Monday, December 26, 2011

What's Next...

I tend to do most of my writing when I go on vacation.  I find that being in different surroundings loosens up the creative side of my brain.  It also helps that when I'm away (doesn't really matter where), I'm free of the usual distractions I have at home.  I can get more done on a two week holiday abroad than in a six month period at home. 

My plan for this current vacation was to dig into Frisky Business - the fourth Sasha Jackson mystery.  But I haven't even opened the file. 

Instead, a brand new idea has come to me!  It's also for a mystery, but I'm not sure I can make it into a Sasha  book.  Obviously, I'd just as soon write Sasha stories, but the concept for this one may mean that it ends up being a stand alone title...  Hmmm... I'm still sorting it out in my brain.

What I can say about the new book idea is the following:
  • I know whodunit
  • I know whydunit
  • I mostly know howdunit
  • I know what the setting is
  • I know what the background or backstory is
  • I know the working title: The Last Word

So, I'll mull it over some more and see if I can figure out how Sasha Jackson can get involved. 
Stay tuned...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Recent Reads: Mine Smokin' Grey

"Mine All Mine" by Adam Davies
A rip-roaring start.  Wacky characters and wacky situations.  Excellent word choices and descriptions (Davies really is quite a wordsmith).  My only gripe with this novel is that the climax goes on a bit too long.  The denouement was satisfying, though.  I had fun reading this, and will check out other books by Davies.

"Smokin' Seventeen" by Janet Evanovich
Anyone who knows Sasha and Jill, knows that the Stephanie Plum series is a perennial fave.  This time the plot is a wee bit stronger and tighter, which makes an enjoyeble book even more of a treat.  Lula is as irrepressible as ever.  The romantic tension between Stephanie and Morelli, and Stephanie and Rangers is dialed up to ten.  Grandma Mazur is ever the pip.  Reading a Stephanie Plum novel is like getting together with dear old friends.

"Shades of Grey" by Jasper Fforde
I love the "Thursday Next" series and the "Nursery Crimes" series, so it's no surprise that I dug right into this - I began reading it on Tuesday and finished it on Wednesday. I laughed out loud at several pages.  Fantanstic, fun Fforde!  I can't wait for the next books in the series.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Awesome review in Ellery Queen!!

I was totally thrilled to see Dead Light District reviewed in Ellery Queen!!!  It's a great review and the following line is the highest praise I could ever imagine:

"Sasha is a true literary granddaughter of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, complete with smart mouth and clever similes."

To be mentioned in the same breath as two of the greatest, two of the forerunners is indeed an honour! 

Link to review here.

Dead Light District is currently on special on AMAZON kindle for $2.99! 


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Old Covers for some Classic Mysteries

Choosing a book cover is not easy!  It's a challenge to come up with an image that suits the content, and is attractive to readers.  Some of these early covers for some well-known books by some heavyweight authors may have seemed like a great choice once upon a time.  In my opinion, though, the following covers now seem very cheesy and dated.

I just generally don't like to see faces
on books unless it's a bio.

The bright yellow background is not
particularly visually soothing.

Can you say "Bodice Ripper"?

This is so very Marilyn Monroe!

What horrible colours!
The images are nothing special either.

Makes me think of a traffic sign:
Jaguars Crossing.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cool Bookmarks

For a book that's hot off the press.

For when the story really grabs you!

Gotta be for a whodunit!

Probably not for a Stephen King novel.

For crime fiction, most definitely!

Makes me think of Ruffles potato chips.

I'd actually use this one.

This makes me want to sing: "Ding Dong! the witch is dead!"

Sunday, December 4, 2011

First Review for "The Lies Have It"!! And some other stuff too...

I was very happy the other day to see the first review of "The Lies Have It".  The review was great, and I'm still beaming.  You can check it out on Entertainment Realm by Amy Steele.  Here's a nibble from Ms. Steele's review:

"It’s diverting to read a mystery to stir things up a bit. Author Jill Edmondson created a great character in Sasha Jackson. This makes me want to keep reading. Sasha’s honest, gutsy, liberal and independent."

You can order "The Lies Have It" here.

Another thing that surfaced online this week are the photos of the launch party taken by SNAP.  You can check them out here

And, finally, I was a guest blogger today over at Carrick Publishing.  You can click here to see what I have to say about chairs and selling books.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Audio-Visual clips from the launch party

Here is a link to my reading from "The Lies Have It" In addition to the reading, I also briefly chat about how I wrote the book... It took SIX years!  Click here.

