Monday, April 24, 2017

Judging a Book by Its Cover

It’s time to admit it. I suffer from OCPD—Obsessive Compulsive Planning Disorder. I hadn’t even finished writing my first book, Murder Strikes a Pose when I started preparing to query agents. I took classes, read dozens of blog articles, and attended a host of information sessions. In the end, I left with two key takeaways:

1.      Check your spelling. Agents will toss your manuscript in the garbage if you spell their name wrong.
2.      Your manuscript must have a fabulous first line—a single sentence that will hook the reader in twenty words or less.

Writing my book’s first line became an obsession. I sweated and angsted and wrote and rewrote. I finally created something perfect: a pithy first sentence that would simultaneously hook the reader, draw them into the story, and introduce them to the voice of the novel’s protagonist.

But all of that angst and hard work will be for nothing if readers never crack open the book. That’s where the cover comes in.

The design of my book’s cover started with my author website. My webmaster (aka husband) and I discussed the site’s design for months. I wanted it to illustrate some key elements of my mysteries; he wanted a professional-looking page that wouldn’t take him a hundred years to create. We finally agreed that the site would contain:

·        Bright, happy colors that captured the lighthearted tone of the work
·        An illustration that quickly showed two important components of the series: yoga and dogs
·        Recognizable landmarks of Seattle, the city in which the series takes place
·        A feeling of playful mischief between the two main characters: Kate, a quirky yoga instructor, and Bella, her horse-sized German shepherd.

That decided, my husband hired artist Nicole Alesi who developed this web banner.

I was simply delighted. The web banner contained everything that I wanted and more.

My publisher agreed. When Midnight Ink purchased the first three books in the series, they hired Nicole to design the book covers. The cover art she created for Murder Strikes a Pose is below:

I have to admit, I love it.

So imagine my surprise when I read my first one-star review. The reviewer said that my writing was “lovely; fast paced and vivid,” and that mystery readers would like the book. So why did she give it a single star? In spite of the word “murder” in the title, she thought that the book was a romance, not a mystery. Evidently, she doesn’t like reading about murder.

The second surprise came a few weeks later at my first book signing. Several people paused at my table, glanced at the cartoon cover, shrugged, and walked away saying, “Oh, it’s a kid’s book.”
So much for that all-important first line.

I still adore my covers, as do most of my readers. I know many people have started the book specifically because they were drawn in by its bright, happy design. The covers of the rest of my series are substantively similar: Same light, bright cartoon characters; same illustration of the setting in the background; same sense of mischief and play between the two main characters.

But now we include crime elements.  In my newest book, A Fatal Twist, it’s the outline of a body.  Hopefully it's large enough for people to notice.

What makes you decide to read a book? Cover? Title? First line? Please share your thoughts below.

Tracy Weber

All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Tracy Weber is a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle, where she current­ly lives with her husband, Marc, and precocious German shepherd puppy, Ana. She loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. When she’s not writing, she spends her time teaching yoga, trying to corral Ana Tasha, and sip­ping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house. Tracy loves connecting with fans.  Find her on her author web pageor on Facebook.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Guest Post: Brian Klingborg - Kill Devil Falls

Midnight Ink would like to welcome debut author Brian Klingborg to our blog! 

Brian takes a moment to explain why he is extremely into writing those terrifying, scary, creepy, dark mysteries. His first thriller/horror/suspense novel Kill Devil Falls is available now.

I like my mysteries and thrillers the same way I like my coffee – pitch black.

I’ve always been drawn to flawed protagonists, sympathetic villains, gallows humor, frequent violence, and moral ambiguity.

Don’t get me wrong -- I coo over babies and puppies, offer up my subway seat to those in need and never fail to mist up when watching the “You had me at hello” scene in Jerry McGuire.  In other words, I’m a big softie.

But I’m attracted to dark-hearted tales like a sailor to a siren.  I’ve pondered the reasons why, and I think I finally have an answer.  It’s my parents fault.

Let me explain.

