JUDY PENZ SHELUK – The road to publishing is paved with good intentions—and horror stories.

A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the bestselling author of Finding Your Path to Publication: A Step-by-Step Guide, as well as two mystery series: the Glass Dolphin Mysteries and Marketville Mysteries, both of which have been published in multiple languages. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including the Superior Shores Anthologies, which she also edited.


Judy is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she served on the Board of Directors for five years, the final two as Chair. She lives in Northern Ontario with her husband, Mike, and their Golden Retriever, Gibbs. Find her at www.judypenzsheluk.com.

Tell us about Finding Your Path to Publication. The road to publishing is paved with good intentions—and horror stories of authors who had to learn the hard way. For the emerging author, the publishing world can be overwhelming. You’ve written the book and are ready to share it with the world but don’t know where to start. Traditional, independent press, hybrid, self-publishing, and online social platforms are valid publishing paths. The question is, which one is right for you?

Finding Your Path to Publication is an introduction to an industry that remains a mystery to those on the outside. Learn how each publishing option works, what to expect from the process from start to finish, how to identify red flags, and avoid common pitfalls. With statistics, examples, and helpful resources compiled by an industry insider who’s been down a few of these paths, this is your roadmap to decide which path you’d like to explore and where to begin your author journey. Find it at your favorite bookseller: https://books2read.com/FindingYourPathtoPublication

Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline, or are you a pantser? For my mystery novels, I’m a total panster. But for the step-by-step guides, I followed an outline based on PowerPoint presentations I’d developed for my then-local library. Of course, outlines are just that. Once you get writing, things change and evolve. Finding Your Path to Publication, for example, required a lot of research and getting permission from various sources for surveys and the like.

When writing my mystery novels, I aim for a chapter a day—no more and no less—and I try seven days a week. I tend to write short chapters, though the odd one will be longer. I also try to leave each chapter with a hook or a question to be answered. I figure if I’m surprised, the reader will be too. And not knowing (since I’m a complete pantser) makes me want to come back the next day. I love the way ideas can percolate while I’m walking my dog, golfing, or in the middle of the night. I even have a lighted LED pen and notebook on my bedside table to jot down notes should inspiration strike while I’m in bed. Trust me, you will not remember those great ideas in the morning, and turning on a lamp will wake you completely.

What are you currently working on? Finding Your Path to Publication, which covers five publishing paths (Big 5 traditional, independent/small press, self-publishing, hybrid/assisted, and social), has been really well received. Still, I’ve heard from several authors who would really like to know more about the self-publishing process. I’m now in the editing stage of Self-publishing: The Ins & Outs of Going Indie. I’ve covered what an author must do to get their book ready for retail, how to upload to various retailers (Amazon, B&N, Kobo, etc.), advertising and promotions, conferences, business basics, social media, and more. Basically, it’s a handbook to self-publishing for the clueless! The publication date is tentatively scheduled for November 1st.

How do you come up with character names? I always watch the end credits of movies and TV shows; lots of interesting names to riff off. For example, in Yellowstone, there is a character named Colby, played by Denim Richards. I loved the name Denim, so in Before There Were Skeletons (book 4 Marketville), I named a new character Denim Hopkins (the Hopkins a nod to a friend who passed away from cancer a few years ago). My Denim is female, and she has a brother named Levy.

In the same series, the protagonist is Calamity (Callie) Barnestable. When I started writing Skeletons in the Attic (book 1), I was the Senior Editor for New England Antiques Journal. I’d been sent a press release about a cabinet card depicting Calamity Jane. I thought, Calamity – perfect – and Callie for short. I initially thought of Barnes (remembering Cliff Barnes nd Pamela Barnes Ewing from Dallas) but wanted something longer. Adding a “stable” seemed to fit.

In my Glass Dolphin series, the protagonists are Arabella Carpenter (I just loved the name Arabella), and heard The Carpenters on the radio when trying to come up with a last name. The other protagonist is Emily Garland. Emily for Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery – the book that made me want to grow up to be a writer – and Garland because I was named after Judy Garland.

