Looking back over 2009 I see that it wasn't all that bad a year. It began with the continuing promotion of 2008's Veil of Lies, the first in my series of Crispin Guest Medieval Noir novels. It was also the year that I got word that Veil was nominated first for a Macavity--the Sue Feder Memorial Historical Fiction award--and then, to my very great surprise and pleasure, it was also nominated for a Shamus Award for the Best First PI Novel, the first medieval mystery to be so honored. I didn't win either award, but the truth of it is, that I was wonderfully pleased to be nominated for both. It showed me that my long years of laboring to get published weren't for nothing and that people--and in the latter case, my peers--really did like the book!
2009 also saw the release of Veil in paperback, and with that release and the release of the second Crispin Guest, Serpent in the Thorns, we saw the evolution of the new book covers, a style that was something of what I was looking for in the first place; something different that focused on my protagonist rather than some symbolic and subtle cover. This is medieval pulp, dammit, and I wanted something more mysterious to draw in the readers. Also, Crispin is a sexy beast and that, too, came out in the book covers.
I also learned that when you have two books out in a series, you seem to continue to sell more of the first than the second because no one wants to start a series in the middle. I hope that Serpent catches up.
I did some traveling, too. In March, I headed out to Hawaii for the first time for the mystery fan convention Left Coast Crime and made a friend out of the former passing acquaintence of Sue Ann Jaffarian, who, novice that I was, told me a little of some of the ups and downs of the publishing industry while we waited for our plane at LAX. She is a multi-published author, very talented, and a helluva nice lady. I learned, for instance, that my promotional debt was right on target for my first book. Good to know as I slowly pay down those credit cards...for the next ten years! Yikes!
And later in the year, we had another incredible book launch for Serpent in the Thorns at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena. After that I was bound for another mystery fan convention, Bouchercon, in Indianapolis where I had my own mini book tour. I fell in love with the area and have no qualms about going back, though, right about now, it's probably pretty covered in snow, and this California girl doesn't know how she'd handle that!
I also continued my stint as the newsletter editor and member of the board of directors for the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America; I blinked and was elected president for the Orange County Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and I designed the program for the joint Los Angeles Sisters in Crime and MWA California Crime Writers Conference.
This year, I also hired Two Rock Media to put together a fabulous booktrailer. See it here.
I also signed a two book deal with St. Martin's Minotaur for two more Crispin Guest novels! The Demon's Parchment will be released in the fall of 2010, and Troubled Bones will be released in the fall of 2011. God willing, there will be plenty more Crispin novels coming to a bookstore near you!
In between, I went to a myriad of speaking and signing engagements, including Dana Point, the Huntington Beach Library Valentine's Tea, Laguna Beach Literary Luncheon, the Brandeis Author and Boutique Luncheon in Palm Springs, Shannon Center at Whittier College, Manhattan Beach Library, Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, El Camino Real High Shcool Literary Fair in Woodland Hills, Placentia Library, Young Writers Tea at E. Hale Curran Middle School in Murrieta, El Segundo Library, Upland Library, Writer's Night at the Epicenter with a baseball game (watching, not playing, thank God!), History Center Barn in Temecula, Aliso Viejo Liabrary, moderated an hisotrical mystery panel for Sisters in Crime Los Angeles, Whittier College Woman's Club, Mystery Matters Live radio interview, West Hollywood Book Fair, book tour in Arizona, Soroptomists of Placentia, San Diego Mystery Book Club, and numerous bookstores. Thank you all for inviting me! It was a busy year and I hope 2010 will prove just as busy.
It's also a year where e-books really made it to the mainstream markets, where authors scrambled to figure out how they could stay in the game and worried about making sure they get their due from all these digital happenings. We saw a major industry magazine, Kirkus Review, get bought and closed. Books on cell phones, books on Kindle, books on Sony e-reader...Where will it lead? What will change in the industry as the years go on? Will writers get their due or will they see advances dwindle with the rewriting of boilerplate contracts? All I know is that the times they are a changin' and authors have to stay on top of it to make it in the marketplace. I'm bracing myself for the misty path ahead.