When I was about five, my mother decided it was time to provide me with some exposure to religion.  Not that she was particularly devout, but she was raised in a family that went to church most Sundays, and derived some sense of community from doing so, and anyway, why the hell not?
So off I went to a preschool church group.  I don’t remember what the program consisted of, but I assume it involved a few games, a couple of Bible stories, milk and cookies, and then the grand finale – an invitation to establish a personal relationship with Jesus.

What the church group didn’t know was that my father was a veterinarian.  One who was justifiably proud of his skills, and not above a bit of grand-standing.  Docking puppy tails in our garage, performing emergency suturing on our dining table, that sort of thing.  As a result, even at that tender age I was no stranger to actual blood and guts in all their technicolor glory.  So, when the unsuspecting church group leader asked if I was ready to “accept Jesus into your heart,” I took his meaning literally and freaked out. Big time.  He had to call my mother to come pick me up.  And I was not invited back.

During those formative years, my parents worked hard to make ends meet, and there wasn’t a lot of money for extras.  When they wanted to splurge, they went to the movies.  And because they couldn’t afford a babysitter, they took my older brother and me along.  That’s how I ended up as a toddler watching The Godfather on the big screen, complete with its severed horse’s head and toll-booth machine gun rub-out of Sonny Corleone.  (Side note:  The Godfather remains one of my favorite movies today.)  I also recall seeing MASH, The Poseidon Adventure, and a few other 70’s classics with rather high body counts.

I’m not saying my fondness for scary stories, noir and gore are entirely a result of this early introduction to gross anatomy and celluloid shocks – some folks naturally like kittens, while others prefer extraterrestrial creatures with acidic blood.  But certainly, in my own writing, I reach back to those childhood influences for inspiration.

For example, has there ever been a scene more fraught with the anticipation of impending violence than the one in The Godfather where Michael Corleone sits down for dinner with Virgil “the Turk” Sollozzo and Captain McCluskey?  Watch as the tension slowly, excruciatingly ratchets up to eleven, punctuated by Michael’s nervous eye-shifting and the jarring crescendo of an approaching subway train. Quentin Tarantino has based his entire film career on emulating that kind of cinematic brilliance.  As a writer, I’d love nothing more than to put my audience on the edge of their seats the way that scene does to me.

Likewise, having a front row seat at live births, operations and autopsies (animal, not human) has given me an eye for detail when it comes to things such as medical procedures and the odor of various kinds of bodily fluids.  What many people might find disgusting, or at least off-putting, was a common topic of conversation around our dinner table.

Fast forward many years and I have two children myself.  When my kids were young, I carefully curated what they read and viewed.  Nothing too violent or disturbing.  They are in their teens now, so I let them make their own choices, but I still issue a verbal warning if they are about to enter the room when I’m watching zombies or a bloody shoot-out on TV.   Thus far, neither of them have demonstrated the same love for the grotesque that I possess, but time will tell whether these preferences are a matter of nature or nurture.

In the meantime, my youthful experiences continue to inform my work.  As a parent, I probably wouldn’t have considered taking my kids to see The Godfather.  But as a storyteller, I appreciate having a deep well of visceral memories from which to draw.  Without it, I’d probably be writing about stuff like dragons and iron thrones.  And who needs more of that nonsense?  (Kidding – I love you George R. R. Martin!)

Anyway, what I guess what I’m really trying to say is -- thanks mom and dad!


When U.S. Marshal Helen Morrissey is tasked with collecting a fugitive bank robber from a remote town in the Sierra Nevadas, she braces for a rough trip. After all, with a name like Kill Devil Falls, her destination must be a real hellhole.

Turns out that it’s worse than she imagined. Much worse. After barely surviving a white-knuckle drive in what she suspects is a sabotaged car, she’s stuck in a virtual ghost town populated by a handful of oddballs and outcasts. But it’s not until her prisoner turns up dead that Helen realizes she’s in real trouble. There are secrets buried below the surface of Kill Devil Falls. Secrets worth killing for.

