Widening Our Circles

News Flash: Sheryl Sens is the lucky winner of the Biscuits and Slashed Browns audiobook. Check your email, Sheryl, and congratulations! I wish I had a copy for everyone.

Edith here, just home from most of a week in a Pennsylvania convent retreat house with two fellow authors, one being Wicked Accomplice Kim Gray (and the other a great friend of the Wickeds, Ramona DeFelice Long). I have many new words under my belt, a tired driver’s butt, and evening after evening of laughs in the bank.

I’ve been thinking about how to widen the circles of people who know about my books.

WideningCircles

Yes, I’m wearing the slightly uncomfortable Self-Promotion hat. But we all have to do it. We authors never want to tell people, Read my book! Buy my book! But … in fact, we want people to read our books. Buy them, ask their library to buy them, tell their friends what a great read they are. Because this is how I and most of my fellow Wickeds make our living.

Christine Green, a savvy digital strategy friend (she made my fabulous new web site), says marketing is letting people know what you have. So how do we let people know what we have to offer without losing readers?

FriendsJournalMaxwell2Earlier this month a few of you might have seen my link to an article I wrote. When I heard the national Quaker magazine, Friends Journal, was having an Arts issue, I wrote an essay about how being a Friend governs how I write and market my crime fiction. My premise was that Quaker values of peace and integrity might be seen as conflicting with a career of writing about murder, deceit, betrayal.

The journal published my piece on how I reconcile those conflicts and how my faith and values guide all my writing. Within forty-eight hours the article had been shared hundreds of times. My Quaker Midwife series now has a far wider potential audience than it did, and readers know about my contemporary series, too.

This spring I heard from multi-published mystery author Kaye George that Wildside Press is publishing trilogies of short stories – which don’t have to be original submissions. I got word while I was on retreat that my proposal for a trilogy of three Quaker Midwife short crime stories has been accepted! Two of the stories were nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Short Story. I’m thrilled to widen my circles of readers for these stories – and possibly for the books, too. Stay tuned for news on title and release date.

Authors Mollie Cox Bryan, Lynn Cahoon, and Peg Cochran recently started a Facebook group for writers of farm-based mysteries. When they asked me to join, I initially hesitated. They all have new books coming out, but my publisher didn’t renew the Local Foods Mysteries beyond Mulch Ado About Murder, the fifth in the series. That said, my organic farm books are a perfect fit with that group, so I agreed.

Down on the Farm Writers

I’ve had great reception to my weekly Wednesday posts over at Down on the Farm Mystery Writers and I think it’s bringing new life (and sales) to these books I worked so hard on. You should join the group! It’s open to all, we just have to approve new members.Death Over Easy

My Country Store Mysteries? I’m not quite sure how, but they seem to sell themselves. I don’t want them to languish, though. I love sharing recipes here and there and talking about topics like vintage cookware, bicycling, and home renovation on various blogs where I’m lucky to be invited as guest. I’m super excited to have Death Over Easy, book five, releasing at the end of July!

Another market-widening opportunity presented itself a couple of years ago. Kurt Anthony Krug writes articles for college alumni magazines and I met him at a literary fair in Michigan. He interviewed me, but I never saw the article. Three weeks ago a friend sent a photograph of the page in the Indiana University Alumni Association Magazine where I am featured. The magazine has a huge reach, in paper and digitally, and I’m delighted to have a presence there. And of course Indiana is where the Country Store Mysteries are set. Read the interview here.

IUAlumniMagArticle

As always – and I’m sure I share this with my fellow Wickeds – I could be doing more. Should I be creating and posting memes? Doing more on Instagram? Paying to boost ads? Then again, I have the next book to write. And the next and the next. And if I don’t write the best book I can, the whole career is down the drain!

AudioCoverAmazonReaders: How do you like to learn about new authors and about new books from your favorite writers? When does promotion flip over to turning you off?

Share in the comments and I’ll send one of you (US only) my last audiobook of Biscuits and Slashed Browns, the just previous Country Store mystery.

