Release Day: The Crêpes of Wrath

Cover - Crepes

The release day for The Crêpes of Wrath is finally here! I’m beyond excited that this book is now out in the world, kicking off my new cozy mystery series!

The first book in the Pancake House Mystery series, The Crêpes of Wrath introduces my newest heroine, Marley McKinney, who finds herself in a sticky situation: stacking pancakes, pouring coffee, and investigating murder.

Here’s more about the book:

When Marley McKinney’s aging cousin, Jimmy, is hospitalized with pneumonia, she agrees to help run his pancake house while he recovers. With its rustic interior and syrupy scent, the Flip Side Pancake House is just as she pictured it—and the surly chef is a wizard with crêpes. Marley expects to spend a leisurely week or two in Wildwood Cove, the quaint, coastal community where she used to spend her summers, but then Cousin Jimmy is found murdered, sprawled on the rocks beneath a nearby cliff.
 
After she stumbles across evidence of stolen goods in Jimmy’s workshop, Marley is determined to find out what’s really going on in the not-so-quiet town of Wildwood Cove. With help from her childhood crush and her adopted cat, Flapjack, Marley sinks her teeth into the investigation. But if she’s not careful, she’s going to get burned by a killer who’s only interested in serving up trouble.

The Crêpes of Wrath is available from online retailers such as Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Chapters, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, and iTunes.

You can always find out more about my books by going to my author website and you can keep up to date on upcoming releases and other news by signing up for my newsletter here.

Author Newsletter

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It’s now possible to subscribe to my author newsletter! I’m hoping to send out the first issue in July. The newsletter will keep you up to date on my book releases and other news.

To subscribe, go here.

The signup link is also on the About page of my author website.

Release Day for Deadly Overtures!

A composing competition rises to a murderous crescendo in author Sarah Fox’s third Music Lover’s Mystery.

Deadly OverturesDeadly Overtures is now available! This is the third book in the Music Lover’s Mystery series and I’m incredibly excited that readers can now join Midori (professional violinist and amateur sleuth) on her latest adventure. I had so much fun writing this book (and the others in the series) and I hope people will enjoy reading it. Deadly Overtures is currently available in e-book form and the trade paperback will be released on July 12, 2016. You can find Deadly Overtures and the other two books in the series (Dead Ringer and Death in A Major) on Amazon, Chapters, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailer sites.

Here’s what Deadly Overtures is about:

Four talented classical music composers have been named finalists in a composing competition hosted by the Point Grey Philharmonic. With money and egos on the line, it doesn’t surprise violinist Midori Bishop that the competition has brought out jealousy and bitter rivalries among the entrants. What does surprise her is finding one of the finalists murdered in the theater. With a cloud of suspicion hanging over the symphony’s esteemed concertmaster, Midori orchestrates her own investigation, uncovering a medley of dark secrets and motives for murder. But can she bring the truth to light before the killer silences her forever?

For more information please visit my author website here, or find me online at the following social media sites:

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Publishing Anniversary

June has rolled around again, reminding me of what a great month June has been for me over the past couple of years. This week marks two years since I signed with my literary agent and one year since I became a published author. I can hardly believe it’s been a full year since Dead Ringer was released, and it seems even crazier to me that in less than a week I’ll have three books published. Three! It’s been an exciting couple of years for me and I’m so happy and grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had.

Looking forward, there are still exciting things to come. I have a new cozy mystery series starting in a couple of months (the Pancake House Mysteries) and I’m in the midst of planning some new projects for the future. The past two years have been wonderful writing/publishing-wise, and I’m hoping the years to come will also be fabulous.🙂

Dead RingerDeath in A MajorDeadly Overtures          Cover - Crepes

Cover Reveal: DARKNESS SHIFTING by Sarah L. Blair

I’m genuinely thrilled to be taking part in the cover reveal for Sarah L. Blair’s debut novel, Darkness Shifting! Sarah is not only one of my amazing critique partners, she also happens to be an incredible friend and a seriously talented writer.

Darkness Shifting is an urban fantasy novel with a fabulous cast of characters and a gripping story that will keep you turning the page. It will be available for purchase July 1, 2016. You can read more about the novel below (including an excerpt!), but first, here’s the gorgeous cover:

DS_COVER_Blair

Cover Credit: Vania Stoyanova

Darkness Shifting is the first book in the Tides of Darkness Series.

Paranormal Investigator, Sidney Lake doesn’t jump at shadows. The weird stuff is her jurisdiction. When the mangled body of a supposedly extinct creature turns up in New York City’s subway system, she’s number one on the Medical Examiner’s speed dial.

But this case hits too close to home when clues point her toward the truth about her parents’ brutal murder twelve years ago. Her boss Mitchell Harris, questions whether she should continue to investigate. However, Sidney insists on facing her greatest fears and putting her parents’ memory to rest once and for all.