I could cite lots of other examples, but you get the idea!

What kind of research do you do? I’m a meticulous researcher and a stickler for details – that probably comes from being a journalist for about 15 years (2003 to 2018). For A Hole in One (book 2 in my Glass Dolphin cozy series set in Ontario, Canada), I needed a gun that would make sense for an antique picker to own – but one that could also be a murder weapon. I know absolutely nothing about guns, so I called my local police station and explained who I was and what I was trying to accomplish. The officer on duty referred me to a gun shop in Ottawa, Canada, that specialized in antique firearms. The owner was great, walking me through options and suggesting a gun that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police would have used in the early 20th century, then sent me pictures of it. I spent the better part of two days on that gun research, and the reference didn’t amount to more than a couple of paragraphs in the book. But I knew if I had that wrong, it would ruin the book for someone who did know about guns. I’ve often been told that people learn from my books, and that makes me happy. Just because a book is a light read doesn’t mean it can’t teach us a thing or two.

How do our readers contact you? https://www.judypenzsheluk.com/contact/


  1. Michael A. Black

    Good interview, Judy. Your research and writing ethic will certainly take you over the rainbow, like the lady you were named after. Good luck.

    • Judy Penz Shleuk

      Thanks so much Michael. I appreciate that! Here’s hoping I don’t meet the same bad end as my namesake!

  2. Judy Penz Shleuk

    Thanks so much for hosting me today George. Readers: if you have a question on publishing paths, please leave a comment and I’ll respond. No question is too silly — and if you don’t know, chances are someone else won’t either. Don’t be shy!


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WENDY WHITMAN – From Comedy to Murder – What a Ride

Wendy Whitman has a unique background through her decades-long work as an executive and producer for Court TV and HLN, covering almost every major high-profile murder case in America. Through her knowledge of the most detailed aspects of the crimes, Ms. Whitman has become an expert on the subject of murder in America. Before attending Boston University School of Law, Whitman worked for comedians Lily Tomlin and George Carlin. After graduating from law school, the author embarked on what turned out to be a twenty-year career in television covering crime. She spent fifteen years at Court TV and another several at HLN for the Nancy Grace show, where she appeared on air as a producer/reporter covering high-profile cases. Whitman received three Telly Awards and two GLAAD nominations during her tenure at Court TV. Her debut crime thriller novel, Premonition, was released last year. The sequel, Retribution, will be out this July.
RETRIBUTION: After the shattering conclusion of Cary’s quest for justice for the victims of a suspected serial killer in PremonitionRetribution picks up with her cohorts continuing their investigation to hunt down the person responsible for the heinous murders. Who will be next? More importantly, who will come out on top in this deadly game of vengeance?

What brought you to writing? My passion for murder victims and what they have gone through drove me in large part to begin writing. After Court TV and then on Nancy Grace’s show at HLN covering high-profile murder cases, I always felt I had a book in me. I wanted to share my knowledge of the legal system with the public. Although I initially thought I’d write a non-fiction book, I realized I could do everything I wanted in a fictional novel. So one night, I sat down and didn’t stop writing until the early morning hours of the following day. My first crime thriller, Premonition, was a labor of love. I incorporated twenty-plus true cases throughout the book, which I think is unique for a crime thriller, and gave it that extra touch of realism. My second novel, Retribution, picks up where the first one left off. Since I began my writing journey, I have found ideas popping into my head all the time. I am already working on my third novel.

Tell us about your writing process: I didn’t have a plan when I began writing Premonition. The words just flowed out of me. But as the first draft progressed, I knew I had to make a daily schedule in order to complete the book in a reasonable amount of time. So I decided every day, no matter what came up, I would write a certain number of pages; usually, that was twenty or so. Often when I was out and about running errands, an idea would pop into my head, and I would pull over if I was driving and make a note of it. Then when I got home, I would continue to write until I reached my goal for the day. They say, “write what you know.” That thought guided me throughout each writing session. This technique worked well for me, and I completed the first draft in under four months.

