A Gold Satin Murder Pre-Order and Upcoming Conference

LAUNCH DATE – SEPT 8

After last week’s blog and supportive comments, I took the plunge and uploaded A Gold Satin Murder onto Draft2Digital and Amazon. So, I’m thrilled to announce that the ebook versions of A Gold Satin Murder are ready for pre-order.

D2D’s universal link includes, Kobo and Apple Books. As I write this Barnes & Noble (Nook) is still processing the submission. You can find D2D’s link HERE.

Amazon’s universal link is HERE:

I’ll be preparing the print version over the next few days.

Back in the early spring I was invited to take part in a panel at the annual When Words Collide Conference. I was reluctant at first because I knew my daughter’s baby was due within two days of that date, but they persuaded me. I’ll be taking part in a panel called Badges? What Badges?, on Saturday Aug. 13 at 8:00 a.m. PST. We’ll be discussing amateur sleuth mysteries, among other things.

This virtual conference, from Aug. 12 – 14, is free and has a great roster of panelists. The conference isn’t just for mystery writers but for other genres. Fantasy author Terry Brooks is one of the Guests of Honour! Master classes will also be offered plus podcasts of all sorts that you can listen to. If you’re interested, check out the link HERE.

Last but not least, two nights ago I became a grandma for the second time. More on that next week. What a summer!

Letting Go of Manuscripts, or Not

On Monday, I spent three and a half hours poring over the last three chapters of my 7th Casey Holland mystery. It’s one of the many times I’ve gone through this book. I’ve stepped up the final tweaking over the past two weeks because I know I’ll be uploading the book this week to Amazon and other sites. But I’m finding it difficult to let go of this one, and it worries me a little. I might be turning into more of a perfectionist than I want to be. I’ve reached the stage where I’m changing a few words back to what they were before, a sure signal that it’s time to move on.

To be honest, my unwillingness to let this novella go might be because this could well be my last Casey mystery. There are a number of reasons for this, but the primary one is that I’m eager to explore new characters and concepts in different series and genres. It’s tough because I’ve been with Casey for many years and have file folders containing notes for future books. Whether I write another installment will depend on how this one is received.

As some of you know, I’ve been writing an urban fantasy for some time, and the feedback from my critique group will be completed in a few weeks. I’ve also been working on the query letter and synopsis. At 120,000+ words, which still needs paring down, I just don’t see myself self-publishing something that large. Since I’m in no rush to publish, I’d like to venture back into traditional publishing, however we’ll see how it goes. I might think differently a year from now.

Speaking of letter go, about three years ago, I wrote the first draft of another novella mystery. The first two books were published with a small press that has now folded and again, I’m deciding whether to let this series go, or re-read the first draft to see if I should continue on.

Also, several months ago, I began outlining a new paranormal series that incorporates both mystery and fantasy, and I’ve been wondering what to do about that as well. As you can see, this writer’s life could either turn into a productive hot mess or even fizzle away, depending on my decisions.

Happily, with a new grandbaby arriving in a few days and a home reno project about to start, there’s plenty of things to keep me from constantly fretting over writing decisions. I do believe that everything will sort itself out. The goal is to be happy with my choices. It’s just a matter of deciding what fits best with short and long-term goals.

Seeking Host Bloggers

Life’s been a whirlwind of activity since my last post, but happily the sunny summer weather gives my energy gets a boost. Here in Vancouver, we’re enjoying normal seasonal temperatures which is much better than last year’s heat dome, although things could heat up. I feel for the people in Europe and the U.K. and parts of the U.S. Unpredictability seems to be the new norm, so onward we go. Speaking of which,

In a few days I’ll be uploading A Gold Satin Murder on KDP and Draft2Digital, and sending the book off to the printer. I find myself still going over the manuscript, tweaking words here and there. By the end of this month, I’m cutting myself off because launch day is September 8th.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for anyone who might be interesting in hosting me on their blog. Different topics are being prepared now, and I’m certainly open to a Q an A. If you’re interested in hosting a guest blog in Sept., Oct. or beyond, please email me at debra_kong@telus.net. A big thank you to Darlene Foster and Jacqui Murray who’ve already enthusiastically agreed to host me. I love this community of writers!

