Friday, February 8, 2013

Kellie Larsen Murphy - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Kellie Larsen Murphy. She is the Psychological suspense author of A Guilty Mind and a freelance writer.

Author Genre: Psychological Suspense, Mystery

Website: the dog ate my novel
Blog: Google +
Twitter: @aguiltymind
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
LinkedIn: Check Out LinkedIn
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Kellie Larsen Murphy is a freelance writer who has worked in both the banking and publishing industries. In recent years, she has written on a variety of subjects and been featured frequently in several mid-Atlantic magazines.

Her debut novel, A Guilty Mind, is the first in a series featuring Detective Michael Cancini. The second in the series, Stay of Execution, will be available in 2013. Kellie lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, four children, and two dogs. She would be happy to hear from readers through her website,

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

First things first. You have announced you have another book on the horizon called Stay of Execution. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease? How did you choose to write psychological suspense novels?

Currently, Stay of Execution is planned for late 2013. It is due to my editor in June and I anticipate finalizing that draft over the remainder of the summer. I am also meeting with my cover designer early in the summer to see what he can work up for the book. Stay of Execution is a little different than A Guilty Mind - a little grittier - but also draws from the past and present.

Detective Mike Cancini is forced to revisit an old case he closed years earlier, a series of rapes and murders of college girls, when new DNA evidence shows the man he sent to prison could not be guilty. As questions surround who was really the "Co-Ed Killer", a new rash of rapes and murders draws Cancini back to both cases, the old and the new.

I don't really feel so much like I chose to write psychological suspense as it just felt the most natural to me. And when I sit down to write, the ideas that come to me seem to start with a murder and a mystery. I don't think I would be very good at romance or horror. I guess I'm just more attracted to mysteries and thrillers although I will read anything. If I were to write another genre, I think I would lean more toward true crime or some type of non-fiction.

How important have your social media relationships been? Do you see more results from your traditional marketing, social media or your Internet site?

This is an interesting question and one that I think is always evolving. When I first investigated self-publishing, I read a great deal about how authors should build a platform using social media. Although I still believe this is true, authors need to recognize that their platform is as much about learning from other writers as it is about trying to reach new readers. I personally love to visit writers' websites to learn about them and their writing process.

I don’t think most of my sales have come from my website or twitter account but more from personal appearances and traditional marketing. However, I do think interviews and blog appearances do help to drum up interest in your book and in you as a writer even if it doesn't always translate directly into sales.

Do you do book signing, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when is your next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

I absolutely do interviews, speaking and personal appearances. Most of my interviews have been online but I regularly accept invitations to appear at book clubs. I usually answer as many questions as possible and spend time signing books. At the moment, I have two appearances scheduled at private book clubs.

In February and March, I am also scheduled to appear at a fundraiser this spring where my book and a book club appearance will be an auction item. If a reader would like to connect with me or schedule an appearance, they can visit my website,
or contact me at

How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

My cover process may be slightly atypical since my cover designer happens to be a friend as well as a professional artist. When we first met to discuss the cover, I gave him a summary of the book as well as describing what I had in mind. He took that information and designed some mocked-up covers for me so I could see what he was thinking. I thought they were great but he insisted they were not the finished product. Not only did he design the cover, he took the beautiful photo used on A Guilty Mind. Since this was my first book, I didn't get readers involved but I think it's a great idea for the next book.

I like the idea you have with the Book Club. Explain to us how the club works and is it local or open to others online? Does the club help with writing, marketing and the publishing process?

In some ways, I have two book clubs. My personal book club is private and they were the first to read A Guilty Mind - long before it was published. What I like about using my book club to "test" my books is that they are all discriminating readers.

While I would be the first to say that no writer should have only friends and family sample their work before publication, I think of my book club as almost a writers' group - except I'm the only writer. I quiz them on pacing, character development, plot line, etc. A few of the members of my club read every draft of A Guilty Mind before it was professionally edited. That initial feedback was crucial.

My public book club is more like a place to share book club selections and ideas. Absolutely anyone can comment or guest post if they like. I do ask questions when I make appearances so I can share anything new I learn. I like the idea that a book group can evolve and change with its' members. I really love book clubs!

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

I have only done one giveaway and that was on Goodreads. I gave away 5 books and had nearly 500 people enter to win. Although I felt that the giveaway did put my book in front of people and about 250 of those same folks added my book to their "to-read" list, it's difficult to say whether it will translate into sustainable sales. I don't think there's really any downside with this type of marketing campaign, however, since it's not really expensive and potential readers might find your book.

Goodreads does limit this type of campaign to books that have either not yet been released or those that were released in the last 6 months. Although KDP Select is the popular choice for running a book for free, I haven't really explored this option in depth. For the time being, I am still selling books on Barnes & Noble and other sites because many of my book club readers use Nooks and Ipads as well as Kindles.