Reader's comments on Sasha Jackson... Feeling the love!!   Click here for audio (From Paul The Book Guy).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ooops, picked the wrong title... XXX! Oh No!

I had a very hard time choosing the title for the third Sasha Jackson Mystery.  I encouraged input from other people (via Facebook, this blog, Twitter, etc.)

I was fond of "X Marks the Plot".  Others liked "Crash and Burn" or "Cuff Me Tender."  I wanted something that had a bit of a pun or a twist on words to it (as the two previous books had).  And, I wanted to reflect something of the plot in the title.  Eventually, I settled on "The Lies Have It".

As with the other books, I Googled the title to see what was already out there that was the same or similar to it.  Nothing came up (or at least nothing significant).

Naturally, I have set up "Google Alerts" for all of my book titles (sometimes this is the only way I learn of reviews!)  I set up the Google Alert for "The Lies Have It" a few months before the release since I began online promotion for it a while ago.

Well, the alert sends me pretty much everything with whatever key terms I flag.  Lo and behold, about two weeks ago, I got an alert (and another one this week) for "The Lies Have It". 

These two alerts have nothing to do with my books, but they do indeed match the book title.  But this version of "The Lies Have It" is for a blog... filled with porn!!!!  I'm not a prude, but as soon as I went to the link, there were a number of very naughty pictures that took me by surprise. 

I wonder how many people have gone to that blog thinking that it had some association with me????

For the record, I have nothing to do with the XXX blog.  Sasha's edgy, but not THAT edgy!  Here's a link to my "Lies".

Monday, November 21, 2011

"The Lies Have It" Launch Party Pics & More!

The launch party for The Lies Have It was earlier this month and it was a blast!

Paul Alves from Paul The Book Guy was there and got some great audio clips from fans of Sasha Jackson.  Listen here.  (The first 5 minutes are about the launch party, but the rest of the episode is well worth a listen too!)

 And of course, we took lots of photos.  Have a look!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Crime & Punishment?

It's always nice to see justice prevail, but in the following cases it happens in an unusual way.  A few judges have given sentences that offer a twist on "making the punishment fit the crime."

1.  Judge Sacco of Colorado has a unique way of sentencing people who break noise by-laws.  He makes them listen to blaring music for a given length of time.  The twist is that the song selection is something from Barry Manilow, Dolly Parton, or perhaps a nursery rhyme. 

2.  Judge Hostetler of Ohio wanted to teach a couple guys to respect women.  The guys had thrown beer bottles at a woman, 60.  The guys had a choice of jail time or spending an hour walking around downtown dressed as a woman. 

3.  Also from Ohio: A slumlord in Cleveland was sentenced to six months house arrest in one of his own run-down buildings.  Plus he was fined $100,000.

4.  Melissa Dawn Sweeney of Texas was found guilty of animal neglect (which ultimately led to the death of a horse).  She had to do 30 days in jail, the first three of which she was to be fed nothing more than bread and water, which was apparently "more than her horses got". 

5.  Jennifer Langston of Pennsylvania was convicted of drunk driving causing death.  Her sentence was only 30 days in jail, but she was also sentenced to carry a photo of the man she killed.  The photo - provided by the victim's mother - was a picture of the victim in his coffin.  She has to carry the photo for 5 years.

6.  Judge Mike Cicconetti had an unusual sentence for a teenager who was caught stealing "adult movies" from a video store.The teen had to stand outside the video store, wearing a blindfold and a sign that said "See No Evil".


Friday, November 11, 2011

"Pushing Up Daisies" and so on...

I'm writing a piece on funerals (don't ask why...) and while writing, I wanted to use the words "death," "dying," and "dead" as little as possible.  I could easily think of several euphemisms and idioms for the aforementioned but wanted to find a few other terms and phrases.  So, of course, I Googled it and came up with several interesting options.  It seems to me that mystery writers might find this useful, even though this list is far from complete.. 

Dirt Nap,  Worm Food,  Go Into The Fertilizer Business,  Sleeping With Fishes,  Six Feet Under,  Kicked The Bucket,  Pushing Up Daisies,  At Room Temperature,  Bought The Farm,  Rubbed Out,  Snuffed Out,  Checked Out,  Tits Up,  Buying a pine condo. 

ONE WORD TERMS:Expired,  Demised,  Passed,  Succumbed,  Deceased,  Departed,  Taken,  Perished.

