Kensington and Barnes & Noble Team Up Again for a Sale

Hi, Wickeds Fans (and Not Yet Fans)! From July 10 to August 20, just in time for beach reading, Kensington and Barnes & Noble are offering another Buy 3, Get the 4th Free Sale.

This time the books include two Wickeds first-in-series, Flipped for Murder, first in the Country Store Mysteries by Maddie Day, and Clammed Up, first in the Maine Clambake Mysteries by Barbara Ross. If you’ve been resisting the charms of these series, now might be the time to plunge in. Plus the sale includes books by Friends of the Blog, including Carol J. Perry, Devon Delaney, Alex Erickson, Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis and many others. (If we skipped you inadvertently, let us know in the comments.)

As always, we went in search of the endcap display for the sale out in the wild. Here’s Edith at the Newington, New Hampshire B & N near Portsmouth.

EdithandDisplayCrop

Barb is living somewhat B & N deprived in Maine. (There’s only one and it’s in Augusta.) But here are the books at the Framingham store in Massachusetts.

Edith: And here’s the full display in Newington. As you can see, every store displays them differently.

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If your store doesn’t have one set up, ask them! And if yours does have the end cap,  we wouldn’t mind if you rarranged our books to be top, front, and center. Just saying…. ;^)

Here’s a link to the Kensington page which shows all the books included in this round of the sale. (Scroll down once you get there.)

Here’s a link to the B&N sale if you’re buying online.

Readers: Happy shopping! Is there a book series you’ve been wanting to start? Let us know in the comments.

Lucky

BREAKING NEWS: CONGRATULATIONS HOLDENJ

You are the winner of the Advanced Reading Copy of Murder Flies the Coop!

Please contact Jessie at jessie@jessiecrockett.com to provide your mailing address!

Jessie: In New Hampshire, until school finally gets out for the year!

lotto-484801_1920I spent several days last week with friends and over dinner one evening the conversation turned to the topic of luck. My friends each mentioned that they usually play the lottery when the prize grew to mind-boggling levels. They were incredulous when I said that I never  buy a ticket myself. They wanted to know why it was that I never took a chance and invested a mere dollar for a shot at the enormous prize.

I replied that wasn’t the way luck seems to show up in my life. While I think of myself as a very lucky person raffles, lotteries and prizes awarded for being the correct caller to a radio show are not where my good fortune ever seems to appear. The conversation moved on but I continued to mull the notion of luck over again and again.

I realized with suprise that I believe my luck might be finite and that I daren’t squander it on things I’ve never shown an aptitude for in the past. Bargains are my strength. Perhaps it is genetic or maybe it is the result of being raised in a part of the world that values thrift. Whatever the reason, I have been blessed with the knack of finding just what I want at a price I am delighted to pay.

Startlingly good deals on everything from cashmere sweaters, to knitting needles to real estate appear in my orbit in a pleasing and predictable way. I realised I am almost afraid to ask for more by stopping in at the local convenience store for a lottery ticket. Somewhere in the back of my mind lurks the shadowy belief that the universe will withold its generosity if I exhibit such greed.

I’ve also been incredibly fortunate in my family, my friends, my colleagues and my readers. I feel luckier than I can say to have so much love and support and fun in my life and can’t imagine risking such blessings.

Perhaps it is silly to believe in luck at all. Surely it is superstitious to think that I am an important enough entitiy to be under such cosmic scrutiny. Still, I find I am happy to pass up the purchase of a scratch ticket if it means I can keep receiving all the bounty I have thus far. My life is more than lucky enough already!

Readers, do you believe in luck? If so, in which ways are you lucky? One lucky Murder Flies The Coopcommenter will receive an advanced reading copy of my upcoming Beryl and Edwina mystery, Murder Flies the Coop!

Jessie loves to connect with readers through her newsletter. Sign up for news, appearances, giveaways and the stories behind the stories right here!

What’s Wrong with Genre Fiction?

Edith writing north of Boston, not quite sure what season it is.

(Warning: /Rant ON/.) My answer to this post’s title question is, NOTHING!

