Mystery Loves Democracy Auction…and You’re the Winner!

I’m so excited to be a part of this terrific auction to raise money for the Mystery Loves Democracy Auction Sept 18th through Sept 24th (starting at 12 noon today PST, 3 pm EST)!

Here’s a direct link to one of my packages: Ginny Reese Mysteries Gift Package 

I’ve participated in similar auctions for voting rights and women’s rights run by romance organizations, so I’m thrilled to find a cause to support as a mystery writer! From the Mystery Love Democracy website

We’re crime fiction writers, fans, and friends who believe all eligible voters deserve to have their voices heard. The funds we raise will support Fair Fight Action in their nationwide efforts to combat voter suppression.

I’m donating two Ginny Reese Mysteries gift packages (limited to Continental US residents only). Here’s a description of the gift package:

It’s Diagnosis Murder meets All Creatures Great and Small when house-call veterinarian Ginny Reese and her dog Remy discover that life in a small town isn’t always cozy. Sometimes it’s downright deadly.

These gift packages will include signed, print copies of the first two books in the Ginny Reese series, along with individualized bookmarks, pens, and assorted swag, as well as a sneak peek at the first chapter of book 3 in the series.

M.K. Dean is the new pen name of award-winning author McKenna Dean, as she dives into the world of cozy mysteries. She likes putting her characters in hot water to see how strong they are. Like teabags, only sexier.

I do hope you’ll check out the auction! You have to see this list to believe it! There’s something for everyone’s budget, whether you’re a reader or a writer of mysteries and crime thrillers! You can bid on having a character named after you, books and gift packages, gift cards, Zoom meetings and consults with some of the biggest names in the business, brainstorming with authors on your WIP, manuscript critiques, beta reads, sessions with a psychologist (for plotting that complex character), an animal communication session, embroidered quotes from literary figures and more! Really something for every mystery lover and proceeds going to support voter’s rights. It’s a win-win for everyone!

 

Hello Books Promotion: An Embarrassment of Itches is FREE!

Hey!

How would you like to receive a weekly email notifying you of great book deals in the genre of your choice? Not just reduced in price but FREE? Welcome to Hello Books, a new subscription service like BookBub but where all the books are free!

Right now until August 15, you can get a FREE copy of An Embarrassment of Itches (Ginny Reese Mysteries Book 1). By signing up, you’ll be notified of future specials each week in the genre of your choice!

It’s Diagnosis Murder meets All Creatures Great and Small when house-call veterinarian Ginny Reese discovers the body of a wealthy client floating facedown in her swimming pool. And Ginny gets the second shock of her life when the new sheriff turns out to be her old-ex!

An Embarrassment of Itches is the winner of the Best Mystery in the PRG Reader’s Choice Awards, and is a finalist in the upcoming Silver Falchion and RONE Awards. This deal won’t last long, so grab your copy now!

Killer Nashville, Awards, and a Giveaway!

Love mystery and suspense? I know I do! I also love participating in N.N. Light’s Book Heaven events–I get to discover so many new-to-me authors when their stories get showcased!

This time the event is a weeklong event spotlighting mystery and suspense stories from all your soon-to-be-favorite authors. Here’s the scoop!

Enter to win a $45 Amazon US or Amazon Canada gift card–just enter the Rafflecopter!

Open Internationally. You must have an active Amazon US or CA account to win.
Runs August 9 – August 18, 2022.
Winner will be drawn on August 19, 2022.

Be sure to check out the event directly and see what books are being showcased! All spotlights will be grouped together at this link.

The best part? Right now, for a limited time, you can grab An Embarrassment of Itches (Ginny Reese Mysteries Book 1) for free! That’s right, FREE. An Embarrassment of Itches is a finalist in the upcoming Silver Falchion awards, so I’m doing a big promotion to celebrate!

All the Silver Falchion finalists are automatically entered in the SF Reader’s Choice Awards, which is voter-based. As a debut cozy mystery novel with a new pen name, I could really use your support. Would you consider voting for An Embarrassment of Itches in the Reader’s Choice Awards? It would mean a lot to me!

I will be attending Killer Nashville (August 18-21) this year–at least, I’ll be there for Friday, Saturday, and part of Sunday. I’ll be doing at least one panel, and book signings (which are open to the public) as well. And of course, I’m attending the Awards Dinner Saturday evening. Will you be there too? I’d love to meet you!

