New Year, New Blog!

Resolutions

Happy 2021, everyone! With the new year, I’ve decided to give my blog a little refresher so it better reflects my writing and books. So, Sustainable Writer is now Suspense with A Twist blog. I hope to post more regularly this year and also spotlight a few more of my author friends who have books coming out in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre.

As a second resolution, I’ve gotten more active on BookBub plan to use that platform to recommend one or two books a month that I truly enjoyed. These will most likely be in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre as that’s the majority of what I read. I hope you’ll follow me on BookBub and get some great reading recommendations in the process!

Exciting News from the Past Month

Apart from the holidays, it has been such a busy few weeks. Here are some recent highlights from writing and publishing life:

  1. In December, TWO WIDOWS hit #34 on Amazon out of ALL KINDLE BOOKS and #1 in each of its categories! This was beyond my wildest dreams. I’m happy that it is continuing sell steadily so many months after publication.
  2. My newer release, SHE LIES ALONE, is off to a strong start and has reached its own milestone with already over 200 reviews on Amazon! (As an added bonus, most of them are positive!) I’m thrilled that SHE LIES ALONE reached the Amazon’s Top 100 in the very competitive Psychological Fiction and Psychological Thriller categories.
  3. My self-published suspense novel, TOP PRODUCER, survived the slush pile and was named to the Long List in the 2020 Clue Awards (the mystery/suspense division of the Chanticleer International Book Awards.) My book will now move onto the next round of judging and I’ll let you know in a month or two if it makes the shortlist.
  4. And finally, I’ve just completed final edits to my third book (recently re-titled, THE LAKE HOUSE) to be published by Bookouture in March 2021. I hope you’re not envisioning a posh, glass-walled mansion overlooking a bustling lake, because this lake house is a lot creepier and more remote, and (spoiler alert) not everyone makes it out alive! I can’t wait to share the cover and the back cover blurb with you in a future post!

That’s all I have for now… I’ve started outlining my next novel and will soon be busy writing. Thanks for hanging out with me for a few minutes. Until next time, happy writing and reading!

The Emotional Turmoil of Getting Published

What is Success in Writing?

For so many years, the end goal of my writing was to land an agent, sign with a publisher, and have my fully-legitimized book thrust out into the world with the approval stamp of the publishing house on its spine. After that, I imagined myself throwing confetti in the air and basking in the joy of post-publishing glory. In this idealized vision, publication equaled success. I never thought much about what came after publication. For some reason, the reviews that would follow–both good and bad–didn’t factor into my daydream.

Well, fast-forward a few years. I landed (and fired) my agent. I signed a three-book deal with Bookouture, who recently released Two Widows, the first of three stand-alone suspense novels. My second suspense novel, She Lies Alone, is coming out in less than two weeks. These stories–the ones I spent literally years of my life crafting, writing, and revising–are now out there for people to read and review. It’s exciting, yes. It’s also terrifying.

I’m happy to say that Two Widows has been very well-received by the suspense-reading community. Still, like almost every book, it has garnered occasional one and two-star reviews. As much as the reviews praising my book have injected me with a sense of euphoria (especially the ones that say they would give it MORE than five stars if they could!), the mean reviews hurt equally as much. These critical people do not hesitate to share how much they HATED my book. Some negative reviews are easier to disregard–for example, those written in one extremely long run-on sentence with no punctuation and brimming with misspelled words, or those that state incorrect facts, demonstrating that the reader has zero reading comprehension, or those that are hateful toward gay people and offended that my main character reconciles with her gay son and admits she’d been wrong to blindly follow a few bullies in her small town church. As authors, it is difficult to not be able to respond to these. But we can’t.

The advance Netgalley reviews for She Lies Alone are starting to show up on Goodreads. The first three people who read it left FIVE-STAR reviews. Woo-hoo! (I must have really found the pinnacle of success with this second book.) Then a few four star reviews followed. (I’ll take a four-star review any day.) The last five reviews have been 3 stars. (Can you feel my energy deflating?) Reading some of these new comments about my book being “average” and “predictable” feels like something akin to emotional abuse, to someone berating my child in front of me. I went from having a wonderful day to wanting to jump off the nearest bridge. (Did I mention I’m a highly sensitive person?)

