Meet C.A. Asbrey

Before we get the the interview, there is something important that must be said; HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all the moms out there. This will probably be an unusual one for each of us, but not matter what the circumstances, know that you are loved and we are grateful for everything you do for us.

91913504_2857199287668183_6077577237228421120_n.jpgOur writer today is Christine Asbrey. 

About the Author
Chris Asbrey has lived and worked all over the world in the Police Service, Civil Service, and private industry, working for the safety, legal rights, and security of the public. A life-changing injury meant a change of course into contract law and consumer protection for a department attached to the Home Office.
In that role she produced magazine and newspaper articles based on consumer law and wrote guides for the Consumer Direct Website. She was Media Trained, by The Rank Organization, and acted as a consultant to the BBC’s One Show and Watchdog. She has also been interviewed on BBC radio answering questions on consumer law to the public.
She lives with her husband and two daft cats in the beautiful ancient city of York.

Chris as given us a sample of her writing, which you can find at the end of the post, after the questions. 

In her words…    Hi everyone. My name is Christine Anne Asbrey, and I write historical mysteries under the name of C. A. Asbrey. My books are available in Kindle and paperback all over the world. My first book, The Innocents, was published in April 2018, and was first in series of six books. Five are currently available, and the last in the series is published in July 2020.
The series is about a clever female Pinkerton Detective who is sent to work undercover to get intelligence on the most wanted man in the country, Nat Quinn and his gang, The Innocents. They are so called because they hit only large concerns like the railroads and the banks, never steal from ordinary people, and treat members of the public with courtesy. That said, they can be ruthless, and extremely cunning.
The heroine is a young widow, Abigail MacKay, with a deep interests in the new forensics, and the new scientific method of policing. She is also an expert in disguise. Nat and Abigail are instantly drawn to one another, as two sides of the same coin – both using their wits, science, and skills on different sides of the law. However, if they act on the attraction it could destroy both their lives. That will-they-won’t-they forms the backdrop to other mysteries in the series.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
I first became interested in the female pioneers in law enforcement when I joined the police in Scotland. History has always held a draw and the colorful stories of the older officers piqued my interest, making me look even further back. The very first women in law enforcement had been in France, working for the Sûreté in the early 19th century. They were, however, no more than a network of spies and prostitutes, the most infamous being the notorious ‘Violette’. Now there’s another story which needs to be told!
The first truly professional women in law enforcement worked for the Pinkerton Agency, and they were trained by the first female agent Kate Warne, an ex-actress and an expert in working undercover. Kate Warne was an expert at disguise, adopting roles, and accents. She was said to be daring and able to pass her characters off, even in close quarters. In the only known photograph of her she is dressed as a man. These women were fully-fledged agents, with their skills being held in high regard by Alan Pinkerton who once said, “In my service you will serve your country better than on the field. I have several female operatives. If you agree to come aboard you will go in training with the head of my female detectives, Kate Warne. She has never let me down.”
I started to wonder why one of the female agents couldn’t be a Scottish Immigrant. After all, Alan Pinkerton was one. He came from Glasgow. Being a Scot in another land is something I know well. They do say you should write what you know. My work has taken me all over the world, but working in the USA, and visiting the places where these women worked, deepened my passion for finding out more about how they lived. I also researched the tools and equipment available to them at the time. Connections to police, and Home Office experts, allowed me to research the birth of forensics with people who knew their subject intimately. The topic for ‘The Innocents Mystery Series’ simmered in the background for years, and all the time I was researching more and more deeply into the period. I love the rapid pace of innovation and invention in the 19th century. Nothing pleases me more than finding spy gadgets available at the time which were invented far earlier than most people would think possible. Work and life got in the way of the books being anything more than an idea, until I was suddenly grounded by a serious accident. The enforced leisure time of recuperation focused my mind and the old dream of writing resurfaced. It started as a short story which took on a life of its own when it grew and grew—then grew some more. Eventually, ‘The Innocents Mysteries’ evolved.

Plotter or pantser?
A bit of both. A lot of my mysteries are actually based on genuine historical crimes, but of course I change things up a bit so that lovers of true crime can still enjoy playing along. Some are well known, some less so. The more outrageous the crime seems, the more likely it is to be rooted in reality. That said, I’ll give the characters their head. If they feel like going off-script and doing something a bit mad, I’ll let them. It normally makes for a better story and keeps things fresh. I know everyone does things differently, but the story seems a sterile to me if I over-plan. I generally start with a fair idea of where things are going, but even the murderer can, and has, change as the story forms. I think book three, Innocent Bystander, was the most tightly plotted. That is more of a howdunit than a whodunit. We know who the killer is, we even know the next proposed victim, but we don’t know how he kills. I’m very proud of the scientific research on that one
I do loads of research, and try to make sure everything in the books is either historically possible, or really happened. I hate finding anachronisms in historical books. I have not only researched the forensics and methodologies of the time, but even the makeup used in Abigail’s disguises. I did wonder how all that long Victorian Hair could go under a short wig, but modern cosplay and makeup tutorials online showed me that it can. It’s all down to multiple flat pleats and technique.
All that research can only ever be a backdrop though. I like to try to make my characters vivid and as human as possible. Most of all I like to add humor. I do think one of the sexiest things a man can be is funny, as it means he’s a good listener and quick-witted.

What was your favorite part, and your least favorite part of the writing journey?
Research has to be one of the favorite parts, especially when I discover a wonderful forgotten crime to play with, or spy gadgets invented way earlier than you think. A lot of that stuff goes in my blog. I particularly enjoy the ordinary stuff which is too mundane to be taught. Things like traveling coping a long way with a child in nappies, how did women deal with their periods, or what horrible things did the really poor eat? I love it when a story flows like water, and seems like it’s out there in the universe just waiting to be told. Another thing I really love is the freedom of working when you want. I’m more owl than lark and I’m at my best late at night. I’m terrible in the morning and getting up for a 9am start was as bad as a 4am start for me. I can now fit my body clock.
On the flip side, I hate it when marketing takes me away from that, but it has to be done. There’s no point in writing a book if nobody knows about it. I’m sure that’s something many authors share, but for us all, it’s a big part of our working life as writers. A writer can’t just write. They have to market, network, sell, and promote.

Do you have anything special that you’ll be focusing on this year? 
I’m currently writing a book set in the UK in the 19th century in which young female pharmacist is on the run after being wrongly accused of murder. She is pursued by killers, and a dogged detective who is determined to bring her in. I’ve also started another which is set in 19th century Edinburgh, and which stretches over more than a hundred years, with the solution being a result of modern forensics. I’ve taken bodies into the old gothic Victorian mortuary in Edinburgh, and it’s too good a location not to put in a book.

Can you share a snippet that isn’t in the blurb or excerpt?
From Book 1 The Innocents
“Out of bed?” Nat appeared at the door, the light highlighting his tawny hair. “Looking for something?”
She paused, guilty eyes dropping along with the hand trailing along the shelf. “Yes. Something to read.”
“A book?” his eyes scanned the room, checking to see if anything which could be used as a weapon had gone missing. “You should’ve said.”
“All I can find are a few science books. Whose cabin is this? A doctor’s?”
“The owner was a prospector. Those books are mine.”
Her brows arched in surprise, and she turned and picked one up. “’Carl Friederich Peschel’s Textbook of Physics.’” She continued along the spines. “’Ganot’s Elementary Treatise on Experimental And Applied Physics’, ‘Balfour Stewart, An elementary Treatise On Heat.’”
“So?” Nat’s jaw firmed in challenge. “Have you got anything against a man who wants to improve his mind?”
“Physics? You?”
His brow furrowed. “I’m supposed to believe you’re a Pinkerton and you can’t believe I’m interested in science? I like to learn all kinds of things. Get over it.”
“But you?” She stared at him incredulously. “You’re a common criminal.”
His brows met. “How dare you? There’s nothing common about me. I’m particular about being about as uncommon a criminal as you’ll ever meet. I’ve got a Dickens if you want something simpler, but no women’s stuff. I prefer my heaving bosoms to be tangible.”
“Really?”
“Of course. Who wants imaginary bosoms?”
She huffed in exasperation. “Can we forget about the bosoms?”
His dark eyes twinkled with devilment. “I wish I could but men are kinda made that way.”
“Science books?” Abigail changed the subject. “Are you trying to give up crime?”
“Nope, just trying to be more efficient at it. I’m a modern man. You have to move with the times, you know,” Nat’s cheeks dimpled, “but look who I’m talking to. You’re a veritable pioneer for females. You know how it is. I bet you’ve got all kinds of modern detective tricks. I’m looking forward to seeing those. When do they start? Are you doing it now?”
Abigail sighed. “I’m sorry I asked. Never mind. You have a Dickens? Which one?”

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Links to connect with Chris and her books:
BlogC.A Asbrey – all things obscure and strange in the Victorian period Facebook, Twitter GoodreadsBookbub
The Innocents Mystery Series Group
Link to whole series , Link to latest book – In All Innocence

 

A big thank you to Chris (don’t you just love her covers?) I hope you enjoyed the interview. The concept of using the “real” Pinkertons in a fictional book is very interesting, and Chris’s books are now on my TBR list. (You know, the one that never gets any smaller?)  Once again HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY weekend!!

 

Meet Heather Weidner

As promised, I am sharing some great writers, and friends, with you. Not all write cozy mystery, but that’s okay. Lets broaden our minds. Each author was given a list of questions that they could choose from. Some of the answers are very interesting. I’m enjoying finding out about these authors and I hope you will too.

Heather sq.png  About Heather…

Glitter, Glam, and Contraband is Heather Weidner’s third novel in the Delanie Fitzgerald series. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and Deadly Southern Charm. Her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan University and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.

Heather’s choice of questions and her answers…

When did you start writing? I have been writing since elementary school. I didn’t have any fiction published until I was in my 40’s. I did have some non-fiction credits, and I was a technical writer for many years.

Describe your writing space. I usually write at my desk in my home office. It’s in front of a big window that looks out at the tops of the trees in the woods behind our house. My desk is cluttered, and there are lots of sticky notes about plot ideas, cool character names, and ways to knock off people (in fiction).

What is your work schedule like when you are writing? My day gig is in IT, so I get up early to write. I also try to write at lunch and at night and on weekends.

How do you do research for your books? I’m a “CK” (cop’s kid). I thought everyone grew up talking about murder and mayhem at the dinner table. It wasn’t until college that I realized murder wasn’t always a good dinner topic. I do a lot of research online. My dad is retired now from the force, but he’s a great resource for a lot of questions. I am also part of a wonderful organization, Sisters in Crime, and our local chapter has programs with writers, agents, and law enforcement. Social media is also a great way to find out information. I’ve always been able to find an expert who was willing to answer my questions. For my latest Delanie Fitzgerald mystery, Glitter, Glam, and Contraband, I had to do some research on drag shows, contraband reptiles, Poe, and historic time capsules. I love the research part. My writer friend, Rosemary Shomaker, got a group of us together to go to the dragshow in Richmond at Godfrey’s. I had so much fun, and the gals were so helpful when they found out we were writers. The snake research was a little creepy. It still gives me the heebee jeebies.

On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing? I’m a binge writer. I try to write every day, but sometimes life gets in the way. Typically, I write in the mornings and evenings. I try to write during my lunch hour too. I tend to write more on the weekends.

Do you write while listening to music? If so, what music inspired or accompanied this current book? I always have some kind of music playing when I write or edit. I have playlists for all my books. I like all kinds of music, but I’m an 80’s girl, so I always have a special place in my heart for that decade. I usually listen to loud music when I’m writing and classical or jazz when I’m editing.

What are you reading now? Right now, I’m reading K. L. Murphy’s A Guilty Mind. I love her Detective Cancini mysteries.

How many bookshelves are in your house? Way too many. My TBR (to be read pile) is a bookshelf. There are at least three bookcases in the den, living room, office, and bedrooms. 

How long, on average, does it take you to write a book? My first book took five years to write, and then it was another year for editing/revising before the book was published. I’m getting faster. Last year, I wrote a novella, two short stories, a nonfiction article, and two novels. This year, I’ve written two short stories and a novella. I’m working on a cozy novel that I hope to finish by summer.

Sign up for Heather’s Newsletter

Connect with Heather at any of these sites: Website and Blog , Twitter  , Facebook   instagram  , Goodreads  , Amazon Authors  , Pinterest  , LinkedInBookBub  , AllAuthor  YouTube

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Well, I hope you enjoyed meeting Heather!

Victoria LK Williams

 

It’s Time for a Change

Hello, readers and writers, I hope this post finds you well and staying hopeful in our changing world.

Just because more and more of us are for staying home to practice social distancing, that doesn’t need to mean that we can’t meet new people and make new friends.

With the help of some of my writing friends, I’m going to start a series of blog posts that will introduce you to not only great people but new books and a little bit about what goes on in the authoring process.

I count each and every one of these authors as my friends,  even though many I have never met in person. Some I’ve shared a laugh or two with, others exciting news in the author community. Many have been instrumental in my growth as a writer. One thing I can say with confidence is we have each other’s backs.

Each post will include a new author, highlighting 1   or 2 of their books along with answers and questions about their writing process and a little bit about themselves. I will be sure to include contact information for you to find them on social media or purchase their books.

So I hope you’ll make some new friends and find some great books to read.

I’ll start the series with some information about myself…

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I was born in upstate New York, the Niagara Falls area. After I got married, we moved to  South Florida and have been happy here for 35 years. We raised our son here (a real Florida Native!), and he is now married and finishing up his college degree. So in our household consist of me, the hubby, and two very demanding cats.

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I primarily write in the cozy mystery genre, although I have started to expand into cozy paranormal mysteries. I have a new series coming out in May that I’m excited about.  You can find out about all my books from my website .

That’s enough about me. I hope you’re as excited as I am to meet these new authors and find out more about their books and what makes them the author that they are. Watch for the next post and be surprised at who you will discover!

Victoria LK Williams

Write What You Know-Right?

Write what you know – right?

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For years I heard that advice; write what you know. And to some extent, it was good advice. After all, if you know the subject, you are going to be more involved in it. You will know the ins and outs and consequently be more passionate. But it’s also very limiting. How many times can you write about the same thing before you start boring your readers?

My advice is to write what you want to write.
Write what you dream about, what excites you.

There’s no excuse for saying, “I don’t know about that subject.”  With today’s vast sources of information, you can find out about things in ways we never could have before, even 10 years ago. You don’t need to haul around a thick, heavy encyclopedia anymore! All you have to do is click a button and ask your computer, Seri, Alexa, or Google, and the answer is spoken to you like magic.

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And the ever-increasing number of videos now available on YouTube is another excellent source of information. Pick a video and let yourself explore far-away-places you would never have thought of going, or had the financial means to do so.

Have a question about something? It’s easy enough to ask; just get on a social media outlet and find someone knowledgeable in the area. If they don’t know they may be able to point you in the right direction.

And even if you want a hands-on experience, travel is so easy nowadays. Hop on a plane, rent a vehicle, take a cruise, or go for a train ride. These are all possible now, and many trips can be made on a short weekend jaunt.

Use your writing as an outlet for learning new things. Learn about a trade you never knew about, learn about a culture you’ve never been exposed to. Discover the native flora and animals that live in the area you want to write about. Find out about an unsolved crime, a fantastic discovery…the list goes on!

But don’t over helm your reader with facts. Most of what you find in your research should stay in your notes, not in the pages of your book. Pick two or three really interesting or unusual fact that relates to your storyline and use only those. Keep strictly to the facts, or embellish them to fit your story, it’s up to you. But do not make things up. Your readers will know, and may even call you out on it.

 

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Knowledge has never been so easily accessible. Which means if your book isn’t filled with points of interest for your readers to grab hold of and keep their attention, then shame on you. Boring books should be a thing of the past! We have so many avenues of information to draw from to make our books enjoyable.

Now, go, find the facts that will help you create a great book, and have fun learning some new things.

Victoria LK Williams

 

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Currently Available in e-reader and print formats

 

 

 

A few of my favorite tools

 

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There’s a term out in our society right now called shiny object syndrome. I prefer to call it the law of the new toys to me this means you’re jumping from one new product to the next before you really tried them out with the hopes of finding gold and key to success.
I’m guilty of this as well I have tried so many different things. But I have to be honest nothing works without hard work and hard work is the easiest with systems that work for you, not whoever’s promoting it but for you. And for each person that is going to be different.
When I look at my computer, I find apps and programs that I hadn’t used in a long time because I always tend to fall back on the tried-and-true that I know to work for me. There’s nothing wrong with the apps that I downloaded and paid for. some of them were very good, but they just didn’t fit my mode of writing.
I’m staring at the computer screen thinking, “I really need to clean this up and get rid of some of the stuff I don’t use.” Instead, I will share the programs that work the best for me. The ones that I use day in and day out and have made my life as a writer so much easier there are half a dozen or so that I use and I’ll start them off in order of appointment importance for me.

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1. Scrivener. I don’t know how I ever wrote before I found the Scrivener program. And every time I open it up, I seem to find another little tidbit that helps me be a better writer I’m not going into all the pros and cons of it I’m just going to say I love it and I’d be lost without it.
2. Scapple. This is a great mind mapping app. And it can be used alongside of Scrivener. I use this to remind myself how the characters connect to each other, major plot points and descriptions of locations and characters (I “cast” my characters by adding a picture of what I think they’ll resemble and do the same with settings.)
3. Dropbox. Dropbox is my insurance for keeping my files from being lost. I have a few other ones that I use like Carbonite and Google Docs, but I rely on Dropbox, and I use it to organize all of my files according to books, work, and play.
4. Dragon/ Dragon Anywhere The next to are primarily because I love to dictate with my work schedule it is easier to dictate on my lunch hours when I can just stop and polish off five or 600 words or that having an exceptional day couple thousand. The first one is Dragon Anywhere. If you’ve ever used the Dragon app on your computer, you’ll love this. It works with your cell phone, and even though most cell phones do have the ability to take dictation, it still doesn’t compare to Dragon.
5. Evernote. The second app that I use along with Dragon is Evernote. From Dragon, I can drop my dictation directly into Evernote organizes and files according to books and be assured that I have a backup. Then I take my file from Evernote cleaned it up a little bit and drop it into Scrivener. It may sound like a lot of extra steps, but I’m paranoid, and with each of these steps, I create a backup. I don’t ever want to have to lose an entire book because I didn’t back up or save things as I went along.
6. Word / Google Docs. And how can we fund forget Microsoft Word or Google Docs whichever one you use because these are essential yes you can write your entire manuscript in Scrivener and you can even format it, but there’s something comfortable about Microsoft Word, at least for me there is. Maybe it’s because I’m so used to it I been using it forever.
7. ProWriting Aid / Grammarly. These two I used together. ProWriting Aid is an intensive grammar program, and sometimes it’s intimidating, at least for me. But I start with a run-through in Grammarly and ProWriting Aid. And then just before I send my work off to the editor, I run it through a second program called grammar only. I figure what one doesn’t catch the other one might.
8. Natural Reader. And finally, after everything is ready and just before I send it off to the editor, I use an app called Natural Reader, which reads my book back to me. You’d be surprised how many errors I didn’t see, but I can hear. Besides, it’s kind of fun listening to your words being spoken back to you, proving you really are a writer.

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There are other apps that I use; different thesauruses and word documents, search engines, and Google for research. My husband bought me an Alexa, and I’m using that for research too. It’s also perfect for entertaining the cats because it’ll play videos designed for cats and that will keep them away from my writing. I bet Amazon didn’t think about one!
So, these are just a few of the things I use when I’m writing. They’re tools, and that’s all they are; only tools. You have to come up with the words, and you have to come up with the ideas and most of all you have to put in the work.

What do you use to aid your writing process?

Please note this is how I do my writing and the programs I use. You may find something else works better for you. There is no right or wrong answer. I have not been asked or reimbursed by any of these companies to promote them.

Have a safe and Happy 4th of July Holiday!

Victoria LK Williams

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The Perfect Spot

Summer has officially arrived!! 

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And now we’re settling into those hot, lazy days. But for me, summer is my writing time. All winter I work in playing with the gardens, creating areas my customers can enjoy. Florida is different; our seasons are opposite everybody else, especially down here in South Florida. During the winter we hustle like crazy keep the tourist happy and the snowbirds content. But once they all leave, our quiet little towns become slow-paced. It’s time for the residents to enjoy all the amenities our towns and local areas have to offer. And it’s during the summer time that I do my writing.

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One of my favorite writing spots is on the inter-coastal waterways. There little areas that you could pull off and sit to enjoy the river. It’s not at all uncommon to see the dolphins swimming, or paddle boarders enjoying the smooth waters. If you can find a beautiful shady spot, it’s easy to sit and enjoy a comfortable breeze coming off the ocean or river that are cooling, even in 90° weather. As long as you can stay out of that blazing sun, you can enjoy your time.
With it being quiet, I have the opportunity to concentrate on my writing during downtime, often working in sprints dictating to get the next chapter written. This time you year, the phone doesn’t ring as often and spend my lunchtime getting some words down, while I sit by the water.
Each writer has their own particular spot where they like to write. Whether it’s your office, the park, the local coffee shop, or a quiet spot at home, you know where you can get the best work done. This will be where you’re at your most productive and creative. Once you find the spot covet it like it’s a golden jewel because it is it your sweet spot.

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Victoria LK Williams

Watch out for the Riptides!

If you live anywhere along the coast, you know riptides can be a dangerous problem for the unexpected swimmer. Lifeguards will post warnings, and there are signs along all the beaches that show what to do if you get caught in a riptide.

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But there are other types of riptide’s it affects our lives. And being an indie author, we seem to be swallowed up and rip tides constantly.
When I first started writing, I was dumbfounded when another writer said that writing the rough draft is the easiest part of the process. Little did I know she was probably right.
For me, writing that first draft is pure joy. It’s all about letting my imagination go and letting my words take hold of the page. But once it’s done, the riptide begins to appear; the riptide of all the other things that get in the way of writing the next book.
Just a few of the things that will pull you wonder if you’re not aware and prepared are the editing, publication, and promotion. The hardest parts of being an indie writer. Here are just a few things that can “suck” you under.

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The cover; it helps sell your book. It takes time and work to find the right illustrator. Then you need to convey your thoughts so that she or he can create the cover that will sell your book.
Once you open the book, it’s critical that you’ve taken the time to make the inside just as enticing as that cover. This is where that rough draft becomes a polished piece. Multiple editing drafts might be necessary to get your work to a salable point. Then once the words are right, you need to get it formatted for your readers to enjoy.
Now you’ve got the book ready to go. The next step is to get it out there where the readers can find it. You must determine how you’re going to publish your book. Are you going directly with Amazon or any of the other large distributors or are you going to use an aggregate publisher who will distribute for you?
Okay, step two is done. You’ve written the book, polished it, and published where readers can get it.
But now how do they find your book in among the thousands published every month? The promotional process can sometimes be as aggravating as the writing process itself.
Everything changes so fast, what you did yesterday may not work today. There’s no sitting back on your laurels waiting for the things to happen. You need to stand top of the industry and figure out what the next steps are going to be. You need to learn how to anticipate market trends so that you don’t find yourself falling behind.
Is it easy? No.
Is it necessary? Yes.
I’ve been doing this for almost 6 years, with 15 books published 3 more in that dreaded editing stage. Do I have it all figured out? Course not. Because it’s always changing.
When I first started, it was easy to put a book up on Amazon and help hundreds of downloads and thousands of pages read with very little advertising. But that’s not the way it works anymore. Now, you must be creative, you must find the right advertisers, and most of all you must have faith in yourself that your book will be read.
You need to stay on top of the industry, but more importantly, you need to be working on that next book; because nothing sells a new book than the book before it.

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So, prepare yourself as you walk along the shores of a writer and don’t get caught in the riptides.

Victoria LK Williams

Move the furniture!

Have you ever noticed how some things in your life are so every day that you don’t even think about it? Until something changes.
And I can prove it. Do you remember the opening to the old Dick VanDyke show? Without telling anyone, the characters moved a footstool, and the results are seen again and again in each show opening.

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Now you try it, move that piece of furniture and watch what happens. Some people are going to trip over it, others will walk into it while other people may automatically walk around it without registering what they’re doing. Until they look around trying to figure out what’s different.
I’m a little bit sneaky. I used to wait until my husband was out of town, or late at night when he wouldn’t notice, and that’s when I would rearrange the furniture. The hubby is pretty observant, and within five or six minutes he always seems to catch on to what was happening. But once in a while, I can catch him. Want to really find out what happens? Wait until your kids go away to college and rearrange the room. Then watch their expression when they come home and go to throw their backpack on the bed- and it’s on the other side of the room.
Yes, we form habits in our daily life; the way we walk around furniture, the way you move around your house, and for us writers the way we write. But don’t you want to shake things up once in a while and move a piece of furniture? Or for writers- change things up in the way you write.
Make your characters a little crazy, instead of straightlaced and deadpan. Murder a likable character instead of the villain, give your protagonist unusual traits that you wouldn’t expect. These are a few ways to shake up your writing. It might feel uncomfortable to you as a writer, but the readers will love it. And if you’re honest, you know there are times when you need to shake things up. Who wants to keep reading the same mundane book over and over again. Some tropes are becoming worn out, and that’s why when a writer changes things up just a little bit it catches the reader’s attention. This will help sales and gives you the incentive to write the next book.
So go ahead and move that piece of furniture. Put it right in the way where someone’s going to trip over it and grab their attention. Of course, I’m talking about the metaphoric furniture in your book; we don’t want to do any physical harm to our friends and family.
As a reader, has something caught your attention that a writer has included in the book that you were expecting?

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As a writer, what can you do to change things up, keeping your writing fresh and your readers interested?
If you’ve had experience as a writer or a reader when a store has caught you by surprise, feel free to share!
Happy Writing!

Victoria LK Williams

The Writing Lull

Yup, that’s where I am. The lull before the storm.
The writing storm that is.
I don’t know if other writers go through this or not, but when I finish a book, I always seem to be hesitant to start the next one.
It’s not for lack of ideas or enthusiasm.

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No, it’s that blank page syndrome.
I spent a week getting the outline done, figuring out just to my characters are and developing great settings to continue the series. Technically everything is in place, I’m ready to go, but I just can’t put the words down on the paper. Maybe it’s because I know once I start there’s no stopping, I’ll want to be consumed by the story.
So in the meantime, we have a clean house, I made some cookies, cleaned my office, organized my desk, caught up on all my emails and arranged the folders on my computer. I spent some time on Facebook, got some reading done and explored some research ideas.
In other words, I mastered the art procrastination once again.

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Maybe part of it is because it’s so busy at work with spring, approaching. And the weather has been absolutely perfect down here in Florida, making it hard to stay inside.
So my dilemma is, do I hold off in writing this book and use it as my Camp NaNo challenge? I have the outlines for a couple of novellas done too, so that might be another option.
But I think the realization is that regardless of what I write, I need to be writing. When you take the long gaps away from your desk and that creative juice begins to dry up becomes harder and harder to sit down in front of the computer and commit to your story. Because let’s be honest, there’s always something else could be done, and if you’re not in the right mindset, you’re going to be easily distracted.

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What about you? Do you jump right in and start the next story? Or do you take a break? Maybe you jump right into the editing phase or start promoting your work.
Each writer is different and there is no right answer–except to always keep plotting and writing at your own pace.

VictoriaLKWilliams

Want to connect on FB with other readers & writers who love cozy mysteries?

For the Love of Pets

The modern cozy mystery has something that the old traditional ones doesn’t seem to have… 

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Pets!
Now, by all means, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t seem to remember any of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot characters having cat or dog as the main character, but today’s cozy mysteries sure do. Mine included.
Maybe it’s because in the day of Agatha Christie pets did not play as significant a role in our lives as they do now. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that people didn’t love their pets in Dame Agatha’s day. But did they catered to them? Did they dress Fido up in Halloween costumes? Were their pet served gourmet pet food? And I bet they sure as heck didn’t have pet, insurance!
But today’s pets are part of our lives, treated as good (or sometimes slightly better) as our children, and pampered like royalty.
So, it only seems reasonable, if pets are that important in our everyday life that they would also be important in our characters daily life?
Personally, I love adding pets to my stories. They can give comic relief and help the reader relate to the main character. A pet can sniff out clues the main character may not have seen, and they have a sense of awareness that humans don’t.

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For instance, in my Citrus Beach Mysteries, my main character has a beagle named Barney and Barney is excellent at sniffing out clues. In book number two, Scent of a Mystery, Barney is the one that finds the first clue, setting the book in motion.
In Storm Voices, Mac is given a little gray kitten. This kitten seems to have mystic abilities, and she definitely knows that there’s something unusual living in the garden of Mac’s home.
If you look at the covers of many cozy mysteries, you’ll find a cat or dog on it; after all was a witch without a cat. Two of my favorite series are Lauren Carr’s Mac Faraday Mystery books and The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun.
Having a cat, dog, or some other animal in your mystery draws in the animal lover as well as the mystery lover. And let’s face it, an animal can get away with so much more than a human. Nobody is going to yell at the dog or point a gun at him for snooping in the den. And if the cat happens to knock over a valuable clue, it will only seem like her curiosity is coming into play. But if your main character is doing either of those things while searching for clues, then the chances are if they get caught, they will be held at gunpoint by the villain or arrested by the cops.

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Go ahead and include an animal in your story.
Use Fido or FeeFee to your advantage. Let them be the ones to ferret out the clues and warm the cockles of your reader’s hearts.
But be careful-they can easily take over your story, because everyone loves a pet.

Victoria LK Williams