Do you base any of your characters on real people? This can be a tricky question to answer. I think one of the most common questions an author gets asked is: “Am I in your book?” As I wrote my novels, I found that I automatically drew upon my experiences; my life. So in that regard, you could say every character has some basis in reality. However, none of my characters were based on one single person. They were either composites or, in some cases, completely made up. Although some situations in the book may be loosely based on actual events, the characters in those situations are not necessarily actual people. When writing fiction, it is especially important to distinguish your characters from the real people in your life: they are not one and the same.

What kind of research do you do? Generally speaking, when an author is writing a fictional novel, there is less research to do than if they were to write a non-fiction book. However, in the case of Premonition and Retribution, since I included references to many true cases in both novels, I had to be careful to get the facts straight. I chose certain murders to highlight in each book for different reasons. Some cases I chose had been neglected by the media; others because the protagonist or killer in the novels was fixated on them. I looked up each case to ensure I remembered the crimes’ details correctly so the books would be as accurate as possible.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? The answer to this is both. Again “write what you know” is a good guideline for any author. The best way to maintain true authenticity throughout a novel is to write about something you have firsthand knowledge of. My novels are set in Connecticut, in the general area where I reside. Although in certain cases, I modified the name of a town or business. Each was based on an actual place. In certain instances, I used the real name because I thought it was important for the setting. So my books have both real locations and fictional ones inspired by real places.

Do you have any advice for new writers? The first piece of advice I would give a new writer is twofold: the overused but critically important “write what you know” and write about something you are passionate about. That combination is a winning formula. Part of the reason I think it was relatively easy for me to complete the first draft of my debut crime thriller, Premonition, in under four months was because I had so much knowledge bottled up inside of me about a topic, i.e., murder. Readers can distinguish between an author who knows what they are writing about and one who does not. Trying to pen a novel about a topic you don’t have a handle on will go nowhere. You can’t fake it; write from the heart, and nothing can stop you. One last piece of advice: when writing, don’t stress about whether you will find an agent or a publisher. How will you promote the book? These are distractions that need to be put on the back burner until you have finished the actual task of writing. Take pride and pleasure in your creation; most of all, have fun with it.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and your books? Writing my first novel, Premonition, was therapeutic for me for several reasons. Having covered some of the most horrific murder cases for decades, I wanted to find a release from the horror of it all. Writing turned out to be the outlet I needed. I wanted my debut crime thriller to pay homage to murder victims and their families. I think I accomplished that goal, and I believe that intention is what makes my novels distinctive from other thrillers. The tagline of my website is: Bringing True Crime Experience to Crime Thrillers. That is exactly what I tried to do with Premonition. The story continues with Retribution, and I am currently working on a third novel to complete the trilogy.


*Facebook: Renee’s Reading Club; A Novel Bee; Global Girls Online Book Club; Peace Love Books; Wild Sage Book Blog
*Sisters in Crime National and Sisters in Crime-CT
*ITW (International Thriller Writers)
*Website: wendywhitman.com
*Amazon Link: https://amzn.to/3IEbXqs



  1. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    Thanks for sharing all your expertise with us, Wendy. Your books look thrilling. Perhaps a bit too scary for me. I tend towards bad dreams. Do you ever find you scare yourself with your own stories?

  2. Michael A. Black

    Good interview, Wendy. And thanks for paying homage to the victims and their families. All too often they’re forgotten. Best of luck to you.


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CHRISTOPHER G. JONES – Pen Name Topper Jones

Author Christopher G. Jones, Ph.D./CPA, goes under the pseudonym Topper Jones for his detective novels featuring surfing crime-fighter Thaddeus Hanlon and his sassy partner Bri de la Guerra. All That Glisters—book one in the series—has a release date of September 20, 2023, and is being published by The Wild Rose Press in both print and e-book format.