In case you were wondering, here’s the book blurb:

Transit cop Casey Holland has never met a bus passenger like the charming artist and exotic dancer, Eduardo. The bus driver Lily has certainly befriended him. But when Eduardo’s charged with murder, Lily’s caught in the middle of his legal trouble. Afraid of losing her job and custody of her son, she begs Casey for help in proving Eduardo’s innocence.

Casey’s search for answers takes her and her best friend Kendal to a troupe of strippers known as Man Cave. While the men are busy peeling off their clothes, Casey’s peeling back layers of secrets and betrayal. Nuttier than her usual adventures, the risk is just as deadly in this seventh installment of the Casey Holland transit mysteries.

I can almost hear the questions now, and if you have any topics you’d like me to address, go for it! 😊

This and That, and a Cover Reveal!

Rather than fill your inbox with multiple blogs, this one’s a catchup on events over the past two weeks. First, the Art on the Vine was great fun and a highly successful fundraiser for the Osteoporosis Society. Although it had rained most of June, the 26th was unusually hot and dry, so I wore a summer dress for the first time this year. Townhip7 Winery will be hosting another event on Aug. 28th and I can’t wait. On July 14th, I’m also sharing a table with Western Sky Books at a local farmer’s market, so that should be enjoyable, too. Farmers markets have generally been good places to sell books for me in the past, although the last time took part was in the summer of 2019.

I like that wine is the focus of this photo

If you’re looking for more summer reads, I’ve lined up two more BookFunnel events. The first is a newsletter signup that offers free crime fiction ebooks, including my first Casey Holland mystery. This provocative event is is called Mysteries, Suspense, Thrillers. The Unexplained, which is available HERE.

The second event is offering discounted ebooks with no signup required. My second Casey Holland mystery, Deadly Accusations, is part of an event called Murders, Mysteries and the Paranormal, and will be on sale for $.99 all July. You can find the link HERE:

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve been working on my 7th Casey Holland mystery, and I’m thrilled to say it’ll be released on Thursday, September 8th. This novella is a quick read that’s much lighter in tone than the previous books, and it’s a real change from the typical characters Casey encounters. Stay tuned for more info in a couple of weeks, but for now, here’s the cover!

My daughter starts maternity leave at the end of this month, so my babysitting schedule will be less frequent and more spontaneous. Hubby and I have also decided to downsize our house over the next 12 months, but first up are renos to a couple of rooms in our home. My retirement seems to be picking up the pace, at least for now. Maybe it’s a good thing that I’m only publishing shorter works these days 🙂

Socializing Through a Pandemic

Summer’s here and many fun events are returning to British Columbia. I’ve just finished facilitating an 11-week long spring session of the creative writing program offered in our city. The group was small, but I’d still been a little worried about exposure to Covid. Hospitalization rate were still fairly high in April but have been going down since then. Happily, the rec center gave us a large room in a quiet part of the building, so we felt safe. One of my students came down with Covid and was away for one week, but no one else was impacted.

As I write this, my daughter’s place of employment currently has about ten percent of their staff sick with Covid, after having been encouraged to return to work. As you can imagine, those who work in a common area are the ones who are sick. Those who have their own offices are so far staying healthy. Still, ten percent is a lot.

The cautionary tales I’ve been hearing from medical experts tells me that it’s probably still a good idea to wear my mask in public indoor places. Like many of you, I’m also eager to get back to socializing, especially when it comes to writing events. I turned down two invitations to indoor book launches this spring. I had no idea how many people would attend, how large the venue was, or whether the room was well ventilated. Generally, I don’t feel particularly anxious about most things, when you’re babysitting a two-year-old most weekdays it seems wise to be cautious.

Having said that, I’m attending two outdoor events this week. One is a BBQ with my old employer at Simon Fraser University. Since 97% of the university’s population is vaccinated, I figure it should be okay, although I’ll keep my hand sanitizer close by.