What she uncovers sheds a light on secrets that reach further into the darkness than she ever wanted to go… and leads her to a future she never imagined.

SareyPic2

 

Sarah L. Blair earned a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. While spending a semester abroad at Swansea University in Wales she traveled to nearby Bath and Glastonbury often, drawing inspiration for her writing from the myths and legends surrounding the area. Sarah now resides just north of Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, their two children, and chihuahua. While writing is her first passion, she also enjoys sewing, tater tots, catching up on her teetering TBR pile, and hanging out on her porch drinking sweet tea.

 

You can find Sarah around the web on Twitter: @SarahLBlair, Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sarahlblair, or visit her new website: http://www.sarahlblair.com

Author Photo Credit: James Hicks

Excerpt:

A door at the back of the room next to the fireplace opened before Mitch could answer. The man who emerged wasn’t quite as tall as Mitch, but as soon as he stepped through the door, his presence seemed to expand to fill the enormous space.

Sidney didn’t need to be introduced. It was very clear who this man was.

At first glance, his shoulder length hair was jet black, but when he stepped into the light it picked up gold and orange tones from the fire and she saw that it was actually a very dark brown. It reminded her of pure chocolate falling in loose waves around his square face, ending in stark contrast with the edge of his pristine, white collar.

His eyes were the same dark liquid brown as his hair. She could tell the second she met his gaze that this man didn’t feel the need to impress anyone. His deep set eyes were soft, holding a hint of amusement, as if he didn’t have to think about what she might do or say because he already knew.

“I apologize for the wait. Mitchell, it’s good to see you again.” The voice that came out of his mouth was unexpected and familiar at the same time. It sounded British, but it was more rugged than the Queen’s English.

In all her years at boarding school in the UK, she hadn’t heard anything like it. It held lilting notes of Welsh, but there were gruff hints of a Highland brogue in there as well. She recalled hearing it at one point in the hospital, but she didn’t remember actually meeting him.

The men shook hands as if they’d been pals in grade school.

Sidney stayed behind Mitch, not wanting to draw attention to herself. She could see Dimitrius better up close and noticed that his nose had the smallest rise along the middle of the bridge; it hadn’t healed properly after a break. A slight cleft cut through his chin. He had a ragged scar at the edge of his hairline, and another one on the left side of his neck below his ear that disappeared under the back of his collar.

The top two buttons of his shirt had been left undone, as if he intended to draw her gaze downward. He wasn’t wearing an undershirt, so it was easy to see the outline of his well-toned chest and the tarnished silver pendant that rested right below the dip of his collarbone, tied to his neck with a narrow leather strap. It was some kind of old coin or a stamped crest.

Now that he was even closer, the scent evolved into something more distinct; Sidney picked out the smell of horses, sweat, blood, even the smoky flavor of fire and pitch.

Battle.

He smelled like a warrior.

“Ms. Lake, at last we meet.” That voice again, softer and gentler than what a battle-hardened warrior should sound like. She wanted to curl up and listen to him read page after page of Internet search results. “I’ve heard wonderful things about you.”

“I’m sure the chief was exaggerating.” It was like being sucked into a whirlpool and Mitch had suddenly become her safety net. Knowing he was right there with the line of his body pressed against hers made her feel more grounded.

“On the contrary…“Dimitrius gave her an unabashed head-to-toe assessment. He offered his hand. She didn’t want to take it, but she couldn’t be rude.

She returned the handshake much more firmly than she’d done with his assistant. It was the same grip she used to make Williams go weak in the knees and beg for mercy when she was mad at him.

It had no effect whatsoever on Dimitrius. Instead, she felt what could only be described as electricity, an actual current running between them where their skin touched. His eyes narrowed, and she wondered if he felt it too.

“He hasn’t done you justice at all,” he said. “Dimitrius Arturus Roman, at your service.”

He leaned forward at the waist and raised her hand toward his mouth, keeping his eyes locked on hers. A whisper of something brushed across her fingers, like an invisible string wrapping around her hand, curling its way up her wrist. She felt his pulse in her palm, saw it throbbing at his neck millimeters from the edge of the scar. She wanted to lick her tongue over it to find out if he tasted as good as he smelled.

That last thought brought her back to herself. She jerked her hand away before he could touch his lips to her skin. It all happened in an instant. Dimitrius stood there, tilted forward holding nothing but air.

 

 

Music and Mysteries

651px-Biber_mysterien by Frinck51

Photo by WikiCommons user Frinck51

With the release of my third Music Lover’s Mystery less than a month away, I thought I’d share a bit about the music mentioned in the first two books. I’ve also included links to the music on YouTube.

