The Fun Kind of Research


I had the great pleasure this month of conducting some serious research for one of my upcoming books.



Each of my books takes places in a different city, town or country. I’m currently working on book 5 in the series (as yet untitled), which takes places on a cruise. But I’m also planning ahead to book 6 in the Adam Kaminski mystery series, and that takes place in Provence.


The beauty of the small towns and villages that thrive in this part of southern France is astounding. The cracks and crevices that add character to the facades of houses built hundreds of years ago, the color of the fading limestone contrasted with the bright pinks and greens and blues of painted shutters.


The Mediterranean-style roof tiles, red and pink and brown in the golden, late afternoon sun. The air that smells of the vines, freshly cut and burning in small piles in the small vineyards that dot the countryside.

I am grateful to be fortunate enough to be able to travel, to see parts of the world so beautiful they make me stop, take a deep breath, and think of all the things that are good and sweet in my life.


My goal with my writing — what I strive to achieve — is to share that joy, that beauty, with my readers. To let you see this world through my eyes, so that you, too, can stop and breathe and be happy.

And, yes, of course there’s always a murder to solve, too.


Learn more about my books at





Posted in Jane Gorman, mystery | 5 Comments

Of Concerts and Self-Publishing; Are They So Far Apart?

by Janis Patterson

I went to a concert a couple of nights ago. That’s not unusual – I’ve been in and out of concerts on both sides of the conductor for most of my life. What makes this one different is that it was an amateur orchestra – an organization of people who got together to play magnificent music just because they love it. No remuneration other than applause for a lot of time spent practicing and rehearsing. And the program was ambitious – all challenging works by Beethoven, Bizet, Tchaikovsky, Bach, Mozart and Dvorak. As the concert was free, the members of the orchestra even paid for the audience’s intermission refreshments out of their own pockets. This is the truest and most shining example of the word amateur – one who does something for the love of it.

Was the concert flawless? No. There were unintended sharps and flats here and there, and one of the second violins definitely needed more practice on his/her fingering, but in spite of the flaws – or perhaps because of them – the evening was most definitely enjoyable. It was not the icily-perfect rendition of a professional world-class orchestra (which I also love), and perhaps was the more charming because of it. The mistakes were not egregious, and the love the performers had for the work shone through every note, even the ‘off’ ones.

Over the years the word amateur has been tarnished to a near-slur, degraded to mean a fumbler, an incompetent, any number of other derogatory terms, but that’s not right. A true amateur is one who does the best he can, one who learns and simply for the love of something

There are exceptions, though, and we can find far too many of them among the plethora of self-published books flooding the world. An amateur musician realizes that at the very least he must learn the basics of music, that he should be able to reach a certain level of knowledge and technical ability before even attempting a concert. It seems that the amateur writer does not.

No one would think of saying “I’ve always wanted to play in an orchestra” then sit down in front of an audience, grab an instrument and start banging away on it without any knowledge, instruction or practice.  That, however, is just what so many wanna-be writers do. Just because they speak English with a modicum of proficiency they think they can write a novel. They string together a fair number of words and, convinced that they are only minutes away from being rich and famous or at the very least being regarded as that magical creature ‘a published author,’ throw the book up on any sales platform they can reach. The words developmental editor, copy editor or even spell-check do not seem to exist in their vocabulary. The resulting messes degrade the entire idea of self-publishing.

Like a lot of currently/formerly traditionally published authors I self-publish. There is a growing number of authors who have never done anything but self-publish who produce wonderful books, books that are often better than the current examples of traditional releases. Despite this, ‘self-published’ is used among the ignorant and the spiteful as a code word for amateurish (in its worst connotation) rubbish, and this hurts us all. If we cannot raise the level of knowledge among the unprofessional writers, we can at least do our best to correct a wide-spread notion among the public that all self-published books are a thing inferior. Even if some of them are.



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It’s Not Always About Winning by Paty Jager

This past weekend I attended the InD’Scribe Conference and RONE awards.  My book Double Duplicity was a finalist in the mystery category.

Double Duplicity (652x1024)I hadn’t planned on attending the conference, but I received an email that said my book was a finalist in the RONE contest. A contest that was vetted three ways. First the book had to have a 4.5 or better review from the InD’Tale review magazine. Then it was left to readers to vote for it. After that round it was read by people who work in the publishing industry. The scores were tabulated and the winners were picked.

At the conference, I was also a member of a 4 person panel that talked about writing paranormal. I was happy to find I wasn’t the only person who had shape-shifting Native American tales. My book, Double Duplicity, that was up for the Mystery RONE award has a deceased Nez Perce woman who visits her granddaughter’s dreams and helps her solve mysteries. I believe being a finalist helped put me on that particular panel.