Danced the last dance,  Gone into the West,  Bought a one-way ticket,  Gave up the ghost,  Joined the invisible choir,  Shuffled off the mortal coil, With his ancesters.

Crossed the River Styx,  Wandering the Elysian Fields,  Paid Charon's fare.   

GENTLE TERMS:Resting in peace, Asleep, Gone to meet their maker, That goodnight, In a better place,  Going to the eternal reward,  Breathed his last.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Part 3 of the motley crew in "The Lies Have It"

Here's a quick intro to a few more of the nutjobs in "The Lies Have It" - Private Investigator Sasha Jackson's latest case.

Hugh Vanderhoof is the owner of the bar that people associate with the murder of Ian Dooley, the fetish dude.  Hugh's interest in anatomy is limited to his first year of medical school.

Dawn Valentini is a chain smoking militant lesbian newspaper reporter with a flair for Irish step-dancing and a fondness for the Civil War.

Moose the Florist is a Latino behemoth with a heart of gold.  He's also a part-time bouncer and it's hard to be intimidating when you smell like roses.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Latest Reads: Crew 22 Outwitting Steven Beasts

Here's a quick look at a few of the books I've read recently:

Thomas Frank: The Wrecking Crew
I loved this!  Read it and learn.  (It is a bit of a screed, but it's edifying nonetheless).

Christopher Hitchens: Hitch 22
I think I'm in love with Christopher Hitchens.  He's flat-out brilliant.

Aaron Lansky: Outwitting History
Seems a strange topic, but an engaging story, and passionately told. 

Steven Tyler: Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?
I love Aerosmith, but this book turned me off of Steven Tyler.  Skip this one, and read "Life" by Keith Richards instead.

Erik Larsen:  In the Garden of Beasts
Not bad, but not great and nowhere nearly as interesting as his previous book "The Devil in the White City".  Run right out and buy a copy of "Devil" and devour it immediately, but give "Garden" a pass.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

More weird lawsuits...

1.  Todd Remis of New York sued the wedding photographer because the shutterbug left the reception before the final dance and bouquet toss.  I guess those are special moments that oughtta be captured on film, but... Remis and his wife have now divorced, and the lawsuit was launched after the marriage ended.

2.  Police Officer Jeremy Merck was a customer at Good Foods to Go deli in New Jersey where Ryan Burke happens to work.  Ryan Burke also happened to have been arrested once upon a time by Officer Merck.  For revenge, Burke added some chest and pubic hairs to a bagel ordered by Officer Merck.  Of course, Merck has launched a lawsuit (case is still pending).

3.  An unnamed woman from Wisconsin is suing a man with whom she had a one night stand.  This classy event took place in the man's pick-up truck.  He failed to disclose to her that he has herpes.  She is now suing for $350,000.  By the way: she is married, and so is the guy (but not to each other).

4.  Heavy-set Martin Kessman of New York is suing the White Castle hamburger chain because their seats (stationary booths) are too small, and this violates his civil rights. 

Read more wacky lawsuits here:  (original source).

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Book Promo piece by Rosemary McCracken

I am very pleased (and very flattered!) to be the topic of the latest blogpost by author Rosemary McCracken.  Have a look here at Rosemary's blog.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Strange Lawsuits

People do really odd things when they feel that thay have been wronged.  Some of them take it to extremes... and sometimes they win!

  • In June 1998:  Carl Truman of Los Angeles won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbour ran over Truman's hand while driving his car. Mr. Truman's hand was down low on the ground, near the tires because he was trying to steal his neighbour's hubcaps. 

  • In 1998: Terrence Dickson of Pennsylvania tried to leave a home he had burgled by exiting via the garage.  However, he could not get the garage door to open, because the automatic door opener wasn't working properly. He couldn't re-enter the house because the door from the garage into the house had locked when he  shut it. The family who owned the home he had just burgled was on vacation, so Mr. Dickson ended up being trapped in the the garage for eight days. He survived by drinking a case of Pepsi he found, and a large bag of dry dog food that had been stored in the garage. Mr. Dickson sued the homeowner's insurance claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish. The jury awarded him half a million dollars.

  • In May of 2000: A restaurant in Philadelphia had to pay Amber Carson $113,500 after she slipped on a soft drink that had been spilled on the floor, and she broke her coccyx when she wiped out on it.  The sodapop was on the floor because Ms. Carson threw it at her boyfriend during an argument.

