, Carol Higgins Clark, Michael Connelly and Kaye George. (Now I want to read the other authors on these lists, whose work I’m not familiar.) What a thrill it was! Especially, since I was dealing with the sadness of the deaths of three friends and my thirteen-year-old kitty, right after Christmas. How I needed something cheerful. It really helped.

If you would like to see Ms. St. Claire’s list, you may go to:

http://www.examiner.com/books-in-miami/top-12-books-of-2011

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Cloud Publishing – Another Opportunity by Deborah J Ledford

Yet another publishing opportunity is gaining popularity for writers and readers. Shaw’s iPulp.com is a perfect example of the next generation in providing published material. Essentially Cloud Publishing is the movement of data without cluttering your own PC, laptop or reading device.

iPulp’s version of Cloud Publishing allows you to purchase a story or book, then read the text on your device of choice: Windows 7,Vista, XP, MacOS, your iPhone, iPad, iTouch, Android smart phones and tables, Blackberry and Nokia smart phones.

The material is housed literally in a cloud, available for you to access at any time, from anywhere you have wireless access. You merely sign in to your account, then select from your shelf the item you wish to read.

At iPulp, customers purchase “tokens” in twenty-five cent increments. Prices vary depending only upon on length of the story. Many are in the seventy-five cent price point.

One of my stories is featured on iPulp now. “Loose End” was originally published in the Desert Sleuths Chapter Sisters in Crime Anthology How NOT to Survive a Vacation. And more stories from this collection will be added weekly until all 18 stories appear. “Loose End” will cost you a quarter.

Quite a lot of vintage noir stories are on the iPulp shelves at the moment, but they have over 500 stories to choose from in every genre you can imagine.

If any of you writers out there have as few as three short stories with a similar theme, iPulp may be the perfect venue for you. They prefer stories that have been previously published and you as the author must return the rights in order to offer your stories to iPulp. You will need an original cover that goes with the theme of your stories and you can add more stories to the corresponding cover.

This is the future of publishing, folks. Learn as much about this trend as you can.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel SNARE, The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, is book two of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. STACCATO, book one of the serial, is also available. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing.

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SNARE – Award Update

Well, SNARE didn’t win The Hillerman Sky Award at Left Coast Crime (LCC) 2011 in Santa Fe. I’m not disappointed though—still thrilled to have been nominated along with multi-published authors Sandi Ault, Margaret Coel and Christine Barber.

Margaret Coel received the Best Mystery That Epitomizes the Southwest honor, well deserved due to her longtime friendship of Tony Hillerman and popular author to New Mexico attendees. Margaret is a great storyteller and her keynote interview with the absolutely incredible writer Craig Johnson was a highlight of the convention.

The entire journey has been a wild ride and one I’ll never forget. Not only was this honor the pinnacle of my writing career to date, I had the opportunity to spend time with nominees in other categories. My friends Kris Neri (finalist in the Humorous Mystery category The Lefty), Rebecca Cantrell and Kelli Stanley (both up for the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award) were there to help calm my nerves and convince me I wouldn’t disappear (or faint) due to all the attention.

Fellow Sisters in Crime members from chapters all around the nation were also there to support me. Without the gracious votes and support from the Sisters and Misters SNARE would never have received the nomination.

Book two of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series takes place in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina where I spent my summers growing up, and the Taos Pueblo Indian reservation. Both locations are dear to me and I am fortunate and blessed to have the opportunity to present to readers the incredible places that have sculpted me into the person I currently am.

Second Wind Publishing has been very kind to this author and SNARE as well. When Santa Fe, New Mexico’s location for this year’s LCC was announced I pushed hard to get the book released in time to receive a late December 2010 copyright so it would qualify for the one-time opportunity for Hillerman Sky Award consideration. Somehow they pulled this off and I couldn’t be more grateful to publisher Mike Simpson and his staff.

And big thanks to Pat Bertram who always does a fabulous job promoting Second Wind authors and their books. Pat’s newest release Light Bringer is now available and I know you will all love her words.

Even bigger thanks to those of you who have read SNARE and/or STACCATO. For those of you who have an interest to do so, the first pages of both novels are available as free downloads on my website.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel SNARE, The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, is book two of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. STACCATO, book one of the serial, is also available. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing.

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It’s Not A Problem, It’s An Opportunity

“It’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity.” So my sister likes to say. But when I got notice from the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) that I needed to complete forty-eight continuing education credits in the next few months, it seemed like a problem.

We are in the middle of restructuring and moving our business. I am involved in a number of community and church projects. I have grandchildren to help care for, and a home to maintain. Spare time have I none. I haven’t even had a chance to work on my latest book for more than a few hours here and there in the last two months.

But wait. I have my mystery thriller series to think about, and taking some law enforcement courses would give me more current information and increase my knowledge base. Maybe it was an opportunity after all.

I checked the POST Board website for the list of approved upcoming courses. Most were one-day, eight hour classes for eight credits. I discovered I was interested in far more classes than I was required to take. After some deliberation, I narrowed it down to five, one-day classes and two, half-day classes.

My first class this past week was taught by a former Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Investigator and current law enforcement instructor. He wove stories from his career in with his impressive knowledge and experience base. I also talked to him about being a guest speaker at one of our Twin Cities Sisters in Crime meetings and he was very interested.

