This week I'm very excited to have as my guest, Canadian #author, Joanne Paulson! I've decided to feature fellow writers each month as we move into that all important and exciting, #SummerReading season. Joanne's mystery series rocks and I'm looking forward to hearing the exciting news on her latest, literary venture. Without further adieu, let's chat with Jo!
Q1: Joanne, I'm a huge fan of your Adam and Grace mystery series. What was the inspiration for the characters and setting?
Veronica, I am so honoured! Thank you ever so much. And thank you for inviting me to your blog.
My story has a sad beginning. I have been a writer all my life; mostly a journalist, but also a copy writer and various other bits of things. I enjoyed my full-time career very much, but it came crashing down several years ago, for a variety of reasons. I rather fell apart and spent a lot of time hiding under the bed or drinking perhaps a bit too much.
A huge problem at the time was insomnia. No matter what I did, I would awaken at three in the morning in various states of misery. A few months later, I suppose my brain decided to intervene. Enough already, it said. Here’s a thing. It’s a plot for a novel. Now go.
In the morning, miraculously, I remembered it. It came to me as I recalled a column I had written years earlier: a local cathedral had banned our gay men’s choir from singing in its sanctuary, even though it allowed others to perform. For a fee, of course. The local media, including me, went crazy over that story, and the cathedral ultimately backed down.
My brain asked, what if cooler heads had not prevailed? I doubted there would have been murder (she says in understatement) but at least one friend suggested that rage might have boiled over into something. Not sure what ‘something’ was: protests, perhaps? I don’t know. But I took that real-event nugget and ran with it.
Of course, I needed a reporter. Write what you know, they say. I’d worked with so many incredible women journalists, and so Grace Rampling was created out of their cloth. I could only see a detective sergeant as the other main character. He is partly based (although not his personality) on a real police officer I knew with severe PTSD acquired from being shot on the job. But I am a romantic at heart, and Adam Davis became a rather larger than life, supremely handsome human with all of his ethics in the right place.
As to the setting, I wanted to write something based in my own city and its environs. I wanted to reflect my community. I spoke to one of the queens of Canadian mystery, Gail Bowen, who locates her novels in our capital city, Regina. Her feedback made me see that there are quite enough stories set in New York City and Los Angeles, Paris and London. Nothing wrong with that, but I wanted to do something different. Ergo, home. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Q2: Beside writing your own series, do you provide other services as well? (ie editing, lectures, interviews?)
I do! Thank you for asking. I’m also a book editor, dominantly line and copy editing, although I usually provide some content/developmental comments as well. I have recently started featuring other mystery authors on my blog and hope to grow that soon — as time allows. I am still working in journalism as a freelancer, and it keeps me fairy busy.
I’ve also done a couple of lectures: one was for my provincial writers’ organization, the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, on how to write mysteries. It was virtual, of course, but still great fun. I’ve also recently served as managing editor for a publication entitled spring (yes, lower case) which offers unpublished writers their first go at being seen. It was an amazing experience.
Q3: Love your #BookCovers and #BookTrailers for your series--they showcase your characters and the mystery/danger/intrigue so well! What are your Top 3 suggestions to other authors on cover design and marketing their books?
Oh, thank you so much!! I’m extremely chuffed. SO:
1. I have recently read and learned a great deal about covers. They MUST fit your genre, or you’re in big trouble; they must be discernable in thumbnails; and your art and fonts must also be bang on. A must-read on this subject is The Author’s Guide to Cover Design by the cover guru Stuart Bache. Very helpful! I’ve recently sort of trained myself to use Canva for my book covers, which seriously needed updating. Quite the ride, and I don’t know how successful I’ve been, but I have had nice feedback.
2. Know when you’re hopeless. Trailers are not among my talents. If you can afford it, find a genius to create a trailer for you. A good creator will work with you to achieve the tone and style you are seeking.
3. There’s no point marketing until you’ve nailed the cover design and the blurb — at least to the extent possible. MARKETING IS HARD. It’s the hardest part of all this. Be sure your fundamentals are in place first.