Apparently, some readers are disappointed that the cover doesn’t match the story. I’m wondering why these people didn’t bother to read the back cover blurb. Others are disappointed that my book is not a true “thriller.” That’s correct, She Lies Alone is a novel of psychological suspense, just as it says in the subtitle! Maybe you can see why I’m frustrated…

How to Cope

For my fellow writers who are finding the thrill of publication tarnished by negative reviews, here are some things I’ve found that help:

  1. Look up a few of your all-time favorite books on Amazon or Goodreads. See how members of the general population left average and bad reviews the book that you so loved. You know they aren’t right. Now apply the same logic to YOUR book.
  2. Remind yourself (as my editor often reminds me) that no book is going to please everyone. It has literally never been done.
  3. Look for constructive criticism and use it to make your next book better. As much as I hate to say it, when several people are saying the same thing over and over again, there’s a good chance they might be on to something.
  4. Don’t read the reviews. Okay, I had to say it, but no one believes that is going to happen.
  5. Remember why you write. I write because there is a story within me that needs to be told. I write because I enjoy being creative. I write because I’m good at it. This passion of telling mysterious and suspenseful stories is for me, not to please some twenty-two-old woman with a permafrown who lives in a crappy apartment building in the middle of Arkansas and who’s initials are K. M. and who I’ve never met and probably wouldn’t like if I did meet her. (Too specific?)

Don’t Dwell. Keep Writing.

While easier said than done, I’m striving to let negative reviews roll off my back. I’m going to appreciate and gain energy from the positive feedback. My third book has just been sent to my editor to prepare for the line edits, and that is where my focus needs to be, not on books that I’ve already written, re-written, revised, and edited. I’ve already poured my heart and soul into those books and they can’t be changed now. I like my books. Actually, that’s not true. I love my books. And for a writer, maybe that’s the true mark of success.

Book Release Day! TWO WIDOWS!

One secret. Nowhere left to hide.

I’ve been waiting for this day for months and can’t believe it’s finally here! My suspense novel, TWO WIDOWS, has been published by Bookouture.

TWO WIDOWS will be on a blog tour through September 2nd on a wide variety of fabulous book review blogs. See the schedule above to check it out!

The eBook version is currently only $.99 from a wide variety of retailers:

The body of an unidentified woman has been found on a local beach in a small town. The police have no suspects.

Gloria is used to solitude. Widowed and still grieving her late husband, she spends her days with only her faded photographs for company. But when a young woman is murdered nearby, Gloria grows anxious. Living alone in an old farmhouse, surrounded by empty woods, there’s no one for miles who would hear her scream.

When freelance travel writer Beth arrives with her trailer to live on Gloria’s land, Gloria is relieved not to be alone. The police have no suspects in the murder and fearless Beth makes Gloria feel safe. Then Gloria discovers Beth is a widow too: the women become closer and begin to share their secrets.

But soon Gloria starts to wonder… what does she actually know about Beth? About what brought her to this isolated spot? About how her husband really died? Is it a coincidence that she’s arrived just as this small town has seen its first murder in decades?

Gloria thought that Beth had told her all her secrets. She was wrong.

An utterly compelling suspense novel that will have you hooked, Two Widows is a gripping thriller that will keep you up all night. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, The Couple Next Door and The Woman in the Window.

Thanks for celebrating my book release with me! I hope you’ll check out TWO WIDOWS if you love reading dark and twisty suspense…

Cover Reveal – TWO WIDOWS

It’s Cover Reveal Day!

I’ve had an exciting week in writing. On Tuesday, I released my commercial fiction suspense novel, Top Producer. Today, I get to reveal the fabulous cover of Two Widows, my first suspense novel to be published with Bookouture this August!

So, without further ado…

TWO WIDOWS Cover

Two Widows releases August 27th from Bookouture, but is available for pre-order now on Amazon, iBooks, Google, and Kobo!

From the back cover –

I’d grown desperate for company since the discovery of the dead woman in town…

Gloria lives alone in an old farmhouse surrounded by empty land, miles from the nearest town in northern Michigan. Widowed and grieving her husband, mourning her broken relationship with her estranged son, lonely Gloria searches for answers in self-help books and has only faded photographs and stacks of unpaid bills for company. Her days all look the same.

Then the dead body of an unidentified young woman is found on the beach near Gloria’s house.

When freelance travel writer Beth arrives with her trailer to live on Gloria’s land, Gloria is relieved not to be alone. The police have no suspects in the murder and fearless Beth makes Gloria feel safe. Then Gloria discovers Beth is a widow too: the women become closer and begin to share their secrets.

But soon Gloria starts to wonder… what does she actually know about Beth? About what brought her to this isolated spot? About how her husband really died? Is it a coincidence that she’s arrived just as this small town has seen its first murder in decades?

Gloria thought that Beth had told her all her secrets. She was wrong.

A deeply compelling suspense novel that will have you hooked, this is a gripping thriller that will keep you up all night. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, The Couple Next Door, and The Woman in the Window.

Thanks for checking it out!

Book Release Day! TOP PRODUCER

laurawolfe138_new_Just in time for Summer Reading!

It’s Release Day for Top Producer, my suspense novel set in the world of Chicago real estate. After reading this book, I promise you’ll never look at your realtor the same!

