In this column I’m asking subscribers to share their knowledge about writing, publishing, and marketing their books. I’m calling it “Ten Questions.” Thank you, Saralyn Richard, for allowing us to share in your excitement about your new book release, Murder in the One Percent.–Marylee MacDonald
Saralyn Richard’s Author Tip: “Because Murder in the One Percent features an ensemble cast of characters, I needed to develop a graphic organizer to keep the important details for each character straight. Each bubble contained a character’s physical characteristics, relationships with the murder victim, particular “tics,” and background information.”
Saralyn Richard is the author of the children’s book, Naughty Nana, and the adult murder mystery, Murder in the One Percent. Both books have garnered excellent readership and reviews, leaving readers breathless with suspense and intrigue.
Follow her on Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7338961.Saralyn_Richard
MM A book begins as an idea in the writer’s imagination. Eventually, this grain of sand turns into a pearl. What was the grain of sand that fired your imagination?
SR Murder in the One Percent begins with a weekend birthday celebration at a country mansion in the beautiful, lush Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania. The idea for the book germinated at a real party, where members of America’s wealthiest one percent gathered to celebrate a birthday. Throughout the nine-course meal with wine pairings, I kept thinking what a great setting this would be for a murder mystery. It was a party to die for!
MM How did you approach turning this idea into a manuscript, and eventually a book? Did you take classes, read books, or just plunge in?
SR I was considering which of many plot ideas I would use for my writers’ critique group, and I thought this would be a lot of fun to write. I wondered what if someone came to the party with murder in his heart and poison in his pocket? From there, I just plunged in.
MM Authors today have many options when it comes to publication. Did you work with an agent, find a publisher through other means, or self-publish your book?
SR Naughty Nana is self-published, but Murder in the One Percent is traditionally published by Black Opal Books. Look for the sequel to Murder in the One Percent, entitled A Palette for Love and Murder, in January, 2020.
MM What is the biggest single lesson you learned during the writing process?
SR Momentum is key. Building and sustaining the momentum for writing makes or breaks the author’s focus and enthusiasm for the project.
MM What would you advise others who are still at the idea stage?
SR Start writing, even if you don’t have all of the details in place yet. The story will unfold in the way it’s supposed to.
MM Were there any writing tools you’d recommend? Did you use apps like Grammarly, Scrivener, or another outliner to help you structure your book?
SR Because Murder in the One Percent features an ensemble cast of characters, I needed to develop a graphic organizer to keep the important details for each character straight. Each bubble contained a character’s physical characteristics, relationships with the murder victim, particular “tics,” and background information.
MM Was it hard to decide on a cover, or did you or your publisher hire a professional designer?
SR The talented artist, Rebecca Evans, designed the covers for both Naughty Nana and Murder in the One Percent. Rebecca is one of those people who has a knack for ferreting out the most important features of a book, and representing them visually.
MM Who is your ideal reader? Who would particularly enjoy your book/s?
SR The ideal reader for Murder in the One Percent is anyone who loves to engage in the intellectual and emotional puzzle of a mystery, to catch the subtleties of humor and tension, to bond with the appropriate characters, and to allow himself or herself to be drawn in.
MM How do you connect with readers? Do you like to do live events, such as book fairs or library talks, or have you found readers through social media, Goodreads, or Amazon?
SR For me, the joy of being an author is to connect with readers. I enjoy in-person events, such as launch parties, bookstore events, and book clubs, but FaceTime and Skype are almost as much fun. Social media is essential for networking with others in the industry and in the reading and writing community. I’m grateful to the many people who have helped me reach readers, and I’m especially grateful to readers, themselves.
MM What has been your greatest reward in undertaking this publishing journey? (This doesn’t have to be a financial reward.)
SR The greatest reward comes from the connections I’ve made with others. Shared values about reading and writing have become the basis for many of my most gratifying and lasting relationships. If the production of literature makes an author immortal, this is why.
If you’re new to writing would would like more info about how to create characters, read this blog post.
If you’ve already finished your book and need some ideas for promoting it, read this post.
Marylee MacDonald is the author of MONTPELIER TOMORROW, a novel, BONDS OF LOVE & BLOOD, a short story collection, and THE RUG BAZAAR, a chapbook. Her books and stories have won the Barry Hannah Prize, the Jeanne M. Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award, a Readers’ Favorites Gold Medal for Drama, the American Literary Review Fiction Prize, and many others. She holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State, and when not reading or writing books, she loves to walk on the beach and explore National Parks.