I think I’ve tried everything at this point, with varying levels of success. Some of the book promotion sites, particularly Freebooksy and Bargain Booksy, have been helpful. I’m still trying to figure out Amazon and Facebook ads; some authors have good luck there. I would also suggest focusing on perhaps two social media platforms. One could go mad trying to manage them all.
Q4: You're definitely a queen of mystery books--any plans for venturing into other genres or ventures? Enquiring minds want to know!
What a lovely thing to say!! I don’t know about that, but thank you so much.
Yes, I’ve recently written a historical fiction/western situated in 1880s Canada, with the working title Blood and Dust. It emerged from a fevered dream my poor husband had, but he is comforted that it turned into a book (ha). He was an enormous help, especially with the research.
Because my other books are in series, and when I began I had zero clue what I was doing (and really didn’t expect to write several novels), I had no idea that previously published work would not be acceptable to agents or publishers. I continued to self-publish the Adam and Grace series and did not seek representation.
However, with Blood and Dust as a standalone, it was now or never. I’m no spring chicky, and I wanted to try traditional publishing. I threw it out there to two publishers, one in Canada and one in the U.S. The Canadian firm turned me down, but the American publisher responded almost immediately, asking to see the full manuscript; and a few weeks later they offered me a contract. I thought about it for a while, because I’m like that (and because ALL contracts should be carefully considered), but I decided to accept.
That doesn’t make it sound like I was thrilled, which of course I was. I’m describing what happened because I feel it’s important to make the point that we must take care with our babies and our futures.
I am delighted to be publishing Blood and Dust with the amazing Black Rose Writing out of Texas. It should land in February 2022. They have a significant list, they stay in touch, they offer plenty of advice, and I am very happy!!
Thank you so much Veronica!! So happy, too, to be interviewed by you!
Thank you so much for chatting with us, Joanne and sharing your tips and exciting news with us! If you'd like learn more about Joanne's books and give her a follow, here are her links:
Super excited to begin my latest #writing endeavor--the first book in the Rikkhe St. Claire: Hygge & Bisous Holiday Mysteries! This interior designer with an eye for clues has won over my heart and to celebrate, we're going to start with a collection of short stories for my fav time of year, appropriately titled, Christmas Bizarre! The good news for me this summer? I can crank up the AC, don my snow boots, and pretend that baby it's cold outside! ❄🎄❄ Pssst, if you watch me on the #BOOKEM channel later today, you may just get a #BookCover sneak peek...
Time-traveling mystery and intrigue this week from the writers of Twitter...
Author A.C. Merkel, Her Name is Murder (Lady Dreamscapes Book 1), 5⭐
When Murder takes the stage as her rock-n-roll alter ego, Lady Dreamscapes, not everyone is excited to see her perform. A random shot causes panic in the crowd and terror on the stage. Detective Grant Noble is on the case--as he sifts through the clues, he uncovers a mysterious past and intense connection with the dazzling star. Danger threatens their every move--will Grant and Murder survive a threatening nemesis?
Protectors, charges and immortals emerge as they attempt to break the scourge that has descended into the city. Friend or foe, who can be trusted? We're swept back and forth through time, learning more of Murder's exceptional past and the events that have shaped her destiny. Can her immortal existence continue?
Author Merkel weaves a tale of time traveling intrigue in this original story. History merges with current day life, with many surprising characters and mystical twists and turns. I really enjoyed this intriguing, sci-fi tale and look forward to future reads in the series, highly recommended!
Next up in the #reading queue:
It's Show #48, Escape from the Family Room!
Join me later today for my final #BOOKEM chat before our summer break! I'll talk about my summer plans and I have some great pics and video clips from recent road trips for you to enjoy. See you soon!
Crowns and Kisses,
P.S. Next week, the escape from the family room #roadtrip continues to Lake Tahoe! Gemma and Rikkhe approve 💖👑