Guest Post: Jodé Millman – THE MIDNIGHT CALL

Happy Tuesday, my bookish peeps, and welcome to October. Do you audio (listen to audiobooks, that is)? I recently developed the habit of listening to audiobooks, especially during road trips. As an audiobook listener, I haven’t given much attention to things such as whether or not the author has the rights to the audiobook or not. However, publishing and rights can be very convoluted so it is definitely a good idea to know what you as an author own and don’t own for your writings. As a reader, I definitely want authors to receive their fair share for their hard work. I’m honored to welcome back, Jodé Millman, author of The Midnight Call to the blog today. Ms. Millman will be discussing audiobooks with us, especially from the perspective of the author. I’m sure this information will be helpful for all of you authors and aspiring authors out there. Thank you, Ms. Millman, for taking the time to join us today. I look forward to learning your thoughts on audiobooks. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

Listen Up: Do you own the rights to your Audiobook?
by Jodé Millman

As writers, we can’t help being excited about hearing our characters’ voices come alive on digital audiobooks. And audiobooks are enjoying a wave of popularity, which has only surged since the pandemic. According to the Audio Publishers Association, in 2021 the market grew by 25% to a $1.6B industry, following a trend of double-digit growth during the last ten years.

In 2021, nearly 74,000 audiobooks were published, representing a 6% growth over 2020, and now audiobook sales represent 9% of the total U.S. book sales. Of course, the 2022/23 picture will be different, given readers continued thirst for audio entertainment. And just so you know who’s listening, 54% of frequent listeners are under the age of 45, and new listenership and audiobook memberships have increased four-fold.

This good news means that digital audiobooks are creating a new revenue stream for writers. The great news is that the second-most popular genre is Mystery/Thriller/Suspense, after Sci-Fi/Fantasy, with Romance and Fiction taking a close third place.

Now that the optimistic industry trends have been covered, this article will examine whether authors own the rights to their audiobooks. The answer may surprise you.

Published Book versus Audiobook

First, let’s examine the difference between a “published book” and an “audiobook” which extends beyond their respective mediums – print versus digital recording. Be forewarned that understanding the concepts of “published books” and “audiobooks” is a bit like trying to get a handle on The Cat in the Hat‘s Thing One and Thing Two. The main premise is that “published books” and “audiobooks” are two separate legal and creative entities. Thing One (Published Books) is the original, underlying manuscript, which is owned by the author of the work and is protected under the Copyright Law. Thing Two (Audiobook) is considered a “derivative work” because it is a sound recording based upon a preexisting work – the manuscript. To create a sound recording, the publisher must first obtain the right to use the “published book” from the author, which will be covered later in the article.

Under the Copyright Law, a sound recording of the book must be captured in a medium from which it can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated to others such as a digital track, disk, tape or other format. To clarify, a sound recording is a “fixed” recorded performance of a preexisting work, such as the Hamilton soundtrack derived from the Broadway production/book of Hamilton or the performance of Davinia Porter reading Diana Gabaldon’s Go Tell the Bees That I am Gone.

Performance + Production = Audiobook

Typically, the sound recording of composed of two parts – the performance captured in the recording and the parties who captured and processed those sounds to create the final performance. Under the Copyright statute, an author owns the underlying material, however, the publisher who produces the audiobook owns the sound recording, which includes both the performance (voice recording) and the production (capturing and engineering the sound), which also carry separate copyrights. Other than the right to royalties negotiated for the use of the novel, the author generally has no legal entitlement to the audiobook.

Similarly, the voice-over artist may claim copyright ownership of their performance on the recording, unless they were employed by the publisher to narrate the audiobook. When someone is a “work for hire,” they possess no independent claim to the audiobook simply because they performed the narration. Think of the voiceover artist as being a backup singer for the Rolling Stones. Merry Clayton is best known as Mick Jagger’s amazing duet partner on “Gimme Shelter.” She was compensated for singing during the recording session but receives no subsequent royalties whenever the song is played or the record is sold. She was merely an “artist for hire.”

License to Thrill

As mentioned above, in order for a publisher or audiobook producer to produce an audiobook, they must first obtain permission from the book’s author, the original copyright holder, to use or record the book. This grant of permission is included in a publishing agreement as known as a “subsidiary right.” The Author’s Guild Model Contract suggests that the audiobook royalties be equally shared between the publisher and author – 50/50. However, publishers argue that they bear the cost of producing, marketing and distributing the audiobook, which could be substantial. When negotiating your publishing deal, be aware of this valuable subsidiary right as it may mean substantial revenue in this rapidly changing digital environment.

Under the Copyright Law, an author’s entitlement to assign or license a book for use by another party is among the many rights protected under the law. Briefly, “assigning” the rights to the book means that an author is transferring or divesting all of the rights to the work. A great analogy is selling a car; the car is something that will never be returned. In contrast, “licensing” the book means that an author is allowing the use of their manuscript under limited circumstances. It’s like leasing the car–it will be returned at the end of the term. Licenses can be exclusive (one producer) or non-exclusive (multiple producers), but generally, licenses are exclusive.

As in my situation, my original publisher included the right to produce an audiobook of my debut novel, The Midnight Call, in my publishing agreement. They were entitled to the exclusive license to produce the audiobook for a period of two years after the publication of the book. If they failed to produce the audiobook within that time, the rights reverted to me, and I was free to either produce the book myself or license/assign it to another party. The audiobook was released in May 2020, which was nine months after the publication date of the trade paperback, and my publisher and I shared the royalties from the project. When my contract with them ended, I received my audiobook rights from them, and now I am the audiobook publisher with my own account on ACX and I receive all of the royalties from the copies sold.

It is also the responsibility of the producer to create an end product, which meets the quality standards acceptable to Audible, iTunes, or any other distributor. Audible.com’s Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) will not release any audiobooks that fail to meet those standards, and during the pandemic, the review time expanded from ten to more than thirty business days after submission for review.

In June 2022, Spotify acquired Findaway, an audiobook publishing and distribution platform, as part of the streaming app’s plans to expand into audiobooks. This offers independent authors and small presses another resource for entering the digital audio sphere and reaching Spotify’s 162 million monthly listeners using an à la carte approach, rather than a subscription model.

Producing your own Audiobook

If an author has retained the right to produce the audiobook or is self-published, then the landscape is quite different. The author producing their own audiobook would be responsible for: bearing the cost of engineering, finding the talent, drafting and executing a talent “work for hire” agreement, and bearing the costs of the talent, marketing and distributing the product. It is akin to self-publishing in the audio realm. Audiofile.com is a great industry resource and maintains a directory of audiobook talent and publishers. Additional resources to assist the creation of an audiobook can also be found through the Audio Publishers Association at Audiopub.org, Authorsguild.org, Copyright.gov, and ACX.com.

Conclusion

The downloadable audiobook market is booming, creating new revenue streams and challenges for authors. When negotiating a publishing contract, don’t undervalue the potential of the subsidiary right of audiobooks. Be sure to negotiate your fair share of royalties in this category as well as all other technological methods for the delivery of your manuscript to readers. And if you elect to enter the Wild West of audiobook production, there’s plenty of sound advice available. ♦

The Midnight Call

by Jodé Millman

October 3 – November 18th, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Midnight Call by Jodé Millman

Who would ever suspect that their mentor, teacher, and friend was a cold-blooded killer? Jessie Martin didn’t—at least not until she answers the midnight call.

Late one August night, Jessie’s lifelong mentor and friend–and presently a popular, charismatic, and handsome high school teacher–Terrence Butterfield calls. He utters a startling admission: he’s killed someone. He pleads for Jessie’s help, so out of loyalty she rushes to his aid completely unaware that she’s risking her relationship, her career, and her life–and that of her unborn child–to help Terrence.

Does Jessie’s presence at Terrence’s home implicate her in the gruesome murder of the teenage boy found in the basement? Why does Terrence betray Jessie when he has a chance to exonerate her of all charges? Has he been a monster in disguise for all these years?

To reclaim her life and prove her innocence, Jessie must untangle the web of lies and reveal the shocking truths behind the homicide. The quest turns out to be the fight of her life: to preserve everything and everyone she holds dear.

Praise for The Midnight Call:

WINNER OF THE 2020 BRONZE IPPY AWARD, 2020 INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER BOOK AWARD FOR SUSPENSE/THRILLER AND THE 2020 AMERICAN FICTION AWARD FOR LEGAL THRILLER.

“A Must-Read”

USA Today Network

“The tricky legal maneuvering intrigues…Millman writes with verve.”

Publishers Weekly

“If you like courtroom battles, this legal thriller fits the bill!”

Chanticleer Reviews, Four Star Review. The Midnight Call won First Place in the 2014 CIBAs in the CLUE Awards

“An intriguing courtroom thriller.”