One of my classes upcoming is on Investigating Internet Related Criminal Offenses. A requirement is to bring a laptop computer, but I don’t have a laptop. Is that my sister whispering in my ear that this is the opportunity I’ve been looking for to buy one? And as disappointed as I was that Mayhem in the Midlands was cancelled, the refund money will make my purchase more doable.

Although I will probably never say, “It’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity,” out loud, I guess saying it to myself from time to time doesn’t hurt.

 Christine Husom is the Second Wind Publishing author of Murder in Winnebago County, Buried in Wolf Lake, and An Altar by the River.

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SNARE – New Release Appearances

Well, it’s official. SNARE did indeed receive the nomination for The Hillerman Sky Award. I’ll know its fate at the Left Coast Crime Convention in Santa Fe, NM March 24-27.

I received my box of books from the publisher last week, therefore that makes everything real for me. So now the urgency to spread the word about SNARE has become my number one priority. Here’s where I am with promotion so far:

Due to the dedicated and hard working staff at Second Wind, SNARE is now available on Amazon, for the Kindle, and other e-reader formats via Smashwords.

Personally, I was successful in getting Book Two of the Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series into the Poisoned Pen which is the finest mystery bookstore in the Phoenix area. The Well Red Coyote Bookstore in Sedona, AZ will also carry the book.

I’m featured in the Suspense Magazine article “Femme Fatales of Phoenix” along with Leslie Kohler and Robin Cain. Pretty wild to go to their website and see my name on the cover of an international print magazine. A review of SNARE also appears in this February issue. I’m still anxiously awaiting my copy but the article’s writer, Mark Sadler, assures me the review is glowing.

The most beautiful North Carolina print magazine Our State has requested a copy of SNARE to review. I spent my summers growing up in NC and one of the main locations of this novel takes place in the Great Smoky Mountains. The other main location is New Mexico’s Taos Pueblo Indian reservation so I’ve been hitting NM publications as well. I’ve had requests from the Albuquerque Journal newspaper and Taos News, and am awaiting approval to send review copies to other pubs in NM.

February 26th I’ll be appearing with Eric Beetner, another Second Wind author, at The Well Red Coyote where we will present what is sure to be the very cool workshop “The criminally complex relationship of Editor and Writer—an insider’s look at the editing process.”

A guest appearance is scheduled for the Romancing-the-Book blog Q&A (also Feb. 26th—that’ll be a very busy day), and I’ve promised an article to the great mystery writers site Murder By 4 Blog.

March will be even busier. 12-13 I’ll be at the Sisters in Crime Chapter Desert Sleuths booth at the Tucson Festival of Books. I’ve never attended this event so don’t know what to expect, but it’s touted to be the fourth largest book fair in the nation.

Then comes the Left Coast Crime 2011 convention in Santa Fe, March 24-27. I’ve been anxiously waiting for this ever since the location was announced. I’ll be appearing on the panel “Writing Diversity” with the fabulous Gar Anthony Haywood and a few other big time authors who write multi-cultural characters.

The past couple of weeks have been a wild ride—surreal, exciting and quite unbelievable at times. I’m holding on and enjoying every minute.

Do you readers out there attend personal signings and authors’ events? And for the writers, do you make a push to schedule appearances and other promotion for your new releases?

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel SNARE is a nominee for The Hillerman Sky Award at Left Coast Crime 2011. STACCATO is book one of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. To find out more about her and to read a few previously published short stories, she invites you to visit: www.DeborahJLedford.com.

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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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Author Blurbs

I have two releases coming closer to fruition: Book 2 of my Steven Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series, titled SNARE—in the last few phases of preparation before I submit the manuscript to the publisher. The other is the anthology, How NOT to Survive a Vacation, I’m co-editing for the Sisters in Crime chapter Desert Sleuths which will be released at their upcoming writers conference, August 14th.

For you readers out there, how important are back cover blurbs to you? When you’re considering a new book to read does an endorsement by a published author matter?

Recently I attended two writers conferences where I became closer to quite a few authors I admire. A couple are be positioned to become A listers: Sophie Littlefield with her hard-hitting, yet humorous A Bad Day for Sorry (Minotaur, 2010), and Rebecca Cantrell who presents a vision of 1931 Berlin that you can all but hear, smell and touch in her A Trace of Smoke (Forge, 2010). I cherish both of these writers’ work and their debut releases continue to be my favorite reads of the year. Rebecca’s latest release, A Night of Long Knives and Sophie’s A Bad Day For Pretty are next on my to-read list.

I am thrilled to announce that these two authors have agreed to provide blurbs. How did I go about it? Well, I’m a bit shy, and never intended to ask such a major favor of any author, but decided to put myself out there. I sent them what was essentially fan mail via their websites or social sites. If they responded, I took the next step and expressed how much I looked forward to meeting them at the upcoming conference. At those events, I actually sought them out. What I found were truly gracious, giving writers who have been in the same position, and were quite honored to be asked for their endorsement.

I’m set with blurbs now. For SNARE: Simon Wood, Kris Neri and Dianne Emley are currently reading or will soon receive the manuscript. For the Desert Sleuths anthology, Sophie Littlefield, Rebecca Cantrell, Juliet Blackwell, and thanks to co-editor Chantelle Osman, Kelli Stanley and Simon Wood are waiting to receive the pages in order to provide endorsements.

Are you willing to put yourself out there? Have you used a different tact in securing blurbs?

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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