Saturday, March 12, 2011

Promotion: That's What Friends Are For!

HANK: It's almost here! Jessica Speart--a true friend of Jungle Red--worked for years on WINGED OBSESSION. It's a tale of greed, obsession, and sexual temptation in the vein of The Orchid Thief – the story of the world’s most wanted butterfly smuggler, the rookie U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent who finally brings him down, and the writer who found herself at the center of the story.

Whoa. Terrific, huh? It comes out in April. But so far, no one is buying her an ad in the New York Times. So what's a writer to do? Jessica--as usual--has a great idea.



by Jessica Speart

I thought I had it made when I got my first three-book contract. The Rachel Porter Mystery Series was ready to rock-and-roll.

Two years later, I knew my life was on the upswing when my publisher asked me to write three additional mysteries. Then came books seven and eight in the series and the big time seemed to be just around the corner. Books nine and ten appeared and, suddenly, the roller coaster ride was over. My publisher hit me with the news that they’d decided to drop my series. It felt as if they’d killed my first-born child and I don’t even have kids.

Reinvention can be a bitch. But that’s what we have to deal with as writers. My reaction was to spend the next two years hitting my head against an imaginary brick wall. Eventually, I tired of that and decided it was time to suck it up and move on. I’d actually come up with a nonfiction book idea just as my former editor asked if I had something else in mind.

Glory hallelujah! Everything came together and I landed another book contract. Only this was a much bigger and better deal. Three editors – and a couple of panic attacks - later, the book was finally done.

There was another rush of excitement as I had a new website created, worked hard to gather author quotes (God bless Lee Child and Lisa Scottoline. They’re now in my nightly prayers) and a few early reviews rolled in. Daily Candy called Winged Obsession “one of the great nonfiction reads of the new year” and Philobiblos highly recommended it. Even Penthouse jumped on the bandwagon. I never imagined an adult magazine would be in my future! But the real cherry on the cake is that Winged Obsession will be an Indie Next pick for April 2011.

Now it was time for the big payoff. I’d been dreaming about my upcoming book tour. What I really craved was the gratification of personal contact. After all, isn’t that the reward at the end of the job? You actually get to travel the country, meet with readers and sign your books. Right?


I love my publisher – and my publicist is the absolute best - but I was deflated to learn that a tour wasn’t in the plans. Tours are no longer considered cost effective and the best use of publicity funds. Rather, there will be regional appearances and a 25-city radio satellite tour. My responsibility is to blog, blog, blog, and to interact on Facebook and Twitter as much as possible. Move over, Charlie Sheen.

That’s all well and good, but I still want to get out in the big wide world and actually talk to people. I need a break from sitting behind the computer and social networking for a while. What’s an author to do?

All I can say is: thank God for mystery conventions and conferences. I quickly signed up for both Thrillerfest and Bouchercon. The upside is that I’ll be able to mingle with fellow authors and readers. The downside is that both events are enormous. Consider them the mystery/thriller equivalent of the Superbowl. It never matters how hard I try. I always feel a bit lost and out of place.

The antidote? I’ll also be attending a fairly new mystery conference that makes me feel right at home. Literally. Murder 203 takes place on April 9-10th in my hometown of Easton, Connecticut. I attended last year and had a terrific time. What’s not to like about a line-up of wonderful crime writers, including his year’s special guest: the fabulous Carolyn Hart. Murder 203 is much like Crimebake in that it’s a smaller, more personable conference. I’m hoping to see lots of friends there and make many more. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Jessica Speart is an investigative journalist whose focus is on wildlife law enforcement, endangered species issues, and the environment. Speart created her sleuth--U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agent Rachel Porter-- after years of investigating wildlife and drug-trafficking crimes for publications such as The New York Sunday Times Magazine, Omni, Travel & Leisure, Audubon, National Wildlife, Mother Jones, Wildlife Conservation, Earth Journal and Animals Magazine. When she began to find the characters she covered stranger than fiction, she turned her pen toward mysteries. There are ten novels in the Rachel Porter series.

