Last week, I sent out what I thought was a newsletter from my publisher, Rough Edges Press. It featured my article about why writing With Malice Aforethought was so creepy. However, the link didn’t actually go to the site. The correct link is below. If you click on it, you’ll see the three releases from last Tuesday (this includes two other authors’ works) and links to my first book, By Force or Fear. My article is below the three featured new releases in the Author’s Corner section.
Tag: With Malice Aforethought
By Thonie Hevron
I feel fortunate to have landed such a pro-active publisher. Jake Bray at Rough Edges Press makes all the years of “backyard publishers” worth it. I thought I’d share the promotional email they sent out for With Malice Aforethought (published 5/16/2023) that includes an author article from me about how creepy it was to write this novel. Be sure to scroll down the newsleter for the two other just published Rough Edges Press mysteries as well as blurbs about my first two books. You can sign up for the weekly newsletter and/or sign up to be an advance reader and read new books free!
Rough Edges Press has re-published the third Meredith Ryan Mystery with a snappy new cover. Today is the release date meaning it is available on Amazon in eBook format or print copy. $3.49 on Kindle and $14.99 for paperback.
With Malice Aforethought follows Meredith Ryan and her partner Nick Reyes into the remote Sonoma County Hill to investigate a homicide. While on scene, they discover a nefarious militia intent on creating havoc. Join them in their quest to stop the disaster and neutralize the evil army.
Remember to leave an Amazon review after the last exciting page.
Today’s the day!
The Annual Rohnert Park Holiday Arts & Crafts Faire is here!
Do your Christmas and holiday shopping from unique, one-of-a-kind vendors—this year online!
The Nick and Meredith Mysteries will be featured Friday at 12:30 and 3:30 and Saturday at 12:30 and 3:30 but feel free to check them out anytime during the Faire.
All three books are for sale with free shipping or arranged (through Rohnert Park’s Parks and Rec Department) curb-side pick-up in Rohnert Park. The real deal is 30% off for all three personalized books. eBooks are also available on www.thoniehevron.com through Amazon.
Writers’ Contests Count
By Thonie Hevron
Entering contests are a no-brainer for me. I can directly attribute my entry into the realm of traditional publishing (albeit a small press) to winning a contest. I’ll bet many authors could say the same.
In 2012, I entered my unpublished manuscript, working title Probable Cause, in the Public Safety Writers Contest (PSWA). I won third place in my category-unpublished novel. Now re-named, By Force or Fear, I soon self-published it on Smashwords as an eBook, in the hopes of getting enough money together to do a print version. Meanwhile, I worked on mapping out the second book of the Nick and Meredith Mysteries (I’m a compulsive plotter).
After months of writing, querying, submitting and all-around frustration, I entered my novel, in a contest at Oak Tree Publishing (OTP). Oak Tree had recently published an anthology for the PSWA, so I thought it would be worth a chance. I was stunned when I won. First prize was publication of the winning book. I’d entered my second Nick and Meredith Mystery, Intent to Hold. It had just won second place in unpublished novel category the PSWA’s 2014 Writers’ Contest. After a polishing up, my new publisher agreed to publish the first novel, now renamed By Force or Fear.
As events progressed, both novels with Oak Tree Press went to press with the third, With Malice Aforethought, in contract. Sadly, Oak Tree’s production has fallen into limbo with the ongoing health issues of its publisher, Billie Johnson. Johnson offered many OTP authors their rights, so I took mine. The short version of this story is I now have another publisher, Aakenbaaken & Kent, with whom I’m very pleased. I’m currently working on another Nick and Meredith Mystery, working title, Felon with a Firearm. I’m hustling to get it finished for the next PSWA writing contest that opens in May.
I’m also looking into other places to submit my work for competition. In 2015, the East Texas Writers Guild awarded Malice third place in “Best First Chapter” category. There are many more contests in which to submit your work. Start with a Google search: I use “mystery contests.” It helps to search within your genre.
Contests count. They give the author credibility. Winning a contest means someone other than your mother likes your work. Agents and publishers look at winners differently. It’s a terrific marketing tactic to use, “Winner of the Agatha Award” on the book cover. But for me, it’s a wonderful confidence booster to win a writing contest. Winning motivates me to work harder for the next entry. It also helps me to set goals. Having a first draft by May 1st, the usual deadline for PSWA’s contest, is a typical goal. I’ll make Felon the fourth try to come in better than Malice’s second place in 2016.
