Here you can follow the blow-by-blow account of my attempt to transform myself into a (regularly) published author.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Draft of Foreword to Cora's Stories Dubois Files

If you subscribe to the Books Leaving Footprints Newsletter (sign up above if you didn't just get a new issue on Sunday) you already heard that I'm starting a mystery series for young readers. These are tentatively being collectively called Cora's Stories, although I'm still brainstorming. Changed to Dubois Files

The target audience is approximately 4th grade through junior high, although I dislike such guidelines since anyone who finds the books appealing is welcome to read them.

For fans of Anastasia Raven, you will recognize two of the names. Cora Dubois (Baker Caulfield) and the grandfather of the current Jimmie Mosher (for whom the young Jimmie was named) are the primary characters. The setting is the familiar Forest County, in the 1950s.

Each book will include "this" message to parents. Here's a draft. I'm open to comments. Particularly if you have a young reader or are a parent.

Foreword for Parents

The number one question I am asked at author events is some variation of, "Do you have chapter books for young readers?" This series is my response to that encouraging need parents are experiencing, namely, they have children who want to read books.

The Dubois Files combine adventure and mystery without being violent or dark. They are set in the mid twentieth century when moral standards were generally expected to be upheld, and the children I've invented will sometimes be presented with opportunities to choose between right and wrong.

Currently, one of the most popular genres for readers, approximately fourth grade and up, is fantasy. I have no bias against fantasy, but my strength is mysteries. I write mysteries. As a child, I read every mystery my local library and school library had, most more than once. I'm not sure I can count the number of times I read all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys stories. The Dubois Files springboard from that model.

However, in this era of extreme political correctness, those classic series are being retro-analyzed as being racist. It is my desire to promote diversity and inclusiveness, and yet, I do not believe that re-writing history is honest. Every decade or century is tarnished in various ways.

The primary characters in these books include Jimmie Mosher, of English descent; Cora Dubois with a Finnish mother and French father; Laszlo Szep, the son of a Hungarian tenant farmer; and George and Ruby Harris, a brother and sister with African-American roots. Of course, their extended families, and the associated problems, will come into the plots. These ethnicities fit into the time period and the place without straining credulity.

It is my hope that the Dubois Files will be entertaining, but also morally strong and educational to some degree.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dead Mule Swamp Druggist Ready for Pre-Orders

alt text

I'm committed!

Dead Mule Swamp Druggist is available for pre-order as an e-book on iBooks (app), Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Amazon (Kindle). Release date is set for December 26, 2017- hopefully just in time for some holiday reading. The advance price will save you 50 cents. Order now at $2.49 for automatic delivery the day after Christmas. Regular price will be $2.99.

This is the longest Anastasia Raven book to date, at about 80,000 words. Great value for your reading dollars!

Ana gets herself into all kinds of odd situations. Here's the synopsis:

Anastasia Raven has settled comfortably into life in Forest County. As in any community, obituaries are published each week. Suddenly, it appears that four deaths which occurred over the past year were not so ordinary and may be linked by overdoses of Oxycontin. Charlie Dixon, the druggist, is in the spotlight. What did a healthy middle-aged CPA, an elderly car dealer, a mentally challenged handyman, and a young artisan have in common? Was it just coincidence that they filled prescriptions days before they died? Why would Charlie want to kill these four people? Why would Charlie want to kill any one of these people? Ana takes on a new role in the community which gives her the credentials to look into the deaths. Her investigations lead her to uncover some of the darker aspects of small town life. Friends Cora and Jerry Caulfield, Adele Volger, and young Jimmie Mosher are never far from the action.

And now.... to whet your appetite even more, I give you Chapter 1, free.

    Colin Mueller was dead. Isabel Adams was dead. Ham Nelson was dead. Milo Sendak was dead.

    Even in a small town like Cherry Hill, in the middle of rural Forest County, people die. There were obits in the paper every week. I’d read them faithfully for over a year at my new home of choice in the northwoods, after leaving the suburbs of Chicago and a husband who had chosen someone named Brian as his new life partner. All water under the bridge, as they say—changes and death. But I mention these four deaths in particular.

    Colin Mueller had died in his sleep in late March. He was eighty-five.

