Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Guest post: 'Book Promotion with Social Media," by Margaret Mizushima


I admit I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I love that I can keep up with my friends and family this way and that I can share information about my books quickly and efficiently, but I hate that I don’t always have time to give my social media profiles the attention they need. And then I feel guilty.

Last month Melody Jones of Social Media Management Services (website: http://socialmediamelody.com/) presented the program at the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and I was fortunate to be able to attend. Melody is the creator of the Social Media Aspirin Blog, which you can find on her website, and it’s chock full of ideas for writers and authors.


In addition to learning about Melody’s blog, here is a very brief summary of the information I gleaned from her presentation about different social media sites.

Facebook: When compared to other sites, Facebook still provides the largest audience of users. Live videos are growing in popularity, and this site can be a great way to interact with readers by setting up Q&A’s, posting a discussion about a character in your book, or sharing information about your book’s content. Interaction is key to engaging people here.

Instagram: This site is growing in popularity for authors and writers. But remember that things posted on the internet last forever, so be cautious about what you share here and other sites. Use hashtags for topics to help people find and follow you, and post pictures that reflect the content of your books, e.g. photos of dogs, country living, and mountain landscapes reflect the content in the K-9 mysteries that I write, which are set in the Colorado high country.

Twitter: Twitter is also growing in popularity, and it’s a great way to share news about your books, your brand, and your events. A good rule of thumb is to post seven non-sales related tweets to every one “please buy my book” tweet, and build a retweet network by retweeting for other authors. Again, use hashtags to help people find your posts. I like to use #amwriting #amreading #Colorado #K9 #outdoor #mystery.

Pinterest: This is a newcomer for me, and one that I’m fascinated with but have yet to try. With Pinterest, you can set up “boards” with photos that reflect the content of your books, photos of your book covers, and other fun things such as descriptions of dog training techniques, etc. Visitors to your boards “Pin” the things that interest them, sharing your information on their own boards and thus spreading the news about what you’re posting. Perhaps the best feature about Pinterest is that it can drive traffic to your website.

Linked-In: Writers can connect with each other here in interest groups and publishers’ groups. This site is probably best for professional networking.

In order to prevent the hours in your day slipping down the time-warp drain, Melody advises that you pick one or two social media sites that you enjoy and dedicate your attention to them alone. Don’t try to participate in everything. After you find your niche, have fun, share what you want to of your personality and personal life, and connect with others in a way that suits you best.

Visit me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMargaretMizushima, on Twitter https://twitter.com/margmizu, and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/margmizu. I look forward to hearing from you! 





ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Margaret Mizushima is the author of the critically acclaimed Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. Her books have garnered a Reader’s Favorite gold medal and have been listed as finalists in the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, the Colorado Book Awards, and the International Book Awards. Margaret serves on the board for the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and she lives in Colorado where she assists her husband with their veterinary practice and Angus cattle herd. She can be found on Facebook/AuthorMargaretMizushima, on Twitter @margmizu, on Instagram at margmizu, and on her website at www.margaretmizushima.com.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

{Book Feature} Appointment in Prague by Michael & Kathleen McMenamin



APPOINTMENT IN PRAGUE by Michael & Kathleen McMenamin, HistoricalThriller, 160 pp., $12.95 (paperback) $4.99 (Kindle)

Title: APPOINTMENT IN PRAGUE: A MATTIE MCGARY + WINSTON CHURCHILL WORLD WAR II ADVENTURE
Author: Michael McMenamin & Kathleen McMenamin
Publisher: First Edition Design Publishing
Pages: 160
Genre: Historical Thriller


In the novella, Appointment in Prague, one woman, a British secret agent, sets out in May 1942 to single-handedly send to hell the most evil Nazi alive—SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the SD, the domestic and foreign counter-intelligence wing of the SS; second in rank only to the head of the SS himself, Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler; and the architect of  “The Final Solution” that will send millions of European Jews to their doom.

When British Prime Minister Winston Churchill authorizes the SOE—the ‘Special Operations Executive’— in October 1941 to assassinate Heydrich, he is unaware that the entire operation has been conceived and is being run by his Scottish goddaughter, the former Pulitzer Prize-winning Hearst photojournalist Mattie McGary. The SOE is Churchill’s own creation, one he informally describes as the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare and, at his suggestion, Mattie becomes one of its Deputy Directors.