Before devoting himself full-time to writing, Jones worked in public accounting and higher education, where he taught accounting, computer information systems, and business writing. To be close to his family, he makes his home in the southwestern desert rather than his native California, but every chance he gets; he treks the 450 miles to the Pacific Coast to get in a little “water therapy” and catch a few waves.

All That Glisters is an edgy contemporary whodunit involving financial skullduggery, high-level political intrigue, and a behind-the-scenes view of cyber sleuthing. Here’s the pitch:

When the facts don’t add up in his surf buddy’s bizarre death, forensic consultant (and daddy-to-be) Thaddeus Hanlon investigates, volunteering to go undercover to pick up where best friend Rafi Silva left off in a secret probe of the U.S. gold stockpile—every last bullion bar.

Rafi’s spunky fiancée, Bri de la Guerra, has suspicions of her own and soon joins Thad on the hunt for answers. Together, the two amateur sleuths delve deep, stumbling onto a financial a-stock-apse in the making, triggering a brutal manhunt along the Eastern seaboard meant to silence anyone looking to set the ledger straight.

How long did it take you to write your first book? All that Glisters was 45 years in the making. I got the initial idea for ATG in 1977 after reading Robin Cook’s medical thriller Coma. I thought: If a physician can write a bestseller, why can’t a certified public accountant? We were both professionals. All I needed was a preposterous premise.

Rather than have my protagonist discover [Spoiler Alert] human organs being illegally harvested for the black market as in Coma, I decided to have my main characters discover “something” equally chilling regarding the financial markets—a disturbing “something” that would upend everything. Total economic meltdown and the consequences! Banks failing, riots in the streets, and breadlines stretching from coast to coast.

A few years later, while working as a strategy consultant at Bain & Company, I penned the first draft of ATG on my morning commute into downtown Boston. Fortunately, that draft never found a home. The writing was amateurish and unschooled. So, I took classes in creative writing and kept plugging away at my craft.

When I retired from my day job some forty years later, I pulled out my abandoned proverbial “novel in the drawer.” With the help of a developmental editor specializing in mysteries, I rewrote the thing from scratch. All except the preposterous premise.

What’s the premise, you say?

You’ll have to read the book to find out. 😉

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? Both! I’m a big fan of the late Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat!® approach to story structure, so I tend to “beat out” the major plot points in my novels, complete with scene cards. Each card has a short scene description identifying the Hero/Heroine, Goal, Obstacles, and Stakes, along with notes on the emotional change from scene opening to scene close.

As I write the scene, magic sometimes happens, and the “players” don’t behave as expected. I end up channeling the characters, leading to surprises I never would have imagined during the outline phase of the project.

Listening to the Muse means trusting the “pantsing” side of my brain. When that happens, I’m more than happy to rewire the plot. So, for my writing process, it’s both plotting and pantsing. But, always plotting first.

How do you raise the stakes for your protagonist—for the antagonist? At the novel’s midpoint, halfway through the book. Up to then, in my mysteries, the protagonists usually have been navigating the down-a-rabbit-hole world of sleuthing without much success. We’ve seen them search for clues, learn who to trust, and eliminate some dead ends. But they need a breakthrough to solve the case.

For example, by the middle of All That Glisters, the protagonists have run into a wall in their investigation. The only way they can scale that impasse is by learning to “color outside the lines.” When the protagonists decide to go rogue to find the killer, the antagonist takes notice and doubles down to avoid exposure. Things get serious. The pace quickens. And more bodies drop.

What are you currently working on? Book Two in the Thad Hanlon & Bri de la Guerra Mystery Series has been workshopped, reviewed by beta readers, and is currently under revision. Here’s the logline:  Newly licensed private investigator, Thad Hanlon, takes a break from catching waves along the California Central Coast to land his first client—a former exotic dancer from Bakersfield looking for her surf prodigy son who has gone missing in the wake of a string of ritualistic murders terrorizing Oceano Beach.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Workshop your work! Whatever it takes, get feedback from people interested in your success. And be open to what fellow writers have to say. They can tell when something isn’t working when characters behave out of character, and when your language isn’t capturing your intention. Listen and revise accordingly.

