Critical praise for Christy!

For "Murder Hooks a Mermaid:"
"Author Christy Fifield creates the kind of characters that stay with you for a long time. Fifield’s new Haunted Souvenir Shop mystery, Murder Hooks a Mermaid has it all: a sunny, relaxed setting, captivating locals, delicious food, and—of course—murder! Delightful amateur sleuth Glory Martine is back with her wisecracking parrot and charming group of friends in this thoroughly entertaining adventure. Don’t miss it."—Julie Hyzy, National Bestselling author of the Manor House Mysteries and the White House Chef Mystery series
"A whodunit with a dose of the supernatural, "Murder Hooks a Mermaid" is a worthy successor to the series opener and showcases Fifield's talents for plotting, characterization and humor." - Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Quirky and unique, a heroine for whom you can't help but root. The story sucks you in." - The Maine Suspect
"With a lovable cast of characters, good conversations and a great setting, this well-written book is a terrific read." -- Dru's Book Musings

For "Murder Buys a T-Shirt:"
A refreshing new sleuth! - Lynne Maxwell, Mystery Scene Magazine
"A fun book that will make the dreariest of days a little brighter! Socrates' great Book Alert" - Socrates' Cozy Cafe
"An entertaining and clever Florida whodunit" - Harriet Klausner
"Hilarious! A great murder mystery with well-written characters" - Paranormal & Romantic Suspense Reviews
For the Georgiana Neverall Series:
"Christy Evans will find legions of fans with this new series" - Sheldon McArthur, Lincoln City News Guard
"Funny and entertaining -- a solid mystery filled with likable characters." - RT Book Reviews"
Cute cozy mystery debute -- wry humor -- adorable dogs" -Publisher's Weekly
"Will have you giggling out loud! Four Stars." - Kathy Fisher, The Romance Readers Connection"The Book is good! Keep them coming, Ms. Evans!" - Mystery Scene
"Evans delivers a fast-paced mystery with admirable finesse!" - Sharon Galligar Chance,
"Christy Evans has a hit on her hands" - Harriet Klausner,
"Christy Evans is aces. I'll be very suprised if Sink Trap isn't an instant hit with cozy readers!" -

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Road to the Bookstore, Part 5 - Cover Design

The timing for this post is excellent. Just yesterday there was a knock on my door early in the morning, as I was getting dressed for work. I threw on a robe and scurried to the door as a truck pulled away, a clue that there was probably a package delivery left on the porch.

Sure enough, there was a small padded envelope next to the door. Too small to be an actual book (and a little early in production, too) but it was from my publisher.

I wrestled with the plastic for a couple minutes, then gave up and went in the kitchen for a pair of scissors. I very carefully slit open the envelope and found two cover flats. Now that’s something worth answering the door in your bathrobe for!!

A cover flat – for those of you who don’t know – is a book cover before it’s folded around the printed pages. (Thus the name “flat.”) For promotional purposes, there is an extension on one end which contains additional information about the author, marketing bullet points, and a description of any special marketing plans from the publisher, among other things. In addition, it has sales and ordering information – ISBN, pack size (how many books in a case), number of pages, cover price, release date, etc. This is one of the tools the sales force uses when presenting the book to book store buyers.

The cover flat is usually the first time you see the actual cover design come together in one piece. It is the work of a cover designer, a person who takes the various elements and combines them into the eye-catching package that entices the buyer to pick up your book, carry it to the counter, and lay down their hard-earned dollars. In my case that job was done by Rita Frangie (as I mentioned earlier), and I am delighted with her work.

As you can see from the picture, she’s taken the cover art, the review quote (Thank you, Joyce & Jim Lavene!), the cover copy, and the Prime Crime logo, selected a typeface, arranged them with the title and author name, and other required elements (like the bar code), to create my cover. Which, in my not-so-humble-opinion, is really cool! Look closely, and you will see that she mirrored the front cover art on the back cover, underneath the box with the cover copy, and she took a little slice of the cover art and used it to decorate the spine – with one of the Airedales (I think it’s Buddha – Daisy would never sit that still!) displayed below the title.

