Friday, December 9, 2016

The Challenges of Publishing and Marketing the Second Novel by Sue McGinty

What about the publishing aspect of your second novel?

“Murder in Los Lobos” was first published by Fithian, a co-op publisher who understood my needs and insecurities and were wonderful to work with in every way. John and Susan Daniels, the publishers, gave me a leg up in the writing world that I’ll always be grateful for. The book sold very well and continued to do well after the Fithian publishing rights expired (after almost eight years) and I repubbed it with CreateSpace. 

This is a bit off-topic, but why did you decide to go with self-publishing on CreateSpace?

I like the creative control—I now even design my own covers—and I choose the font size and interior format I prefer. And I absolutely love the price Amazon charges me for author copies as I hand-sell many of my books at presentations, craft fairs, and other events.

I now have all four titles with CreateSpace and I’m planning to publish the fifth with them as well. Their services suit my marketing plan well. 

I understand that “Murder at Cuyamaca Beach,” was first published by a small traditional publisher. How was that experience?

Unfortunately, it was not a happy marriage for either of us. They are reputable, that was not the problem, but they had a different business model that didn’t fit with my marketing plan. I’d say if you choose a traditional publisher, take a good hard look at their business model and see if it fits with your own. Also, ask other authors from the same house about their publishing experiences before you sign on the dotted line. 

Finally, what about marketing the second book?

Marketing is always the hardest part for me and that was doubly true for “Murder at Cuyamaca Beach.” Besides the challenges of dealing with a publisher whose business plan didn’t match my own, I had to expand my selling horizons via social media (which is changing constantly), word of mouth, guest blogging, and personal appearances. A lot of the marketing was done for me for “Murder in Los Lobos.” Now I had to do my own.  

I’ve found that like all endeavors, some things pay off, or are not worth the time and effort, or just plain fizzle. Take events for instance. At some presentations, people crowd around the selling table and scoop up books. At others, they can’t head for the door fast enough. Go figure.

How would you sum up your experiences, not only with a second novel but with all subsequent ones?

Well, I know from talking to other writers that my experiences are pretty much the norm. You just have to keep plugging, chase away the bad monkey when he sits on your shoulder, compare experiences with other writers in your genre, and be flexible about changing your writing, publishing, and marketing agenda if things are working for you . 

Let me leave you with this. Writing a novel is a very empowering experience. I feel if I can write and publish a novel, I can do just about anything.

Links you may like:\\


With little more than an urge to hang out at the beach, write mystery novels and calm a cat experiencing his first car ride, Sue McGinty left Los Angeles June 17, 1994, the same day OJ Simpson took his infamous ride. Unlike OJ, Sue had a destination in mind: the Central Coast hamlet of Los Osos. Not the Cabot Cove of “Murder She Wrote,” but close.

Her California Central Coast mysteries include:
“Murder in Los Lobos,”
“Murder at Cuyamaca Beach,” and
“Murder in Mariposa Bay.”

Her new release, “Murder in a Safe Haven,” takes Bella back to Detroit, her hometown, for new

Sue’s short fiction has also been featured in four Sisters in Crime Central Coast chapter anthologies.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Second Novels are Murder by Sue McGinty

Hi Marilyn, thanks for hosting me today. I’m going to answer your questions about getting that second novel off the ground.

What were your assumptions when you started your second novel, “Murder at Cuyamaca Beach?”

Like most writers with a successful first novel, I assumed the writing, publication, and marketing of my second Bella Kowalski California Central Coast (5 adjectives, count ‘em!), mystery would be a cinch. I was wrong on all counts.

How was the writing process itself?

I assumed that because I’d written one novel, the second would be faster and easier. If anything, it was harder. Novels are like children, they don’t all behave the same way. Some let you sleep peacefully all night long, others keep you up all night. The challenges I faced with my recalcitrant child, “Murder at Cuyamaca Beach” were: Choosing a different location on the Central Coast that fit story's plot, creating a believable plot with means, method, and motivation, and how much backstory to include from the first novel, “Murder in Los Lobos.” 

The biggest challenge was revealing another side of Bella’s character the reader hadn’t seen in the first book. I decided to showcase her empathy for the homeless population and for physically and mentally challenged young people. She was a nun, after all.

Is any of this based on your real life?

Well, as you know, I was never a nun. In fact, I was such a teenage rebel I couldn’t make it through all four years in a Catholic high school and was "invited" by the Mother Superior to transfer to the local public high school for my senior year. It was a huge school, most everyone had been together since grade school, and I had no friends the entire year. But that, as they say, is another story.

Concerning the homeless population, and challenged kids, I have quite often volunteered for an overnight stint in one of the excellent homeless shelters run by our local churches. And after my retirement from McGraw-Hill, I worked part time for a grassroots agency that provided help and support to mentally challenged kids and their parents. Both of these life experiences found their way into “Cuyamaca Beach” and helped to build Bella’s character.

Was the writing process faster for “Murder at Cuyamaca Beach?”

Oh heavens no, my second “child,” took me almost a year and a half to produce a workable draft because of the aforementioned challenges. I wrote “Murder in Los Lobos” in  nine months in a white heat (for me anyway) of creative energy.