So I was one of three authors on a cross-genre panel at a local library two weeks ago. I know and love both of the other women on the panel, and I love their writing, too. Someone in the audience asked about pros and cons of having a publisher vs. self-publishing.

We authors get this question a lot. I feel a little bit qualified to answer it, because I have books out with big publishing houses as well as a small press, and I’ve also self-published reprints of some of my short stories that originally appeared in juried anthologies.

 

 

(In order, the preceding covers represent big press, self-pubbed, and small press, with two different pen names.)

The other authors and I talked about what a big house does for us in terms of editing, cover art, and distribution – and sometimes publicity. The author has to all of this herself – or hire it out – with self-publishing, but she also keeps all the money a publisher and an agent claim in the traditional model. I chimed in on how Kensington Publishing gets my books in every Barnes & Noble in the country by the release date, and does things like place ads in national puzzle magazines.

One of my fellow authors mentioned a writer friend of hers who has been very successful self-publishing her series of mystery novels. She added that the friend had to hire people to do editing and covers, and “of course, the writing is formulaic,” but that she had made a lot of money from the books.

I about blew my stack at her offhand comment but I kept my reaction in check for the evening. because I respect my friend and I very much enjoy her books (which are not mysteries). Our event was not the venue to get into a discussion of  genre fiction being “of course … formulaic.” Unlike most times we’re together, none of us was free to go out for wine afterwards and talk books, publishing, kids, and whatever else comes up. So I didn’t get a chance to challenge her on her view, and now she’s off on a vacation in some far-flung place.

I don’t understand how someone thinks that any of us “genre” writers – all the Wicked Cozys included – have a formula for our novels. Does she really believe that I follow a recipe for a mystery? That I don’t work and imagine and despair over and craft my writing like she does just because she imagines she is writing women’s literary fiction and I’m not?

literary: 1. Of or relating to books. 2.  Of or relating to authors

Literary? Don’t I qualify? Of course we mystery authors have a plot. We have a puzzle to solve. We have the very sticky problem of tricking the reader until the end while still playing fair. If anybody can come up with a recipe for that, I’d like to see it. And sure, those of us who write cozies play within certain parameters of language and setting. Our stories share certain surface similarities. But it ain’t a formula, folks. (And definitely not a formula for strychnine – shown here.)

Strychnine_formula

In late 2016 all the Wickeds were on a Books and Bagels panel hosted by our good friend Ray Daniel at his temple west of Boston. Someone asked a question about literary as opposed to genre fiction. I remember saying I was proud of my work. “I write the best book I can with the most elegant language I can use that still serves the story. And if people don’t want to read it because it’s genre fiction, then I don’t need them as readers” – or something to that effect.

/Rant OFF./ Whew! I’m glad I got that off my chest. I also plan to talk to my friend about her “formulaic” comment and do a little consciousness raising after she gets back from her trip.

Readers and fellow authors – what’s your take? Do you read both “literary” fiction and enthralling mysteries? What do you like about one vs. the other? Writers – do you write by a formula? (Yeah, didn’t think so…)

Cover Reveal-Murder Flies the Coop!

GIVEAWAY WINNERS: Congratulations Sheryl Sens and Kara Leigh! You each won a copy of Murder in an English Village! Please email me at jessie@jessiecrockett.com with your mailing address so that I may post them off to you this week!

Jessie: In New Hampshire where my head is spinning from the rapid changes in temperature!

The writing life involves a lot of waiting. Waiting for ideas and characters to form in the mind. Waiting to hear from agents and editors. Waiting for reviews to come in. Waiting for the release date for a book.

But there are things that keep me from going stir crazy while I am doing all that waiting . I write the next book or research a new series. I have also learned to celebrate all the milestones along the way, which is what I am doing here today. I am absolutely delighted to tell you that the cover and back matter for my second Beryl and Edwina mystery, Murder Flies the Coop is available to share! I have loved working on this series and spending time with the two protagonists and have been chomping at the bit to post a cover reveal here on the Wickeds.

 

Here is the back cover copy:

One would hardly call them birds of a feather, but thrill-seeking American adventuress Beryl Helliwell and quietly reserved Brit Edwina Davenport do one thing very well together—solve murders . . .
 
