Read anything good lately?

 

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately and I thought I’d share some of the gems I’ve come across:

Racing the Devil, an Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery by Charles Todd

No Shred of Evidence, an Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery by Charles Todd

An Unmarked Grave, a Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd

Yes, I’m on a Charles Todd kick. Charles Todd is the nom de plume [well, sort of] of an American mother-and-son writing team, Caroline and Charles Todd. The two series are set during and just after World War One.

Bess Crawford is a nurse who works on the front lines in France during the war, and who stumbles across mysteries and murders. I love the layered background of her life, with a childhood in India, a mysterious father and his aide, and her willingness to get grubby to bring justice to bear.

After the war, Inspector Ian Rutledge returned to Scotland Yard a changed man. Suffering from PTSD, he now lives with a voice in his head of a soldier he executed for refusing a direct order. This damaged man clings to his work as his only salvation.

I’ve also been reading some excellent science fiction and fantasy, all with a mystery bent:

Company Town, by Madeline Ashby, was shortlisted for the most recent Canada Reads contest, in which five famous Canadians champion a different Canadian book. This is how the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which org
anizes the contest every year, describes it:

Canada Reads is a “literary Survivor,” with celebrities championing books. Books are voted “off the bookshelf,” one each day, until one book is chosen as the title the whole country should read this year.

Set off the Canadian east coast, Company Town tells the story of the fearless Hwa, a young woman who works as a bodyguard on the city-sized oil rig they all call home. There are death threats, alternate timelines and a series of interconnected murders, and Hwa must choose between protecting herself and protecting those in her charge.

Loved, loved, loved the story. I gobbled it up.

And finally, I’ll finish off with a novella, Death by Effigy, by my friend, Karen L. Abrahamson.

I know I could be biased, but I’m not. This is a lovely, lovely story featuring a murder mystery set in exotic 19th century Burma. It features anold singer and a magical Burmese puppet, the impish, ancient Yamin, who so desperately wants to be taken seriously by the humans and the members of his puppet troupe. Fascinating culture and unusual, endearing characters.

The one thing all these books have in common are strong, engaging characters, characters that the reader wants to follow on their adventures. It’s something I strive to do in my own writing.

Okay, now it’s your turn. What stories have you read lately that you would recommend? Any non-fiction?

(Originally published on Not Your Usual Suspects, May 31, 2017)

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The Faerie Summer Bundle

The Faerie Summer Bundle, curated by Jamie Ferguson, is now available from Bundle Rabbit and all ebook stores.

The summer sun bathes the earth in warmth and light,
Faeries dance under the moon at night.
Cross through the portal into a land ancient, beautiful, and wild.
See the wonders that enticed the stolen child.
Come away, O reader! To the Realm of Faerie.
But if you want to make it back home, you had better be wary…

This collection includes twenty tales of faeries and magic set in our world – and in others:

THE FLAT ABOVE THE WYND by Alexandra Brandt
SILVER DUST by Leslie Claire Walker
UNICORN MAGIC by Roz Marshall
BENEATH THE KNOWE by Anthea Sharp
LEXIE’S CHOICE by Deb Logan
FLOWER FAIRIES by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
PAULALEENA by Leah Cutter
ROLO THE GREAT by Annie Reed
THE FAKE PATH TO TRUE MEMORY by Brigid Collins
PROOF OF DEVOTION by Dayle A. Dermatis
BY DAWN’S BLOODY LIGHT by DeAnna Knippling
ONDINE by Brenda Carre
SNAP A TRAP, INC. by Louisa Swann
THE FAERY’S CHOICE by Jamie Ferguson
THE QUEEN OF MAY by Linda Jordan
SKYWALKERS by Marcelle Dubé
STORMRIDER AND THE LADY OF SOUL by Karen L. Abrahamson
THE BODY PLOT by Rebecca M. Senese
THE WISHING RING OF OLD QUEEN MAAB by Steve Vernon
HAWTHORN & WILLOW by T. Thorn Coyle

It’s only $2.99 USD for all 20 ebooks. At Bundle Rabbit, Kobo, Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble. Click on the cover below to watch the trailer.