  • In December of 1997: Kara Walton of Delaware successfully sued the owner of a night club when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out two of her front teeth. This happened because Ms.Walton tried to sneak through through the window in the ladies room in order to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge.  She won $12,000 and dental expenses.

Read more at the original source:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

XXX-rated cookies for the launch party!

My dear friend Patti is making "fetish" sugar cookies for the launch party for "The Lies Have It".  These are funny as hell, but just so wrong!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Original Titles of Famous Books

Choosing a title can be very hard.  Here are some working or proposed titles for a few classics:

Old: Elinor and Marianne
New: Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen ... I definitely prefer the new title.

Old: All’s Well That Ends Well
New: War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy ... It's hard to even imagine this book with any other title.

Old: Catch-18
New: Catch-22, Joseph Heller ... 18 was changed to 22 so as not to be confused with Leon Uris's Mila 18, which was released around the same time.

Old: Incident at West Egg
New: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald ... Part of me prefers the original title; it makes me curious.

Old: Tomorrow is Another Day
New: Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell ... Glad they changed this one.  The original is sappy and cliched. 

Old: Something That Happened
New: Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck ... Also glad they changed this one.  The original would not have inspired me to want to read it.

Old: The Last Man in Europe
Now: 1984, George Orwell ... I like both of these.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Three real robberies & one fake robbery...

Once again, truth is stranger than fiction.  If I were to put the following in a book, readers would criticize it and roll their eyes, and publishers would tell me to re-write it.  But this really happened!!!

When I lived in Torreon, Mexico (Jan-June 2001, and then July-May 2002-2003), I experienced three real robberies and one robbery that was entirely made up.  The only robbery that the police paid any attention to was the fake one...

Robbery One
I was teaching ESL in Mexico and lived - with two other teachers - in a house owned by the school.  The house was fully furnished, a fairly nice place, in a good neighbourhood.  One day, we came home from school and discovered that our home had been robbed and ransacked.  The thieves only took things that belonged to the tenants (us teachers): jewelry, cameras, CDs, etc.  They left the TV, microwave, appliances and furniture that all belonged to the school (who owned the house).  The burglars even took our booze (except the Mezcal... even crooks won't touch that nasty stuff!)  They also rifled through the underwear/lingerie/etc. drawers of all three of us.  UGH!  Besides taking stuff and trashing the place, the creeps used our lipsticks to write on the windows (in Spanish) "Pancho Villa Rules and Controls".  I have no idea what Pancho has to do with anything (but his real name FYI was Doroteo Arango).

The police refused to make a report.

Robbery Two
I'm still mad as hell about this one... It was the classic streetside "spill" accident/pickpocketing.  I was walking along a pretty little street in Guanajuato.  A man passed me on the sidewalk and "spilled" his orange juice on me.  A very nice lady walking by  handed me some tissues to help clean up the sticky mess.  The man apologized for his clumsiness, I said not to worry about it - accidents happen.  I dried off and wiped up.  No problem.  I thanked the lady for helping me clean up.  We parted ways, and I noticed my wallet had been pilfered from my purse.  Fuckers!  I won't give details, but they got a LOT from my wallet.  Fuckers!  I am still pissed about being conned... I actually thanked my robbers!!  ARGH!

The police refused to make a report.

Robbery Three
Was at the house I lived in during my second stint in Mexico.  Again, a nice house in a nice neighbourhood.  I came home to find the place trashed and everything of value was gone: electronics, jewelery, playstation, cameras, cellphones, and on and on...

The police refused to make a report. 

The Fake One
When I returned to Mexico in July 2002, I entered first as a tourist with a 30 day visitor visa.  No problem.  I had a job lined up that would arrange my FM3 (work permit).  I was there legally and had my papers from before, but for some reason, that 30 day tourist visa was IMPORTANT!  I have no idea where it disappeared but since I couldn't find it and since it was needed to process my new work visa, the loss of it proved to be quite a problem.

The immigration lawyer for the school came up with a solution.  The lawyer, a translator and I went down to the police station and reported a robbery.  I should add here that I speak and understand Spanish, but the lawyer said to pretend I didn't.  The lawyer told the cops I had left my purse in the car while I went grocery shopping (I don't drive) and when I came back my purse - with my tourist card - was gone.  (If I had no purse, then how did I pay for the imaginary groceries???)  The lawyer went on to explain that since I was a Canadian girl, I was naive and trusting because there's no theft in Canada, so leaving my purse in the imaginary car was a normal thing to do.