Top Shelf Magazine

“Friendship, insanity, the drama of a courtroom, with a touch of romance rounding out the narrative, will have readers struggling to answer the question: What happens after you answer that terrifying midnight call?”

Booktrib.com

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Romantic Suspense
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: September 2022
Number of Pages: 400
Series: Queen City Crimes, Book 1
ASIN: B0BGQK7DY2 (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B088YJ7X43 (Audible audiobook)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook

Author Bio:

Jodé Millman

Jodé Millman is the acclaimed author of Hooker Avenue and The Midnight Call, which won the Independent Press, American Fiction, and Independent Publisher Bronze IPPY Awards for Legal Thriller. She’s an attorney, a reviewer for Booktrib.com, the host/producer of The Backstage with the Bardavon podcast, and creator of The Writer’s Law. Jodé lives with her family in the Hudson Valley, where she is at work on the next installment of her “Queen City Crimes” series —novels inspired by true crimes in the region she calls home.

Discover more about Jodé, her work, and sign up for her newsletter at:
www.JodeMillman.com
Goodreads
LinkedIn
BookBub – @JodeMillmanAuthor
Instagram – @jodewrites
Twitter – @worldseats
Facebook – @JodeSusanMillmanAuthor

Tour Participants:

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Guest Post: Mally Becker – THE COUNTERFEIT WIFE

Hello, my fellow book lovers. I don’t know about you, but I’m loving the cooler weather. I enjoy curling up on my favorite reading chair with a blanket, a cup of tea, and a good book (or two). Of course, I curl up on my favorite reading chair every season, but Fall and Winter just seem different. My reading tastes also seem to change with the weather, as I gravitate more towards historical fiction at this time of the year. If you’re always on the lookout for something new in the historical fiction arena, then you’re going to love today’s guest author visit. Please help me welcome back Mally Becker, author of The Counterfeit Wife. Ms. Becker will be providing us with an introduction to her latest book. Thank you, Ms. Becker, for coming back to visit, I’m eager to learn more about your latest book. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

Guest Post graphic featuring a stack of books above the words GUEST POST in a scripted font

I’m excited and honored to be featured here today!

My name is Mally Becker, and I’m the Agatha Award-nominated author of The Turncoat’s Widow and The Counterfeit Wife, which is out now wherever books are sold.

The Turncoat’s Widow introduces General Washington’s two most reluctant spies, young widow Becca Parcell and former British POW Daniel Alloway. Pressed into Washington’s service, this unlikely duo uncover a plot that threatens the new nation.

Combining mystery, a touch of romance, and history, The Counterfeit Wife opens months later as Becca and Daniel accept a new assignment from George Washington. Masquerading as newlyweds, they head to Philadelphia to uncover a ring of counterfeiters who are upending the wartime economy.

There, Becca comes face-to-face with a half-remembered woman from her childhood, which forces her to question everything she thought she knew about her past. When that woman becomes a suspect in the murder of one of the counterfeiting suspects, Becca and Daniel find themselves speeding to discover the real villain before he can kill again.

I can hear you asking why on earth Becca and Daniel needed to masquerade as a married couple.

It would have been quite a challenge for an unmarried couple to find “alone time” in the 18th century, a historian assured me. Society banned meetings between unmarried men and women without a chaperone.

Yet Becca and Daniel are amateur sleuths, in their 18th-century way. Without an ability to speak in private, how could they share their impression of suspects or evaluate the information one or the other uncovers?

A fake marriage seemed to me to be their only option. Martha Washington thinks it might work so long as they maintain all the proprieties, as she puts it in my story. General Washington is not as certain but approves the ruse, nonetheless.

When you read my books, The Counterfeit Wife or The Turncoat’s Widow, I hope that they entertain you. But I also hope that you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time, attending a society party at City Tavern, breaking into an 18th-century printer’s shop, or chatting with the wealthiest women in Philadelphia.

And I hope above all else that you feel a connection to my female characters especially. Customs may change; clothing certainly does. But I think the things that make us human and our emotions are a constant throughout time.

I especially strove to bring to life women like Becca who chart their own course. Because there have always been women who cheerfully ignore society’s restrictions: women spies; women business owners; female poets; even women who led 18th-century riots.

I included a few of those historical women in The Counterfeit Wife, including Benjamin Franklin’s adult daughter, Sally, and the wife of Pennsylvania’s governor, Esther Reed. She wrote that American women were “born for liberty” and led a group of women who knocked on every door in the city to raise money for the all-but-broke Continental Army.

As a friend of the Washingtons, Becca is invited to tag along on one of the group’s fundraising trips with Sally Franklin Bache, Benjamin Franklin’s adult daughter who was, in fact, an important member of the Ladies Association. The dramatic meeting between Becca and a woman who lives there sets in motion an important part of my book’s plot.

You can learn more about me and my books at www.mallybecker.com. I hope to see you there! ♦

The Counterfeit Wife

by Mally Becker

September 19 – October 14, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

THE COUNTERFEIT WIFE by Mally Becker book cover, yellow background with photo of the back of a white female, wearing a burgundy long-sleeve 17th century gown

Philadelphia, June 1780. George Washington’s two least likely spies return, masquerading as husband and wife as they search for traitors in Philadelphia.

Months have passed since young widow Becca Parcell and former printer Daniel Alloway foiled a plot that threatened the new nation. But independence is still a distant dream, and General Washington can’t afford more unrest, not with food prices rising daily and the value of money falling just as fast.

At the General’s request, Becca and Daniel travel to Philadelphia to track down traitors who are flooding the city with counterfeit money. Searching for clues, Becca befriends the wealthiest women in town, the members of the Ladies Association of Philadelphia, while Daniel seeks information from the city’s printers.

But their straightforward mission quickly grows personal and deadly as a half-remembered woman from Becca’s childhood is arrested for murdering one of the suspected counterfeiters.

With time running out – and their faux marriage breaking apart – Becca and Daniel find themselves searching for a hate-driven villain who’s ready to kill again.

Praise for The Counterfeit Wife:

The Counterfeit Wife by Mally Becker has it all — adventure, romance and deceit … [w]ith smooth-as-ice prose and pitch-perfect dialogue.”

Tina deBellegarde, Agatha- and Derringer-nominated author of the Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery Series

The Counterfeit Wife is a not-to-be-missed adventure that gives new meaning to rebel and loyalist, spy and spouse.”

Lori Robbins, award-winning author of the On Pointe and Masterclass Mystery series

“As the young country struggles for independence, so does Becca, and she will have you turning pages well into the night … I highly recommended The Counterfeit Wife and I’m already anxious for the third of the series.”

Eileen Harrison Sanchez, award-winning author of Freedom Lessons—A Novel

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: September 2022
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 9781685121587
Series: A Revolutionary War Mystery
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

 

Mally Becker author photo, headshot of white female with short, brown curly hair, and tortoise shell eyeglassesMally Becker combines her love of history and crime fiction in mysteries that feature strong, independent heroines. She is the Agatha Award-nominated author of The Turncoat’s Widow, which Kirkus Reviews called, “A compelling tale… with charming main characters.” Her first novel was also named a Silver Falchion finalist and a CIBA “Mystery & Mayhem” finalist.

A member of the board of MWA-NY, Mally was an attorney until becoming a full-time writer and an instructor at The Writers Circle Workshops. She is also a member of Sisters in Crime and the Historical Novel Society. Mally and her husband live in New Jersey, where they raised their wonderful son and spend as much time as they can hiking and kayaking.

Catch Up With Mally Becker:
www.MallyBecker.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @mallybecker
Instagram – @mallybeckerwrites
Twitter – @mally_becker
Facebook – @mallybeckerauthor

Tour Participants:

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Guest Post: C.L. Tolbert – SANCTUARY

Good day, book people. I’ve recently noticed that I’m perfectly willing to suspend my belief and rational thought (to a certain extent) when reading fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, fantasy, or even romance stories. However, when I’m reading mysteries, suspense, thrillers, and even romantic suspense, I want the stories and characters to be wholly realistic and the action to be credible. If the story is too far outside of my brain’s comfort zone, I have a hard time enjoying the story. I know, strange reading quirk, but there you have it. Today, I’m pleased to welcome C.L. Tolbert, author of Sanctuary, part of the Thornton Mystery series, back to the blog. Ms. Tolbert will discuss the importance of “keeping it real” or realistic fiction. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to share, follow along with the tour to learn more about this book and its author, and don’t forget to grab yourself a copy of Sanctuary for your fall reading. Thank you, Ms. Tolbert, for your visit, the blog is now all yours.

Keeping It Real
by C.L. Tolbert

I’ve always preferred realistic fiction. I like to emerge myself in the setting and the characters’ lives, and for me, that means the story must be credible. The reader must believe that what unfolds in the story could actually happen. Even though it was non-fiction, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which may be the best true crime story ever written, is an icon and a guide for what I’d like to achieve in a story.

