Category: Amazon

Word architects

After a long hiatus, I finally started working on a novel again this month. With apologies to all the very patient Lindsay Harding fans, I haven’t started working on the next chaplain mystery. Instead, I’ve begun revising the manuscript for the middle-grade adventure novel I wrote a few years back in the hopes that I can submit it to agents in the fall. It feels good to be back in the saddle!

During this fallow period in which the sum total of my finished writing projects consisted of a single 1,500 word short story, something surprising happened. I’ve been offered two really cool opportunities to put on my Author Hat© and do Cool Author Things©. In my experience, that doesn’t usually happen. I’ve found that if I don’t promote the heck out of my books, attend conferences, and crank out new material, my sales dwindle to a trickle and my Author Hat© gathers dust in its metaphorical closet. Luck was on my side the past few months, though!

jeriandmindy
Celebrating with Jeri Rogers, Literary Editor of Artemis Journal at LitFest Pasadena.

Cool thing No. 1: I got to go to LA and be fancy in a room full of extraordinarily talented people. That 1,500 word short story I mentioned above won the Artemis-Lightbringer “Women hold up half the sky” competition for science fiction with feminist themes and a strong female protagonist. My story received dual publication in Artemis Journal and on the Hollywood NOW website in addition to a cash prize from Hollywood NOW. You can check out my story in the 2018 edition of Artemis or hear it performed by actor and filmmaker Kamala Lopez, recorded live at LitFest Pasadena a few weeks ago. My story starts around minute 57. There’s also a little awards ceremony at the end where I give an impromptu, margarita-fueled speech.

Cool thing No. 2: I’ve been invited to go to one of my favorite places in the world, the Outer Banks, and give a book talk on Saturday, September 29th. Here’s how that whole thing came about. My friend Pam is an innkeeper. Kind of an 18th-century throwback job, huh? She keeps inn (inn-keeps?) at the White Doe Inn in Manteo on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. She recently started up a series of evening arts events and, knowing that A Death in Duck is set near there, she invited me to come give a book talk as part of the series. I said yes before she even finished inviting me.

Both of these unexpected wonderful opportunities reminded me of something. When you publish something or otherwise put your writing out into the world, you lose control of where that writing goes or how it will impact people. Being a writer is kind of like building a house. You may build that house for a specific client or with a clear vision for who will inhabit it. But years, decades, or, if you’re incredibly lucky, centuries later, that house could be roughly the same. Or maybe it will have undergone a complete renovation or maybe it’ll be a crack den. Once you hand it over to the world, you can’t control who lives there or what they do.

The same is true of writing. People’s reactions can be scary or disappointing, like when a series of negative reviews from homophobes blights your book’s Amazon page (the literary equivalent of a crack house?). But they can also be thrilling and encouraging, like when you get to travel to both coasts within the space of a few months to share your work. Not bad for an unproductive year.

Dingbatters and Duck Dialect

Agatha Christie was a shy person. Clever as her mysteries were, she felt that, in real life, her wittiest remarks and most amusing observations always came to her too late–when she was alone at home or long after she’d left a dinner party. Part of the reason she loved to write was that she could use these slightly-too-late bits of dialogue for her characters. I, too, love to take a phrase that didn’t come out quite right when I said it, polish it until it gleams, and then put it into a story. Or, better yet, to steal a great turn of phrase I overhear and put it into the mouth of one of my characters. Writers are a bit like magpies, always on the lookout for shiny objects to add to our collections.

A great joy of writing the Lindsay Harding series is that the books are set in different locales around North Carolina. This has allowed me to play with not just dialogue, but with dialects. This was especially true of the second book in the series, A Death in Duck, which opened my eyes, or, more appropriately, my ears to the High Tide/Hoi Toid accent of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

To write dialect is to walk a fine line between authenticity and reader comprehension. For example, it may be authentic, but the dialogue in James Joyce’s writing has baffled readers for almost a century.

“That made him mad, and he said, liter’ry tone be durned.”

“Thunderation! Keep the durned millingtary step.”