No problem.  The police issued a robbery report to explain my missing purse and tourist card.  The lawyer took the robbery report to Immigration.  The folks at Immigration were satisfied with the explanation of my missing tourist card, and my work visa was issued immediately.  No problem.

Hmmm... I wonder if any bribes exchanged hands..?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Planning the launch party for "The Lies Have It"

Yikes! The launch party for "The Lies Have It" (book three in the Sasha Jackson mystery series) is only about three weeks away!

Fortunately, I've done two book launches in the last two years, so planning the third will be fairly easy.  
  • I've ordered customized cocktail napkins again, as I did with the previous books.  The text will have the title and launch date beneath a lipstick kiss.
  • I've still got 1000 feet of yellow crime scene tape to decorate the room.
  • I've ordered "evidence" bags (both paper and plastic) for people who purchase books.
  • The bags and the tape are both from Crime Scene - you can order all sorts of really cool stuff from them!
  • I'll have the same three students working the event as I had last time.  They were good and they already know what to do, and I'm lucky to have them.
  • This time, we'll be toasting with Goldschlager.
  • Once again Iden Ford will take photographs of the party, plus SNAP photography will be there.
  • My neighbour Patti will make 100 special cookies for the guests (see picture below).
  • Michelle Elliott at The Pilot Tavern will handle things at her end (food, A/V equipment).
  • And Moose the Florist will make dozens of customized roses to hand out to each guest.
I can't wait till November 3rd!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"The Lies Have It" - whole cover

I'm so happy to finally see what the whole thing will look like (from the outside at least!)
The files went to the printer today, so the countdown begins... 
November 3rd is the launch party!!!  More on that in another post.

Click on the image to enlarge. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

"Cosa Nostra" Cruise Lines

I rarely write personal stuff on this blog, but an interesting happening a few months ago is worth sharing. I
have no idea how I'll use the following story, but it's likely to end up in a Sasha Jackson mystery someday...

In May, I went to Italy (and France). First time for me in Italy, and I loved it! I planned the trip based on water travel - as much as possible.  I took ferries from place to place. The itinerary was basically as follows:

Nice to Bastia to Livorno to Palermo to Naples to Rome  (The only surface travel I did was a train from Naples to Rome). 

Now the ferries were something else... Nice to Bastia and Bastia to Livorno were six and four hours respectively, and the journey was a lot of fun.  In each case, the ferry had a party atmosphere, several restaurants and bars, a gift shop, arcades, slot machines, a sundeck and even a wading pool!

The ferry from Livorno to Palermo was something else though... I almost chickened out and contemplated hitchiking to Palermo instead!  As I approached the ferry, I had visions of being attacked or robbed, and worried that the floating bucket of bolts would capsize.

I knew it would be a ~20 hour journey, departing at 11 pm and arriving at 7 pm the next day.  I even had a little cabin booked (a nice cabin actually, two bunk beds and a bathroom with shower, etc). 

With the first two ferry rides, it was pretty touristy and the ships left from a touristy port in the heart of the city.  For Livorno to Palermo, though, it was an industrial/commercial port way the hell out gawd knows where.  It truly was a dark and stormy night... okay, it was dark and foggy and I wondered if the cab driver was lost.  Nope.  There's the boat...

Now, I knew ahead of time that the Livorno to Palermo ferry was essentially a cargo ferry.  But they do sell tickets to tourists and I couldn't possibly be the only dingbat tourist to hop on board...  So, I'm at this shipyard, surrounded by eighteen wheelers and bikers and thinking WTF? There were a few families doing car trips with mom, dad and two or three kids, but mainly it was long haul truckers and a few bikers (the vroom vroom kind, not cyclists), but really no other tourists like moi.

I go to check in, and - unlike the previous two ferries with stellar customer service - this boat had stevedores named Butch and Bubba greeting the guests.  I was the: 
  • first Canadian they had ever had on board
  • the first female travelling solo they'd ever had
  • one of the very few pedestrian travellers on the ferry

So that was the set up.  The staff were all right out of central casting for The Sopranos or The Godfather.  They never smiled, the bar & restaurant staff were not particularly friendly, and none of them was what you'd call well groomed.  Okay, no big deal...