I’ll be posting my schedule a little later once it is finalized. In the meantime, check out the Bookish Event, and tell your friends about it too! And if you haven’t grabbed a copy of An Embarrassment of Itches yet, get it while it’s free!

 

It’s An Embarrassment of Itches… I mean Riches!

 

I never thought I’d be typing this sentence but here goes:

An Embarrassment of Itches is a RONE finalist, a Silver Falchion finalist, and a Royal Palm Literary award semi-finalist.

In fact, I didn’t realize how many awards it had been nominated for until I went to make the graphic for this post.

You know, I’m starting to think maybe this book is halfway decent. 🙂

The winners of the Silver Falchion awards will be announced at Killer Nashville August 20, 2022 at a live awards banquet. I’ll be attending KN this year, and will be a guest on several panels, doing book signings, and in general, having a fabulous time! I hope to see some of you there!

In the meantime, Mystery Week is about to begin in the Summer Fling Reader Challenge. It’s not too late to join in the fun–you may not have time to catch up on the grand prize (for the person who reads the most books during the month-long challenge) but there are giveaways, parties, and author takeovers every day of the Fling. I’m offering The Dogs Days of Murder (Ginny Reese Mysteries Book 2) as a free read for participating readers, and there are over fifty authors sharing their works!

Also, keep your eyes peeled for a notice about the second week of August… I have a surprise for you then!

Killer Nashville runs August 18-21, so if you’re planning to attend, I might see you there! All the Silver Falchion Finalists are also in the running for the Silver Falchion Readers Choice Awards. This is a fan-based award that has no bearing on the outcome of the primary Silver Falchion awards, but it does require votes to rank placement. As a debut cozy mystery author with a new pen name, I don’t have the following to rank very high in these types of events, but I would very much appreciate your vote here! Your support is what got Itches to first place in the PRG Reader’s Choice Awards, and made it a RONE finalist.

There are a LOT of finalists because it covers all the different categories of the SF awards, so scan the list carefully. You’re allowed to pick up to ten titles, but you can only vote once. Every single vote means the world to me–thank you!

So stay tuned because August is going to be hot month in more ways than one! 

 

 

A Month Long Reader Event with Free Books? Sign me up! Summer Fling 2022

Great Scott!

This year’s Summer Fling event kicks off later today and it’s not too late to join the party! This is a massive reader event where you get your choice of books across different genres: Romance, Mystery, Supernatural, and Dark and Light. As a reader, you’ll be able to request featured books for free from over 50 select authors–all you have to do is read and review! It’s a month-long party of events, takeovers, challenges, and giveaways, too!

This is my 4th year participating, and I can’t think of a more fun Facebook event! Come join the party!

This year, I’m featuring The Dog Days of Murder, the second in the Ginny Reese Mysteries. The first in the series, An Embarrassment of Itches, was a featured read last summer, and currently is a finalist in the Silver Falchion Awards and the RONE Awards! So be sure to sign up and have a BLAST interacting with authors, playing games, and of course, getting free books to read and review!

 

 

The Remington Steele Syndrome: The Bias Against Women

I was a huge Remington Steele fan back in the day. It was the one show I had to watch each week.

I loved the premise: a woman trying to make it as a private detective figures out that she’ll be more successful if she creates an imaginary boss–a decidedly masculine boss. She cobbles the name together out of things in her office and Remington Steele is born. In many ways, it’s a sheer stroke of genius. Young, pretty, and female, Laura Holt probably didn’t inspire confidence in the sort of people who needed an private investigator. By creating an imaginary boss, she could present herself as his representative, could defer unpleasant decisions until she could speak with the boss; she could even make the boss the bad guy if the situation warranted it. It was a great plan, right until the time a con artist walks into her life and takes Steele’s identity. Laura is in the uncomfortable situation of not being able to out him without outing herself as well–and the con man needs a place to cool his heels. As premises for romantic dramedies go, this one was more clever than most.

I wanted to be Laura Holt. I admired her gumption, her classic sense of style. I wanted her shoes. I had a crush on Remington Steele. I loved Brosnan’s accent, I loved the banter between the characters. In fact, I think it was this show that made me fall in love with banter. It was like watching Nick and Nora from The Thin Man movies, which was appropriate, given Steele’s ability to find similarities in each case to old movies that he loved to watch.