(sigh - This post has been sitting for a week while I wrestled with my scanner, in order to post a scan of the full cover flat. Alas, the scanner has taken 2 falls out of three, and I am posting without the scan, so as not to delay any longer. Don't you just love technology? Scan will follow if I can ever figure this out!)

All in all, I am way happy with everything that has gone into this process. SINK TRAP is getting closer to the bookstore every day. There are several more steps along the way, and fun stuff to come.

Stay tuned, there's more to come. And a couple surprises in the next week, I promise!!

The Road to the Bookstore, Part 4 - Acknowledgements

So we have a book, with wonderful cover art, great cover copy, and a dedication. Each step brings us closer to finding our book on the bookstore shelf. But there are still several steps to go. In my last installment I gave you the story behind my dedication, now I want to talk about the other piece that goes in front of the story: the acknowledgements.

As I said, some writers have pages worth of acknowledgements, especially in non-fiction where the writer may have talked to dozens - or hundreds - of people in the course of their research. Often they have had help from professionals, specialists, and experts who have provided assistance. But fiction can require research and assistance, too.

In my ALIAS books, the story covered several continents - often in places I had never been. I spent many hours scouring the Internet for photographs, maps, and first-hand accounts of the places my characters visited.

For SINK TRAP I needed to learn more plumbing tips than my rudimentary homeowner skills could provide. Fortunately, I had a friend who had recently been a lady plumber's apprentice. You can bet her name is in my acknowledgements.

I also found an amazing first reader who not only shared my love of mystery, but turned out to have excellent copy editing skills. A good first reader is a treasure - but one who can fix your commas? Priceless!! She told she always wanted to be one of those people whose name was in the front of a book. I was very happy to be able to make that wish come true.

I made sure to thank my editors. They worked with me and provided me with incredible support and assistance and I want to ensure that they get lots of public accolades. They deserve every bit of thanks.

Most writers have a circle of friends and family who have been helpful on the road to publication. This is your chance to let everyone know how much you appreciate them. In my case, that includes my local peeps - the people I meet with every week, who have been mentors and cheerleaders, and my closest friends. They also include the network of writers I've developed over the course of several years, the people who are only an email away when I need a shoulder, a sympathetic ear, or a place to crow about accomplishments.

In addition, there's a local innkeeper who hosts writer workshops, which provides a place to meet, share information, and learn from each other. I get something new out of every gathering at his place, and Kip deserves a shoutout for his support.

Of course, there's someone who shows up in all my acknowledgements: fellow writer J. Steven York. Of course, it just happens we're been married for twenty-five years, so he's more than earned any accolades that come his way. Having another writer for a spouse means there's always someone around who "gets it" when you talk about writing, and who understands when you tell him to get his own dinner because you're on deadline.

There are more steps to come, and I'll try not to let another research trip sidetrack me this time.

And keep checking back - there are a couple cool surprises coming over the next few weeks as we lead up to the release of SINK TRAP.

The Road to the Bookstore, Part 3 - Dedication

The production of a book takes a long time, and yet many things happen at the same time. Cover art and copy - and cover design - are done early in the process. It all has to do with how the publisher actually produces the physical book. The cover and the blurb are used in the publisher's catalog, and it has to be ready months ahead of the book itself.

While the art department and the designers are creating the cover, the editor and the author are going through the process of polishing the writing and the story, making it the best it can be. It can be a complex and daunting process, and I want to say right here and now that my editors - Denise Little at Tekno Books and Michelle Vega at Berkley - made the process manageable. Oh, and they also made the book better. My thanks to both of them.

Somewhere in the process of edits and rewrites, it comes time for the writer to add the dedication and acknowledgements - if they want to. There are writers who don't put these in their books, and writers who include multiple pages. Often non-fiction writers will have acknowledgements that run for several pages, thanking the many, many people who were instrumental in their research.

