Saturday, July 19, 2008

MB4 Newsletter No. 2

Greetings! Wow, it's been three months since our last post and we have lots of news to share with you in our second MURDER BY 4 newsletter. So pull up a chair, pour yourself a nice glass of wine, and let's chat.


Life can only be described as having gone from hectic to frantic. For those who don’t know, I work in human resources at a state university where I have for these past several months juggled two marketing and design projects in addition to all the daily things that come across my desk. I love working the projects but the deadlines can be nerve-wracking at times. On the home front, I move my 93-year old father from a nursing facility into and Alzheimer’s unit. I’m eternally thankful to the new facility for making the move as smooth and easy for him as possible! He’s doing well, and I have peace of mind that this was an excellent move for him.

On the writing scene, my very best news is that my debut novel, SILENCED CRY, received honorable mention at the 2008 New York Book Fair. I heard about the contest late last year and although I was excited about submitting my novel, as the deadline drew near, I began to hesitate. After all, what were the odds of getting noticed among ... how many other excellent entries, right? Anyway, my entry had to be postmarked by Sunday, May 25 - I mailed it on May 23 - nothing like waiting until the last possible minute. LOL
Click here for the complete list of winners.

The second book in my Sam Harper Crime Mystery series, THE DEVIL CAN WAIT, is in my publisher’s hands. We hope to have the ARC ready in a few weeks. I am pleased and grateful that all those who reviewed SILENCED CRY have agreed to review an ARC of this second book. In the evenings, I’ve split my time between drafting out book cover ideas, working on a new marketing/promotional plan, and contacting potential reviewers. I have my query letter typed so as soon as the ARC is ready, I’ll be set to go. If anyone is interested in giving THE DEVIL CAN WAIT an advanced review, please contact me at

I’ve started work on the third book in the HARPER series, GRAVE WITNESS (working title) and have also been busy critiquing a friend’s manuscript which I hope to complete very soon. ;)

A sundry of other writing commitments thankfully continue to find their way onto my desk. Recently, I’ve been answering several interview questions. The first was conducted by author, Anne K. Edwards for the
VOICE IN THE DARK section of the MYSTERY FICTION NET site. You’ll find it by scrolling down to the second interview on that page.

The other interview was conducted by author,
Terry Ervin. It will be featured at the end of August in Fiction Factor. Click on that link to register for the free newsletter! I’ll be sure to send out a reminder when it comes out!

A third feature was published in Twisted Tongue Magazine issue 10, by author/editor/ publisher, Neil Marr. You can download the PDF version from:

MURDER BY 4, of course, is at the top of my daily “to do” list. We’ve continued to receive well over 1,000 unique visitors per month since our launch in February 2008. We’ve had amazing guest writers and many more scheduled clear into fall so please be sure you stop by often and post your comments! We’ve been a host site for several virtual book tours and hope those of you who have been featured guests will continue to stop and visit with us. So what’s new at the MURDER BY 4 blog? It’s been nominated for consideration into the Writers Digest 101 Best Websites: 2009. More on this later. Hope we can count on your vote when the time comes! You’ll also notice we’ve add some new easy to subscribe links on the side bar.

As a final note, I’ll be signing copies of SILENCED CRY at an authors’ showcase on August 9 from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. at the Indiana State Fair. I have another speaking/signing engagement on October 12 at the Muncie (IN) Kennedy Branch Library. If you’re in the neighborhood on either date, be sure to stop by.


I can't believe how times flies between these updates. Since I last wrote, we've been blessed with a new grandchild (Isabella Marie - a sweet little apple dumpling with bright eyes, a rosebud mouth, button nose, and soft silky honey brown hair), Melanie (daughter) has moved back in for summer between undergrad and grad school, we got a puppy and sadly had to give her up because of my wife's illness (daughter Jenn took her), and a gazillion other family issues cropped up. But all have resolved, including the very scary days following Isabella's frightening birth experience, where we nearly lost her. Thank God that all's well that ends well! My gardens are flourishing, giving us a bounty of squash, cukes, herbs, cabbage, peas, beans, beets, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries (okay, so I'm a little berry crazy!), and more. Keeping up with it all is a challenge, but I do what I can and it's great therapy.

On the literary front, the covers for
MAZURKA and HEALEY'S CAVE are complete. I'll be updating both websites over the next few months with new excerpts, cover art, audio clips of yours truly reading from the books, etc. MAZURKA's back cover art and tentative reviewer quotes have been chosen and all of the publicity blurbs as far as updated bios and synopses are done. After the book is written, there's a great deal more to the process before it actually gets in our hands!

