Guest post: Kris Calvin, author of One Murder More
Kris Calvin is my sibling, who has recently published a first novel. I wasn’t involved in the production of the book, except as a beta reader (and any comments I made there were anonymous), and contributing to the crowdfunding. We’ve had some interesting discussions about the process, and I have given some advice about e-book publishing in particular. It’s been fascinating for me to watch! Right now, with only a few days of publication, the book has 4.7 stars out of 5 on Amazon, with twenty reviews. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to write a review, but I am impressed with that. Kris has also gotten some amazing blurbs! One of the ones that really stood out was from John Lescroart (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), the New York Times bestselling author of the Dismas Hardy series, among others:
“Crisp and entertaining, One Murder More marks a solid debut for Kris Calvin, who sets herself apart as a writer to watch.”
You can read other blurbs and more at Kris’ website:
I also really liked this five star review (one of many) on the book’s Amazon product page (I’m only doing a short excerpt):
“I have a new hero in Maren Kane and a new author in Kris Calvin.”
You can read the rest of that review (and the others) here:
What follows is Kris’ reaction to the June 1st “launch day” for One Murder More: I asked Kris to write something about that for you, my readers.
One Murder More, my debut work as a fiction writer, is a political mystery novel. It features lobbyist Maren Kane, who finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation in California’s capital city of Sacramento. Populated with a diverse cast of suspects and sidekicks, I intended the story to weave a challenging puzzle of suspense, sprinkled with humor.
Three days ago, June 1, 2015, was the release and public publication date for One Murder More, via Amazon and brick-and-mortar bookstores. The weeks prior felt like the lead-up to a major holiday. Christmas works as a good example.
There was lots of fiddling with website design and content for my author site (buying and trimming the tree), ample tweeting and posting the milestones that led up to publication (writing and mailing holiday cards), and even reviewing wine and dessert options for a local bookstore signing event (catering the annual holiday party). All of which generated a sensation similar to what I experienced as a child pre-holiday, when the focus was largely the anticipation of gifts—which, in the end, might be what I wanted or not (positive or negative reviews and high or low sales numbers).
Yet, despite emotional similarities one important difference between “Pub-date Eve” and Christmas Eve is that Santa has a scheduled appearance. He may mess with that a bit if the latest Xbox isn’t available in his workshop, and he has to promise delivery several weeks later. But for the most part the man in red and his reindeer punch a clock.
In contrast, when a new novel is put out into the world it’s unclear not only when, but also whether the anticipated payoff will arrive.
So when June 1st, “the great day”, finally came, I was up at 12:01 AM at my computer, trying to catch up on some work. I noticed the time, and took a moment to honor that moment, to reflect that this would be the only “first minute of the first day of my first novel publication” ever in my life.
Then I checked the clock at 12:02 AM June 1st and realized nothing felt different, that nothing had actually changed. Even later that day, amidst the furor of much appreciated well wishes, of reviews and tweets, the most notable sensation for me was that nothing had changed.
I think it’s because while a book has two birthdates, neither of them are the launch day.
The first is when the idea for a book becomes clear enough that the writer sits down and begins to type, dictate or put pen to paper—in some way to begin to transform vapor to solid; internal to external; and the “fuzzy daydreams” of unedited plot and characters emerge to see the light. (Thanks to author Catriona McPherson for that phrase to characterize the first draft process).
That merits the first candle on the cake.
The second birthdate is when the book becomes “final” for publication. For hardback, this means it’s gone to the printer and no changes can be made. For an e-book there’s more flexibility, but there still comes a point at which the novel has been formatted for Kindle and change must be conscious and assertive and great enough to cause a writer to reopen his or her work.
So while the day the book goes on sale to the public is certainly one for celebration, it seems to me to be more a graduation than a birth. It’s a marker in a path that has already been cleared and civilized with wood chips or gravel, if not stone.
I’ve been an avid reader all my life, and as an adult I get through 2 to 3 novels a week. But I’d never considered becoming a writer until three years ago when I picked up a copy of Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories, a challenging, complex mystery with distinct storylines that come together seamlessly in the end. Having worked in politics and advocacy for many years, where no plot line is clean and motives for murder and mayhem seem endless, I realized Atkinson’s structure might work to enable me to write a book based on what I lived and knew.
That was August 2012. I wish I noted the exact date, but I sat down to write one day of that month and continued to do so every morning through October. I now realize that was the first birth of one Murder More.
I spent several months rewriting, took time off for single parenting and working a day job and then went back to it. There were several drafts, multiple editors and finally a willing and supportive publisher, Inkshares, Inc.
The book was out of my hands and on the way to the printer January 25, 2015. Birthdate number two.
Six months later, it still doesn’t feel quite real to me. It’s as though one day I was baking banana bread in my kitchen, and decided it might be nice to add lime to the batter. A friend came over and said it was wonderful banana bread, so unique, and that it should be sold in the local markets. Soon loaves of my bread were out where lots of people could try it, some who like lime and some who do not.
There’s a joy in that process, in learning and sharing something that was internal for so long. But before long there’s also a strong drive to get back in the kitchen and start baking again. And that’s where I am now. I miss lobbyist Maren Kane and company, my characters, the friends I made in those three years of development.
And since One Murder More is the first of a series, the second book has formed in my head. This time I’m prepared to write down the date and to have the cake and first candle ready.
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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help!
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.