Saturday, August 3, 2019

What We;re Writing Week - Julia's promotions have begin!

The winner of an Advance Readers Copy of A BITTER FEAST is: Flora Church! Flora, please send your mailing info to Debs!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Yesterday, Debs talked about some of the many pre-publication things going on for A BITTER FEAST: her first (but surely not last) starred review, a graphics banner for promotions, and signing endless tip sheets for a special  author-signed B&N edition. 

Today I'm going to talk about some of the promotion efforts my own publisher is putting on to get you all excited about the April release of HID FROM OUR EYES. To start, for the entire month of August, the ebook edition of my debut novel, the one kicking off the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series, is on sale for $2.99! 
 

 Just in time for your August vacation, you can get it wherever ebooks are sold:






Prefer an actual, made-of-paper book when you're on the beach? We got you, fam. Head on over to Goodreads and sign up to win one of 25 copies Minotaur is giving away!




"Julia," I hear you say, "Why is there a giant yellow 1 in the picture for the special $2.99 ebook price?" I'm glad you asked. HID FROM OUR EYES is the 9th book in the series, and there are eight months until it comes out. For each one of those months, Minotaur will be putting an ebook on sale for $2.99 (and running a Goodreads contest, and, oh, yes, there's something going on at Bookbub on the 15th of this month - and I don't even know what that goodie is going to be!) We'll be going through the series in order, the first book this August, the second in September, etc, etc.

So why my publisher doing this, besides the fact they're a splendid group of people? For the same reason Hank's run contests to give away copies of THE MURDER LIST and a big free sneak peek excerpt.  Hallie's publisher has a free chapter of CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR and Deb's book TO DWELL IN DARKNESS is on sale this month for only $1.99   It's because, as my publisher Andrew Martin once wisely said, "The book sells the book."

We want to sell our new books, and we hope that if you read one of the older novels - or get a juicy first chapter - you'll sign up and pre-order the next one. We also do social media stuff (I'm going to be getting on to Instagram...) we make personal appearances, we give cool things away to readers. But ultimately, we all gamble on the fact that if you like X, you'll also like Y. And if you can be enticed to try a new author at a low, low price, you might just be willing to pony up a bit more for the latest book when it comes out.

So, dear readers, our fates are in your hands. Tell me what are the best ways to sell YOU on an upcoming book?

69 comments:

  1. Apologies for this not showing up until this morning! I had all the elements pulled together and then... got distracted Friday afternoon by unexpected guests. You can see my new, upgraded organizational system is very mush a work-in-progress,,,

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    1. Not to worry. It's Saturday, a day that many of us sleep in. If you hadn't apologized, Julia, I never would have known. By the way, extreme measure, bought a new lap top, and am able to comment again.

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  2. I am so looking forward to reading this book!
    A book a month? That's exciting [but I already have all of them on my Nook].
    I don't need to be sold on this book . . . I'm already sold on the whole series! But I think that perhaps once readers are invested in a series, they're already looking forward to the next book. If it's a stand-alone, then I think it's a combination of the author and the description of the book and some good marketing . . . .

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    1. Joan, most promotions have three purposes: to let loyal readers know the book they already want to buy is coming out, to encourage them to spread the word, and to hook in new readers.

      In other words, if you know anyone who HASN'T read IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER, now's your chance to share some sale-priced links with 'em. ;-)

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  3. Whew, thought that there would be no blog this morning.

    Why do I buy a book? Lots of reasons.

    1. I'm familiar with the author's other books, probably own them all.
    2. Great reviews in newspapers and magazines by great reviewers, especially other authors I
    admire, like Stephen King.
    3. Great reviews from people like Kristopher.
    4. Price and length. I like to get a lot of nights of reading in bed. This is a throwback to my
    salad days when all I could afford was a mass marketing paperback, and it had to be very thick
    for me to spend five bucks on it. I still rarely buy a 200 page book.
    5. Recommendations from friends who share my taste in reading.
    6. Price. I don't mind spending a couple or three bucks on an unknown entity, and I've found some
    of my favorites that way. So good on your publishers for offering up bargain books.
    7. Personal connection with the author. People, those endless tours and readings and signings do
    pay off. But then you knew that.
    8. Just because. However, the last thing that makes me buy the book is the cover art. Sorry.
    9. A great first sentence. One that I stop and read over. Several times.

