Cue the (Virtual) Confetti!

Credit: ClipartPanda

Whoop! Whoop! The virtual confetti is flying and the virtual horns are blowing! (And fireworks and anything else that screams celebration!) Why? Because today marks the e-book publication of the third in my Detective Cancini Mystery Series, THE LAST SIN. (The paperback will be available April 18th). Thank you HarperCollins/Witness Impulse, Chloe, Rebecca, and everyone who read the early drafts. You are all the best!

Yesterday, the blog tour for THE LAST SIN began with showcases, guest posts, reviews, etc. See below for details. (Note: You can register to win a free digital copy at any one of these tour stops!) Thank you Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours and here’s to Publication Day!

 3/13 Guest post/showcase @ The Book Divas Reads
3/14 Showcase @ Romance Under Fire
3/15 Showcase @ Bound 2 Escape
3/16 Showcase @ Books, Dreams, Life
3/17 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
3/18 Showcase @ A Bookaholic Swede
3/20 Review @ Buried Under Books
3/21 Guest post @ Mystery Suspense Reviews
3/22 Showcase @ The Bookworm Lodge
3/23 Guest post @ Books Direct
3/24 Interview @
3/25 Showcase @ A Bookworms Journal
3/26 Showcase @ The Pulp and Mystery Shelf
3/27 Showcase @ Tome Tender
3/30 Review/showcase @ CMash Reads
4/03 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
4/10 Review @ Beths Book-Nook Blog

The Art of the Short Chapter

As both a writer and a reader, short chapters are a win-win. I read many genres but no matter what I’m reading (mystery, thriller, drama, chick-lit, etc.), the short chapter fits my schedule. If I have extra time, I can read JUST ONE MORE and just one more and just one more… If not, I can usually squeeze in a whole chapter and will look forward to the next chance to read another. I’ve been thinking quite a bit recently about how chapters have gotten shorter and why we readers like it that way.

Photo from montrealradio.blogspot

During the early 1900s, folks gathered around a warm fire while someone read out loud (and this was called entertainment!). Later, families could be found sitting in a circle around a radio and listening to a serial or some other program. Today, the world moves faster than that and entertainment has changed. Obviously, we no longer sit around a radio or read entire novels out loud, but judging by the sheer number of audiobooks and podcasts out there, listening to stories hasn’t lost its appeal. I wonder sometimes if this is because we can listen in snippets between the grocery store and the pediatrician’s office. It’s convenient. It fits our schedule. It’s short! (or long if we want it to be).

One of the writing podcasts I truly enjoy is The BestSeller Experiment. Two funny men (both named Mark) have set out to write and publish a bestseller in a year. Along the way, they’re interviewing many successful writers to find out how they’ve done it. “When do you write?” “Do you have word count goals?” “How many books did you write before your bestseller?” The list of questions goes on and the writers are all wonderful. However, a comment and subject from one of those writers struck me as particularly true in today’s world of storytelling. Joe Hill, a bestselling horror/suspense author, began to talk about short chapters and that he considers it critical to writing a page turner. I found myself nodding as I listened and then he said something I didn’t expect. He wrote a chapter in one of his novels that had only one sentence. The book in question, Heart-Shaped Box, was published with that once sentence chapter and was a bestseller. Of course, it doesn’t matter how quick the chapters are if the story doesn’t hold the reader’s attention, but, wow I thought, one sentence! This is not to say he was recommending everyone do that and neither am I, but to me, it’s further evidence that in most genre writing at least, short is sweet.

Many suspense and thriller writers have recognized this to be true. I’ve noticed in the last couple of years an increased number of books with fifty + chapters. Short, however, does not mean sweet if nothing happens. One thing that hasn’t changed is that within each chapter and scene, something has to happen to move the story along or advance the plot. If that doesn’t happen, it doesn’t matter whether your chapter is 50 words, 500, words, or 5000 words. What’s important is making them count.

I can’t really say if the appeal of short is the result of our busy lives, the need for increased stimulation, or just that the art of storytelling is always expanding and changing, but I can say that I love it. I love writing short chapters and I love reading them. I’m going to have to read Heart-Shaped Box just to read that one sentence chapter.

In my Detective Cancini series, I have always stuck to short chapters. Not surprisingly, it’s one of the things readers tell me they like about my books whether it’s through reviews or in person at book clubs. Like me, they enjoy the short chapters and find themselves staying up to read JUST ONE MORE. See? Win-win!

P.S. As a note, Joe Hill–for anyone who didn’t already know–is the son of Stephen King.

The Grateful Month

gratitudeDuring the month of November, we tend to go on a bit more about why we are grateful and what we are grateful for than we usually would. This is not necessarily a bad thing. In truth, sometimes we all need a little reminder to be grateful and if the month of November prompts those feelings, so be it. Like most people, I am often guilty of not being thankful enough. This November, however, for big reasons and small, I am particularly grateful.

While no details are necessary, this Thanksgiving found both of my parents living with my family. This has been the case for several weeks and while it was extremely time-consuming early on, things have improved. Although the goal is for this to be a temporary arrangement (at least as far as my father is planning), the decision on long-term won’t be made until sometime early next year. Either way, I am very grateful they are here and that my family is so incredibly supportive. Fortunately, I have some experience here as my mother-in-law lived with us for five years before she passed away. A feisty and incredibly intelligent lady, she was mostly independent until the last year. During that time, I was asked to write a short article about being part of “The Sandwich Generation.” You can read that here. Times have changed since then, but I’m still grateful for the chance to help loved ones.