But are mysteries realistic fiction? The short answer is, they don’t have to be. Mysteries can be fictional or nonfictional, and may even include supernatural topics, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles.

When I was five years old, my favorite TV show was Perry Mason, with Raymond Burr. My parents didn’t allow me to see it, which made it even more tantalizing, but my aunt did when she babysat my brother and me. I was impressed with Mason’s smooth approach, his brilliance in the courtroom, and the fact that, even though he usually represented the underdog or the disadvantaged, he always won.

But even though I enjoyed the intricate plot lines on the show, I knew, even at age five, that courtroom confessions, which Mason often relied on to win, seemed unlikely. I didn’t know the name for this anomaly when I was five, but it was my first confrontation with “deus ex machina,” a plot device where an unsolvable problem in a storyline is suddenly and abruptly resolved by an unexpected and unlikely occurrence, such as the sudden confession. Even then, I wanted the facts and structure of the story to be realistic, not contrived.

Perry Mason also had a couple of sidekicks, one of which was Paul Draper, his intrepid private investigator. Paul didn’t hesitate to rough up witnesses so that they would ‘spill the beans.’ After a few years of watching Drake misbehave, I developed a strong distrust of private investigators until, as an attorney, I had to hire one for a case. My investigator was a retired police officer, and a stalwart follower of proper procedures. He’d never have roughed up a witness, nor would the majority of investigators.

When I was eight, my brother inherited the Hardy Boys books from a cousin and I read all thirty-two books one summer. I was surprised that the Hardy Boys would often find themselves breaking into houses and buildings to solve crimes, and, later on, as a thirteen-year-old, I appreciated that Agatha Christie was more careful with procedure. Poirot and Miss Marple weren’t the sort to trespass.

After retiring from the practice of law, I started working on a short story that featured Emma Thornton, a young, single-mother-attorney, as the protagonist. I entered the story in the Georgia State Bar Journal’s fiction contest, and, several months later, was very surprised to discover that I had won. This win gave me the confidence I needed to turn the short story into a full novel.

I knew I had a good story to tell. After teaching school for ten years, and practicing law for another thirty-five, I had plenty of war stories. But I was worried about how to keep my writing realistic and still capture the readers’ attention and interest. My protagonist, Emma Thornton, as an attorney and law professor, would spend the majority of her day bogged down in work that is boring, redundant, and even mundane. Lawyers spend more time researching and writing than anything else. They ask the same question to different people over and over in an attempt to get to the truth of the matter. This sort of reality would put readers to sleep quickly.

Lawyers are also bound to follow the rules of ethics or risk disbarment. So, neither Emma nor any person who worked on cases with her could ever threaten a witness, as Perry Mason’s Paul Drake, or become involved in Hardy Boys-like trespass. How could I turn Emma’s routine-filled and occasionally dull life into an exciting book, and still maintain a modicum of (hopefully edgy) realism?

One truth about trial lawyers is that they love a fight, and Emma is no exception. They also love arguing, and asking carefully wrought questions designed to expose the theory of their case. They also love trial. The courtroom is their temple. So, in each of the books in the Thornton Mystery Series, Emma spends the majority of her time preparing for trial, analyzing evidence, interviewing witnesses, and reviewing autopsy reports, and sometimes arguing with the DA. A couple of the books have courtroom hearings. Emma works for a law school where she directs the Homeless Clinic, and has no money for her own investigations. She, and sometimes her students, do the leg work on her cases.

To keep the story interesting, I gave Emma a personality quirk – specifically, an impulse control problem – and an insatiable curiosity. She also carries, to the extreme, the responsibility of zealously representing her clients, all of which suffer from various societal injustices. Emma’s impulse control problem is subtle, and although she’s aware of it, she never addresses the issue. But the reader may notice that Emma can’t resist pushing her apartment door open when it’s been left ajar by someone other than herself, or climbing up the stairs to spy on an intruder. Emma’s exploits often backfire, and she ends up in trouble at least once or twice a book. Impulse control issues would be a problem for any attorney, but that’s especially true when an attorney is conducting his or her own investigations, as Emma.

The term ‘realistic fiction’ sounds like an oxymoron. But it’s nothing more than the creation of imaginary characters and situations that depict the world and society as they are. Plots highlight social or personal problems that mirror contemporary life. The books in my Thornton Mystery Series, Out From Silence, The Redemption, and Sanctuary, are murder mysteries that take a look at societal injustices and family dysfunction, but in a way that takes the reader on a journey. The books are offered as entertainment, but, hopefully, the reader will learn something along the way.

Sanctuary

by C.L. Tolbert

September 12 – October 8, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

SANCTUARY by C.L. Tolbert book cover

A Thornton Mystery

In Sanctuary, the third book in the Thornton Mystery Series, Emma is back again. This time she’s agreed to represent a former client accused of killing the leader of a suspicious cult in New Orleans.

James Crosby, the charismatic leader of the Japaprajnas, is found dead one late afternoon, his body draped over an iron fence in the courtyard of the nineteenth-century house where he and several cult members work and live. Although police initially presumed his fall was an accident, they quickly discover that James received a lethal dose of a drug before he was pushed from his office balcony.

The next day the police discover a syringe and a substantial amount of the drug which killed James in Stacey Robert’s bedroom. The nineteen-year-old cult member is brought in for questioning, which leads to her arrest. Emma, who had represented Stacey when she was a sixteen-year-old runaway, agrees to take the case.

Convinced she is innocent Emma begins an investigation into the cult and its members. Emma’s questions uncover dangerous secrets, illicit activities, and the exploitation of innocent victims. Emma’s suspicions lead her to the killer’s trail and the case’s final resolution.

Praise for Sanctuary:

“Brace yourself. Deadly personalities, hidden agendas, and long-buried secrets threaten law professor Emma Thornton, after she agrees to defend a terrified young woman accused of murdering the charismatic leader of an oppressive cult. The dark heart of New Orleans has never felt so dangerous.”

Roger Johns, Author of the Wallace Hartman Mysteries

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: July 2022
Number of Pages: 280
ISBN: 9781685121464 (paperback)
ASIN: B0B5YFSL54 (Kindle edition)
Series: The Thornton Mystery Series, Book 3
Book Links: Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

 
Author C.L. Tolbert

After winning the Georgia State Bar Journal’s fiction contest in 2010, C.L. Tolbert developed the winning story into a full-scale novel. Out From Silence was published in December of 2019, and is the first novel in the Thornton Mysteries series. Her second book, The Redemption, was published in February of 2021, and Sanctuary, the third book in the series, was published in July of 2022.

Licensed in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia, C.L. practiced law for thirty-five years before retiring to pursue writing. During her legal career, she spent several years teaching at Loyola Law School in New Orleans, where she was the Director of the Homeless Clinic. She also has a Masters of Special Education, and taught in a public school prior to enrolling in law school.

C.L. has two children and three grandchildren, and lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and schnauzer.

Catch Up With C.L. Tolbert:
www.CLTolbert.com
Goodreads
Instagram – @cltolbertwrites
Twitter – @cltolbertwrites
Facebook – @cltolbertwriter

Tour Participants:

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Guest Post: James L’Etoile – DEAD DROP

Good day, book people and welcome to July. Like many of you, I’m somewhat obsessed with books, hey book diva here. I wonder about the crafting of each story, why this particular setting, why this number of characters, how do authors keep track of all of the characters, how did the author come up with character names and occupations, etc. I don’t sit and ponder these in-depth while reading, but these questions do pop up. Apparently, I’m not alone in thinking about the hows and whys. I’m pleased to welcome James L’Etoile, author of Dead Drop, back to the blog. Mr. L’Etoile will be discussing the all-important “whys” of his characters with us today. I hope you’ll enjoy what he has to say and add Dead Drop to your summer TBR list. Thank you, Mr. L’Etoile, for your return visit, I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

Thanks for inviting me to come and guest post with you again here on The Book Diva’s Reads. I’m really excited about the release of Dead Drop in a little more than a week. It’s the first in a new series, so I could do one thing I enjoy most, creating new characters to play with.

Every author’s writing process is unique and uniquely their own. It takes a little time and practice to find the methods and routines that work best for you. After five novels (and two more out on submission), I’m settling into my process—the one that works for me, now.

As part of that process, I spend a considerable amount of time developing the characters who’ll inhabit my pages long before I type the first words. Some authors depend on archetype labels to define their characters. Definitions like the Mentor, the Hero, the Villain, and the Ally, for example. While these may identify their roles in the story, I find the labels don’t help me establish character. Characteristics perhaps, but not a deeper dive into character.

For me, it’s about the “why.” Why do the characters act and respond the way they do? What does my character want, and how far will they be willing to go to get it?

In Dead Drop, our two main characters are opposites of one another. Detective Nathan Parker and a desert scavenger, Billie Carson, are about as far apart as you would imagine. Until circumstances bring them together to solve a series of murders and fight for their own survival.