Sharing lodging in the sleepy English village of Walmsley Parva has eased some of the financial strain on the two old school chums, but money is still tight in these lean years following the Great War. All of Beryl’s ex-husbands have proven reluctant to part with her alimony, which is most inconvenient.
 
So when the local vicar—and pigeon-racing club president—approaches them with a private inquiry opportunity, the ladies eagerly accept. There’s been a spot of bother: the treasurer has absconded with the club’s funds and several prized birds.
 
Beryl and Edwina hope to flush out the missing man by checking his boardinghouse and place of employment at the coal mine. But when they visit the man’s loft, they find their elusive quarry lying in white feathers and a pool of crimson blood, stabbed to death—the only witnesses cooing mournfully.
 
After a stiff gin fizz, the ladies resume their search for the missing funds and prized birds—and now a murderer. Beryl and Edwina aren’t shy about ruffling a few feathers as they home in on their suspects. But they had better find the killer fast, before their sleuthing career is cut short . . .

Murder Flies The Coop

Readers, I would love to know what you do to keep your spirits up while waiting for things in your lives. Writers, how do you deal with the long tail of publishing? I would love to celebrate my cover reveal by sending a copy of the first Beryl and Edwina Mystery, Murder in an English Village to two commenters who post today!

 

A Wicked Welcome to Barbara Wallace

Jane/Susannah/Sadie here, in Connecticut where the rain is coming in buckets–or at least it was when this post was written…

Today my guest is my friend, Barbara Wallace. If you read romance, you’ll know her as the author of a whole lot of wonderful books. She’s recently dipped her toe into the cozy mystery pool. Here’s what she has to say:

Genre Jumping Isn’t So Easy

I’d written almost twenty romance novels for Harlequin before I decided to tackle my first cozy mystery. The Suburbs Have Secrets was the book of my heart that I longed to write. I’d been in love with mysteries since I was a little girl and discovered my mom’s Agatha Christie novels.

Making the jump from romance to mystery would be easy, I thought. After all, I had the skills needed to craft a solid novel.

  • The ability to create memorable, well-rounded characters? Check.
  • The knack for crafting snappy dialogue? Check
  • The capacity to weave a complex and intriguing puzzle and resolve it in a satisfying fashion?

Ummm, maybe?

When it comes to short contemporary romance, which is what I write for Harlequin, the story focuses on the romantic conflict between the characters. What’s happening on the page is far less important than the emotional tension between the hero and heroine. Be it running from a potential killer or traipsing through the vineyards of Tuscany, “How will they get together?” is the main question.

Mysteries as you know, are a horse of a different color.  You readers don’t just require a plot. You require puzzles that unfold piece by piece, hint by hint. Cozy mystery writers must manage a cast of distinct characters who spend their time on the page dropping clues and red herrings like bread crumbs, and make sure the information doesn’t flow too fast or too slow.

What’s more, they must know what their characters are doing off the page as well.  If Detective Dan Bartlett is investigating Paul Paretsky’s alibi while my protagonist, Sadie McIntyre, is off breaking into a neighbor’s house, I need to know it even if that information never makes the page.

With romance novels, writers can fly by the seat of their pants. Since the characters drive the story, we can drop our hero and heroine into a situation and see what happens. Try that in a mystery novel and you end up with an unreadable pile of mush. I know. I tried it on my first pass.

Fortunately for me, I had a fantastic editor. With her help, and much work, I turned my pile of mush into something I’m truly proud of.

So what’s the lesson here?  Writing cozy mysteries is hard. Oh, and make sure you have a really good (and patient) editor.

The first book in the new Sadie McIntyre Mystery series, The Suburbs Have Secrets, is a combination of Murder She Wrote and Desperate Housewives. Sadie McIntyre is a New England real estate agent with a secret.  When she gives a drunken Marylou Paretsky a ride home one rainy night, she has no idea it will be the last time anyone sees Marylou alive. The following morning, Marylou is found dead at the bottom of her staircase, the victim of foul play. 

Who killed Marylou? Was it her philandering husband? His lover? Or one of the residents Marylou was blackmailing? In a town where everyone has a secret, the list of suspects is endless.