First Glimpse of Fantasy Secondary Worlds

One of my favourite novels, Jilimar, is part of a new bundle from Bundle Rabbit, curated by Barbara G. Tarn. While it will be released on May 26 over at Bundle Rabbit and all other e-booksellers, it’s available now for pre-order at Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Here’s the Table of Contents:
1. The Crystal Courtesan by Karen L. Abrahamson
2. The Mage’s Grave by Timothy L. Cerepaka
3. Firehearted by Sabrina Chase
4. Singer by Brigid Collins
5. Rider by Diane J Cornwell
6. Jilimar by Marcelle Dube
7. Al-Kabar by Lee French
8. The Path of Water (Quests Book 1) by Barbara G. Tarn
9. Elf Saga, Book 1: Doomsday by Joseph Robert Lewis
10. Twice Against the Dragon by Stefon Mears
11. The Last Giant by Mario Milosevic
12. Dragons’ Choice by Debbie Mumford

 

 

You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but…

The job of a good book cover is to make you pick up the book and flip it over to read the back cover. Or click on it to read the blurb. It does that by attracting the eye and providing the right “symbols” to clue you into the book’s genre. If you see a good-looking man and woman on the cover, you would be forgiven for assuming that the book’s a romance. If the man and woman are scantily clad and posed provocatively, it’s probably safe to assume the story contains hot and heavy sex scenes.

As an indie writer, I create almost all my covers. I (usually) enjoy the challenge and I can’t afford to hire a graphic designer for each cover. I mean, really, it would be embarrassing if the graphic designer earned more money on the story than I did.

I know, however, that a bad cover can spell disaster. I also know that “good” and “bad” are subjective. For example, the cover for The Mount by Carol Emshwiller. I had never heard of Ms. Emshwiller when I received her book as part of a goodie bag at a World Fantasy Convention. I looked at it among the 20 or so other books I received and was turned off by the cover. Still, I brought it home. It sat in my bookshelf for years. Every once in a while, I pulled it down and read the cover blurb and then put it back. I just couldn’t get past that ugly (to me—someone else might really like it) cover. Finally, desperate for something, anything, to read, I started reading it.

Well, hot damn. It was a great story—I could NOT put it down. But that cover had put me off so much that I didn’t get to the story for years. That cover failed to do what it was supposed to do, as far as I’m concerned.

While cover art is subjective, a good graphic designer can create a cover that has great appeal. But what if you’re an amateur, like me? You study the genre you’re aiming for. What do those covers look like? What elements do they have in common? Any colours that predominate? Then, trial and error.

When Carina published my first Mendenhall Mystery, The Shoeless Kid, they used the wonderful John Kicksee as the artist. To say I was blown away by the cover is an understatement.

When I decided to continue the series as an indie writer, I knew I wanted to carry on John’s vision. I knew I needed elements of mystery, without going too dark, but I also wanted to carry through the style of title and byline that John had used on Shoeless. What I ended up with was not as gorgeous as John’s original cover, but at least the covers look like they belong in the same series:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every once in a while, however, imagination fails me and I can spend weeks (if not months) on a single cover, trying to get it right. “Bloodhound” was published as part of the Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen anthology. I wanted to put the individual story up for sale, but it needed a cover. Do you think I could find an appropriate image? It was like pulling teeth. The story revolves around a young man who was injured at Antwerp, during World War II. The injury left him with asnomia, or the loss of his sense of smell. Once back home, a series of events reverses the effect, and then some.

I fooled around with ideas for weeks, trying and rejecting, with kind friends looking them over and reacting with “no” to “hell, no!” Here are two of the “best” that got the “uh, no” reaction:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s what I finally ended up with. It may not be perfect, but at some point you have to say, enough, and move on:

What about you? Do you create your own covers? How do you go about it? Any tips…?

(Originally published at Not Your Usual Suspects on February 27, 2017)

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The Winter Mysteries Bundle

Sick of the cold? The snow, sleet, freezing rain? Well, yeah.

To help us all cope, Bundle Rabbit has come up with a 10-book bundle of mysteries set in winter, curated by Michael Jasper. And I have a book in it! The Tuxedoed Man is part of the Mendenhall Mystery series.

Crimes committed in the heat of the moment, during the coldest time of the year…

This ebook bundle collects mystery novels set in the coldest season of the year, or mysteries containing a strong element of cold (in one sense of the word or another).