You can often find writing critique groups at your local library or through state and local writing organizations. I found my “writing safe space” through the Heritage Writers Guild, a local chapter of the League of Utah Writers. The Writers Improvement Group (WIG for short) meets each week to review what we wrote since the last session. Knowing I need to have “something for WIG” motivates me to get words on the page. The weekly goal: five pages double-spaced. In my case, my critique group functions as both a sounding board and an accountability group. Everyone needs a little encouragement. Especially writers!


Book Link: https://topperjones.com/product/all-that-glisters
Website: https://topperjones.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TopperJonesAuthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/topperjones_author/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christopher-g-jones-a566253/

Groups I belong to:

Mystery Writers of America
League of Utah Writers
Heritage Writers Guild
Utah Mystery Writers
International Thriller Writers


  1. Ilona Fridl

    Great advice! I hope your novel does well. It sounds interesting.

  2. Lucy Kubash

    I agree accountability groups are good. I meet regularly in Zoom with a group and it does help keep me moving forward. Best of luck with your new book

  3. Randy Overbeck

    Glad you found a way to give a good story premise new life!

  4. Barb Bettis

    Sounds like an exciting book, Topper. And congratulations on being a plotter who listens to his pantsing side 🙂 Best of luck with this book and the one in process.

  5. Jennifer Wilck

    Love the premise of the book. Good luck with it!


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LIS ANGUS – Shares Her Marketing Journey

Lis Angus is Canadian; she grew up in Alberta but moved to Ontario for university and has lived there ever since. Early in her career, she worked with children and families in crisis, switching later to work as a policy advisor, business writer, and editor while raising two daughters. Though she loved writing stories as a child and teenager, she didn’t come back to writing fiction until she retired. Her first novel, NOT YOUR CHILD, was published in April 2022. Lis is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Crime Writers of Canada, Capital Crime Writers, and the North Grenville Writers Circle. She lives with her husband south of Ottawa, where she is working on her second suspense novel.

NOT YOUR CHILDA strange man insists Susan’s twelve-year-old daughter Maddy is his granddaughter, abducted as a baby — then Maddy disappears, but he has an alibi.

How my book reached Amazon #1 Best Seller status: George, I’m glad to be back as a guest on your blog. You last hosted me last year when my debut novel, NOT YOUR CHILD, was first released by The Wild Rose Press. I was thrilled to be a published writer, and the book got off to a great start after its launch in April 2022. But this year, as another April approached, I realized that sales had slowed to a trickle.

That was disappointing, especially since I knew readers were giving the book great reviews. But was it too late to try to reach a wider audience?

I decided to announce a celebration of the book’s one-year anniversary with a promotional push in April 2023 to attract new readers. I had no idea how well the effort would work, but I was optimistic.

As things turned out, the “push” was way more successful than I anticipated, resulting in (spoiler alert!) over 2,100 sales and reaching Amazon’s #1 Best Seller status in three countries. Here’s how I went about it.

Reducing the Price: My first task was to persuade my publisher to reduce the ebook price (normally US$4.99) to 99¢. They were dubious, saying that a price cut wouldn’t necessarily increase sales, and even if it did, a reduced price would reduce the per-book royalty, thus likely wiping out any net benefit.

I argued that expanding the book’s readership was a benefit in itself, particularly if it built an audience for future books. Furthermore, without a promotional push, sales would likely stay at the then-current low level, so the downside risk of reducing the price was not large.

I laid out my “anniversary” marketing plan, which included applying to several sites that promote books at discounted prices. My publisher reluctantly agreed to set the book’s price at 99¢ for two weeks, from April 12-26. This price is applied to ebooks on Amazon (Kindle), Apple, Google Play, and Barnes & Noble (Nook).

Like most small presses, my publisher expects its authors to shoulder most of the work and expense of promoting their books. So the cost of this promotion would fall to me. I decided that expanding my reader base was a worthwhile investment, regardless of whether my royalties ended up covering the cost.