Part of the second novel angst was the monkey who sat on my shoulder during the entire process, whispering that I could never repeat the first novel’s success. I’m glad to say that wasn’t true, but that monkey still makes an occasional appearance now that I’m working on the fifth Bella book.
Links you may like:

Tomorrow I’ll discuss publishing and marketing that pesky second novel.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

CHANGING IT UP A BIT by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

If you’ve read my previous books—Little Shepherd and A Christmas Kindness—you’ll get a feel for my writing style. I always liked sweet stories with good messages growing up, and I strongly believe in my publisher’s mission:

Guardian Angel Publishing believes we can change the world by investing in children, one child at a time. We want the seeds of the influence from our books to live longer than we do, building a harvest of knowledge and vibrant faith that will help transform a time we may never see.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret….

Sometimes I like to write different stories. Every once in a while I don’t want to be so serious. 

In 2010, I was in one of those “need to lighten up” moods while participating in Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). This annual November event (moving to January in 2017) challenges writers to come up with 30 picture book concepts in 30 days. A lot of silliness came out in those 30 days, including what would become Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving.

My quest to create a book that wasn’t about being thankful led me to contemplate possible holiday disasters. My mind finally settled on…

What if the dog swiped the turkey off the table?

Ten-year-old Macy has to do some quick thinking while her twin brothers are fighting, her poor frazzled mom is sighing, and her naughty dog has been sent off to play with Dad.
I hope readers will enjoy this lighter side of me. You can purchase Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving online at:

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, and the newly released Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving. A blogger and book reviewer, Cheryl lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married.
Visit Cheryl online at:

A note from Marilyn: 

Though Cheryl and I live about 3000 miles apart and have never seen one another in person, I feel like I know her. She guided me through several virtual book tours, and we've been prayer warriors for on another along the way of being great Facebook friends.

This is a delightful book for kids--so if you have any you need to get a Christmas gift for, you can't go wrong with this.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

THE STORM by John Wills

Here’s a brief synopsis of the story: Anna’s life in the small town of Heavenly Harbor, Michigan, seems idyllic. Married ten years to her childhood sweetheart, Mark, she wants for nothing, except a baby. Unfortunately, her husband doesn’t share her enthusiasm. Anna has been secretly keeping a journal. She’s recorded her suspicions about Mark’s reluctance to share her dream and his possible infidelity. As she is about to confront him, lightning strikes, literally, causing her to lose her memory. The Storm will not only damage Anna physically, but possibly destroy her marriage as well—and Mark’s secret life is about to implode.

I was inspired to write this story simply because I’ve had people in my life recently who’ve suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease. I’ve witnessed the steady progression of the disease, sometimes developing slowly, other times the result of a sudden onset. The destruction the malady causes is beyond description. After a while, the victim hardly realizes what is happening. Sadly, however, those close to the patients suffer immeasurably. Their once vibrant loved one disappears before their eyes. In the final stages, it’s not unusual for the victim to be unable to recognize family and friends. Heartbreaking.

So while I was pondering a story involving memory loss, I thought it would be interesting if it centered around a young person. Rather than Alzheimer’s, I thought an injury-induced case of amnesia would make for a compelling story. Thus, the making of Anna’s story took shape.
I did my research with respect to injuries resulting from lightning strikes—how they affect the physical and mental well-being. In addition, I wanted the protagonist to be likeable, believable, and strong. Anna is that person, and her tenacity after her injury makes her character even more powerful. The injury transforms Anna’s character, once a one-dimensional teacher and wife, into a strong determined woman who knows what she wants and how to get it.

Of course what would a story be without at least one antagonist that readers dislike right from the beginning? We have such a character in Vicky, a personal trainer at the local health club. Her chicanery and outright lack of morals wreaks havoc upon Anna’s marriage. Add to the mix a couple of strong insightful cops and the recipe for a great novel is ready to serve.

Early reviews have been outstanding and I look for more to be posted. Now excuse me as I need to start the wheels turning and come up with a tale for my next book.

Thanks, Marilyn, for allowing me to introduce my newest novel—The Storm.

--John Wills

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Santa Claus Machine by G. B. Pool

In order to modernize his image, Santa builds a series of Santa robots that are sent to stores around the world. They are programmed to tell Santa’s stories and record children’s wishes. An unscrupulous sales manager at the largest department store chain in America along with their computer engineer, kidnap the real Santa and hide him in an ice cave. They reprogram the Santa Claus Machines to encourage children to ask for more and more toys. When Santa learns about the change, he becomes disheartened and thinks he might have to cancel Christmas.


A former private detective and once a reporter for a small weekly newspaper, Gayle Bartos-Pool (G.B. Pool) writes the Johnny Casino Casebook Series and the Gin Caulfield P.I. Mysteries. She also wrote the SPYGAME Trilogy, Caverns, Eddie Buick’s Last Case, The Santa Claus Singer, Bearnard’s Christmas and The Santa Claus Machine. She teaches writing classes: “Anatomy of a Short Story” (which is also in book form), “How to Write Convincing Dialogue” and “How to Write a Killer Opening.” 


