Thursday, December 4, 2014

Wendy Cartmell - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Wendy Cartmell. She is the bestselling author of the Sgt Major Crane Military Crime Thrillers.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Horror,Childrens

Website: Wendy Cartmell Author of the CRANE Novels
Author's Blog: Wendy Cartmell
Twitter: @WendyCartmell
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
An avid crime reader, Wendy Cartmell had no hesitation when it came to choosing a genre for her novels. Her love of crime writing and her husband's 22 years service in the British Army, were the springboards for her Sgt Major Crane crime thrillers.

Wendy and her husband live on the sunny Costa del Sol with two Labradors and she attends a lively writing group who unashamedly gather at beautiful beach-side locations. In previous lives she gained a BA (Hons) in English and Education, was a teacher, worked in PR and marketing and was the editor of an in-house newspaper for a large corporate company.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: Past Judgment. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I’m currently writing the second book in the Judgment series, it’s about suicides in Reading HMYOI. Are suicides just a fact of life in prisons, or is there something or someone more sinister behind them? I’m about half way through so it should be out early in the New Year.

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?

I think social media is very important when you are just starting out as an author. You need to get your name known and build your author brand. I worked hard on this for the first two years following new people and offering them a free book of short stories as a thank you for following. I also have a Facebook group. I think social media is good for awareness, but is not necessarily a good way of selling books.

Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?

I was a bit behind on this one! I am now trying to increase my reader list. I have links in the back of my books encouraging people to go to my website and sign up for news releases and to receive a free short story if they do. I also post this on twitter. All with varying degrees of success.

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

Living in Spain I am active in the ex-pat community. I am a member of a writing group and we give talks to local organisations on writing and publishing and sell paperback books at those events. We are currently looking at our calendar for 2015 but have nothing set as yet.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. 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?

The Sgt Major Crane covers are prepared by my publisher Endeavour Press. I was very pleased with them, luckily, as I didn’t get much of a choice! For my self-published Judgment books my husband is developing a prison bars theme. We wanted something that would say ‘prison, mystery, thriller’ all in one cover. It’s not easy!

You have written a short story called Who's Afraid Now. Can you tell us if they had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are shorty’s one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work?

To be honest I don’t often write short stories, although that’s what I started writing when I was learning my craft. Who’s Afraid Now was written as a give-away for people joining my mailing list, although it is also for sale on Amazon. It was just a natural way of explaining how Sgt Billy Williams came to be on the train that was hijacked. A number of well-known authors are now doing this and I thought it would be fun to try. So really my short stories are a way of giving readers a sample of my work. I sell a modest number of Who’s Afraid Now which feeds through to sales of Hijack. However, often short story readers are just that. They prefer that format to full length novels.

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 always run free promotions since my first novel Steps to Heaven nearly 3 years ago. My publisher also believes in free promotions. I often find a bump in sales of the other books in the series, which is the main reason for doing free promotions. It is another way of getting your book into the hands of readers who don’t know you exist.

I understand about the change in algorithms by Amazon, so your book doesn’t feature high in the paid charts after a free promotion anymore, but I still believe it is a valid marketing tool. I haven’t yet tried giveaways and will look at this in 2015.

Living in Spain creates a unique selling and marketing situation. Where is your biggest audience? Does marketing online help in this situation?

Living in Spain is actually a disadvantage in terms of book promotion. I don’t return to England very often, so am not able to do face to face promotion work. My biggest market is Amazon UK so I have to rely on online help. At the moment sales are driven by visibility on Amazon. My one regret is not being able to visit many of the crime writing book festivals run in England, I feel this type of exposure would really help get my name out there. I am also a member of the Crime Writers Association and again would love to be able to attend their meetings.

Being a self-publisher myself, I have to ask this question. How does doing everything yourself work out? Do you outsource much of the process?

I’m a bit of a hybrid at the moment. I started out self-publishing, doing everything myself with my husband doing my book covers. A year ago I was approached by Endeavour Press who now publish the Sgt Major Crane novels. To be honest I found it very difficult to let go of the controls from a marketing perspective. So with my new series, I should have the best of both worlds. My husband does the book covers, a fellow author edits/proof reads and I have beta readers who give feedback. Formatting for kindle takes no time at all.

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

I approach various bloggers/review sites, who may or may not do a review. I have a loyal reader base, who read everything I write and always write a review. Otherwise I rely on my reading audience to supply them. I have just started putting a note at the end of my books asking for a quick review if a reader enjoyed it. However, I don’t overtly solicit reviews and have never ever paid for one. I would rather have a handful of genuine reviews than hundreds of paid ones.

Author's Book List
Past Judgment - The Judgment Crime Thriller and Mystery Series Book 1
The first book in a new series from bestselling military, crime, thriller and mystery author, Wendy Cartmell, set in a juvenile prison facility.

The past has a way of catching up with you....

At least it does for Emma Harrison, newly appointed assistant governor for inmate welfare at Reading Young Offender's Institute and for Leroy Carter, a prisoner who has been convicted of murder.

When the prison van taking Leroy to Dartmoor crashes and he escapes, he's hell-bent on proving his innocence. Leroy and the original detectives on his case, have to face the past head on. But so does Emma, when a fellow passenger from the train hijack she was a hostage on, three years earlier, walks back into her life.

Can Leroy prove his innocence? And has Emma exorcised the ghosts from her past?

Order the Book From: Amazon
Hijack - A Sgt Major Crane novel
Hijack - a taut psychological suspense thriller, from the crime thriller and mystery bestselling author Wendy Cartmell.

