Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Cathy Perkins. She is the Award-winning mystery writer. Cathy writes Mystery & Thrillers, Romance, Suspense novels and novellas.
Mystery & Thrillers, Romance, Suspense
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An award-winning author, Cathy Perkins works in the financial industry, where she's observed the hide-in-plain-sight skills employed by her villains. She writes predominantly financial-based mysteries but enjoys exploring the relationship aspect of her characters' lives. A member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America (Kiss of Death chapter) and International Thriller Writers, she is a contributing editor for The Big Thrill, handles the blog and social media for the ITW Debut Authors, and coordinated the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.
When not writing, she can be found doing battle with the beavers over the pond height or setting off on another travel adventure. Born and raised in South Carolina, the setting for CYPHER, HONOR CODE and THE PROFESSOR, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
First things first. Let’s start with what’s next. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
Up next is a novella in the SO ABOUT… SERIES titled DOUBLE DOWN. I haven’t said much about this story, a little nervous about getting it right. After receiving a number of emails wanting to see Detective JC Dimitrak’s (from So About the Money) side of events, I decided to give both JC and (ex-policeman) Frank Phalen point-of-view roles in this mystery. A local gambler is murdered and the victim’s family is perhaps a little too eager to place the blame on his casino dealer, a single parent he befriended. DOUBLE DOWN releases in October 2017.
I’m currently working on the next book in the SO ABOUT… series, informally known as the Rockcrawler book. Stay tuned!
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 do signings occasionally and present on panels at conferences, but don’t have any more scheduled this year. 2017 has been crazy on a personal front – all good, but chaotic, which isn’t great for a writing schedule! The best place to keep up with me is via my website
(http://cperkinswrites.com) or Facebook (http://cperkinswrites.com) or Facebook
You have great covers. 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?
Thank you! I have used a few different designers and I’m happy with the results. I worked with my cover artist (Gwen Campbell Cook) on the Holly Price/So About series and love the font she developed. We wanted the font and the color scheme to link the books visually, while the more modern images reflect the smart, amateur sleuth heroine.
For DOUBLE DOWN, I pulled my readers into the cover selection process. Naturally results were split about 50/50 on which cover to use! In addition to the cover you included with this spotlight, Gwen and I developed a second cover with a sultry woman kicked back on a gaming table’s green felt. While many readers loved that eye-catching cover, I decided not to use it. It promised the reader a different book and experience. DOUBLE DOWN is a mystery with a little romance rather than a romantic suspense.
You have converted The Professor into an audio book. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience for you?
Carina pitched The Professor to Audible and I was delighted when they selected it for their catalogue. I can't say for certain what effect it's had on regular sales, but sales in audiobooks have been excellent and introduce me to a new audience.
I’m in the process of having Honor Code made into an audio book and have plans for several of my other novels. I love making the stories accessible to all.
You have written several novellas. 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? Do you feel short reads are a product of our email and smart phone age?
I like big stories with complex plots. My critique partner and I laugh at ourselves, admitting we like tertiary plots instead of stopping with the main A/ secondary B plots. Having said that, Honor Code simply showed up in my head and demanded to be put on paper. Malbec Mayhem and Double Down were written to give secondary characters a story which didn’t fit into the main So About… series. I’ve found I enjoy these shorter novellas, working to create a complete and satisfying story, while providing the opportunity to introduce readers to my “world.”
Short reads can fill a gap that’s a reflection of our busy lifestyles. Readers, friends and family tell me they read on either their phone or digital reader during their daily commute – public transit, not while they’re driving! Of course, there are audio books for those solitary travelers.
I like the idea of Author bundles. You are a part of a couple bundles showcased on our blog. What was the impact on your other sales? What was the main objective of bundling your works with other authors? How did you put something like that together?
What a great group of authors.
Luck of the Draw
Author bundles help cross promotion between authors of similar types of books. I’ve definitely seen increases in sales of other titles when a reader likes my included story. One set, which is no longer available, stayed in the top ten of its category for nearly a year. We were all very happy with that result!
Overall, bundling serves several purposes. Avid fans get the chance to buy multiple books at a cheaper price than the individual books sell for and some readers actively prefer the box set format, finding it a wonderful way to discover new-to-them authors.
The authors in all my sets have been great, working together to bring the bundles to readers. Most of the authors in the box sets are people I’ve met over the years whose work and work ethic I admire.
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?
Other than the ill-fated newsletter building promotion (see below), my giveaway books are mostly prizes in a contest on my website or on a guest blog. Giveaways are fun and can introduce new readers to my work. If someone likes the free book, they often decide to read my other titles.
Occasionally I’ve been asked to include a book in a joint promotion. For example, Cypher was selected for inclusion in a vendor giveaway for Bouchercon, the terrific mystery conference. Putting my books on sale and offering them for free makes reading my stories a low- or no-risk offer, and I’ve gained tons of new readers by doing so.
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 primarily use social media to stay in contact with readers. Facebook and Twitter make it much easier to connect with people and I love that. I definitely see the value in connecting directly with readers. I’m happy people sign up for my mailing list so they’ll never miss a sale or a new release. There are links on both my Facebook page and my website to sign up. You can sign up here -
Having said that, I'm very late to the reader list party. I got in a complete mess trying to build one: I joined a group giveaway/list building promotion. A large number of people happily downloaded my free book and I hope they enjoy it when they read it. Unfortunately, when I sent out my very first newsletter to the resulting reader list, a handful of those people reported me as a spammer. Ouch. My newsletter vendor promptly deleted both that list and the list of people who’d signed up via my website. Double ouch! My list is rebuilding now, thanks to my author colleagues’ encouragement. I’ll be sending out a newsletter soon. Maybe.
