2017 Craft Fair Experiences

Craft Fair 2017After participating in several craft fairs this year, my anecdotal observations pretty much confirm the experiences of previous years, which are:

. Print still sells. My books won’t sell nearly as well by sitting on a bookstore shelf with thousands of other titles. Also, some of my customers said that they tried ebooks but didn’t like them. Sure, a few use iPads and Kindles, but people just don’t seem as excited about them as they once did.

. Customers are shocked to learn that the Chapters chain here in Canada collects 55% of every book sold. It’s the main reason I prefer to sell directly to readers, along with the fact that, in the past, my returned books have been damaged.

. The overwhelming majority of young families understandably don’t have time to read. Those pushing strollers rarely stopped by my table to browse unless they were shopping for a mystery fan in their family, which leads to point four.

. Mystery reader demographics haven’t changed in the 20+ years I’ve been selling books. The largest purchasers, and readers, of mysteries are women between forty-five and seventy-five years of age.

. New or would-be writers are still quite confused about whether to self-publish, find an agent, or look for a traditional publisher. I try to give sound advice without going into a long pros and cons list. Mainly, I ask them to think about what they want out of the publishing experience, and to do some research.

Since fees are charged (and they can be quite steep) to acquire a table at craft fairs, and there is often a jurying process, selling at these venues is always a gamble. You never know until the fair is well underway if you’ll earn your money back. As a vendor recently said to me, it’s always a rush when things are going better than expected, but you can’t count on the same results every year. It’s risky to base your expectations on previous year’s successes. So, we’ll see what happens next year because I’ll definitely participate again. I guess it’s the gambler in me.

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A Toxic Craft Launch Day is Here!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00049]Today, Imajin Qwickies® has released Evan Dunstan’s latest campus crime adventure, A TOXIC CRAFT. Since it’s set at a Christmas craft fair, the timing couldn’t be better! I’m thrilled to finally reveal this second installment in Evan’s adventures.

Here’s the blurb:

A crafty senior…

Evan Dunstan’s spunky grandmother is giving him major headaches. As organizer for the seniors’ Christmas craft fair, Gran faces warring vendors and acts of vandalism that threaten to ruin the event. When nasty knitter Cora Riddell is knocked unconscious and her water spiked with a hallucinogen, Gran begs Evan to find out who’s responsible before more harm is done—or someone dies.

A daunting task…

In charge of the fair’s security, Evan faces a challenge that grows more difficult by the hour. His boss expects him to find the culprit before police are called in and Southwest Trades & Technology’s reputation as a safe campus is destroyed.

A friend or foe?

A search for answers reveals the disturbing possibility that even friends and coworkers hope Evan will fail. Is the culprit closer to him than he thought? Whose startling secrets must be exposed to find the truth?

Amazon: myBook.to/AToxicCraft

Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/ycsvuaj5

 

Craft Fairs and Crime? You’d Be Surprised

When plotting a mystery, I ask myself one essential question. What if? 

The idea for my second Evan Dunstan mystery (to be released one week from today), A TOXIC CRAFT, was born from that question and a very specific setting.

One of my favorite pre-Christmas activities is to sell my books at local craft fairs. I’ve attended several high school fundraisers, many of which have knitters selling their goods and trust me, they take their business seriously.

One year, my table was placed between a pair of knitters, who seemed well aware of each other, yet didn’t strike up any conversation. Furtive glances at one another’s tables suggested that there might have been a bit of competition between them.

By late afternoon, the fair’s attendance had slowed down, which gave me plenty of time to ponder craft fairs, big and small, and think about crime. For this mystery author, it was a natural progression to ask, what if a vendor took her rivalry a bit too far? What if she was a little bit crazy? A little bit violent?

I have to say that in real life everyone’s been friendly and generally have a good time selling their crafts. But in my line of work, I don’t deal in real life. Evan’s situation is much crazier, especially when his feisty grandmother’s involved. As this book shows, Gran has a real knack for annoying people. Find out just how much trouble she gets into in A TOXIC CRAFT, on December 6th!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00049]To pre-order, go to:

http://getbook.at/AToxicCraft

Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/ycsvuaj5

 

Meet Guest Author, Alison Bruce

2013-Bruce-BW-200I’m delighted to host author Alison Bruce today. I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Alison when I was on the Crime Writers of Canada Board a few years back. Alison writes history, mystery and suspense. Her books combine “clever mysteries, well-researched backgrounds and a touch of romance.” Her protagonists are marked by their strength of character, sense of humor and the ability to adapt to new situations. Four of her novels have been finalists for genre awards.