What was particularly surprising was the fact that this was a TWENTY HOUR ferry ride with no stops, out in the middle of nowhere, and there was basically no place to spend money!  Think about this: A totally captive group of travellers, and really not all that much to do for most of the journey (there was no land view to speak of, really, no Internet, no cell service, one community TV in the main deck "lounge area"...)

  • The gift shop never opened (it only appeared to have three items for sale anyway, two of which were stale chips).
  • The "casino" - about a dozen slot machines - was only open from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm.
  • The buffet restaurant (sad looking fare) was only open for lunch from 12:00 to 2:00 pm.
  • The bar/cafe was open for two hours, then closed for two hours, then open for two... etc.
I wandered around the decks and looked at the water, had a smoke and pretended not to notice the clusters of truckers who were checking me out (sadly, more as a curiosity than as a hot property!) 

It was just really strange to be in such a "we don't give a fuck about you and your desires" place, especially given the situation, in which they could have turned the whole thing into a gold mine, especially the slot machines.  As a tourist I expect to be gouged, but this was the extreme opposite of that. 

It was strange, but I'd definitely do it again.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Book Promotion By the Numbers - Part Two...

Okay, so I've already talked about online book promotion.  Now, here's the lowdown on other types of book promotion:

My first book was Blood and Groom and it was published by The Dundurn Group in November 2009.  For that book, I did about 60 events in about 15 months: 
  • Three TV interviews (all on Rogers Daytime, but different cities).
  • Six libraries.
  • About 30 store signings at Chapters/Indigo and other retailers.
  • Some neat events such as "Murder in the Old Town" at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse and "Vino and Victims" at Swirl Winebar (great place!), plus a Read-A-Thon for Durham Literacy, and so on...
  • A few book clubs.
  • Some speaking events (Sisters in Crime, schools/writing classes, etc.)
  • Several print interviews
I'm the one who thought of, planned, promoted, and executed each event.  Think of what is involved in doing each of those, for example a book signing at a store:  
  1. Call or email the store and ask if they are interested in having an event with you and your books.
  2. Call or email the same store a week later because they didn't get back to you to confirm the date.
  3. Once the date/place are firm, tell all your friends about it.  Tweet the event, post it on Facebook, and (depending on the event) get it listed in local media "What's On" or "Happenings Around Town".
  4. Call local media and ask if they would like to cover the event (community newspapers are good for this, especially SNAP).
  5. Depending on the event, you may wish to send ahead some promotional materials (bookmarks, flyers, etc.)
  6. Retweet the event.  Post a reminder on Facebook.
  7. Call the store again to make sure they know you're coming and that they have lots of copies of your book in stock.
Now all of that may seem easy enough (?!?!) but add to that travel time to and from the event and time spent at the event itself (just about every event I ever did was at least two hours). So, if you say 2 hours for the actual event, and 2 hours for planning/promoting it, and 1 hour travel time to and from the event, you're looking at a minimum of five hours of your time for each event.  (Occasionally it's shorter, but often - usually - it's much longer).  If you take five hours time sixty events, that's 300 hours.  (Compare that to a forty hour work week... 300 hours would be 7.5 weeks at a "normal" 9-to-5 job).  Keep in mind - all of this is separate from the time it takes to actually write, revise, edit and proofread a book. 

With Dead Light District (the 2nd Sasha Jackson mystery), I have done fewer events, and I've concentrated mainly on store signings.  Part of the reason for doing fewer events with this one is that the next book is coming right on its heels. The Lies Have It will be out next month (just six months after Dead Light District), so I'll promote both of these quite a bit in the coming months. 

In any case, if you are a new or aspiring author, you'll likely be surprised at how much time you'll need to spend on book related stuff that has nothing to do with actually writing.  I've easily spent way more time promoting each book than I did writing any of them.  By far! 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Book Promotion: Crunching the Numbers

An author has to do a fair bit of work to promote his/her book(s), regardless of who the publisher is.  I knew that going in... sort of...

I'm happy to promote my books - hell, why wouldn't I be?  But I had no idea just what exactly promoting my books would entail.  Here's a few numbers:

  • 245+ Blog posts since July 2009
  • 6500+ Tweets since October 2009 (@JillEdmondson)
  • ~2000 Tweets since May 2010 (@DeadlyLetters)
  • 1060 followers @JillEdmondson, listed 70 times
  • 330 followers @DeadlyLetters, listed 9 times
  • 1200 "Fans" or "Likes" on Facebook page for Sasha Jackson Mysteries
That's a lot of time in front of a computer or chained to a BlackBerry!