    Ok, I have lots of other thoughts, but this will do for now.

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    1. Seriously, Ann, I think you've put more thought into this than a lot of book publicists. :-)

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    2. Oh thank you Julia. Last week I pulled In The Bleak Midwinter out of the cloud to reread. It’s been a long time. I’m so happy you’ve climbed back on the bike. We’ll will all help pedal for you.

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    3. I need a heart emoji for you, too!

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  4. Julia, what wonderful news! I can hardly wait to read this book.

    I choose books by authors I love, a really great opening line, guest authors here, and recommendations from friends who share my taste. I read most mystery genres so I love the "free sample" option for Kindle books.

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    1. Cathy, I've tried quite a few new authors based on the free sample download, as well.Every ebook should offer it - it's the equivalent of going to a bookstore and reading a few pages before heading for the cashier.

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  5. Looking forward to more adventures with Russ and Clare. Congratulations! I started posting photos on Instagram. Baby steps.

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    1. Margaret, I want to get started while I have my secret weapon - my 18 year old daughter! I've told her she has to help me before she returns to university in the fall.

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    2. My daughter manages and updates all my social media, website, and blog. I supply the content and photos. So nice to have the skillset in the family.

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  6. Julia, "...mush a work-in-progress..." Just made me laugh--thinking of WC Fields for some reason! ;-)

    It may sound trite, but consistently good writing will capture my interest and keep it. Those opening sentences, reviews from people I trust (like the reviews I read here, for example). A glimpse of an intriguing character or plot or setting in the jacket copy or in a blurb or review may get me to try a new author--friend's recommendations. A great cover will get me to check out that jacket copy if the author is new to me.

    And if I enjoy an author, I will follow them to whatever genre or format they choose to try.

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    1. I'm exceedingly lucky you don't base your buying decisions on spelling or copy editing skills, Flora...

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  7. Julia, all you have to do is publish a new book and I'm in! Seriously. Can't wait...

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  8. Julia, I am so impressed by all the things Minotaur is doing for you!! This book is going to be a huge success, I'm sure!!

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    1. I was very excited about the roll-out, Debs. Well, not when they said they wanted me to do Instagram :-P But the rest of it.

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    2. I know. Hank has pointed me to some excellent learning resources, and Youngest says she'll help me get up and running. It's just - I went to Italy for a month and took seven pictures. Photography is NOT my natural environment, not by a long shot.

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  9. April must seem like an interminable wait for you, Julia. I'm impressed by all of the marketing efforts leading up to the big day though. I hope the new book is a great success!

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    1. Thank you, Marla! My publisher is certainly doing their part to ensure that, and I'm grateful.

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  10. What makes me buy a book? The number one thing, of course, is an author whose work I already know and love -- that means you, Reds. Like all the commenters before me, the recommendation of someone I respect is the next best thing -- either a review from a trusted source or a personal recommendation. But the third thing, I guess, is a little tricky.

    Because I read so voraciously, I rely on the library for a lot of my reading. So in terms of book PURCHASES, favorite authors and trusted recommendations make up about 90% of them. That last 10%, though? Truth be told, that last 10% is kind of based on bargain hunting. So for an author I haven't read yet and haven't had that strong personal recommendation, I just might spring for the $1.99 Kindle deal, if it looks like it's right in my sweet spot. And the publishers are absolutely correct in guessing that if I like that $1.99 book, then all of a sudden that author moves into the "known quantity" category. I'm likely to borrow another of that author's books from the library, and if it's a home run, too, then I am quite likely to spring for the purchase of a new release because I don't want to wait in line at the library.

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    1. Susan, when I still went to lots of yard sales, one of my favorite ways of getting reading material was to pick up 25 cent paperbacks. I met a lot of great new authors that way.

      The mark-down ebook price is probably comparable, sine you don't have to use any gas to get to the sale!

