Status Update

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted and I apologize for that. Life gets in the way sometimes. Due to an unexpected medical issue and then an unfortunate car accident, my boss at my ‘day job’ has had a tough go of it for the last month or so and I’ve been working a lot of extra hours, as a result. That situation looks like it will continue through most of March. Prayers or best wishes for her speedy recovery – whichever you do – would be very much appreciated. At this point I’d just like to give you a status update on what you can expect to see soon or in the not too distant future:

1. Opera House Ops

Opera House Ops Book CoverThe second book in the Morelville Cozies, cozy mystery series is, as of yesterday, done with Kindle Unlimited…sort of. The full book is but if you have Kindle Unlimited you can read it in 10 individual episodes through that program. I’m working on making it available on multiple sites so you can look for it at your favorite eBook retailer in the next week to two weeks.

For links, check the Opera House Ops page at this link.

2. The Turkey Tussle

The Turkey Tussle CoverThe latest book in the Morelville Mysteries lesfic mystery/romance series, The Turkey Tussle (Book 9) was supposed to be out in November…then January…then mid-February. Between work and a bit of a rewrite in the middle to introduce another suspect and move some key events around, it got off a little off track…Okay, more than a little. I expect it to be out in the next two weeks. Better late than never, right? Watch this space!

3. Healing Embrace

Healing Embrace CoverThe whole idea around Healing Embrace, a sequel of sorts to my first lesfic romance, Broken Women, was to have it out by Valentine’s Day. Obviously, that didn’t happen. The status update on that? Given my likely work schedule, we’re probably looking at a late March or early April release. That pushes the release of a third Morelville cozy back but the first draft of Healing Embrace is done and the 2nd draft is more than half completed. The third cozy is still in the planning stages.

4. Wide and a Bookbub

Relic: The Morelville Mysteries - Book 1As I mentioned above, all of my books are available on all sites right now. My plan going forward is to release new books to Amazon exclusively for 90 days (with a few exceptions) and then to make them available from all e-retailers/eBook vendors after that. Everything I’ve published to date is available everywhere eBooks are sold with the exception of Opera House Ops, as I noted above and that’s in process.

Some vendors pick up a new book in hours, some take a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I’ve managed to secure a listing with the famed/vaunted Bookbub email newsletter. It runs TOMORROW! They’ll be promoting the 1st book in my lesfic mystery/romance series, Relic which is FREE everywhere (except on Amazon international sites but I’m working on that. You don’t have to wait for Bookbub. Instead, you can get it now, if you like, at any number of sites by choosing your preferred provider here. You say you don’t get the Bookbub newsletter? You’re missing out on tons of free and discounted books in any genre you follow. Browse Bookbub here and/or sign up to get the daily email. You can click the big red button on the lower right of this page to follow me on Bookbub and you’ll get news of all my new releases.

5. Email List

I finally started an email list. You can sign up on the annoying popup that covers 2/3rds of your screen about 10 seconds after you come on the site or you can do it in the right-hand column. I promise freebies and inside track information for list members and chances to do things like beta read before anyone else ever sees my stuff are coming in the near future if you’ll just sign up. I also promise no spam and never to rent or sell the list. You have my word.

I’ve got some all new stuff planned for this summer and fall…I just have to get through the next 4 weeks at work first. In the meantime, I promise a status update and sneak peeks at upcoming releases a lot more often than every 4-6 weeks!

Stay warm…or cool, depending where you are in the world right now and, as always, thanks for reading!

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For Self Published Authors: Going Wide

‘Going Wide’ is a hot topic among self-published authors. Some put all of their book eggs in the Amazon basket and hope sales and page reads through Kindle Unlimited (KU) keep on coming. Others spread their work around, trying to find an audience and sell books wherever they can.

Article LogoThere are benefits to staying safe and staying exclusive to Amazon, for sure. I contend that for an author with only one or two books out – that have been out for a while – and for authors with a reasonable backlist of titles, going wide and capturing a little piece of the nearly 60% of online book buyers in the world who don’t turn to Amazon automatically (or can’t because it’s not an option where they live), going wide is the better option.

Lots of self-published authors will tell you they tried going wide and it didn’t work out for them. Dig deeper and you’ll find they tried it with one or two books for a month or so, saw few to no sales and so they scurried back to the safety of Amazon.

