Monday, December 10, 2012

'Cora Flash and the Treasure of Beggar's Bluff' now available!

Cora Flash and the Treasure of Beggar's Bluff is now available on! If you don't have a Kindle, don't worry, you can download a free Kindle app for your iPad/tablet/phone or read it on your computer with the Kindle Cloud Reader. Just in time for the holidays!

 After a busy and mysterious summer, Cora is back at school and stumbles onto another mystery on her first day back! While researching a school project, Cora discovers a treasure map tucked inside a book at the library. Cora is thrilled, and with the help of her dog Calvin, she can't wait to find what the map will lead to. But someone else wants her map, and will stop at nothing to get to the treasure first. What is the treasure, and will Cora get to it first? Cora's friends Shelby and Tricia join in, and with Calvin leading the way, the treasure hunt is on!

Click here for more!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Work has begun on book 3!

I wanted to let everyone know that I have started working on Cora Flash Book 3!  No details just yet on the plot (or title!) but I am hard at work and plan to have this in your waiting hands in time for the holidays. I'll keep everyone posted when there is a development, but expect to see the title and cover art sometime next month!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Movies that Inspired Cora

The setting of a train for my first mystery seemed like a natural fit; I have always been fascinated by mystery-on-a-train movies.  I remember an episode of Laverne & Shirley (yes, that’s right) called Murder on the Moosejaw Express where the girls were on a train and were naturally involved in some sort of mystery caper.  I don’t remember the exact details of the episode, but I do remember who the murder was (neither Laverne nor Shirley, naturally!)  That episode always stuck with me as being a favorite for some reason, there was something fascinating about a mystery on a train.

Sometime later, I would stumble upon a Saturday afternoon movie matinee on television, Strangers on a Train. This easily became one of my all-time favorite Hitchcock films. Two strangers meet on a train and decide to “swap murders” – one killing the others wife in exchange for killing his father. Much of the action did not actually take place on a train, mind you, but the setup did, and it was brilliantly executed. Hitchcock had earlier roots on the rails in another favorite, The Lady Vanishes. From the title, you can guess the plot fairly easily – a woman who was travelling on a train mysteriously vanishes. Not only does the lady vanish, but all traces of her having been on the train in the first place also seem to vanish, much to the frustration of the movie’s heroine, who spends the rest of the movie sorting things out.

A few years ago, I stumbled up on another train mystery, The Narrow Margin (from 1952, not to be confused with the 1990 Gene Hackman remake – which is not as good) . The Narrow Margin is a fairly short, “B” film clocking in at only 71 minutes but delivers a solid punch. It is classic film noir, perfectly utilizing its small cast and tight plot.

Of course, no train movie list would be complete without mentioning Murder on the Orient Express. Although I am an avid Agatha Christie fan, I have to admit I am somewhat underwhelmed by her most famous story. I find the pace a little slow, the resolution mostly unbelievable and have often fallen asleep trying to make it through several of the film adaptations.  The book and films are not among my favorites, by any means, but thought they at least deserved a mention. As a side note, you may not know the Orient Express is still in full operation and I encourage you to look at their site, the pictures of the train interiors will leave you breathless – they are unlike any other form of transportation you have ever seen.

When I was within spitting distance of finishing the Cora Flash and the Diamond of Madagascar, I took a train to a city about two hours away from me to amp-up my inspiration.  I wrote the entire way on the train, and holed myself up in a hotel overnight to continue writing, and finished the first draft on the train ride home… with a little time left over to enjoy the ride!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

'Cora Flash and the Mystery of the Haunted Hotel' now available in Print!

The print edition of the second book in the series, Cora Flash and the Mystery of the Haunted Hotel is now available for purchase at Amazon!  If you haven't had a chance, take a look at the fantastic cover art that my talented cover artist Katerina did for this book - you'll love it!  The second book will look fantastic on your bookshelf next to Cora Flash and the Diamond of Madagascar - they're even numbered on the spine so you can keep the series in order!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why I write mysteries

I have written, or started writing, many different pieces of work over the years - novels, screenplays, stage plays and short stories. More often than not, I abandoned the pieces and started working on something else. The few pieces I did manage to finish and even got to a polished state were always mystery stories.  The first story I finished, at around age 12, was called The Man with Two Faces. I do not actually remember much about the plot of this story, but remember quite vividly that I typed it on a massive electric typewriter that was a casualty of my Mother’s office PC conversion and that I scrambled to finish it while my sister was having a party in our basement. Her friends were four years older than I was and all seemed to take a keen interest in the kid in the basement typing a mystery story. They sat and waited for me to finish a page so I could pass it to them to continue the story until I finished it later that night. Perhaps because of the early validation in this genre, I have stuck with it and found I am most comfortable writing in this space. Not that I don’t intend to write other things for other audiences, but I naturally seem to gravitate to this category, and feel quite comfortable hanging out there. There is something about the mechanics of a mystery that interests me, the possibility of the reader figuring it out, even though you have withheld key information that only your protagonist knows.  In life, I am a creature of habit, and fairly well structured in my everyday life and I think this also explains why I like mysteries. Structure is a key component to a good mystery story and I find comfort in lining everything up “just-so”. As I continue writing my Cora series, I hope to find stories and plot elements that stump readers just enough without frustrating them, while at the same time satisfying my desire to tie things up with a nice big bow.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cora Flash and the Mystery of the Haunted Hotel is now available!