Brian Klingborg works in the educational publishing field. He’s written books on Kung Fu, and he wrote for the Winx Club television series. Kill Devil Falls is his first novel. He lives in New York City. You can follow Brian on Twitter: @OjiiKlingborg.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

When the Book Reviews Start Coming In ...

By Lisa Alber

There's this pause the occurs--at least for me--after handing off a manuscript to the publisher and before the book reviews start coming in (i.e. the reality of our stories out in the real world) that fills me with a combination of excitement and dread.

By the time I hand off a novel, I don't want to think about it for a long, long time. But this is impossible because I've gotta start thinking about marketing and promotion, and once that enters my head, I inevitably wonder about the novel's reception in the real world.

As I said to a friend last week, "I'm kind of curious about what Path Into Darkness's reception is going to be like."

"Curious?" C said. She's a fellow mystery novelist though on the lighter end of the spectrum.

I knew she was wondering about my word choice. "Curious" is a curious word to use, for sure. It might have been code for "worried" or "scared shitless," but ... hmm ... not entirely. I really was curious. Because I felt--and still feel--that I tend to stretch the boundaries of my chosen fiction genre.

Readers might think they're picking up a traditional mystery, but they're not. Not really. And, of course, this gets me thinking about expectations and disappointment. I've never thought about these two topics as much as I have since getting published.

Some readers' expectations stem from the way a book looks and the way it's marketed. And, see, I have no control over this. This is part of what the pause I mentioned above is all about: the moment I lose control of the story around my story. This is why I get curious. I know what I was about while I writing, but will readers get what I was about while writing? Some will; some won't. Some will like it; some won't. Nothing I can do about any of this.

I've decided that I'm going to create a new genre within the mystery category: psychological whydunits, which could also be called :psychological suspense," I suppose, except that I do use traditional elements. The plain truth is that the whodunit has never interested me as much as the whydunnit, but that may be because I adore psychology, in general.

But, all's well that ends well--for the moment anyhow. I received my first two reviews from reviewing entities. And they were good! Whew!

"A dark, compelling mystery with numerous plot twists and well-drawn characters interwoven with an involving portrait of life in a small, insular Irish village."   --Booklist

"Dark and haunting ... The author's complex and tightly-woven tale filled was filled with colloquial phrases that added an air of authenticity to the story."   --Books and Benches

Lisa Alber is the author of the County Clare mysteries. Her debut novel, Kilmoon, has been called "utterly poetic" and "a stirring debut." Her second in the County Clare mysteries, Whispers in the Mist, came out in August from Midnight Ink Books. Look for PATH INTO DARKNESS in August 2017. Ever distractible, you may find her staring out windows, fooling around online, or drinking red wine with her friends. Ireland, books, animals, photography, and blogging round out her distractions. Facebook | Twitter

Friday, April 14, 2017

Guest Post: Steve Hockensmith - Give the Devil His Due

Give the Devil His Due, the third entry in the Tarot Mystery series by Steve Hockensmith with Lisa Falco, came out this month, and to celebrate we asked Steve to stop by the blog and share some thoughts on the book. As you’ll see, he had a lot to share about not having a lot to share.

Point Blank

I have nothing to say. Which is really saying something. Aren’t writers supposed to write because they’re burning with a feverish desire to share their most passionate feelings and important ideas?

Nope. That’s internet trolls. Oh, and some writers, too. But not me.

I do have passionate feelings. “Love Actually” is terrible! “The Big Lebowski” is wonderful! Wheat beer is an abomination! Stout is the stuff of life! See? But did I make the world a better place by sharing all that? Did I change your mind about anything? Did I get you to buy my latest book? I doubt it.

I have ideas, too, but I don’t presume that they have any importance. A lot of them are about books and stories I (or someone) should write, and that ain’t gonna change the world. My ideas about life and people and politics are important, I suppose, but they’re not original. Other people are saying the same thing — and getting shouted at by people who have different ideas about life and people and politics.

I don’t like being shouted at. If I were the renegade cop in a ‘70s movie — the one called in to see the precinct captain, who barks something like “You’ve really screwed the pooch this time, McCloskey! That was the mayor’s son you just shot!” — I’d whimper and turn in my badge and gun immediately. (Even before the later scene where the captain tells me to turn in my badge and gun because I just threw the mayor off a bridge.)

