Tuesday, July 2, 2019

# Guest Posts

Crimes of an Indie Author by Elizabeth McKenna @elizamckenna #guest

Crimes of an Indie Author

By Elizabeth McKenna

As an indie author, I get to break all of the literary rules, right? True, I don’t have an agent or a publisher insisting I use a certain book cover or write 70,000 words at a minimum, but I still try to play by the ground rules—except when I don’t.

I have three romance novels under my belt, all independently published. With my first historical romance, Cera’s Place, I tried to go the traditional publishing route. I queried agents throughout the United States, but being a newbie, I did just about everything wrong. I see that now and cringe at the mistakes I made. However, I believed so much in the story and the characters that I went ahead and entered the world of independent publishing.

When I set out to write my fourth novel, The Great Jewel Robbery: A Front Page Mystery Book 1, I decided to give traditional publishing another try, mainly because marketing on your own is really challenging. I did numerous email queries, but I also attended a writer’s conference where I pitched my story idea to three agents. Two of them responded positively and asked to see the draft. The third said, “That’s not a cozy mystery.” Hmmm, I thought. Why?

I went home and jumped on Google. Several websites indicated the following:
·        The main character is usually a woman (check)
·        Her education or life skills provides her with the ability to solve a crime (check)
·        The setting is usually in a small town or village (check)
·        No graphic violence, sex, or profanity (check)
·        The occupation of the amateur sleuth is usually baker, quilter, book store owner, witch, librarian, etc. (OK, you got me on this one)

I love to research and thoroughly enjoyed writing my two historical romances, however, I am also a firm believer in writing what you know. I have a journalism degree and live in a village on Geneva Lake. So, my main character is a journalist, and the mystery takes place in the next town over from where I live. I picked a mansion on Geneva Lake built in 1901 and included its history in the story. One of my beta readers said it was refreshing to read a story with a different occupation and setting. I felt a bit vindicated after reading that comment.

Over the years, the traditional publishing industry has sent me mixed messages. Once, an agent said she was looking for a fresh voice but then in the next breath asked, “who do you sound like?” I don’t know. I’d like to think I sound like myself. They want something new but if your main character doesn’t bake or craft, then it doesn’t fit the formula of a cozy. It’s all a bit confusing.

I read a lot of historical romances—almost always a Regency. With the beautiful gowns, those covers always suck me in. But when I decided to write historical romances, I chose post-Civil War San Francisco (Cera’s Place) and eighteenth-century Italy (Venice in the Moonlight) as my settings. If you look on Amazon, Regency, Victorian, and Scottish are the top three categories of historical romances. From a popularity standpoint, maybe I should have chosen one of those periods, but I have to be true to the story inside my head. If it means breaking the “rules” to tell it, then I’m guilty as charged.

The Great Jewel Robbery is my first dip in the mystery pool, and I am hoping cozy readers will give it a chance. If you do pick up a copy, please leave a review as I would love to know what you think!

Take care,
Elizabeth McKenna

About the Author

Elizabeth McKenna’s love of books reaches back to her childhood, where her tastes ranged from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to Stephen King’s horror stories. She had never read a romance novel until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene). She combined her love of history, romance, and a happy ending to write Cera’s Place and Venice in the Moonlight. Her contemporary romance novel, First Crush Last Love, is loosely based on her life during her teens and twenties. The Great Jewel Robbery is her debut cozy mystery, and she hopes readers will like it as much as they have enjoyed her romances.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn’t writing, working, or being a mom, she’s sleeping.

Elizabeth loves to connect with readers!
Twitter: @ElizaMcKenna
Instagram: elizabeth_mckenna_author

About the Book:

Author: Elizabeth McKenna
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 210
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Mystery with a splash of romance…

Chicago Tribune reporters Emma and Grace have been best friends since college despite coming from different worlds. When Grace is assigned to cover an annual charity ball and auction being held at a lakeside mansion and her boyfriend bails on her, she brings Emma as her plus one. The night is going smoothly until Emma finds the host’s brother unconscious in the study. Though at first it is thought he was tipsy and stumbled, it soon becomes clear more is afoot, as the wall safe is empty and a three-million-dollar diamond necklace is missing. With visions of becoming ace investigative journalists, Emma and Grace set out to solve the mystery, much to the chagrin of the handsome local detective.


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