I’m also grateful for a non-fiction project I’ve been working on for several months. Writing an organization’s history can be daunting, but it has also been amazingly rewarding. Through this project, I have met so many talented, smart, and generous people. I’ve learned far more than I expected and I’m thrilled to have been chosen to work with this group.

Spoiler Alert – here’s where I gush for a brief moment…

Finally, I am grateful to my editor and the publishing team at Witness Impulse/HarperCollins for promoting my second Cancini novel this month. STAY OF EXECUTION has been a Kindle Monthly Deal in November and was fortunate to have a Bookbub ad mid-month. STAY OF EXECUTION was a top 5 Crime Thriller and Top 5 Police Procedural on Amazon!!  It’s still in the Top 100 for both.


Wait! Am I on a list with not one, but TWO Grisham books?

It reached #1 in Police Procedurals on both Barnes and Noble and Kobo. (Cue dancing!) I couldn’t be more thrilled and the response from readers has been extremely positive. While there is no way of knowing how many new readers the series may have gained, I have also seen increased sales on the first Cancini book. Without the marketing and advertising, I know how difficult it is to reach potential readers in a market crowded with good books. Every little bit helps! I am no less grateful to even be included on a list of great Witness authors such as LS Hawker, Eric Rickstad, Nancy Allen, and James Hayman. All in all, it’s been a good month.

As always, there is also no better community than the writing community. I am thankful for readers and writers everywhere and best wishes to those closing out NaNoWriMo tomorrow!

Happy November!

While Many Writers are Prepping for #NaNoWriMo…

zombi-1Just like every year, I’m seeing authors prepping for #NaNoWriMo. I admire them, I really do, but I don’t have it in me. For one thing, I don’t write fast enough to do it. There are only so many hours in the day and I have other work, a family, temporary houseguests, a third novel in edits, and more. I do like deadlines though. They keep this writer motivated and on a schedule (sort of). That aspect of NaNoWriMo is particularly appealing along with the concept of 50,000 words written in a month, but I shudder to think what a walking zombie I would be, how hungry my kids would be, how my husband and my dogs wouldn’t know me…

Also, November will be a busy month for me. I’m very excited my third novel in the Cancini series is in my editor’s hands and I know I will spend a good portion of the month revising and tweaking based on her notes. I also expect to see the cover design soon. I’ve also got two additional fiction projects started (a fourth Cancini mystery and another with a new protagonist). My freelance work has also brought me a long-term project for a local Richmond organization that I’m really enjoying.

saleI am also thrilled to announce that for the month of November, STAY OF EXECUTION will be featured as an Amazon Kindle Monthly Deal at $.99 (November 1 – December 5). That is some awesome promotion from my publisher (thank you Witness Impulse)! I’ve also been scheduling some book clubs  and the sale is a perfect start to the holiday season! While I may not be a candidate for NaNoWriMo, I am extremely grateful for all that’s going on.

To all who do take on the challenge, Congratulations! Here’s to a great November!

A Paperback Writer and the Summer of Stephen King

Aren't they beautiful?

Aren’t they beautiful?

I am officially a paperback writer (don’t you just want to sing the Beatles tune right now?).  July 27th (Today!) is the paperback release date of A GUILTY MIND. The ebook was released June 14th, but today I’m a paperback writer. Sort of… I love looking at it. I love holding it. Ebooks are wonderful and I couldn’t live without my kindle, but what writer doesn’t love the physical being of his or her book? In more exciting news, STAY OF EXECUTION will be out in paperback on August 9th. What a fun few weeks!

Recently, my daughter and her best friend recommended I read Stephen King’s Detective Hodges trilogy (ooh…a detective series!). I’ve always loved the way he writes and last summer I couldn’t resist the sequel to THE SHINING, DOCTOR SLEEP.  I hadn’t read much else by him in the last few years other than ON WRITING but have always considered him one of the best writers and storytellers around, so I was excited to try something new. I’ve already finished two of the three books. Unless something spirals downward in book three, I’m hoping he decides to add to the series. It’s a winner! Since I was a teen, King has been one of the most reliable go-to writers out there. Can’t wait to see what he puts out next…

Summer reading is truly a guilty pleasure. Reading at the beach. Reading at the lake. It doesn’t matter where it is. If you’re doing it in the sun, you’re on vacation. It doesn’t get any better than that. Since I only have one Stephen King novel to go, I’m lining up a few more for the dog days of August. Liane Moriarity’s latest, TRULY MADLY GUILTY, is on the list. John Gilstrap’s FRIENDLY FIRE. Lisa Unger’s INK AND BONE. There are more, but I do have to work sometime!

The heat here in central Virginia has been brutal in recent weeks so here’s to lounging in the pooldrinks with a paperback in one hand and a cocktail in the other. Happy summer!


StayOfExecutionD-REV [146701]I’m thrilled that today marks the e-book release of STAY OF EXECUTION! This second in the Cancini series has been called “fast-paced”, a “nail-biter”, and perfect for fans of Making a Murderer. Because I love characters who are not always what they seem, this book is a favorite of mine. I hope new readers will love it, too!

In other news, A GUILTY MIND will be out in paperback in July and STAY OF EXECUTION in August. The third in the series, tentatively titled THE LAST SIN, is slated to be published next February.

Thanks to everyone who has helped launch the series this month! I couldn’t have done it without you!