Applying for a BookBub Featured Deal: BookBub, founded in 2012, has over four million subscribers in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia. Readers sign up to receive daily email offers of free or discounted ebooks in genres of their choice. Authors and publishers pay to have their books promoted to BookBub’s subscribers.

I learned that BookBub Featured Deals are widely considered the gold standard of online book marketing opportunities, often resulting in significant increases in book sales. BookBub reportedly accepts only 10-20% of applications for Featured Deals; some authors say they’ve applied numerous times without being accepted.

Somehow, I managed to be accepted on my first try, though only for the three “international” markets: Canada, UK, and Australia. I also applied for the US, the largest market by far, but I didn’t get that one. My Deal was scheduled for Friday, April 21.

Lining up US Promos: Even though I didn’t have a BookBub Deal for the US market, my 99¢ price was available there as well. I thought reaching out to readers in that market was worth a try. So, after some research, I applied to three US promo sites that offered discounted books to readers, and promos were scheduled for the following dates:

  • Book Adrenaline (April 14)
  • Robin Reads (April 15)
  • Fussy Librarian (April 17)

Launching the Anniversary Month: I began the month by sending a note to my newsletter subscribers, announcing the one-year milestone and asking them to help me by recommending the book to friends who they thought would enjoy the book.

I had already lined up several guest blogs on author sites during the month and sent links from these to my subscribers as well.

On April 12, when the 99¢ price kicked in, I posted it to my Facebook Page, Twitter, and Instagram and “boosted” the post for two weeks to expand its reach.

Hitting Amazon #1 Bestseller status: To get a baseline, I checked each country’s Amazon listing to find my ebook’s “bestseller rank” before the promo started and tracked changes throughout.

Amazon US: on April 11, my book had a Kindle ranking of 184,509. Four days later, on April 15 — presumably, as a result of the Book Adrenaline and Robin Reads promos — it had risen to a Kindle rank of 2,553. Not only that but to my surprise, it was ranked #1Best Seller in the “Parenting Teenagers” category. (I don’t consider my book a source of parenting advice, but the #2 book was also a thriller!) It was also #25 in Kidnapping Thrillers.

Amazon International: On April 20 (the day before the BookBub Featured Deal), my book’s Kindle rankings were as follows:

  • Amazon Canada: 34,381
  • Amazon UK: 100,472
  • Amazon Australia: 69,470

A day later, by the end of April 21:

  • Amazon Canada: kindle book #3, Suspense #1, Kidnapping Thriller #1
  • Amazon UK: kindle book #26, Mysteries #10
  • Amazon Australia: kindle book #8, Suspense Thriller #1

Amazon recalculates its sales ranks every hour, and my “Best Seller” status didn’t last long. But these results far outstripped my expectations. A lot of readers had clearly decided to buy my book, but to know what exactly that meant, I had to wait for actual sales figures.

Results: Here are the April sales figures I’ve received from my publisher, though the final numbers still need to be confirmed. Most of the sales were through Amazon, but some were also through Google and Nook.

· BookBub deal countries (Canada, UK, and Australia): 1,470 books

· US (no Bookbub deal, smaller promos): 360 books

· Another 350 books sold through Apple Books, for which I don’t yet have a country breakdown.

In total, I now have something over 2,100 new readers—way more than I expected.

In conclusion: I definitely met and exceeded my goals for this promotional push. I probably haven’t recouped the full cost of the promotion, but I am well satisfied with the results nevertheless.

Contact information:
Website: https://lisangus.com/
Email: lisangusauthor@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lisangusauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lisangus1
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lisangus459/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59436824-not-your-child
Purchase links: https://books2read.com/notyourchild


  1. Valerie Brooks

    Congrats, Lis! And thank you for this great marketing strategy. As authors, we love sales, but we love new readers. That’s why we write. You rocked it!

  2. Bryan Fagan

    I’m saving this. It is hard getting our books noticed. This is a wonderful blueprint to follow. Excellent interview. Thank you.