I’m also a vendor at an outdoor mini-craft fair at the TownShip7 Winery this Sunday. This is one of my favourite venues, as the event has musical entertainment and the artisans will be spread apart. Wine tasting, bookselling, and music in a vineyard is a wonderful way to spend the day. The event is also fundraising for the Osteoporosis Society. I know that some of you live in the Lower Mainland, so if you have some time and enjoy wine tasting, this is a great opportunity to get out and enjoy what will be a bright, sunny day.

I’ll be participating in another Art on the Vine event in late August and also selling books at a local Farmer’s Market on Thursday July 14th. So, yes, I’m socializing more, but honestly, I’ll be taking precautions.

For those of you who are looking for more free crime fiction reads, I’m taking part in another BookFunnel offering until the end of June. This is the Women Solve Crime Mystery Giveaway and a good number of the 30+ offerings are cozies, which make great beach reads. The link HERE.

How about you? Are you over Covid anxiety and attending events this summer, or are you still a little anxious?

My 5-Star Reads So Far This Year

I’ve been catching up on reading these past few weeks. So far, I’ve read 20 books this year, which is five books behind my normal schedule. But whenever I’m staying over at my daughter’s for babysitting duties, the evenings are spent catching up on blogs, newsletters, and books.

The eclectic mix of genres have been truly enjoyable reads. Two of the crime fiction authors, J.T. Siemens and Winona Kent, were guest bloggers earlier this spring, but I want to mention them again as they’re excellent writers who deserve more attention.

To Those Who Killed Me by J.T. Siemens, is a gritty, noir mystery that reveals the darker side of Vancouver. J.T.’s Instagram account shows interesting black-and-white photos of some of the actual venues mentioned in his book. The photos beautifully capture the book’s noir feel.

Ticket to Ride by Winona Kent is a delightful amateur sleuth-based mystery set in England, featuring musician and new private detective Jason Davey. I love Winona’s descriptions and the way she incorporates family dynamics into her stories. There’s a lot of heart in her books as well as terrific storytelling.

Silver Bells by C.J. Hunt, is a heartwarming Christmas romance. It’s also a novella that you can read quickly. The romantic scenes are nicely written and the book’s contemporary concepts about a single dad trying to run his business and a woman who’s sold her startup company and is rethinking career options are relatable topics.

Given all the cold, rainy weather in my area last month, it seemed only natural to read another Christmas novella. Crimson Frost by J.P. McLean is a suspenseful supernatural story. Given that the protagonist is only 19, it likely falls into the YA category, but this is a riveting story for all ages at any time of year. Grief, turbulence, and the supernatural elements added to the enjoyment for me.

The Library of Legends by Janie Chang is an amazing historical fiction novel set in China in 1937. The Japanese have invaded the country and the university students are forced to flee by undertaking a 1,000 mile trek to safety in the country’s interior. What struck me was the exceptional writing and the way Janie incorporates mythical fantasy with reality. The story is based on her father’s real-life experience. Absolutely riveting.

Last but not least, is the romantic suspense story Lure by W.L. Hawkin. To me, this book raises the bar by incorporating exquisite writing with real-life tragedy centered around missing  Indigenous women, a topic that has a troubling, longstanding history here in British Columbia. Wendy adds layers to the story by adding a mystery whodunit and a haunting, spiritual component. It’s one of those stories that’s stayed with me.

That’s it so far. I’ve read a number of nonfiction titles related to writing but I hope to explore many other topics this year.

CWC Winners Announced and Planning for Summer

Last week, the Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence winners were announced. It’s always exciting to see the short list of nominees in April and the announcement of winners in late May. I know a number of the nominees from the Vancouver area, including this year’s best crime novel winner, and am delighted to see their work recognized. You can find the full list of nominees and winners HERE.

As you all know, a lot’s gone on in the world since I last blogged a couple of weeks ago, and little of it’s good. It’s a tough time for creators on many levels, but I forge ahead because writing and editing have always given me a safe space to ease my mind from horrific news stories. So, I’ve been editing steadily, and working on a pre-release plan for my Casey Holland novella. I’ll launch the book on September 8th, which seems both far away and all too soon, depending on my state of mind.

