Janis Patterson Mysteries

Merry... What?

How on earth did it get to be December so quickly? What happened to 2012? The whole year just went by in a blur. I know I say this at the beginning of every letter, but it’s true – time just rushes by and it’s so hard to grab a bit and make it slow down…

Two subjects this time – some really, really, really good news and more on my ongoing agent saga.

On to joyous announcements – I have received most of my Christmas gifts early! This past five days has been simply unbelievably superb! First of all, the incredible Lee Lofland has most generously added my Janis Patterson website to the sidebar of his famous Graveyard Shift blog, putting me in the company of most of the magnificent mystery writers in the world. Thanks, Lee!

Second, 3 December was release day for EXERCISE IS MURDER (written as Janis Patterson) from FiveStar/​Gale Cengage. It’s a hardback, and my first hardback in a number of years. (And no, I’m not going to tell you how many!) That release, coupled with the mid-October release of BEADED TO DEATH (also written as Janis Patterson) from Carina Press, has made my end-of-the-year simply splendid.

Now for the really spectacular news!

As we all know, Carina Press puts out a large number of great books every year. What I didn’t know was that there is a list called “Best of 2012 – Staff Picks” containing twelve books the staff liked best. Twelve out of all the books they publish all year.

And this year, of that twelve, TWO of them are MINE!

TIMELESS INNOCENTS, by Janis Susan May – a horror novella.

THE HOLLOW HOUSE, by Janis Patterson – an historical mystery, which was also an RT Top Pick when it was released.

Can you still hear me shrieking in joy? I swear, my feet haven’t touched ground since the list came out.

Now – for the not-so-fun stuff.

I’m still looking for an agent. Still. I’m on rejection one hundred twenty six, (yes, 126!) and frankly, I’m beginning to get discouraged.

You’d think that as one of the founders of RWA, a professional writer nearly all my life, former editor-in-chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups and a multi-published novelist I wouldn’t have this much trouble. My work has been honored (see above) for years. I have sold over twenty (maybe thirty – I’m casual about counting) in my career) novels to well-respected publishers, six in 2011 alone. I keep deadlines, try always to be professional and have a work ethic that won’t quit, but still no agent wants me. And – what I don’t understand is that so many of the agents I would love to sign with (and have turned me down) will snap up some unknown on the basis of three chapters and a synopsis, in spite of that said unknown having never finished a novel in his/​her life! I just don’t understand.

Somehow, returning to jewelry design is starting to look awfully good, in spite of the great rush I got from the Carina Staff Picks List.

My work ethic is kicking in. I must at least finish the work in progress, a traditional Gothic called CURSE OF THE EXILE – it’s a great tale of 1850s Scotland, with an isolated castle, lost gold, a brooding laird, a shy and prim female librarian, a ghost called Mad Margaret and a murder. Once a most perspicacious reviewer called me ‘the logical successor to Phyllis A. Whitney’ – that was a rush, too.

Hope all is well in your worlds, and that each and every one of you have the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Years!

PS – I’m also having Safkhet Books bring out my backlist as ebooks, but that’s a subject that will have to wait for another letter!

PPS – Don’t forget that a lot of my books are available in audio at Audible.com – go take a listen!

Autumn 2012

Wow! Where did the summer go? And wasn’t it both hot and weird on top of that! We got softball sized hail in June that fell like rain for over half an hour. Our front lawn was solid white – the whole thing looked like it did under snow last winter. Our roof was destroyed, our trees shredded and my car totaled. Everyone in the neighborhood got a new roof – it was like living inside a popcorn popper for a while – and the trees needed thinning anyway. That’s what I tell myself, at least.

But I mourn my old car. I loved that car. Named Moby Chick because it was big, white and feminine, it was about ten years old and had almost 100,000 miles on it, but aside from the new cellulite-look outside and a small ding on the bumper (the interior was pristine) it was magnificent. Ran like a watch. I cried when they towed it away. On the other hand, The Husband made up for it, gifting me for my birthday with a brand new (7 miles on it when we took possession) BMW SUV. Her name is Princess and she’s a pale metallic blue. She has a totally different operating system from any car I’ve ever seen, so I’m having to learn how to drive again. She also has a sunroof, which I can operate easily! I’ve always wanted a sunroof, and this is the first one I’ve ever had. What am I saying? This is the nicest car I’ve ever had!