This month, Romance author Donna Schlachter will weigh in on Do’s and Don’ts in Contests. J.L. Greger, author of several science-based mysteries asks, “Do You Feel Lucky?” February will end with thoughts from a prolific children’s author, Natasha Yim, the chair of the Redwood Writers Club (California Writers Club branch in Sonoma County) Contests. Posts are up every Friday at 6 A.M. on Just the Facts, Ma’am, Writer’s Notes.
Think about entering a contest. You can’t lose anything more than a few bucks–some are even free. A contest might jump-start flagging progress on your WIP, you could set and meet realistic goals, or even better yet, you could win!
Writing Rituals: Thonie Hevron
By Thonie Hevron
When I first began writing, I believed that I needed to be moved by the muse. Okay. You can stop laughing now. But that’s really what I thought. Now that I’ve been writing seriously for a few years, I think I can safely say that my muse comes alive when I sit down to work. Oh sure, there are days that it calls in sick. But those are the times I sit and write anyway. Chances are when I look back on the words, they won’t be as bad as they seemed. There are also days when I just throw up my hands and put my energy into promotions. We’ll talk more about that down the road.
In those early days, I felt like I needed something more to help coax the muse along. I used scented candles and classical music to put me in the mood. I learned early in life that alcohol is the big deceiver. Work done under the influence never stood the test of daylight. Even a single glass of wine turned my words into vague ramblings. So, I never drink and write.
I floundered through my first book over the course of a decade. The second, Intent to Hold, took a year. Why? I’d found my rhythm—at five-freakin’ o’clock in the morning. Newly retired, I’d found there were many things I wanted to do during the day. Foremost was to write this story that was rattling around in my head. So, I wrote from 5 A.M. until 7 A.M. Just wrote. I made it work, no time for candles or nice music. Just get the damn words down. Then, I had all afternoon to do my other stuff—sometimes promotions, social media and such. Sometimes, playtime—hubby and I taking the dog to the beach, for instance. Sometimes, chores, even.
The third book, With Malice Aforethought, has taken almost three years. I’ve identified the book’s ambushes and a battle plan to combat them. Now, beginning my fourth novel, I’ve set a schedule. While it is fluid (depending on a lot of things) I’ve figured out that I don’t need the rituals I used before. If I treat it like work, I’ll get it done. That’s my ritual. Just put my butt in the chair and type. I guess I have to qualify this by saying that I write best at home in my little office. I know writers who get in the flow at their favorite coffee shop. I get too distracted. That’s not for me. It’s my office. Period.
Of course, a good cup of coffee is a plus!
What inspires you? Coaxes the muse? What do you need to write? August’s guest posters will share their thoughts. Feel free to add a comment. Maybe you’ll inspire someone else. It could happen.
Read Thonie Hevron’s books: By Force or Fear, Intent to Hold, and With Malice Aforethought are all available through Amazon.
When is it THE END?
By Thonie Hevron
I’ve written four books (three published) now, so I feel like I should know a bit about story-telling. But here’s the thing: they’re all different. My first book, By Force or Fear, wrote itself. I struggled with details but the story was already in my head. Still, the ending was problematic. I had a huge climax scene imagined with a mudslide taking the heroine’s storm ravaged-house down a hillside. But I got to the end and decided that instead of a random act of nature, I had to serve red-hot justice up on the villain. I wanted the heroine to shoot him in self-defense. I eventually decided against that because I didn’t like the improbability of this heroine (a sheriff’s deputy) shooting two people in this book. Statistically, very few law enforcement officers shoot people (in direct contradiction to the CNN headlines this morning about cop shooting deaths topping 1,000 this year, as in two previous years). The bad guy’s eventual death was at the hand of one of his henchmen (really? Does anyone use that word?). A kind of retribution for the villain and redemption for the henchman. When asked why, he said, “I couldn’t let him kill a cop.”
Intent to Hold took me a year to write, front to back. I’d had years to consider this sequel and by the time I sat down, the story poured out. Easy-peasy.