The full collection includes the following mysteries:

Two sleuths in the North Carolina mountains spend a snowy week in March searching for people who don’t want to be found…

A haunted author must spend the winter battling his addictions, and worse…

A shapeshifter battles ancient spirits, a covert government agency, and his own dark past in a race to solve a murder…

A desperate man gets a phone call that pulls him back into a world of violence and mystery that he tried to leave behind…

An accidental death, a train wreck and dark secrets in a deadly northern winter places a police chief and her niece in jeopardy…

A crime committed decades ago refuses to lie dormant under the black waters of a lake…

The daughter of the Prince of Polka travels to the polka heartland of New Krakow, Pennsylvania, to solve the mystery of her father’s murder…

A nature-loving woman and a mysterious photographer stand up to a shadowy lumber company that threatens their beloved swans at Turtle Pond…

Two retired detectives search for a friend near a remote Idaho lake, a search that could lead to the most dangerous serial killer in Las Vegas history…

Two brothers must unravel the weird and dangerous secrets of Salmon Run, Alaska: a place of wild animals, wild lands, and wild inhabitants…

Special, limited-time offer:
So stoke that fire against the chill in the air, put up your slippered feet, and start reading one!

Available only at BundleRabbit, until March 20: Pay a minimum of $3.99 and receive 5 of the 10 novels.

Or pay the minimum of $6.99 and receive all 10 ebooks. This option is also available at kobo, amazonbarnes and noble and itunes.

More praise for Shelter

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s November 2016 Recommended Reading List:

Dubé, Marcelle, Shelter, Falcon Ridge Publishing, 2016. Marcelle Dubé has long been one of my favorite writers. Her stories are quietly deceptive. They creep up on you, and make you think.

Ash Gantry is on the run from her abusive husband. She finally finds a place she wants to stay, but she has to confront demons—hers as well as some that exist in the town itself.

Shelter is exactly the kind of novel I’d craved for a long time. Not romantic suspense, exactly. More like a gothic women’s fiction novel, complete with ghost.

The novel has a marvelous sense of dread. The dread got so severe that I finally had to make a decision: set the novel aside or read it on one lump to the end. Of course, I opted to finish it. Marvelous book, dark and rewarding.

Recommended Reading List: November 2016

A Good Read for Halloween Night

From What’s Up Yukon, October 26, 2016, reprinted with permissionshelter-sw-cover:

Yukoner Marcelle Dubé´s newest book is a ghost story

by Elke Reinauer

Do ghosts exist? For some they do.

The main character in Marcelle Dubé´s novel, Shelter, moves into a haunted house in a small town in Ontario.

Dubé started the story as a gothic novel and in the end it became a ghost story.

Marcelle Dubé is well known in the Yukon and she usually publishes one or two books a year. One could think that she is a writer who works fast, but not this time. Lately she had to suffer what all writers have to go through from time to time: writer`s block. A writing workshop helped her to get out of it.

“I could not write a word – for months. I thought that was it for me. But something that happened in the workshop kept coming back to me — a ghost experience, of a sort,” she says.

In her blog Dubé tells about her ghost experience. During the workshop, she stayed at an old hotel, which was haunted. Two people she knew well, who had also slept there, told her they had seen ghosts there. Friendly ghosts, who would show up, but were harmless, they said.

Dubé´s first reaction was to laugh, she tells in her blog article. She sees herself as a rational woman, even though as a kid she had returning dreams of ghost and monsters. She outgrew them and is using her imagination about them in her writing.

Dubé didn`t see a ghost in this hotel room, but she was scared at night, she writes. Back home she would wake up at night, wondering if there was somebody or something in the darkness.

“The experience bothered me, as I am not subject to those kinds of fears, so finally I decided to write about it, as an exorcism. “And once I started, I raced through to the end. It was most satisfying,” she says about the writing process of Shelter.

Shelter is a story about Ash, a woman who’s fleeing domestic violence and abuse. She is already exhausted and scared, and now she has to deal with a ghost.

Reading the first chapters, one can feel pity for Ash, who is wounded by her past. Dubé writes very well and empathically, but she switches perspective quite often. The reader jumps from Ash`s perspective into the head of her realtor Maddie, who is showing Ash the haunted house. It can be tiring for readers to switch perspectives after one page. Some readers might wish to stay longer in Ash`s head and get to know her better. But as the story unfolds, Dubé catches her readers with suspense.

