Mystery Mondays: Debra Purdy Kong on Traditional to Self-Publishing

It’s my privilege to be a guest on Kristina Stanley’s blog today. Kristina is a wonderful supporter of authors, and a terrific author herself!

KRISTINA STANLEY

This week on Mystery Mondays we welcome Debra Purdy Kong. I first came across Debra’s writing when I read Opposite of Dark. I loved the book and reached out to Debra on LinkedIn and was very excited to hear back from her. She’s an author who is generous with her time and her advice, which you’ll get some of below.

As you can imagine, I’m happy to host Debra on Mystery Mondays again.

Debra is here to tell you what it’s like to transition from traditional publishing to self-publishing.

I’ve just preordered my copy of Knock Knock and only have to wait 2 days for it to arrive on my kindle!

Over to Debra…

Maintaining Continuity in Changing Times

Knock Knock, front coverThey say that the only constant in life is change. This is especially true for writers. Over the years, I’ve lost count of all the magazines and publishers I’ve worked…

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Casey Holland Mysteries: A Series Recap

When customers see all four of my Casey Holland mysteries on display, I’m often asked what my series is about. The quick answer is, thirty-year-old divorcée Casey Holland is a transit security cop who rides the buses dealing with smaller types of crimes which either evolve or merge with something much more serious.

As with most mysteries, each book has a separate plot with a complete beginning, middle, and end. The continuing thread throughout the series is Casey’s personal life, and hers has certainly been tumultuous. So, here’s a quick recap:

Book 1, The Opposite of Dark, focuses on Casey’s family. I wanted to start with the backstory because events in that book have a big impact on her life in subsequent books. It also introduces us to her longtime friend and bus driver, Lou, whose feelings for Casey are deeper than she’s ready to acknowledge.

Book 2, Deadly Accusations, is where Casey acknowledges her growing love for Lou and they become a couple, but not without jealousy and manipulation from a coworker. Casey also finds herself legal guardian to eleven-year-old Summer while coping with the murder of a colleague.

In Book 3, Beneath the Bleak New Moon, Casey’s ex-husband, who’s also a bus driver, returns to work after a long medical leave, and regrets letting Casey go. Lou’s not happy that he’s working with Casey and suggests that he move in with her to move their relationship forward.

Book 4, The Deep End, sees Lou and Casey’s relationship deepening to the point of a marriage proposal, but she’s distracted by another murder and Summer’s involvement with a boy who’s trouble.

The personal and professional challenges Casey faces cause her to grow a little more with each book, to be a little more self-assured and open. But challenges still lay ahead, as in Book 5, Knock Knock, she’s preparing for her wedding while dealing with a string of home invasions. For Casey, life doesn’t get easier as she grows older. Still, she progresses, one book at a time.

Knock Knock, front cover

The release date is on Wednesday, November 8th. To pre-order your copy of Knock Knock, go to:

Amazon: myBook.to/KnockKnock

Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/y6wejnls

Apple: http://tinyurl.com/y96xscpv

Meet Guest Blogger, Donna Galanti

GalantiDonnaI’m delighted to present my first guest blogger on WordPress, Donna Galanti! She’s the author of the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy and the children’s fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series. Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. Donna enjoys teaching at conferences on the writing craft and marketing and also presenting as a guest author at elementary and middle schools. Visit her at www.elementtrilogy.com and www.donnagalanti.com. She also loves building writer community. See how at www.yourawesomeauthorlife.com

Check out what she has to say about The Monster Inside Us: 

In some movies and books, the monsters are obvious. But are the monsters inside us?

In my paranormal suspense, A Human Element, X-10 is obviously monstrous. He kills. He seeks blood and revenge. He has no remorse. Yet as we come to discover it’s a combination of his genes and environment, can we blame him?

And sometimes we create the very monsters we fear who are really to be pitied, like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. We can identify with him as we have all felt like an outcast, rejected and unloved at times. Is Frankenstein truly the monster or is it the human who created him?

I believe the true monsters in my book lie beneath the surface of characters that are not so obviously monstrous.

The abusive foster father.
The scientist who tortures his experiment.
The doctor who sells a baby.
The men who kidnap and torture a sailor.

Do they get what they deserve in the end? You’ll have to read to find out…

I created new scenes of the monster, X-10, for the re-release of A Human Element that blur the boundaries of good and evil further for him. We see him now once loved and desired, and in return he shines kindness on the only soul that ever touched him with tenderness. While genes and environment have made X-10 what he is, should he be feared or pitied? Or both? In an interview here with X-10 awhile back, you may fear him more than pity.

New scene with X-10. A true monster or not?:

As X-10 ran under the full moon, leaping over rocks and roots, darting around boulders he could see her in his mind.

Laura. You are mine.

Then he saw her with her man. Water coursed all around them. Her hair hung wet about her shoulders. X-10 closed off his mind’s eye to the scene. It made him feel strange. And in that strange feeling he couldn’t define, X-10 hated her even more.

Rage surged through him and his blood pulsed fast, throbbing under his white skin in blue rivers. Why did she get to have her man when he couldn’t have his woman? Why was she worthy and he wasn’t? But Sabrina’s touches had made him feel worthy. Even if they were paid. And she had smelled and looked so good.

The night flashed through him again and he moaned with agony over the loss of the girl who left a hole in his heart. The girl who called him Charlie and loved him for just one night.

After Sabrina’s fear of him had left her, she’d sat down on his bed then. “Why don’t we just lie here for now? We can talk, you know. Like real…people.”

He stood over her, considering. What would he talk about with a human girl?

