Thursday, January 16, 2014

Maggie Toussaint - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Award-winning southern author Maggie Toussaint. She is the Mystery and Romance writer who writers the The Cleopatra Jones Mystery Series.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Romance,Suspense

Website: Maggie Toussaint - Romance Danger Mystery
Author's Blog: Mudpies and Magnolias
Blog: LinkedIn
Twitter: @MaggieToussaint
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:
Award-winning southern author Maggie Toussaint is published in romance and mystery genres. She's a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America.

Maggie uses real life inspiration to flavor her books. Her rich scenery and colorful characters have received much notice, but at heart, she tells a darn good story.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

First things first. Let’s start with what’s next. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called Gone And Done It. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Gone and Done It will release in hardcover in May and digital format a few months later. This paranormal mystery is about a sleuth who talks to dead people. While she’s installing a weeping cherry for a landscaping customer, Baxley unearths some bones. They turn out to be human. Baxley dreamwalks to speak to the dead, an investigative tool the sheriff desperately wants in his investigative tool box. Both the sheriff and the dead are chasing Baxley, but the killer might just catch her first.

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 key in today’s online universe. I’ve made a conscious effort to collect twitter followers who enjoy reading, and I’m also fairly consistent at following back. It’s hard to find time to visit all the social media platforms, but Facebook and Twitter are the ones I frequent the most. I put out a quarterly newsletter.

Do you do 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 when a new book releases, and my May signings aren’t confirmed yet, although I will be signing at Sleuthfest in Orlando at the end of February. There are two ways to keep up with me. One is to subscribe to my newsletter (sign up at my website or blog). The other is to visit my Facebook author page:

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?

My books are published through publishing houses and my imprint. The publishing houses have information sheets to fill out regarding what should be on the cover. Before I turn those sheets in, I scroll through several hundred covers on Amazon to see what I think works and what I find eye catching to add to my suggestions. I’ve been blessed with wonderful covers from my publishers. For my indie imprint, I have a graphic artist friend who advises me on the covers I create.

How important is it to belong to Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

RWA was the first writers’ organization I joined. From RWA, I learned most of my basic writer craft and began establishing a professional network. MWA and SINC helped me with more specific genre-information as well as craft. Along the way, I’ve made some very good writer friends in those group meetings and online.

Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, getting the book to your readers and the relationship with your readers and fans?

I’m a big believer in ebooks. They’ve expanded the reading market, making books portable, lightweight, and as accessible as your mobile phone. I have a print book fan base, but more and more of my fans read me in digital format.

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?

The biggest obstacle to giving books away for free is the natural instinct for self-preservation. It takes me nearly nine months to write a book from start to finish. That’s a lot of hours of my life, and it seems counterintuitive to give books away. And yet, it works. The book giveaways aid in discoverability. Tens of thousands of readers download my work during a giveaway. Afterward, sales are strong across the board. So yes, you lose revenue during a giveaway, but it’s a net gain overall in finding new readers who continue to buy your brand.

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 offer review copies ahead of the book’s release to create a buzz. I look for opportunities at high traffic blogs that correspond to my book’s release month. I develop a database of tweets for the book. I talk the release up on all my social media. I offer Goodreads giveaways. I send mailings to fans, libraries, and more. I buy ads at online sites. I attend conferences and give away promo items. I send bookmarks and postcards to anyone who asks. It all works to some extent or I wouldn’t continue doing it.

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?

The secret seems to be to market yourself in ways that you find rewarding or enjoy. My primary goal is to build a fan base so that I’m not reinventing the wheel with each release. I’m zealous about protecting my writing time and sticking to my weekly writing goals. The rest gets squeezed in between the events in the rest of my life.

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 send requests to professional reviewers and seek out new reviewers with each release. Reviews are an important currency online. Having a certain threshold of good reviews is necessary to be featured at many online venues. While reader reviews are always welcome, they vary wildly from “I didn’t like the style of her watch” to “this is the greatest thing since salted margaritas.” The best way I know to get good reviews is to write a good book.

Author's Book List
On the Nickel - A Cleopatra Jones Mystery
Mama’s strange behavior jolts accountant Cleopatra Jones from her whirl of late summer activities with her daughters, her pregnant Saint Bernard, and her new boyfriend. When Cleo overhears the heated argument between Mama and her church-lady rival, Erica Hodges, she realizes Mama is out of control. Erica files a police report about Mama’s threats, which adds to Cleo’s growing unease.

Two days later, Erica is dead, the victim of a hit and run at the church. Though Erica’s reputation for arrogance, bossiness, and rudeness is well-deserved, she is descended from the town’s founder, and the mayor pressures the police to obtain justice for the town’s leading citizen.

To Cleo’s horror, there’s a person-sized dent in Mama’s gray Olds. Mama denies killing Erica but refuses to account for her whereabouts that night. Mama’s secrets are maddening, but are they deadly?