Is today the day they will die?

Six hijackers, eight hostages. Will all the hostages make it out alive? The odds aren't good.

A hijacked train marooned 100' above the Yorkshire Dales isn't SIB Detective Sgt Billy Williams' idea of a good time. But he's got Sgt Major Crane and Corporal Dudley-Jones toiling away in the background, working with military leaders and the intelligence services, to bringing the hijacking to a safe conclusion. Can British police detective Mike Keane negotiate with the terrorists to get the hostages out alive? Can anyone reason with a psychotic killer?

With the prayers of a nation split between the safe release of the hostages and agreeing to meet the hijacker's demands - who will shed more tears?

The hostages' families? Or the families of the hijackers?

Order the Book From: Amazon
40 Days 40 Nights - A Sgt Major Crane Novel
Summer 2012.

Aldershot Garrison has been overrun by Team GB as they make their final preparations for the Olympic Games.

Tasked with babysitting the athletes for the duration of their stay, Sergeant Major Crane has braced himself for an uneventful few weeks.

But when the body of a soldier is discovered and supplies start disappearing from the garrison, Crane knows that something sinister is afoot.

As a faceless evil infiltrates the Army barracks, Crane sets out to investigate.

But what is the connection between these seemingly unrelated events?

Can Crane find the source of the looming threat?

And can he do it before his 40 days and 40 nights are up?

Order the Book From: Amazon
Honour Bound - A Sgt Major Crane Novel
Honour Bound is an edge-of-the-seat crime thriller that is perfect for fans of Lee Child and Peter James. It is the third in Wendy Cartmell's bestselling crime, thriller and mystery Sgt Major Crane series.

Sergeant Major Crane is rarely called in to investigate cases of rape.

But now he and his SIB team must investigate two cases simultaneously.

A young soldier claims he has been repeatedly attacked by a commanding officer, but is struggling to make a formal complaint.

And a young woman is found raped and murdered in her home following a night out in Aldershot.

The only clues are witness statements claiming the attacker is a squaddie. When there is another attack chillingly close to home, Crane no longer knows who is innocent and who is guilty.

But is the killer really a soldier?

How does he manage to operate in plain sight?

And can Crane catch him before he strikes again?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Cordon of Lies - A Sgt Major Crane Novel
When Melanie Green, an army officer's wife, is brutally murdered in the street, it is down to Sergeant Major Crane of the Royal Military Police to track down the killer.

As the investigation gets underway, similarities to another murder of a young military wife from ten years ago are brought to light.

Unanswered questions linger around the previous case.

Why were witnesses' statements retracted?

Why was the case never solved?

And why is Crane's Commanding Officer so against him reopening the investigation now?

When Crane decides to go at it alone, risking both his job and family's safety, he quickly discovers the lengthy measures the army are willing to go to as a means of protecting their officers' reputations.

But can Crane expose the army's corrupted Cordon of Lies in order to catch the murderer, Or will the threat of personal loss be too much for him to bear.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Regenerate - A Sgt Major Crane Novel
When Padre Symmonds and his wife Kim find a dead baby on the steps of the Royal Garrison Church, they call Sergeant Major Crane in to investigate. Despite pleas from the local community and the media for the parents to come forward and seek help, Crane can't trace the baby's mother.

He suspects Kerry, a recently widowed army wife, who is finding it hard to deal with her husband's recent death...

But after searching her flat and checking her baby was safe and breathing, he is left with an uncanny feeling that he's missed something.

Simultaneously, Crane is expected to deal with a high profile drugs case. Someone inside the Army is importing heroin using army equipment as a cover-up.

But just as he gets a lead on the case, the unthinkable happens and another baby goes missing in Aldershot...

This may be his only chance to catch the drug lord Anic, but he can't stop thinking about Kerry and her baby...

What has he missed?

And can he solve the mystery before it's too late?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Who's Afraid Now - A Royal Military Police short story
Don't get mad - get even!

One thing SIB Detective Sgt Billy Williams has learned from his time in the British Army is respect. So he gets really mad when he sees a handful of kids treating his mum and dad and their neighbours without any. When he sees an opportunity of giving them a taste of their own medicine, well, he just can't resist the challenge.

Can Billy help with his own brand of vigilante justice? Or do his family just have to make the best of things?

Order the Book From: Amazon
No Mercy - A Sgt Major Crane crime thriller
No Mercy:
"In my experience, those who beg for mercy seldom deserve it. But it's not my place to judge. That's up to a court martial or civilian jury," Sgt Major Crane says to Billy.

But how do other people react when someone begs for mercy? No Mercy is a short story leading Crane through several twists and turns, until he uncovers the truth.

There are four mystery stories in this collection, all with a twist in the tail. This new edition has been updated to include excerpts from the Sgt Major Crane novels....

** Steps to Heaven ***
an internationally acclaimed British crime thriller you won't be able to put down. Why are soldiers killing their families and then committing suicide? Crane is desperate to find the reasons before any more innocent children die.

** 40 Days 40 Nights***
a gripping and memorable British crime thriller set in the run up to London 2012. Enter the mind of a terrorist, causing chaos on Aldershot Garrison. He wears a mask of respectability that hides his hatred of the British Army and all things western.

Sgt Major Crane helps Aldershot Police investigate the rape and murder of a young girl by a soldier whilst working his own case of the repeated rape and bullying of a soldier on Aldershot Garrison. Can they stop the killer before more girls are attacked?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
HBS Author's Spotlight
eBook Author’s Corner
Top Shelf Author Advice
Mystery Reader’s Circle

Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

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