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  11. Looks as if we all buy books for pretty much the same reasons. However, we also all have the reader gene embedded in our DNA. So I’m not sure we are the best sample. Perhaps those people who rarely read at home but need something at the airport that will occupy them on a trans Atlantic flight but for different reasons. I think this is where the cover and a recognizable brand are so important for certain.

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    1. Very true, Ann. I once heard the average American reads seven books a year,which explains why the same big brand names dominate the bestseller list over and over. If you're not much of a reader, you want to be assured you're going to like whatever you pick up.

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  12. Buy for different reasons, not “but.”

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  13. The advantages of being on the west coast, I had no idea you were delayed this morning.

    Often it's word of mouth or to be more precise, giveaways that have hooked me to an author. My cousin is a prolific reader and used to give me shopping bags of books when she was done with them. For awhile that was how I'd meet new authors and their books. Now for me personally, without my cousins gifts, the first thing that grabs my attention is the title. Pursuing bookshelves I see the spines first so the title grabs my attention. A book whose title is a hymn I've sung? Of course, I'll picked it and then I was hooked. An employee at my local stand-alone bookstore noticed my preferences and has made a suggestion or two. I also read employees' suggestion display for book they have liked, which is one of the great things about those stand-alone bookstores. The big chain store doesn't have one. Now I have this fabulous blog that provides great information about authors I may have passed over in search of missing Rhys Bowen book. Which is what I'm doing today, I completely missed Italy.

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    1. Deana, I've long said you go into a big-block bookstore to buy a book you know, but you go into an independent bookstore to find a book you don't know.

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  14. If the book is buy an author I'm already reading, then it's likely I buy just because I like the author's work and trust that the new story will be one I like.

    If someone is trying to sell me on a book by a new or new-to-me author, I have to read the synopsis on the back cover. If that hooks me, I'll probably buy it. I also discover these "new" authors by reading a blog post here, a review in Mystery Scene or a review over on BOLO Books. If I like what I'm reading or the review makes the book sound as if it is something that I JUST HAVE TO READ, then I will invariably get around to buying it.

    I don't think I'm all that difficult a sell once I decide I like something or that I'm at least interested in checking it out.

    Also, I always buy a book when there is a signing I can go to. As Hank says, a signed book makes a great gift.

    Even if that is just me giving myself a gift, it works.

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    1. "Even if it's just me giving myself a gift=" I'll second that!

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    2. I have all of Hank's books signed but Trust Me. Which will be rectified when I go to the Aug. 22nd signing for The Murder List at An Unlikely Story.

      And I have Julia's first book signed thanks to that Brookline Booksmith signing event for Rhys and Lucy last summer that also had Hank, Hallie and Julia in attendance. (Full disclosure, it was Kristopher Zgorski who found the copy of the book for me)

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  15. The best way to sell me a book is to say it is written by a favorite author! Truly, Julia, I don't need to know what your next book is about - I know it will be terrific and I know I want to read it. And that is true for all of the Reds.

    But suppose a publisher wants me to read something by someone I am not at all familiar with. Probably the best way to convince me is for someone I trust to recommend it. That, combined with free or nearly free earlier books would get me buying.

    Free books on Goodreads are wonderful, but I have to do some research and be selective. just because it is free isn't necessarily enough to make me want to read it.

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    1. Judi, that's one of the reasons publishers have settled on $1.99 to $3.99 as the sweet spot to get people to try a new author - it's low enough to be an easy impulse buy (less than a coffee in most places nowadays!) but enough to get people to actually read it after they've downloaded it.

      Free is sometimes easy to put off - I have freebies sitting on my Kindle from several years ago I haven't opened yet.

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  16. Since I've read the series once, and have started over and am on book 3, all I need is patience, I guess.

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    1. If you limit yourself to one book every six weeks, I think you'll finish roughly at the time HID FROM OUR EYES comes out, Rick.

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  17. I’m so looking forward to the return of Claire and Russ to my reading life. I’ve missed them.