Have you ever done a book tour? Along with that, when do you start the marketing process for a new book? Give a brief outline of the steps you go through to get your book to market.

I have not done a book tour but would like to with the next book. I wish I could say I was on top of my marketing process from the beginning but I think I might be "marketing-challenged"!

What I did do was this: September 2012: A Guilty Mind was published. I announced this on my website, facebook page, and LinkedIn in late September. I also announced it on my personal facebook page.

October 2012: Distributed the official press release announcing the publication of A Guilty Mind. I contacted some area publications and newspapers to announce the release of A Guilty Mind. I also made the first of several book club appearances which would continue through November.

November 2012: The official Book Launch party for A Guilty Mind. More book club appearances.
December 2012: The Goodreads Giveaway.
January 2012: My book was spotlighted in two local publications and on the All Mystery E-Newsletter. Ran two blog ads.
February 2012: More book club appearances.
March 2012: Book to be spotlighted in the College of William and Mary Alumni Magazine and Southern Writers Magazine.
April 2012: Will be featured on Kindle Nation Daily.

Throughout this process, I have also appeared on other blogs and hosted other writers, continuing to expand my "writing" circle. If I had to answer what I would have done differently, it would probably be that I would have sought reviews from authors and reviewers to be used on my Amazon page.

You publish books, short stories and do freelance writing. Does changing hats create any problems? Any tricks you can share with us? Which do you enjoy writing the most? Does moving from one to the other give you some breathing room or a change of pace?

I find freelance writing to be more different than writing novels. With my freelance writing, the subject is defined and the deadline is usually short. The times when I am intrigued by the subject matter - that's when I find it the most satisfying.

I like writing short stories but that has taken a back seat in the last year. What I love about them is the way they force the writer to economize their words and get the most impact of the least. That's a challenge!

Writing novels is by far my favorite but lately, the hardest. I am struggling to find a balance. I find I am spending most of my time on marketing A Guilty Mind and my freelance assignments and not enough time on Stay of Execution.

Moving between the types of writing does give me a change of pace but at this stage in my second novel, I think it's more important that I stay focused. I may cut back on my freelance work just a bit to free up some time.

You have a very informative blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers. What is your primary goal? Do you see an impact on your books sales? How rewarding is it too help other authors?

My primary goal with my blog is to take what I've learned and share it with others. The truth is, most of what I've learned about the publishing process has come from other writers' experiences as much as from the agents and editors I've met. I look at my blog less as a promotional tool and more as conversation.

Author's Book List
Stay of Execution


Detective Michael Cancini returns to the scene of an old case in the psychological suspense, Stay of Execution.

Little Springs, Virginia was just the kind of small college town that families appreciate, a place where everyone knows everyone else and violent crime is virtually nonexistent – until a series of rapes and murders at the college. Only the arrest and conviction of Leo Spradlin, the "Co-Ed Killer", will satisfy the residents. But when Spradlin is suddenly cleared after two decades based on new and unshakable DNA evidence, a new hysteria grips the town. As questions surround who was really the "Co-Ed Killer", a new rash of rapes and murders draws Detective Mike Cancini back to both cases, the old and the new.
A Guilty Mind
The first in a series of psychological suspense novels featuring Detective Michael Cancini. "I believe a man's worth cannot be defined solely by his goodness but also by his desire to battle that in him which is not good." George Vandenberg is in the midst of that battle, a broken man with a volatile temper and haunted by the memory of the young woman he once loved and "accidentally" killed.

Wrestling with the guilt and pushed by his psychiatrist to confess the circumstances of her death, he teeters on the edge of a nervous breakdown. The past collides with the present when the doctor turns up dead, brutally stabbed to death in his office. Stunned and confused, George emerges as the primary suspect even as he becomes a target himself. To prove his innocence, George must face the police, his manipulative wife, and the past he's been unable to forget. When the truth is finally divulged, no one, including George, is prepared for the collateral damage or the shocking identity of the killer.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - Reader Store - KOBO
Short Stories
While writing short stories (short as in brief – not 30 pages short) is not Kellie’s primary focus, she has written them for classes, contests, and well, just because it can help improve one’s writing skills. Luckily, a few (including each of those listed below) have been well-received and awarded Honorable Mentions. The shortest story, SOLITUDE, received Honorable Mention in the 21st annual Ray Bradbury Contest.

If time allows (that pesky time problem again), she may write a few more and publish a small “short story collection”. Until then, interested readers can click below to read one of the following selections. And yes, all comments (and criticisms) are welcome. They are all available on her site.

Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the HBS Author's Spotlight plus the blog: eBook Author’s Corner.
Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

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