The mystery category had stiff competition. I didn’t read each finalists books but I looked them up. A funny thing happened when I first arrived. A young man saw my finalist badge and asked what category. I told him mystery. He was a finalist for paranormal.  He asked if I’d read my competition. I replied I hadn’t. “That was probably smart,” he said. “After reading mine, I know I don’t have a chance.” Which was pretty much why I didn’t want to read the competition.  It would have taken the wistfulness of perhaps winning away, if I felt I didn’t have a chance.

me-rone-awardI dressed up for the event and sat through the two hour long celebration. Of course mystery and suspense were the last categories to be given out.

I’m the first to admit when I saw they were making the people who won the top spot give a speech, I was hoping to not be the winner, only a runner up so I didn’t have to give a speech. And my wish came true. They called the winner of the mystery category and then the runner up. Which was me! While winning and having the crystal trophy would have been awesome because the InDTale magazine would have also given my book free promotion, I’m happy with the certificate naming me the runner up. It validated I didn’t make the wrong decision by writing the genre of my heart.

And even though I’m a runner up, TJ Mackay, the head of InDTale magazine, said that many of the categories the difference between the winner and 1st runner up was by 1 point and one category by half a point. I like to think the mystery category was one of the close ones and that makes my runner up all the more sweet.

You can download the first book of the Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series, Double Duplicity, for free at all ebook venues. Watch in November for the 7th book in the series, Yuletide Slayings.

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 25+ novels and over a dozen novellas and short stories of murder mystery, western historical romance, and action adventure. She has a RomCon Reader’s Choice Award for her Action Adventure and received the EPPIE Award for Best Contemporary Romance. Her first mystery was a finalist in the Chanticleer Mayhem and Mystery Award and was 1st runner up in the RONE Award Mystery category.  This is what Mysteries Etc says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”

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SH Mug Art

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Do you have voices in your head?


By JL Simpson

When I wrote the first book in my Daisy Dunlop Mystery series their was some sliver of interest in making it into a TV show. The interest fizzled and I got on with writing the rest of the series. However, it got me to wondering how the book would work on the screen. I don’t have the money to fund such a venture but I did have an opportunity to do the next best thing, turn it into an audio book.

I put the book out for auditions and waited. A few people tried out. Some were better than others, but none of them could quite do the British accents, or get the timing right for the comedic edge to the plot. After over a year of trying to find the right person for the job I was ready to give up. Days before I was going to pull the book off the internet I got a new audition.

The lovely Mary Phillips from Riveting Narrations sent me her reading of chapter one and I was blown away. I listened to it over and over and decided to sign her up. So, the book is now in production. I have never released an audio book, and Mary has only narrated one other book, so we are both learning as we go.

Mary is more than half way through recording the book and I get updates of each chapter as they are complete. Every single chapter I hear convinces me that not only does Mary have a great future as a narrator but that she was the only person who could do Daisy justice.

If you’ve ever been to the UK you’ll know that there are dozens of different accents, and I think I used every last one. Mary has managed them all. Not only does she switch from accent to accent, but also male to female voice, and every character has their own unique identity. It is an amazing thing to hear the characters you created being brought to life. As I sit and listen I can almost believe that the people that were brought into being by my imagination are alive and well living as the voices in Mary’s head.

The book is due out later this month and I can’t wait to find out how my readers feel about the transformation of Daisy from book to audio. So, if you have voices in your heads, a skill for doing accents, love to read out loud, then maybe you’re a budding narrator.


If you want to know when the audio book is released then why not sign up for my newsletter by clicking HERE.

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Your neighbor, the killer

By Sally Carpenter

 The central questions in any mystery are “who is the killer/villain?” and “what is the motive?” The answer may surprise you.

 I’ve just started reading the book “Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty” by Roy Baumeister. He’s a college professor who examines the question not from a theological or moral standpoint, but the perspective of psychology and sociology.

In the first couple of chapters I’ve found some interesting ideas. First, all persons have the capacity to do evil, only most choose not to do through self-control.

I’ladd my own theory that this self-control is often enforced through religious teaching (“thou shalt not kill”) and the law (“life in prison without parole”).

 Nearly everyone has felt intense anger at some point most manage not to give in to their feelings. Road rage begins with two people letting their self-control slip so they can act on their fury until the incident ends in injury or death.

 Baumeister says most people know their killer and few murders are committed by strangers.

 He also says most murderers—and I would add sex criminals—are ordinary folk, both in their lifestyle and appearance. They don’t have hideous faces, evil grins, wicked laughs or gang banger attitudes to indicate their evil intensions.

 Such persons are often charismatic, charming and even likeable, which is how they lure in their victims. Who would suspect such a nice person to be capable of a monstrous deed?