Kensington Cozies on Sale in March at Barnes and Noble

From March 3 to April 8, Barnes & Noble and Kensington have teamed up to offer a special  promotion–Buy 3 Kensington cozy mysteries and get 1 free!

You can scroll down this page to see the covers of all the offered books. http://sites.kensingtonbooks.com/kensingtoncozies/BN/

But wait, there’s more!

Everyone who buys a Kensington cozy mystery from the B&N in-store display between 3/6/18 – 4/8/17 and registers their purchase at http://sites.kensingtonbooks.com/kensingtoncozies/BN/ will automatically be entered for a chance to win:

  • 1 Grand Prize: Two copies of a new cozy mystery each month for an entire year so you can share the book with a friend.
  • 5 Runners-Up: One surprise cozy mystery ARC.

Note: The same sale is going on at B&N online, though purchases there do not make you eligible for the contest. Here’s the link for the sale. https://www2.barnesandnoble.com/b/select-mystery-novels-buy-3-get-the-4th-free/_/N-2q0o

But wait, there’s even more!

There’s a special end-of-the-aisle display featuring 30 Kensington cozies at every B&N. Wickeds Sherry Harris, Maddie Day (aka Edith Maxwell), and Barbara Ross all have their latest mysteries on the shelf, along with lots of other great books, including mysteries by Friends of the Wickeds, Carol Perry and Lea Wait.

We thought it would be fun for some of the Wickeds to get their photos taken with this special display or with their displayed book.

Sherry: Here I am at my local Barnes and Noble in Fairfax, Virginia! It’s always a thrill to see my books in a bookstore. My husband took the pictures and we only got a few strange looks from the many customers in the store.

Edith: I found the Wickeds’ books (and New England friend of the Wickeds Lea Waits’s, too) top and center at the Barnes & Noble in Peabody, Massachusetts, and convinced a fan browsing the mystery shelves to take my (goofy expression) picture.

Edithatbandn

Here’s Friend of the Wickeds Carol Perry with the display. Carol has three books on the endcap: Grave Errors, It Takes a Coven, and Caught Dead Handed.

Barb: There’s only one B&N in Maine, in Augusta, not in Portland where I was last week. Now I’m back in Key West and there are no B&Ns anywhere on the Keys, so I’m posing below in our backyard with Stowed Away, which is on the display.

We’d also like to give a shout out to our friend, Lea Wait. As Edith said, her book Twisted Threads is on the display. Lea was going to participate in this post with us, but her husband is ill. Anyway, you should buy her book, because it’s terrific. In fact, you should buy 3 and get 1 free!

Readers: Tell us if you spied this end cap in your local B&N, and where it is. We’d love to see a pic of you with the array, too!

Wicked Wednesday: Biscuits and Slashed Browns

BiscuitsToday we are celebrating Maddie Day’s Biscuits and Slashed Browns release! A reminder about the book:

For country-store owner Robbie Jordan, the National Maple Syrup Festival is a sweet escape from late-winter in South Lick, Indiana—until murder saps the life out of the celebration . . .

As Robbie arranges a breakfast-themed cook-off at Pans ‘N Pancakes, visitors pour into Brown County for the annual maple extravaganza. Unfortunately, that includes Professor Connolly, a know-it-all academic from Boston who makes enemies everywhere he goes—and this time, bad manners prove deadly. Soon after clashing with several scientists at a maple tree panel, the professor is found dead outside a sugar shack, stabbed to death by a local restaurateur’s knife. When an innocent woman gets dragged into the investigation and a biologist mysteriously disappears, Robbie drops her winning maple biscuits to search for answers. But can she help police crack the case before another victim is caught in a sticky situation with a killer?

In honor of the newest Robbie Jordan adventure, let’s talk about breakfast, Wickeds. What is your favorite “eating out” breakfast?

