I’m thrilled to share the cover for my first release with publisher Bookouture, the psychological thriller Best Friends Forever! And don’t let the title fool you – my name for this book was Unspeakable. So be warned…. this is #NotYourAverageBFF!
Best Friends Forever will be released on January 12th, 2023. The Kindle version is available now for preorder!
The story is set in the fictional town of Wakefield, Florida, parts of which coincidentally mirror the dunes we weren’t supposed to visit back when I was in high school. Hmm… must have used my imagination to create the setting then!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the cover, and if you’re compelled to read it, the book! You can tag me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram @thiswritersays and/or use the hashtag #NotYourAverageBFF!
Here’s the blurb from the publisher:
I emerge from the trees, drenched in sweat, my voice lost as I take in the scene in front of me. The blood. The body. Emma’s eyes meet mine for a second. “It was an accident,” she whispers.
Emma and I were childhood best friends. We did everything together. Until that terrible night in the woods.
I couldn’t tell anyone what I’d seen. We never discussed it, but our bond was too strong; I could never betray my best friend. Even if she had killed someone.
But I also couldn’t stay in town and watch her live a normal life, knowing what she’d done. So I left.
Now, ten years later, I’m back. The guilt and the fear have stayed with me. And I have realized I need to reveal the truth if I’m ever going to move on.
But I never get the chance. Because the day I turn up, Emma is found dead, and the way she died means I start to doubt everything I thought I knew about that night all those years ago.
As my grief turns to anger at all those lost years of friendship, I realize with horror that Emma might not have been the only killer. Someone else is out there. Someone who was close to us both, someone who knew the smallest details of what had happened back then. Who from our small town could have murdered not once, but twice? And who’s next…?
An utterly gripping and compelling psychological thriller with twists and turns to die for. If you love Karin Slaughter, Paula Hawkins and Freida McFadden, you’ll love Best Friends Forever.
. . . alas, not me but someone else! But I was one of the top 4 and received an honorable mention for my crime/mystery short story, “Lady Killer,” so that’s pretty cool. I was unable to attend this year’s Crime Bake convention in Massachusetts, but they sent me this award certificate to commemorate the achievement.
This is the second time I’ve made it to the top 10 of the Al Blanchard Awards, but my first time as a finalist, and I have to say, it was pretty exciting!
The award submission period opens each January and is open to all writers living in New England or writers who have written a story in the mystery, thriller, suspense, caper, or horror genre that takes place in New England. Find out more info here.
For those who don’t know who Al was: (as taken from the Crime Bake website)
“Al Blanchard was MWA-NE chapter president and a member of Sisters in Crime when he and then-president of Sisters in Crime New England Gin Mackey seized the initiative to organize a regional mystery conference for New England. He then served as co-chair for the first three New England Crime Bake conferences.
Al exemplified everything great about mystery writing. He was the grateful recipient of mentoring and advice from writers who came before him, and he was always ready to reach out to new and aspiring writers to share his experience and knowledge. He was a dedicated and prolific writer whose career was exploding at the time of his tragic death in 2004.
The New England Crime Bake Committee established the Al Blanchard Award in his memory to annually honor the best crime short story by a New England writer or with a New England setting.”
To all those genre fans out there, happy reading and happy writing!
My story Tracked will appear in the Bloody Good Horror Anthology, which is expected to release this winter. This is a more recent piece, written during the last year, and is the first horror story I’ve written in half a decade. Tracked is also unique in that it’s the first Young Adult short story I’ve ever written, but fear not – the teenage characters don’t make this story any less dark and disturbing! I had so much fun writing this one that it led to the inception of what is perhaps my most spinetingling, toe-curling horror short ever (also YA), a piece I’m really proud of and hope to be able to share with you soon!
My piece Love Blind has been accepted by the quarterly literary magazine Third Wednesday for their winter issue. Love Blind is a work of flash fiction that I wrote several years ago and recently ‘rediscovered’ in my files. This short mixes what I hope is a surprise ending with a little dark, tongue-in-cheek humor.
Two more flash fiction stories rediscovered in the dark corners of my file drive, A Mother’s Heart and Rare Reception, have both been accepted by The BOULD Awards Anthology. Both pieces lean towards the satirical. A Mother’s Heart is dark (do you see a theme here?) and sardonic and does not end up where you’re expecting! Rare Reception is more of a straight-up humor piece that I still clearly remember writing back when I accepted a job position that required me to help answer the phones. I hate answering phones. You have to find a way to make it fun. (Trust me – you do NOT want me answering your phone!) Expect to see the BOULD Awards Anthology late this November.
Crime manifests itself in many forms. But it always bleeds red.
WATER TURNS RED is a collection of 21 chilling stories that explore the various shades of this ghastly color red. Within these pages lie the corpses of those killed in cold blood, the cunning minds of their killers, and the wits of detectives. Together they paint a disturbing image of the human psyche.