I enjoyed the show so much that I was delighted to run across it on DVD. But watching it again proved to be a big mistake. With hindsight, I remembered that Brosnan wanted out of his contract to play Bond (though really, he was far too young at the time–his is the kind of attractiveness that gets better with age) and was upset when they wouldn’t let him go. Despite being good actors, this situation strained the working relationship between Stephanie Zimbalist and Pierce Brosnan, and it clearly shows in their romantic scenes together, at least to my more mature eyes. The banter feels more like bickering, and the plots, meant to reflect some of the screwball comedies of the 30’s and 40’s, seem dated and cheesy now.

And then there’s the premise itself. Laura Holt can’t be taken seriously in a man’s profession without pretending to have a male boss. Despite having trained and apprenticed for her career (as she said in the opening narrative each week), it was usually Steele who solved the case, by recalling an old movie with a similar set up. So not only does Steele move in lock, stock and barrel into the identity she created, he’s better at solving crimes than she is, too.

handwriting_flickrI’ve been thinking a lot about this kind of thing lately. A while back I came across a NYT post by Fay Weldon, titled “Writer of a Certain Age.” She spoke of her long experience in television and the theater, as well as that of a writer. It was an extremely well-written and eye-opening essay.

It was also bloody depressing. In it, Weldon spoke of truisms in the various entertainment industries in which she’s worked–and in nearly all cases, the only time a women was considered important and worth listening to–be it in television, theater, or novels–is when she is young, pretty, and the love interest for a male lead.

Worse, Weldon seems to imply in her post that if you are so unfortunate as to be ‘a writer of a certain age’ and female, that you should really take advantage of the internet to lie to your fans and create a false persona like Remington Steele. Take a gender neutral pen name. Or if you acknowledge that you are, in fact, a woman, take this opportunity to pretend to be younger, thinner, prettier than you really are. Ouch.

ink pen_wikipedia_orgDiscussion at the time of this post among my friends led to whether or not we thought bias still existed against women writers in this day and age. I laugh now when I think about the fact we even questioned this. In light of recent events here in the U.S. to strip people of their bodily autonomy, to grant guns more rights than I have now, it seems particularly ironic.

There’s a blog post titled Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants, which seemed to parallel Laura Holt’s dilemma: she couldn’t be taken seriously as a woman. It wasn’t until she took the pen name James Chartrand that her freelance writing business took off–and she was able to pay off her mortgage. The discussion among my friends turned inevitably to gender neutral pen names. In the thriller/mystery genre, a gender neutral pen name is almost mandatory–just look at J.D. Robb versus Nora Roberts. I argued that this was more about branding, about allowing your audience to know by your pen name what kind of story to expect. However, it is definitely the convention to take a gender-neutral pen name in the mystery genre, even in the cozy division, which is written and consumed largely by women.

It’s one of the reasons, when I decided to branch into cozy mysteries, I also took a gender-neutral name. In part to distinguish the mysteries from the paranormal romances in a manner the average reader could spot at a glance, but also because that was simply the norm.

You will hear people say as long as the story is written well, they don’t give a hoot about the gender of the author, and since I feel that way myself, I believe people when they say this. But I have to wonder, especially in light of Weldon’s post. Of her recommendation to be anything other than what I actually am. Believe me, that post made me wonder if I’d made a serious mistake by going with a feminine pen name, and whether I should delete all my previous posts on aging and sexuality. Whether I should be someone other than who I really am. Because writing isn’t just a little hobby for me. I need it to help pay the bills.

I’d always assumed that the romance genre got the least respect in the publishing world because by and large, it is considered a woman-centric genre. Lord knows, romance writers in general are considered the lowest of the low when it comes to ‘real’ writing. Turns out sci-fi and mystery writers also come pretty low on the ‘respect’ list, compared to the literary giants of the fiction world, which is sad because on any given day I’ll take a good mystery or sci-fi story over any self-indulgent, introspective Grand Literature novel. But I digress.

