A New Book for a New Year

I’m celebrating the New Year with a book!

I’m excited to announce Murder Under Construction, the first book in my new series, Two Sisters and a Journalist, is published and available at Smashwords and will be available in a few hours at Amazon. It will become available at other outlets as Smashwords distributes the book.

ImageThis is the book that came to me out of the blue one day. While my sister was in the doctor’s office, I waited for her in my car. I found a little notebook in my purse, and I started scribbling. By the time she came out, I had scribbled almost 1300 words.

You won’t find pink on the covers of the new series. The main character, Jo Ravens, isn’t a girly girl. In fact, at times, she doesn’t act very lady-like. She’s not a shopaholic, men don’t swoon over her, and she’s not a crier.

The new series will be more true mystery than the Susan Hunter books, but don’t worry – they’ll still have my own brand of silliness in them. I enjoy writing lighter fare, and the genre for this new series will be humorous mystery.

Four people have read the book so far.

My mother loved the book. She said she liked it better than my Susan Hunter books.

My sister enjoyed the book and said she couldn’t put it down until she finished it; however, she said she likes the Susan Hunter books more. Secretly, I think she loves Mick. That’s what’s going on there.

My dear friend over there in Australia, David Harding, read the book and gave me a wonderful surprise one day by sending this email to me:

Hi Maddie!
Sorry I took so long but I finished your lovely new book and it is great!!!!
I’m so torn – do I like this better than Susan H? I don’t know! It’s so amazing both of these worlds came out of your head! Wow!
And how in the world do you go about writing a mystery that makes sense and is exciting (and funny). I don’t know that either!
So good!
David

His email put me on top of the world. (Of course! Because he’s Down Under!)

And last but not least, my sweet friend, Jackie, wrote a review for the book for my post today. Oh, did I mention the journalist in the book is named Jackie?  Yep! Once again, a blogger provides inspiration for one of my characters.

“Maddie’s new book is a funny, feel good cozy mystery. Even though it has a dead body (I mean a good mystery has to have a dead body!), the dialog between the two sisters and the journalist (which is my favorite, but I am a bit prejudiced) is filled with laughter and love. The secondary characters are believable and round out the book in a great way! I found myself laughing out loud in places and cheering the ladies on! If you want a great read, go get this Imagebook and see what Maddie does so well – write good, fun books!” ~Jackie

I love my early readers!

And yes, I allowed the first line to stand. It was, after all, what started the series.  I swear that body was hard as a rock when my butt bounced off it.

So let’s give some books away to start the New Year!

If you would like an eBook copy of Murder Under Construction, leave a comment and tell me how you would like to receive the book – through Amazon or via a coupon code at Smashwords. I’m offering a limited number of books, but at least thirty, so don’t be shy about asking!

If you are shy (cough, cough, men who like my books but don’t want others to know), feel free to ask for the book through email. My email address is on my About page.         smiley

You can leave comments about other things, too.

Onward and upward! The second book in this new series is the book I wrote for National Novel Writing Month in November – Murder Is Where the Heart Is. Hopefully, I’ll get that book under control and publish it soon, too!

Is Your Book Cover A Stinker?

I know I’ve had a lot of posts lately about my books, but I promise I have a bacon post coming up.

*** BACON ***

If you are a man reading this, please comment as to if that word caused some type of reaction within you. I’d like to know for my research.

Today, I want to talk about book covers. I’m not an expert, and for as many times as I’ve Imagechanged my covers, I am definitely not the person to be giving you advice.

The look of a cover is not a deal breaker for me, but some definitely pull me in more than others. I do like when a cover gives me an idea about the book – at least the genre. I saw a lovely cover recently that gave the impression of being a memoir, both via the title and the soft abstract style of the design. I was surprised to read the blurb and discover it was a romantic comedy.

I know my covers don’t follow the rules of the experts. They wouldn’t like the font, the placement of my name, or the fact that they are on the “busy” side. They would be critical of my using a clichéd pink theme for chick lit. I don’t care. I wanted pink covers, and I was going to have them.

It was my idea to have Susan in gym clothes with a racquet in Florida. I thought racquetball would play a strong role in all of the books, but it doesn’t. It isn’t even the main theme of Sunshine Hunter.

After the fifth book was published, I knew it was time to make the first one free. Then it hit me – change the cover again! I sent this note to my niece: “You won’t believe this, but I want to go back to Sunshine Hunter. I think the sports theme is keeping people from giving the book a chance.”

The book is chick lit first. There is a mystery, a little romance, and some humor. Having a Imageracquet on the cover was definitely giving the wrong impression. I think I realized this several months back, but I didn’t act on the nagging feelings.