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Recipes by the Book: OakTree Authors Cook

A few years ago, one of my fellow Oak Tree Press authors, Ilene Schneider,  suggested we do an author’s cookbook and feature recipes from our books.  We got it started and somewhere along the way, it got side-lined.  Just recently, Ilene and authors Lorna Collins and Mary Montague Sikes decided to grab the bull by the horns and make sure we got it published.  As it turns out, we have two editions.  One is full color inside and out, and sells as a paperback SPECIAL EDITION for $24.99.  The second edition has  the same beautiful color cover but is black and white inside.  It sells for $14.99.  Both are available at It has 132 pages and is a 6×9 trade paperback.  Buy:

The gorgeous artwork for the cover is done by author Mary Montague Sikes.  The authors who contributed recipes are:  Amy Bennett, Holli Castillo, Lorna Collins, Lesley A. Diehl, Michael Eldridge, Nicola Furlong, J. L. (Janet) Greger, Shirley Skufca Hickman, Ann K. Howley, Marilyn Levinson, J. R. (John) Lindermuth, Nancy LiPetri, F. M. (Marilyn) Meredith, Sharon Arthur Moore, Radine Trees Nehring, Carolyn Niethammer, Eileen Obser, Beryl Reichenberg, Tanis Rush, Ilene Schneider, Anne Schroeder, Mary Montague Sikes,  Denise Weeks, Robert Weibenzahl, John R. Wills and Jackie Taylor Zortman.
Amazon describes our book this way: ” Not only are the Oak Tree Press authors wonderful writers, they are also great cooks.  Meals often appear in their books.  This cookbook assembles the best of their recipes along with author profiles and a bit about their books.  Special thanks for the owner of Oak Tree Press, Billie Johnson, for her support and encouragement.”
With the holidays upon us, remember that books are great gifts, both as hostess gifts on Thanksgiving and for Christmas or Hanukkah presents.  Hope you’ll keep it in mind as you prepare your holiday shopping list.  Buy it and enjoy or wrap it up and give it to someone who likes to cook or just loves books.

I borrowed this from Jackie Taylor Zortman's post. I have a recipe in this book too!

Monday, November 28, 2016

And Yes, More Ideas for Christmas Giving (Books, of Course)

Aunt Madge is staying briefly in Ocean Alley's Silver Times Assisted Living apartments. That's what happens when you stand on a stool to hang garland and lose your balance. Madge's broken wrist and ankle are healing enough that she hopes to join her family at her Cozy Corner B & B for Christmas. The body that falls into her apartment in the wee hours one morning kind of changes things.

Does the killer think Aunt Madge knows something she shouldn't? Will Madge follow the advice she regularly gives Jolie -- to accept that she may not ever know all the answers? It's not looking like it.

Even as she's on the prowl for a killer, Aunt Madge harnesses her friends to make the holidays -- and beyond -- happier for children who end up with broken bones and other ailments.

Newspaper reporter Paul Bradley discovers the body of Springfield Union Mayor James Rodgers prone on the municipal executive's City Hall office floor. The nearly seventy-year-old mayor has been shot twice in the chest. Suspects of the deed are plentiful of the openly womanizing administrator. A string of short term affairs and numerous one-night-stands over sixteen years since his return to his old hometown is just the tip of the iceberg. Numerous other relationships during his prior military career compounds the investigation.

Added to this, his contentious relationship with City Manager Kurt Buckwald and other political rivals as well as potential enemies from a presumed Black Ops career in the Air Force finds Detective Steve McCandless with a larger pool of suspects than he could imagine for the first murder in this small Kansas town in more than thirty years.

Who done it and how to prove it makes for page-turning excitement in this latest murder/mystery from author Michael Schafer.

Western history buffs and fans of the California Missions will enjoy Maria Ines, an impressively researched and vivid depiction of the Salinan Tribe of the Central Coast. Maria Ines is an Indian girl born under Padre Serra's cross at Mission San Miguel who witnesses the political intrigue and greed of Spanish, Mexican and Yanqui invaders who plunder California, destroying everything she loves.

Purebred Dead, a Mary McGill canine mystery. 

It’s the night of Santa Louisa’s annual Victorian Christmas Extravaganza. Mary McGill, chairwoman of the event, stands on the library steps making sure all is going as planned, waiting for the Posada to arrive at the crèche set up on St. Theresa’s front lawn. But the manger isn’t empty. Two children have discovered a man laying in it, very dead, a small puppy beside him.

The children saw a shadowy figure run out of the crèche, dressed in a mediaeval robe. Are they in danger? No one can be sure but they must be protected until the murder is caught. Mary agrees to help. She is sure the puppy is a clue, but to what? Dogs, and dog breeders are plentiful in Santa Louisa. Mary knows nothing about dogs. She’d better learn, and fast, because the local owner of the pet store is also dead and she and the children seem to be the chosen next victims. 
Published by Severn House

Recommended by Library Journal, Publishers Weekly and Book list, among others
Available in hard cover, soft cover and ebook

Read 1st chapter and find buy links through