My dedication came about because I realized where my love for mystery originated: my great-uncle Hubert Darrell Rader. This the story behind that dedication.

Uncle Darrell was born in 1900, so he was nearly fifty when I was born. He never married, living with his widowed father until his father's death.

I was fortunate to grow up with my family nearby - grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins of all sorts, all living within a few miles. I attended church with my grandmother just a few blocks from Grandpa and Darrell's, and after church she would take us to visit her father and brother.

I was a bright kid, and Uncle Darrell had a soft spot for bright kids. When I was really little he would dig in his pocket and let me keep as many pennies as I could count. I outgrew that game far too soon, but the adults would take the vocabulary quiz in each month's Reader's Digest, and they would let me try it with them. As I got older he taught me to play chess, and then one magical day he lent me one of his books: a Perry Mason mystery. My very first adult mystery. Sure, I'd read every Nancy Drew book I could find, and had tried the Hardy Boys, but I'd run out of "kid's" mysteries and I wanted more.

Perry Mason was absolutely what I wanted. Uncle Darrell read a lot, so there were many books to borrow. I'd borrow a book on Sunday and devour it - often within a day or two - then take it back to Uncle Darrell the next Sunday and exchange it for another one. There wasn't a new book every week, but there were a lot of them.

I remember those years with affection. Uncle Darrell gave me a passion for mystery novels that eventually led to the three books that are now on the road to the bookstore. Fot that reason, and so much more, my first mystery novel is dedicated to the memory of Uncle Darrell.

Darrell and Grandpa were a couple bachelors, they had their own life style and their own food choices. Every Sunday we could count on what we would find at Granpa's house for lunch: Smokie Links, rye bread, yellow mustard, Fritos, and Spanish peanuts. OK, not the most balanced meal, but it's loaded with nostalgia for me. So if I have a launch party for SINK TRAP the menu may be a little, um, different.

I hope I'll see you all there.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Road to the Bookstore, Part 2 - Cover Copy

One of the things that happens early on is cover copy. That's the blurb on the back of the book that is meant to intrigue and entice a shopper into picking up the book and carrying it to the checkout counter. It's like a movie trailer. Good cover copy will give the reader a taste of what's in store, without giving away all the "good stuff."

The cover copy is part of the overall cover design, which includes the artwork, typeface, colors, etc. For someone as artistically tone-deaf as I am, it's amazing to see what someone can do with these elements. According to the rights page of SINK TRAP, the cover design was done by someone named Rita Frangie, and I owe her a big shout-out for a great cover! I find myself strangely amused by the little Prime Crime logo handprint in the corner of the cover. Don't ask me why, it jus tickles me. I know the logo is on the cover of other Prime Crime books, but the color and placement on SINK TRAP feels like it's part of the artwork somehow, rather than an add-on logo.

I don't know who actually wrote the cover copy, but here it is, a taste of SINK TRAP.

An amateur sleuth with a great set of pipes…

When Georgiana Neverall’s fast-paced, corporate lifestyle goes down the drain, she moves back home to Pine Ridge, Oregon, and makes an unconventional choice—to apprentice herself to Barry the Plumber. Her uptight, super-successful realtor mother, Sandra, is plumb disgusted. She never dreamed she’d see a Neverall in coveralls toiling under someone’s sink.

Georgiana loves her new occupation, but is a bit surprised when she finds the favorite brooch of Martha Tepper, the town’s former librarian, clogging a sink. Martha supposedly retired to Arizona, but everyone who knew her says she never would have left without that brooch. Georgiana has a sinking feeling that Martha may have been retired permanently—and suddenly it’s up to a plumber’s apprentice to flush out a killer.

That's today's installment of the Road to the Bookstore. Stop back soon for more on the progress of SINK TRAP, LEAD PIPE CINCH, and CRAWL SPACE.