Check out this fascinating piece on Ghost Stories:

When I was six years old, I woke to find my grandmother standing at the bottom of my bed. She wore her habitual expression of worry blended with faint disapproval. Her eyes narrowed and I waited to find out what I had done this time to annoy her. Then she nodded and disappeared.

In the morning, my mother came to tell me that Grandma Allard had died. She had a heart attack in the evening and my father had been called to the hospital shortly after my bedtime. I could stay off school if I wanted, which of course I did. It wasn’t that I was shocked or particularly grieved to learn my grandmother was dead, but a day off school was not something you turned down. I wasn’t even worried that I had apparently seen a ghost.

This is the opening of Ghost Writer. Except for changing the name Bruce to Allard, it is autobiographical. Although I haven’t seen nearly as many ghosts as my character Jen Kirby, this story was inspired by the ghosts I have experienced.

I’m willing to accept that I was dreaming that night. If that’s the case, my dream was prophetic because, in the case of Grandma Bruce, her death came as a shock to everyone else. She had a sudden heart attack. I didn’t know anything about it until after the fact. I didn’t even know my parents had left the house. No doubt my Nana Nash was asked to watch us while they were gone. But I slept through it.

I used to have horrible nightmares when I was a child. None of them were about ghosts. The idea of ghosts has never been particularly scary for me. That may be the reason I underestimated how much I could scare other kids with ghosts stories. There’s another bit in Ghost Writer where Jen talks about getting into trouble because of her stories. That is also autobiographical.

Did I sense my friend Allan at his funeral? Did my mother-in-law, who died before I met her son, really check me out to make sure I was taking good care of her only child? Maybe it was all in my head. As Dumbledore said, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

In any case, it’s all grist for the mill.

She has to deal with two kinds of spooks: spies and ghosts.But which one is trying to kill her?

Jen Kirby has seen ghosts since she was a teen, but she can’t talk to them or help them cross over. And, after a violent death in the family, she doesn’t want to see them anymore.

In her role as ghostwriter, Jen joins a Canadian Arctic expedition to document and help solve a forty-year-old mystery involving an American submarine station lost during the Cold War. The trouble is, there are people—living and dead—who don’t want the story told, and they’ll do anything to stop her.

Now Jen is haunted by ghosts she can’t avoid or handle alone. That means confiding in the one man she doesn’t want to dismiss her as “crazy.” But can he help? Or is he part of the problem?

Bruce-GhostWriter-400Buy Link for Ghost Writer: http://getbook.at/GhostWriterAB

ADVANCE REVIEWS

A compelling mystery with a unique setting and skillfully handled supernatural twist.

Kelley Armstrong, #1 New York Times Bestselling  Author

A maritime mystery full of twists and turns, heart-pounding suspense, and ghosts!

Ghost Writer plunges you into the icy depths of the Arctic Ocean with breath-stealing twists and turns, maritime adventures, page-turning suspense … and ghosts. A great read!

Ann Charles, USA Today Bestselling Author of the Deadwood Mystery Series

Alison Bruce weaves a masterful mystery set in the Arctic that will have you reaching for a hot cup of coffee and a blanket as you feel the cold water splash up off the pages and into your face. With equal parts of paranormal and practicality, Ghost Writer will keep you up all night as you work your way through this addictive page-turner.

Sheryl Nantus, award winning author of HARD RUN

GHOST WRITER is a must-read for fans of Barbara Michaels, AKA Elizabeth Peters. In GHOST WRITER, Alison Bruce provides it all—sly humour, a feisty yet vulnerable heroine, hunky romantic interests, believable characters, a carefully researched and unusual setting, and page-turning suspense.

Janet Bolin, author of the Threadville Mysteries

Links

Website: www.alisonbruce.ca

Blog: alisonebruce.blogspot.ca

Twitter: @alisonebruce

Facebook: www.facebook.com/alisonbruce.books

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/alisonbruce

 Professional Affiliations

Crime Writers of Canada – www.crimewriterscanada.com

Evan Dunstan is Back in A Toxic Craft!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00049]I’m thrilled to announce that Imajin Books will release my second Evan Dunstan “Qwickie” novella, A Toxic Craft, on December 6th!