Order the Book From: Amazon
Dime If I Know - Cleopatra Jones Mystery
Cleopatra Jones wants to get married, but her golf pro boyfriend, Rafe Golden, prefers the freedom of dating. With three puppies, a St. Bernard, two teenage daughters, a free-spirited live-in mother, a kooky best friend, and an accounting firm to run, Cleo's life is busy. To top it off, her best friend is running for mayor, and Mama is wearing the engagement ring Cleo longs for. When Rafe's red Jaguar is spotted at a homicide scene, the cops are sure Rafe committed murder. Cleo's just as certain he didn't. Rafe's been keeping secrets from her, but are they deadly secrets? DIME IF I KNOW features fast-paced family life and Southern humor. Cleo's troubles with golf contrast with her nose for following the money.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Hot Water - A Mossy Bog Book
Solving Mossy Bog's first fire fatality could net police officer Laurie Ann Dinterman the promotion she desperately wants. When the state arson investigator arrives to take over the case, Laurie Ann is assigned to give the man everything he needs while keeping him alive. The fact he's the sexiest man ever to hit town shouldn't make a difference.

Hot on the trail of a serial arsonist, Wyatt North demands justice for his partner, the arsonist's first victim. He'll find the murderer or die trying--no matter how distracting the tall, lithe figure of his local partner is.

As the investigation zeroes in on a suspect uncomfortably close to Laurie Ann's life, her cop instincts conflict with her feelings for Wyatt. Worse, the arsonist will do anything to protect his identity. Can Laurie Ann accept the truth in time…or will she and Wyatt go up in flames?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
In For A Penny - The Cleopatra Jones Mystery Series
Amateur sleuth Cleopatra Jones of rural Hogan’s Glen, Maryland faces an unwanted hazard when she skulls her golf ball across the number six green and it lands in the inseam of a very dead banker. Though the victim is a longtime friend of Cleo’s, his ongoing dispute with Cleo’s best friend and golfing partner, Jonette, is public knowledge. When the police key in on Jonette as the prime suspect, Cleo sets out to find the real killer.

Amidst the fun of wacky meals, dueling daughters, Mama’s heart problem, lovesick Saint Bernards, a sexy golf pro, a repentant ex-husband and a host of murder suspects, Cleo does what she does best. With her trusty spreadsheets and logical accountant’s brain, she organizes the information and ferrets out a crazed killer.

Set against the lush splendor of mid-Atlantic springtime, this fun-packed mystery with a dash of romance will keep you turning the pages to see what happens next.

"an amusing addition to the cozy ranks"

"reading a Cleopatra Jones mystery is a nice way to spend the afternoon"
Romantic Times

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Death, Island Style - Five Star Mystery Series
Death, Island Style is a cozy mystery flavored with eccentric southerners, Christmas music, and hand-painted holiday decorations. Set in sunny coastal Georgia, the book reveals the struggles of a young woman trying to make her Christmas gift shop profitable while dodging a murder rap. Beach scenes, a hunky pharmacist, and disastrous craft projects add sparkle and humor.

When detectives uncover a connection between a murdered man and MaryBeth, she's their prime suspect. It's not her fault the dead guy had one of her hand-painted Christmas sharks in his pocket--she doesn't even know him. As her world comes unglued, MaryBeth strips the shellac from her memories, discovering secrets that endanger her life. But time to prove her innocence is running out faster than a riptide. The killer is crafting up a new murder--MaryBeth's.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Murder in the Buff
With her marriage in the toilet and her reporter job dangling by a slim thread, conservative Molly Darter can’t refuse her latest assignment, that of collecting the family-placed obituary of a dead nudist. To her chagrin, she discovers she knew the dead woman, Barbara Jean McAllister, as the nice lady at the Marshview organic produce stand.

The head nudist insists Barbara Jean’s death was murder, but Molly has no intention of writing more than that obit. Her mind changes when revealing photos of her father and other community leaders consorting with Barbara Jean come her way. To protect her father and save her job, she delves into the dead woman’s life.

Things heat up when her estranged husband’s undercover drug ring collides with Molly’s dead nudist investigation. Will Molly find the woman’s killer, or will the killer find Molly?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords
Seeing Red
Emma Heartly's deam of owning a Bed & Breakfast is shattered when she learns she can't afford the rehab of her family's run-down Victorian. Undaunted, she moves in and begins renovating the house into a Bed & Breakfast.

Quentin Stone of Stone Construction loves old houses. His gorgeous eyes light up at the classic lines of Emma's fixer-upper, but it's her fiery red hair that keeps returning to his thoughts. To see her again, he volunteers to help her make improvements after hours.

Emma jumps at his offer of free labor. They lay the foundation for more than a B&B, but will their blossoming romance survive the malicious intent of their enemy?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords
Muddy Waters
Is someone watching her?

Roxie Whitaker is struggling to make her grandmother’s real estate business a success. When her coastal home is burglarized, her rosy worldview dims. Atlanta security expert Sloan Harding distracts her from her troubles, but is Mossy Bog’s former bad boy serious about her?

Never one to shy away from muddy waters, Sloan is determined to find his alleged missing inheritance. Sparks fly as he enters into a business arrangement with Roxie to oversee the restoration of his childhood home. With her help, Sloan resurrects old secrets while a dangerous predator stalks them.

When passion meets danger, will love win the day?

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

No comments:

Post a Comment