Mattie has a history with Heydrich dating back to 1933 and a personal score to settle. In September 1941, when the man known variously as ‘The Blond Beast’ and ‘The Man With the Iron Heart’—that last coming from Adolf Hitler himself—is appointed Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, the remnants left of Czechoslovakia after the Germans had dismembered it in 1939, Mattie is determined—now that he is no longer safely within Germany’s borders—to have him killed. She recruits and trains several Czech partisans for the task and has them parachuted into Czechoslovakia in December 1941.

An increasingly impatient Mattie waits in London for word that her agents have killed the Blond Beast. By May 1942, Heydrich still lives and Mattie is furious.  The mother of six-year-old twins, Mattie decides—without telling her godfather or her American husband, the #2 man in the London office of the OSS—to parachute into Czechoslovakia herself and  “light a fire under their timid Czech bums”. Which she does, but her agents botch the job and Heydrich is only wounded in the attempt. The doctors sent from Berlin to care for him believe he will recover.

On the fly, Mattie conceives a new plan to kill Heydrich herself. With forged papers and other help from the highest-placed SOE asset in Nazi Germany—a former lover—Mattie determines to covertly enter Prague’s Bulovka Hospital and finish the job. After that, all she has to do is flee Prague into Germany and from there to neutral Switzerland. What Mattie doesn’t know is that Walter Schellenberg, Heydrich’s protégé and the head of Foreign Intelligence for the SD, is watching her every move.

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Excerpt:

KEEPING SECRETS from her husband, Bourke Cockran, Jr., was nothing new for Mattie McGary as she gently kissed her sleeping husband goodbye before she left for her office where she had to prepare two pieces of correspondence. One was an ‘eyes only’ letter to her godfather, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, telling him everything about her new mission, one he never would have approved had he known beforehand. The other was a letter to her husband on the same subject where she most definitely would not tell him ‘everything’. The second letter would be much more difficult to write than the first.
When she had been a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist for the Hearst organization in the 20s and 30s, she often had promised confidentiality to her sources and kept their identities a secret even from Cockran, both before and after he became her husband. He understood because, as a lawyer, he never disclosed to her privileged and confidential communications he received from his clients no matter how newsworthy and interested she might be in that information.
Once her godfather, Winston Churchill, became Prime Minister in May 1940 and, at his request, she joined the SOE—the ‘Special Operations Executive’—Mattie’s entire professional life became a secret from Cockran, courtesy of Great Britain’s Official Secrets Act. The SOE was Churchill’s own creation which he informally, albeit accurately, described as the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.
A year later, in June 1941, at the behest of his law partner, William ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan, Cockran began work for a new United States government agency that became the OSS—the ‘Office of Strategic Services’—so that his entire professional life became a secret from her thanks to the America’s Espionage Act of 1917.
Now, Cockran was the #2 man at the OSS station in London and she was the Deputy Director of the SOE for Central Europe. It had certainly complicated their marriage, Mattie thought as she softly closed the door to their suite at the Savoy.

