Friday, January 17, 2014

Amanda Flower - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Agatha-nominated mystery Author Amanda Flower. She is a Cozy Mystery Author and the writer of the Appleseed Creek Mystery and An India Hayes Mystery series.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Children's

Website: Amanda Flower, witty suspense with hope
Author's Blog: Amanda Flower
Twitter: @aflowerwriter
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:
Amanda Flower, an Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she'd found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was a 2010 Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel and the first in a series featuring amateur sleuth India Hayes. Amanda debuted her second mystery series in July 2012; the Appleseed Creek Mystery Series, which is set in Ohio's Amish country. In addition to being a mystery author, Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: A Plain Disappearance. 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 so much! My next release is Murder, Simply Stitched, which I write as Isabella Alan. It comes out in June 2014. Then, I will have a children's mystery release in September 2014 under my real name called Andi Under Pressure.

Here's a teaser for Murder, Simply Stitched:

When Angela Braddock enters her quilts in an Amish auction, she never expects one of her neighbors to end up going, going, gone…. Angie is finding her niche as the new owner of her late aunt’s Amish quilt shop, Running Stitch.

But as the summer is winding down, so is business. To bolster support for the shop, Angie decides to sell her quilts in the Rolling Brook Amish Auction, including some of her aunt’s most prized works. The quilts promise to be a hit—but the gavel comes down on the lively event when Angie stumbles upon the body of township trustee Wanda Hunt behind a canning shed. The cause of death: a poisoned blueberry fry pie from Rachel Miller’s bakery table.

Now Angie’s closest friend is a murder suspect. With Angie taking the lead, she and the other women of her aunt’s quilting circle set out to patch together the clues and stop a killer set on shredding the simple peace of Rolling Brook.

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Did you use forums, newsletters and methods like that?

Social media is very important to my platform. It’s the easiest way for me to communicate with my readers. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, (see links in contact information) and I also have a biannual email newsletter. In these places, I talk about my writing, but I also talk about my job as a librarian, my family, my friends, and my cats. I let readers see at least part of the “real me,” and I think they appreciate that.

You do a lot of book signing, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? 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 one-three appearances a month. I keep my website up-to-date on these, so the best place to see what’s happening is my Events page. Readers can reach me through any of my social media sites, but I also love reader email.

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?

Thank you! I love my covers, but all of them are a credit to the talented artists the publishers hired to create them. Usually, I am able to say what I would like to see on the covers, but most of the time, the covers have been a surprise for me. Thankfully, each one has been a happy surprise.

What writer support groups do you belong to? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I’m very involved in my local Sisters in Crime chapter, Northeast Ohio Sisters in Crime. We support each other and have workshops, panels, signings, and meetings. We have members who have over twenty books published and others who are just starting to write their first novel. It’s a great group, and in general, Sisters in Crime is a great organization. I highly recommend any aspiring mystery author to join.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

Most of the time I play it by ear and snatch time to write when I can. Even if I only have a half hour, I feel a lot better if I can squeeze in a page or two.

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 giveaway books all the time, but I also giveaway swag and gifts. Recently, I gave away an Amish quilt, and that was a big hit.

How do you start your book launch process for a new book? Give a brief outline of the steps you go through to get your book to market. What methods were the most successful?

I’m still a relatively new author, so I have treated each launch a little bit differently. I would say right now I’m experimenting. However, I have seen the books that do the best have had the publisher’s backing and support at least in a small degree when it come to the marketing. Whether or not a publisher chooses to aggressively market a novel is really out of the author’s control. They are careful with their marketing money and make a best guess on which books will be a hit and push those.

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 have several bloggers who are always eager to review my novels, but most of the reviews I gather are from advance reader copies that my publishers distribute. I’m so grateful that they do that.

I have written an industry post: The Kids Are Coming so I am very interested in your genre. Since your target is kids and the young adult market, what is your experience in their preference for ebooks vs. paper books? Do you know if your e-audience is reading your books on computers or ipads or smart phones?