Say what?! I’ve never been able to make it through Joyce’s classic Ulysses because the whole book is populated with incomprehensible jargon and phonetically-rendered accents.

My solution for the native ‘Banker characters in my book is to sprinkle in the occasional regional word–e.g. “dingbatter” to mean “outsider,” “whomperjawed” instead of “crooked”–to give the reader an authentic sense of place. And when the accent is first introduced, I explained the sounds this way:

“Well, you must be Little Miss Lindsay, all grown up,” he began. “I remember seeing you around when you was just a tiny, little thing. Have to say, you got your mama’s good looks. I’d’ve almost reckoned that that was a young Sarabelle Harding sitting there by the fire.”

Even after many decades of living in Duck, Butterworth’s High Tide brogue hadn’t been altered in the slightest. For him, “fire” was “foyer” and “sitting there” was a single word— “settinehr.”

I’m not saying I’m a better writer than Joyce, but if you’re looking for a book to take on your Outer Banks vacation and read on the beach while sipping a cold beer, might I humbly suggest you choose A Death in Duck over Ulysses?

If you’ve never heard the unique Hoi Toid accent, take a listen: http://www.greatbigstory.com/stories/hoi-toider-ocracoke-brogue-in-north-carolina.

Hoi Toider Accent

Far out, huh?

Mount Moriah in Primetime

When I write, I often think of chapters in terms of “scenes.” I usually see all the action play out in my mind’s eye before a single pixel appears on screen. Leander lurking in the shadows watching Lindsay, Lindsay beating her ex over the head with a get-well-soon bouquet, Geneva digging through her giant handbag–all scenes I can picture as clearly as the room I’m sitting in.

When a number of readers of the Mount Moriah books began suggesting that they’d like to see the books turned into movies or a TV show, I was delighted. If other people could “see” the books, that meant that not only was I not the only one with a disturbingly overactive imagination, but that, for those readers, I’d succeeded in creating vivid and memorable characters and situations. Beyond that satisfaction, I didn’t give the idea of adapting the series much thought. My books are published by a tiny press, and although they sell steadily, I’m not seeing Gone Girl royalties yet. For books like mine, Hollywood doesn’t usually come a’ callin’.

Praying woman_Depositphotos_43517345_s-2015But fellow writer Nicole Loughan told me that Amazon has recently developed a way for writers to drop a line to Hollywood. Amazon Studios sifts through submitted scripts and videos, allowing actors, directors, writers, and producers to collaborate to tell stories. For the lucky few, they might buy the movie or TV rights. I decided to take a shot at adapting the Mount Moriah world as a small screen sitcom. I’ve re-imagined the story and characters minus murder, plus even more zany slapstick, in a series I’m calling Little South of Heaven. I hope you’ll check out the pilot episode, which you can read and rate here: https://studios.amazon.com/projects/106689. (Click on the PDF link below the image). Please leave a comment or two. The interface is flexible and designed so that it’s easy to update and change the pitch and the script and to add new material. I’d love to incorporate your ideas and suggestions into the small-screen version of Lindsay Harding’s story and here your thoughts on my first attempt at screenwriting!

Murder in Mount Moriah – Mindy Quigley – Holly Adams

I was a little worried when I read the first sentence of this blog post, but actually, it’s an awesome review of the Mount Moriah audiobook! Book two, also narrated by the amazing Holly Adams, is out now.

Source: Murder in Mount Moriah – Mindy Quigley – Holly Adams

Mount Moriah Box Set and Death in Duck Audiobook

Just in time to fill your virtual Christmas stockings, critically-acclaimed actress Holly Adams is back narrating A Death in Duck, book two in the Mount Moriah series. Her warm, vibrant characterizations take Lindsay Harding on an adventure to the Outer Banks, where murder muddles her friend Anna’s carefully-planned Christmastime beach wedding. The quirky characters, zany antics, and terrifying tension come alive in Adams’ word-perfect rendition.