Inter-Services Research Bureau
64 Baker Street
London
Saturday, 2 May 1942

MATTIE STOOD up from her desk in her office at SOE headquarters, the outside of which carried on a brass plate the innocuous name of Inter-Services Research Bureau, and walked over to the sideboard. She made herself a cup of tea and looked down on the traffic below on Baker Street where it was raining and pedestrian umbrellas were out in full force.
A husband and wife being spies for different Allied governments raised more than a few eyebrows in the SOE and the OSS, but each spouse had their own high-ranking patrons, Mattie with her godfather as the British Prime Minister and Cockran with his old law partner Donovan as head of the OSS. Nevertheless, they never brought work home to their suite at the Savoy and never discussed with each other what they did.
Mattie was in a dilemma today, however, because they had made each other a promise that she was about to violate. For the sake of their two six-year-old children, fraternal twins Nora and Eric, they had promised not to volunteer for any dangerous assignments in the field. At the time, it seemed like a safe promise as both were sufficiently high-ranking in their respective organizations not to be sent into any countries occupied by the Nazis.
That was all before Operation Anthropoid—the assassination of SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the ‘Butcher of Prague’—went off the rails. No one else at SOE knew the reason why, but she did. The operation was her idea from the outset. She had conceived it; she had personally trained the three Czech SOE agents involved; and she was their handler now that they were in the field.  They had been in Czechoslovakia for almost six months and nothing had happened. Others might disagree, especially if they knew why she had pushed Operation Anthropoid so vigorously, but she thought she was the only one with the necessary background to get the show back on track.
That was why she was not flying to Stockholm tomorrow for her bimonthly interview with the SOE’s most highly placed asset in Nazi Germany—her former lover Kurt von Sturm, a high-ranking aide to the head of the Luftwaffe, Reichsmarshall Hermann Göring. Instead, she would be resurrecting from storage the leather flying outfit she had first worn over ten years ago—a shearling–lined sheepskin flying jacket with matching sheepskin trousers, boots and helmet—when she had flown across the country in Cockran’s autogiro in her attempt to break Amelia Earhart’s coast-to coast autogiro record. Then, that night, she would parachute into Occupied Europe to kick-start an assassination plan that should have been completed six months ago.
Travel outside Great Britain came with the job descriptions for her and her husband. Typically, they told each other when they left the country unless the destination itself was mission critical. Well, her destination this time was most definitely mission critical and she would be breaking her word to Cockran by doing so—she not only had volunteered for the mission, she had created it. Still, she didn’t want to lie and telling him she would be away for a month on assignment without adding that she would be out of the country would almost be the same as a lie.
Finally, Mattie settled on the least deceptive option. She would tell him the truth, just not all the truth. Isn’t that what lawyers did all the time? She would tell him she was going to Switzerland on assignment. Which she was, eventually, if she survived the most dangerous part of the mission. She just wasn’t going there first. She went back to her typewriter to finish her letter to the Prime Minister filling him in on her mission and instructing him on what he was to tell her husband if she didn’t make it back. She knew Winston wouldn’t like what she was doing any more than her husband and indeed likely would have forbade her to do so had he known. But her godfather had a war to run and he could not possibly keep track of every SOE or MI-6 mission abroad. From her days working for Hearst, Mattie had always believed begging for forgiveness afterwards was better than asking for permission beforehand.  After all, it wouldn’t be a violation of the Official Secrets Act for the Prime Minister to know what her husband could not.
Over nine years in the making, an old score was about to be settled. Reinhard Heydrich was about to discover that, just as Death once had an appointment in Samarra, Mattie McGary had an appointment in Prague.



 






Michael McMenamin is the co-author with his son Patrick of the award winning 1930s era historical novels featuring Winston Churchill and his fictional Scottish goddaughter, the adventure-seeking Hearst photojournalist Mattie McGary. The first five novels in the series—The DeValera Deception, The Parsifal Pursuit, The Gemini Agenda, The Berghof Betrayal and The Silver Mosaic—received a total of 15 literary awards. He is currently at work with his daughter Kathleen McMenamin on the sixth Winston and Mattie historical adventure, The Liebold Protocol.

Michael is the author of the critically acclaimed Becoming Winston Churchill, The Untold Story of Young Winston and His American Mentor [Hardcover, Greenwood 2007; Paperback, Enigma 2009] and the co-author of Milking the Public, Political Scandals of the Dairy Lobby from LBJ to Jimmy Carter [Nelson Hall, 1980]. He is an editorial board member of Finest Hour, the quarterly journal of the International Churchill Society and a contributing editor for the libertarian magazine Reason. His work also has appeared in The Churchills in Ireland, 1660-1965, Corrections and Controversies [Irish Academic Press, 2012] as well as two Reason anthologies, Free Minds & Free Markets, Twenty Five Years of Reason [Pacific Research Institute, 1993] and Choice, the Best of Reason [BenBella Books, 2004]. A full-time writer, he was formerly a first amendment and media defense lawyer and a U.S. Army Counterintelligence Agent.  