I'm happy to announce that book 2 in the Cora Flash series, Cora Flash and the Mystery of the Haunted Hotel is now available for Kindle and Kobo!  Be sure to check it out and tell your friends and family about the mysterious adventures of Cora Flash!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Read the first chapter of 'Cora Flash and the Mystery of the Haunted Hotel' ?

As I get very close to finalizing the second book in my series, I would like to offer you a sneak preview.  Click here to read the first chapter from Cora Flash and the Mystery of the Haunted Hotel.

Don't forget to subscribe using the box to the right to make sure you get updates straight to your email box, and watch for the Haunted Hotel, it's coming to your ereader or bookshelf in just a few more days!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Stop the presses! Book 2 gets a new name!

I have decided to rename the second book to something that is more in line with the plot of the novel. The new title of the book is Cora Flash and the Mystery of the Haunted Hotel.

I hope you find it deliciously spooky!  Here is the new cover art:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fundraising campaign on Indiegogo

I have recently launched a fundraising campaign on crowd-funding site Indiegogo in order to fund an advertising campaign for the first two Cora books. I am hoping to increase my reader base and I think a dynamic campaign will go far towards this goal. Please check out the site and be sure to tell everyone you know. Thank you for your support!

Click here to visit my Indiegogo page

P.S. There are lots of 'thank you' gifts (epubs, physical books etc.) available, so be sure to read through the 'Perks'!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Presenting the cover to 'Cora Flash and the Mystery at Topaz Mountain'!

I am VERY excited to share the cover of book two in the series, Cora Flash and the Mystery at Topaz Mountain!  The book is in the final stages of editing, and will be available to purchase very soon! Of course, I will post a message as soon as it is available, so be sure to sign up for my updates on the right side of the blog, and connect with me on Facebook and Twitter!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Download the first three chapters of Cora Flash and the Diamond of Madagascar!

I'm happy to share the first three chapters of Cora Flash and the Diamond of Madagascar! Get to know Cora by clicking the link below and I'm sure you'll love her. Then hop on over to my store to continue continue the adventure!

Click here to download the first three chapters!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Goodreads Giveaway! Two copies available!

Two copies of "Cora Flash and the Diamond of Madagascar" are available in a Goodreads Giveaway!  It ends on the 25th, so hurry up and enter!  And tell your friends & family!  Click here to enter.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cora gets an update

I took many of your comments to heart, and the results of the survey speak loud and clear.  After much research and soul searching, I have decided to update the cover art for Cora Flash and the Diamond of Madagascar one final time.  The cover still maintains many of the original design elements from the first cover, but Cora now looks a bit older (and wiser, perhaps!) and the cover might even be a little more appealing to the male readership out there, which is a nice bonus.  I'm very pleased with the new cover and excited to start working on the cover of the second book which I will preview as soon as I can.  (Meanwhile, stay tuned for a first chapter preview of Cora Flash and the Mystery at Topaz Mountain, which will come next week!)

Here is the new cover, I hope you love it as much as I do!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

It's time for a survey! Which cover do you like better?

I have been struggling with my choice of cover since first publishing in February (see previous blog post).  My first cover was done by a very talented artist and I quite like it but am worried it is a bit too young, so I had another cover designed that looks a bit more stylized and, hopefully, appeals to my target audience of 9-12 year olds.  Which cover do you prefer? Use the survey widget at the right to make your choice. (And if there are any 9-12 year olds in the house, ask them for their opinion! And then buy them the book!) [Note: Sorry, the poll is now closed. Thank you to all who participated!]

Friday, May 4, 2012

Featured Interview on 'Kindle Mystery Authors' Blog

Please swing on over to the Kindle Mystery Authors blog and check out the interview with yours truly!  It will be featured on their home page through the entire weekend. It's a great site to bookmark, lots of mystery books to add to your pile!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Importance of Writing Reviews

I wanted to take a few lines to remind people of the importance of writing reviews. When you submit a review to Amazon, for example, that review figures into the strange and mysterious algorithm that Amazon uses to rank and suggest books. This means the books get more expsoure, which means more sales, which means more writing from the authors you like (or love!).  Please show your support when you read a book by submitting an online review.  For an interesting article on the topic, click here.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Congratulations to the Goodreads winners!

A big thank you to all of the Goodreads readers who participated in my recent giveaway (all 687 of you!) and a big congratulations to Natasha, Heather, James, Patti and Lanicsha! Your books will be in the mail tomorrow! I hope you enjoy them!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Come visit on Facebook!

I've just set up my Facebook page and I would love if you could come over and 'like' me! I will share images and excerpts from new Cora books and would love to answer any questions you have on the series. Post questions to my wall and I'll be sure to get back to you.  Click here to visit my Facebook page!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Goodreads Giveaway!

