Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Mystery Author Gail Baugniet. She is the award-winning author of the Pepper Bibeau Mystery Series.
Mystery & Thrillers, Literature & Fiction
Gail Baugniet - Author
gbaugniet (at) aol (dot) com
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Over the years, reading and writing were an integral part of my eclectic employment history as an Insurance Underwriter, Statistical Coder, and Claims Adjuster; as a Professional Realtor; as a Police Reservist and Part Time Peace Officer; and finally, as a Security Dispatcher. During this time, I also composed short stories and haiku poetry for private enjoyment.
Now that there is time to write novels, my lifetime experiences offer plenty of background material for a planned mystery series. My first novel, FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences, is set in Chicago's Loop and introduces Hawaiian-born Pepper Bibeau as an Insurance Investigator whose assignments sometimes lead her into a mystery maze of murder! In the second novel, DEADLY AS NATURE, Pepper sticks closer to home in eastern Wisconsin.
Honolulu has been my home since 1992. I am a member and current president of Sisters in Crime/Hawaii, the local chapter of Sisters in Crime, Inc., and a member of The Makiki Community Library where our monthly meetings are held. I am also a member of the Ala Moana Toastmasters group.
In 2012, I accepted the National Novel Writers Month, NaNoWriMo, challenge to write 50,000 words in a month. The result of my efforts, WITH FIERY VENGEANCE, is set in Hawaii and was released in Winter, 2013. NESHOTO JUNCTION HOMICIDE followed in January, 2016.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
Congratulations on your book: Neshoto Junction Homicide. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
Thank you, James. I especially enjoyed researching the backstory for Neshoto Junction Homicide because the setting is based on my hometown in Wisconsin. What I never expected to include in a Pepper Bibeau novel was a setting in New England.
My latest project, the fifth novel in my Pepper Bibeau Mystery Series, is entitled Blood Red Homicide. You can probably see a pattern here, and my next novel will also have ‘Homicide’ in the title. This novel is unique because of how the story evolved. A cousin who enjoyed my series wanted to participate in creating one of the stories. He developed some of the characters and wrote the premise for a mystery. Using his notes, I wrote the first 50,000 words of the story during the 2014 National Novel Writers Month (NaNoWriMo). I strongly urge every author to participate in at least one NaNoWriMo month to get a feel for writing a first draft without getting caught up in the editing process until the story is on paper.
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 have been active on Twitter since 2010 and have become friends/acquaintances with people all over the world. I enjoy the interaction of Social Media as a contrast to personal interaction with people in my writing world near home.
How did you build your social media following in your niche?
Everything I post on social media sites reflects my interest in writing and the topics raised within my novels. My blog posts focus on the mystery genre, whether in the form of an author interview, book review, or essay.
On Twitter, I list my interests as part of the bio. This and my related tweets attract people with similar interests. I have gained followers at a steady pace through personal interaction. Building relationships gradually, especially when first starting out, gives you more control over your account. It also offers the opportunity to become acquainted with fellow tweeters. I also have newsletters set up through Paper.li to recognize authors and bloggers throughout the week, with a focus on mystery, aloha, and my home state of Wisconsin where two of my mysteries are set.
Do you see a carry over to your writing success?
Many blogging posts brought to my attention on Twitter have been helpful to me, whether in the research, writing, or editing process of a Work in Progress. From a marketing standpoint, this is how I obtain most of my ebook sales, while print books are sold by personal contact and word-of-mouth.
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?
Much of my marketing is done on the Internet. I have also given talks, participated in panel discussions, and done readings at local libraries, for Toastmasters groups, conferences, and book fairs. Word-of-mouth has been a beneficial avenue of sales for me in my local community and though lifetime contacts around the country. Along with Twitter, I am also active on Facebook, Goodreads, and my personal blog site.
I like the idea of Author bundles with cause behind it. You are a part of a collection called Paradise, Passion, Murder. (Benefits literacy in Hawaii. ) What was the impact on your other sales? What was the main objective of bundling your works with other nine other authors? How did you put something like that together?
Author Terry Ambrose coordinated the project for Paradise, Passion, Murder to benefit Read Aloud America in Hawaii. He chose the theme, mystery stories set in Hawaii. I don’t find time to participate in many such projects but I definitely wanted to be included in this anthology. I compiled an anthology in 2013, Mystery In Paradise, with stories also set in Hawaii, so I know the amount of work that goes into bringing such a project to fruition. The main benefit to me is getting to know so many wonderful authors. A by-product is getting recognition for your other works.
Besides the Sisters in Crime, what other writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?
As President of Sisters in Crime/Hawaii, this group takes up much of my non-writing time. We are a support group of Authors Helping Authors. Our in-meeting guest speaker topics and workshops, along with outside activities such as touring the Honolulu Police Department museum and lab, are entertaining and educational.
I am also a member of a critique group, a reading group, and a speakers group, and another writers’ group. All of these give me incentive to continue writing, and to constantly improve and expand my interests.
At one writers group meeting last year, four guest speakers discussed and read from their collaborative book of Japanese Renshi poetry. Enthralled with the idea, I temporarily detoured from the mystery genre to write a short book of poetry loosely based on this style of poetry. The resulting book, Another New Beginning, 70 Poems for 70 Days was a gift to myself and my gift to 70 family members and friends.
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?
For recognition purposes, I give away print books of my new publications on Goodreads. For Earth Day, I was invited to participate in an ebook giveaway. The marketing idea was to “Save a tree, read an ebook.” We had fun blogging and tweeting the event. Along with attracting new readers, the giveaway generated new sales on other published books.