In the opening chapters, Billie is out “scrapping” trying to eek a living from the recycled goods and discarded junk along the highway. Right away, we learn there’s more to Billie than she admits. She blames herself for harm done to others. So, what does Billie want? Why has she adopted this off-the-grid lifestyle? And what has she done in the past?

Billie has secrets. Secrets worth killing for. She’s motivated by a sense of justice, a search for redemption from a deadly past, and a need to conceal her old life.

Nathan Parker is a cop who struggles with his sense of justice after a coyote bringing migrants over the border murders his partner. Nathan doesn’t blame the undocumented. There are darker forces using people who are trying to find a better life as a commodity in a deadly game.

He’s never given up his search for the man responsible for his partner’s death. Motivated by a sense of survivor’s guilt, a longing for justice, revenge, and yet he’s drawn to those who need him in a need to protect others.

When Nathan and Billie come together over a series of recent deaths, their “whys,”—their motivations—collide. The investigation of the murders of undocumented men lures them over the border. Parker finds his path shifts from his partner’s death and must rely on the very people he once pursued to save his life and a band of undocumented migrants crossing the border. He lives less in the past and looks to the future. Nathan searches for justice for the living.

Billie must put aside years of hiding and sacrifice to help Nathan. She’s tougher and more resilient than people give her credit for. She knows more about the murder of Nathan’s partner but has kept that concealed for years. Revealing it now threatens her relationship with Nathan, but withholding it may put more people in danger, including her.

The “whys” of Dead Drop drive the actions and decisions of Nathan and Billie over the course of the book. They reveal more about their character. I find it helpful to map out these characters before I dive into the plot of the novel. With a better understanding of Nathan and Billie, I know how they will react and exactly how far they will go to get what they are searching for.

Writing a novel means you’ll be living with these characters for months. That relationship works much more smoothly if you take the time and get to know them before you write. ♦

Dead Drop

by James L’Etoile

June 27 – July 22, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Dead Drop by James L'Etoile

 

Hundreds go missing each year making the dangerous crossing over the border. What if you were one of them?

While investigating the deaths of undocumented migrants in the Arizona desert, Detective Nathan Parker finds a connection to the unsolved murder of his partner on a human smuggling run. The new evidence lures Parker over the border in search of the truth, only to trap him in a strange and dangerous land. If he’s to survive, Parker must place his life in the hands of the very people he once pursued.

Border violence, border politics, and who is caught in between. The forces behind it might surprise you.

Praise for Dead Drop:

“James L’Etoile’s DEAD DROP hooked me from the opening sentences to the very last page. A truly twisted plot, gifted storytelling, and dead-on characterization combine to make this tense, timely, and heart-breaking thriller a truly memorable read. I loved it!”
~ Karen Dionne, author of the #1 international bestseller THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER and THE WICKED SISTER

“An incredible story that grabs you by the throat and tosses you across the room. L’Etoile is a gem.”
~ J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of HER DARK LIES

James L’Etoile is such a talented and terrific storyteller! His real-life experience in the criminal justice system gives his compelling, high-stakes thrillers an authenticity that only a savvy insider can provide. You’ll be turning the pages as fast as you can!
~ Hank Phillippi Ryan USA Today Bestselling Author of HER PERFECT LIFE

A suspenseful and utterly gripping novel that doesn’t shy away from the terror of drug cartels and border violence, James L’Etoile’s DEAD DROP is a well-researched, expertly written police procedural with twists that will leave you breathless. This one is not to be missed.
~ Jennifer Hillier, bestselling author of LITTLE SECRETS and THINGS WE DO IN THE DARK

“Borders are blurred, lines are crossed. Nathan Parker navigates an intensely personal case, uncontrolled emotions threatening his good judgment. Brilliant prose, crisp pacing, and well-developed characters make L’Etoile a must-read for every thriller enthusiast. An unforgettable story.”
~ K.J. Howe, international bestselling author of SKYJACK

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: July 19, 2022
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 9781685121143
ISBN: 9781685121150 (eBook)
ASIN: B09WVWZ4BG (Kindle edition)
Series: The Detective Nathan Parker Series, Book 1
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Amazon Kindle | B&N Nook Book | Kobo eBook

Author Bio:

James L'Etoile

James L’Etoile uses his twenty-nine years behind bars as an influence in his novels, short stories, and screenplays. He is a former associate warden in a maximum-security prison, a hostage negotiator, facility captain, and director of California’s state parole system. He is a nationally recognized expert witness on prison and jail operations. He has been nominated for the Silver Falchion for Best Procedural Mystery, and The Bill Crider Award for short fiction. His published novels include Black Label, At What Cost, Bury the Past, and Little River. Look for Dead Drop in the summer of 2022.

You can find out more at:
www.jamesletoile.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @crimewriter
Instagram – @authorjamesletoile
Twitter – @jamesletoile
Facebook – @AuthorJamesLetoile

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Guest Post: Jodé Millman – HOOKER AVENUE

Hello, book people. As a reader, it’s nice to presume that all any beloved author has to do is sit down and write out the story hidden in their imagination. Sadly, creating and crafting stories often makes up only a small percentage of an author’s life in today’s world. Authors often perform other functions in addition to writing, such as research, editing, publicity, and marketing, etc. Being an author today is not for the faint of heart (in my opinion) and involves quite a bit of time-consuming work outside of writing. I’m honored to host a visit from Jodé Millman, author of Hooker Avenue. Ms. Millman will be discussing the concept of protecting artistic rights as an author/creator. I hope you’ll enjoy her presentation, grab a copy of Hooker Avenue to read, and follow the blog tour to learn more about this book and its author. Thank you, Ms. Millman, for taking the time to join us today. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

A Simple Bug Can Help You Protect Your Artistic Rights
by Jodé Millman

 

In our creative lives, we all wear many hats: author, editor, researcher, and publicist, to name a few. In my writing life, I wear another hat—attorney. This comes in handy because I write the “Queen City Crimes” crime fiction series, novels inspired by infamous crimes in the Hudson Valley. And because I understand the precautions necessary to protect my artistic rights.

Over the years, I’ve found that writers dedicate so much time to writing that they often overlook an elementary step available to protect their creative projects. In this article, you’ll get a crash course in one simple, cheap and easy way that you can protect yourself from the nefarious thieves lurking around the corner, ready to prey on your hard work.

We have all seen the © symbol everywhere. It’s on paintings, photographs, movie credit trailers, magazines, CDs, and even on the Rights pages of books. Well, that little copyright bug represents a powerful tool in the writer’s arsenal. This symbol protects you, your heirs, and your work from theft and infringement, and signifies that you are the exclusive owner and author of the work.

Thanks to visionaries like Mark Twain and James Fennimore Cooper, in 1909, the United States enacted the first Copyright Statute, which recognized the necessity that artists’ works be protected as their stock in trade. As the technological advances in the publishing, advertising, music, and entertainments industry have blossomed, the law has been amended. The most radical revision occurred in 1976, which is the version that protects us today.

For writers, the Copyright law protects a work described as a “Literary Work” (material contained within a book, periodical, manuscript, phono-record, film tape, disk, or card), from the moment you create it. From the first letter you type on your computer, or the first syllable penned on the page, your work is protected from infringement. It makes no difference whether the work is published or unpublished. Both are entitled to equal protection under the law. In fact, any derivation (abridgment, translation, etc.) of your work is protected as well. You, alone, as the owner of your copyright, may reproduce, display and distribute your work for the term of your life plus seventy years.

The Copyright statute covers your words, your expression, and your creation as an author. It does not cover an “idea”. For example, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a story about star-crossed lovers. Many artists, including Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, E. L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey have reinvented this “idea” behind the tragedy. Each author may obtain individual copyright protection because they have reinterpreted this universal trope in their own words. Tony and Maria’s racially charged, gang-related story set in New York City differs from the warring medieval Italian families. So, in summary, your written words on the page are being protected, not the underlying idea. The law does not protect ideas unless they are designs, inventions, or processes, which are covered by the Patent Law.

Similarly, the Copyright Law does not protect book titles, phrases, and slogans. Phrases like “With a name like Smuckers, it’s got to be good,” or “Good to the last drop” fall under the Trademark Law, which covers logos and slogans that identify goods and services in the marketplace.

It’s unnecessary to register, or deposit, your work with the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress in order to benefit from the protection of the law. However, there are several advantages to doing so. First, the date of your creation will be proof positive that you are the first in time to write your particular story. Second, if someone else writes or copies the identical story, this filing will help with the statutory enforcement of your rights and entitle you to receive the maximum remedies and damages against the infringer. Third, it’s really cool to have that Copyright Certificate of Registration hanging on your wall. It’s worth the forty-five dollars invested in the filing fee to stake your claim on your brilliant literary work, and it’s easy to do online at http://www.copyright.gov. Be forewarned. There’s a backlog of filings, so you must be patient. It may take six to eighteen months to receive your certificate.