Virtual stocking still note quite full? Stuff it to overflowing with a bumper box set of all three Mount Moriah mysteries! Download all three books in the Reverend Lindsay Harding series for only $6.99.

Giving rather than receiving more your thing? Remember that I’m always grateful to receive your reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

CLICK TO BUY Mount Moriah Mysteries Box Set
CLICK TO BUY
Mount Moriah Mysteries Box Set
A Death in Duck is now an audiobook
CLICK TO BUY
A Death in Duck is now an audiobook

 

 

Two days, 9 hours, seven minutes, 24 seconds. Make that 23 seconds!

I’m not a savvy shopper. I love stumbling across a bargain as much as the next guy or gal, but in general I’m a person who goes out with a pretty fixed idea of what I want. If I’m in the market for an eight-roll box of Earth Rated® Poop Bags Dog Waste Bags, for example, I won’t be swayed because I see that the EZ Scoop brand comes in purple or that ordering a bulk box of 100 rolls would make them slightly cheaper. And, although I see the benefits of my mother-in-law’s willingness to drive to five different grocery stores to ensure she gets the best price on Saran Wrap, you won’t find me among the ranks of the Super Couponers. Not that I automatically buy the most expensive things. I’m devoted to CVS brand cosmetics and non-prescription medications. I would buy Food Lion’s generic sodas for the names alone. After all, who wouldn’t want to drink Mountain Lion or Dr. Perky? But for most purchases, I don’t care about price as much as I care about getting exactly what I want.

Food Lion sodas have the best names!

Maybe it’s laziness. Maybe it’s an affectation of a newly-bourgeois person who was raised without much money and who is trying desperately to appear to not have to scrimp. Maybe it’s a affectation of a control freak who is trying desperately to be in a position to demand exactly the products she wants. Whatever Freud or Marx or any other German-Austrian dude from the nineteenth-century would have to say about my shopping habits, the fact is you won’t find me shoulder-deep in bargain bins or sleeping in the Walmart parking lot in the run up to Black Friday.

But just because I don’t get a contact high from clipping a two-for-one coupon for Stainless Steel Chicken Beer Can Roaster Deluxes (with Recipe Guides!) doesn’t mean I don’t like to offer my loyal readers a good bargain now and again. In fact, lots of readers have told me they discovered the Mount Moriah Mystery series through a BookBub freebie deal or an Amazon 99-cent discount. So for the next two days, The Burnt Island Burial Ground, book three in the series, is only 99 cents on Kindle (regularly $4.99). If you do snag this bargain, please don’t forget to leave a review and tell everyone what a great deal you got!

I forgot to water the blog.

I’ve been neglecting the blog lately, but I have a good excuse! I’m working on two exciting Minty Fresh endeavors:

Firstly, I’m busily drafting A Burnt Island Burial Ground, the third book in the Lindsay Harding series. Although I’m still a few months from publication, here’s a little sneak peak of the Back Cover blurb:

“We hid the body. The money belonged to everyone, but we stole it for ourselves. You have to help me give it back before it’s too late. If I don’t stop this, that money’s gonna drag us all straight down to hell.”

With these words, whispered to hospital chaplain Lindsay Harding as part of a cryptic confession, the stage is set for another intricately-plotted Mount Moriah mystery. All signs seem to point to a murder, but no one can find any trace of a body. Lindsay’s sure that not all is as it seems, but she’ll need hard grit and quick wit to follow a trail that leads from the deathbed of a wealthy textile magnate back through history to Burnt Island, a remote patch of swampland in eastern North Carolina.

Lindsay’s task is made all the more complicated by the quickly shifting landscape of her personal life. After pre-wedding jitters jeopardize a relationship that seemed to be her best shot at happily-ever-after, Lindsay falls under the spell of a charming stranger. Whether she gets another chance at love will depend on following her heart…and on whether she can keep that heart beating for long enough to unlock the mystery of Burnt Island.

The second major development here at Minty Fresh HQ is that I got word last week that A Murder in Mount Moriah is being turned into an audiobook by ACX! I just listened to the first few voice-over artist auditions, and they are SO GOOD. I’ll be posting more on my progress with that as the project takes shape.