“Going Wide” as a practice and making it work takes time to build – 4-6 months time, I’m finding (without funding major ad campaigns). I don’t rely on my writing as my only source of income so I can afford to be a little patient. If you can’t afford to take some eggs out of Amazon’s basket and wait on them to ‘hatch’, so to speak, the rest of what I’m going to say probably isn’t for you.

So, how did I begin going wide?

I started with my now freebie book, Relic, Relic: The Morelville Mysteries - Book 1the first book in what is an 8-book (soon to be 9-book) mystery/romance series and one romance, Broken Women, from my backlist that didn’t do so well in 6 months on Amazon. It had a few dozen sales, 20,000 or so page reads and then nothing. I priced both books at $2.99 when I took them wide. Relic, I later made permafree. I also created a couple of boxed sets that aren’t available on Amazon. One was of the first 4 books in the mystery series with a special 5th book not available anywhere but in that set and the other set I made more recently. It includes the last 4 books in the mystery/romance series.

Broken Women Book CoverI listed those first two single titles at Barnes & Noble for the Nook and at Kobo directly and then I listed them and the first set with Smashwords (after much gnashing of teeth and fighting my way through the ‘meat grinder’ – their word for their formatting checker)

The first couple of months, I sold a couple dozen books/sets directly off Smashwords, a few at Barnes and Noble and one at Kobo…only a thin trickle in a revenue sense. Now, several months in, having listed everything in my catalog that was at least 6 months old and using multiple aggregators, I’m gaining traction. (I still have a couple things direct with B&N and Kobo but I have lots of stuff at those two retailers and at others through aggregators Draft2Digital (D2D) and Smashwords. Sure, I gave up a little of my royalties by not listing directly but it was much less of a headache at both listing time and tax time.

Adding on New Players:

Three to four months ago I added the aggregator Streetlib (which covers GooglePlay and Overdrive for me and much of Western Europe) and a few weeks ago I added the aggregator PublishDrive (to cover Eastern Europe and Asia).

The thin trickle of sales I started with is now running a lot more steadily from D2D and Smashwords. I’m starting to see sales from Streetlib too. It’s early yet on PublishDrive but lots of authors love them too.

My strategy going forward is to put most of my new books into Amazon’s Kindle Select for one 90 day period to take advantage of KU and then to take them wide.

My Process Now to Go Wide:

Feel free to use any or all of this. A lot of trial and error led me to this process that I can now perform well inside of an hour and cover hundreds of reseller sites.

Please note: Signing up at U.S. based aggregators D2D and Smashwords is simple; no harder than signing up for the Amazon KDP program. It’s only slightly more involved to sign up for the other two unless you’re actually in Europe, then it’s a bit more difficult because you have to answer to VAT issues.

  • First, I scrub my MS Word document of any links to Amazon or references to them. That’s a no-no with most other sites, especially for Apple iBooks. You can link to book pages on your own site.
  • I start my ‘wide’ listings with D2D because they have the easiest formatting process. You can upload your MS Word file to their site and, in a minute or so, it converts it and then you can download and view your book as an ePub, Mobi and a PDF file. the PDF is easy to look at and figure out what you need to fix to make it look exactly like you want it. You can upload and download the proofs until everything is the way you want it.

Draft2Digital Logo - Going Wide with D2D

Once everything looks good, I download and save all three of the proof files. The PDF comes in handy for CreateSpace (paperback) publication/corrections and the ePub has multiple uses, as you’ll see. I select all of the vendors D2D offers (except Amazon, of course) and have them upload to them. This includes Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble (Nook), Kobo, Page Foundry, 24 Symbols, Scribd and more.

I leave D2D open when I load to Smashwords, Streetlib and PublishDrive so I’ve got the same descriptions, keywords and so forth to use across all vendors.

  • I take the ePub D2D generated for me and I load that to Smashwords (bypassing their meatgrinder entirely). Once Smashwords approves the ePub for their premium catalog (making it available to libraries), I upload my Word file to get all of the other formats there like text, Mobi, PDF, etc. I unselect Amazon and every other vendor at Smashwords that I chose from D2D and I also unselect OverDrive there because they can’t get it into the same part of the OverDrive subscription catalogs that two other aggregators, Streetlib and PublishDrive can. Smashwords Logo - Going Wide with Smashwords

Once yo have those two nailed down, you’re half way there in terms of aggregators and you’ve covered most of the biggest/most active markets. You could stop there but you’d be missing out on GooglePlay, Overdrive and some long term plays for other English language readers.