Kathleen, the other half of the father-daughter writing team, has been editing her father’s writing for longer than she cares to remember. She is the co-author with her sister Kelly of the critically acclaimed Organize Your Way: Simple Strategies for Every Personality [Sterling, 2017]. The two sisters are professional organizers, personality-type experts and the founders of PixiesDidIt, a home and life organization business. Kathleen is an honors graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and has an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. The novella Appointment in Prague is her second joint writing project with her father. Their first was “Bringing Home the First Amendment”, a review in the August 1984 Reason magazine of Nat Hentoff’s The Day They Came to Arrest the Book.  While a teen-ager, she and her father would often take runs together, creating plots for adventure stories as they ran.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Darkest Before the Dawn Pre-Pub Blitz! @mike54martin




Darkest Before the Dawn by Mike Martin, Mystery, 280 pp.



Title: DARKEST BEFORE THE DAWN
Author: Mike Martin
Publisher: Ottawa Press and Publishing
Pages: 280
Genre: Mystery


Darkest Before the Dawn is the latest adventure of Sgt. Winston Windflower, a Mountie who finds himself surrounded by a new family and a new life in tiny Grand Bank, Newfoundland. There are signs of trouble that may disturb his pleasant life, including a series of unsolved break-ins and the lack of supports for young people in the most trying time of their lives. But there are always good friends, good food and the sense that if we all pull together, we can find a way to get through even the darkest days.

Ghosts, mysterious deaths, and a new character enliven the pages as Windflower and Tizzard and the other police officers awaken the secrets that have been lying dormant in this sleepy little town. The deeper they dig the more they find as the criminals they seek dive deeper behind the curtains of anonymity and technology. But more than anything, this is a story of love and loss, of growing up and learning how to grow old gracefully. It is also about family and community and looking after each other. Of not giving up hope just before the dawn.


Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.

The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home, which was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web was released in 2017 and the newest book in the series.is Darkest Before the Dawn.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Excerpt reveal: Claire's Last Secret, by Marty Ambrose




Genre: Historical Fiction
Author: Marty Ambrose
Publisher: Severn House

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About the Book:

1873, Florence. Claire Clairmont, the last survivor of the haunted summer of 1816 Lord Byron/Mary Shelley circle, is living out her final years in genteel poverty.  The appearance of British tourist, William Michael Rossetti, brings Claire hope that she may be able to sell some of her memorabilia to earn enough cash to support her and her niece, Paula.  But Rossetti’s presence in Florence heralds a cycle of events that links the summer of 1816—when Claire conceived an ill-fated child with Lord Byron, when Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, and when four tempestuous lives collided—to a tragic death. As Claire begins to unravel the truth, she must go back to that summer of passion to discover the identity of her old enemy.

EXCERPT


Florence, Italy, 1873

                  His letter came just at the point when I thought death was my only option.
                  Poverty had been creeping in like a shadow edging out the light, and it was only a matter of time before it engulfed what was left of my life and snuffed out any prospect that fate would offer another way. I could no longer envision a road that led to some lost, yet cherished land of dreams – especially when I was too old to pick up and start over on some adventure that would lead me into a new dawn.
                  It was too late for that.
                  Those were the youthful regions where fortune bestowed some great, golden happiness on anyone who had the courage to live with soulful purpose – hardly the reality of my present circumstances.
                  Yet, the letter brought a glimmer of hope . . . a wild fancy that I might, even at this late stage, turn things around. What I did not realize was that it would take me back to the early days and expose a labyrinth of deception and lies that had altered the course of my existence.
                  But I digress . . .