    Isabel Adams was only thirty-two. She was found dead in her garden where she had been raking dry leaves from the beds in April, a victim of anaphylactic shock, stung by a bee. Her epi pen was in the house.

    Ham Nelson was killed in August, in a car crash. He’d failed to stop at a railroad crossing, and well... he’d died instantly. Few people mourned Ham. He was fifty-six, mentally challenged and did odd jobs on various farms. It wasn’t his handicaps that put people off; it was his aversion to showers that was the real issue.

    Milo Sendak took an overdose of OxyContin, and went to bed. He called no one. His was not a cry for help, but apparently a well-executed suicide. The problem was, he had no reason to kill himself. His first grandchild had just been born on September twelfth, and his daughter and son-in-law were bringing the baby to meet their grandpa. They had found him cold and still.

    The cause of Milo’s death was not obvious. He’d had back trouble for years, but other than that he was a healthy, energetic fifty-five-year-old, tennis playing businessman. An autopsy revealed the overdose of painkiller.

    The problem was, he’d just refilled his prescription the day before and only one pill was missing from the new bottle. How had one pill flooded his system with the drug? Had he been hoarding capsules?

    When the Sheriff’s office checked Cherry Hill Pharmacy's records for Milo’s OxyContin purchases, they discovered that Colin Mueller, Isabel Adams, and Ham Nelson had also filled prescriptions for the same drug just days before their deaths.

    The druggist, Charlie Dixon, was sweating bullets.
If you are on the MailChimp email list you'll receive Chapter 2 for free in a couple of weeks (and maybe other goodies). Sign up at Books Leaving Footprints Newsletter

Most importantly, thank you for being an Anastasia Raven fan! How can you help me get more fans? Tell your friends. Write a review of one of the previous books in the series. You are awesome!

Monday, March 27, 2017

What Might Make You Come to an Author Event?

alt text at Big Rapids Authorpalooza

What would make you come to a vendor event (where you can meet multiple authors and buy books)? I am scheduled for two of them (at this point) this summer. The first will be at Shagway Arts Barn, Ludington on May 27. Also, on July 22, I'll be at the Writer's Rendezvous at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts. Shagway will have live music and multiple vendors... many of them arts and crafts. The Writer's Rendezvous will be only authors, and each will have a time to read short passages from his or her books.

But what if I offered a premium that you could ONLY get at one of these events? Would this entice you to come? Please answer in the poll above until April 8th at midnight. You can choose more than one option. If you can think of something I haven't listed that you'd like (that's reasonable, eh?) you can comment below.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

I Am an Author

computer on desk

Someone asked me what I do. Just last month... and I stumbled around saying things about a minimum-wage, dead-end job at the newspaper. Then I smacked myself upside the head. Duh! I am an author. That's what I need to say in response to that question.

So what if I haven't posted in this blog for quite a while? So what if I haven't managed to write as much as I had hoped this past year? I have several books in print and am working on others at the best speed I can manage right now.

I've tracked the things relating to writing that I've done since the beginning of 2017. I'm fairly impressed, given that I know myself well enough to understand that a lot of these things are the pieces I don't like very much.

Here's what I've accomplished since January 1:
  • wrote 3.5 chapters in Dead Mule Swamp Druggist
  • researched and wrote 2 columns for Ludington Daily News
  • attended writers' group 4 times
  • attended 2 meetings to have my books at Shagway Art Barn
  • got 5 of my titles placed at the Book Mark bookstore
  • done promotion on Facebook
  • mailed or delivered 10 book orders
  • ordered more paper copies of the Dead Mule Swamp books
  • kept book sales accounts in order
  • dealt with Google to get the domain for this blog renewed (a major pain)
  • submitted 5 poems for publication in Driftwood
  • asked for a recommendation letter (not received yet)
  • made notes for Dead Mule Swamp Mistletoe

That said, I am trying to bring a bit more discipline to the actual writing.

Back when I wrote North Country Cache, two hours a day were devoted to serious, concentrated writing. It was the focus of my life. Now, however, with the other job, my schedule is not consistent, and life is not focused as well. Since that's my ultimate goal... to bring the center back to writing, I'm working on improvements.