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  18. All of the above. Add in books gifted by friends. Ebook deals. Recommendations by the library and a local bookstore in their emails. Book giveaways. Once you’re on my reading list it’s a given I’ll keep reading you.

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    1. Gifts from friends. You know, I love giving books - it's my go-to for children's presents - but except for kids, I almost always give nonfiction. I just feel on safer ground guessing someone's interests versus guessing their tastes, if that makes sense.

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  19. Yay! For the forthcoming book, Julia, but GROAN that we have to wait until April!! But I’ve already preordered on my Kindle, so count me a breathless fan in waiting for the next Clare and Russ PLUS BABY book!! Yay!!

    Ok, enough exclamation points.

    What hooks me into a new author is the title (is it interesting?), the plot (is it interesting and not too violently horrid, especially towards women), the main character (I want strong smart and courageous women, please), and, of course, the writing, which must be better than good for me to invest my time (and money). The opening paragraph needs to pull me in with the quality of writing and pacing.

    As for publicity stuff — chances to win signed ARCs or books or something is always fun, but it’s really the bona fide reviews that sell me. Good writers vouching for the author catch my eye and make me reach for my wallet.

    Bring on April! Go, Julia!! And good luck with Instagram — I signed up but gave up swiftly. It defeated my limited social media skills.

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    1. I'm a big fan of reviews as well, Amanda. I can't tell how many books I've gotten because of a compelling review - I like genre-specific sites like Smart Bitches trashy Books for romance and Criminal Element for mysteries and thrillers. Also, NPR - I'm constantly scribbling down book titles because the author is interesting on the radio.

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  20. This is SO great! I have never been so excited for a pal's book--Julia, you are amazing.

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    1. Well, I run with a pretty amazing group of women, so yeah... :-)

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  21. Julia, that is a hella awesome promotion! A book a month - like your own book of the month club! LOVE IT!!! I am so excited for next April! May the pre orders begin...

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  22. The books I've loved do the best job of drawing me to the new ones in a series. Recommendations from authors I know and love lead me to others that I'll also love. Y'all are doing such good work that I'll have to live to at least 100 to make it through the current TBR mountain. <3

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    1. Entertaining AND life-saving, too; we do it all here at Jungle Reds!

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  23. I'm so excited! [And terribly perplexed that I didn't see this new post until RIGHT NOW, despite heading to the site (and refreshing and so on) all day long. Doesn't matter - I was just having withdrawal from not seeing a JR post first thing. ;^)]

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    1. I literally woke up, sat bolt upright, and said, "@#$% %$#@! I forgot the blog!" Not my finest hour,

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    2. Aha! And, we all have those days, Julia...

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  24. I found my first Julia book in a hardware store in Old Forge. I love mysteries and it was set in the Adirondacks. Fell in love with the book and have read them all. Another way is word of mouth from other readers. I do bookbub and have bought a book on the cheap from them. And I've gone back and read the whole series. Or not. I have an ereader which I find very convenient. I have so many books in my purse when I travel. As I get older the ereader is lighter to hold. Plus when I'm traveling the back light allows me to read into the night without disturbing others. Before that I needed a suitcase just for books. ��. I do miss the cover art as my reader is only b&w. I love to visit a book store. I'll go to section with the type of books I like and look for a bunch of books by one author. They have to be good. You keep writing. I'll keep buying and reading.

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    1. That's what we love to hear, Nancy!

      I've gone more and more to ebooks as I've gotten older, for many of the same reasons. It started out for convenience - I spent so much time waiting while a kid was having a dance lesson/rehearsing/at a meet I wanted to have a few books with me, and it was easier on my purse to have them in an ereader. Now I'm having some vision issues, and I love the way I can make the type as large as I want and change the light level, background color, etc.

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  25. Congratulations to the winner of Deborah's Bitter Feast novel, Flora Church. I look forward to reading it.

    Julia, I will check out your ebooks and I look forward to reading your books. And congratulations on your honour at the upcoming Malice Domestic conference!