Can Sadie find Marylou’s killer before her own secret becomes public and shoots her to the top of the suspect list? Or will the killer find her first? 

Available now on Amazon.

Bestselling, award-winning author Barbara Wallace specializes in sassy, smart novels known for their emotional depth. Since her debut in 2009, she’s gone on to publish nearly 20 titles with with Harlequin Romance and Entangled Publishing to world-wide popularity. A life-long Yankee, Barbara lives in New England with her husband, their son, two very spoiled self-centered cats (as if there could be any other kind) and a very catered-to rescue pup.

Guest Linda Lovely

Edith here, writing from north of Boston, where fall has finally hit. Our guest today is the multi-published Linda Lovely.  Bones to Pick, the first mystery in herFINALBonesToPickfrontCover new Brie Hooker Mysteries series, releases in a few weeks! To celebrate, she’ll give away a signed ARC now or an ebook after the book comes out to one commenter here today. Take it away, Linda.

Wicked Research for Wicked Villains

This blog’s Wicked Cozy Authors title echoes my belief that the best cozy mysteries have plenty of wicked seasoning. Just because a novel eschews profanity, graphic violence and sex doesn’t mean the heroine (or hero) won’t confront a multitude of deadly dangers engineered by wicked, ingenious villains

A mystery’s heroine is most memorable—and heroic—when she faces scary villains. This requires some wicked research. The Writers’ Police Academy (WPA), held each August at a real police academy, offers hands-on experiences that writers can use to create haunting villains and plausible plots. WPA instructors are the same ones who train police in everything from firearms and non-lethal weapons to drones and crime scene investigation. Outside experts also explore subjects like bioweapons, forensic psychology, gangs, and private investigation techniques.

Full disclosure: I’m a five-year member of the Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) “family.” I handle registrations, coordinate the Golden Donut Short Story contest, and help with varied organizational details. I volunteer because the program affords me—and fellow crime writers—invaluable opportunities to pick the brains of experts and get the details right.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOver the years, the WPA has given me the chance to fire a Glock and an AR-15…feel the tension of making a split-second, shoot-don’t-shoot decision…learn to free myself from a larger assailant…ride in an ambulance with a paramedic…handcuff a suspect…join a SWAT team in clearing a building…wear a duty belt…swing a baton. And the list goes on.

Once I’m home, these experiences weave their way into my cozy mysteries. In Bones To Pick, the first novel in my Brie Hooker Mystery series, Brie’s recall of her dad’s story about gangbangers hiding  weapons saves her life. (Though Brie’s dad is a horticultural professor, he’s also an aspiring crime novelist who attends the WPA each summer.)

In the second Brie Hooker Mystery, which I recently turned into my editor at Henery Press, the heroine flies a drone to gain key information. While Brie doesn’t pack heat, the villains she faces do. So I tap weapons’ knowledge gained at WPA to describe their firearms. Insights into police procedures, CSI techniques, autopsies, poisons and criminal proceedings also figure in how Brie interacts with law enforcement and the legal system.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

In the real world, amateur sleuths seldom prove the innocence of a loved one, solve a cold murder case, uncover fraud, or thwart a radical group’s attempt to rig an election. However, authors can make any of these plots more plausible by weaving in accurate criminal behavior and crime-fighting details.

Writers who can’t attend a WPA can look to information sources in their own backyards Options include ride-alongs with local police and online and in-person programs hosted by Sisters in Crime. Speakers at my Upstate South Carolina SinC chapter’s meetings have included K-9 officers, DAs, judges, detectives, US Marshalls, FBI agents, crime scene investigators, ATF officers, paramedics, bank fraud investigators, and even psychics.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe best part? I’ve yet to meet an expert who wasn’t willing to answer my questions. I’ve gained insights into experiences well outside my day-to-day existence. It’s also allowed me to make friends with people from many walks of life. Yes, research improves books, but it also enriches the researcher’s life.