From the Back Cover:

In the cutthroat world of real estate, only one can rise to the top.

Twenty-four-year-old newbie, Mara, can’t believe her luck when Chicago’s star realtor, Jacqueline Hendersen, hires her as her assistant. But Jacqueline’s polished exterior conceals her crooked moral compass and relentless quest to win the prestigious Top Producer Award. Under Jacqueline’s tutelage, Mara earns enough money to pay for her new condo and her sister’s mounting medical bills as she entangles herself in Jacqueline’s unorthodox methods of creating business.

Mara relies on her increasing success to justify her mentor’s illegal behavior. When a competing realtor ends up dead, Mara fears she will be Jacqueline’s next victim. Backed into a corner by her involvement in Jacqueline’s scandals, Mara faces a high-stakes dilemma. Will she risk everything she has struggled to achieve, or play along in Jacqueline’s murderous game? Because there can only be one Top Producer.

 

The Inspiration for Top Producer

Before I set out to become an author of suspense and mystery novels, I had a few other careers. One of those was as a realtor in downtown Chicago, where I sold condos, houses, and buildings for five years, eventually becoming one of the “top producers” in my company. But when the market crashed in 2008 and I had one baby at home and another on the way, my family and I moved out of the city and I began pursuing my passion for writing.

One day, my husband told me his brilliant premise for a novel:  what if a real estate agent manufactured situations that force people to buy and sell real estate? Think of the reasons people move–job loss, divorce, death, robbery, etc. This was how my villain, Jacqueline Hendersen, was born. I had the real estate know-how to write the book and felt a personal connection to my main character, Mara, whose naivety is squashed by the players in the underbelly of big-city real estate.

Top Producer has been a pet project of mine for several years now. It has undergone numerous rewrites based on feedback I received from editors and critique partners. While it is quite different than the kind of dark psychological suspense novels I’m currently writing for Bookouture, I decided to release Top Producer through my own imprint, Blue Pond Press, so it can have its day in the sun. The early reviews have been extremely positive:

Top Producer Review Graphic

Top Producer is a “larger than life” suspense novel that makes for entertaining summer reading. Please note it contains adult themes and language and is intended for the 18+ crowd. Thanks for checking it out!

View Top Producer on Amazon!

 

I Finally Get to Drink this Bottle of Wine!

The Story of the Bottle

IMG_4946When we moved to our new house almost three years ago, my husband and I made a binge-shopping trip to our local big-box store to stock up on groceries and necessities. In my haste to fill our cart and get out of the crowded store, I accidentally tossed in a $40 bottle of wine. (Normally, I purchase bottles in the more reasonable $10-$15 price range.) I didn’t realize my mistake until we were at the checkout, but things were hectic so we went through with it. When I got home, I felt a little guilty about the extravagant mistake, so I made a deal with myself. I told myself I would save the “good” bottle to open when I got a book deal.

One of my long-time goals has been to have my novels traditionally published by a large publisher. I’ve documented some milestones along this journey, including signing with an agent, completing and revising multiple manuscripts. parting with said agent, looking for a new agent, submitting my manuscripts on my own, all while still writing and being a mom to two kids. Well, you might be able to guess where this story is going. While I was busy writing, revising, submitting, and resubmitting, that bottle of “good” wine sat in our wine fridge for almost three years…

Pass the Corkscrew, Please!

About two months ago, I submitted my manuscript for a psychological suspense novel called, The Space Between, to an editor in the UK. Three weeks later, she asked me to make a few changes and resubmit. I did. A week after that, she asked me what else I had. I sent her summaries of my other manuscripts, one of which she asked to read. A few days after that, I received an offer for a three-book deal from Bookouture (Hachette UK!) I’d been hoping for a two-book deal, so a three-book option was beyond my wildest dreams! This past Friday, we signed the contract.

I now have three novels of psychological suspense coming out with Bookouture, The Space Between (August 2020), Where She Lies (November 2020), and The Cabin on Crooked Lane (spring 2021).  The third one hasn’t been written yet (minor detail!), but I’m now feeling validated and extra motivated to get it done. (There is more information about each book on my website, including a fourth novel, Top Producer, which I’ll be releasing through my own imprint on May 26th, 2020.)

I keep pinching myself. I’m so happy to finally get my books out into the world. Over the last several months, I had lost hope of accomplishing my dreams. I was contemplating throwing in the towel on my writing career. I was depressed at all the wasted time and effort I’d invested in writing and publishing. I’m so glad I didn’t give up. And for all of you writers out there with a dream in your heart and the willingness to hone your craft, I hope you don’t give up either.

Because I can tell you one thing–a glass of wine never tasted so good!