Cover Reveal: For Whom the Bread Rolls

I got my first glimpse of the cover for the second Pancake House Mystery, For Whom the Bread Rolls, about a week ago and I absolutely loved it right away. It’s so cute and cozy and perfect for the story, which is, after all, a cozy mystery. 🙂

I’m super excited that I can now share the cover with the world, so I won’t delay any longer!

Here it is:

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Isn’t the cat adorable?

I’m so grateful to the Alibi design team for creating such a great cover, and I can’t wait until the book is out in the world too. For Whom the Bread Rolls will be released in March 2017. In the meantime, if you haven’t yet checked out the first book in the series, The Crêpes of Wrath, you can find it here.

Thanks for coming by to see my new cover! 🙂

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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

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). 🙂

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. 🙂

Cover Reveal: Deadly Overtures

Deadly Overtures (A Music Lover’s Mystery #3) will be released in June 2016, first as an e-book, with paperback to follow. As with the first two books in the series, Deadly Overtures follows professional violinist Midori Bishop in her adventures as an amateur sleuth. I’ll share more about the book below, but first here’s the cover:

Deadly Overtures

I love it so much and I’m so grateful to the art department at HarperCollins for designing such fabulous covers for each book in the series.

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 can bring the truth to light before the killer silences her forever?

Again, Deadly Overtures is due out in June 2016. The ebook is currently available for pre-order on Amazon, Amazon Canada, Chapters, Barnes & Noble, and from other online book retailers. You can find out more about the first two books in the series (Dead Ringer and Death in A Major) on my author website.

I’ve had so much fun writing this mystery series and I hope readers will enjoy it!

Writing Update

Blue_pen_on_paper

Photo credit: Revital9

Writing-wise, the last few months have been very busy for me, but in the best possible way. I’ve been working on two cozy mystery series, both of which have books coming out in the next few months. In January, the second book in the Music Lover’s Mystery series, Death in A Major, was released as an e-book, and the trade paperback was released in mid-February. While that book was getting released into the world, I was working away at the third book in the series (Deadly Overtures) as well as the first book in the Pancake House Mystery series (Crêpes of Wrath).

At this point, Deadly Overtures and Crêpes of Wrath are with their respective copy editors. The manuscripts will come back to me one more time for final review, and then I won’t see them again until they’re published. (Exciting!) Deadly Overtures is due out in June 2016 and Crêpes of Wrath will be released in September 2016.

I’ve seen the cover for Deadly Overtures and absolutely love it. I’m hoping I’ll be able to do a cover reveal soon to share it with everyone. I hope you’ll all love it as much as I do!

While I’m waiting for the copyedited manuscripts to come back to me for final review, I’m working on the second book in the Pancake House Mystery series. Although I’ve been doing some brainstorming and plotting for a week or two, I only started drafting it this weekend. Aside from reviewing my other manuscripts one last time, this is the book I’ll be focusing on for the next few months.

I hope readers will enjoy both series! 🙂

Release Day: Death in A Major

Death in A MajorToday Death in A Major gets released into the world!!! 😀 😀 😀

This is the second book in my Music Lover’s Mystery series, which follows the sleuthing adventures of professional violinist Midori Bishop. Available today as an e-book, Death in A Major will also be released in trade paperback on February 23, 2016.

For those who haven’t yet read the official blurb, here it is:

When Archibald Major, local big wig and nasty tyrant, drops dead at a post-concert reception, violinist Midori Bishop soon suspects foul play. Although Midori has no intention of getting involved in another murder investigation, that all changes when Jordan—her violin student and the victim’s grandson—seeks her help convincing the police that the real killer is his uncle, a low-level criminal. As Midori digs into the victim’s life, she discovers that he was a man who created discord at every turn, even within his own family, and there is no shortage of potential suspects. When someone close to Midori unexpectedly confesses to the crime, Midori must race to discover the identity of the true killer before an innocent person goes to jail for a crime they didn’t commit…and before Midori herself becomes a victim in the killer’s deadly encore.

I hope readers will enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Here’s the Amazon link.

The first book in the series is called Dead Ringer and I’m currently working on the third book which will be released in June 2016.

Dead RingerDeath in A Major

Book News!

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I’m happy to announce that I have another book deal! My fabulous agent, Jessica Faust, has sold my cozy mystery Crêpes of Wrath to Penguin Random House (Alibi) in a three book deal!

The first book in the Pancake House Mystery series, Crêpes of Wrath follows Marley McKinney as she works to solve a murder while managing the Flip Side pancake house in the seaside town of Wildwood Cove, Washington.

I had so much fun writing this book and I’m excited to write the second and third installments of the series over the next year. The seaside setting was inspired by the place where I vacationed each summer while growing up, and I’ve loved incorporating the setting into the story.

The pancake house mysteries will be available as ebooks and Crêpes of Wrath will be released in September 2016.

I’m so happy about this news, and I hope readers will enjoy this new series! 😀

Writing Update

My debut novel, Dead Ringer: A Music Lover’s Mystery, has been out in the world for more than two months now(!). I’m still getting used to the fact that it’s an actual book and that there are people out there reading it, but the whole experience has been amazing so far.

Although I’ve been doing things like writing guest posts for mystery writing blogs and having a book launch at the local library, I’ve also been keeping busy with my writing projects. I sent the second book in the Music Lover’s Mystery series to my editor just recently and I sent an unrelated mystery manuscript to my agent. While I wait for both of those projects to come back to me for edits/revisions, I’ve started work on book three in the Music Lover’s Mystery series. I’m so happy to be writing another book in this series because I love the characters (particularly the main character, Midori, and her best friend, JT) and I have so much fun writing their stories.

TheDead Ringer second book in the series will be released in January 2016 by HarperCollins and I hope readers will enjoy following Midori’s sleuthing adventures as much as I enjoy writing them. 😀

Anyone interested in learning more about Dead Ringer can find it at the following places:

HarperCollins, Amazon, Chapters, iTunes and Barnes & Noble.

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