Friday, September 29, 2017

Experiment with Kindle Unlimited Take 2

I had kind of a long, involved post about why I'm experimenting with Kindle Unlimited again, especially since the last time I tried it, I basically frustrated readers who don't buy from Amazon--while only earning pretty much exactly the same I always earn with historical.

Well, in a way that's why I thought maybe I should give KU another try. A wacky historical mystery--satire, in fact--was probably not the best choice for experiment.

My goal is visibility with readers who maybe aren't familiar with my work because it's harder and harder to stay on the bestseller lists for any length of time when you're not in KU. The KU-or-bust reader is not so much my target as the readers (like myself) who use KU as a means of testing new authors. If I like the authors I sample, I go on to buy their backlist for real. If I'm not impressed, no harm, no foul. Those are the people I'm after. In other words, I'm using KU to advertise to a readership that is increasingly hard for me to reach. At least as far as my backlist is concerned.

And backlist is the only thing going into KU. I'm putting together a selection of older titles—titles that I have already done many, many sales and giveaways on and that have been available across all vendors for years. Nothing new is going into KU. No one is getting a bargain that you, my longtime readers, haven’t already been offered multiple times.

(Includes The Dark Horse, A Vintage Affair, Blood Red Butterfly, Don’t Look Back, Lovers and Other Strangers, Cards on the Table)

This box set has been available for a while--and across all vendors--but it was priced at $9.99, which is still a really good deal, but... So it's retail price is temporarily slashed to $3.99 and the collection is currently enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.

Metaphors and Murder: The Poetic Death series. 

Readers frequently ask about my mainstream pen name and titles, so for those of you who wondered or would like to sample some of my mainstream work, this collection is for you.

The Poetic Death series was originally published through Pocket Books. The books did well--they were ABA bestsellers, most of them were Romantic Times Top Picks, and the first book--High Rhymes and Misdemeanors--was a Mystery Guild Alternate. Nice, eh?

The books are fun. They're a quirky hybrid blend of cozy mystery and old-fashioned romantic suspense.  

Then we have Partners in Crime: 3 Classic Gay Mystery Novels.

Because the point of this exercise is to introduce my work to readers who might be unfamiliar with more than the latest release, I tried to pick three very different types of mystery, finally settling on a thriller, a cozy and a comic who-dunnit. The novels I selected were Winter Kill, Murder in Pastel, Somebody Killed His Editor.

Again, the box set is listed at $3.99 and the set is available in Kindle Unlimited for 90 days. 

And then finally, I've put together the first three Spanish translations of the Adrien English series into a box set called Los misterios de Adrien English. Again, $3.99 and available in Kindle Unlimited. (This one might actually remain at that price point because I do want to encourage and support the evolving market for Spanish translations of M/M Romance and Mystery.)

So there you have it. I apologize for any inconvenience to those readers who don't purchase through Amazon, but to reiterate, there is nothing new here and nothing that hasn't been available (though granted not at these prices) for a long time at all vendors.

In 90 days I’ll let you know what the results were and whether I think this second experiment with Kindle Unlimited was a success or a mistake.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Happy Autumn! Five Things to Love

It's been a while since I've done one of these posts, but I like them because, although they're simple, they give everyone reading the blog an opportunity to join in. I enjoy when a blog post turns into a conversation.

So anyway, here are five things I love about autumn. And if you'd care to share five things YOU love in the comment section below, I'll randomly choose someone to receive a print copy of the Japanese translation of Fair Play.

Now perhaps you don't speak Japanese.

That's okay. I don't speak Japanese either. You will still enjoy this book because ILLUSTRATIONS, PEOPLE.


Five Things to Love About Autumn.

1 - Idyllic temperatures. Fall in Southern California means cool, breezy nights and mild sunny days. The light is gorgeous. Luminous. The mornings smell of fresh-brewed coffee and a hint of something like damp earth and warm stone. It smells like the start of a new year, even though it's technically the wind-down of the old year. We use the fire pit in the backyard mostly in autumn. And those final, just-on-the-verge-of-too-chilly swims of the season are some of the very best.

2 - Sweaters. I love super-soft, warm and roomy sweaters. My cashmere coat sweater. The gray, green and purple pullover I bought on Orkney. The gray lambswool cardigan I wore the first night I went to dinner with the SO.

3 - The spooky vibe. I guess I partly mean Halloween, although I'm not really that much of a fan of Halloween. What I do like about it are the costumes and masks and spooky movies and spooky stories and spooky walks late at night when every skitter of leaves on pavement has you looking over your shoulder. There's something dark and mysterious about autumn, and that's what I love more than the candy...although I hasten to add there is nothing wrong with the candy.

4 - Baking. Serious baking starts in the fall. Pumpkin breads and pecan pies and bread right out of the oven, slathered in butter. All sorts of cookies and pastries and delicious flaky goodness. Yum.