For those who don’t know, the main character of the series, Midori Bishop, is a professional violinist and amateur sleuth. In the first book, Dead Ringer, Midori is feeling blue at one point and starts to play the first movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on the piano in an attempt to improve her mood. While it doesn’t work, because an injury prevents her from being able to continue playing, I thought that the Moonlight Sonata would be a natural choice for her in that situation. I personally find the first movement to be very peaceful and calming, and I always enjoy listening to it. It’s also a very well known piece, so I figured many readers would know the music.

Here’s Ottavia Maria Maceratini playing the movement:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhEey0Zeyic

Also in Dead Ringer, and in that same scene, Midori plays Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer with her best friend, JT. Again, this is a well-known piece that many people recognize by name. But I also chose this piece because who wouldn’t feel cheered up by a bit of ragtime?🙂

Here’s Cory Hall playing The Entertainer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9gzZJ344Co

In the second book of the series, Death in A Major, Midori takes comfort in playing Méditation, the intermezzo from Jules Massenet’s opera Thaïs. I played this when I was in orchestra in high school and it’s a piece I never get tired of. While perhaps not as many readers would know this piece as with the Moonlight Sonata or The Entertainer, I think many classical music fans would know it, and it was a perfect fit for the scene in Death in A Major.

If you’d like to listen to this piece, here’s a video of it played by Sarah Chang on violin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ss1URTJYlfQ

Dead Ringer and Death in A Major are both available in paperback and ebook format. The third book in the series, Deadly Overtures, will be released in June 2016.

Dead RingerDeath in A MajorDeadly Overtures

Editing: First Draft to Final Product

All's_well_that_inks_well by Chris Wightman

Photo: “All’s Well that Inks Well” by Chris Wightman

I’m often asked about the process of taking a book from a first draft to a published novel. In a previous post I talked about my drafting process, how I go from concept to manuscript, particularly when writing mysteries. This time I thought I’d talk about the editing process for traditionally published novels. Every writer, every publishing house, and every individual editor will likely have a slightly different editing process, so the following is based on my own experiences and might not be the same for everyone.

Once I have a complete first draft I like to dive right into the first round of editing. Since I don’t like to stop and go back while I’m drafting (so I don’t lose my momentum) I instead make notes along the way of things that need to be changed or added as a result of the new pages I’ve written each day. So my first round of editing involves incorporating those changes and then reading through the entire manuscript and filling in plot holes and changing whatever else needs to be changed. Typically, I’ll go straight from the first round of editing to the second, maybe with a few days in between.

After I’ve gone through two rounds of editing, I like to put the manuscript aside and let it rest, preferably for at least three weeks. Putting the manuscript aside for a while allows me to go back to it with fresh eyes, and I tend to see things that I would have missed without that time away. The break also gives me a chance to send the manuscript to one or more critique partners so I can incorporate their feedback during the next round of editing.

Depending on my schedule, I’ll turn the manuscript in to my editor after three or four rounds of editing. The next stages really depend on the preferred process of the editor. However, so far in my own experience the manuscript has either gone through one or two rounds of editing with my editor before being sent to copyediting.

My editor goes through the manuscript and uses track changes to address things in the document, and I usually get some notes by email as well. Generally, the first round focuses on bigger issues, like the plot. Then my editor goes through it again and either approves it to go to copyediting or does line edits, focusing on more detailed things like repetitive use of certain words, trimming sentences that aren’t necessary, and addressing any sentences or paragraphs that might be awkward or unclear. Sometimes I’ve had these line edits combined with the big picture edits for one round of editing before copyediting, but it depends on the editor and the state of the manuscript.

From there, the manuscript goes to a copyeditor, who focuses on the technical details, like getting the manuscript to conform to the Chicago Manual of Style, or whichever style they use. In my experience, any changes that are made are done with track changes so I can see what has been done. After copyediting, I get the chance to review the changes. So far this has always been the last chance for me to make any changes, but sometimes authors get to review a proof, at which point they can make some limited changes.

Before turning in the manuscript for the final time, I get my Kindle to read the entire document to me with text-to-speech. I can’t stress how important this step is to me. I like to feel that I’ve done everything I can to make my book as clean as possible. Even after going through professional editors, there are always a few typos and other issues that remain. Writers and editors are human, after all, and it’s easy to miss a few typos, especially tiny ones like a missing “a” or “as” here and there.

Since my Kindle doesn’t have a human brain, it doesn’t read what it knows should be written, but what is actually written. Every time I’ve gone through this step with a manuscript I’ve found at least a few little typos that otherwise would have made it into the published book. The text-to-speech round can be tedious and it takes a lot of hours, but it’s a step I hope my schedule never forces me to skip.