Besides filing your work with the Copyright Office, you must show the world that you are aware of your rights in your work. We have come full circle back to our little copyright bug, ©, which must appear on your work, preferably your title page. If your work is published, the correct way method of implementing the symbol is © year author’s name, i.e.; © 2022 Jodé Millman. If your work is unpublished, the correct form is Unpublished Work © 2022 Jodé Millman. If you place this notice on your work, the world will be informed that you have protected yourself, and you can use the notice as evidence against any infringer.

This thumbnail sketch highlights the writer’s basic copyright protections available under the voluminous U.S. Copyright Statute. The statute, filing information and additional references can be found at http://www.copyright.gov.

The takeaway is that your precious literary masterpiece is protected from the moment of creation. Don’t be afraid to catch this © bug, it will immunize you, your work, and your heirs from the literary pirates of the world.

Hooker Avenue

by Jodé Millman

June 1-30, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Hooker Avenue by Jode Millman

Being a Good Samaritan is hazardous.

Single mom and attorney Jessie Martin learns that lesson the hard way.

During a violent spring thunderstorm, Jessie discovers an unconscious woman lying in a roadside ditch and dials 911 for help. Little does she know her compassion will propel her on a collision course with her estranged best friend, Detective Ebony Jones…and one of the most shocking mysteries in the Hudson Valley.

The badly beaten victim, Lissie Sexton, is a prostitute who claims she’s escaped from the clutches of a killer. She’s also a client of Jessie’s new boss, and former nemesis, Jeremy Kaplan, and fearing for Lissie’s life, he’s hidden her away from everyone.

Ebony is investigating a series of cold cases, and the missing women’s profiles bear a striking resemblance to Lissie’s. She’s willing to stake her career on the hooker being the key to solving the serial crimes. However, Jessie is the major obstacle to her investigation- she won’t give up Lissie’s location.

Jessie’s in a bind. She wants to help Ebony, but she can’t compromise her client, her boss, or her legal ethics.

Praise for Hooker Avenue:

“Dark, dangerous and deviously suspenseful, Hooker Avenue kept me turning pages late into the night. I adored the fascinating cast of characters and the rich Hudson Valley setting. A truly terrific book!”– Alison Gaylin, USA Today Bestselling, and Edgar Award-winning author of THE COLLECTIVE

“So many skeletons are banging on the closet doors to be set free, in this heady mix of sizzle, punch, and danger. And, even more intriguing, it’s all based on a true crime.”–Steve Berry, International and New York Times bestselling author of THE KAISER’S WEB

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: April 19, 2022
Number of Pages: 360
ISBN: 9781685120825 (paperback)
ASIN: B09X1ZDMRM (Kindle edition)
Series: Queen City Crimes, #2
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Jodé Millman

Jodé Millman is the multi-award-winning author of THE MIDNIGHT CALL, and the best-selling SEATS: NEW YORK Theatre guidebooks. Her latest thriller, HOOKER AVENUE, is now available. She’s an attorney, a reviewer for Booktrib.com, the host/producer of the Backstage with the Bardavon podcast, and the creator of The Writer’s Law School. Jodé lives with her family in the Hudson Valley, where she is at work on her next novel in her “Queen City Crime” series- novels inspired by true crimes in the valley she calls home.

Discover more about Jodé and her work at:
www.jodemillman.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @JodeMillmanAuthor
Instagram – @jodewrites
Twitter – @worldseats
Facebook – @JodeSusanMillmanAuthor

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Guest Post: Tina deBellegarde – DEAD MAN’S LEAP

DEAD MAN'S LEAP by Tina deBellegarde blog tour banner

Hello, book people. I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, I enjoy reading stories set in small towns but prefer living with big-city energy. I moved back to the capital city and largest city in my home state, and the population is less than 50,000. (I miss living in large cities such as Atlanta and Boston almost every day.) Although I’m a big-city girl at heart, I’m fascinated by the way authors captivate the feel of small-town life in their stories. I’m pleased to welcome Tina deBellegarde, author of Dead Man’s Leap, today. Ms. deBellegarde will be discussing with us the importance of crafting believable small-town dynamics in her writings. Thank you, Ms. deBellegarde for taking the time away from your writing, gardening, beehives, and traveling to join us today. The blog is now all yours.

Small Town Dynamics: Writing a Village Mystery
By Tina deBellegarde

 

One of the great joys of writing the Batavia-on-Hudson series is that I get to immerse myself in the small-town dynamics.

Ever since I was a little girl watching black and white episodes of Mayberry, all I ever wanted was to live in a town as cozy and connected as the one Opie, Aunt Bee and Sheriff Andy Taylor lived in. I savored the way the villagers all knew each other, how they celebrated and mourned together. I loved that despite their differences they treated each other as family. Mayberry was full of quirky characters but also full of realistic and idealistic characters. I luxuriated in the personal connections of all the villagers and how they cared for each other. Most of all, I took great satisfaction in the way the sheriff meted out justice through the spirit of the law above the letter of the law. I wanted to live in a town where everyone knows everyone, where I would always be an integral member.

Then ten years ago I moved to my own Mayberry. Catskill, New York is a small intimate place, where nearly everybody knows your name, where we celebrate and mourn together. We are a bunch of quirky neighbors and we accept each other as we are. Every time we open the newspaper, the good, the bad, the happy and the sad stories are about people we know.

I am both an insider and an outsider. New to town, I am naturally a member of the transplant community, a group that has grown exponentially of late. But with some effort on my part along with a job in the tiny public library, I have been accepted by the larger community of locals. My connection to the neighborhood has been such a blessing.

So, it’s no surprise that at the beginning of my writing journey, Batavia-on-Hudson materialized. I created a map of a fictitious village based on all my favorite places. Then I populated it with characters I would love to spend time with. Some are based loosely on people I know, many are purely fictitious. Then I wound them up and set them free to behave in ways that make sense for their role in the community, their personalities, their backstories.

All of my characters have extensive backstories. In many cases, only I know what they are, but I needed those backstories so that I could get to know them better. We all have extensive histories in real life, it is how we become who we are. We are the sum of all our experiences. So are the residents of Batavia-on-Hudson.

The murder or the puzzle in my books is a device that I use to drive my story forward so we can get to know the villagers, their motivations, their fears, aspirations, and flaws. We learn through the investigation that things are not what they appear, that more lies beneath the surface. These secrets may not be related to the crime being investigated, but they are eventually revealed and another layer of complexity in that particular character becomes apparent. It’s like peeling an onion.

I have come to know these villagers so well that when I think of them and speak of them, I often forget that they are fictional. They have become so real to me. Their circumstances touch me, worry me. I often find myself tearing up over an exchange between my characters. These people’s struggles matter to me. And when the story ends, and the villagers have their celebration, my heart sings. I am celebrating with them.

I have my Mayberry, it’s called Batavia-on-Hudson, and I am blessed to be a part of it. ♦

Dead Man’s Leap

by Tina deBellegarde

May 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Dead Man's Leap by Tina deBellegarde

DEAD MAN’S LEAP revisits Bianca St. Denis in Batavia-on-Hudson, New York

Rushing waters…dead bodies…secrets…

As Bianca St. Denis and her neighbors scour their attics for donations to the charity rummage sale, they unearth secrets as well as prized possessions. Leonard Marshall’s historic inn hosts the sale each year, but it is his basement that houses the key to his past. When an enigmatic antiques dealer arrives in town, he upends Leonard’s carefully reconstructed life with an impossible choice that harkens back to the past.

Meanwhile, when a storm forces the villagers of Batavia-on-Hudson to seek shelter, the river rises and so do tempers. Close quarters fuel simmering disputes, and Sheriff Mike Riley has his work cut out for him. When the floods wash up a corpse, Bianca once again finds herself teaming up with Sheriff Riley to solve a mystery. Are they investigating an accidental drowning or something more nefarious?

Dead Man’s Leap explores the burden of secrets, the relief of renunciation, and the danger of believing we can outpace our past.

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Number of Pages: 254
ISBN: 1685120849 (paperback)
ISBN13: 9781685120849 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781685120856 (ebook)
ASIN: B09QXTMCR2 (Kindle edition)
Series: A Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery, #2
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | B&N Nook Book | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Kobo eBook | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Tina deBellegarde

Tina deBellegarde has been called “the Louise Penny of the Catskills.” Winter Witness, the first book in her Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery series, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel, a Silver Falchion Award, and a Chanticleer Mystery and Mayhem Award. Her story “Tokyo Stranger” which appears in the Mystery Writers of America anthology When a Stranger Comes to Town edited by Michael Koryta has been nominated for a Derringer Award. Tina’s short fiction also appears in The Best New England Crime Stories anthologies. She is the vice-president of the Upper Hudson Chapter of Sisters in Crime, a member of Mystery Writers of America and Writers in Kyoto. She lives in Catskill, New York, with her husband Denis and their cat Shelby where they tend to their beehives, harvest shiitake mushrooms, and cultivate their vegetable garden. She winters in Florida and travels to Japan regularly to visit her son Alessandro.