The Other Two Aggregators You Need if You’re Really Serious About Going Wide:

  •  Streetlib is a company based in Italy. Don’t worry, they now have a U.S. office, they have team members who speak fluent English and their customer service is top notch. They also pay correctly and on time, every time.

You can upload your Mobi or ePub file from D2D with them. They convert it to all of the formats they need but most of their vendors use one of those two. I make sure that I unselect Amazon and any other vendors there that were already covered by the previous two aggregators (only 10-12). I do make sure I’m covered at Streetlib for GooglePlay and OverDrive. They cover lots of small, western Europe vendors that D2D and Smashwords don’t touch.

Streetlib Logo - Going Wide with StreetlibThere’s one little thing with Streetlib; you have to put their logo on your cover. It doesn’t have to be big but it has to be there. That takes me seconds to add to a cover now in Canva or PicMonkey. I skip out to one of those two sites and do that before I even try and load it to Streetlib and then I just save it in my ‘Covers’ picture file as ‘Book Title Cover SL’.

  • At PublishDrive, you simply upload an ePub and your cover. They find your metadata from the ePub so some of the rest of your work is done for you. You just have to fill in a few things and it’s all on one simple page. If you’ve still got D2D open, you’ll breeze through it. PublishDrive Logo - Going Wide with PublishDrive

The nice thing about PublishDrive is that you only ever pick your vendors once. You don’t have to do it for every book with them like you do with Smashwords and Streetlib. You can just take out the ones you’ve already got covered. They’re based in Budapest, Hungary and they offer a wide range of eastern European online resellers. They also have some Asian ties to include a recently inked deal with a major reseller in China.

Closing Thoughts:

I’ve had to be patient but I’ve now replaced what I’ve lost taking my books out of Kindle Select. Frankly, most were no longer selling more than a copy or two a month. They were just getting borrows/page reads and not at a rate of a few books a month. Now they generate sales that pay significantly better than the KU page reads did. With a little more time (especially for Streetlib and PublishDrive) and a little advertising effort on my part, that will improve.

Amazon is the biggest player in the U.S. for eBook sales at 71% of the market (AuthorEarnings Report) but worldwide they account for less than 40% of all eBook sales to English speaking buyers and buyers who buy eBooks in English as a 2nd language. Why would you not want to try going wide and tap more than half of the eBook market? Publishing houses – from the smallest to the largest – don’t neglect 60+% of the market, why should we?

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Are You Using RetailMeNot?

Can I just say that I love RetailMeNot, the ‘coupon’ website? If you shop online – for anything – and you don’t use it but you like saving money, you’re missing out. No, this isn’t a commercial for them, I’m just a satisfied customer…and I don’t even have an account with them! I just check the site before I make a purchase and they seem to be able to save me money every single time.

Two recent examples:

  1. Tax Software – I do our taxes for us, for my author business and for our haunted house business. Tax software is expensive, especially for more than the basic version. To buy H&R Block’s software – what I normally use – Block offered an early bird special back in December that made it 30% off. RetailMeNot got me another $15.00 off of that.
  2. Dragon NaturallySpeaking PremiumVoice Recognition Software – Due to factors beyond my ability to control, it’s getting harder and harder to find the time to sit down and type yet, I’ve set a very aggressive publishing schedule for myself for this year. I’m already falling behind. The version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking I have works great but it can’t transcribe from a recording. The version I need now (pictured) that can transcribe from recordings I make retails for $149.99 US. You can get it on sale lots of places, including from Nuance (the manufacturer) for $99.00. eBay sellers have it unopened but in damaged boxes for $50-75. Using RetailMeNot, I got it from a very reputable online retailer for $39.99 delivered to me! That’s $110 below full retail and $59.01 below just about everyone else online aside from eBay sellers.