She lay down on her side and he did too, facing her. Her blonde hair curved along her breasts like silky strands of sparkly cotton candy. He’d seen a picture of it once being swirled on a stick at a fair. He wondered what it would taste like. What she would taste like.

She touched his face then pulled her fingers away. “When you look at all your parts, you’re not so bad.”

“A monster.”

“No. I’ve been with monsters.”

“Like me?”

She shook her head. “Monsters on the inside.”

Even in the garish light she was the loveliest thing he had ever seen. He wanted to touch her, but was afraid of his urges. To hurt and maim and kill. Good guys don’t do those things. And she had called him by his name. As if he was a good guy.

No! No good guy!

He was evil to the core.

And hate spurred him on now. Hate would help him survive. He forced himself to run faster through the night. Why did Laura get to live a normal life? He vowed to make her end not normal. And in that end, she would wish she had never been born.

A lonesome dog bayed in the hills above X-10 as if approving his plan. Streaks of moonlight and shadows fell across his face like whip lashes over and over, creating a living painting from darkness and light. He would show Laura darkness like she never experienced, and pain. There would be so much pain. He howled back at the creature that rode alone through the woods as he did. Perhaps they would meet along their journeys.

He hoped so. He was getting hungry again.

Who are some of your favorite monsters? And did they get what they deserved in the end or were they to be pitied and redeemed?

P.S. I’m also giving away a $25 Amazon gift card below! 

Element Triliogy twitter2About A Human Element:
One by one, Laura Armstrong’s friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next. Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite–her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a mad man, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together. But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts Laura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test. With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his and she has two choices–redeem him or kill him.

Praise for A Human Element:
“A Human Element is an elegant and haunting first novel. Unrelenting, devious but full of heart.  Highly recommended.” – Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author

Praise for A Hidden Element:
“Fascinating…a haunting story about just how far parents will go to protect, or destroy, their children in the name of love.”—Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times best-selling author

Purchase A Human Element here: On sale for just $0.99 10/27 – 11/2! http://mybook.to/AHumanElement

Purchase A Hidden Element here: On sale for FREE 10/27 – 10/31!
http://myBook.to/AHiddenElement

Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card HERE:

Connect with Donna:
Twitter  https://twitter.com/DonnaGalanti
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DonnaGalantiAuthor/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5767306.Donna_Galanti

 

Release Date for 5th Casey Holland Mystery, Knock Knock

Knock Knock, front coverI’m thrilled to announce that my 5th Casey Holland mystery, Knock Knock, will be available by ebook on Wednesday, November 8th! There will also be a print edition, so stay tuned for that release date. Meanwhile, if you wish to preorder an ebook copy, go to:

Amazon: myBook.to/KnockKnock

Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/y6wejnls

Apple (itunes). http://tinyurl.com/y96xscpv

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.

#amblogging: Book Cover Reveal!

I’m thrilled to be releasing my 5th Casey Holland, mystery Knock Knock next month. It’s been a while since the 4th installment, The Deep End, was released in 2014, so it’s about time. And here’s the cover!

Knock Knock, front cover

Given that my protagonist, Casey Holland, is a transit security cop, the references to buses or at least some sort of transportation related to the story is an ongoing theme on all of the covers. I love the dark, noir feel to this image. It works perfectly because the crimes (home invasions) take place at night.

I’ll be writing more about the release date and the series soon!

 

#amblogging: My Best Formatting Tip

selfpub[1]I self-published my first mystery in 1995. In those days, Pagemaker was the formatting program of choice for print books, but it was cumbersome to learn and use. By 2008, when I self-published Fatal Encryption, Word had become a popular means of formatting a book.

After working a traditional publisher for several years, I’m returning to self-publishing for some of my novels, while staying with a traditional publisher for others. Because I’d forgotten so much about formatting a print book, I searched for and found a few how-to blogs, and YouTube videos to help me properly format the book for CreateSpace.

Despite the online help, I wish I had made better notes when I produced Fatal Encryption. The basics are there, but the details about creating the header weren’t written down, so doing it after all this time stumped me. Not all of the blogs addressed headers satisfactorily or offered the types of suggestions that I needed.

Formatting a book is time-consuming and frustrating if you haven’t done it before. So, my best advice for self-publishers is to make notes as you go along. There’s a lot to think about when setting up your basic page layout. Important steps, like remembering to right justify the text, or not indenting the first line of a new chapter, or creating the correct line spacing, are details that are quickly forgotten down the road.

I’m typing up notes as I do all this now because I don’t know when the next self-published novel will appear, but at least I know that I’ll have detailed notes, not to mention the bookmarked how-to blogs, for next time.

#amblogging: From the Other Side of the Table

critiquing-other-writers[1]Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending the Golden Ears Writing and Reading festival. This brand new event was beautifully organized and well attended. I was happy to volunteer as a blue pencil critiquer. Although I’ve pitched my novels to agents and editors before, this was the first time I sat on the other side of the table, where writers came to see me.

For those who are unfamiliar with the process, a blue pencil session is where a writer sits down with an editor, experienced author, or agent, to have a small sample of their work verbally critiqued. I know firsthand how scary this can be.

My job was to read three double-spaced typewritten pages while the author sat across from me and patiently waited to hear what I had to say. I did this in a room with others, so I had to tune out all conversation while I focused on the pages.

The session required concentration, sharp thinking, and the ability to express myself clearly and in a positive, supportive way. It wasn’t overly daunting because I’ve taken part in verbal critiquing sessions for a local writers group for many years. Despite my experience, suggesting improvements to authors I hadn’t met (with one exception) and for work I’d only just seen, was an interesting challenge, but a rewarding one.

I’ve been writing a long time. The opportunity to help others is one of the most satisfying things about my writing life right now, and I’d happily do it again.