Catch Up With Tina deBellegarde:
tinadebellegarde.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @tinadebellegarde
Instagram – @tdb_writes
Twitter – @tdbwrites
Facebook – @tinadebellegardeauthor

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Guest Post: Kerry L. Peresta – THE RISING

THE RISING by Kerry L. Peresta blog tour banner

Good day, my bookish peeps. I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and got some reading time in. Before I started this blog, I had the notion that all authors sat down at their neat desks, checked their outlines for what should be happening in the story, turned on their computers, and simply picked up where they left off the day before. I didn’t know the difference between “plotters” and “pantsers” in the writing world. I didn’t know that some authors may struggle to put down 1500 words for the day or even the week, no matter what the goal might be. Hey, life happens for authors as well, with its constant interruptions, emergencies, etc. I’m pleased to welcome, Kerry L. Peresta, author of The Rising, to the blog today. Ms. Peresta will be taking us through a not-so-very-good writing day. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to share and add The Rising to your TBR list. Thank you, Ms. Peresta for joining us today, I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

The Most Irritating Writing Day Ever
Kerry Peresta

 

I tend to be an orderly, systematic, person. When my notes, research, and plotlines coalesce in symphonic symmetry, I want to jump out of my chair and celebrate. When this doesn’t happen, however—which is probably 60% of the time—I sink into an inertia that is wildly unpredictable.

Sigh.

Those days are hard. Let’s examine some of my main creativity-killers and outright dumb irritations that I (and perhaps some of you) experience:

1) At the top of the list is a work-at-home husband on the brink of retirement. Is there ANYthing more irritating than having a man in the home on an intense Zoom meeting, unable to temper his uber-loud and energetic tone of voice? Plus, the guy trots in at least three times during my peak writing hours to give me a ‘status update’. It is endearing that he feels he must share with his wife every jot and tittle of his daily progress, but my zone is interrupted, my irritation quotient is off the charts, and my plotline is toast by the time he finishes updating me. The only thing that prevents mass interruptions while I’m writing is listening to music or white noise in my earbuds at damaging decibel levels. Apparently, this is something I must accept until he’s fully retired and I can shoo him away to go fishing or ride his bicycle or do random man-stuff. For hours, hopefully.

2) A phone call from one of my four grown kids. Now, I adore my kids. Three are married and one is single. All have decent jobs and pay their own bills and enjoy sweet families. If something major happens, I don’t care what time they call, I’m there for them. However, when I’m in my writing bubble, I’m not sure they understand my need to reschedule our conversation. I understand (and am delighted) that they still need mommy occasionally, but could they put their issues on hold until early afternoon? Just saying. Interrupt my morning writing time and boom, spurt of creativity takes major hit.

3) Cat on computer. Cat behind computer. Cat underneath chair. Cat in windowsill. Cat meowing for food. Cat jumping in lap. I bet I am virtually listening to a big, bunch of resounding high fives out there. Writers love their cats. I love my ginger, Felix; and my tuxedo, Agnes. They irritate me to no end while I labor at my Wayfair, L-shaped, pressed-wood desk, but would I want to live without them? Impossible. Besides, eventually they settle into little, furry, doughnuts of contentment on the couch in my office.

4) It is so darn irritating when I’m pecking away at my laptop and the weather is perfect. Sunny, a light breeze flitting through the leaves, the birds at their feeders, flowers at peak bloom, temps climbing to a perfect 78 degrees. It’s too inviting and I cannot resist enjoying the outdoors. Unless I have to turn in something within hours, it is useless to try to focus on my laptop screen.

Unless I have to.

Which is equally irritating.

5) Too many sneak peeks at Amazon stats to see how well my latest book is doing. I am so exhilarated when the ranking stats drop below 5,000 in a category or maybe even below 1,000 that I can write all day. If the stats soar—in that same category— to over 20,000…I’m pretty much guaranteed to be in a bad mood for a while, which derails my zone.

I should quit doing that. Really.

6) The lawn guys show up. They mow, and then they’re blowing off everything in sight with their high-powered gas blowers and they are RIGHT OUTSIDE MY WINDOW. I turn up the white noise in my earbuds. I try to ignore their friendly smiles. I try to focus on my fingers on the keyboard. Finally, I slump in my chair and wait it out. If they’re super-duper fast it’ll only take five minutes. On a bad day, ten. Yes, I could write somewhere else when they come, but I love my desk.

And my monitor. And my desk chair.

So I endure the lawn guys. It’s a minor irritation.

7) Lunchtime happens. I am probably the biggest non-foodie on the planet. I eat because my body won’t let me get by with not eating, and that’s the truth. I consider food a fuel, like gas in a car. If there was a pill, I’d take it and keep writing. So when noon or one rolls around, and my stomach starts to grumble…with a big sigh, I leave my keyboard and go pull out stuff from the fridge, throw it together, think about something else that will make the meal ‘balanced’ or whatever. It’s a huge irritation because I don’t like to take the time to fix a meal, and then…there’s clean-up.

I am chuckling as I type this post, realizing afresh how much I love to sit and write my heart out and plot and delight in the twists that happen under my fingers. It is magic, and wouldn’t it be wonderful to write in an environment with no distractions! Yes.

But mostly, I grit my teeth and stay in my chair until 1500 words is done, and try to push away the various irritants that swirl around me like flies. Sometimes I make it to 2,500 words in a day. Even 5,000.

But if the irritants align and all the above-referenced situations happen in one day? One morning? One hour?

No one wants to be around me then. ♦

The Rising

by Kerry L Peresta

May 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Rising by Kerry L Peresta

After an assault that landed her in a hospital as a Jane Doe two years earlier, Olivia Callahan has regained her speech, movement, and much of the memory she lost due to a traumatic brain injury. The media hype about the incident has faded away, and Olivia is ready to rebuild her life, but her therapist insists she must continue to look back in order to move forward. The only person that can help her recall specifics is her abusive ex-husband, Monty, who is in prison for murder. The thought of talking to Monty makes her skin crawl, but for her daughters’ sake and her own sanity, she must learn more about who she was before the attack.

Just as the pieces of her life start falling into place, she stumbles across the still-warm body of an old friend who has been gruesomely murdered. Her dream of pursuing a peaceful existence is shattered when she learns the killer left evidence behind to implicate her in the murder. The only person that would want to sabotage her is Monty—but he’s in prison! Something sinister is going on, and Olivia is desperate to uncover the truth before another senseless murder is committed.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Suspense, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Suspense, Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: March 29, 2022
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 168512092X (paperback)
ISBN13: 9781685120924 (paperback)
ASIN: B09WDXLM72 (Kindle edition)
Series: Olivia Callahan Suspense, Book 2
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop.org | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Kerry L Peresta

Kerry’s publishing credits include a popular newspaper column, “The Lighter Side,” (2009—2011), and magazine articles in Local Life Magazine, The Bluffton Breeze, Lady Lowcountry, and Island Events Magazine. She is the author of three published novels, The Hunting, women’s fiction, The Deadening, Book One of the Olivia Callahan Suspense Series, and The Rising, Book Two. Book Three in this series releases in 2023 by Level Best Books. She spent twenty-five years in advertising as an account manager, creative director, editor, and copywriter. She is past chapter president of the Maryland Writers’ Association and a current member and presenter of Hilton Head Island Writers’ Network, South Carolina Writers Association, and the Sisters in Crime organization. Kerry and her husband moved to Hilton Head Island, SC, in 2015. She is the mother of four adult children and has a bunch of wonderful grandkids who remind her what life is all about.

Catch Up With Kerry L Peresta:
www.KerryPeresta.net
Goodreads
BookBub – @kerryperesta
Instagram – @kerryperesta
Twitter – @kerryperesta
Facebook – @klperesta

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Guest Post: Julie Bates – CRY OF THE INNOCENT

Good day, my bookish peeps. Can you imagine not ever knowing anything about the American Civil War, the Regency period, the Dark Ages, WWII, etc.? With the advent of the printing press and the talents of so many gifted authors (fiction and nonfiction), we can travel to these time periods and learn about and from them. Readers are, in essence, armchair travelers. We are fortunate to travel the globe and beyond with the wonder of the printed word. I’m very pleased to welcome today’s guest, Julie Bates, author of the historical fiction read, Cry of the Innocent. Ms. Bates will be talking about time travel with us this morning. Sit back, relax with your favorite beverage, and let’s see what she has to say on this subject. Thank you, Ms. Bates, for joining us today. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

You Can Travel Any Time You Like
by Julie Bates

When people ask me why I write historical fiction, I have to say that its one way I can travel time. The written word allows us to be in whatever time period and whatever place we desire. I’ve always had an active imagination peopled with unicorns, faeries, classic cars and interesting characters. I still have a few of my teen age notebooks filled with half written stories of wild adventures and exotic places. They run the gamut from westerns to Tolkienish fantasy to hippy-like Miss Marples. I read through them whenever I feel my ego needs resizing. They make me laugh (they’re really awful). But they also remind me that the travels of the imagination know no bounds.