The book went free at Barnes & Noble on February 20. The cover change showed up the next morning. I saw later that the book was promptly listed by two Nook Facebook sites, and the downloads at Barnes & Noble started right away. I didn’t know it at the time, but sales of the other books in the series started the very next day.

I truly believe that changing the cover on Sunshine Hunter to a cuter, more girly cover representing Chick Lit made a huge difference in people choosing to download the book or not. To all of the over 20,000 people who have downloaded the book so far – thank you! Thank you to everyone who has read their download, and another big thank you if you have chosen to read more of Susan’s (mis)adventures. I’m grateful and appreciative.

bacon

Bacon post coming up. I promise!

Have you always loved your book cover? Have you had any nagging feelings about it? Have you changed your cover, and if so, how many times? I know I’m not alone in this.

It’s All Good News!

The cover for Sunshine Hunter has been updated. Hurray for no more gym clothes! Image

We’ve come a long way from the first cover:

ImageMy niece has done a wonderful job for me. I was delighted with my first Susan Hunter cover, and I’ve been delighted with every cover in between. I think we’re both getting better at what we do. 🙂

My next big news is that I’ve decided to make Sunshine Hunter a FREE book – permanently.  Now that there are five books, with a sixth on the way, I think having the first book in the series for free is a good move. I’m finding that many people who have read the first book have gone on to read more (if not all) of the books in the series.

ImageI’ve already made the cover change and the price change at Smashwords. You can go there and download the book for any eReader (to be sideloaded) – or to read on your PC. When the book is approved for their premium catalog in a few days, it will be distributed with the new cover and pricing to all of their outlets – Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony, Apple, and Diesel Books.

Amazon doesn’t allow me to list the price as free, but they will match the price when the other outlets have updated to free. When the changes have been made everywhere, I hope to do some fun marketing.

I’m looking forward to a good year!

Edited to add: A few minutes before 6:00 p.m. today (15th), the changes to Sunshine Hunter were approved for the premium catalog at Smashwords. Less than 24 hours! That was so fast! It will be going out to major outlets soon.

There’s A Bloody Mary at the End of the Mayan Calendar

ImageMy new book is published! I’m celebrating with a Bloody Mary that has been spiced up with jalapeno dust.

This is the book I wrote in November for National Novel Writing Month. Start to finish, November 3 to December 21, and I squeaked in under the end-of-the-world deadline. I hit the publish button at Smashwords at 8:00 p.m. and at Amazon at 9:27 p.m.

Windy City Hunter is live at Smashwords, and will go live at Amazon, hopefully, by morning. It will be at Barnes & Noble and other outlets as Smashwords distributes and retailers update their inventory.

I want to share some fun things with you about the book:

– One of my favorite bloggers is a genuinely nice guy with a great sense of humor – Christopher De Voss. His blog posts, and his one-liners in blog comments, tickle my funny bone. Chris is a Imagepoker player and a zombie expert, and he recently had a story published in Undead Uncensored, an anthology from the Zombie Survival Crew.

I asked him for permission to use his name for a cameo appearance in my book under the name of Chris/Christopher De Floss. He was a peach to say yes, and he promised not to sue me. After the initial scene with Chris in chapter three, he’s mentioned six more times throughout the book, and that includes prominence in the ending. It’s pretty cool, and if you don’t think you want to wade through all of the Susan Hunter books, read this one. It stands alone just fine, and I think it will even entertain the guys.

ImageGlenno at Erehwon, a.k.a Arnold the Armadillo, enjoys photography. I took a fancy to one of his photos, and he sent the original to me. Rich printed it, framed it, and it now hangs above my desk. I described this photo and one other (b/w with red door) as paintings in the book. They are now hanging in a fictitious art gallery on Rush Street in Chicago.

Image– At the last minute (truly, just a couple of hours ago), I made two small changes in the book as shout-outs to David Harding. I won’t say what they are at this time, but will wait for him to read and see if he finds them. Don’t shake your head like that. He will read the book.

I want to thank all of you, my blogging friends, who have been helpful, encouraging, and supportive while I was writing this year. It’s truly appreciated. I still can’t believe I started writing and actually published these books; it’s quite surreal. I say it all the time, because it is true: my books aren’t perfect, but they are entertaining.

Also, I do apologize for not visiting your blogs this past week. Editing has been a priority for quite a while now. I promise to be by soon to catch up with all of you. I know I missed some great posts as I watched them scroll by in my reader.

It will likely be a while before I write the next Susan Hunter book, so I want to do a little babbling about the books in general.

I like the way they have progressed. Susan manages a weight loss center by day and works and plays at a racquetball club in the evenings and on weekends. I tried to mix up the locations, characters, and stories between the books.

New_Sunshine_Hunter_386Sunshine Hunter – The story starts in a racquetball club in Carbide City, Ohio. The book basically starts out as chick-lit. Susan and her best friend, Darby, go to Florida, and this is where the mystery starts. There is a bit of romance, humor, and some action. The ending is back home in Carbide City at the racquetball club.