 Criminals didn’t see themselves as doing wrong. The killer says the person deserved it. A rapist may blame alcohol or drugs, not his free own choice. The rapist will say the victim “enjoyed it” or “I couldn’t help it,” a complete denial of reality.

Victims tend to preserve the memory of the crime (which is why some can engage in revenge killings year later) whereas criminals will downplay the incident or push it out of mind: “let bygones be bygones.” To them, the act is over and done with; let’s move on.

A cozy mystery fits with these observations. The murderer is always local and known, sometime a long-time pillar of the community. No serial criminals or strangers here.

 The identification of the killer is a surprise because it’s the person who seems least likely to do it, while the red herrings have more obvious motives.

 The murderer sees the killing as justified: it had to be done.

 “Columbo” was such a clever show because the killers were smart, attractive, suave, friendly and often well respected in their professional. On the surface they led orderly lives without even a parking ticket on their record.

 Yet they found themselves trapped in a situation that they thought would harm them and they saw no other recourse than to eliminate the problem.

 Columbo’s skill was that he understood human nature. Beneath the veneer of the model citizen beat a killer’s heart.

It’ll be interesting to read more of the book and see how the author’s observations can be applied to writing mysteries.


Posted in mystery, Sally Carpenter | 5 Comments

What a Busy Month!

Anyone who is a Facebook friend of mine knows I was on a blog tour for Seldom Traveled most of the month. Thank goodness it is finally over, and the winners of my contest chosen.

Having a new book to promote is exciting, but even more exciting is we had a great-great granddaughter born this month. Little Avyanna was a surprise to everyone including the mom who’d been told she had an infected spleen. What a wonderful shock–the baby is beautiful.


We were invited to lunch by one of my biggest fans. She’d recently moved back to the area and we were treated to a delicious lunch and a tour of her new home. She’s appeared in three of my Tempe books as Miqui Sherwood–I captured her personality and her appearance as she asked me to put her in one of my Tempe Crabtree mysteries. She is in the latest, Seldom Traveled.

SeldomTraveledFrontCover new

Our eldest daughter and hubby came to visit for three days and we had a great time which included several meals out and the movie, Sully.

I did an interview on the radio:

I spoke to the Tulare Kings Writers about creating memorable characters and traveled to Oakhurst to participate in the Central Sierra Book Festival and gave a short talk on how to keep series characters fresh.

On the 29th, I’ll be at the Central Coast Book Festival from 3-8 in front of the mission at San Luis Obispo.

Last but not least, and I’m mentioning it now because it’s before my next blog post, I’m having a feebie promotion for an earlier book in the series: Spirit Shapes on Kindle from October 16-October 22.


Ghost hunters stumble upon a murdered teen in a haunted house. Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s investigation pulls her into a whirlwind of restless spirits, good and evil, intertwined with the past and the present, and demons and angels at war.

Spirit Shapes Cover

Oh, and there were other things too: I did some consulting work that actually paid, taught my 5th grade Sunday School class, went to church, cooked dinners, did the laundry, played with my great-grands, attended a church potluck, and other such ordinary things.

And that was my September, how was yours?














Posted in mystery | 7 Comments

Guest – D.J. Adamson

18c9df8f-826a-4eda-93a2-fc844dea3118  The act of self-promotion. Getting Out There!

I worked in sales and marketing before deciding to self-publish. This background gave me the confidence to go forward. I’d trained many people to successfully sell and market. Combining what I knew before with what I know now, allows me to pass on some of the tips I’ve learned about selling and marketing my books.

At the beginning, I mimicked what others were doing.  I played with social media, went to conferences and networked, purchased promotional packages.  Did I have success?  Some. But nothing that put me on the Amazon’s  “most sales list” or matched Hugh Howie’s numbers.

As a past business person, I know a business needs to eventually run in the black. Maybe not the first year, but eventually.  So after two years, I pulled up my expenses and balanced them with my assets.  DEPRESSING.  Yet, instead of discouraging me, it has motivated me to do it all differently. Here is what I have found:

  1. I no longer go to conferences unless the attendees include readers as well as writers.  Writers don’t buy books. Or very few. I’m a reader and have an addiction for anything on paper.
  2. I go to conferences that are close by and don’t cost a flight and hotel to attend. One conference cost me two thousand dollars and I sold one book. I joined active association, like Sisters in Crime, National Women’s Book Association, SCBWI, Mystery Writers of America. I became active. If I wasn’t active, I generally found excuses not to go to the meetings. Kind of like having a gym membership.
  3. I remind myself that I am as good as my last book. I have received one award and was nominated for another. I have received 4+ stars on my novels. Many Goodreads people “Want to Read” my work. But, sales diminish after the book has been out there for a year. I need to produce one to two novels a year. And let me emphasis, Good Novels. That means, I need to be disciplined in my schedule, working on my writing at least four to six hours a day, and I spend about five hours a week on social networking and promoting.
  4. I used to work many social networks. Now, I am only on Facebook and Twitter. Trying to do it all meant I didn’t do any of it very well.  I also limit how much I promote my books, only doing so when I have a special promotion going on, revealing a new cover or mentioning a launch.  Don’t you thumb right past those twenty posts requesting, “Read My Book”?

