Stories of the Reader-Author Relationship

covers of autographed books
South of Justice reader

Before becoming an author, I was a reader.

Of course, I still read as often as humanly possible, but before publishing my first book, I’d stand in long lines to get authors’ autographs and thank them for writing.

In Hawaii, I shared a cab with screenwriter Jeffrey Arch. Ben Bova helped me locate an artifact for Mars. Laura Lippman taught a week-long workshop that was worth the whole conference. Dave Barry embarrassed me in front of my mother, which made her day. I embarrassed Ridley Pearson when I pointed out his father was in line for an autograph after Pearson gave a keynote speech on humilty.

I had the priviledge of being on a panel discussion at a writer’s conference with Linda Fairstein, whose books inspired the Law & Order SVU series. James W. Hall gave me priceless advice on writing description. David Morrell swapped flying stories with me because, being the consumate researcher, he got his pilot’s license to write a book that featured a pilot.

Steve Berry shared his exhaustive writing process with writers at a conference in Florida. Kristin Higgins is as hilarious in person as the characters in her books.

Each signed book has a story about meeting the author. I have a bookcase of stories.

 

As an author, I strive to connect with readers on the page and in person.

At a book club in Highlands, North Carolina, I was asked to sign a book for Ann. When I opened the book, it was already signed to Ann. The lady gasped and said she bought the book used and didn’t notice it had already been signed. What were the odds of that?

Readers have shared photos of themselves reading  my books at the beach, on a boat, on a plane, at a hunting camp, and at home.

book club group shot

Readers in Japan surprise me. Haven’t done any marketing in Japan. Sales are steady there thanks to someone who spread the word.

Last week a reader from Waynesville, NC wrote to tell me that someone up there was hosting a game of Cow Bingo. She thought I had made up the game in a book. I confess, I stole the idea from living in a rural small town.

Last week a friend told me that she knew a lady who mailed a copy of my book to her niece in New Zealand. It cost her $40 to mail it. I’d have autographed it, if I’d known. Wowza.

Book clubs are the most fun because they ask great questions. Since research is the best part of the writing process, I love to share insider knowledge that didn’t make it into the book. I’m a pilot, so the scenes about flying in South of Justice come from experience.

To all the readers who buy books from newbie authors like me, God bless you! To all the readers who leave reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, BookBub, LibraryThing, and social media, you are golden. Thank you for sharing your love of reading with others and for recommending books by lesser-known authors.

You make this lonely process worthwhile!

 

Have you met your favorite author? 

50 Author Crime Fiction Giveaway

crime series books

Fifty authors of crime fiction have united to give away the first book in their series. You are invited to download all of them or select the ones you like.

Why give away books?

The concept is similar to the one used by drug dealers–give away the first sample and the addict will come back for more. Admit it, you are a reading addict. You’d rather dive into a book than watch television. Readers enjoy using their imaginations.

Readers have to bring something to the reading experience. Readers enjoy seeing the world through new perspectives. Readers thrive on vicariously living dangerously and exploring strange new places.

Welcome to the worlds of 50 crime authors. Let us entertain you.

Please let us know what you think of our creations by posting reviews on social media, Amazon, Goodreads.com, BookBub, and wherever else you tell others about what you’ve read.

You will be added to our fan newsletters, to be notified of future giveaways and new releases and you may unsubscribe at any time.

From all of us who labor to bring you exciting stories, thank you!

North of the Killing Hand is the prequel, the first book by story chronology in the Compass Crimes, my crime fiction series. This is my contribution to the giveaway.

Each book features a woman whose life has been overtuned by a crime and the story is what she does to get justice. If you like crime without gore, try this book.

Mystery and Crime Fiction Giveaway

Sixty-five authors of mysteries and crime fiction are celebrating June with a giveaway. Choose any or all of the titles to download for your summer reading.

While all the books are mysteries and crime fiction, you’ll find some have a humorous bent, a few have supernatural elements. Do you prefer detective stories? Amateur sleuths?

Check out the list here: Notorious Crimes — A Mystery & Crime Fiction Giveaway.

When you’re done reading, please be kind and leave a brief review wherever you share reviews, Amazon, Goodreads, or your favorite social media sites. Your review is like a thank-you note to the author.

Oh, and if you like North of the Killing Hand in this giveaway, it is the beginning of a series called the Compass Crimes.

The Story Behind the Strong Heroine

Cessna Centurion 210

West of Famous developed from a desire to create powerful women role models. This is the third book in the Compass Crimes collection. The stories are connected by the ensemble cast of characters whose lives intersect because of crimes. Like the previous two books, this one features a heroine whose life is overturned by a crime, but she does not react as a victim waiting like a fairy tale princess to be rescued.

I was raised on stories like Cinderella, but I wanted my stories to be more like the 1998 movie Ever After. My favorite scene in that updated version of the Cinderella story is when Drew Barrymore, playing Danielle, rescues the prince from a band of gypsies.

In West of Famous, Martina Ramos is mistaken for a celebrity by kidnappers. She does not have the option of waiting to be rescued because only the kidnappers know where she is, and they don’t value her life. Those who value her life don’t know she’s missing.

My desire to create strong women role models comes from a deep-seated sense of rebellion. When I was in grade school oh, so long ago, society expected girls to choose from a short list of roles: teacher, nun, wife, and mother, nurse, secretary, waitress, or stewardesses. But I wanted to write. It was as though all other career options were considered unsuitable for good girls. To say I wanted to write was tantamount to declaring I wanted to be homeless or insane. An outlier. An outcast.

Like Sara Paretsky so brilliantly describes in Writing in the Age of Silence, women have been told by society to be quiet, to keep their opinions to themselves, to be seen and not heard. But Dorothy Parker, Pearl S. Buck, Harriet Tubman, Virginia Woolf, and Harper Lee told entertaining stories that challenged people’s perceptions about the status quo.

My high school guidance counselor tried to dissuade me from going to college even though I was an honors graduate. By then I’d already started earning money as a writer. I told her that if she wasn’t going to help me, she should get out of my way. So off I went to Indiana University to earn a degree in journalism.

I write stories about bold women who fight to overcome whatever life throws at them because we need role models like that.

I have one. While I was in college, my mother was widowed for the second time. So, after raising three children and surviving two toxic marriages, she announced at age 55 she had quit her job as a legal secretary to go to law school. It was as inspiring as it was heartbreaking that she was finally going to do what she wanted to do.

I’d like to be a bold role model for my daughter Jessica, but if she gets any bolder, I’ll have to raise bail. There is quite a strong similarity between her and the heroine of West of Famous, but don’t tell her that.

___________

This article first appeared in Mystery Scene Magazine, Winter 15, 2019 edition.

By the way, In my forties I fulfilled a lifelong dream and earned my pilot’s license. Only 6% of pilots are women, so yeah, this was life-affirming and empowering. I then earned my instrument-rating. My husband also flies, so we have to take turns to prevent a wrestling match into the cockpit. I want to lead by example and encourage other women to be bolder.