I write for both adults and children. My middle grade books sell better in print format. The mysteries for adults are selling better in the ebook format. This may change in years to come, but it seems to me that children are still drawn to paper books. Adults, who have all the gadgets, love the convenience for ebooks. I think both formats are great for authors.

Author's Book List
A Plain Disappearance - An Appleseed Creek Mystery
USA Today recently hailed award-nominated author Amanda Flower for A Plain Death, calling it “the first Amish rom-com . . . bring on the next one!” As the enthusiastic reviews continue to mount, she’s back with her third Appleseed Creek mystery, A Plain Disappearance.

It’s Christmastime in Amish Country, and Chloe Humphrey has begun settling into her life in Appleseed Creek excited to see where her new relationship with Timothy Troyer will lead. Unfortunately it leads to murder when the couple discovers the body of Amish teenager Katie Lambright while on their first date.

Near the scene there is evidence that Timothy’s friend and auto mechanic Billy Thorpe is involved with the crime. The police reveal Billy is not really who he said he was and has been living the last decade in Knox County under a stolen alias. Now, Chloe and Timothy must find Billy, bring him to justice, or prove his innocence.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Andi Unexpected - An Andi Boggs Novel
Twelve-year-old Andora 'Andi' Boggs and her fourteen-year-old sister Bethany move to rural Ohio to live with their eccentric twenty-something aunt after the sudden death of their parents. While dealing with her grief, Andi discovers proof of another Andora Boggs in the family tree whose existence was hidden in a Depression-era trunk in the attic. With help from her new friend and neighbor, Colin Carter, Andi is determined to find out who this first Andora was and what happened to her.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
A Plain Death - An Appleseed Creek Mystery
Welcome to Appleseed Creek, the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country, where life is not as serene as it seems.

While her Cleveland friends relocated to Southern California and Italy, 24-year-old computer whiz Chloe Humphrey moves with some uncertainty to Appleseed Creek to direct technology services at a nearby college. Her first acquaintance is Becky, an ex-Amish teenager looking for a new home.

While driving Chloe’s car, Becky collides with a buggy, killing an Amish elder. But what looks like an accident is soon labeled murder when police discover the car’s cut brake line.

Now, Chloe must take on the role of amateur sleuth to discover who the real intended victim was before the murderer makes a second attempt. Becky’s handsome Amish-turned-Mennonite brother, Timothy, a local carpenter, comes in handy along the way. With God’s help, they’ll solve the mystery that’s rocking this small community.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Murder in a Basket - An India Hayes Mystery
College librarian India Hayes thought the worst thing about the Stripling Founders’ Festival was her pink gingham pioneer dress until she discovered the body of a free-spirited basket weaver on the festival grounds. The basket weaver leaves behind an angry blacksmith husband, a confused adopted son, greedy siblings, a dysfunctional artists’ co-op, and a labradoodle with a two-million-dollar trust in his name. Despite the wrath of her college’s provost and protests by handsome police detective Rick Mains, India finds herself playing sleuth as well as foster-owner to the two-million-dollar dog. With her own eccentric family commenting from the sidelines and her Irish-centric landlady as volunteer sidekick, India must discover the truth before she has a permanent canine houseguest or ends up the next victim in the basket weaver’s murder.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Maid of Murder - An India Hayes Mystery
2010 Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel

In MAID OF MURDER, India Hayes, a college librarian and reluctant bridesmaid, is thrown into the role of amateur sleuth as she hunts down the person who murdered her childhood friend and framed her brother for the crime.

When bride-to-be Olivia turns up dead in the Martin College fountain and the evidence points to India's brother Mark, India must unmask the real culprit while juggling a furious Mother of the Bride, an annoying Maid of Honor, a set of hippie-generation parents, a police detective who is showing a marked liking for her, and a provost itching to fire someone, anyone--maybe even a smart-mouthed librarian.

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:
eBook Author’s Corner and
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

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