Oh! If you don’t yet own A Death in Duck on Kindle, now’s your chance to snarfle up a copy for dead cheap. It’s only 99¢ until January 21st.

Advertising 101 for Authors

Whether they’re traditionally published, self published, or somewhere in between, authors these days are almost always responsible for marketing their own books. My Clean Reads for You compatriot, Starla Huchton, just published this fantastic, data-filled guide to which book marketing services are worth your time, and more importantly, your money. I can personally verify a lot of what she’s said. BookBub is, without question, the Holy Grail of digital marketing platforms. The promo I ran back in August paid for itself at least four times over. My book hit the No. 1 spot in the Cozy Mystery category on Amazon, No. 10 in Mysteries, and rose to No. 70 overall in the paid store. As in, there were only 69 books in all of the USA that sold better than mine that week.

Screenshot 2014-08-09 09.27.42
Look! There’s my book next to Janet Evanovich’s on the Amazon bestsellers chart!

I’ve also had smashing success with EReader News Today. I recently did a free book promo with them and garnered over 5,000 free downloads. That translated into about 50 full-price Kindle sales, and 6-7 new Amazon reviews in the weeks since it ran. In fact, in some ways ERNT is a better value for money because the ads are so much cheaper than BookBub. Lastly, I’ve had small, but measurable success with The Fussy Librarian. The promos look very elegant and are only $6. I sold 28 books at $0.99 on the day of my promo, so I turned a profit of about $10. Although I can’t prove it, I’m fairly sure it also lead to some full-price sales of my other book in the days that followed. Obviously nothing like a BookBub or ERNT result, but still respectable. Tangentially related to this post, I need a few more Amazon reviews before A Death in Duck is eligible to get a coveted BookBub slot. I’ve heard off the record that a minimum 25 reviews is usually required and I’m stuck just below that. Your help would be much appreciated, especially if you bought the book via Amazon, thereby making yours a “verified” review. Please post your reviews here using the “Create your own review” button.

R.P. Dahlke dishes out advice for crafting the perfect author tweet and finding your (fictional) Mr. Right

R.P. Dahlke is the author of the bestselling Dead Red light-hearted cozy mystery series, which features model-turned-pilot Lalla Baines. Dahlke will be at BoucherCon, Long Beach, CA in November 13-16, where she’ll be giving away 40 printed copies of her marketing handbook for authors, Jump Start Your Book Promotions, to attendees of her talk on e-book promotion.

Minty Fresh Mysteries (MFM): It’s something of a cliche for a cozy mystery heroine to have relationship problems (love triangles, misunderstandings, going for the wrong type). But your serially-divorced protagonist, Lalla Bains, takes “bad with men” to a new level. Do you believe that becoming a good partner is sometimes a matter of finding the right person (and in Lalla’s case, is her Mr. Right definitely Caleb Stone)? Or do you see more romantic upheavals ahead for Lalla?

IMG_0295.1R.P. Dahlke (RPD): Lalla is a woman who, for all the obvious reasons, doesn’t trust her own judgment when it comes to men, and yet, Caleb Stone proves to her over and over again that he’s not only trustworthy, but he can see beyond her skittish behavior. I hope I’ve answered that question with #4 in the Dead Red Mystery series, A Dead Red Alibi, in which Lalla, feeling she’s been left at the altar, bolts for Arizona with her dad in tow.  Caleb, being the man he is, follows, only to get carjacked and left in the desert. It’s alternately funny, sad, and impressive. I mean, how many men do you know who’d do what he does for the woman he loves? I have a reader who says, “Caleb Stone should be bronzed!” Yep. I think so, too.

MFM: You have an impressive social media presence. I see way too many authors (on Twitter especially) whose whole social media strategy is just to cram their book down everyone’s throats, i.e. @jerkauthor tweets: EVERYBODY BUY MY MIND-BLOWINGLY AWESOMETASTIC BOOK RIGHT NOW!!!. And I’m silently thinking: #annoyingauthor #nobodylikesyou. What’s the key to engaging with your (potential) readers on social media without being @jerkauthor?

