Things have been incredibly busy since I returned from my trip to China in October. My fantastic editors got busy with Legends Can Be Murder, #15 in my Charlie Parker series, and it is now available! Click over to my home page for full details on that. And there's more ...

We also got busy on something new, just for this holiday season
… I love winter and the holidays and wanted to do something special this year, so we’ve created an e-book boxed set containing all my titles that have holiday themes—I never realized I had so many!

“Gift Wrapped For Murder” includes Sweet Holidays, Honeymoons Can Be Murder, Buried Secrets Can Be Murder, and Holidays Can Be Murder. A fun gift for any avid reader on your list—hostess gift, co-worker, neighbor, or stocking stuffer! Act soon because, like Santa disappearing up the chimney, this set will not be around after Christmas.

Readers Want to Know:

Q. Do you read a lot and which authors or books do you choose?

A. Absolutely, I love to read! It’s what got me started on the path to writing. These days I probably don’t read as much as many of you do. I average about one book a week when I’m writing, and I always read something other than mysteries at that time so another writer’s work won’t influence my own.

Occasionally, like on vacation, I’ll manage two or three in a week if the author really captures my attention.

Favorites in the mystery genre are New Mexico authors Tony Hillerman, Susan Slater and Steve Brewer, along with more mainstream names like Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich. Elizabeth George for British settings and Ruth Rendell for psychological mystery. I also love historical fiction by Ken Follett; literary authors such as Jodi Picoult, Donna Tartt, and Barbara Kingsolver; suspense like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn or The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. And once in awhile I’ll indulge in a fast-paced story by Stephen King (favorite was 11/22/63, his otherworldly take on the Kennedy assassination). Really, there are so many authors and series that I can’t name them all!  For non-fiction I’ll confess that a lot of my passions revolve around writing and publishing (any surprise there?), but I also love psychology, inspirational, and things that explain how our complex minds work and other quirky things that happen. Example: The Tipping Point and other books by Malcolm Gladwell.

I love to chat with readers about books and writing and just about anything, so be sure to send me your questions!

And finally, I want to take a moment to wish you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving. Warmest regards from my household to yours!

Publishing, as an industry, as been on a real roller-coaster ride in recent years. I've followed the news avidly, since I've been involved on one level or another in the book business for over 25 years now. I've been a writer, a publisher, an editor, a writing teacher, and a bookstore owner. Each of these roles has provided me some new and valuable piece of the great puzzle that is bookselling--moving books from a mere idea in the writer's mind to a page that a reader will enjoy to the fullest.

Now, anyone who follows my newsletter already knows that I am a huge fan of e-books--lower cost, instant delivery, availability of an author's backlist titles--there are so many reasons. BUT, I am still and always will be a fan of printed books too. I love my local library and support them wholeheartedly. I love browsing a bookstore (many of whom are now offering e-books, did you know?). What I'm saying is that I doubt any true lover of books is going to give up printed books altogether, even if we love our Kindles and Kobos and Nooks and iPads.

It was with great interest this week that I did a little catching up on the news in the retail bookstore end of things. And the news is great! After a few years of doom-and-gloom predictions, the number of independent bookstores has actually increased over the past couple of years. Part of the reason might be because there are fewer major chain stores now, with the closing of Borders, but all the dire predictions about how e-books would put bookstores out of business have just not materialized.

So . . . what's the new, big, exciting news in the last few months for booksellers? The major book wholesalers, Ingram and Baker & Taylor, have recently changed some of their terms and practices to allow bookstores to easily order titles of independent writers (I'm one of those) and small presses. This was not always the case, as I discovered during the years I owned a retail bookstore.

If you are a bookseller, this is a huge development. There has always been big frustration for those who wanted to carry a wider variety of titles but were unable to find them through wholesalers. Now, even POD books are available to you at favorable terms.

If you are a writer, it means there is a greater chance that your books will find space on the shelves. At the very least, it means that your fans can go into their favorite shop and request your book.

And if you are a reader (aren't we all?), hallelujah--you can go into your local store and ask for the book you want, even if it's an older title, and chances are very good that bookseller can get it for you.

I'm thrilled about this. In my days as a bookstore owner I worked with both of the major wholesalers and found it frustrating at times that I couldn't order certain books--for instance, the older titles of an author who was coming for a signing, or a self-published book that had gotten great reviews. I could buy it at retail from another store and sell it at a loss, but that hardly pays the rent. Having both major wholesalers bring the titles of lesser-known authors to your neighborhood bookstore can only be a good thing!

I say hurrah for the changes in the publishing industry in the past few years, because in the long run it's really about writers and readers meeting up. In an industry that has, in many ways, put roadblocks between writers and readers we are now seeing a much clearer path and a lot more interaction. I love it!

And, on that note, I'd like to add my personal thanks to every reader who has bought my books. I know there are millions of choices for you, and I am truly grateful when you choose me, whether you prefer a printed book or an e-book--thank you!!
This has been an incredible year and I'm feeling somewhat dizzied by how lucky I've been. I've met so many new readers (I'm SO appreciative of your comments about my books!), and I spent all summer writing and hoping to live up to your expectations with new stories.

The newest Samantha book, Sweet Holidays, just went live today on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords in all e-book formats. The print version is on CreateSpace and will soon be just a click away through the other bookselling sites as well, plus being available to any bookstore where you might want to order it. My home page has the links.

And . . . this past week has been a milestone for my Charlie Parker series. Amazon's promotional efforts resulted in sales of nearly 30,000 books in one short week, propelling the first Charlie title into the #1 ranking in Mysteries/Women Sleuths, the #1 spot in Thrillers/Suspense, and the #6 spot in Kindle books overall. I literally had to catch my breath when I read those stats. And it's all because of the wonderful folks who buy and read my books. You guys are awesome!

As we head into winter, I hope Sweet Holidays will bring the holiday spirit to readers and that you will have fun with Sam and Beau and the whole crew at Sweet's Sweets. Enjoy the treats, savor an extra piece of chocolate, and know that I count you as a special blessing in my life.

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