My current series, of which Cry of the Innocent is book 1, takes place during the American Revolution. I was drawn to this time for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was that when I looked I could find strong women who overcame the prejudices of the period to have moderately successful lives. As I have read journals and letters from the period, these women became very real to me. They were women I could identify with and could feel comfortable talking too. I realized that the challenges of balancing work and a family have been around for centuries. Laws and customs may change but the need to survive, find fulfillment and care and protect ones family is a universal theme.

Digging into a time fascinates me. I have to know what people wore, what they ate, and what they did to occupy themselves. It can lead to a dizzying amount of rabbit holes that eventually I must drag myself out of, but I regret none of it. It’s the details that make one feel they have transcended time and feel like they have entered another time and place.

Rather than aggrandize historical figures, I strike to make them human. Seeing George Washington on a dollar bill makes him an icon. Discovering how much he loved dogs and how he rescued General Howe’s dog at the Battle of Germantown and returned it unharmed to the British Officer makes him more human. So does hearing some of the names he gave his dogs such as Tipsy and Sweet Lips.

Reading the letters of John and Abigail Adams reveals how deeply they loved and trusted each other. Her admonishment to “Remember the ladies,” as well as her comment during their courtship that “There is a tye more binding than humanity and stronger than friendship.” Their love shines through the over 1000 letters of theirs that survive.

Although my imagination is pretty good, I like to immerse myself in facts so that I can see my characters at home, doing tasks that were every day to them but novel to a modern world. I’ve never cooked dinner over a fire place but my main character, Faith does it every day. I have no idea what herbs to grow for medicine for my family but colonial ladies had to know these things and past their wisdom on to their daughters, much as my mother used to teach me how to identify trees by their leaves.

Armchair travel allows one to explore other places from the comfort of their home. It requires no passport, and you don’t have to worry about maxing out your credit card. It also allows you to draw on the things you do know and that has been shared with you by friends and family.

One day I intend to write about women’s experiences on the home front of World War II, because this was part of my mother story. She worked In Oak Ridge among other places and told me about all the things she and her twin sister did during those years. She told me about being dreadfully homesick at Christmas and getting to experience the novelty of restaurants and indoor plumbing which were not commonly available in rural Kentucky at that time.

I love reading historical mysteries. My Kindle is loaded with stories about Regency England, the Roaring 20’s, India under British Rule and medieval Japan among others. While I read just about anything, my joy lies in sharing the American Experience. It’s a unique culture not often represented in historic fiction. Although I take guilty pleasure in Julie Mulhern’s Country Club series set in the 1970’s, I don’t see a lot featuring American history so I endeavor to fill that gap. I have had great fun learning things I never did in school and finding ways to share what is fun and interesting and mysterious about America.

So you can travel all sort of places by reading a good book. Maybe one day I will meet you in person, all in good time. ♦

Cry of the Innocent

by Julie Bates

April 11 – May 6, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Cry of the Innocent by Julie Bates

April 1774 – Within the colonial capital of Virginia, Faith Clarke awakes in the middle of the night to discover a man savagely murdered in her tavern. Phineas Bullard was no stranger. Faith’s late husband had borrowed heavily from the man and left Faith to struggle to pay the debt.

With unrest growing in the American Colonies, the British are eager for a quick resolution at the end of a noose, regardless of guilt. Under suspicion for the crime, she must use every resource at her disposal to prove her innocence and protect those she loves. Her allies are Olivia and Titus, slaves left to her by her late husband’s family, individuals she must find a way to free, even as she finds they also have motives for murder.

Faith seeks to uncover the dead man’s secrets even as they draw close to home. Determined to find the truth, she continues headlong into a web of secrets that hides Tories, Patriots, and killers, not stopping even though she fears no one will hear the cry of the innocent.

Praise for Cry of the Innocent:

“An absorbing, fast-paced, and contemplative whodunit.”
Kirkus Reviews

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: June 8th 2021
Number of Pages: 258
ISBN-10: 1953789773 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781953789778 (paperback)
ASIN: ‎ B096KZ5MK3 (Kindle edition)
Series: A Faith Clarke Mystery, #1
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Julie Bates

Julie Bates grew up reading little bit of everything, but when she discovered Agatha Christie, she knew she what she wanted to write. Along the way, she has written a weekly column for the Asheboro Courier Tribune (her local newspaper) for two years and published a few articles in magazines such as Spin Off and Carolina Country. She has blogged for Killer Nashville and the educational website Read.Learn.Write. She currently works as a public school teacher for special needs students. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Southeastern Writers of America (SEMWA) and her local writing group, Piedmont Authors Network (PAN). When not busy plotting her next story, she enjoys doing crafts and spending time with her husband and son, as well as a number of dogs and cats who have shown up on her doorstep and never left.

Catch Up With Julie Bates:
JulieBates.weebly.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @julibates1
Instagram – @juliebates72
Twitter – @JulieLBates03
Facebook – @JulieBates.author

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Book Showcase: VICE & VIRTUE by Justin M. Kiska

Vice & Virtue by Justin M. Kiska Banner

Vice & Virtue

by Justin M. Kiska

February 14 – March 11, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Vice & Virtue by Justin M. Kiska

Parker City, 1984…

Three years after the Spring Strangler case rocked the historic Western Maryland city nestled at the foot of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, life has returned to normal for Detective Ben Winters and his partner, Tommy Mason. With a new chief now leading the department and the city slowly crawling out of its economic distress, everything seems to be moving in the right direction.

Until one sweltering summer day, a killer begins targeting police officers. Ben and Tommy find themselves once again leading an investigation the likes of which Parker City has never seen. The detectives quickly come to realize that until the shooter is found, everyone wearing a badge is in danger. To complicate matters even further, when a recently unearthed skeleton mysteriously connects to the string of police homicides, Ben and Tommy begin to think their current case may be tied to events twenty years earlier.

But how could a skeleton buried two decades ago hold the key to solving their current case?

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: February 15, 2022
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 9781685120696
Series:  Parker City Mysteries, #2 || Each book is a stand alone novel.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Tall and athletic, Tommy Mason always reminded Ben of Tom Selleck’s Magnum P.I. character from television. Tommy always had that whole ruggedly handsome thing going for him. Mixed with a little bit of a “bad boy” vibe and he drove the women wild.

Next to Ben’s clean-cut, buttoned-down appearance, their pairing caused many to do a doubletake. At first glance, they appeared to be complete opposites. But as one got to know them, they were very much alike. Each brought out the best in the other and at the end of the day, it was all about getting the job done. Sure, each had his own style, but that’s what made them such a formidable team.

Tommy’s apparent willingness to skirt the rules was always offset by Ben’s ability to find ways to use the rules to their benefit. Just as Ben’s refusal to play the internal politics game allowed Tommy to use his charm to keep too many feathers from getting ruffled amongst the powers-that-be. They each knew the other’s strengths and weaknesses and how to adapt them to their own, which is why they’d been so impressive in getting the PCPD’s Detective Squad off the ground.

“What are you doing here?” Ben asked, more than a little surprised to see his partner.

“Shirley from Dispatch called me. She thought I’d be interested,” Tommy explained. “And before you say anything about what I’m wearing, I just want to remind you, it is our day off, so I didn’t think I needed to get dressed up to come to a potential crime scene. Especially when we don’t actually know this is a crime scene yet.”

He was referring to the fact he had on a T-shirt and comfortable pair of jeans, as opposed to the full suit and tie Ben was wearing.

“Besides, now you don’t have to worry about getting your fancy suit muddy. I have no problems getting down there in the dirt,” Tommy smiled, pointing at the fresh mud stains on his knees. With that, he knelt back down to take another look at the exposed skeletal remains under the floorboards.

“So, tell me. What do we have?” Ben asked, crouching next to Tommy so he could get a better look.

“You can see there’s a pretty big cavity here under this part of the floor,” Tommy pointed out. “It’s got to be a good ten by ten area where the ground has been eaten away, even though it’s not too deep, less than a foot in some places. It’s definitely because of water…there’s a lot of mud down there. As the earth under the floor eroded, it uncovered the skeleton. Partway, at least. Of course, no one could see what was happening under here until our friend Mr. Haggarty had the unfortunate experience of stepping on a board that was rotted through and it snapped, sending him falling through the floor. You can see where he landed in the mud.

“And right there,” Tommy pointed, “you see the skull and top portion of the skeleton sticking out of the ground.”

