We are joined this month by mystery author Heather Weidner, whose love of crime novels was inspired by her police officer father. Vintage Trailers and Blackmailers, the first in her Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries, releases from Level Best Books in October. Learn more about Heather and follow along with on my own publishing journey in this edition.
If you read and enjoyedA DEAD MAN'S EYES,please consider clicking on a rating or leaving a review on your favorite website, such as Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Book Bub. Reviews are important to newbies like me, who are also published by small presses. We greatly appreciate them.
If you haven't read the novel, you can order A DEAD MAN'S EYES through any of these links or from your favorite book store.
Book two in the Lisa Jamison Mystery Series arrives in bookstores in April of 2022! For a description of NEVER BROKEN and my other upcoming novels, click here.
Congratulations to Jayne Ormerod, winner of a $15 Amazon gift card! Keep a lookout for more giveaways in the future. Current and new subscribers are automatically entered.
Meet Heather Weidner
Through the years, Heather Weidner has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. Vintage Trailers and Blackmailers, which releases in October, is the first in her cozy mystery series, the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries. She also writes the Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series set in Virginia (Secret Lives and Private Eyes, The Tulip Shirt Murders, and Glitter, Glam, and Contraband).
Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Deadly Southern Charm, and Murder by the Glass, and her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series (To Fetch a Thief, To Fetch a Scoundrel,To Fetch a Villain, and To Fetch a Killer).
She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Sisters in Crime – Chessie, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers.
Coming in October: The Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries
There is nothing like finding a dead body, clad only in red satin thong, on your property to jolt you from a quiet routine. Jules Keene, owner of the posh Fern Valley Camping Resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is thrust into the world of the Dark Web when one of her guests, Ira Perkins, is found murdered in the woods near her vintage trailers. Jules quickly discovers that the man who claimed to be on a writing retreat was not what he seemed, and someone will go to any length to find what he left at her resort. Jules, along with her Jack Russell Terrier sidekick Bijou, has to put the rest of the missing pieces of a blackmailing scheme together before her business is ruined.
Jules’s resort, set in the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville in the quaint town of Fern Valley, offers guests a unique vacation in refurbished and upcycled vintage trailers. Hoping to expand her offerings, she partners with her maintenance/security guy to create a village of tiny houses, the latest home DIY craze, but a second murder of a reporter interrupts Jules’s expansion plans. Curiosity gets the best of her, and she steps up her sleuthing to find out what Ira Perkins was really doing and what he hid at her resort.
Q: What inspired you to become a published fiction writer, and what drew you to the mystery genre in particular?
Heather: I have loved mysteries since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. I have also loved writing, so it seemed like the perfect fit. I dabbled with different stories through the years, but it wasn’t until I found Sisters in Crime, a professional organization for mystery writers, that I started on my path to publication.
Q: You are author of the Delanie Fitzgerald series and the Mutt Mysteries series, and now the first book of the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries releases in October from Level Best Books. What inspired you to start a new series? Do you expect to write more books for your previous series?
Heather: Delanie Fitzgerald is my sassy PI who gets into way more trouble than I do. Her adventures are fun to write because she always runs toward danger, and then she has to figure out how to get herself out of sticky situations. The fourth book in that series comes out in 2022.
I’ve written four novellas in the Mutt Mysteries series. One featured my PI Delanie, one was a stand-alone character, and the other two were set at a racetrack in Amelia County. I probably won’t do any more of the Mutt Mysteries. It’s been a lot of fun, but I’m going to pass the baton to some other cozy mystery, dog-lovers.
My new series is the Jules Keene Glamping mysteries, and it’s set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Jules refurbished the family’s traditional campground to one that features upscale vintage trailers, and she adds tiny houses to the resort’s offering. My aunt and uncle owned a campground at Crabtree Falls in the 1970s, and it was a fun place to visit.
I saw some shows on the Travel Channel about glamping (glamorous camping), and I did some research. I am fascinated with the vintage trailers and the tiny houses. And they make the perfect setting for a mystery and a couple of murders.
Q: What do you love/dread about promoting your books?
Heather: I didn’t realize how much marketing and promotions work was required of authors until I got the first book contract. A lot of time and energy goes into cultivating your social media following. I like doing events, workshops, panels, classes, interviews, and social media. I quickly learned that if I was going to have time to write my next book, I needed to block time for all the promotions. My day usually starts at 5:00 A.M. I do my writerly stuff before the day gig, at lunch, and during the evenings.
I like all the facets of promotion (except book readings). It always feels weird to me to read my book in front of an audience. The most fun that I had at a reading was with a group of Sisters in Crime members at Chop Suey Books in Richmond, Virginia. We all agreed to read a selection from each other’s books. It felt new and fresh. I think by the time my book is finally published; I’ve read it at least fifteen times.
Q: How do you approach writing? Do you write every day or whenever you can?
Heather: I am much more productive if I can write every day. I also track my word count, and that helps me stay on schedule as I’m working on a new book. (My first book took five years to write/revise and another two to get it published. Thankfully, I’m much faster now.) When the pandemic started, my company shifted to work-from-home, and I dedicated the two hours a day that I spent commuting to writing. So far, I’ve finished four novels, one novella, and two short stories.
Q: Tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with writing.
Heather: I’m a CK (Cop’s Kid). My dad served on the Virginia Beach force for 46 years. I thought everyone talked about murder, mayhem, and crime at the dinner table. It wasn’t until I got to college that I found out that they didn’t. My very first job was to pick up the bullet casings on the range when he was practicing. In the 70s, his SWAT team needed practice bullets, so we melted down my old crayons, and I learned how to make dummy bullets.