Through the month of April, I am offering 5 copies of "Cora Flash and the Diamond of Madagascar" as a Goodreads Giveaway!  To enter the contest, click here. Tell your friends and family, there are only a few more weeks to enter!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Coming this summer: Cora Flash and the Mystery at Topaz Mountain!

I'm excited to share with you that I have started working on the next installment of the Cora Flash series - "Cora Flash and the Mystery at Topaz Mountain".

This story picks up right after the first one finishes, with Cora arriving at her Uncle AndrĂ©'s hotel in the mountains. Strange things have been happening at the Inn, and Cora is determined to figure out exactly what is going on.  Some familiar faces will join her in her search, perhaps one of them will bark a clue or two!

Watch for it this summer! And don't forget to sign up on the right to receive email updates so you'll be the first to know!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Do free promo days on KDP Select work? Here’s my take.

As part of Amazon’s KDP Select, I decided to take advantage of the 5 free promotion days that are offered with the program.  The first time I ran the promotion, in one day, I had around 500 downloads of my book.  It was tremendously exciting, I watched my book climb higher and higher in the Top 100 charts and found a snug spot at the top of my category for the majority of the day, and even managed to crack the top 500 of the overall free chart.  I could not wait to see those reviews flow in, the sales continue the next day and for my book to take on a life of its own – but it wasn’t so.  The book sold steady numbers after the promo, but not a single review came in for a few weeks.  I was convinced that none of the 500+ people who downloaded the book had actually read it.

During this crazy day of downloads, I noticed significant Twitter postings about my book, all curiously worded in a similar fashion, promoting the free book.  It appeared that there are a number of massively-followed Twitter users who do nothing but promote free Kindle books on Twitter, likely scoring some sort of revenue from those who click through and download the books. These Tweeple appear to be marketing to those who are only interested in downloading free books – with no intention of actually reading them.  Despite that, I decided to run another two day free promo over a weekend and had similar results.  I noticed many tweets about the book, lots of downloads (although at a slower rate) but the same end result. No reviews, no significant spike in sales, but steady numbers.

I recently changed my book cover (see previous post) so I decided to give the new design some exposure and run my final two-day promotion. To my surprise, my download numbers were MUCH lower. By the end of my final 2-day promo, around 150 copies were downloaded. However, a quick search of Twitter shows not one of these odd Twitter handles have tweeted about the free book offer.  Which I assume means the people who are downloading the book actually acquired the book for legitimate purposes, and may actually read it!  My hope is that these quality-downloads (as I will refer to them) will result in reviews and sustainable sales through word-of-mouth and an increased fan base. Time will tell.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Tale of Two Covers

I launched my first book on Amazon in February and had some nice results out of the gate. I sold a few copies without much promotion, had some nice reviews and ran some free promos that seemed to boost my numbers a wee bit. However, something started troubling me.  The mysterious algorithms that generate the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” were showing books that were of a different reading age than my target.  Books like, “Pookie the Mousepig” and “What’s that Smell? Is it you?” were showing up.  I’m sure these books are great books for their target audience, but far too young for my target 9-12 year old market. I started to panic, thinking I might be missing out on referrals from other books that were similar to mine by not appearing in the right lists, so I started to tweak my listing. First, I revised my product description to something that was a little more in line with my target audience.  I made sure to add the age range of my target in the description as well. 

There was only one other element that was concerning me. The Cover.

I commissioned an artist to draw a cover for my book and I absolutely loved the work she did.  It was fun, bright, inviting and a good representation of the character I had in my mind. However, the more I looked at it, the more I questioned. “Is this the book a 10 or 11 year old would carry around with them?” The answer I kept coming back to was, “Probably not.” Although it had a wonderful feel to it, it was a little ‘cartoon-like’ and was maybe not as appealing to my audience as I hoped it would be.  Having some experience with design, I started playing around with a new concept myself and came up with a design that (I think) is pretty solid.  It would appeal to my demographic as well as an older audience, potentially expanding my audience. It also lends itself very nicely to future volumes with a look that will brand well. It’s too early to see if this change will have a noticeable effect on sales, but I’m keeping an eye on things, hoping to snag a little more attention from my audience.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cora Flash featured on Jr. Edition!

I received a nice note from that Cora Flash and the Diamond of Madagascar is going to be featured starting today on their Junior Edition website!  Thanks to Paula at and to Austin and his son Luc who suggested the title be added to the site!
Be sure to check it out here!

Saturday, February 11, 2012


It's a free weekend everyone, please take advantage of this opportunity to introduce a new mystery series into your life with Cora Flash and the Diamond of Madagascar - FREE all weekend at Amazon.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Made it to #1 !!!

Thank you to everyone who helped me reach #1 on the Kindle Free Top 100 Children's Mystery /Detective Fiction list yesterday evening, that was such a nice surprise!  It was fun to watch it climb up and up and up through the course of the day, and I look forward to moving up the ranks of the paid Top 100 now!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cora Flash and the Diamond of Madagascar

Hello and welcome!  My first book, Cora Flash and the Diamond of Madagascar is finally available on Amazon!  It has been a long time in the works and I am so happy to be able to share it with you!  Please let me know what you think of it, and stay tuned for updates on Cora Flash and the Mystery at Topaz Mountain, coming soon!