You don’t have to sign up to get the RetailMeNot newsletter. You can just use the site to save some money and go on your merry way. If you shop a lot online, sign up. I hear they offer lots of deals to more committed customers than me. Personally, I don’t need the temptation to be shopping because I should be writing but that’s my thing. They do, by the way, offer coupon codes for bookstores…

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Lesfic Party Today for Authors and Readers

New year, new books! Lesfic is growing and we’re throwing a party to celebrate. Join me and several other authors and readers on Facebook today for a Lesfic Party. The party starts at 1:00 Eastern time and ends at 11:00 PM. You can join in anytime you’re available throughout the afternoon and evening and chat with some of your favorite authors and other lesfic readers.

So Who’s Coming to this Lesfic Party?

Lesfic Party for Authors And Readers

On the author side, Isabella kicks us off at 1:00, as you can see. She’s followed by Annette Mori at 2:00 and yours truly at 3:00 and then there’s a whole slate of talented ladies to follow well into the evening.

There will be questions flying both ways between all of the authors and the readers, contests, games and GIVEAWAYS. Most of the authors (if not all!) are giving away copies of their books. I’ll have eBooks and a paperback or two to give away. Rumor has it there will be some gift cards up for grabs too!

Everyone is invited. Tell your friends who enjoy lesfic and give them the link to join us. Here it is in all its ugly old hyperlink form for you to share fare and wide: https://www.facebook.com/events/1306543452749734/?active_tab=about.

I hope to see you at the party! As always, thanks for reading!

 

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Paperbacks are Now Available

As 2016 comes to a close, I’ve been doing a lot of admin and detail work so I can spend 2017 WRITING. I didn’t do nearly as much of that as I would have liked to in 2016.

So, What’s Up?

I’ve made multiple updates to this site. I’d still like to change the template – the way it’s laid out – entirely but, for now, it’s a bit more user-friendly than it was in the past.

Secondly, I’ve taken a few more of my digital books ‘wide’ to other vendor sites (besides Amazon) as they’ve come out of the Kindle Select Program. By the end of February, all of my older books should be out of the program and available on all sites. An eight book boxed set of The Morelville Mysteries will still be available via Kindle Unlimted (KU). Other boxed sets of my other work will be forthcoming as well for bargain purchases and in the KU program.

Hannah's Hope Book Cover Finally, I’ve also gotten in touch with my go-to cover designer and had him design five full wrap covers for the books that were not yet in paperback. I really slacked on that. They should have all been released in paperback from the start but, I’m fixing that.

Everything is out there now except for Hannah’s Hope, the most recent Morelville Mystery. There was some glitch with the way the cover renders for the printer. They’re telling us that text gets cut off because it’s too close to the edge of the cover. The eBook cover is to the left. Nothing there should be a problem and there’s nothing at all unusual about my designer’s spine or back cover designs. Neither of us can figure out what they’re talking about so they’re ‘investigating’. Stay tuned for that one.

Future books will be released in paperback along with or very shortly after their digital releases.

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Reading Ahead and What’s Behind

Did you miss me?

For those of you that celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas. If you celebrate any of the other religious holidays of the season, I wish you blessed days ahead as well. As for myself, I’ve spent the past couple months or so not writing, but instead tending to our haunted house business, to family health-related issues and mainly to cleaning up my own publishing related mess so I can move forward into 2017 at full speed.

Healing Embrace CoverIf you’ve been waiting for the lesfic romance, Healing Embrace, to come out, I apologize. It’s primarily finished but a little rough. It needs some edits and I won’t be undertaking those until we cross the threshold of the New Year. The 9th Morelville Mystery will actually come out first. In all honesty, it should have been out before Thanksgiving but it wasn’t to be. The theming may be a little off for the season but it’s a good story (or so I’ve been told by the wonderful woman who Beta read a very rough draft) that will take Dana, Hannah and Mel (to a slightly lesser extent) into an unsolved local murder mystery involving Faye’s family before Faye ever became a Crane. Look for it in mid February.

So, what have I been up to in the moments I could sqeeze in between business, work and family obligations? Lots of stuff, in dribs and drabs, as I could eke out a little time!