Then a funny thing happened. Jessica recently wrote her first narrative nonfiction book upon discovering that the truth really is stranger than fiction. WINGED OBSESSION will be published by Wm Morrow in April 2011.

Prior to writing, Jessica worked as an actress in NYC, where she appeared off-Broadway, as well as in commercials and soap operas.


Carolyn Hart is the Guest of Honor at this spring's Murder 203 in Connecticut--one of Jungle Red's favorite conferences. Wanna go? There's still room!

Register Today!

Here’s what this entitles you to:

- Two full days of author panels and talks for readers and aspiring writers
- Book signings
- Giveaways and free raffles
- Silent auction and live auction (including an opportunity to “buy your way”
into someone’s next mystery)
- Two breakfasts and Saturday lunch
- Our fabulous Cocktails & Crime reception on Saturday evening


  1. Hi Jess, I'm so excited for you about the new book! It's always fun to have heard the story along the way and see a great idea come to fruition.

    I empathize with your disappointment about not getting the book tour. It IS so much fun to talk to readers after we've been holed up with our computer for years!

    See you on the road Jess, can't wait to hear your stories!

  2. Yes, congratulations! AAnd its so reassuring that bad news can turn into good news--

  3. Wish I could come to the conference. Sounds fun! And good luck with your book, Jessica. Sounds fascinating!

  4. Welcome Jessica--and this sounds like another great convention that is on the WRONG COAST for me.

    Good luck with the book. Iloved your series and this is exactly my cup of tea.

  5. Jessica is one of the first authors I met when I started doing events, because we're always seated next to each other! Likewise, her books have been perpetual shelf-mates next to mine.

    Over the years, I've been able to hear several of her background stories - the real life events and research adventures that went into her wonderful Rachel Porter mysteries. I'm quite sure I'm not the only person who said, "That would make an incredible book." I'm delighted to see her editor had the same thought.

    And Jessica, I know it's a let-down to not actually be meeting readers on the road. But on the plus side, no one will ever ask you to "step over here and raise your arms out to your side" on satellite radio!

  6. Congrats, Jessica, on all the good buzz for your book. Way to go on re-inventing yourself. I have often thought it's not only talent that leads to our successes in life, but the willingness to re-evaluate and re-invent ourselves not once, but time and time again.

  7. Can't wait to see you at Murder 203, Jessica! WINGED OBSESSION is next up in my "must read" pile--and from the things I've been hearing about it, it'll be a tough one to follow...

    John (Hartford Books Examiner)

  8. Hi, Jessica - I heard you talk about your butterfly book last year at Murder 203 and got chills. You did a risky bit of investigative reporting to get that story.

    Hollywood needs to knock on your door, present you a check for a Very Ginormously Nice deal and cast Julianne Moore to play you on screen.

  9. Hi Jessica,
    Thrilled to hear your news. I think I remember when you first started talking about this book - we were at Bouchercon?? At any rate, it sounds awesome. Congrats!

  10. Hi, Jess - I was lucky enough to score an advance reader copy of the book, and it's terrific. Congratulations!

    What I love about your story is that when your series died, you remade yourself very much as your character, with all of her chutzpah and charm. I am in awe of the research you did to pull this one off.

  11. Thanks everyone! It seems like a long haul since first getting the idea for this book & publication. This is now the fun part. And Rhonda - I love your idea about Julianne Moore. A friend suggested the same thing the other night! Now all I have to do is get Hollywood interested. Hope to catch up with everyone at one of the conferences.

  12. From everything I've read about you, Jessica, I know you're one intrepid woman. I can't wait to read Winged Obsession! I sure hope Rachel Porter reappears someday soon, too; I miss that gal. You and I are on different coasts, but I hope our paths cross sooner or later.

    ENDANGERED, the first in my
    Sam Westin mystery series, debuts in Dec 2011 from Berkley Prime Crime, so I've got a lot to learn about promotion from all you experienced authors.

    Best of luck, Jessica! I'm one of your biggest fans and I know you deserve tremendous success.

  13. Let's face it Jessy, the first books would make a GREAT movie series. Hollywood...listen up! Can't wait for the new one.

  14. Jessica: I've got your new book on my blog! Great work!

    Book Dilettante