I have a to-do list of pre-publication work to help me stay organized. I also want to take one more look at the novella before it’s ready for uploading on Amazon and other sites. It won’t be a quiet, slow-paced summer, but it will be an eventful one.

Ellie likes to sit on her bike & ring the bell

Ellie will have a little brother or sister in August. My son-in-law and hubby will be taking vacations to help out on the home front, but we won’t be traveling this summer, which is probably for the best this year, especially since gas is $2.22 a liter as I write this.

It’s a bit strange to plan my publishing schedule around a little person who isn’t here yet, but my writing life has always been planned around kids’ and employers’ schedules. Somehow it always works out.

How about you? What are your plans this summer? Will it be creative? Relaxing? Busy? Or slow and relaxed?

Virtual Mystery Conference, May 24 – 28

I’m back to babysitting this week, so things are a little slower on the writing front, however, I wanted to share info about the Maple Leaf Mystery Conference coming up next week.

It’s a virtual event and for a $25 fee you can attend interviews with Ian Rankin, Rick Mofina, Maureen Jennings and many others. There will also be several panel discussions over this four-day event on a variety of topics for mystery readers and writers. For more info about the program and registration, please check out the link HERE.

I’m not affiliated with the conference and won’t be able to participate this year, but a number of my colleagues are taking part, and I’m excited for them. I will be taking part in a conference in mid-August, but I’ll save that info for a later date.

Mother’s Day Fun and Writing Updates

After three months of babysitting most weekdays, I’m on holiday this week. My S-I-L is taking the week off and guess what he’s doing? Toilet training Ellie. Yes, they’ve read up on the topic, seen a video, I think, and feel they’re ready. Let’s hope Ellie feels the same. 😊

At 21 months, she’s already using “no” a lot and having the occasional tantrum when things don’t go her way. I’m sure it’s been quite a week, but this is one of the great things about grandparenting. The responsibility isn’t mine, at least until next Monday.

As you can see from the photo, we enjoyed a happy Mother’s Day with my son doing most of the cooking. My daughter’s next baby is due in mid-August, just after Ellie turns two, so more fun is coming up, and more big changes.

On the writing front, work continues on the urban fantasy. After going through a long and invaluable critiquing process I’ll be reaching the end of that part of the process in a few more weeks. Perhaps then, I’ll look for beta readers in earnest, but it would be a huge commitment for them, so I’m thinking of what I should offer in return. A gift card perhaps? A quid pro quo arrangement?

I’ve also finalized decisions about the jacket design for the Casey mystery novella and am working on nailing down a September release date. There are also some archived online workshops I’m catching up on this week.

As you can see, I’m not slowing down on my holiday. But the weather’s been rainy and uncharacteristically cold in my neck of the woods, so why not catch up while things are good and I’m motivated?

Free and Discounted Mysteries For You

Before I launch into today’s topics, I want to say that Canadian Independent Bookstore Day last Saturday was a great success for our local store, Western Sky Books. This was their best event ever, and it was heartwarming to see supporters come out in droves. It was great fun to see a number of writers I hadn’t seen in person in more than two years, and one author I hadn’t seen in a decade!

So, here we are in May, one of my favorite months of the year. The weather’s warming slowly although there’s still a fair bit of rain and cloud hovering over BC’s lower mainland these days. Flowers are blooming, albeit slower than last year. Since I was married in mid-May nearly 34 years ago and our family always celebrates Mother’s Day, it’s a special month.

This weekend, I’m offering great deals on most of the titles in my 6-book Casey Holland series this weekend, which ends on May 9th. You can find the link to the entire series with just one click HERE. By clicking on that page, you’ll see that the combined price for all the books is under $10.

I’m also taking part in two BookFunnel events offering free mystery ebooks all month. One is the Leading Ladies of Mystery giveaway featuring female lead characters. The link is HERE.

The other offer focuses on mystery and suspense titles, with either male or female protagonists, which you can find HERE.

So, please take advantage of these opportunities. Summer’s coming and it’s time to load up your devices with new books as you prepare for holidays or at least a little more downtime. Couldn’t we all use some R & R and escapes into great fiction?