Not so with With Malice Aforethought. I wrote this story around a single scene I’d had in my head for years. The rest of the plot I had to work on. I completed the story in 2015 submitted it to Public Safety Writers Association Contest (PSWA) in unpublished novel category. I won second place and sent it to my publisher. She sent me a contract, which I signed and returned. Unfortunately, she suffered a persistent health problem that resulted in returning my rights. Something bugged me about the ending, even though my publisher liked it and so did PSWA, I got back to work on it. It took me almost a year to get it right—and then, it was with the help of my critique group. One member, Andy Gloege, is particularly adept at finding the path not taken. He wrote a couple of paragraphs that took Malice in an entirely different direction. Yet it was where the characters were going!
I cannot stress enough how important it is to listen to other professionals, particularly those close to you. Andy had been through three books with Nick and Meredith. He knew them almost as well as I did. Armed with his suggestions, I wrote the ending of Malice with a smile on my face. I knew I’d gotten it right this time. Two years later.
A writer’s journey will always be a forward motion. If it isn’t, get help. Talk to other writers, readers who you can trust, professional editors, agents. Read books by Donald Maass and Stephen King. Read blogs like Jane Friedman or this one!
Today, I begin Friday’s Writer’s Notes with guest authors’ thoughts about when their stories are over— “When is it THE END”? You’ll hear from writers in many genres: detective mysteries, historical romance, cozy mysteries, memoir and police procedurals. This topic was so popular that there will be posts on Wednesdays and Fridays as well as our normal cop vignettes on Sunday mornings.
In August, I’ll return to Friday Writer’s Notes and Sunday cop posts.
Read Thonie Hevron’s books: By Force or Fear, Intent to Hold, and are all available through Amazon. With Malice Aforethought will be in print soon, now available in eBook on Amazon.
An Interview with Thonie Hevron
By David Alan Binders
This interview appeared in David Alan Binder’s site David Alan Binder’s site today.
Thonie Hevron interview with David Alan Binder
Bio from her website: In 1973, on a dare, Thonie tested with San Rafael Police Department for Parking Enforcement Officer. Yes, she got the job and became Rita the Meter Maid for three years. Six months after promoting to Dispatch, she married an officer and left police work.
In 1981, she got a job with Petaluma Police as a Community Service Officer and shortly after, divorced. For PPD, she took reports, directed traffic, spoke to groups about Crime Prevention and assorted duties. After seven years, she traded jobs with a dispatcher and went inside. In 1988, she married a Petaluma Fire Captain, Danny Hevron. In 1991, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office recruited her as a Records Supervisor for the Central Information Bureau. With budget cuts looming, she left in 1994.
In 1994, Danny and Thonie re-located to Bishop, California and worked as a dispatcher for the local police department in Inyo County. Then, in 2004, she again, was offered a job she couldn’t refuse–dispatcher for Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety. Danny and Thonie were thrilled to be back in Sonoma County and she finally retired in 2011. She concentrates on fiction writing, but takes a break with fitness workouts, cycling and kayaking with Danny and riding horses.
Thonie’s job history gives her a rich and textured understanding of the complex life of the men and women behind the badge. She looks forward to penning the stories she has lived in law enforcement.
Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6442358.Thonie_Hevron
1. How do you pronounce your name?
a. I get that question a lot. It’s pronounced, “Toni.” I was named after my Norwegian grandmother. I’ve heard that Thonie is an old-fashioned name that means a musical note. Pretty ironic, though. I can’t carry a tune in a handbasket.
2. Where are you currently living?
a. I’m in Petaluma, California, a suburb of San Francisco with an agricultural identity all its own. This is Sonoma County, a major force in California wines as well as micro-breweries. The restaurants here are amazing and the setting is dairy pastures and vineyards.
3. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
a. No question about it: Keep working.
4. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?
a. I used to have to light a specific scented candle but I’ve outgrown that.
b. I used to like to write to classical music or Jim Brickman, but I find it distracting now.
c. I won’t drink wine while I am working or anything but water or coffee.
d. Pretty boring, I’d say. Sometimes, those quirks become excuses for not putting my butt in the chair.
5. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
a. I’ve done both and each has plusses and minuses. Self-publishing has more author control. I recall after my first book, By Force or Fear, came out, a review said that the reader found very few editorial mistakes. That was a major accomplishment! Then, I got a small press publisher (who eventually published my first book) for my second thriller, Intent to Hold. After Intent was published, a friend called me to tell me he wanted to give the book five stars on Amazon reviews but couldn’t because there were so many editorial mistakes. There was a whole printing that had most of the Mexican words underlined (the correct formatting to indicate italics). Yikes! I’d been give the galleys to check but that slipped by both me and the publisher. I had to destroy a whole $hipment.
b. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they located? My former publisher was Billie Johnson of Oak Tree Press (OTP) in Hanford, Ca. She is currently on hiatus, recovering from a stroke. She has offered the rights back to her OTP authors who want them. I chose to take advantage and now have both the above books and the forthcoming, With Malice Aforethought.
6. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
a. My books are available as eBooks although Amazon still has a few print copies left from an OTP run. I’ll put out With Malice Aforethought in eBook first then the print copy. Then I plan on going back to tighten up By Force or Fear. I like to have both the bases covered, print and electronic. I have yet to do audio books but that’s on the (endless) list of things to do.
b. For alternative versus conventional publishing: it depends on your genre, your book, your audience, and many other things. I write traditional police procedurals/crime thrillers so an alternative publisher probably wouldn’t work for me. But other authors could be well served by this medium. Bottom line is you, as an author, have to educate yourself on the business. Literary agents would be helpful here.
7. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
a. First, write and produce a marketable product.
b. Second, get the word out: enter contests, query literary agents and publishers until you find what you need.
c. Thirdly, but not least, market yourself and your work. Public relations is one of the most daunting aspects of today’s publishing world. But if an agent or publisher looks at your work compared to another author and you have a solid, thriving platform, chances are good they’ll look harder at you. After all, they only make money if your books sell. If you’re engaged in selling them, too, and the other author isn’t, you’re the better bet.
8. How did you or would you suggest acquiring an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
a. After my experience with a small press publisher, I am working on it. This is what I do:
b. Query, query, query.
c. Go to writers’ conferences (volunteering is a great way to get in cheap sometimes), join a writer’s club (I belong to California Writers Club/Redwood Writers-an incredibly active club that has helped set goals, organize, write better, learn to market and so much more).
d. Go to club workshops, pitch sessions, and volunteer to help at events or the leadership level.
e. I also joined Public Safety Writers’ Club, Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers. All offer scoops on agents currently looking for new projects.
f. Sometimes the agents attend the club conferences looking for new clients.
g. Subscribe to blog newsletters like Funds for Writers: mystery writer C. Hope Clark offers a free version with agent info. I check that every week.
h. Find a book in your genre that you like, find the author’s agent, research and pitch/query him or her.
i. Subscribe to QueryTracker or one of the many online (free!) programs to put you in touch with agents and/or publishers.
9. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?
a. Write: put your butt in the chair and write—even if you toss it tomorrow, there may be something there that gives you an idea for something else. Write. If it takes a schedule carved in stone, getting up at 5 A.M., or finding a place outside the home: write.
b. Develop a thick skin: know that when you ask your mother about your newest work, she’s going to tell you it’s a masterpiece. Not so with the rest of the world. I joined my current critique group ten years ago and have learned so much; become a better writer because of their criticisms. I wouldn’t trade any of them. On the other hand, fifteen years ago, I took pages from a new crime thriller to a group I didn’t know (about 20 people of all genres including poetry). They blasted it; said my character sounded whiney. Turns out they were right but the experience soured me on critique groups for years. Had I toughened up and found another group sooner, I might be farther along on my writer journey.
c. Speaking of critique groups: join one. Find a group of people with similar goals (not necessarily similar genres) to cheer you on, to point out better ways to say it, to give you ideas when you’re stuck, challenge you to dig deeper, but one of the most cogent arguments for a critique group: to produce ten pages of work every meeting.
d. Join a writer’s club, even if you have to do it from a distance (meaning online). Nothing beats glad handing with other reclusive writers (you want me to meet other people???). These days writers who publish are so much more than writers. They’re speakers, experts, bloggers, marketers, and so on. Like it or not, the Hemingwayian prototype of the writer as a hard-drinking, ascetic is history. Nowadays, writers network.
10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?
a. That I could do it. I never doubted that I had the skill to write, oddly enough. My reservations lay in setting and achieving a goal. Typing “The End” on the manuscript. When I finally did, I had to polish it—heavily.
b. I had to learn new skills such as social media, blogging and public speaking (what??? Not me, the girl who couldn’t get up in front of a crowd to be her best friend’s bridesmaid!). Not to mention formatting, even if I’m traditionally published, the editor requires the text to be just so.