                  I must start at the beginning because the echoes of one’s origin never fade to silence, no matter how much it is desired. I did not know my own origin because I never knew my father – not that I needed to learn his identity, but it would have centered my world at the very least with a beginning point. A compass for my life. A moment when I first became aware that I drew breath.
                  Sadly, it never happened.
                  My last name is Clairmont. A melodic sobriquet to be sure, but my mother simply chose the name like someone would choose a ribbon for the bodice of a dress:  – it seemed appealing and created just the right effect of class and respectability – but it was for show, nonetheless, since she never married a man named Clairmont. Not that I particularly minded her choice. I love showiness. In my opinion, modesty in a woman is highly overrated, though no one in my family agreed with me. But I, Clara Mary Jane Clairmont, always went my own way – even without the compass – and I am more proud of that than anything else in my seventy-five years on this earth.
                  Just as I claimed my version of my name: Claire Clairmont.
                  Il mio nome.
                  ‘Aunt Claire, don’t overtax yourself,’ my niece, Paula, said as she strolled into the warm, slightly stuffy room, a cup of my favorite oolong tea in her hand. It was late morning – not terribly hot yet, but by afternoon the midsummer Florentine temperature would soar and everyone would take refuge inside, resting and praying to St Clare of Assisi for a breath of air. My rented apartment faced the Boboli Gardens – a lush, open space on the outskirts of Florence, perched on a hill – that often provided a slight breeze, whispering through the centuries-old cypress trees and hidden grottos.
                  Paula set a delicate blue-and-white patterned china cup on my tea table, already cluttered with letters, books, and an inkwell. ‘You need to move around more, Aunt. Your ankle is starting to swell again, and, if you cannot walk, I will have to call in Raphael to carry you to bed.’ My niece’s voice took on that familiar combination of love and exasperation of the young who are tethered to the old; she cared for me deeply, but I tried her patience as well when I refused to heed her advice, which occurred quite often. I wasn’t ready to give up my independent ways yet.
                  Besides, she would not mind calling our domestico, Raphael; I’d seen the sweet longing in the glances that she cast at him when he was distracted by some task in the kitchen. Paula might be the daughter of my dearly-departed brother, Charles, but she was also my niece, after all. Spinning romantic fantasies around a handsome face was embedded in her nature. Certainly, I had done that a time or two in my life – sometimes finding regret in my impulsive feelings, sometimes not. But always true to my passions.
                  Quickly, I slipped the letter under the stack of books, shifting in my chair and smoothing down my faded blue cotton dress.  I was not ready to share it with her yet.
                  ‘Is that the missive you received this morning?’ she asked absently, leaning down and plumping the delicately embroidered pillow under my sprained ankle, which was propped up on a footstool.
                  ‘Nothing important.’ Assuming an air of nonchalance, I shrugged. ‘Just a letter from one of my many old friends, Edward Trelawny, inquiring as to our well-being.’
                  Paula straightened with a sigh. ‘Do we have any old friends left who have not abandoned us to our state of poverty, except Trelawny?’
                  ‘Thank you, my dear, for pointing that out. I am well aware of our impoverished state of affairs since my last ill-conceived investment in that farm.’ Folding my wrinkled hands in my lap, I echoed her sigh. Investing in my nephew’s farm in Austria was a foolishness that I could ill- afford, but I never could resist helping my family, even though it had pushed me to the brink of bankruptcy.
                  ‘I apologize – that was unkind, Aunt.’ She placed a hand on my forearm, glancing down at me with her dark eyes clouded in guilt.
                  ‘You are forgiven, even though I must remind you that friendships can ebb and flow during the years regardless of one’s financial status – even those who are closest to us can disappoint us.’ Of course, I meant the members of the sacred Byron/Shelley circle of my youth: Byron, the great poet who broke my heart, and Shelley, the husband of my stepsister, Mary, whose brilliance lit my life and whose small annuity protected me in my advanced years. I had loved them all – especially my accomplished and beautiful stepsister, Mary. Even though Mary had created a hideous monster in her novel, Frankenstein, she herself possessed that kind of tranquil loveliness that made everyone gravitate to her.
                  Serenità, as the Italians would say.
                  Unlike me.
                  I could never sit still.
                  I talked incessantly.
                  And I never let my head rule my emotions, which caused me more heartache than I can say. But my life was never dull.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Marty Ambrose has been a writer most her life, consumed with the world of literature from the time she first read Agatha Christie mysteries and British Romantic poetry.  Marty pursued her undergraduate and graduate degrees in English, both in the U.S. and the U.K. so she could teach students at Florida Southwestern State College about the writers that she so admired.  Three decades later, she is still teaching and has enjoyed a writing career that has spanned almost fifteen years, with eight published novels for Avalon Books, Kensington Books, and Thomas & Mercer. Marty Ambrose lives in Florida with her husband, ex- news anchor Jim McLaughlin.  She plans to travel to Italy in the Fall to research A Shadowed Fate, the next book in the trilogy.

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