 

Final_Big_Apple_Hunter1Big Apple Hunter – The pace is slower in this book. It starts as chick-lit with the setting in the weight loss center this time. There are some flashbacks in this story. I didn’t know you shouldn’t do that, but I’m a rookie author, and I’m sticking with it. Susan accompanies Darby to New York City for a weekend, and this is where the mystery starts. It is then brought back home to Carbide City and the weight loss center for the climax. Once again, there is a bit of humor, some romance, and action.

 

ImageSin City Hunter – This book moves faster, and I finally had clarity on the use of “which” vs “that” in writing. 🙂 Susan is in Las Vegas for a week of work at the corporate offices of the weight loss company. She flies out a few days early for some fun and relaxation. Her parents join her, and there is a new character introduced. Once again, we have chick-lit, a (murder) mystery, some romance, action, and I think the humor worked well in this book.

 

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Big Easy Hunter – The book starts on a racquetball court in Carbide City, and two mysteries are quickly introduced. A character only mentioned before has a main role in this book. Susan, Darby, and the new character go to New Orleans for a wedding, where there is yet another mystery. The book ends back in Carbide City with a big climax. Chick-lit, romance, humor, action – and dogs! I love this book.

 

ImageWindy City Hunter – This is the first book that has no racquetball playing in it, and there aren’t any scenes at the weight loss center. It takes place entirely in Chicago. The tone of this book is different. It’s more “pure mystery” than the others. There is a flicker of romance (hard to have romance when Mick is in England), and some humor. A new character joins the fray near the end.

I don’t know what’s next for Susan. I have an idea for one more book, but even though I feel quite certain number six will be the end, I’m learning to never say never. I also know that I may not have the final say in the matter. I’ve been to Los Angeles, and Susan just might want to go there, too.

Comment! I’m giving away five copies of Windy City Hunter and will draw the winners from the comments section! 🙂

I’ll leave you with this. I didn’t pony up the money to be able to post this little video wherever I want, but clicking the picture will take you to YouTube where you can see a little promo I put together for Windy City Hunter.

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A Male Perspective

More than ever, I’m convinced I have a genre problem. My books aren’t sophisticated with enough romance to satisfy chick-lit lovers, and the mystery element isn’t a murder to be solved from chapter one throughout, so hardcore mystery lovers may also not be satisfied, but those are the two genres available for my type of book.

Truly, I have to start a campaign for a fluffy, pink-with-a-hint-of-silliness genre. I market under Breezy Books. I promote my books as fun, easy, breezy reading with nothing to make you blush. I think there are still women who appreciate a book that is pretty squeaky clean. Tell your mothers and grandmothers about my books. They are suitable for young adults, but there is no fantasy or vampires, and I haven’t tested the YA market.

But … it was especially fun when fellow WordPress blogger, Mike Akin of sumthissumthat, decided to read my first book. Mike is working on his first novel, and I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading some of the beginning of his work, and it’s shaping up into a great story.

He is my first male reader (that I’m aware of) other than my husband. I have been tickled pink about this, and I want to share some of his email messages with you. The messages are sent to me from his phone, so there is no expectation of perfect punctuation or grammar.  We just go with it and laugh.

These are all separate emails – some days with more than one. Many of the smiley faces have been removed. We smile at each other a lot. His words are in bold, and we start with this note:

9/26I just saw your books on my iBooks app!! That is so freaking cool!! I’m corresponding with a famous person. I’ll be buying the first one later today!! This is so exciting lol

After I assured him my books were no great works of art, but they were fun, he replied:
I’m just tickled to death  lol  have a great day my friend … I love that he gets “tickled,” too.

I’ll kick your butt in racquetball   … Oops, not a comment about the book. We were one-upping each other in sports.


10/01
Bought your first book 🙂 how can I get it autographed? Lol

I’m reading it and like it!!


10/02
I love the description of play on the racquetball court in the scene where she first met mick

I replied to him:  Squee!!  Thank you.

He immediately wrote back: What was that sound? Image

I replied: That was me being excited and happy.  Kind of like a pig squeal.