Q: What are you working on now?
Heather: I have finished the three books in the Jules Keene series, and I can’t wait for the first one to come out in October. I finished the fourth book in the Delanie series.
Christmas is my favorite season, so I’m working on a new project where my amateur sleuth owns a Christmas Shoppe, but she seems to get mixed up in some trouble and has to figure out who the culprit was before it damages her business.
Q: Do you have any advice for new or struggling writers?
Heather: Writing/publishing is a business. If you want to be a published author, you’ve got to have the grit and determination to stick with it. You need to build your platform, hone your craft, and be open to feedback on your writing. It’s a tough business, but it is so worth it when that box of books arrives with your name on it.
This is where you will find me virtually and in person!
(For the always-updated website version, click here.)
Sept. 14,Conemaugh School District,
Johnstown, PA, 1:30 p.m. (Virtual). I will be speaking with junior high
students through a wonderful program sponsored by the Allegheny
Festival of Book and funded by the Allegheny Community Foundation. The
new program aspires to “…nurture a passion for reading and storytelling,
inspire students, and raise awareness of the Festival.” I am thrilled
and honored to be part of it.
Sept. 22, Homegrown Market, Arnot Mall, Horseheads, NY., noon to 6 p.m. I will be selling and signing books among other local artists and vendors. Come on by and chat!
Oct. 2, Chocolate Town Book Festival,Hershey Public Library,
701 Cocoa Avenue, Hershey, PA, 2 – 5 p.m. I will be among several
authors from all genres selling books and chatting with readers.
Oct. 23,Southern Tier Women’s Financial Conference,
The Center at Park Avenue, 400 Park Avenue, Corning, NY, 8 am to 4 pm: I
will be selling and signing books at this event while also getting
empowered and educated about finances and life by a fantastic group of
diverse women! Come join us, virtually or in person.
Nov. 6,Dormann Library,
Bath, NY, 10 am until noon. During this free and in-person event, I
will talk about A DEAD MAN’S EYES, the craft of fiction writing and the
path to publishing. I will be joined by Lissa Redmond, a former cold case investigator and author of several mysteries. We love questions. Bring lots!
Nov. 12-14, New England Crime Bake, Boston, MA. This crime writers conference has special meaning for me. It’s where I met one of the three owners of Level Best Books, my publisher, and best-selling author Hank Phillippi Ryan,
who endorsed my novel, A DEAD MAN’S EYES and is this year’s guest of
honor. This year’s theme is HOME SWEET HOMICIDE. Come join an awesome
group of writers, editors and agents for a weekend of craft and crime!
This blue jay looks a bit hung over, or battle weary. I wonder if he had a run-in with this fox, who sat watching my husband and I one morning as we drank coffee on the front porch.
What's up with my books?
This is the scary part.
Never Broken has been in the hands of beta readers before and my previous agent read the manuscript, but that was all pre-publishing contract, back when getting published was still a dream.
Last week, I handed the manuscript off to more beta readers and to a sensitivity reader, knowing that this is for real, that people will be reading and judging this book in just a few months.
It is both intimidating and exhilarating.
I will have only a few weeks to make changes before I submit it to my editor at Level Best Books, but there will be two more rounds of editing before Never Broken goes to press.
So what do I do while I wait?
I have several events coming up, including a virtual discussion with groups of high school students, and discussions at a book festival and a library. Events like that take planning and practice. I need to evaluate my audiences and prepare. So, I will be focusing a lot of energy on that.
I also have surprising little time before the manuscript for my standalone thriller is due. Never Let Go releases in December of 2022 and I want the manuscript to be perfect. So, I will be rereading Never Let Go while also finishing book three in the Lisa Jamison series, No Time to Breathe.
With two high schoolers still living at home and a part-time job, that should keep me busy for a while. :)
You can read more about each of my upcoming novels here.
What's up at home?
Last I wrote, I was headed to New Orleans for Bouchercon, a huge mystery reader/writer convention. Thanks to the Delta variant, Bouchercon was canceled. My heart goes out to the people of New Orleans who are battling high numbers of infection, hospitalization and deaths. I hope our nation begins to unite in taking responsibility for the spread of Covid-19. So many lives have been lost unnecessarily. Now, New Orleans is also contending with impact of Hurricane Ida. How much more can one area take?
Flooding changed things for us here as well. We live in North Central PA, but our kids attend school across the border in New York. Two weeks before Ida, their high school was severely damaged by flash floods that hit when the land was already saturated by weeks of rainfall. Up to four feet of water gushed through the hallways, leaving the district with at least a year's worth of repairs before the building can be occupied again.
Thankfully, a neighboring district had an extra building to lend us, so our twins will start their freshman year on time tomorrow. Many locals homes were lost or severely damaged in the flooding and a young mother lost her life. We were fortunate to be unaffected, but these communities on the NY/PA border will be recovering for years to come. It has been a privilege to witness the awesome show of humanity as our communities have come together to pull each other through this.
Our older kids were already back in college when the floods hit. They have returned to in-person learning at Penn State and Temple University, but my husband gets to keep working from his tree house until at least November. His return date has been pushed off a few times already. Fingers crossed that he gets to stay home even longer.
I am looking forward to cooler weather and a more manageable schedule with the house empty for a few hours each day. Maybe I can even shed of few of these pounds I have put on over the past decade.
I hope all is well with you and yours and that your families are safe, happy and healthy.
Happy writing and reading. I hope you enjoy A DEAD MAN'S EYES!