5 - Going to bed early and sleeping late--and the snuggling that takes place in between. I sleep better in the autumn. I sleep better when I'm cold (not too cold of course--not so cold I wake up and start searching for socks). I read more in the autumn too, because there are few things cozier than climbing into a giant nest of pillows and blankets with a good book. Or even a bad book, if it's so bad it's funny.

Okay, what about you? What five things do you love about Autumn?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Author! Author! MEG PERRY

This morning we have another installment of Author! Author! with talented mystery maven Meg Perry, author of the long-running Jamie Brodie series. I've known Meg online for several years, but finally got to meet her last spring on Catalina Island. Watch out for the quiet ones. Just sayin. Meg has a brand new book out this week, which you can learn about right  here.

She's also on Facebook here.

Welcome, Meg! I'm so happy to have you here on the blog at long last. Is it true you're currently working on the fifteenth book in the Jamie Brodie series? What can you tell us about Published to Death? Any idea how long the series will run?

MP - I’m thrilled to be here! And yes, it’s true! Published to Death, Jamie Brodie Mystery #15, is nearly finished, and should be out in November. In short, there’s a conference of self-published authors being held on UCLA’s campus, and the keynote speaker (read: eventual victim) is one Mercedes Moran, who has made several million dollars selling 99 cent romance novels on Amazon etc., and who has made plenty of enemies (read: eventual suspects) in the self-publishing community because she is a terrible, horrible, no-good person. There’s also a cop who only speaks in clich├ęs. As for the series, it will wrap up at #20, in 2020, as Jamie turns 40. I’ve known for a couple of years now how it’s going to end.

Hahahahaha. It's tempting to ask who Mercedes is based on. you listen to music while you write?

MP - No. I’ve tried, but I start listening to the music and get distracted. But I do construct a soundtrack for each book, tying key scenes to songs that fit the situation. (I publish the soundtracks on my Facebook page.) In the process I’ve discovered a lot of great music that I wouldn’t have

Sountracks, playlists, I love them! I'll have to check yours out. Were you Team Nancy (Drew) or Team Hardy (Boys) growing up? Or none of the above? What set you off on your own life of crime? 

MP -Team Nancy, until I grew up and got a look at Parker Stevenson.

Parker. Stevenson. Enough said. 

MP - Mmm hmm. I have to blame my life of crime on my grandmother, though, who introduced me to Agatha Christie. (Not personally. Only in the literary sense.)

That's so interesting. My grandmother was also a huge mystery fan. Everything from Christie to The Destroyer novels. :-D And what a nice little segue to the topic of ghosts. Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had a ghostly encounter? How about extraterrestrials? You work as an academic librarian on a college campus, correct? So surely you MUST have met extraterrestrials?

MP - Oh, yes. Community colleges are full of sketchy characters, and I don’t mean just the students. Some of them must be ETs - it’s the only logical explanation. I haven’t had a ghostly encounter, but I’m open to the idea of their existence. There’s a lot of weird stuff in the world, and not just on college campuses.

Or publishing communities. Ba-dum-bump. ;-D  So, as previously observed, you're writing one of the longest running gay mystery series in gay mysterydom -- do you also prefer reading series, or do you enjoy standalones? Support your answer. 

MP -After lengthy scientific research (i.e., counting the series vs. standalones on my shelves and Kindle), I can unequivocally state that, as a reader, I prefer series. I’d rather get to know characters over time, feel as if I know them, watch them deal with their personal lives along with the crimes.

What do you love most about writing? What do you like least?

MP -I love the surprises that characters spring on me. For instance, in Hoarded to Death, when Jon Eckhoff first walked up to the reference desk, I had NO idea that sparks would fly between him and Liz Nguyen. But bam! There they were, flirting madly with each other. It’s as if stuff just falls out of my fingers onto the keyboard sometimes. That’s so much fun. What’s tiresome is going back through each manuscript, looking for all the places I’ve used “very” and “good” and replacing them with more sophisticated vocabulary. And I HATE writing blurbs. Ugh.

Does anyone LIKE writing blurbs? And will she come and work for us? What are the elements that make a Meg Perry book unique? What do you consider your strengths as a writer?

MP - My initial reaction was that my strength is Jamie himself! But in a way that’s true. I think the thing I’ve done best is to create a cast of characters that remain interesting over time, that continue to grow and learn and adapt, and that people care about. My characters also behave and talk like real people - which isn’t always the case in mystery novels. One of the best things about only writing one series is not having to remember who has what color eyes, or who’s allergic to cats. I have the luxury of knowing Jamie and his family as well as I know my own. I don’t know how you do it, frankly, keeping all the different couples in your series separate! Yikes!

Copyeditors mostly! :-D What's next for you? What can readers look forward to?

MP - I’ve been writing Jamie Brodie short stories for a while now, to fill in things that needed to happen in the guys’ lives but wouldn’t work in a book for various reasons. Some have appeared on my blog, some have appeared at the end of books. In late August I’m going to publish them all, plus a bunch of new ones, in an anthology. It’ll be called Dirty Laundry: The Jamie Brodie Short Stories. Then Published to Death will be out in November, and next spring will come Cloistered to Death, Jamie Brodie Mystery #16. Informally known as “Clinton’s Book.”