I use social networking for networking, not marketing. I meet new people in the industry and by putting myself out there, I am received.

  1. I use my Kindle freebies only before I launch a new book.  I hold maybe one/two .99 cent promotions. I try to do a Goodreads giveaway once a month.  I offer two, sometimes three books.  I send them by camel.
  2. I use snail mail to keep others updated on my new work. I’ve found postal mail more beneficial than email. It takes nothing to hit the delete button on a computer. The person getting the postcard has to see what the card is about and who it’s from before giving it a toss in the trash basket.
  3. I set a dollar limit for promoting a book. If you look around, you’ll realize a whole industry has been developed to swallow author’s dollars, promising to get their books noticed. I have limited my promotional money to $500 a book. I know that sounds low, but I think I have sold more books in this past year than the two years combined. I advertise on free or low-cost sites. Amazon ads have been very successful, and the cost is low. Finding a way to get to readers or promote without spending a lot of money has become actually very fun. I had create my book trailers. Go to my website to see for yourself. They aren’t bad. They are also on YouTube, and go figure this, the trailer of Outré has been seen by almost five thousand viewers. Did that turn into sales. Probably not. But five thousand people learned my name. Like a shampoos brand, Clairol. You may not buy it, but you recognize it as a shampoo.
  4. I put myself out there by creating a newsletter. Le Coeur de l’Artiste reviews books and interviews authors. I publish it monthly. It comes out, like any other deadlined project, on the 15th of every month. Sometimes not until midnight, but one minute before, I press the send button. The newsletter has not necessarily created sales, but it has branded my name a bit as a writer. Plus, I find a great satisfaction in promoting other authors.

Stephen King said in his work On Writing that to write you need to read a lot. You need to read what is good and what is bad. I read at least 5-6 books a month, just for the newsletter. I also try to read one or two books on promotion and craft.

  1. I began accumulating email addresses as soon as the newsletter idea came to me. So far, my Le Coeur de l’Artiste list is almost two thousand readers. I don’t promote myself in the newsletter, but it can be found on my website. I also offer it to many readers as a PDF. The newsletter has been so well accepted that I now have a blog, L’Artiste, that spends a little longer with an author and their work. I produce it three times a month. I also include others besides authors: musicians, scriptwriters, playwrights, etc. The blog emphasizes that getting the story out has many forms.
  2. There are great books out there by people offering promotional ideas. Read them all. Take an idea, put it on a card, then try it out. One idea at a time. If it doesn’t feel good to you or didn’t pan out, throw the card away and pick up another.  Don’t be bashful, ask others for their promote stories. I have rarely been told to “beat it.” In fact, I think it’s a writer’s responsibility to help other writers. We all know how defeatist we can feel when things aren’t going well.

I am not sure I was helpful to anyone reading this. I am merely sharing my experience so far. I want to write for a long time, which means I need to be sensible about what I do, both with time and money. It might also sound like my whole life is consumed behind my computer.  I still teach a full load of classes, grade papers, make dinner, clean house, and find the time to give my family a hug. Keeping to a schedule helps manage everything. Plus, I am my own boss when it comes to this publishing gig. If I want to take a day off, I do. I just don’t miss a deadline. Readers might fire me!

Putting yourself out there is the ultimate KEY to being SUCCESSFUL.  Please share with me your promotional stories, both the horror stories and those that gave you some success. You can reach me on Facebook, Twitter, or my Website. And don’t miss the latest issue of Le Coeur de l’Artiste.

me-3D. J. Adamson is the author of the Lillian Dove Mystery series and the Deviation science fiction-suspense trilogy.  Suppose, the second in the Lillian series has just been released.  She also teaches writing and literature at Los Angeles colleges. And to keep busy when she is not writing or teaching, she is the Membership Director of the Los Angeles Sisters in Crime, Vice President of Central Coast Sisters in Crime and an active member of the Southern California Mystery Writers. Her books can be found and purchased in bookstores and on Amazon. To find her, her blog L’Artiste, or her newsletter that interviews and reviews authors go to Make friends with her on Facebook or Goodreads.


Posted in Guest Blogger, mystery | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments