Tag Archives: Murder Over Kodiak

Home Again

ike and I just returned home after six weeks on the road. We had a great vacation, but as always, I am happy to be home, despite the cold weather and frozen waterline.

Spring is still two months away in this area of the world, and we’ve had a tough winter here. After several mild winters, the black-tailed deer population on the island had exploded, but many deer did not survive the freezing temperatures this winter. I haven’t had a chance to go hiking yet to see with my own eyes how bad the winter kill was, but I’ve heard it was bad. The cycling of deer populations is normal, of course, and the deer population here will recover, but I find it difficult to watch animals starve to death and die from exposure.

I was thrilled to get a dose of sunshine and heat on our vacation. We went sailing with friends in the British Virgin Islands, and then Mike and I traveled further south to Bonaire where we snorkeled and dived and enjoyed wearing fewer layers of clothes than normal. Besides spending time with friends, the best part of the vacation for me was that I could snorkel nearly every day. I studied marine and fisheries biology in college, and I have always been fascinated by the underwater world. I could float above a coral reef all day long, watching the interactions between the fish and marine invertebrates in that busy community. The area surrounding Bonaire is a protected marine park, so the coral is healthy, and the tropical fish thrive. I would grab my mask and fins, jump off the dock at our hotel, and instantly be immersed in a gorgeous, underwater world. Getting to Bonaire was not easy, but it was well worth the hassle to enjoy that little piece of paradise.

During the many, long plane rides and mornings on the sailboat on our trip, I had time to edit the manuscript of my latest novel. With each pass, I am polishing it into the story I want it to be. I think most authors would tell you editing is the least fun part of the writing process, but editing is necessary and can’t be avoided. In addition to questioning every comma and semicolon and trying to remember whether a character’s eyes are blue or brown, I worry that the plot moves forward in a logical progression. Will the reader be surprised or disappointed? Are the characters believable? Have I provided enough description or too much description? My working manuscript is long, so I’m concerned I need to cut some scenes. Luckily, I will get help answering these questions. Once I have the manuscript as perfect as I can make it, I will send it to a professional editor who will look at it line by line and then step back and consider the manuscript as a whole. A few friends have also volunteered to read the manuscript, and my publisher will read through it and give me his thoughts.

I also want to ask for your help with my manuscript. In a few weeks, I will post a few excerpts from the book, and I encourage you to let me know what you think, good or bad. I would much rather have the feedback now than read it in a review on Amazon once the book has been published!

Finally, I have a gift for my blog readers. Click on the cover of my book below and receive a free coupon for an e-book of my novel, Murder Over Kodiak. When you click on the link you will be taken to a site provided by my publisher, and you will need to register to download the book, but there is no catch. The book is yours free!

As many of you know, I write a monthly newsletter about crime and mysteries in Alaska. I think of spring as the start of the new season for my newsletter, and I have several interesting topics I plan to cover over the next months. My newsletters are free, and you can always unsubscribe if they aren’t for you. If you think you would be interested in my newsletters, you can sign up here.

Launch Party

It is party time! I want to invite all of you to the Launch Party for the re-release of my novel, Murder Over Kodiak! As I posted a few weeks ago, I self-published this novel last year, and then it was picked up in November by Publication Consultants, a publishing company in Anchorage. If you have already read a copy from my first release of Murder Over Kodiak, the story has not changed. It does have a new, glossy cover, and we’ve done some minor interior editing. More importantly, the novel now has the force of a publisher behind it.

My publisher, Evan Swensen, wanted me to have a release party, but I live in the middle of the wilderness, and I doubted even my cats would show up for my party. My husband would be there, but he doesn’t have a choice, so I studied my options and decided to do an online launch party.

This party is a Facebook party, and I know and understand that many people do not like Facebook and do not want to go anywhere near it. That’s okay! For those of you who hate Facebook, please go to my Launch Party page on my website and sign my guestbook. You can stop by my website anytime to sign my guestbook, and while you are there, sign up for the Rafflecopter drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card. Between my Facebook party and my website, I am giving away over $500 in prizes to celebrate the launch of my novel

I hope all of you will attend my party, and please invite your friends to come with you. I especially want to invite those of you who have already read one or both of my novels. You have no idea how much I appreciate you and your support, and this is my chance to show you how I feel!

Here are the details:

What: Facebook Launch Party for Murder Over Kodiak

Where: Facebook (click on this link)

When: June 20th from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm EDT (6:00 pm to 8:00 pm CDT, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm PDT, 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm ADT)

Why: It will be fun!!!

You will have to provide your drinks and snacks, but there is no dress code. Wear whatever you have on or nothing at all!

See you at the party! Don’t forget to sign my guestbook on my website. You can sign it any time; just click on the guestbook link.

A doe and her three fawns stopped by this morning to say hi and to wish me luck.

DSC_0028

Murder Over Kodiak

NewCoverAs I mentioned last week, my novel, Murder Over Kodiak, will be re-released soon. I self-published this novel a year ago, and then I signed with a publisher this past fall, and he is now in the process of distributing the new edition. Before I published the book, I edited it numerous times and then had it professionally edited. It has now been re-edited; although, not much was changed this time. The biggest change in this edition is the cover, which I think is a huge improvement and will hopefully result in more sales. I have Publication Consultants, the publishing house I am now working with, to thank for the eye-catching design.

These are tumultuous times in the publishing business. Self-publishing a book has become easier and easier to do, and if an author works with Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing or an e-book publisher such as Smashwords, it costs nothing to self-publish an e-book. The booksellers make their money by retaining a percentage of the book’s sales. Print copies are also fairly easy for an author to produce. Companies such as Create Space allow an author to design and upload the cover and text of a book for no charge. Once the author correctly formats the book to the website’s specifications, the book can then be listed for sale at any online bookseller. The book is printed on demand and shipped to the buyer within hours. Of course, a physical book is much more expensive than an e-book to produce, so the list price must be higher to pay for this service.

The wonderful thing about self-publishing is the author has control over her creation. Of course, I have learned that it is wise to get help with the cover design and to have the text edited at least once by a professional editor. It’s a good idea to have it proofread by as many volunteers as you can find, and unless you are a computer whiz, formatting can be a headache. In my opinion, though, the real downside to self-publishing is that you also must self-promote, and that is not easy! Following the boom in the self-publishing industry are numerous legitimate businesses as well as scammers with their hands out promising you they will help you sell your book. These businesses include everything from high-end publicity companies who will manage your writing career for you to individuals who, for five dollars, will tell everyone they know about your book on Twitter. I couldn’t afford a publicity company, but I did sign up for several publicity opportunities, mostly newsletters that promoted my novel to their readers. It’s depressing to remember how many I tried, but only a very few produced results. I read every book, blog post, and newsletter I could find on promotion, and I tried most of the suggestions that didn’t cost me anything and too many that did. I have an author Facebook page, and I even tackled Twitter and am now taking an online course on how to better use Twitter. It is overwhelming, but I have learned a great deal in the last year about what works and what doesn’t.

Last September I attended the Alaska Writer’s Guild Workshop in Anchorage, and that is where I met Evan Swensen from Publication Consultants. He was interested in publishing my book, and I was thrilled. Rightfully or not, I felt validated as an author, because someone in the business thought I was worthy of publication. Evan told me right away, though, that I would still be the one primarily responsible for advertising and selling my book. That’s just the way it works anymore. Publishing houses can’t afford to spend time and money promoting an author unless that author has already proven himself, and the publisher knows he will be worth the investment. “So why am I doing this?” I asked myself. I’m giving up control of my creation – my baby – for what? I will get a lower percentage of the profits, and I can’t really expect to sell more books. Of course, Evan and the folks at Publication Consultants will help me, and with their resources, hopefully, I will be more successful. Probably the most frustrating part of working with a publisher is that things happen on his schedule instead of on mine, and I must exercise patience and trust his expertise. While I wait for my novel to be released, I keep busy working on other projects, such as my next novel. The best advice I’ve heard is that to be a successful author, you must keep writing books, and that is something I enjoy doing.

I noticed last night that the new edition of Murder Over Kodiak is now available on amazon.com for presale, and that is an exciting step forward. I’ll invite you all to my online book release party once my book is released. I plan to give away some copies of my book, as well as other prizes, including gift certificates. The best part is that you don’t have to dress up for this party. I don’t care if you arrive in your underwear!

Next week, I’ll tell you about some of my other writing projects. Don’t forget to sign up for my mystery newsletter if you haven’t already done so. This month’s letter will be about the most infamous serial killer in Alaska’s history.

 

My Second Novel: Murder Over Kodiak

My second novel, Murder Over Kodiak, is based on Kodiak Island, Alaska, where I live. Most of the story takes place in the town of Kodiak, where Jane works as a biologist at a marine science center. Later in the novel, Jane travels to the west side of Kodiak Island to Uyak Bay to collect clams to test for the presence of a natural toxin. Her campsite on this field trip is approximately fifteen miles from my actual home in the Kodiak wilderness, so describing the ambient temperature and other weather conditions Jane might encounter on a July day, as well as what she would likely see and smell, is easy for me, because I’ve spent many July days in this pristine wilderness. At one point, Jane has an encounter with a bear, and since there more than 3500 Kodiak bears on the Kodiak Island Archipelago, seeing a bear in the woods or on the beach is a common experience.

When thinking up an idea for a new mystery, I like to think, what if . . . . In the case of this novel, I thought, what if a floatplane crashed not because of bad weather, pilot error, or a mechanical malfunction, but what if the cause was something much more sinister such as a bomb? How would the residents of Kodiak react when problems from the outside world invaded our normally peaceful island?

Kodiak Island is beautiful with lush vegetation, steep mountains that rise nearly straight up from sea level, fjord-like bays, and at times, some of the worst weather on the planet. We see a few storms each year where storm-force winds spawn waves towering over 30 ft. Throw 3500 bears into the mix, and you have an awe-inspiring setting that can evoke many “what if” questions in an author’s mind.

The rugged men and women who call Kodiak home include commercial fishermen, bush plane pilots, guides, fish and wildlife researchers, and Coast Guard pilots and rescue swimmers, all who do their jobs by being willing to brave the challenging environment in which they live and work. I don’t have to use much imagination to create colorful, inspiring characters for my books. In fact, I know some actual people who are so colorful that no one would find them believable as characters in a novel.

I am lucky to have this rich, unique environment to inspire me when I write. I think and hope my novels will appeal to readers who love mysteries, but also to people who enjoy reading about Alaska and the wilderness.