One of my friends pointed out this 2013 article to me on Literary Sexism: Still Pervasive and Real. It bears reading. While the beginning is about a critical review and the author’s response to it (which may not make a ton of sense if you aren’t familiar with Mary Gaitskill‘s essays and fiction), read it all the way through. There are some links to some searing examples of ongoing bias toward women. It’s enlightening as well as disheartening. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the pie chart graphs of the number of books reviewed by male versus female authors.

It seems to me that we should have come farther than Remington Steele by now. I’d like to point to one of my favorite television heroines, Kate Beckett from Castle, and say we have come a long way, baby. But then I recall how much Stana Katic’s appearance changed over the seasons of Castle and how little she resembled a NYPD homicide detective by the end of the series. The character was remade into a fashion model instead. And Castle usually solves the crime, too.

It is tempting here to say that Remington Steele was a bad, wrong message to send to impressionable young women. But that would be only partly true. I recall not all that long ago getting very angry over someone lambasting Star Trek: The Original Series on Twitter–commenting on how sexist, nationalist, racist, etc. the show was. I tried to point out that for its time, it was groundbreaking stuff. That yes, the women wore mini-skirts and go-go boots, but it was the first show that depicted a black woman in a role other than that of a maid or a cook. That it tackled big issues. That it envisioned a future in which we’d solved so many of our problems by working together instead of trying to kill each other. The Twitter Hater wouldn’t listen and I had to drop her from my feed. She couldn’t understand that it took those very baby steps taken in Star Trek fifty-six years ago to bring us forward to the kinds of diversity and equality we see in roles for characters today. Especially in the Star Trek universe itself. I’m loving Strange New Worlds. It has the classic Star Trek vibe and the writing and acting are outstanding. But the thing that struck me from the beginning was how many female characters there were. They aren’t just there for window dressing or to bring the Captain coffee, either. They have positions of power and play important roles on the ship and in the stories being told. I’m seeing a greater representation across the board as well. Not every actor has a chiseled jawline or perfect waist. Characters are differently abled and across the gender spectrum. Number One wears freaking nail polish (you know that’s my thing!!). The irony is now many of the Star Trek bros were livid when Discovery featured a Black, female lead and that now the franchise is somehow too woke for them now. Um, did they ever really watch the shows they claim to love?

I can’t find the article but I remember reading once that if there were more than a certain (very low) percentage of women on a television show, male viewers falsely exaggerated the numbers in their head, assuming there were more female characters than there actually were. Let’s not forget, either, the outrage that occurred when Ghostbusters was remade with a female-led cast (people howled about having their childhood ruined, utterly ruined, I say) or the hate the most recent Star Wars trilogy received for daring to make a female character the main focus of the story, and casting both Black and Asian actors to play significant roles. (My issues with the latest Star Wars trilogy have nothing to do with Rey being the lead and more to do offering last minute redemption through an act of love for an–in my eyes–irredeemable character. But that’s a discussion for another day…)

I have to give that same kind of credit to Remington Steele. It was groundbreaking in its way as well, giving us a strong unmarried female heroine who had an interesting career and did exciting things. Laura Holt was smart and independent and I wanted to be her. She was one of the first characters I can recall to influence me that way. That’s exactly the sort of baby step that was needed back then. It gave us Kate Beckett, Brenda Leigh Johnson (The Closer), Rizzoli and Isles, Captain Sharon Raydor (Major Crimes), and Peggy Carter (Captain America). I could go on. It’s getting better. We’re seeing better roles for women, more older women in good roles. But the numbers are still pretty small compared to the good parts for men. The fact that men got all the best parts and best lines was one of the reasons I’ve been drawn to male characters my entire life. Men still outnumber women 2:1 in movie roles.

Growing up in a world of Laura Holts, I expected to not be taken seriously at first. To have to work twice as hard to earn less money. To have to cleverly work around the system to get what I want. To be passed over for promotions, not the least of which is because it was assumed I wouldn’t be dedicated to my career because of the mythical children I never intended to have. But that’s not really the worst of it, is it? The roots of misogyny run deep, thriving on racism, ableism, homophobia, and Christian Nationalism–I’ve yet to see one stand without the others–and while we were busily pruning off the heads visible in the light, the patriarchal plant was sending runners out in all directions. We are being stripped of our rights as human beings with each passing day.

It’s tempting to give up. To bow my head meekly and put on the robe. But I refuse to do that. And I have Laura Holt to thank for it.