The 5 Self-Publishing Lessons I Learned in 2016

They all come down to what the readers want:

  1. A functional website is key. It’s almost transparent to anyone reading this – right now – but this website moved. I was paying for hosting at WordPress.com but there are things I wanted to do to revamp the site to make it more visual and more visitor/user friendly that I just couldn’t do there. Paying for a site through them doesn’t give you much more functionality than using a free one there. Lesson learned…the hard way. Over the next 2-3 weeks, look for some changes here as I work on the site a little each day. Rest assured, the lesfic list you all love will remain a fixture here. I update it with new names and/or new genre’s all the time.
  1. I took a look at my 2016 marketing and the return on investment. It was pretty bad. Most of the stuff that I paid for didn’t return any more than a little name recognition. Being active and social on social networks, when I could squeeze in the time, was better for me. I’ve been going back and forth with a couple of other author friends on better use of social mediums – more presence but less time suck away from writing. Is that even possible? I think so. Instead of paying for BookBub PPV ads (I can’t seem to get one of the biggie feature ads anyway) and Amazon and Facebook ads, I’m devoting a lot less dollars a month to two mediums that will help me manage Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn a little better. I’m still on my own with Pinterest. Overall though, the best book marketing has been publishing new books. Can you imagine that?!
  1. All books must be in print. Half of my stuff is/was; half wasn’t. By the end of 2016, it all will be. It’s such a simple process, there’s no excuse for this but my own laziness. I just released A Crane Christmas in print and Hannah’s Hope and the two cozies are almost ready to go. I have to do a review of Mad for Mel before I can release it in print and then they’ll all be out there. In the meantime, I’ve reviewed and lowered pricing on many of the print editions, especially for international distribution.
  1. Wider is better. Amazon is amazing for authors. Kindle Unlimited is amazing for readers…in the U.S. and some other English speaking markets. In October, I came to the realization that my two books and the two, four book sets that are available at most major book e-retailers were gaining a little traction, especially outside the U.S. Amazon is queen here and in the U.K. but Kobo is king in Canada and making inroads everywhere else including the U.K., the Apple iBooks platform is pervasive among the tech and younger sets and GooglePlay is huge in many countries (if you can get in). Traction with all of those sites can take 4-6 months but it does come. It’s worth it to be on them and to wait. My books now go to Amazon for 90 days to benefit from Kindle Unlimited and then they’re going wide.

I wish I’d have learned this lesson sooner. I’ve turned off auto-renew on all my books in the Kindle Select program (which makes them exclusive to Amazon and available through Kindle Unlimited) and, as they come out of Select, I’m taking them wide. By mid-February, the only things left in select will be my 8 book boxed set which will always be there and – temporarily – the 9th Morelville Mystery and the romance, Healing Embrace.

  1. Finally, for a self-published author, an email list is a must have…and I don’t have one. At all. I intend to remedy that in 2017. More details to come later but, if you want to be on my list, click the contact link now. I promise plenty of sneak peaks, a few freebies and more as we move into 2017.

As always, thanks for reading!

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Review of ‘Opera House Ops’ by Anne Hagan

Kitty Kat reviews my latest cozy mystery, ‘Opera House Ops: The Morelville Cozies – Book 2’

Review of ‘Opera House Ops’ by Anne Hagan

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My Heart Breaks

I’ve spent many happy hours over the past 20 years vacationing, relaxing and playing in the Great Smoky Mountains. I’ve stayed in and spent lots of time in Gatlinburg and in the National Park.

In February of 2014, my wife was introduced to the Smokies for the first time when she and I and her sister and our now brother-in-law rented a cabin in Pigeon Forge for a weekend. We spent most of the day Saturday in downtown Gatlinburg. The three of them were so enamored of an area I’d long known that during the 7+ hour ride home, we planned a ‘family’ vacation for Labor Day week, 2014 and, when we got home, we called a family meeting to tell everyone about it.

We took that Labor Day week vacation and my wife’s sister and her fiance got married on one of the decks of our cabin with a backdrop of the Smokies while we were there. marriedIt was a vacation we’ll never forget and it was the crux of a decision by my wife and I to buy a second home down there near Douglas Lake in the Sevierville area where we could have a boat and where we could spend winters. We have a little ways to go to realize the dream, but it’s in the works.

Rainbow in the Smoky MountainsThe three of us; me, my spouse and her sister, have been following the news out of Gatlinburg and the surrounding area with heavy hearts. My emotions have run very high these last few days as I grieve the people who have lost their lives and I worry about the firefighters, other emergency personnel and the people who have lost their homes, their businesses, their jobs and their way of life.