Yet we can’t help but say something sometimes, even when we don’t think we’re opening up our big yaps. Cozy mysteries get knocked because they’re supposedly disposable escapist fluff. Well, allow me to actually say something: Hurrah for supposedly disposable escapist fluff! And supposedly disposable escapist fluff can make a statement — even when it doesn’t have a point per se beyond entertainment — because it’s a reflection of its creator.

Or creators in the case of the tarot mystery books I do with Lisa Falco. Lisa, a knowledgeable and sincere tarot expert, came up with the general idea for the series: a tarot reader uses her skills with the cards to help her clients. Then I, a cynical writer, added my own spin: Why not make the protagonist a reformed con artist so we can show how the tarot can be abused? A lot of the people peddling prognostication are charlatans. Shouldn’t the books reflect that?

And they do…while simultaneously offering readers a “How to –” guide for using the tarot. So what is it that says? Maybe “The tarot is a cool tool for finding personal insights, but don’t forget it can be used to manipulate you, too.”

The books don’t hit you over the head with that message, though. Because at the end of the day, here’s the main thing I’m trying to say to our readers — the real point of all the writing I do:



Alanis McLachlan, reformed con artist turned tarot reader, gets paid for predicting the future—too bad she didn’t see all the trouble in hers. First a figure from her past tries to drag her back into the life of crime she thought she’d le behind. Then a new suitor tries to sweep Alanis off her feet, threatening her on-again, off-again romance with hunky teacher Victor Castellanos. And there’s the little matter of the ominous reading she gives to a new client, which could have deadly consequences. Danger is in the cards for Alanis, and she’ll need all her skills at reading both people and tarot if she’s going to survive.

Steve Hockensmith is the author of between fourteen and nineteen books (he’s lost count), including the first two entries in the Tarot Mystery series (The White Magic Five and Dime and Fool Me Once) and the Edgar finalists Holmes on the Range and Nick and Tesla’s Secret Agent Gadget Battle.

He can be found on Facebook here:

And on Twitter here:

And his website is here:

And this is a cat eating a banana:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Release Flurry

Edith here, happy to report that Called to Justice is finally out! I'm in the middle of a great flurry of activities supporting and celebrating the release, and am delighted to be here.

I had a double launch party at an independent bookstore in the next town last week. Why double? Because my alter-ego Maddie Day had a book out only two weeks ago, so we interviewed each other. Read all about it on one of my other two group blogs, the Wicked Cozy Authors.

Next week I'll be launching Called in my own town, where the series takes place. We have a full Poetry Month schedule of events, and mine is called Poetry and Literature. We'll read bits from the two John Greenleaf Whittier poems mentioned in the book, a local poet will read a poem on Midwifery she wrote specially for me, and I'll read the book's opening scene. If you're in New England, come on down to The Noshery at two o'clock on April 23.

A few weeks ago I spoke, wearing my Quaker dress, to a historical society. They filmed the whole thing and I just received the link. You can watch it, too!

The Escape with Dollycas blog tour continues for a few more days, and includes chances to win a copy of Called at every stop.

Some awesome reviews are in, with more coming along every day.

  • "... intricate, heartfelt good as having a time machine..wonderful characters...a finely wrought mystery." - Cozy up with Kathy
  • "a great murder [mystery] with historical background and a story so well written you will be captivated from the start" - Shelley Reads and Reviews
  • "It is not all babies, courtship, and bicycles ... Double-dealing, shadowy shapes in the night, and gunplay all make their appearance in this story, including a twist in the tale that keeps you guessing as to who is who and what is what right up to the end. Delivering the Truth delivers, right across the board." - Criminal Element
  • "Climax...a real page turner...if you are looking for a trip back in time, there is no better guide than ...strong, resourceful...Rose." - Carstairs Considers
Finally, to give an extra boost to Called to Justicebook one, Delivering the Truth has won the Ippy Silver Medal in the Mystery/Cozy/Noir category! And the book currently on sale in both Kindle and paperback versions.