My collection of short stories was released in the US one month ago today. And while I’ve been published before (all of the pieces in the book featured my reoccurring character Detective Shaw and had previously appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies), this was different. This book, every part of it, was mine.
There were no stories by other authors to carry the reader through if they didn’t like my writing, the style, the voice of the piece, the characters or the plot. If a reader hated this book, the only one they could find fault with was me. It’s a daunting thing, making yourself vulnerable, putting yourself out there like that. I didn’t know what to expect.
And, this being my first release, I had no idea what to do.
I didn’t do any blog tours. I didn’t even do a proper book release leading up to publication.
I wrote the stories, put them together, formatted them, etc., but that’s the easy part. Getting someone to read them is an entirely different, much more difficult task. Because obviously, that’s the goal, right? To be read? But how, exactly, do you get those readers?
I used my Bookfunnel account (I pay $20 a year, which allows me to offer a link for a pdf, mobi and epub file for up to 5 books, which is how I distribute a free copy of a short story to people who subscribe to my newsletter), to create a landing page for a free download of the book. I then took out an ad with a $15 budget on Facebook targeting mystery readers in the US, UK and Canada. I had 72 downloads.
I also posted on several boards on Goodreads offering free copies for review. I had about 25 people request a copy.
I offered a free download to everyone on my mailing list. Six people requested a copy.
So, in the first week, I managed to get my book into over a hundred hands. I actually only know 2 of those 100+ people.
I’m painfully introverted – it was difficult and awkward just posting requests for reviewers on Goodreads – and there I was, relying on the kindness of strangers. Crossing my fingers that I got some reviews. And that they were good. And that some of them ended up on Amazon. Because just a tiny bit of research will tell you that’s what it’s all about – after getting 50 reviews on Amazon, Amazon will start taking measures to advertise your book for you. What writer wouldn’t want that?
And then, instead of obsessing about it, clicking the refresh button every five minutes to see if someone had left a review or actually *gasp* purchased a copy of the book (I made myself wait at least ten minutes to refresh), I got back to writing. Now, one month later, here are my results:
16 ratings, 15 reviews on Goodreads, 6 reviews on Amazon, and 6 books sold. I even got a little Instagram love from the fabulous @Booking.With.Janelle!
I’m more interested in reviews at this point than in selling copies of the book, I believe that one will lead to the other. I’m happy with these results, and believe it’s proof that you don’t need a huge budget to advertise your book.
But I’m going to tell you what you do need – an end product that lets readers know you respect their time. Which means making sure the copy is clean by EDITING your butt off – then doing it again and again! Working on the formatting until you get it right. Resisting the urge to hound the people who directly requested a copy from you, asking where their review is.
And I’m going to say it again. EDIT. We’re all human. I’ve found typos in books distributed by the major publishing houses. And there’s no denying that it’s hard to catch errors on something that you’ve read over a dozen times, especially when you wrote it, because you know what it’s supposed to say. But, as writers, if we expect readers to make the effort to leave a review, we should first make the effort to make sure what they’re reading is our absolute best effort, whether that means reading the work out loud, backwards, one sentence at a time, trading edits with another writer, or all of the above.
The reason I’m harping on this is that I’m hesitant to read books by Indie authors myself because I’ve read so many that were error ridden. And a couple of the reviews I received remarked about the lack of typos, which means other readers have had this experience as well. The publishing world is changing. The gatekeepers have lost control and now anyone can – and does – publish their work on the various available platforms. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make sure the book babies we’re releasing into the world aren’t quality work. Take the time, make the effort, and your readers will thank you (and read your next book!).
If you missed out on getting a copy of Detecting Fear and you want to do so, it will be available FREE on Amazon next weekend.
Your heart pounds in your chest, breath catching in your throat as the hair on the back of your neck slowly prickles with the feeling of being watched.
What is it that you’re truly afraid of?
The neighbor next door who might be a serial killer? Falling prey to a psychopath? Or your own inner demons, unleashed? Murder, mystery, mayhem – pick your poison.
The stories in this anthology, previously published in periodicals ranging from Suspense Magazine to The Saturday Evening Post, run the gamut from Hard-Boiled to cozy, noir to funny, with whodunit as the theme.
Whether you’re a fan of great past detectives like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Poirot, or modern investigators like Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad and Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta, you’ll find something to satisfy your inner sleuth within these pages.
I’m thrilled to finally share the cover for my short story collection, Detecting Fear, with you all! The book hits stores February 21st, 2021.
The ARC will still be available for request on Netgalley for the next few weeks. Click here to request your FREE copy on Netgalley!
No Netgalley account? No problem! You can get a PDF, Mobi or ePub version over at Bookfunnel, no account needed, just follow the link for a download. Click here to get your FREE copy at Bookfunnel!
Please don’t forget to leave a review!!!
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