And I don’t care what The Husband says. I did NOT spend the first night in her. Not all of it, at least.

The writing news has been good. BEADED TO DEATH (by Janis Patterson) was released by Carina Press on 1 October. This is a light-hearted cozy mystery about a widowed bead artist who comes home from an art-fair circuit to find the dead body of a stranger in her house. Before it’s all over she finds herself involved with drug smuggling, a devastatingly handsome FBI agent who may or may not be rogue, and a 7’3” nephew on the run from an unwanted basketball scholarship. She also almost loses her life. BEADED TO DEATH is also available as an audio book by Audible.

5Star is bringing out EXERCISE IS MURDER (also by Janis Patterson) early in December as a hardback – first hardback I’ve had out in years and years. This is a little bit darker tale, with two sleuths. Rebecca Cloudwebb is a former police detective who was crippled in a shootout that might have been set up by her dirty-cop former lover. She is now an antique dealer. Flora Melkiot is the wealthy widow of a jeweler and can be most charitably described as the dark side of Miss Marple. When a new tenant whom no one knows is brutally killed in the exercise class of Flora’s exclusive condo building Flora blackmails Rebecca into helping her solve the crime. That’s no easy task, as just about everyone in the class has motive to murder just about everyone else in the class, no one even knew the victim or had any motive to kill her.

I’ve uploaded excerpts and covers from both. I think you’ll agree the covers are spectacular!

Right now after a heavy year of revisions and publicity on the six books I sold in 2011, I’m behind in my writing, but now I’m starting to create again. As Janis Patterson I’m working on two mysteries, one set in 1916 New Orleans and one a sequel to… ah, but you’ll have to wait until I find out how they end before I can talk about them. Yes, you read that correctly. Sometimes I don’t always know whodunit before I finish the book – though I always think I do. Remember, books take on a life of their own. As Janis Susan May I’m still trying to finish the traditional Gothic romance CURSE OF THE EXILE. I know where it goes, I know what happens, and I don’t have that much left to do – it’s just that life gets in the way!

I hope each one of you had a wonderful summer, and that your autumn is simply splendid!

Summer 2012
How can this year be half over? So much has been happening, I’ll just have to give a quick précis.

In March I went to the PASIC conference in New York. The Husband came along and went museuming. It was the first time either of us had been to NYC (other than changing planes) and it was fascinating. I was amazed to learn that Times Square is not a square at all, but just a whacking great intersection. Who knew?

Our 11th wedding anniversary was in April. Last year as you may remember The Husband took me to Paris to celebrate number 10. This year we went to St. Louis for the NRA Convention, which was fantastic and a great deal of fun! Don’t know what’s in the works for next year – probably something between a luxury cruise and snake wrestling.

Last month we had a terrible hailstorm – 3 inch hailstones falling as thickly as rain for 20 minutes. My car is totaled from the storm, his badly damaged and our roof is toast! All the vegetation in the neighborhood is shredded, though we think most of the trees will survive. The chuck-in-a-truck roofers were out like fleas the next day – we had over 15 at our door on just one day. Now the houses around are starting to get new roofs… hammer, hammer, hammer… it’s like living in a popcorn popper. Thank goodness for noise-canceling headphones!

So – on to writing! TIMELESS INNOCENTS (http:/​/​tinyurl.com/​timelessinnocents), my second horror novella from Carina Press is doing well and was chosen by CP as one of the lead titles for a new marketing scheme. Don’t know how that went yet. Got the proof cover for my November hardback release from 5Star, a murder mystery called EXERCISE IS MURDER. The cover is great – will post it when I get a copy that doesn’t have ‘proof’ all over it.

And I am trying something new! Decided to dip my toe into the self-publishing world with a collection of mystery and supernatural short stories called QUARTET:FOUR SLIGHTLY TWISTED TALES (http:/​/​tinyurl.com/​84kbmma). Also will be releasing four of my backlist novels – two traditional Regencies, two traditional Gothics – one a month, hopefully starting at the end of this month. The first will be THE AVENGING MAID, a Regency tale of murder at a boy’s school and how a society miss deals with the death of her little brother – and with the enigmatic, fascinating man she meets there.

Have been so busy this past year doing revisions on the 6 novels I sold in 2011 I honestly haven’t had much time for new writing, but my new Gothic CURSE OF THE EXILE is almost finished, as is a sweet romance called INDIAN SUMMER, so must get both of them done and start looking for homes for all of them.