Linda Lovely finds writing pure fiction isn’t a huge stretch given the years she’s spent penning PR and advertising copy. Her blend of mystery and humor lets her chuckle as she plots to “disappear” the types of characters who most annoy her. Quite satisfying plus there’s no need to pester relatives for bail. Her new Brie Hooker Mystery series offers good-natured salutes to both her vegan family doctor and her cheese-addicted kin. While her new series may be cozy, she weaves in plenty of adrenaline-packed scenes to keep readers flipping pages. LindaHeadshot

She served as president of her local Sisters in Crime chapter for five years and also belongs to International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America. She’s the award-winning author of five prior mystery/suspense/thriller novels. To learn more, visit her website: www.lindalovely.com  

Readers: Which expert has helped you in some area of your life? Writers: Who is the quirkiest expert you’ve called on in the name of research? Remember, she’s giving away a signed ARC now or an ebook after the book comes out to one commenter here today.

Welcome Back Sara Rosett!

JHolden is the winner of Sara’s book! Thanks to all of you who entered!

I’m so happy to welcome back Sara Rosett! Mother’s Day, Muffins, and Murder is the TENTH book in her Ellie Avery Mystery series! I met Sara the same night I met Julie Hennrikus at the banquet at Malice Domestic in 2005. Sara had just sold her series to Kensington and we bonded over both being military wives.

Sara is giving away a copy of Mother’s Day, Muffins, and Murder! Leave a comment below by midnight Saturday EDT for a chance to win!

Dream vacation destination?

Anywhere in Europe. I’m not picky! I haven’t been to Prague and would loved to go there.

You’ve just won the lottery. What’s the first thing you do/buy?

This isn’t a physical thing, but I think I’d hire someone to clean my house. Having someone else clean for me would be true luxury.

Favorite mystery/thriller movie?

I love classic movies like North by Northwest and To Catch a Thief. A contemporary favorite is RED.

Favorite junk food? Chocolate. The darker, the better.

What’s one food you absolutely can’t stand? Cooked spinach. Raw spinach is great. Love it in salads, I just don’t like the soggy mess that it turns into when it’s cooked.

What’s one talent you wish you had?

I wish I could sing. I’m tone-deaf and clueless about most musical things.

M&Ms or Godiva?

Both please. I never set limits where chocolate is concerned.

Favorite time of Day?

I’m a night owl. I love curling up with a good book and reading past my bedtime.

Tell us a little about your book. Did an event or idea inspire the book?

Mother’s Day, Muffins, and Murder came about because I wanted to write a story set at an elementary school. I’d already explored many aspects of my main character’s life. Ellie is a military spouse, a professional organizer, and a mom. Other books in the series have focused on the military spouse and organizing angles, so I thought it would be fun to center the book on the school. When your kids are in elementary school, there is a high level of involvement—classroom parties, Field Day, and volunteering in the classroom. I wanted to write about those things and weave a mystery into the setting.

What’s your writing style? Outline or no outline?

Writing without an outline of sorts would be terrifying! I always have a plan with the major points the story will hit. Sometimes it stays the same; sometimes it changes a lot. When I’m writing a book, I write every weekday morning for a couple of hours. I start at the beginning and write through to the end before I go back and revise.

What do you wish you’d known about either the craft of writing or the business of publishing when you first started writing?

I wish I’d known how much publishing was going to change! If I’d had a crystal ball I would have been scribbling away, stock-piling stories for when the ebook revolution hit. I’ve learned a lot about being nimble and keeping an eye on the horizon in the last few years.

What’s up next for you? What are you working on now? 

I’m working on the draft of the seventh Murder on Location mystery, Death at an English Wedding, which is another series that I write. It’s set in England–(obviously!)– and I have the best time escaping to the misty green countryside in my mind when it’s blazing hot and humid where I live. It also gives me a reason to travel—research!

Sara Rosett is a bestselling mystery author. She writes the Ellie Avery series, the On The Run series, and the Murder on Location series. Publishers Weekly called Sara’s books “satisfying,” “well-executed,” and “sparkling.”

 Sara teaches what she knows through the How to Outline a Cozy Mystery course. She loves to get new stamps in her passport and considers dark chocolate a daily requirement. Find out more at SaraRosett.com and sign up to get a free ebook from Sara.

Readers: If you won the lottery what is the first thing you would do/buy?