Has it been worth it?  YES.  Is all of the above necessary?  YES.

In short, via Facebook I've gained or been introduced to a lot of readers.  I have fans in Hawaii, Texas, UK, and Amsterdam that I'd never have connected with wthout Facebook.

As for Twitter, I've gotten at least four reviews that came (even circuitously) via Twitter.  Maybe even five or six... And they were all very favourable!

As for the blog, it's helped me connect with many other authors, plus a number of readers.  I get about 3000 pageviews a month on the blog, so that`s good. 

So, okay, yeah, the effects of social mmedia book promotion are positive.  But keep in mind how much time it takes to get to those numbers:

  • Each blog post takes anywhere between 10 minutes and 60 minutes to write.
  • Tweets only take a few seconds to write, but 6500 of them adds up!
  • Everything I put out there in cyberland gets plugged online here and there: blog posts are added to StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious, Gothise, Google+ and Facebook, and, of course, to Twitter (both accounts).  This takes time - even if it's only a few minutes (or even seconds!) for each thing, it adds up.
  • I spend as much time "liking" or re-tweeting or mentioning other authors & their updates on Twitter et al as I do with my own updates.
  • Even with RSS feeds, you still have to post or repost things hither and yon, and not every site can have an RSS feed attached to it.
So, even though I can tweet and post stuff online from the comfort of home, in my jammies, with a big mug of coffee and some cheesy music playing, it`s still a time bandit.  All together, I spend at least ten hours a week doing social media book stuff.  Often, it's more than that...

I could have written a whole other book in the time it took to promote the ones that have already been published!

More on book promotion - other than via social media - in the next blog post.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hell no! You ain't reading THAT!!!

Few things bug me more than the curtailing of individual freedoms.  And I'm ornery enough to want to do something if I'm told NOT to do it.  But, no one has ever told me NOT to read this book or that book.  (Actually, that's not true... When I was 12 or 13, my uptight, hypocritical, religious zealot mother threw out my copy of "Forever" by Judy Blume.  I borrowed a friend's copy and read it anyway, so clearly that didn't work.) 

A recent case of book banning has me knotted right up.  I first heard of this from GalleyCat (via Twitter).  Mark Melvin, an inmate in an Alabama prison, has been prevented from reading a book... a nonfiction book... a book on history... a Pulitzer Prize winning book.

The book is Slavery By Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon.   

It shouldn't matter WHY prison officials prevented Melvin from reading this book.  No books should be banned. Ever. End of story.  As soon as you ban this one or that one - no matter how offensive someone might find it - you end up on the slippery slope or at the thin edge of the wedge, which is  too precarious a position to contemplate.  From there, it doesn't take long to suffocate. 

(For the record, prison officials thought the book posed a "security threat."

I urge you to read this book.  It was one of the three best nonfiction books I read in 2010. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Interview with Rosemary McCracken

I'm pleased today to share an interview with Rosemary McCracken.  Rosemary McCracken's debut mystery Safe Harbor is now in production at Imajin Books. Release date will be announced soon.