For those who aren’t familiar with my novellas, Evan is a 22-year-old security guard at post-secondary campus. Evan’s ambition to join the RCMP inspires him to prove himself at solving campus crimes, as long it doesn’t interfere with his hot dates.

Evan’s latest adventure centers around his grandmother and her cronies as they host a seniors Christmas craft fair in STT’s gymnasium.

Here’s the blurb:

A crafty senior…

Evan Dunstan’s spunky grandmother is giving him major headaches. As organizer for the seniors’ Christmas craft fair, Gran faces warring vendors and acts of vandalism that threaten to ruin the event. When nasty knitter Cora Riddell is knocked unconscious and her water spiked with a hallucinogen, Gran begs Evan to find out who’s responsible before more harm is done—or someone dies.

A daunting task…

In charge of the fair’s security, Evan faces a challenge that grows more difficult by the hour. His boss expects him to find the culprit before police are called in and Southwest Trades & Technology’s reputation as a safe campus is destroyed.

A friend or foe?

A search for answers reveals the disturbing possibility that even friends and coworkers hope Evan will fail. Is the culprit closer to him than he thought? Whose startling secrets must be exposed to find the truth?

Pre-orders are available at:

Amazon: http://getbook.at/AToxicCraft

Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/ycsvuaj5

 

My Own November Challenge

I’ve often been tempted to participate in the amazing Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) where writers commit to writing 50,000 words from Nov 1 – Nov. 30. It appears to be a great way to start a novel, but November is absolutely the worst time of year for me to attempt it. You see, I have my own writing challenges every November, especially this one.

This fall I’m releasing two books (more about the second one next week), promoting both through extra blogs and social networking, plus selling print copies of my books at four different craft fairs.

All this is being done while maintaining the day job and starting Christmas preparations. To keep myself sane and happy, I also spend the first hour of every day writing. After all, it’s what I most love to do.

Keeping all these balls in the air can be difficult, yet I need to test myself, not just as a writer, but as a business person. I want to see what I’m capable of and to learn where I need to cut back. I’m in the thick of things now. It’s exhilarating and exhausting, and I can’t say there’s a lot of peace of mind at this point, but I’ll be able to assess this a little more clearly at the end of this year. Meanwhile, I wish all those who are attempting Nanowrimo the best of luck!

Knock Knock, front cover

Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/y6wejnls

Apple: http://tinyurl.com/y96xscpv

Amazon: myBook.to/KnockKnock

5th Casey Holland Mystery, KNOCK KNOCK, Launch Day is Here!

Knock Knock, front coverAt last, launch day for Knock Knock is here! Over three years have swiftly passed by since the 4th installment of this series was published, so I’m thrilled to be releasing this book at last!

Here’s the back cover blurb:

The latest attack in a string of violent Vancouver home invasions kills senior Elsie Englehart. Security officer Casey Holland is devastated. She is supposed to be watching over elderly bus riders in an affluent, high-risk area, but she’s let Elsie down.

Determined to keep others safe, Casey escorts an elderly man home, but an armed intruder attacks them both. Hospitalized and angry, Casey struggles to regain control of her life, despite interference from family and colleagues—and the postponement of her long-awaited wedding.

Yet another home invasion compels Casey to take action, but at what cost to her health and her relationships? In Knock Knock, Debra Purdy Kong’s fifth installment of the Casey Holland series, the risks have never been higher and the consequences more deadly.

To order your copy of Knock Knock, please go to:

Amazon: myBook.to/KnockKnock

Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/y6wejnls

Apple: http://tinyurl.com/y96xscpv

PRAISE FOR THE CASEY HOLLAND SERIES:

The National Post – “Kong’s writing is no-nonsense at best . . . the end result is a mystery that fits the bill.”

The Hamilton Spectator –  “A good read with urban grit and a spicy climax.”

Quill & Quire – “The novel’s short, punchy chapters whisk the story along to a thrilling climax, while the characters’ relationships and rivalries provided a strong emotional anchor.”

Thanks everyone!