Now I need a nap. ;^)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Guest Post: Isabella Maldonado - Blood's Echo

We'd like to welcome debut author 
Isabella Maldonado! 

by Isabella Maldonado

The Latino equivalent of Windex is Vicks VapoRub, which is used to treat everything from a head cold to a sucking chest wound. Now you know.

When I retired from crime fighting and took up crime writing, I decided to create a story with a different vibe. After over two decades in law enforcement, a police procedural was a natural choice. I loved reading about grizzled homicide detectives working the mean streets of New York or L.A., but wanted to offer something different to readers.

Different…like Mexican-American characters and culture and a strong Latina heroine with a complex back story and a huge heart. I’d seen movies and novels featuring Latino villains, but I wanted to reflect cultural diversity on both sides of the law. I also chose to set my story in a major city that wasn’t New York, L.A., Chicago, D.C., or Miami.

Not exactly what you see populating the shelves of most bookstores.

For a while, I hesitated, wondering if such a book would be published. Would crime fiction fans enjoy reading an edgy thriller with a large dollop of salsa picante on top? Then, as I watched my husband dab Vicks VapoRub on a cut one afternoon, I had an epiphany.

In 2002, Nia Vardalos’s romantic comedy, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, brought people to
theaters in droves.  Caught up in the fun, I recall discussing the movie with several friends of various ethnic backgrounds. Whether their families originated in Greece, Cuba, Ireland, Italy, or Scandinavia, they all claimed the film reminded them of their own relatives’ quirky behavior.

The movie didn’t succeed because people of Greek ancestry went to see it, but because it struck a chord with millions of families who make their way to our beautiful nation of immigrants. There was also the coming-of-age story of a young lady who is trying to break free from the smothering (if loving) influence of her relatives to discover who she is and make her place in the world. Many people, regardless of their own ethnic background, can relate. Stories, after all, are about the human condition. And good stories transcend specifics.

Energized, I wrote BLOOD’S ECHO, a police procedural set in Phoenix, featuring a Latina detective who pits herself against a Mexican drug cartel. Definitely not a romantic comedy, the story is fast-paced, brutal at times, with twists, long-buried secrets, and only a few humorous moments. Her relatives are both an asset and a liability for her, as is her police team and the arson investigator who stokes her fire.

Family is key, and this story features three types of families whose stories intertwine. Detective Veranda Cruz’s boisterous ethnic clan is undergirded with strength and resolve. Having immigrated to this country with nothing, they built a restaurant, created a new life, and now consider themselves Americans.

Meanwhile, the Villalobos cartel is run by another family, one in which ruthlessness and cunning are prized.  Hector Villalobos has set up a dynasty and his adult children vie for his seat at the helm of their vast criminal empire. Unfortunately, Veranda Cruz stands in their way.

The third group is law enforcement. I can tell you from personal experience that police departments are a kind of extended family that can be the tightest, or the most dysfunctional, of them all. When you depend on each other for survival, knowing there are people who would kill you if given the chance, a unique bond forms with your fellow officers. Detective Cruz is forced out of her position and into a different part of the department, where she must quickly determine who her allies and adversaries are.

Real families come in all sizes, configurations, and ethnicities. I’m hoping readers will enjoy a different culture and a fresh setting as they take a wild ride. After all, everyone has a family, and there’s more to bring us together than set us apart.

I am forever grateful to Terri Bischoff, who saw the book’s potential, and to Midnight Ink, which gave BLOOD’S ECHO the chance to find its audience.


Whenever the lust for drugs, money, and power lays claim to a city, brutality is never far behind. Phoenix detective Veranda Cruz is dead set on taking down the Villalobos Cartel, but the ruthlessness of her quarry demands a ruthless edge of her own.

Detective Veranda Cruz leads an elite task force on the Phoenix Police Drug Enforcement Bureau. Bartolo Villalobos is the heir apparent to the most powerful cartel in the world. No one in the department suspects the secret motive behind Veranda’s obsession with the cartel . . . until an operation goes horribly wrong.