1.   How did you come up with the character Pat Tierney, “a 40-something widow who balances a busy financial planning practice, a hectic family life”?
There's a shortage of mature female characters in crime fiction – characters over the age of 40 with whom baby boomers can identify. So I married a whodunit plot to the story of a woman going through a life-altering event. In chapter one, Pat learns that her late husband fathered another woman's child; soon after that, this woman is found murdered. I made Pat a financial planner because, as a journalist, I've written extensively about personal finance and interviewed hundreds of people in the financial services industry. Pat exemplifies their best traits.
2.   “Last Date” and “Safe Harbour” – what kinds of titles do you have in mind for future Pat Tierney novels?  Will you stick with two-word titles?
I find it difficult to come up with titles because journalists do not write the headlines for their own articles. I'm about three-quarters through the first draft of the sequel to Safe Harbor and I still don't know what its title will be. Two words, probably. Something short and punchy.
3.   You’ve worked as a reporter and journalist, and have written on a variety of topics, including business.  And, you’ve heard the expression “truth is stranger than fiction.” What real life white collar crime story is TOO BIZARRE to turn into a novel?
No crime, white collar or other, is too bizarre for a novel. Pedophilia, trafficking in human body parts – nothing is sacred. A particularly sordid crime story involving a financial planner is that of Canada's own Albert Walker, the convicted murderer and embezzler who ran off with his clients' money and his own 15-year-old daughter. When the Walkers were finally found in England some years later, they were posing as a married couple with two small children. It's always been assumed that Walker fathered the kids. Pretty creepy, but I can see a writer like Kate Atkinson pulling it off with style. 
4.   I’m cheating here... this is actually a two-part question: Which is harder to write: short stories or novels?  Which is more fun to write?  (Saying that something is hard doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not fun...)
I find a short story far more difficult to write than a novel. A short story looks deceptively easy but it needs to say a lot with a few words, and has to be tweaked and tweaked and tweaked. A crime story also requires a twist, or better yet a double twist, at the end. Not easy to do. Novels suit me better, allowing me to bring in a larger cast of characters with more space to develop them. And that's what I find enjoyable: getting to know my characters.
5.   As a mystery reader, what is the one thing an author can do (with the plot or the characters or or or ...?) that would turn you off?
I don't enjoy stories that are unresolved at the end – government conspiracies that the hero will never get to the bottom of, characters who vanish at the end of the book leaving the reader wondering whether they died in the final confrontation or ran off to start new lives. I don't necessarily want happy endings – the hero can die – but I like to see order restored to the world at large.
6.   As mentioned above, you’ve done all kinds of writing (magazines, newspapers, etc.) for quite some time.  What are the challenges to you when it comes to writing fiction versus nonfiction?
Most journalists have been trained to write "hard news" – breaking news stories that require covering the 5 Ws: who, what, where, when and why. As well as "how" and, when applicable, "how much." Journalists use adjectives and description sparingly; a photo will often supply the description. This kind of background enables me to write tightly and has given me a fairly good command of grammar. The downside is that description doesn't come easily to me, nor does lyrical language. But coming up with fictional characters and situations has never been difficult. It's a joy to let these imaginary people, places and events surface after all those years of sticking to the facts!
7.   What character from fiction (not necessarily mystery fiction) would you like to bring to life for just one day and why?
I'd love to spend a day riding around with Mickey Haller, the title character of Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer, who conducts his practice out of his Lincoln Town Car. If Haller came to life looking like Matthew McConaughey, who played the role in this year's film adaptation, that would be one hell of a ride!
8.   Imagine writing an online dating profile (Google “LavaLife” or “PlentyOfFish”) for Pat Tierney.  What would her dating profile say?
Pat's profile on LavaLife would read: CLASSACT – Life is full of surprises! Age: 47. Location: Toronto, Ontario. Height: 5'7". Body type: slim and fit. Ethnic background: Irish Canadian. Religion: lapsed Catholic. Smoking habits: non-smoker. Zodiac: Pisces.
9.   Name two mystery authors who influenced you.  Elaborate on this as desired.
Ruth Rendell has influenced me for years with her wonderful, often grotesque characters and creepy settings. And Kate Atkinson is currently working in the same tradition, with an added touch of humor. There is something truly fabulous about British crime writers. It must be all that fog and mist and dampness!
10. What murder weapon/manner of death would you like to use in your next mystery?
My sequel to Safe Harbor has a character who dies when he drives into his garage and it bursts into flames.
11. (This one is a freebie... What is the question you wish I had asked you but didn’t.  Now, go ahead and ask and answer that question.) Who would you like to play Pat Tierney in the movie adaptation of Safe Harbor?
I have two fortysomething actresses in mind. Nicole Kidman. And Jodie Foster, who has her own production company!
Visit Rosemary McCracken's website at and her blog at . Follow Rosemary on Twitter @RCMcCracken and at 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Launch Parties and Booze

At my first launch party, for Blood and Groom, there was a wedding theme (albeit a rather macabreone).  Given the love and marriage backdrop, it seemed fitting that we did a champagne toast after the reading.

At the launch party for Dead Light District, we did a toast with tequila.  One of the main characters in Cazadores is one of my favourite brands.
this book is a Mexican hooker, hence the tequila.  That's good, because I actually do like tequila (no doubt influenced by having lived in Mexico) and

The third book, The Lies Have It, will be out in November, and I'm busy now planning the launch party.  Goldschlager for this launch.  Visually and in terms of the flavour and style of the drink, it fits well with the plot, which this time around centres on the fetish world and politics.
Unlike the other two books where the choice of libation was obvious, this one was a bit of a challenge.  I like the launch parties to reflect the mood and tone of the books, and that includes everything from decor to music to food and drink.  I've decided to go with