Why did Dubé decide to write about domestic violence? It is not an easy topic.

“I have no idea how Ash came to me, or why she was running from an abusive situation. It’s not anything I have ever experienced, and I had to rely on experts to (hopefully) get the details right,” the author answers.

The whole story came to her as the cure for writer`s block. Also during the writing process she lost her fear about ghosts: “It worked. I’ve just returned from the haunted hotel I was at a year and a half ago, and I am happy to report that I slept very well.”

Do ghosts exist? They do in Dubé`s novel Shelter, a good read for spooky Halloween night.

 

New novel available for pre-order

Sshelter-sw-coverhelter, my latest standalone novel, will be released on October 14, 2016. It’s now available as a pre-order from all the regular channels. Here’s the blurb:

After six long months on the run from her abusive husband, Ash Gantry finally finds a place to call home in Albans, Ontario. It doesn’t take long for her to fall for the small town with the big heart. But more than the town itself, more than its inhabitants, it’s the house on Hawk Street she falls in love with.

But while her heart wants to stay, her head tells her to keep moving. If she keeps moving, her husband will never find her. Only, she’s tired of hiding. Tired of running. Tired of being afraid.

Let him come. She’s staying.

Then she discovers that her new home hides a dark secret, one even more dangerous than the man hunting for her. By the time he finds her, she may already be dead…

Marcelle Dubé’s Shelter crosses women’s fiction with suspense and a frisson of modern gothic. Dubé is the author of Ghosts of Morocco and the Mendenhall Mystery series, including The Shoeless Kid, The Tuxedoed Man, The Weeping Woman and The Untethered Woman.

Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | kobo | Barnes and Noble | iBooks

New bundle!

Backli’s Ford is being offered in another bundle: Out of this World, from Bundle Rabbit. For three weeks–Monday, August 15 to Monday, September 5–you can get six novels and anthologies for $3.99, or all 16 for $9.99 on Bundle Rabbit. Then the bundle will become available on all sales channels (Kobo, Amazon, B&N, iBooks, etc.) from September 5 to October 5 with a full bundle price of $9.99.

Out of This World Bundle

For the minimum price of $3.99, you get six fabulous titles:

Interlude Beyond by Rebecca M. Senese

The Science Officer (Science Officer Vol 1) by Blaze Ward

Of Myst and Folly by Leah Cutter

Grim Repo by Mark Fassett

The Cat’s Meow by Jamie Ferguson

Hydrogen Sleets by Michael Warren Lucas

But if you pay $9.99, you get all 16 titles, including:

Alien Influences by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Tales of Tomorrow by Debbie Mumford

Invasion by J.D. Brink

Scream Angel by Douglas Smith

Magician’s Choice by Stefon Mears

Backli’s Ford by Marcelle Dubé

The Dark Zone by Rita Schulz

The Crystal Courtesan by Karen L. Abrahamson

Mary Celeste Adrift by J.A. Marlow

Morning Song by Dean Wesley Smith

New Mendenhall Short Mystery

Crime and Mystery coverMy latest Mendenhall Short Mystery, “Home Run,” will be published in Flame Tree Publishing’s 2016 Gothic Fantasy Crime and Mystery anthology. Publication date is in August, but the book can be pre-ordered on Amazon. The anthology will be published in hardcover and as an ebook.

I’m also tickled to be in the same table of contents as Tony Pi, fellow Canadian and excellent writer.

Crime & Mystery Table of Contents:

The Cost of Security by Tara Campbell

Skitter and Click by Jennifer Dornan-Fish

Paperboxing Art by James Dorr

Home Run by Marcelle Dubé

Suggestive Thoughts by H.L. Fullerton

I Am Nightmare by Jennifer Gifford

Three Words by Nathan Hystad

The Marionettist by John A. Karr

Mechanical Love by Kin S. Law

iMurder by Josh Pachter

Creature of the Thaumatrope by Tony Pi

The Whipping Boy by Conor Powers-Smith

The Man Wore Motley by Stephen D. Rogers

The House by Steve Shrott

Catzized by Annette Siketa

Ghosts, Bigfoot and Free Lunches by Dan Stout

Blood and Silver Beneath the Many Moons by Brian Trent

Murder on the Cogsworthy Express by Cameron Trost

Chains of Command by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley and Ruth Nestvold