A Muddied Murder
A Greenhouse Mystery, #1
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Henery Press
Date of Publication: March 29, 2016
Number of pages: 288
When Megan Sawyer gives up her big-city law career to care for her grandmother and run the family’s organic farm and café, she expects to find peace and tranquility in her scenic hometown of Winsome, Pennsylvania. Instead, her goat goes missing, rain muddies her fields, the town denies her business permits, and her family’s Colonial-era farm sucks up the remains of her savings.Guest Post:
Just when she thinks she’s reached the bottom of the rain barrel, Megan and the town’s hunky veterinarian discover the local zoning commissioner’s battered body in her barn. Now Megan is thrust into the middle of a murder investigation—and she’s the chief suspect. Can Megan dig through small-town secrets, local politics, and old grievances in time to find a killer before that killer strikes again?
Writing is fundamentally a solitary act. In a very existential way, it’s an author’s mind and the page—that’s it. Oh, eventually there’s the reader too—or many readers, if you’re lucky. But not immediately. In the beginning, there is only that empty white screen, the tabula rasa.
When I started writing, I wrote alone. I edited alone. I studied the marketplace alone, penned query letters alone, and despaired over rejections alone. I’d taken two advance fiction writing classes in college, both of which were taught by MFA students. But I was a psychology major, and if the other students had critique groups or writing clubs, I wasn’t aware of them. I really thought at the time that things would continue this way. I had visions of writing, turning in my novel to a publisher (hopefully!) and then while my publisher did the heavy lifting of selling that novel, I would turn to the next empty white screen.
What I didn’t realize then, but what I know all too well now, is that writing is only half the equation. Yes, the act of writing is something you do alone for long stretches of time. But when you’re not tapping away at the keyboard, it’s important to network because not only can other authors offer support, feedback and encouragement, the simple truth is that most publishers (large and small) look to an author to help market a work, and it’s easier to market when you are part of a community. I wish I had done more of this before my first book was accepted for publication. By the time I started networking, I was playing catch-up, which made marketing my first book that much more difficult.
Whether your work is already in the marketplace or you’re a newbie author just starting out, there are things you can do to create your support base, including:
- Attend conferences. Conferences, book festivals and conventions are a great way to meet readers, other authors, agents and publishers—and to learn about opportunities. Often you’ll come across tenured authors and may even have the chance to speak with them in a more relaxed setting. I always walk away from my favorite conferences feeling energized and humbled from the sheer amount of creative energy and the exchange of ideas. Look for a conference in your genre and be mindful of cost. But if you go with an open mind and the willingness to extend yourself, you will likely leave with new connections and perhaps some leads.
- Join an organization. I belong to Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers. Both organizations have offered me numerous opportunities to meet other authors and even advertise my work. For example, International Thriller Writers authors have the chance to be interviewed in the organization’s e-zine, THE BIG THRILL, when they have a new release. What a great (and free) way to gain some exposure.
- Volunteer. I can’t say enough about the benefits of volunteering. I was the Debut Coordinator for International Thriller Writers, and now I write for their e-zines THE BIG THRILL and THE THRILL BEGINS. Through my volunteer positions, I’ve made friends with writers whom I can now go to for beta reading, book blurbs, marketing support and advice, and I’ve broadened my readership. Volunteering can be as simple as donating your time at a conference. Do you already belong to writing organizations or groups? Ask about open positions—or pitch your own ways to help out.
- Go local. My agent is always telling me to focus on my home area. It’s good advice. One, reaching out to local businesses and institutions is time efficient; no travel required. And two, it can be easier to sell your product (including your own brand) in your hometown. So visit bookstores and libraries in your area. Attend local writing events and introduce yourself to authors who live nearby. Organize multi-author signings or fundraisers. You may be surprised at how much traction you get when you place some focus on your home turf.
- Learn how to use social media. There’s no way around it: social media is important for broadening your network, marketing your work and building your brand. Decide what platforms you prefer and develop them. I like Facebook and Twitter, and I’ve spent the last two years patiently growing my followers and meeting readers—a highlight of my writing journey. Be careful not to spend your time constantly advertising your products. Instead, make sure to tweet or share articles and promote others as well. Social media can become a time drain, but if you’re disciplined about the hours you spend on social media, that time can pay off in dividends.
Wendy Tyson is an author, lawyer and former therapist whose background has inspired her mysteries and thrillers. Wendy’s latest novel, DYING BRAND, the third Allison Campbell mystery, was released in May 2015. The first Campbell novel, KILLER IMAGE, was named a best mystery for book clubs in 2014 by Examiner.com. Wendy is also the author of The Greenhouse Mystery Series, the first of which, A MUDDIED MURDER, is due out March 29, 2016. Wendy and her husband are passionate organic gardeners. They live with their three boys and three dogs on a micro-farm just outside of Philadelphia.
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