I’m praying for, and hopeful for the people of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the entire East Tennessee region. The rainbow picture is one I took on our way back out of the Park in September of 2014 one day as the fog had rolled in suddenly, thick and heavy and then nearly as fast it rolled away to reveal it. It symbolizes that hope for me.

Forever the Great Smoky Mountains! I’ll be back again one day…soon. Until then, I wish all of the people there all of the blessings possible as they rebuild their homes and their lives.

Peace…

smokies

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Opera House Ops Novel Released

Just a quick post to let everyone know that Opera House Ops, Book 2 of the Morelville Cozies series that was originally released in serial form with ten episodes has now been released as a novel. It’s currently exclusive at Amazon for the Kindle and free via Kindle Unlimited. After 90 days, it will be released for wide distribution.

Opera House Ops Book CoverSinister goings-on at a vacant 1800’s era opera house in Morelville have the residents of the village all tied up in knots and Faye Crane trying to solve multiple crimes to play savior to history.

Faye Crane and Chloe Rossi are back in the latest Morelville cozy mystery. This time, sinister goings-on at a vacant late 1800’s era opera house in Morelville have the residents of the village all tied up in knots and the meddling mothers trying to solve multiple crimes and play savior to history. Who’s responsible for all of the strange occurrences? What will it take to make the crimes stop, make a developer go away and to save the historical building for future generations?

Originally released as a serial mystery in ten episodes, this latest cozy crime drama from the Morelville Cozies series goes great together with Book 1 of the series, The Passed Prop. To get all of the Crane and Rossi families back story, you should check out that book available for the Kindle and via Kindle Unlimited but this book can also be read as a stand-alone mystery.

Enjoy and thanks, as always, for reading!

 

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I Have a Double Deal for You!

I Have a Double Deal for You!It’s the most wonderful time of the year; a time for family, friends and the holidays. A time to go 100 miles an hour from event to event and a time to slow down, relax and savor all life’s moments. Forget about Brexit. Forget about the U.S. elections. Put it all aside and enjoy you and yours through the holiday season. And, while you’re at it, you can take the time to have a go at me – in more ways than one!

grill-adFirst, on Sunday, November 27th, from 2:00 PM Eastern (1:00 Central, Noon Mountain and 11:00 in the morning Pacific Time) I will be tossed onto the grill by Dawn Carter of the Lesbian Book Readers Club on Facebook for three hours of flipping, poking and prodding by anyone and everyone in the group. Not a member? Go to Facebook and click to join the group now so you can get in on all the fun.

Ask me anything on Sunday. I’m an open book…it’s all fair game! I’ve been interviewed before but never like this. It should be fun…

Second, on a related note, I told Dawn I planned to give away an eBook boxed set of my lesfic mystery/romance series featuring Sheriff Melissa ‘Mel’ Crane and Special Agent Dana Rossi and a copy of my romance, Broken Women, in either paperback or in eBook form. Well, scratch that!

bb-ad-2Oh, I’ll still give away one of each but have I got a deal for the Kindle users among you: Beginning at Midnight tonight (Pacific Time), the boxed set of 8 Morelville Mysteries mystery/romance novels goes on sale in the U.S. and the U.K. for the low, low price of $.99 (cents and pounds). In all other countries, I’m dropping it as low as Amazon will let me drop it from the current U.S. equivalent price of $7.99. Get this while you can! The price goes back up in all countries Tuesday night.

For those of you who prefer not to use Amazon, most of my books are widely available. Broken Women is available on just about every platform out there including Amazon, Apple (iBooks), Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Kobo, Smashwords and many more. Click here to get a page with all the links. The mysteries series is available on all those sites too, but as two boxed sets (The Full Circle Collection featuring books 1-4 plus a companion guide not available at Amazon and The Morelville Mysteries Books 5-8 Collection) at a low cost per book ($1.00 US or less, typically).

Never read any of my stuff before? Relic, the first book in The Morelville Mysteries series and the book that started it all is free to download on every major site and a whole slew of minor ones.

So, I’ll see you at the grilling on Sunday but, until then, enjoy and, as always, thank you for reading!

 

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