In collaboration with the Hawaii Book and Music Festival, I arranged a 99-cent sale (almost but not quite free) which included six authors. We all sold copies of our books through cross marketing, and had fun in the process.
You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and helping other writers by doing author interviews. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to write, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?
Thank you, James. For me, the name-of-the-game is having fun. I love blogging but had trouble getting into a pattern until I participated in my first ‘AtoZ Blogging Challenge’ which is an annual affair involving 26 daily posts during the month of April. The idea is to rev up your blogging activity. For me, it works.
I set a goal to read and review 71 books. Those posts fill my Friday slots. With my book of 70 Poems for 70 Days, I post articles on Sundays to address each poem. I also do “Paying It Forward” blog posts to thank people who have inspired or helped me in some way. The point is to develop a theme (or three) and have fun with the writing process. Before long, every daily walk and each photograph lends itself to a blog post.
About available time: Everyone has the same twenty-four hours in each day. The idea is to decide how you want to spend that time, and then prioritize. Vacuuming, cooking, and laundry are not a routine part of my day. I don’t have a television. Anyone who wants to write can carve out time in the morning or evening to concentrate on a writing related project. Turn the research process into a game. Join forces to challenge each other to write a 100-word paragraph, a short story, or a novella. Most of all, have fun!
Author's Book List
Paradise, Passion, Murder
- 10 Tales of Mystery from Hawaii
From the Big Island to Kauai, the far side of Maui to the bustling streets of Honolulu, experience paradise in all its glory...and darkness. This collection of ten stories brings out the beauty of the islands, the passion of the tropics, and, yes, murder. Join ten writers who love the islands and want you to savor the tropics while benefiting literacy in Hawaii. Join Terry Ambrose, JoAnn Bassett, Gail Baugniet, Frankie Bow, Lorna Collins (editor), Kay Hadashi, Laurie Hanan, Jill Marie Landis, AJ Llewellyn, Toby Neal, and CW Schutter for Paradise, Passion, Murder.
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Neshoto Junction Homicide
- A Pepper Bibeau Mystery
Within the first hours of a planned fishing trip, Insurance Investigator Pepper Bibeau's vacation turns deadly.
Pepper's head is spinning over a marriage proposal from Homicide Detective Rick Janus, father of her 14-year-old son. A last-minute assignment to investigate questionable medical claims on two preteen sisters adds to the tension. Before she can relax, someone sends her tumbling into a storm-swollen river, a crude attempt to conceal a body. With a young girl's life at stake, Pepper must uncover an unlikely connection between an abandoned rifle and a litany of environmental complaints.
The rural county sheriff offers little support. Because his opinion of females in the work force is only too obvious, Pepper gathers her own clues in an attempt to solve the mystery behind a series of troubling events. But unearthing a killer may depend on her unbridled curiosity, and her ability to stay alive.
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WITH FIERY VENGEANCE Anger Burns Deep
- Pepper Bibeau Mystery Series Book 3
Insurance Investigator Pepper Bibeau returns to Hawai`i in December, 1972, where a vengeful stalker shadows her from Island to Island. While in Hawi on the Big Island, to visit her fourteen-year-old son and attend a cousin’s wedding, Pepper discovers a body on the blood-soaked back seat of an abandoned classic Woody. A local police detective involves Pepper in a poorly executed strategy that fails to trap a murder suspect, who then flees to the neighboring Island of Oahu.
A pregnant woman from Wisconsin is injured in an accident on Oahu, and her husband threatens to sue if the insurance company doesn’t cover the hospital costs immediately. When the suspect in Hawi escapes to the labyrinth of Honolulu’s Chinatown, Pepper follows with a simple plan: settle the medical insurance claim and flush out the suspect.
Then Pepper’s efforts along with unexplained deaths and ghostly events on the North Shore are eclipsed by the burning anger of a man who has lost all reason. Details of his family’s tragic medical history, flawed by emotional anguish and fatally misguided beliefs of the time, begin to emerge. With the sanity of a killer in question, Pepper fights to save her family and herself while attempting to prevent the inevitable.
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DEADLY AS NATURE Envy Spawns Grief
- Pepper Bibeau Mystery Series Book 2
Alcohol and envy are a deadly mix. The second novel of the Pepper Bibeau Mystery series, set in eastern Wisconsin, unfolds in an atmosphere of alcohol and drugs, a backdrop for unfolding events the year Janis Joplin died.
Treacherous waves on Lake Michigan toss Insurance Investigator Pepper Bibeau into the company of an intriguing and self-reliant blind lady. Haunted by past events, this lady presents Pepper with an unusual request to help clear up a murder. In an attempt to link those past events to an investigation on her cousin's life insurance claim, Pepper uncovers a family history she never even suspected.
Because of her mixed heritage, Pepper dealt with prejudice most of her twenty-eight years and always managed to keep her hackles lowered around bigoted people. Until now. A situation left to simmer too long builds to a confrontation that will not allow her to walk away. In the end, not everyone does walk away.
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FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences
- Pepper Bibeau Mystery Book 1
During the civil unrest of 1968, 26-year old Insurance Investigator Pepper Bibeau's arrival in Chicago sets her on a collision course with death. A questionable medical claim, or a background check on a man who admits to stabbing his wife, leads to the murder of her friend. Pepper connects an apparent suicide to a child's drug overdose and suspects that people who should be helping her are indirectly involved.
Pepper's 12-month deployment in Vietnam with the Army Nurse Corps didn't prepare her for the streets of Chicago. Someone slams her head against a brick wall, sending her to the hospital with a possible concussion. A CPD homicide detective tells her to drop the insurance investigation and leave town. But her friend is dead, and a child is still in a coma. Until Pepper exposes those responsible, she's staying.
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