I've managed to write for an hour, two days this week, instead of waiting till I have to have a chapter for writers' group. It's not much, but this week it was the best I could do.

I am an author. Remember that.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Short and Fun Stories released

short and fun stories cover

Edited by Dorothy Mae Mercer, this collection of short stories and excerpts by 14 authors can give you a taste of many different works and styles.

The book, Short and Fun Stories, is designed to be a teaser to draw people in to ordering additional titles by these writers.

My award winning story, "The Case of the Cautious Couple," appears in this anthology. It's a spoof of the Perry Mason mysteries, which I love. However, they were very formulaic, and therefor easy to copy stylistically. I think you'll find the twist at the end enjoyable.

The volume contains romance, politics, mystery, historical fiction, one children's story, folklore, a memoir, and more.

It can be pre-ordered now for delivery on May 6, or at any time thereafter for $1.99. You'll get over 50K words of stories for two bucks! What are you waiting for?

Order at Amazon- Short and Fun Stories

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Results of the April Promotion

I've been asked by a number of people if I was pleased with the results of my promotional effort during April. The answer is yes. Before I give more details, let me say that the winner of the afghan is Elaine Hull. SueAnn Crawford won a free book, and so did Wendy Nystrom.

There were 133 entries, made by 43 different people, in the contest to win the handmade afghan. My primary goal was well met, and that was to increase my visibility as an author. That happened for sure. I know that a number of people who did not previously know I had written books have now been introduced to my writing.

I also saw definitely increased sales in the one-to-one venue. In other words, people bought physical copies from me personally. Smashwords shows increased sales, but that may or may not mean anything, as those fluctuate quite a bit. Amazon sales were pretty much the same as any other month. I'm totally neutral about this result. Most people don't buy a book the first time they hear about it, so I'm confident that the increased visibility will lead to future sales. I also know that I need to get the next Anastasia Raven book finished to see a big jump in sales.

There was only one place where I was disappointed. I was hoping to increase the number of Amazon reviews of News from Dead Mule Swamp from 42 to 50. That 50 may be a magic number on Amazon, where they will give your book greater visibility. Or not. Amazon likes to do whatever they want and not explain themselves very much. At least I haven't had reviews purged as many authors have. I've made it to 48 reviews for that book. A couple more would be great. Have you reviewed it?

Am I on the best-seller list? No. But my sales rank is in the thousands rather than the millions, which frankly, isn't bad.

People have also commented on the amount of time it takes to make an afghan, and if that was worth it to me. This is a definite yes. I just like to make things. Sometimes I get that irresistible urge to play with yarn. This way, at least scratching that itch had a purpose.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Author Promotion and Birthday Giveaway

Win this beautiful windowpane afghan, edged in the colors of your choice, on my birthday

windowpane afgan

In progress, made by me, finished size approximately 60" x 75"
Should be done by the end of April

Enter as many times as you like– here’s how
There are 2 parts to each entry: 1- do it, and 2- make sure I know you did it.

How to do it:
any of the following gets you 1 or 2 entries
      1 entry- share something about my books in a public place (Facebook, a blog, at your workplace, etc)
      2 entries- post a review of any of my books on Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, B&N, etc
      2 entries- buy one of my books, print or e-book

How to make sure I know you did it:
      Best method- email me at
      2nd best method- leave a comment here, on this post
      Not so good method- tell me in person
      Totally unacceptable- assume I saw that you did something

Example: Buy one of my books, write a review and publish it on Amazon and Goodreads; result, you get 6 chances for the afghan.
Example: Buy a book, share a picture of you reading it on Facebook, you get 3 chances
(a previously purchased book would only get you one entry for the share).
Example: Buy two books, get 4 chances
In all cases you MUST tell me what you did and how to contact you- I have no way of knowing who buys my books online, and I may miss something you share.
Many other combinations, or types of sharing will count

You have until midnight EDT April 24, 2016 (my birthday) to create entries.
Drawing will be held for the winning entry on Monday, April 25, 2016.
      1st place- windowpane afghan
      2nd place- one book of your choice
      3rd place- one e-book of your choice

For all books by Joan H. Young visit Books Leaving Footprints