Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Mystery Author Rosemary McCracken. She is the author of the Pat Tierney Mystery series.
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Rosemary McCracken writes the Pat Tierney mysteries. Safe Harbor, the first mystery in the series, was a finalist for Britain's Debut Dagger. It was published by Imajin Books in 2012, followed by Black Water in 2013 and Raven Lake earlier this year. “The Sweetheart Scamster,” a Pat Tierney story in the anthology, Thirteen, was a Derringer finalist in 2014. Jack Batten, The Toronto Star’s crime fiction reviewer, calls Pat “a hugely attractive sleuth figure.”
Rosemary lives in Toronto, Canada, and teaches novel writing at George Brown College.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
Congratulations on your book: Raven Lake. What do you have on the drawing board next? Will it be another Pat Tierney Mystery novel? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
I’m currently working on my fourth Pat Tierney mystery, which I hope to see released in the spring of 2018. It takes me about 18 months to write an novel and get it ready for submission.
When the story opens, Pat has left Norris Cassidy, the large investment firm, and wants to set up her own business. Norris Cassidy insists that it “owns” clients for a year after a financial advisor leaves the company. Pat figures it will take too long to build her new business from scratch, so she’s looking to buy a book of business from an advisor who wants to retire. She thinks she’s found the perfect business, then realizes that anything that’s too good to be true probably is.
I’m also working on a short story for the Mesdames of Mayhem’s third crime fiction collection to be titled 13 Claws. The Mesdames are a collective of 16 Canadian crime fiction writers, and submissions for this anthology must center around an animal, hence the word “claws” in the title. The piece I’m working on won’t feature Pat Tierney. All I can say about it at this point is that the spotlight will be on a cat named Romeo.
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?
Social media is a major part of my marketing strategy. I do a fair amount of speaking and holding workshops within easy travelling distance. I gave a 5-hour workshop yesterday on Structuring Your Novel in a community that’s a 3-hour drive from where I live. But reaching readers beyond where I can get to in my car is mainly possible through social media. Imajin Books, my publisher, arranges e-book promos of its authors’ books several times a year, and we all do a great push to promote our books during these periods. I rely primarily on my Tweet Teams to help me out, and I’ve developed some wonderful relationships with fellow authors in other parts of the world. People I’ve never met in person and may never do so, but some of us have gone beyond the Tweet Teams to help one another out, such as proofreading manuscripts.
One helpful author in Texas designed the banner for my Facebook Author’s page. I’m firmly convinced that e-book sales—and that’s where the money is for authors today—are only as good as an author’s social media network.
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?
I make personal appearances whenever the opportunity arises. The Mesdames of Mayhem, the writers’ collective I mentioned, is instrumental in arranging appearances in libraries. Another case of authors helping authors. The Mesdames banded together for exactly this purpose, and the group has a website to promote members’ books and appearances:
Five of us will speak at Mount Pleasant Library (599 Mount Pleasant Road) in Toronto this coming Tuesday Oct. 18 at 7 p.m.
We’ll also be at Toronto’s Leaside Library (165 McRae Drive) at 2 p.m. Saturday Nov. 5 and at Toronto’s Annette Street Library (145 Annette Street) at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 15.
And since I’ve been teaching novel writing at George Brown College, I’ve been asked to hold writing workshops. I did one yesterday, and I’ll hold another at Toronto’s Kennedy/Eglinton Library (Liberty Square Plaza 2380) at 2 p.m. Nov. 17.
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?
Imajin Books provides book covers for its authors. Ryan Doan, its art director, created the covers for the two most recent novels, Black Water and Raven Lake, and I think they’re awesome. Imajin involves its authors in cover creation process by asking what they envision on their book’s cover. This makes great sense because it ensures that the author is proud to display his or her book; I’ve heard authors published by other companies complain that they were given no input into their covers and weren’t happy with it.
For Raven Lake, I suggested an image of a woman in a kayak. The first draft showed a figure that was clearly a man who was seated in an outboard. I pointed this out and it was promptly corrected. I love the shadow of the raven on the water in front of the kayak.
For the first Pat Tierney mystery Safe Harbor, I was offered two cover images: the existing one and another that included a cameo of a woman’s pensive face, supposedly the face of Pat Tierney. I held a GoDaddy poll on my blog, and viewers responded overwhelmingly against the cameo. Which was exactly my feeling, but it was fun to hold the poll and it was a way of generating interest in the upcoming release.
The book titles are intended to build a brand. Once I came up with the title Safe Harbor, I focused on finding “watery” titles for the subsequent novels.
You have written several short stories. 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?
The Mesdames of Mayhem’s short story collections are intended to be calling cards for the authors, giving readers a sample of their writing and information about where they can find their other work. I’m not sure how much impact they’ve actually had on sale of my novels, but I figure everything is grist to the mill. I like to write stories about Pat Tierney in order to build her brand, and with the intention of releasing a Pat Tierney collection of shorts one day. But sometimes a story idea pops into my mind that doesn’t include Pat. I never refuse a gift from the muse; that would be bad karma.
