Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Susan Breen. She is the Amazon best-selling author of Maggie Dove detective series. Susan writes Mystery novels and short stories.
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Her first mystery novel, MAGGIE DOVE, was published on June 14, 2016. It's a story about a Sunday School teacher who turns to detecting when her most troublesome (and favorite) student, now a grown man, is accused of murder.
Maggie Dove's Detective Agency was published on Nov. 8, 2016.
Her short stories have been published widely, most recently in the 2009 issue of BEST AMERICAN NON-REQUIRED READING and the Jan. 2011 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.
She teaches fiction-writing and novel-writing at Gotham Writers' Workshop in Manhattan. She writes for THE WRITER and WRITER'S DIGEST magazine.
Susan's a workshop leader at the New York Pitch Conference.
She loves reading mysteries, which was part of what prompted her to write her novel. Some of her favorite mystery writers are Agatha Christie, Louise Penny, Kate Atkinson, PD James and many, many, many more.
She lives in a small village in the Hudson Valley with her husband, two dogs (cockapoos) and one cat. Her three children are flourishing elsewhere.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
Congratulations on your book: Maggie Dove's Detective Agency. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
I have a Maggie Dove short story coming out in the July 2017 issue of Alfred Hitchcock Magazine. It's a bit of a departure for Maggie because it brings her into contact with both assassins and a feral cat. Beyond that I have several more mysteries in the works, and hope to have an announcement soon.
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 a lot of fun with twitter. I must naturally think in 140 character bursts because I always have something to say. I've found it a great way to connect with writers and readers and interesting people.
Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, your teaching methods, and getting the book to your readers?
What I love about the e book is that it's so flexible. If I'm standing on line, I can just go to my kindle app on my phone and I have something to read. Sometimes I look at my little kindle and amazed at all it contains. The problem with it is that it makes it difficult to do bookstore readings because there is no tangible thing to sell. But I do have fabulous bookmarks that I like to give to my readers. (And if anyone wants one, just send me an e mail.)
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?
Yes, I'm often on panels and doing speaking appearances. The best way to keep track of what I'm up to is to follow me on twitter. My next event will be at the Grand Concourse library in the Bronx on May 17. I'll be hosting a panel on Female Sleuths and Femme Fatales. Should be very exciting!
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?
The kind artists at Random House do my covers, though they did give me a choice of three different versions with Maggie Dove's Detective Agency. Two were purple and one was orange and I went with that.
You have written several short stories. Are shorty’s one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work? How can readers find a list if your shorts? (Your short story, “Dear Murderer” can be read on your website listed in the contact information.)
I started off as a reporter (for Fortune Magazine) and then I began writing short stories. It felt like a more manageable transition than to jump right into novels. Usually I work on stories when I've finished up a novel and am waiting for my agent to get back to me.
Between your book writing, teaching, 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 you sort of play it by ear?
I'm a very organized person, but I've also learned to prioritize. I always work on my novel first. If that doesn't get done, then nothing else does. (Except for family things. That comes before the novel.)
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 should have a reader list but I don't. I mainly rely on social media to find readers. One thing that was phenomenally useful was the book bub blast. That exposed huge numbers of readers to my writing.
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?
With both my mysteries I've gone on blog book tours, and that was very useful in terms of getting reviews. Then I query the big reviewers. Most have been kind enough to respond.
I have included The Fiction Class in your writings. I like the concept as a teaching tool. Can you explain to us how the novel was put together? How were your students involved?
I wrote The Fiction Class in four months. I've never written anything so fast, but it built on some short stories I'd written and I knew all the characters. In fact, the romantic hero of that book, Chuck Jones, had been a character in an unpublished book I wrote, so I just needed to remove him and introduce him to a new set of people. My students were not explicitly involved, but they certainly gave me material!
Author's Book List
Maggie Dove's Detective Agency
- Maggie Dove Series Book 2
After catching the killer who shook her small Hudson River town, former Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove stumbled onto an exciting new career and found a way to take her mind off her own tragic past. Now, despite her best efforts to promote the agency, Maggie can’t seem to land any new cases—until Racine Stern, one of the village’s wealthiest residents, offers her a thousand dollars to convince her “evil” sister, Domino, to stay out of town.
While Maggie’s business partner thinks she’s crazy for turning down a potential client, she doesn’t want her agency to get a reputation for accommodating bizarre requests. However, Maggie is soon caught up in the family drama anyway. Racine may fear for her life—and her inheritance—but it’s Domino who takes the fall when she plunges to her death from a tower at Stern Manor. Was it an accident or something more sinister? Maggie’s investigation will test her faith—and her ability to survive.
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- A Mystery - Maggie Dove Series Book 1
Susan Breen introduces a charming new series heroine in this poignant and absorbing cozy mystery with a bite. Maggie Dove thinks everyone in her small Westchester County community knows everyone else’s secrets. Then murder comes to town.
When Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove finds her hateful next-door neighbor Marcus Bender lying dead under her beloved oak tree—the one he demanded she cut down—she figures the man dropped dead of a mean heart. But Marcus was murdered, and the prime suspect is a young man Maggie loves like a son. Peter Nelson was the worst of Maggie’s Sunday School students; he was also her late daughter’s fiancé, and he’s been a devoted friend to Maggie in the years since her daughter’s death.
Maggie can’t lose Peter, too. So she sets out to find the real murderer. To do that, she must move past the grief that has immobilized her all these years. She must probe the hidden corners of her little village on the Hudson River. And, when another death strikes even closer to home, Maggie must find the courage to defend the people and the town she loves—even if it kills her.
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The Fiction Class
On paper, Arabella Hicks seems more than qualified to teach her fiction class on the Upper West Side: she’s a writer herself; she’s passionate about books; she’s even named after the heroine in a Georgette Heyer novel.
On the other hand, she’s thirty-eight, single, and has been writing the same book for the last seven years. And she has been distracted recently: on the same day that Arabella teaches her class she also visits her mother in a nursing home outside the city. And every time they argue. Arabella wants the fighting to stop, but, as her mother puts it, “Just because we’re family, doesn’t mean we have to like each other.” When her class takes a surprising turn and her lessons start to spill over into her weekly visits, she suddenly finds she might be holding the key to her mother’s love and, dare she say it, her own inspiration. After all, as a lifelong lover of books, she knows the power of a good story.
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Author Recommended by:
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