The next steps are to submit the ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) of both books to the big review houses, such as Kirkus, Publisher's Weekly, Booklist, etc. That takes three months, as they require the unpublished manuscripts 12 weeks in advance. Then, after we select the best review blurbs, the final cover will be updated and we'll be able to publish shortly thereafter. The current estimate is that MAZURKA will be out in the fall and HEALEY'S CAVE, the debut novel in my new paranormal Moore Mystery series, will follow shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile, I'm tearing into
FIRESONG: AN UNHOLY GRAVE, which will be the sequel to MAZURKA. I wrote it a while back and need to rip it apart and redo much of it to get it up to snuff. Such fun! But I have wonderful critique partners who are helping me go through this painful process.

I'll be selling and signing copies of the first three LeGarde books at the Heron Hill Winery this Saturday, July 19th, from 12:30 to 4:30 and on August 9th at the same location. I'm getting low on my UPSTAGED supply, though, so if you want that one, shoot me an email to reserve your signed copy at There's a beer and wine bar outdoors with live music, so it sounds like it will be a fun event. Stop by if you're in a winery touring mood and looking for a good summer read.


S. W. has been hard at work on a brand new novel while her latest completed manuscript makes the submission rounds with her agent. Few things are more satisfying for her than falling in love with a new set of characters, exploring their lives and their emotions, finding out what makes them tick, and seeing how much trouble she can get them into.

This new project is an urban fantasy about the Fae (fairies). The main character, a police videographer named Cynara Marsh (Cyn for short), has the unwanted ability to communicate with the Fae, and the undesirable job of translating for them when official police business is concerned. It has strong romantic elements – but so far, Cyn is very much not interested in her romantic counterpart, a surly FBI agent who seems to hate her almost as much as he hates the Fae’s royal family.

S. W. hopes to change Cyn’s mind by the end of the novel. In the meantime, there will be intrigue, suspense, a little bit of magic, and a lot of tension. There may also be a few celebrity appearances, since these Fae are addicted to movies and have taken famous film names for the humans to call them by. Who wouldn’t love Princess Mae West? Agent Jackson, for one – and Cyn isn’t sure she likes the princess much, either


Don’t you love newsletters? They uplift, inform, and strengthen us in the daily grind of the writing life. I have joined many in my life as an online persona, and even have one that I produce for my photography/ videography business to keep prospective clients in the loop.

You have to stay on top of everything in the writing world. Sometimes you can get fresh ideas from newsletters promoted by other authors, which is why I am very proud of this one. I hope it does everything you want a newsletter to do. Blogging and writing with SW, Marta, and Aaron, is the best time a girl could ask for, and you just gotta know how much we enjoy doing this for you!

Since the last MB4 newsletter, I have had a few short stories published at and at My cozy, Avenging Angel, has had its launch date moved to later in the year, and I have finished the second book in the series, which I am currently touting as “Buried Angel”. Believe me this one was pretty easy to write; now it’s ready for a round of edits.

Why do characters and situations in a first draft misbehave sometimes? It irks me when I can’t get the story to go as planned. Someone once told me that was a sure-fire sign that a murder needed to happen. Ha. Good idea!

With book one and two done, I’m piecing together book three and examining edits from my critters on book two. I love my first readers. They always make my desire to be a better, stronger writer. They also catch the great stuff that I tend to miss. For example, how in the world did I use “one” for “on” not once, but, three times in the same chapter? Sheesh.

In the coming days, I hope to get a few reviews of Avenging Angel posted, put together a new issue of my own newsletter, update my website, and really dig in with some new short stories. I hope your summer is flying by, full of sweet and memorable days. Pull out that notebook and pen, get on the front porch swing, and go at it, y’all. Summer is the best time of the year to get in some great writing!


Joylene Butler said...

It's so nice hearing from you all. I've looked forward to these newsletters. You all remind how fascinating life can be if I just stop to smell the roses. I keep wondering how I can cope with the demands of marketing, then I read how you juggle life, family, jobs, commitments and I'm invigorated. If you guys can hold it together, and with a smile on your faces, then I can too!

Thanks for being uplifting and contagious.

Marta Stephens said...

Hey Joylene!!

Thanks so much for stopping by. Sometimes life can get crazy but I'm not sure I'd know what to do if with myself if it wasn't! :()

And you bet you can too!

pat said...

Great newsletter, MB4! Congrats on the nomination and I will surely vote in your favor! I do really enjoy this site. It's informative, highly interactive and easy to navigate...keep up the good work! You all inspire me to go forward!

Marta Stephens said...

Hey Pat,

Good to hear from you and thanks!! :)

Diana Raabe said...

Great updates - for all of you. I'm impressed and inspired!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

HI all--I love the newsletter! It's so much fun--informative and inspirational.

And oh, Marta. The Indiana State Fair! I went every year as a little girl, and I so much wish I could be there at your signing. I can still remember how it smells: corn dogs and cotton candy and fried dough and lemonade and all those animals. So great! And I hope you sell piles of books.