RPD: Thanks for saying so! Since I interact with authors on a daily basis with DIRT CHEAP MYSTERY READS, my newsletter for mystery lovers, I get an opportunity to see what NOT to do, as well as be cheerleader for all those terrific Indie authors who need the help in promoting. Tweets should be about the book, and I personally insert clips of dialogue or plot points to get the reader’s attention. Then, too, having a free or discounted book is always a good attention getter.

MFM: Speaking of social media, I’ve talked to other authors who describe what a time sink it can be to market your books yourself. Between blogging and tweeting and in-person promos for my books, marketing, for me, has been like having a second, really demanding child. How do you avoid the trap of spending so much time marketing that you forget to write?

RPD: When I wrote my first book, twenty years ago, there was no way to market it other than to get it into a bookstore and then buy a print ad that cost up to $2,000!   There has never been a better time to be an author than right now! Social media along with some very good marketing sites have really leveled the field when it comes to opportunities to promote. Today, an author can promote for free or pay as little as $10.00 to a promo site.

kindleWhen I started selling on Amazon in 2011, I thought that all I had to do was put up a good book with a nice looking cover and sales would happen. And they did–for awhile. But with the glut of new books coming on line every month, authors have to be smart about promoting. I went from spending 10-20% of my sales income (2012-2013) to spending 25% of my income (2014) promoting my own books. Has it paid off? Yes, it has!

I’m also in a “love-fest” with Amazon, simply because Amazon has done the most for promoting Indie authors. For instance, if an author is selling well, Amazon rewards that author with promotion. Indie authors are given the opportunity to give their books away, do short term discounts, and now, with Kindle Unlimited, they have another terrific way to make money.

And yet, I still recommend that authors advertise.  I know I do every single month. I have written a short, concise kindle book on this subject. Jump Start Your Book Promotions is only 99 cents on Amazon/Kindle, and I update it every 5-6 months with new ideas for getting sales and reviews.

MFM: The southwestern setting seems to be encoded in the DNA of your Dead Red Mystery series. I just can’t image Lalla Bains in, say, Peoria, Illinois, and yet in your most recent book, you moved Lalla and her gang from California to Arizona. How important is the setting to you? 

RPD: I believe in writing about what I know. It’s safer that way!

I was raised in the central valley of California, and ran my dad’s crop dusting business for a couple of years, so that was where I set my first three dead red books. But after my son died in a work related airplane accident in 2005, I knew that after my third book, A Dead Red Oleander, that I would have to start a new series. Then something interesting happened.  After going over all the reviews for these books, I realized that what readers liked the most about the Dead Red series, was not the flying, or crop dusting, but the mysteries, and most importantly, the dynamics of Lalla and her family.  So, with A Dead Red Alibi (and coming in 2015-A Dead Red Miracle) I’ve moved Lalla and the gang to Wishbone, Arizona–close to where I and my boxedsetcover2 SMALLhusband now reside after spending four years sailing in Mexico.

Links for R.P. Dahlke:

Free copies of A Death in Duck

Those of you who obsessively check my Amazon and Goodreads pages (or is that just me…?) will have Final-Book-Cover-Vector-v4seen that the cover artwork for the Lindsay Harding series has recently undergone a facelift. In celebration, I’m giving away three signed copies of A Death in Duck with the older artwork (the original Doberman cover) to the first three people who post reviews of either book on Amazon. Or better yet, review both books and then post your reviews on Goodreads as well! 🙂

Book2-v3 (2)Once you’ve left your honest review on Amazon, post the link in the comments section below. I’m interested in your opinion–both critique and praise–so please opine freely!

Reviews page for A Murder in Mount Moriah
Reviews page for A Death in Duck

If you’ve posted a review previously, THANK YOU. Just post the link to claim your free book! I’m also running this contest via my mailing list, so I’ll post updates in the comments section below as the free books are claimed.