I hope your summer is being simply splendid – and not too hot! Right now here it’s sort of like camping out on a griddle, but that’s to be expected. Have a good summer!

February 2012

My goodness, where has the time gone? I’ve been remiss (again) in posting here, but with good reason – sold two – yes, two! – mystery novels in December. (For those of you keeping count, that makes 6 sales in 2011!)

BEADED TO DEATH, a lighthearted cozy from Carina Press, is about a middle-aged widow who makes her living going to art and craft fairs where she sells beaded jewelry and bead bouquets. When she returns home from a sales trip, she unlocks the front door, turns off the alarm, notices that the house is brutally cold in spite of it being high summer… and there is a dead man whom she has never seen before lying on her living room rug. From there on she gets involved with drug smuggling, murder, a dangerous FBI agent who may or may not be rogue and a 7’3” nephew on the run from an unwanted basketball scholarship. It was great fun to write!

EXERCISE IS MURDER, a darker and much more complex cozy from 5Star, is about murder in the health salon of a very posh condominium building. Rebecca Cloudwebb is a former police detective invalided out of the force after being crippled in a shoot-out set up by her dirty-cop lover, who may or may not have known she was going to be there. Flora Melkiot, wealthy widow of a jeweler, is in her 70s and can be most charitably described as the dark side of Miss Marple. Convinced she can do anything if she really wants to, she blackmails Rebecca into helping her solve the case. They grapple with politics, big money, extortion, adultery and illegal gambling and in doing so finding that almost every suspect has reason to kill almost every other suspect, except that no one had a reason to kill the victim.

Note to self – never sell two 80,000+ word books to two different publishers in the same month. Each wants the same things (edits, revisions) at the same time and it’s exhausting!

It doesn’t seem like it’s over a year since I spent a magical Christmas and New Year’s in Germany with The Husband. Of course, it’s better now that he’s retired from the military (yea!) and home to stay, but that was a spectacular trip. One thing I remember especially was that everyone and all the signs said ‘Merry Christmas’ – there was none of this dratted PC ‘Happy Holidays’ rubbish. It was wonderful. Funny thing – last year was called the Storm of the Century and there was snow up to my hips. (Snow is something we don’t see much of in my part of Texas.) This year they’ve only had quickly vanishing one or two inch dustings. Glad I was there to see the beautiful snow. Also very glad I don’t have to contend with that sort of snow in my everyday life!

Have just finished the first round of edits on both these stories and gotten them off to my wonderful editors. Now just one more deadline is breathing down the back of my neck. After many fits and starts, I hope to get the final copy of A FIELD GUIDE TO TEXAS MUSEUMS off to the publisher. It’s been very labor intensive and I’m astonished at how many museums regard a request for simple information (most of which can be found on-line anyway) for a free listing as some kind of a con or sales-snare. Our world has become so cynical and distrustful that anything offered free is without question regarded as dishonest, and I find that sad.

When FIELD GUIDE goes to the publisher, I can finally get back to writing. THE CURSE OF THE EXILE, a traditional gothic mystery a la Phyllis A. Whitney and Victoria Holt, only lacks 25,000 words or so to be complete. It’s set in 1850s Scotland and has a ghost, and a curse, and a murder, and that unnatural creature (for the time!) a female librarian. Oh, and an absolutely delicious Scottish laird. After that’s done I’ll pick up THE EGYPTIAN FILE, a romantic suspense about antiquities smuggling and a lost tomb and an absolutely delicious professor of Egyptology. This one is about one-quarter done and great fun.

INHERITANCE OF SHADOWS (originally titled Dark Sun), my modern gothic from Carina is out next month, and I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone says about it. It is also going to be an audio release from Audible! I feel sorry for the poor reader, who has to pronounce all the words and names from the fantasy world of my heroine’s late father’s books – a world that may or may not be totally imaginary.

And one late tidbit for those who missed it – THE HOLLOW HOUSE, a cozy mystery set in 1919 in Denver, was released in mid-November and three days after its release was marked as a Top Pick by RT! I’m proud of that…

Now I must go back and finish the museum book, because there are two books to be finished, and so many ideas swarming in my head for others that I fear I shall not live long enough to write a fraction of them.

Selected Works

Fiction anthology
Anthology of twelve murder mysteries to benefit Homes For Our Troops

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