In reference to one of the scenes in the book: Two aces to finish a match! I did that once or twice 🙂

Love it! That meeting in the pub, the harmless flirting lol I hope I’m reading the first one, sunshine hunter is the first right? Or does it matter? I’m sure it does. Again, I guess I’m hooked 🙂


10/3 –
(paraphrase from a line in the book) “He held my arms it’s a good thing cause I might have fallen down” … That’s good lol

wow I’m breezing right thru it. I think Susan needs to hook up with Darby

A side note about Susan and Darby after I showed him my two opening paragraphs for my fifth book I just started writing:
Wow Bonnie and Clyde lol GREAT

wow Darby is still around in next book I’m so looking forward to reading more


10/4 –
(paraphrase) “Susan you know I love you, and would love to date you, but (removed spoiler text).”  Great great

After I told him that the guy across the hall from Susan’s apartment opened his door, and the character was created just like that with no planning:
That’s cool about Darby. So he just appeared as a character and you went with it? I think I did that with Nancy’s sister Grace. Lol She will be in the story line thru out, but I don’t know how much 🙂


10/5 –
Food channel is referenced a lot in your book
I promptly responded: I like to cook. And eat.

Loved reading about the matches Susan had at that club in Florida. It brings back memories

Lol that is funny! Loudermilk for a last name 🙂


10/09 –
I loved the way (chapter) 9 ended! Shocker


10/11 –
I really like how your story took that twist with Susan and the (spoiler text removed) character 🙂 kudos to you

He’s so deep into the book, there would be too many spoilers now, so that’s all I’m sharing, but this has been a real hoot for me that a grown manly man is reading my book and enjoying it. It’s a real morale booster, and the rest of you men out there should take note and give my book a try. Sunshine Hunter – only 99 cents at fine ebook sellers online.

And below the fold is this bit of news I promised I’d share. My 50-book sale to ONE person at Smashwords has finally been reversed. The announcement was posted on their site that there were fraudulent credit card sales and all have been reversed this month. The secret admirer angle was a little too good to be true. ImageI have no questions to draw you in today, so we lapse into an awkward pause.

Ooh – or you can tell me what question(s) I should have asked. Or you can go over to Mike’s blog and have a look around. He has some of his wife’s art there, and he even has some manly recipes.

Formatting for Smashwords

ImageFormatting your book before sending it up to be chewed and spit out by the meatgrinder at Smashwords takes time, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

I’m new at writing, editing, and formatting, and I freely admit to making sensational mistakes as I try to figure everything out, but as my last three books went up without a hitch, I’m simply going to try to show/tell you what I do that makes surviving the meatgrinder and passing the AutoVetter easy.

The information is only 1300 words, but with the illustrations, it’s quite long, so I didn’t want to put the entire thing in a blog post. It’s in a .pdf file.

If you are formatting a simple book with front matter, a linked table of contents, text with nothing more than bold, italics, underline, etc., and back matter – a simple, straightforward book – then you can use this guide for formatting:

Easy Formatting for Smashwords

You might wonder why I put the time into this. Well, it will make it easier for me in the future. I do get tired of scrolling through the Style Guide on my Nook to find the sections that pertain to formatting my book(s).

Also, my new friend, a fellow Ohioan, Marcus Matherne at Voices in His Head blog, wrote a funny book and paid someone to format it for him. He asked if I had any tips, and I told him I had been thinking about a blog post pertaining to formatting.

So there you have it. Boring blog post, but maybe it will help someone.

Disclaimer: If you follow my formatting instructions and you didn’t back up a copy of your book first, you have no one to blame but yourself.

I’ll Be Rich in No Time

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That snarky interviewer I had around here the other day jinxed me. I didn’t even have my newest book up at Smashwords for twenty-four hours, and I found an error. But it’s not glaring, it would likely pass you by (it would!), and I fixed it before I published at Amazon. So, if you entered the betting pool for republishing, there are still no winners.

But something really cool happened after I published at Smashwords Sunday night. Within the hour. Did you catch that? WITHIN THE HOUR, I sold 50 books. Fifty. Fitty. Yep. Do the math. 50 books at $2.99 each before fees. At that hourly rate, I’ll be a millionaire within a year! (Click the graphic for a closer look.)

ImageAre you ready to leave comments and congratulate me for writing such an awesome book, that I sold FIFTY copies within the first hour?

Yeah, don’t bother.

I’m a realist. There’s no way 50 copies of my book sold within the first hour – especially at Smashwords. So what happened? I have a few theories.

– It’s a glitch.

– It’s someone using a credit card fraudulently as they try to amass money through affiliate programs. This happened last month at Smashwords, and they eventually reversed the fraudulent sales. I’m expecting this to happen to me in the coming weeks.

But let’s pretend it wasn’t a glitch or fraud! Play along now. What could it be?

– Someone who works for a library saw the book go up as newly published, and they needed more chick-lit, because the patrons can never get enough chick-lit. They bought FIFTY copies for eBook distribution.

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Louie B. and Piglet are today’s Ray of Sunshine to entice Secret Admirer to buy more books.

Or my favorite theory …

– I have a secret admirer who reads my blog and is so happy with the ray of sunshine I bring to his/her life every day, that he/she bought FIFTY copies just to throw some money my way.

That’s the one I’m going with until Smashwords reverses the sale(s).

What? Do you have a better theory?