I find writing short stories more of a challenge than novels. They have to really sparkle, and that can be difficult to pull off. But there have been opportunities to write stories in recent years – the Mesdames’ collections, Sisters in Crime Toronto’s anthologies and those of Darkhouse Books. You see the importance of my writers’ networks? In all these cases, the Mesdames, Sisters in Crime and Darkhouse Books put out calls for submissions—I can’t take any credit for the idea of a collection. But I rarely turn my back on an opportunity of this kind.
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?
Imajin Books, the publisher of my three novels but not the collections that my short stories have appeared in, organizes promos for it authors’ books several times a year. Selected books are listed at 99 cents or for Free on Amazon for a five-day period. We do our best to promote the books for the five days – and continue to do so for about five days afterwards when they return to their regular prices. Sometimes we make a make a fair bit of money on the promo; others are not as successful, and we really don’t know why.
I’m grateful that Imajin organizes this for us, because I’m not sure if I’d get around to doing it myself.
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?
No, I’ve never created a reader list. This is something I really should look into, though. Thank you for reminding me!
You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?
Moving Target—so named because a writer’s target is constantly moving from finishing the novel, to getting it published, to marketing it—is a tracking my big book adventure. My diary that I can refer to later.
I seldom put anything in it that’s not related to my books or writing in general. I occasionally interview other authors, who in turn may support me when I do a blog hop –a virtual book tour – when a novel is released. I’ve been told by pre-published authors that my blog has given them an idea of what they can expect down the road. I certainly hope it’d helped them.
I’ve always wanted to be a novelist, and now that I am it’s my pleasure—as well as my duty— to do my best writing and do my best to promote it. I’m fortunate to have husband who supports me in this, and who’s willing to do a lot of the things I neglect around the house.
Of course, I feel I should be doing more on all the fronts you mentioned, but I can only do as much as I can do.
I enjoy a good book festival. You just attended a festival at Toronto’s Harborfront Centre. A Book festival is a unique selling situation. How did you prepare for the festival? Did it meet your goals? If you had to do something different next year, what would that be?
I enjoy a good book festival. You just attended Word on the Street at Toronto’s Harborfront Centre. A Book festival is a unique selling situation. How did you prepare for the festival? Did it meet your goals? If you had to do something different next year, what would that be?
Word on the Street is a magical event, a gathering of writers, readers and books on the shore of Lake Ontario when the weather is generally still warm in Toronto before we go into our deep freeze until April. It’s a chance to reach readers in person who come to the city for the festival, people I wouldn’t meet at library events, for example.
In past years, I was only able to sell and sign books for two one-hour time slots at Sisters in Crime Toronto’s booth and Crime Writers of Canada’s booth. But this year, thanks to the Mesdames of Mayhem who had very their own booth, I was signing and selling from noon until 6 p.m. My right hand was stiff the next day!
Author's Book List
- A Pat Tierney Mystery Book 3
Murder, jealousy, fraud, deceit—welcome to cottage country!
Financial planner Pat Tierney’s dream vacation in cottage country turns into a nightmare when the body of an elderly woman is discovered in a storage locker. Pat’s friend, Bruce Stohl, is the murdered woman’s son, and when he is pegged by police as their prime suspect, Pat rallies to find his mother’s killer.
Meanwhile, a con artist has targeted cottages in the area, and vacationers are arriving, only to learn they are victims of a rental scam. When disgruntled renters show up at her door, Pat fears for her family’s safety.
Now she must navigate treacherous waters to protect those who are dear to her.
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- A Pat Tierney Mystery Book 2
How strong is a mother's love?
When Pat Tierney's daughter, Tracy, asks her to help find Tracy's partner, Jamie Collins, their mother-daughter relationship is stretched to the limits. Pat heads out to cottage country where an elderly man, who killed Jamie’s sister in an impaired driving accident ten years ago, has perished in a suspicious fire. Unfortunately, Jamie is the prime suspect.
Pat takes charge at the new branch her investment firm has opened in the seemingly idyllic community where Jamie grew up, and her search for Tracy's missing sweetheart takes her through a maze of fraud, drugs, bikers and murder.
Once again, Pat proves that family can always count on her.
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- A Pat Tierney Mystery Book 1
What would you do to protect your family?
Financial advisor Pat Tierney’s world is shattered when a visitor to her office tells her that Pat's late husband is the father of a seven-year-old boy. Stunned by the revelation of her husband's affair, Pat is even more shocked when the woman bolts from the office, leaving young Tommy behind.
When Tommy's mother is murdered, police tell Pat that the boy may be the killer's next target. In a desperate race to protect Tommy, Pat searches for the truth and uncovers a deadly scheme involving illegal immigrants, trafficking in human body parts and money laundering.
And Pat discovers that she'll do just about anything to keep her family safe.
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