  3. Pamela Meyer

    Lis, your go-getter attitude, meticulous planning, exemplary argument skills, and creative thinking on this very successful ‘One-Year Anniversary’ marketing push are outright inspirational. I’m not yet published but feel closer than I have ever been before to reaching that milestone. This idea is in my back pocket now as a plan for the year after that. Thank you so much (and George Cramer, too) for sharing it with us.
    Website: https://pamelaruthmeyer.com
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pamelaruthmeyer
    Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/pamelaruthmeyer

    • Lis Angus

      Pamela, congratulations on getting closer to being published, and I wish you an excellent book launch when it happens!

  4. Donnell Ann Bell

    Lis, not only am I shouting “Well done” on your BookBub Ad, your novel sounds fantastic. Off to download 🙂

    • Lis Angus

      Oh, you’re fantastic. Thanks so much, Donnell.

  5. Vinnie Hansen

    Definitely food for thought as my suspense novel One Gun creeps up on the one-year anniversary of its launch. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lis Angus

      Vinnie, all I can say is, I am glad I saw it as an opportunity to widen my reach. Good luck with your anniversary.


    Well done, Lis. I think your numbers are excellent considering how competitive the market is. Thanks so much for sharing with all of us.

    • Lis Angus

      Thanks, Cindy. Those numbers are small compared to some “big deal” authors, but they’re huge for me.

  7. Dawna

    Congratulations, and thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Lis Angus

      Dawna, I appreciate your comment.

  8. Avis

    Lis, This is a very exciting success story, and your organization and determination surely paid off! Thanks for sharing this part of your journey!

  9. Mickey Flagg

    Wow, excellent marketing strategies here. Congratulations and wishing you many more sales.

  10. Michael A, Black

    Congratulations,, Lis on your success. Your blog entry reads like a template for an author’s successful marketing strategy. Keep up the good work and best of luck to you.

    • Lis Angus

      Thanks, Michael! I wasn’t as proactive at the original launch but will be more aggressive next time!

  11. Ilona Fridl

    Great tips, Lis! Best on your book.

  12. Kim Janine Ligon

    That’s a remarkable success story. Kudos. Sometimes you have to take a shot even if it looks like a losing proposition. It will be interesting to see if those 2100 new readers buy your next one at full price.

    • Lis Angus

      Yes, you’re right. Time will tell.

  13. Karen A Phillips

    Lis, thank you so much for sharing this strategy. It is fascinating you did so well with having only one book out. Congratulations!

    • Lis Angus

      Obviously it would have been better to have another book or two out to continue the momentum— but so be it.

  14. D. V. Stone

    Very interesting. Congratulations!

  15. Jan Sikes

    Thanks for sharing your success story, Lis. There is no doubt marketing is the hardest part of an author’s job. The results of your push are fantastic! Congratulations!

    • Lis Angus

      Than you, Jan. Yes, it’s been said that marketing a book is as much work as writing it!

    • Michelle Godard-Richer

      Wow! Congrats Lis! That’s amazing! Good for you.

  16. Jennifer Wilck

    Excellent marketing push. Congratulations on your success!

  17. M. E. Bakos

    Congratulations on your book’s success!



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LISA TOWLES – Award-Winning Crime Novelist

Lisa Towles is an award-winning crime novelist and a passionate speaker on fiction writing, creativity, and Strategic Self Care. Lisa has eight crime novels in print with a new title, a political thriller entitled The Ridders, forthcoming in November 2022. Lisa’s last four books have won numerous awards, including a First Place Win in the category of Mystery/Crime for her new series thriller, Hot House. Lisa is an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She has an MBA in IT Management and works full-time in the tech industry in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Hot House – PI Mari Ellwyn brings on a new partner to investigate the blackmailing of a federal judge, two missing journalists, and a dead college student.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? Since Covid, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to manage my emotions well enough to be able to tap into my “create” energy and do it with consistency. It’s challenging to balance a general awareness of what’s going on in our world without getting pulled into the resulting emotional vortex, and that vortex can very easily derail my normal writing focus. I’m pretty good about getting myself back on track, and our daily drop-in writing events through Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America are such a wonderful resource in that context. I’m endlessly grateful for my writing friends and peers.