    Diana

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  26. Shalom Reds and fans. This year and last, I bought a lot of books. However, since January, I have perhaps read 2-1/2 books. I know this, only because I keep track with Goodreads. Last year, I read about 18 books and at a pretty steady pace throughout the year. Like many of you, I will look up authors I like and see what else they’ve written. I love my two local libraries, Bucks County Free Library and Free Library of Philadelphia. In addition to brick and mortar branches, they offer quite a considerable number of collections online. On popular books, there is often a wait. The only problem with putting a hold on an e-book or an audiobook, is that they mostly don’t email you when the book is available for you. They just check it out for you automatically and take it back at the end of 14 or 21 days.

    The $0.99 to 3 or $4.99 are very attractive and if I see a book or an author I’ve been watching for, I will step up and purchase it right away. I try to keep a little extra in my PayPal account which I can use as mad money when I want an impulse buy.

    If there is an expensive book that I want, I will check to see if there are any used copies for sale on Amazon or eBay. However, if I really want something really expensive, I will put it on my Amazon “wish list”. I think the last book that I spent more than $25 on was a dictionary of Hebrew slang. (All in Hebrew and a little bit challenging for my intermediate level of Hebrew knowledge.)

    If there’s a non-fiction topic that I am interested in. I will follow the lead of an author and try to find books that they cite in their work(s). I like older classics. I’ve recently returned to read James Baldwin and William F. Buckley, to cite two ends of the spectrum.

    My problem has now become space. I have only two standing bookshelves and only my most often used or favorite books have a space for them. All the rest, are in paper bags and piled in corners right up to the sky. I do own a tablet and Amazon and others are quite willing to store your purchases on their servers. ChristianAudio which now only sells audiobooks to store on their server or on your device gives away a free book every month. I have downloaded each and every book for almost 7 years. In that time, I think I bought only one or two audio books from them but I can’t remember what they were. It might have been a Christmas Carol which I love the readings and dramatizations that I heard throughout the years. And maybe it was a discounted audio version of the entire King James Bible. I am just as much a hoarder of e-books as I am of paper and ink.

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  27. It's a given that I get my favorite authors' books. For new authors, I'm attracted to the back cover summary, bright covers, clever titles, and recommendations from blogs like this one. I used to browse the bookstores more but they only have a few racks of new titles for the month. Barnes and Noble used to have each genre's new titles featured so I could pick out my favorites and scan for new authors.

    I do get free books from giveaways, Book Bub, etc. I got an Eloisa James romance from the library reading promotion and now have bought all of her books.

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  28. I'm in the process of buying ebooks to replace the paper ones, so I'm excited to hear there will be sales on the way to the new one. Just checked and I already have the first one on both Kindle and Nook formats. So excited to know the countdown for the new book has started.

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  29. What great news! I can't wait!
    Regarding trying new series, I am very reluctant to jump in mid-series and it is harder to find the first book in a series in bookstores these days. (And, horrifyingly, a lot of people don't use libraries) While it is great that your publisher is promoting the backlist with aggressive ebook pricing, I would suggest they repeat the promo for In the Bleak Midwinter at the same time the new book comes out, so that those inspired then (when we hope there is lots of buzz for the new book) can easily find it. Minotaur should do a "tell a friend" campaign in the back of the hardcover to promote Bleak Midwinter. Ah, I miss my publishing days!

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  30. I just bought TO DWELL IN DARKNESS, so clearly that $1.99 promotion works for me. :) I've done that three times in the past week.

    Good luck, Julia! This book will be awesome, no doubt!

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  31. Will I be the last comment on Julia. Feeling foolish as you told me the posting story but I forgot to go read it last night. But I’ve entered in hope. Now makes me buy a book by an unknown to me, author? I really need to have it in my hands so step one is the bookseller. I don’t like B&N, so independent all the way. The cover can draw me to check it out. Then the authors bio and finally I’ll look inside. I want well written. Not necessarily incomprehensibly clever, (I leave those for the Booker list), but a good flow. I use the same approach with new authors at the library. I love mysteries, all sorts of mysteries, a buffet of different styles is for me. I love friends recommending new books. In fact I must start posting what I’m reading more. And I am loving getting to know JRW, and read their books.

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