Targeted by an increasingly unstable drug lord, Veranda must protect her family and stay clear of adversaries within the force while she sets a trap for Bartolo. As the desert action heats up, Veranda and her new Homicide team—along with an arson investigator who kindles a flame for her—are all drawn into a deadly gambit. Taking down Bartolo is the ultimate goal, but is Veranda ready to trade life for justice?

Isabella Maldonado retired from law enforcement as a Commander of Special Investigations and Forensics. During her long career, she was recognized with a Meritorious Service Award and a Lifesaving Award, and she was selected to attend executive management training at the FBI’s National Academy. Isabella is the immediate past president of the Phoenix chapter of Sisters In Crime. She lives in Mesa, Arizona. You can visit her at

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

New Sins and Late Nights

by Tj O'Connor

Nighttime belongs to mystery and intrigue—evil, too. I could say it belongs to love, but I write mysteries and thrillers, not romance novels. For me, I do my best thinking around midnight. I also do my best panicking and second-guessing. Don't we all? It’s not unusual for me to be lying there (or sitting at my computer writing), plotting out a scene or another book and wham—God, in the 7th Grade, I insulted that sweet redhead, Becky. What was I thinking! Then back to my murder plot and … crap! I’ll never retire, I’ll have to work until I die and … now, where did I leave that last body in Chapter 12... dammit, why isn't Pluto a real planet anymore? As the hours tick by, so does my split personality between story plots and lifelong regrets.

Raise your hand if you are with me on this–and don’t lie.

But something else happens after midnight, too—creativity. An unknown author once said, “3 AM is the hour of writers, painters, poets, musicians, silence seekers, overthinkers, and creative people…” I am clearly in the writers and overthinker columns. Of course, perhaps the best quote to describe me was by the hiphop group, the Initials, who wrote, “The Night Belongs to The Poet and The Madman.” Hmmmm, I’m no poet so … yup, madman. Nailed it.

Most of my novels were all given birth after midnight. New Sins for Old Scores was no exception.

I was lying awake one night a few years ago when I began writing New Sins for Old Scores, my latest paranormal mystery coming out in a couple months from Black Opal Books. A line came to me that sort of sums up the opening of the story and my permanent state of insomnia and creativity—of the lead character, Richard Jax, I wrote, “… history taught him a very important lesson—an axiom of parents with teenagers—that nothing good ever happens after midnight. Jax wasn’t married and had no children. But it was after midnight and he was alone.” Then, bam! A body—his body—blood, bullets, and bang-bang. The story unfolds.

The story follows the traditional mystery path to “the End” with a murder, finger-pointing, a few more bodies, deep dark secrets, twists and turns, the spirit of a long-dead OSS operative, and the capture of the bad guys. Well, perhaps the spirit of a long-dead OSS operative isn’t the traditional mystery path, but it can be  with me. At least for this book it was. Most of this story was written between the hours of 9 pm and 4 am. In fact, most of my nine novels were written during those hours.

And yes, alas, most of my life-long regrets and mistakes haunt me then, too.

A lot of good can happen after midnight for me. I’ve learned a ton about writing over the past five years or so—patience, the ability to take a gut-punch (think critics, publishers, and barroom friendships), and perseverance. Mostly, though, I’ve learned a lot about myself and many of those lessons came in the late hours when I can forget about my real life and focus on my imaginary one—killing people and stopping international crisis. Okay, okay, so over the years my real life and imaginary life gets a little blurry, but you get what I mean. Late at night I love to take in the night air and let my brain go crazy. It’s a battle to ignore the forgotten appointments, lists of to-do things, and life’s worries (although I still accumulate a Picasso of yellow sticky notes by 5 am each morning). Still, I’ve learned that my inner demons thrive after lights-out, so I always have my cellphone handy and my note-application ready for an endless list of characters, plot twists, and action sequences I want to write. The dread of it all is that I must—like most of you—work for a living. Alas, I have to wait until the next night before I can put fingers to keyboard and craft those ideas into my stories. It’s painful sometimes, but like a vampire, daylight isn't fun—work, bills, cooking, chasing the dogs, responsibilities …

Somehow, before the sun comes up each day, I catch 3-4 hours of sleep. That’s when I dream about my stories. Do you think I’m obsessed?  