 

 

Who Do I Have To Kill To Win A RONE Award?

Hah-hah. Just kidding. But it made you look, right? 🙂

I write cozy mysteries, so it amused my husband to suggest I would kill for an award. I told him if his brilliant idea for a blog post title backfired, I was blaming him.

An Embarrassment of Itches is up for a RONE Award for Best Mystery, and voting in this category to advance to the next round is now open! This is a prestigious award, and the competition is fierce! If you’re not familiar with the awards, this is a prestigious indie book award run by InD’Tale Magazine, and only those stories given a Crowned Heart of Excellence are candidates for a RONE award.

But as a debut author with a brand new pen name, I really don’t have the audience to garner the votes needed to move into the next round, so I need your help! 

In order to vote, you need to have an account with InD’Tale Magazine. If you don’t already have one, you should get one! It’s the PREMIERE magazine for indie authors. New accounts must be verified before you can vote, and voting for the category closes May 8, so don’t wait until the last second!

To log in or create an account with InD’Tale Magazine, click here.

Or if you know you already have an account, you can go to the home page and go to the upper right corner to log in. Once you are logged in, the voting page is here. Look for week 4! Or you can search for the RONE awards from the dropdown menu along the upper right tab where it says InDescribe/Rones and search for the 2022 Awards.

I’m hopeful that with your support, I can at least make a decent showing. I’ve decided if Itches advances to the next round, I’ll have a giveaway of some sort. If Itches wins, we’ll have a party!

And if you could share this information, I would be deeply grateful–thank you so much!

 

How to Vote in the RONE Awards: An Embarrassment of Itches

Goodness, I’m late getting this post up! SO much has been going on. The Dog Days of Murder (Ginny Reese Mysteries Book 2) was released April 2, and your response has been delightful! If I didn’t tell you before, An Embarrassment of Itches (Ginny Reese Mysteries Book 1) won the Mystery Category in the PRG Reviewer’s Choice Awards, and has also won for Best Animal Story and Best Cozy Mystery in the Firebird Awards.

Kirkus Reviews enjoyed An Embarrassment of Itches as well, calling it “a well-paced and entertaining series opener with an appealing protagonist.”

And now I’ve been notified that An Embarrassment of Itches has been nominated for a RONE award! If you’re not familiar, this is a prestigious indie book award run by InD’Tale Magazine, and only those stories given a Crowned Heart of Excellence are candidates for a RONE award.

Here’s the thing. In order to move into the next round of judging, nominated books must pass a reader voting round. The truth is, as a debut cozy mystery author under a brand new pen name, I simply don’t have the following to make Itches a contender. That’s why I need your vote (and for you to spread the word too)!

Voting in the Mystery Category for the RONE Awards runs from May 2nd to May 8th. You may only vote ONE TIME and you must be logged in to the site to do so (to protect the voting process). If you don’t already have an account with InD’Tale Magazine, you must set up an account and have it verified before you can vote. I should have posted this ages ago because voting as already opened (and closed!) in other categories, but I got swamped and forgot all about it. So I’m posting about the registration process today and will send out a reminder when it comes closer to the Mystery week.

To log in or create an account with InD’Tale Magazine, click here.

Or if you know you already have an account, you can go to the home page and go to the upper right corner to log in. Once you are logged in (and verified if the account is new), the voting page is here. Or you can search for the RONE awards from the dropdown menu along the upper right tab where it says InDescribe/Rones and search for the 2022 Awards.

The competition is going to be fierce! I doubt seriously I will move into the next round of judging, but I would love to make a decent showing! So I would love it if you’d register to vote and/or spread the word! An Embarrassment of Itches could use your vote come May 2nd!

 

An Embarrassment of Itches Spotlight and #Giveaway

What a whirlwind of events this month! The Dog Days of Murder had a smashing release day, and I’m thrilled at the reception it has received! I also found out that An Embarrassment of Itches has been nominated for a RONE award, and I’ll be doing a post later this week about how the voting process works to make it to the next round. As a debut author under a new pen name, I’m not holding my breath for moving forward, but it is a great honor to have been nominated! Voting for my category opens the first week in May, so stay tuned for more instructions!

 

In the meantime, Itches is being featured at The Mystery Section! You can enter the Rafflecopter to win a copy of An Embarrassment of Itches! Check it out here.