Jessie: I don’t have a specific favorite place for breakfast. What I do favor is breakfast in beautiful hotels. I love to sleep in and then head down to a restaurant in the hotel about an hour before they stop serving. I like to ask the waitstaff for a carafe of coffee and then let them know they needn’t worry about me any further. I sit with a notebook and a stack of postcards and nibble and people watch. It is a bit of a travel ritual for me. I’ve done it in Orlando, Vegas, San Francisco, NY, China, Iceland, Brazil, and in the U.K.

Sherry: Jessie, that sounds like a fabulous way to spend a morning. Congratulations on the new book, Edith. I love to order something more complicate than we would make at home. Sigh, with my cooking skills that’s almost anything. It’s a great time to try something new, especially regional dishes. I have to say I tried fried toast in England and it wasn’t my favorite!

Barb: I love diners. For any meal, really, but especially for breakfast. My two favorites in Portland are Becky’s and the Miss Portland. Favorite orders: Omelet with cheese, ham and onions, or blueberry pancakes with syrup and bacon. I’m making myself hungry just typing this.

Liz: I love diners too! And I especially love when I find a diner that has food I can eat 🙂 Omelets are usually my go-to, with mushrooms and spinach, and home fries. And coffee. Lots of coffee!

Julie: I love breakfast, and could happily eat it for every meal. I am an Eggs Benedict fan. I usually order it, since I never make hollandaise sauce at home. Lately, the S&S (a favorite local spot) has expanded on my go-to with Eggs Oscar. Poached eggs on potato pancakes, topped with asparagus and crabmeat. And, of course, the sauce. So. Good. That said, I’m also a pancake fan, and if I’m in a diner I always ask about the special.

Edith: Thanks for helping me celebrate, Wickeds! For breakfast out, I often order crispy  hash browns, which are so hard to make at home, with a fried egg. Like Julie, though, I don’t make hollandaise sauce at home, and I once had a California Benedict with avocado to die for.

Readers, help us celebrate this book birthday by sharing your favorite breakfast!

Biscuits and Slashed Browns Book Birthday

Edith here, writing as Maddie Day from north of Boston.

But first – a special news break: Jessica Ellicott’s Murder in an English Village: A Beryl and Edwina Mystery (Jessica being our own Jessie Crockett) and my Called to Justice: A Quaker Midwife Mystery are BOTH nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel! The nods are cause for much celebration, and you, dear readers, will be hearing more about the nominations in the forthcoming weeks. In the meantime, Jessie and I are happy to accept accolades, toasts, and whatever else seems appropriate.

Now, back to today’s topic – also a cause for celebration…

Yes, it’s my book birthday! I’m so excited for the fourth Country Store Mystery to slide into the hands of eager readers.

Biscuits and Slashed Browns

For country-store owner Robbie Jordan, the Maple Syrup Festival is a sweet escape from late-winter in South Lick, Indiana—until murder saps the life out of the celebration. Robbie drops her maple-curry biscuits to crack the case before another victim is caught in a sticky and murderous trap.

Some pretty awesome reviews are already in:

  • “…wonderful culinary cozy mystery series … great characters, terrific local dialect, a charming setting … engaging mystery”
  • “…well-plotted and exciting story”
  • “…vivid characters and locales”
  • “…fast paced plot… just the right touch of romance … a delightful addition”
  • ” …suspenseful, dangerous climax wraps the story up for an exciting ending”
  • “…delicious recipes…”

I was amazed when I learned that Brown County, Indiana, has hosted a National Maple Festival, and I knew I had to use it in a book. The county is hilly and wooded and looks a lot like Vermont despite being quite a bit farther to the south, so it’s no surprise one of its products is high-quality maple syrup.

I hope you enjoy the story! Now I’m off to find a cake and a bottle of bubbly to celebrate.

Readers: Do you make the recipes in the back of foodie cozies like mine?  If so, which ones have you liked best? If not, why not?

Figuring Out the Ending

Edith north of Boston and nearly ready for Christmas! And I have a giveaway as a holiday gift to one commenter here today.