Once I’ve turned in the manuscript for the final time, it’s out of my hands, and I can work on other projects while looking forward to the publication date! This is where I am with both Deadly Overtures (releases in June) and The Crêpes of Wrath (releases in September).🙂

Social Media Pages

I now have author pages on both Goodreads and Bookbub!

My current books and my next two releases are now up on Goodreads, and I’ve also linked this blog to my Goodreads author page.

If you’re a Bookbub user, you can now follow me there and receive notifications of any new releases.

As always, you can also find me on Twitter and Facebook.

You can find my social media pages by clicking the icons below:

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Cover Reveal: The Crêpes of Wrath

A while back I announced that I’ll have a new cozy mystery series (published by Penguin Random House) beginning in September 2016 – the Pancake House Mysteries. The Crêpes of Wrath is the first book in the series and will be released as an e-book on September 20, 2016. Today I’m excited to share the cover for The Crêpes of Wrath for the first time.

Here it is:

Cover - Crepes

I love how the designer incorporated a glimpse of the ocean and really captured the cozy feel of the story and the setting – the seaside town of Wildwood Cove.

I’m also excited to share the cover copy for the book, so you can find out what it’s about:

In the debut of a delightful cozy mystery series, Sarah Fox introduces a charming new heroine who finds herself in a sticky situation: stacking pancakes, pouring coffee, and investigating murder.

When Marley McKinney’s aging cousin, Jimmy, is hospitalized with pneumonia, she agrees to help run his pancake house while he recovers. With its rustic interior and syrupy scent, the Flip Side Pancake House is just as she pictured it—and the surly chef is a wizard with crêpes. Marley expects to spend a leisurely week or two in Wildwood Cove, the quaint, coastal community where she used to spend her summers, but then Cousin Jimmy is found murdered, sprawled on the rocks beneath a nearby cliff.

 After she stumbles across evidence of stolen goods in Jimmy’s workshop, Marley is determined to find out what’s really going on in the not-so-quiet town of Wildwood Cove. With help from her childhood crush and her adopted cat, Flapjack, Marley sinks her teeth into the investigation. But if she’s not careful, she’s going to get burned by a killer who’s only interested in serving up trouble.

I can’t wait for this book to get out in the world and for readers to spend time with the main character, Marley, in Wildwood Cove!😀

The Crêpes of Wrath is currently available for pre-order from online retailers like Amazon.

Building a Mystery

Power of Words

The Power of Words by Antonio Litterio

Recently I was asked about my drafting process, so I thought I’d share a bit about it here on my blog.

My drafting strategy has changed over time, and I won’t be surprised if it continues to evolve as I write more books in the future. When I first started writing novels, I was a complete panster. In other words, I’d start writing without doing any plotting or planning beforehand. That didn’t work out so well for me though. I’d end up with a weak plot that sometimes dwindled off into nothing as I wrote myself into a dead-end.

When I wrote my first mystery, Dead Ringer (which was my fourth novel), I did a bit of planning before writing, but not a whole lot. That strategy worked at the time, but when I approached my next mystery in the same fashion, the results weren’t so great. I ended up with a manuscript that was way too short and had to spend a lot of time and effort reworking it into a full-length story.

Since that experience, I’ve been doing a lot more planning before starting to write, and so far I’m finding that it makes my life easier. I’m not the kind of person who can plan out the entire story before drafting, with every scene outlined in detail, but I do like to have a framework to build on, especially for mysteries, which can get confusing with all the suspects, clues, and red herrings involved.

When preparing to write a mystery, I now start out by planning the basics. I come up with the killer, the victim(s), the motive, and the means. Once I know those elements, I make a list of suspects, people who have a reason to want the victim dead. I also include each suspect’s apparent motive. Then I move on to listing the things that each suspect will do or the information the main character will find out about them that makes that person seem guilty. Sometimes I’ll also make a note of what could end up exonerating that suspect in the end.

I assign each character a colour and then merge all the suspect notes into a timeline so I have a general idea of which events will occur in which order and when the main character will discover each piece of information. That timeline usually changes along the way, but it at least gives me something to work with. The colour coding helps me to see how the things related to each suspect will be distributed throughout the story, and also makes it obvious if one character needs more added to his or her part of the plot.

Once all that is done, I write a basic outline for the first two or three chapters, and then I start writing. Generally, I’ll outline between two and five chapters at a time. That allows me to have some direction while also letting the story take me places I couldn’t have anticipated beforehand.

So while I do work with an outline, that outline changes and evolves along the way. I guess that puts me somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between a plotter and a pantster. Probably a little closer to the plotter side now, which is proving valuable in my current circumstances. Now that I have deadlines to meet, I find it far less stressful to end up with a relatively strong plot at the end of the first draft, rather than having to spend weeks later on revising substantial parts of the structure of the story. Of course, that’s just what works best for me. Every writer is different, after all.🙂

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