“You came face-to-face with that thing, man?” Tommy looked over at the construction worker who was leaning against the wall. “Not a good way to start the day.”

“Yeah. You’re telling me,” Haggarty answered.

Turning back to the skeleton, Tommy said, “I’m no expert, but that hole in the skull right there…see it, it looks like it could be a GSW from a pretty heavy caliber gun.”

Leaning down and twisting his head so he could try and get a better look at the skull, Ben saw the hole and wondered if his partner was right. Finding a skeleton buried under the floor was one thing. Finding a skeleton buried under the floor with a bullet hole in its skull was something else. It took everything to a different level.

Standing and stretching their legs, Tommy said, “When Shirley first called me, I thought this was going to have been some kind of prank. Some kids snuck into the site on a dare and left a skeleton for the crew to find.”

“You thought kids somehow buried a skeleton under this building in the hopes someone would fall through the floor and find it?” Ben asked, raising an eyebrow. “Not to mention having to figure out how to bury the thing under the floor?”

“In my defense,” Tommy started, raising a finger and shaking it at his partner, “I didn’t know the skeleton was buried under the warehouse. I just knew they’d found a skeleton at the warehouse.”

The first thing that needed to happen was to get the skeleton out of the ground. That would be up to the crime scene techs. Even though he could easily reach in and pull the skull out to get a better look, Ben didn’t want to disturb anything more than it already had been when Lance Haggarty crashed through the floor. Thankfully, he hadn’t actually landed on the skull itself.

“So much for our day off,” Ben said, looking at his watch, wondering where the crime scene guys were.

***

Excerpt from Vice & Virtue by Justin M. Kiska. Copyright 2022 by Justin M. Kiska. Reproduced with permission from Justin M. Kiska. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Justin M. Kiska

When not sitting in his library devising new and clever ways to kill people (for his mysteries), Justin can usually be found at The Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre, outside of Washington, DC, where he is one of the owners and producers. In addition to writing the Parker City Mysteries Series, he is also the mastermind behind Marquee Mysteries, a series of interactive mystery events he has been writing and producing for over fifteen years. Justin and his wife, Jessica, live along Lake Linganore outside of Frederick, Maryland.

Catch Up With Our Author:
JustinKiska.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @JMKiska
Twitter – @JustinKiska
Facebook – @JMKiska

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Guest Post: Carol Pouliot – DEATH RANG THE BELL

Death Rang The Bell by Carol Pouliot Banner

Good day, my bookish peeps. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week. My week has been somewhat hectic, filled with a half-dozen medical appointments for my soon-to-be 87-y.o. mother, including a minor outpatient surgery (she’s like a Timex combined with the Energizer Bunny and just keeps going, slowing down a bit but still going). Sadly, all of the appointments were running on-time, so I didn’t get very much reading done during the week. I’m looking forward to the weekend so I can fill my days and nights with reading, including a Silent Book Club chapter meeting this morning. I love meeting with other readers. Have you ever wondered if writers enjoy their time spent with other writers or are they introverted, solitary creatures? Today’s guest, Carol Pouliot, author of Death Rang the Bell, will be answering that question and more. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say and follow the book tour to learn more about this author and book. Thank you, Ms. Pouliot, for taking the time to join us today and share your thoughts. Without further adieu, I give you Carol Pouliot.

“Behind the Cover – The Mystery Writers’ Community”

 

When I first started writing, I imagined myself in a Paris attic with snow softly falling on the rooftops outside my window. Those lovely, romantic ideas didn’t last very long. I soon realized writing is not a solitary venture. Writers need other writers. But where to find them?

Two years after I began writing Doorway to Murder, I joined Sisters in Crime, a professional crime writers’ organization, and went to my first monthly meeting in Albany, NY where my chapter is located. I started getting to know other mystery writers and learning about the craft, the publishing industry, and marketing.

In 2013, I went to my first mystery conference, Bouchercon, the largest in the world, attracting some 2,000 mystery writers and readers, held in a different city each year—cities bid on it like the Olympics. The first person I met was Hank Phillippi Ryan, who welcomed me with open arms as though I were already a valued member of the mystery writing community. That was such a validation! I was thrilled, surprised, and grateful all at the same time.

The next day I ran into Louise Penny. We got talking about writing, and she asked what I was working on. I told her and mentioned that I was having trouble with something. She asked what it was and, when I explained, she said, “Oh, my goodness! We all have that problem. Don’t worry. This is what I do….” And she gave me three solid ideas to help solve it. Talk about gracious!

The one thing I’ve learned is that the mystery writing community is warm, welcoming, and generous. I’ve seen no rivalry, only genuine interest in other people’s success and triumphs.

Over the past eight years, I’ve met and become friends with a lot of mystery writers—some have helped me, others I have helped. Some have become lifelong friends. During the pandemic, I met two writers in particular at a Zoom meeting. Along with another writer friend, the four of us bonded, formed the Sleuths and Sidekicks, and did a 6-month coast-to-coast virtual tour together. We are in constant contact. We help and support each other. They’ve become my “book family,” and I cherish our friendship.

Before I wrote mysteries, I occasionally wondered if a particular author knew another writer that I enjoyed reading, if they’d ever met, or if they were friends. I had no idea there was a warm, caring community where friendships form for life, where people support each other, root for each other, help and commiserate with each other—where they are there for each other. I am both thankful and privileged to be a member of this wonderful community.

Death Rang The Bell

by Carol Pouliot

October 1-31, 2021 Book Tour

Synopsis:

Death Rang The Bell by Carol Pouliot

21st-century journalist Olivia Watson thinks traveling back in time to 1934 to attend a Halloween party with her friend Detective Steven Blackwell will be a lot of fun. And it is…until she witnesses the head of the Shipley Five-and-Dime empire murdered, and fears the killer saw her face.

The smart move is to return to the safety of the present, but Olivia possesses a secret and is about to defy the unwritten rules of time-travel. She convinces Steven to let her stay in his time and help unravel the motives behind the murder, even if it means risking her own life to save another.

When Steven delves into the investigation, he discovers how a bitter relationship, a chance encounter, and a fateful decision converged to set the stage for murder. In a maze full of unreliable clues and misdirection, dark secrets refuse to stay buried and forgotten ghosts won’t fade away. Steven is reminded that old sins cast long shadows.

Can Steven catch the killer before time runs out for Olivia?

Praise for Death Rang the Bell:

“This highly inventive series serves up a real treat–a perfect combination of mystery, time travel, and romance.”
~~ Deborah Crombie, New York Times Bestselling author of the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James novels

“Pouliot has the period details mastered, adding realism and depth to this wholly satisfying read.”
~~ Marni Graff, author of The Nora Tierney English Mysteries

“With engaging characters, a murder mystery, and a trip back in time, Carol Pouliot’s Death Rang the Bell will keep you turning the pages all night!”
~~ Nancy Allen, New York Times Bestselling Author

“A Halloween setting, a house where time folds back on itself, and a crime with deep roots in the past make Carol Pouliot’s Death Rang the Bell a joy for fans of crisp writing and twisty, character-driven plots.”
~~ Connie Berry, Agatha-nominated author of the Kate Hamilton Mysteries

“A delightfully immersive story, filled with surprising twists and turns, a touch of romance — plus a heroine you will happily follow as she jumps between decades, Death Rang the Bell is a truly great escape.”
~~ Alison Gaylin, USA Today and international bestselling author

“This intriguing and beautifully written series will draw you in and make you feel right at home in a time period you’ll wish you could visit.”
~~ Grace Topping, USA Today bestselling author of the Laura Bishop Mystery Series.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery (Traditional Police Procedural with a Time-Travel Twist)
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: September 21, 2021
Number of Pages: 311
ISBN: 9781685120009
ASIN: B09B18QW9Z
Series: The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, #3 || Each is a Stand-Alone Mystery
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:   IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | BookDepository.com | BN.com | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Carol Pouliot

Carol Pouliot holds a BA in French and Spanish and an MA in French. She has taught French, Spanish, German, and English. She owned and operated a translating agency for 20 years. Her work has been published in Victoria magazine.

Carol is the author of The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, which includes Doorway to Murder (book 1), Threshold of Deceit (book 2), and Death Rang the Bell (book 3).

Carol is passionate about the world and other cultures. She has visited 5 continents thus far and always has her passport and suitcase at the ready.

Catch Up With Carol Pouliot:
www.CarolPouliot.com
SleuthsAndSidekicks.com
BookBub – @cpouliot13
Goodreads
Instagram – @carolpouliotmysterywriter
Facebook – @WriterCarolPouliot

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This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Carol Pouliot. There will be Four (4) winners for this tour. Two (2) winners will each receive a $15 Amazon.com gift card; Two (2) winners will each receive 1 print edition of Death Rang The Bell by Carol Pouliot (US Only). The giveaway begins on October 1 and ends November 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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