11. How many books have you written?
a. Four: By Force or Fear, Intent to Hold both on Amazon.
b. With Malice Aforethought to be published sometime later in 2017 and a fourth book, working title: Walls of Jericho. That one is still being polished.
12. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?
a. I try stay current with what my genre is producing.
b. I keep a stock of writing craft books on hand so when I get stuck at a denouement (for instance), I can research Stephen King, David Corbett, Nancy Kress, Jordan Rosenfeld and more.
c. My quick go-to is my critique group. They are awesome with ideas.
13. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
a. I think: what is the opposite of what I think should happen?
b. How could it get worse? Then, I get ideas.
14. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
a. Because my topics are so authentic, they tend to be dark. But I have the cop-survival mechanism of humor to defuse the tension. I think the blend is unique.
b. I also love to make the setting a character. Whether it is Sonoma County or Puerto Vallarta, I like to take readers there: how does it feel (humid or damp)? Smell (jungles are full of growing things that give off scents)?
15. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
a. I like to use social media to get to audiences. I market heavily to cops so belong to Facebook groups and post my blog links.
b. I do readings. Our local bookstore, Copperfields’ has partnered with my writers’ club, Redwood Writers, and host many literary events at which I’ve appeared.
c. I appear at local fairs and festivals where I meet lots of potential customers. I give out freebies like bookmarks with my book info on them.
16. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
a. I would have started sooner. I began writing in the fifth grade but never had any serious direction. It wasn’t until I was in my fifties that I decided I’d better do this if I wanted to write a book. Marketing wasn’t on the radar then or I probably would have been scared off! Basically, I would have believed in myself sooner.
17. What saying or mantra do you live by?
a. Put your butt in the chair and write.
b. Quitting is the sure road to failure.
18. Anything else you would like to say?
a. Nope, I think I’ve covered it all.
Life Gets in the Way
By Thonie Hevron
This week has been busy. I forgot my Wednesday post so today will have to make up for it. The big delay is because a dear friend and colleague (Maria, the dispatcher in By Force or Fear and With Malice Aforethought) lost her husband of suddenly in a home accident Wednesday afternoon. Greg had just beat cancer—full remission and had been cleared to fly his plane. He and Maria flew two weeks ago. Maria said his smile was practically permanent. A fall from a ladder ended his tomorrows.
Anyway, Maria is like a sister to me so I am spending time with her. Her family and friends have surrounded her with love but I’m there, too. I’m in full-dispatcher mode, taking names and phone numbers, contacting friends, taking care of business, and, of course, being there. This eats up my writing time and drains my energy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is the real treasure of life—being able to help someone you dearly love.
So, this is my Wednesday post that will appear on Thursday evening. Hal Collier’s Sunday Ramblings will return in a week or so. Ed Meckle’s The Call Box will fill that slot.
About With Malice Aforethought—I’ve put off the regular status reports on my third book because it’s complicated. In July, shortly after signing the contract, my publisher at Oak Tree Press suffered a health crisis. The good news is she is recovering. The bad news is her recovery is longer than she hoped and she’s a one-man band. In the hospital, she has been able to hand off projects to work on but no one knows the drill like she does. She does expect to get back in the saddle. I’ve been using this limbo time to polish the manuscript and make it the best it can be. I am about two weeks away from sending her the final draft.
Don’t know how long it will take to get a publishing date but I’ll guarantee you this: you’ll read about it first here!
Oh, another news flash: my website—www.thoniehevron.com is up and running! Look it over for book info and buy links, synopsis and samples, bio and pictures, and the Just the Facts, Ma’am blog.
News on New Novel
By Thonie Hevron
News flash! Billie Johnson, publisher of Oak Tree Books has sent me a publishing contract for With Malice Aforethought! It may be re-named Malice Aforethought. What do you think?
Anyway, as of now there is not a publishing date, but I’ll let you know when I get one. Also, look for a book launch or signing at Copperfield’s Books, too. That will also be announced.
WITH MALICE AFORETHOUGHT–Violent Crimes Investigators Nick Reyes and Meredith Ryan respond to a homicide in the remote northern Sonoma County hills. Finding more than a half-buried corpse, the case gets complicated—fast. The detectives uncover a violent militia-led a plot to devastate the area. When the militant soldiers chase the detectives trying protect their catastrophic plans, the detectives are in the fight of their lives to stop the disaster.