What are you currently working on? My new thriller, Hot House, the first in my new E&A series, is releasing on June 15. I’m working hard to promote that title through community events,  digital media promotion, and engaging with readers. I’m also writing a new international thriller, struggling to find a daily writing groove with it, but I’m excited about the story, and I’ve got about 13k words so far.

What kind of research do you do, and did you base the location of Hot House on real places? I’m excited to answer this question because I got to research Hot House with my sister, who lives on the East Coast, and that was a very special trip for us. She flew out to LA, and I drove down, and we spent a week exploring parts of LA, Beverly Hills, and all the way down to San Diego to bring extra authenticity to the story. There’s a coffeehouse down there that I mention several times – a place called Cognoscenti’s that my main character, Mari, loves. So, all three of the E&A Series books take place in different parts of California.

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? My political thriller, The Ridders, will be published on November 30, 2022, and the next book in the E&A Series, Salt Island, will be released in June of 2023.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Write when you have the ENERGY to write. We’re all so busy that things always get in the way, so if you have a sudden passion to write at two in the morning or are about to eat lunch, pause whatever you’re doing and jump on it to capture that energy while it’s hot! You might be a little tired the next morning, but you’ll be glad you did.

Where can readers learn about Hot House? The Hot House page on my publisher’s website, indiesunited.net/hot-house, contains a Sneak Peek link to read the first two chapters, the book trailer, a synopsis, and editorial reviews.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and your books? If you read my last book, Ninety-Five, or when you read Hot House, please leave a positive review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads if you enjoyed it. There’s almost nothing more important and valuable to a book’s success than positive reader reviews, and they’re a wonderful way to demonstrate support for authors and the books they spend so much time writing.

How do our readers contact you?



  1. George Cramer

    E&A? I also wondered Vinnie. I should have cleared that up. Oh, well, no one is perfect.

  2. Jan M. Flynn

    Lisa is the kind of writer I want to be when I grow up — that is, disciplined and productive even when the world seems determined to sap creative energy. AND with a demanding, full-time job! Huge admiration over here 🙂

  3. Valerie J Brooks

    I’m with Marie–thank you for speaking to the emotional vortex. Sometimes with the world seemingly going up in flames, writers question themselves on “why even write?” But we all have a role in this life and writing is ours. Keep writing! And I love your cover. Best of luck, Lisa with HOT HOUSE.

  4. Ellen Kirschman

    Great interview. Despite the distractions you mentioned, you are an amazing, productive writer.

  5. Glenda Carroll

    I have been grappling with the inability to force myself to sit down and write. I’m constantly telling myself “I should do this or that” and I don’t so you can imagine how I feel. Things for telling us that we need to set our own calendar. Best of luck on Hot House! Can’t wait to read it!

    • Glenda Carroll

      That should be ‘thanks’ not ‘things.’

  6. Vinnie Hansen

    Hi Lisa,

    What does E & A stand for? I’m trying to decide which of your books to read first. Hot House sounds like it might be a good choice since it starts a series. Even though you call Hot House a thriller, the main character is a PI. Do you think a PI-fiction reader would be satisfied with it?

  7. Ana

    George, thank you for hosting Lisa. I’ve read Hot House and reviewed it, and the post is coming out on Wednesday (www.anamanwaring,com.) Hot House is a fun read and deserves all the awards and accolades it gets! Lisa, every time I read about you, I learn something new. Good interview. Thanks!

  8. Marie Sutro

    Thanks for speaking to the emotional vortex. Glad to know I’m not alone! 🙂

  9. Lisa Towles

    Thank you Michael and lovely to meet you! 🙂

  10. Michael A. Black

    It sounds like you’re a real ball of fire, Lisa, especially when it comes to writing and doing research. Best of luck with the newest one.


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