The moral to all this is know thy self—learn about your strengths and weaknesses and what works best for you. Don’t read blogs and go to seminars and panels and try to mimic what other authors do and say. There is no secret code to success (lord don't I know)! Don’t fall into the trap of trying to fit yourself into a mold. Trust me, you’ll get stuck and have to fight your way out—or worse, you’ll be captive to seeking that infamous secret formula. No. I believe in using your love of the pen to learn about yourself—learn when the demons come out and when the voices in your head begin to make sense. Even if that’s after midnight.

Oh, and forget the tossing and turning about those bills and long lost friends and what-ifs. Those voices are just your ex-spouse or the IRS trying to make you crazy! Listen for the little whisper that starts after the lights go out and tells your characters what to do and say and where the story is going. And for God’s sake, pay attention!

We’ll talk again next month.

Tj O’CONNOR IS THE GOLD MEDAL WINNER OF THE 2015 INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS BOOK AWARDS (IPPY) FOR MYSTERIES. He is the author of New Sins for Old Scores, coming in Spring 2017 from Black Opal Books, and Dying to Know, Dying for the Past, and Dying to Tell. He recently finished his new thriller, The Consultant: Double Effect,and his amazing agent, Kimberley Cameron, is finding it a home. Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he has lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others. He was raised in New York's Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and Lab companions in Virginia where they raised five children. Dying to Know is also the 2015 Bronze Medal winner of the Reader’s Favorite Book Review Awards, a finalist for the Silver Falchion Best Books of 2014, and a finalist for the Foreword Review’s 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award.

Learn about Tj’s world at:

Web Site:


Monday, April 3, 2017

Preparation for Publication

by Linda O. Johnston

   It's April already.  That means May is fast approaching.  And May is when my third Barkery & Biscuits Mystery, Bad to the Bone, will be published by Midnight Ink.

   So right now I am in preparation mode.  It doesn't hurt that my mind is Barkery-centered anyway since I am currently writing book number four in the series.  But how does an author prepare these days for publication of a new book?

   Well, for one thing, here I am, blogging about it.  This isn't the only place I'll blog about it either.  I'll be participating in a Great Escapes blog tour.  That includes bloggers' reviews of the new book, plus I'll be providing interview responses and related blog posts to be included in other blogs.

   And of course I'll mention it on my regular blogs: Killer Hobbies, Killer Characters and Slice of Orange, as well as here at InkSpot--as I've just done!

   I'll also be doing personal appearances of various sorts.  For one thing, as usual, I will be attending Malice Domestic, a very fun conference as many other Midnight Ink authors know.  I'll be on a panel featuring authors who write about pets in their stories--The "Paws" That Detect--and that's me!

   I will attend the grand reopening celebration of the Glendale, California, Central Library with other authors.

   I'll also celebrate the launch of my book at the Mysterious Galaxy's birthday bash.

   I'll be chatting and blogging at Writerspace, which provides various communities for readers and writers.  It's a fun group and I participate there a lot.  I'll also be participating in their author newsletter and doing a book giveaway. 

   I'll attend the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, where I'll sign books that have already been published at three different mystery booths--and will also volunteer at the booth for the Los Angeles Romance Authors chapter of the Romance Writers of America.

   I'll be speaking at a couple of events for the Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club.

   I'll be on a panel at the California Crime Writers Conference in a couple of months.

   And if anything else comes up, I'll certainly consider doing that, too.

   Think I'm doing enough?  Heck, it's never enough, but I enjoy it all. 

   And maybe all of this will remind existing readers of me, introduce me to new readers, and help me sell a few books!

   I'm sure the writers reading this are nodding, or shaking their heads and laughing, or recognizing themselves in some or all of these ideas, plus more.  If any of  you have additional suggestions, please let me know!