You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers with an occasional tip on wine and cooking. 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?
Updating my website – and keeping it updated – is one of my goals now that life is calming down. I’ve found people who visit my website want to know more about me or my books, so I’m adding bonus features such as deleted scenes, scenes written from a different character’s point of view, and bits of the research behind the stories. A new feature I’m adding is a section I call Finance 101. So many friends and children of friends who are really smart people don’t have the background I’ve developed through many years working in the financial industry.
One of my many personal interests is the fantastic Washington wine made by the hundreds of wineries in this state. The winery I invented for Malbec Mayhem is a composite of those wineries and of course, Bookwalter was featured in So About the Money. I’m sure others will appear in future stories! Because Washington wine isn’t as well-known as say, California, I enjoy featuring a wine or winery on Wednesdays on social media (#wine, #wawine, #winewednesday). I’ve met a number of interesting people through these posts.
As for the time factor…it’s all about balance. Juggling a demanding day job, family, and other interests in addition to writing pretty much defines my life. It's no secret though, if you want to be competitive in today's writing market, you have to be prepared to spend time promoting your name, your brand and your books. It's a fine line to walk because you don't want to become a nuisance to your friends, family and readers.
Author's Book List
- A "So About..." Novella - A Holly Price mystery
Successful restaurateur Alex Montoya’s charmed life has hit a snag. His trusted business partner turned out to be not exactly trustworthy, and Alex could be facing jail time over some of his partner’s shady financial deals. As if that weren’t bad enough, creditors are calling in loans he didn’t know he had and he’s desperate to prove his innocence before all his businesses are repossessed.
After a career-building stint in Napa Valley, Sofia Pincelli has returned home to eastern Washington to take over the family winery from her ailing father. Running the family business, however, means dealing with her father’s continued micro-management—and his disapproval of Alex. Her father’s condemnation of Alex’s rumored involvement in his business partner’s schemes runs so deep, it threatens Alex and Sofia’s blossoming romance…along with the Pincelli family’s signature red wine. Sofia needs Alex’s crop of Malbec grapes to show her father she has what it takes to make award-winning wine—and save the reputation and finances of the Pincelli winery.
When the Malbec grapes go missing, Alex and Sofia must join forces to find the fruit before it spoils—or risk destroying both of their businesses and their hearts.
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So About the Money
- A Holly Price Mystery
When Holly Price trips over a friend’s dead body while hiking, her life takes a nosedive into a world of intrigue and danger. The verdict is murder—and Holly is the prime suspect. Of course, the fact that the infinitely sexy—and very pissed off—cop threatening to arrest her is JC Dimitrak, Holly’s jilted ex-fiancé, doesn’t help matters.
To protect her future, her business...and her heart...the intrepid forensic accountant must use all her considerable investigative skills to follow the money through an intricate web of shadow companies, while staying one step ahead of her ex-fiancé. She better solve the case before the real killer decides CPA stands for Certified Pain in the Ass...and the next dead body found beside the river is Holly’s.
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Barnes and Noble
Cara Wainwright thinks life can’t get tougher when her mother's cancer becomes terminal—until she returns home from the hospital and finds a courtyard full of police officers and her houseguests dead.
Greenville, SC Detective David Morris, is unsure if Cara is the suspect or the intended murder victim. As he searches for insight into her family, their mounting secrets, and the conflicting evidence from multiple crimes, his attraction to Cara complicates his investigation. Is the lure need, manipulation—or real?
While David pursues forensic evidence, Cara pushes for answers about her father's possible involvement, for at the center of the mystery stands Cypher—the company her father built and will take any measures to defend.
When the assassin strikes again, Cara and David must trust each other and work together to stop the killer before he eliminates the entire Wainwright family.
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- A Mystery Novella
In a small southern town where everyone normally knows each other’s business, veteran detective Larry Robbins must solve the disappearance of eighty-year-old widower, African-American George Beason.
When evidence arises that Beason may have left town on his own, it would be easy for Robbins to close the case, but his gut instinct tells him more’s at stake. As he uncovers clues about Beason’s deceased wife and his estranged daughter, Robbins must untangle conflicting motives and hidden agendas to bring Beason home alive.
With HONOR CODE, Cathy Perkins delivers a mystery NOVELLA linked to her award-winning mystery novel, THE PROFESSOR.
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The Professor presses his palm against her flank, feeling the liquid warmth of her blood, hotter than her skin. Hot, like the life force that he has claimed... The power over life and death is the ultimate thrill.
Someone is murdering women on South Carolina's college campuses: three women, three different schools. The Governor's order to State Law Enforcement Agent Mick O'Shaughnessy is simple: make it stop. More political maneuvering diverts Mick to nearby Douglass College. There, instead of another dead body, he finds Meg Connelly, grad student and faculty advisor for the latest victim.
Determined to finish her master's degree, Meg doesn't need anybody's help - including her estranged family - to succeed. There's something irresistible about Mick, but the last time she let someone get close to her, she lost everything except her self-respect.
As the investigation heats up, so does their relationship. But Mick's interest in Meg doesn't just endanger her heart--it puts her in the sights of the killer.
Once he gets her alone, he can take all the time he needs…
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