Oh! I love the idea of collected series shorts. How ruthless are you as a writer? What makes you decide to kill a character off? Have you ever regretted killing a character off?

I only kill characters when it’s absolutely necessary. I kinda felt bad about killing Matt Bendel, Elliott Conklin’s boyfriend, back in Psyched to Death, because Matt was a sweet kid. But he was so wrong for Elliott, and I needed a victim, so bye-bye, Matt. (That sounds pretty ruthless, doesn’t it?)

Yes, says the woman who ruthlessly killed off Taylor MacAllister's temporary partner in Old Poison. ;-D  If you could give aspiring mystery writers one tip on How to Build a Better Mystery, what would it be?

MP - Oh, there are so many… But here’s one I haven’t run across in any of the “how to write a mystery” books. Unless your mystery takes place in a small Southern town, don’t write stupid cops.

That's a good one for oh-so-many reasons! 

MP - Big-city homicide detectives are the cream of the crop, and they’re anything but stupid. I’ve read mysteries where the detectives are bumbling idiots compared to the amateur sleuth/star of the show. No, no, no. Have respect for your detectives. If you don’t think you should, read Ghettoside by Jill Leovy or Homicide Special by Miles Corwin. (Actually, if you’re going to write about homicide detectives at all, you should read those two books.)

I can rec Homicide Special, for sure. And speaking of homicide, do you think poison is a woman's weapon? What's your weapon of choice? 

MP - I haven’t poisoned anyone yet. YET. Let’s see...what have I used so far? Potassium injection, gun, hanging, a bust of Shakespeare, hot air balloon disaster, knife, strangulation, a Stone Age farming implement, knife, gun, strangulation, drowning, gun, gun, ice pick. Looks like guns win. (But my favorite of those is the Stone Age farming implement. Not a weapon you see every day.)

Er, no. And speaking of secret weapons, fashion magazines always ask this question: What is the one cosmetic or grooming tool you cannot live without? And do you have any idea why all these fashion models are always pretending the one tool they can't live without is their EYEBROW GROOMER?  

MP - Are they pretending? Maybe they all had eyebrows like Leonid Brezhnev before. As for me, give me a good old pair of tweezers any day. Not only are they essential for dispatching the stray unwanted hair, but they also serve as precisely the tool required to remove paper jams from document shredders. Which is extremely important when one has to shred a bunch of documents tout de suite. Er… I mean IF. IF one ever would have to shred documents… Hahaha! Forget I said anything.

Ha. We never forget ANYTHING on this blog. So. IS revenge best served cold or do you prefer room temperature? 

MP - NEVER argue with a Klingon. They tend to be testy. Cold it is. Cold, colder, coldest.

Is there any genre you'd like to tackle but you're kinda sorta afraid? 

MP - Postapocalyptic mysteries. Is that even a genre?

Probably. You would not believe what kids these days are writing. ;-D Okay. Tell us something surprising. Anything. Go on. Surprise us! 

I may be the only human in the Western world who has not read a word or watched a minute of anything Harry Potter.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Another Update Wherein I Offer Excuses

It's not like I want to miss deadlines and make readers sad. But stuff keeps happening and I keep missing the ball. It's uncomfortable. It's awkward. It's...not like me. Or at least not the old me. The new me...not sure.

It's been a weird year. I can't pretend otherwise. In fact, I'm flabbergasted to realize it's already September.  Half of October goes to Montreal and Bouchercon and meeting the SO's famille. Not a lot of writing will happen until I get home. I'm currently in the midst of edits for Murder Takes the High Road (non-negotiable because this one is due at the publisher's) and cooking up a quickie short story to keep the cauldron boiling.

Anyway, everything is completely off track, but still mostly doable before the end of the year. And even if something runs into next year, it will get done. That was the point of dedicating a year to catching stuff up (oh, the irony -- I need a catch-up year for my catch-up year).

So here's what I'm still planning on for 2017:

"Halloween is Murder" (a short story)
Murder Takes the High Road (although it doesn't come out until next spring)
Blind Side
The Italian translation of The Monet Murders
The Ghost Had an Early Check-Out (sequel to The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks)
In Other Words...Murder (the fourth Holmes & Moriarity)
So This is Christmas audio book (narrated by Kale Williams)
If Only in My Dreams - print collection of all my Christmas novellas

There is also stuff coming from publishers -- French, Japanese and Italian translations -- but I don't control that. Right now I'm just focusing on what I control. In theory.

I'm also starting to plan out next year. Again, the focus is going to be on catching up some of these long-promised stories like Ill Met by Moonlight (the sequel to This Rough Magic) and Haunted Heart 2 (Spring). There should be a good bit of audio too.  And there will be some surprises. No doubt for me as much as anyone. ;-)

Anyway, that's pretty much where we are as of now.