I’ve been working on Country Store Mystery number six, Strangled Eggs and Ham. Next year holds so many book deadlines for me that I’m really trying to write ahead. I’m happy to report that yesterday I finished the first draft of the book that isn’t due until April 1. Which is good, because it means I can actually relax over Christmas with family and friends and cats.

PrestonChristabel

But…last week progress had slowed to a crawl. I was getting close to the finish line but couldn’t seem to keep the story moving forward. How was I going to end it? Could I come up with new and fresh suspense to keep readers on the edge of their seats? Was I going to be able to convince my readers they really wanted to read just one more chapter rather than going to bed?

I’m not a plotter by nature, but I had set up four suspects with plausible reasons for wanting the victim dead (yes, by strangulation…to fit the title, which I adore). I’d decided early on which of the four did the deed.

With the excruciatingly slow progress, I began to suspect myself – that I had picked the wrong villain. Could it be possible? It had happened to me before, so yeah, I knew it was a thing. I took a couple of long walks and another look at what I had written so far. And magic happened – another suspect was revealed as the actual murderer, although the person I’d thought was the villain stayed as a serious aider and abetter.

And bingo – out flowed the words! My relief was so palpable it Biscuits and Slashed Brownsalmost needed its own driver’s license.

To celebrate, I’d love to send one of you one of my last three ARCs of Biscuits and Slashed Browns, which is book #4 in the series. Because, as Barb says, we should never be left at release date with an advance review copy in our possession. And release date is January 30!

So, Dear Reader: Tell me about when you second-guessed yourself, or changed a plan at the last possible minute. Did it work out the way you hoped, or not? (Or maybe I don’t want to hear about the “or not” cases, LOL…) And make sure you check back tomorrow (and check your email) to see if you won!

Cover Reveal – Biscuits and Slashed Browns

Edith, with some delightful news, and a giveaway!

I have, that is, Maddie Day has, a cover for Book Four in the Country Store Mysteries. The book is called Biscuits and Slashed Browns, and it takes place during maple sap season in Brown County, Indiana. The book releases January 30, 2018. It is, of course, available for preorder wherever books are sold, and preorders really help the author. I’m giving away an apron and a signed cover flat to one lucky commenter today (US aprononly)!

Here’s the cover blurb:

For country-store owner Robbie Jordan, the National Maple Syrup Festival is a sweet escape from late-winter in South Lick, Indiana—until murder saps the life out of the celebration . . .

As Robbie arranges a breakfast-themed cook-off at Pans ‘N Pancakes, visitors pour into Brown County for the annual maple extravaganza. Unfortunately, that includes Professor Connolly, a know-it-all academic from Boston who makes enemies everywhere he goes—and this time, bad manners prove deadly. Soon after clashing with several scientists at a maple tree panel, the professor is found dead outside a sugar shack, stabbed to death by a local restaurateur’s knife. When an innocent woman gets dragged into the investigation and a biologist mysteriously disappears, Robbie drops her winning maple biscuits to search for answers. But can she help police crack the case before another victim is caught in a sticky situation with a killer?

So, without further ado, I present the cover:

Biscuits and Slashed Browns

Don’t you love it? We have the bottles of syrup, the sugaring-off shack, the sap buckets, pancakes, biscuits, a little March snow left on the ground, even the slashing knife.

And on the bench sits Robbie’s cat Birdy. For those of you who didn’t hear, this Birdy is modeled on my real-life cat Birdy, and he died on June 6, just a few weeks ago. I miss him terribly, and am comforted that he’ll live on in this series.

BirdywithFLIPPED

Birdy, the cat in the Country Store Mysteries – literally, in this case!

Readers: To win one of my Edith Maxwell/Maddie Day aprons–which I save for extra-special giveaways–and a signed cover flat, tell me in the comments section what’s your favorite thing to eat using maple syrup. Pancakes? Maple sugar candy? A mapletini? Oatmeal? Maple bars? Dish, gang.