Friday, May 29, 2009

Cut, Crop & Die Hits the Shelves

by Joanna Campbell Slan
Cut, Crop & Die, the second book in my Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series, has hit the stores. How do I know? Booksellers are emailing me to ask if I’ll come do signings. Scrapbook store owners are hearing from their customers. And gosh, what a difference it makes to be releasing Book #2 in a series! It’s so fun to be “known,” to not have to plow fresh ground, and to have folks who are clamoring for “more, more, more!”

Personally, I love reading books that are a part of a series. I like getting to know the characters, watching them grow, and frankly, watching the author grow, too. Each new book is like a visit with an old friend.

In Cut, Crop & Die, one of the subplots is how Kiki’s newfound independence is threatened by a new employee, Bama. Bama’s much vaunted high-falluting degree in art leaves Kiki feeling both jealous and inept. Concurrently, Kiki’s job has become ever more precious to her. For the first time in her life, Kiki is calling all the shots. She’s a “real” grown up, responsible for herself and her daughter, Anya. She’s living solo without a parent or a spouse to tell her what to do. She’s even decorated her home in her own personal style, whereas the gorgeous McMansion she owned with her husband was furnished to his taste by a decorator.

People ask me, “Is it true that authors need to write what they know?”

Boy, wouldn’t it be a boring world if we did? I’ve never been shot at. I’ve never killed anyone. But I write about those things. So, no, I don’t always stick to what I know…except when it comes to emotions. That’s where I use my knowledge. You see, I can remember living on my own after my first marriage failed. I had a great job selling newspaper advertising—a job that threatened my first husband’s ego so much he couldn’t stand it. Finally, I decided I couldn’t stand him, so we were even.
I got rid of 275 pounds of ugly fat. I divorced him.

I got my own little apartment, decorated with castoffs, but certainly reflecting my own style. I can recall what that time was like, the freedom, the fears, and the sense of finally finding myself. Those are the emotions I gave Kiki. Her relationship with Bama reminds me of how I felt when our advertising boss hired a woman he praised to the skies. I remember how he even bragged about paying her more than all of the rest of us salespeople, even though she was less experienced. He felt justified because of her stature in the community. I remember how that eroded my self-esteem and how I worried about my job performance.

I learned a lot from that experience. Fear of failure provides a marvelous incentive to work harder, to be more prepared, to think creatively, to hold nothing back. At least, it works that way for me.

And that new employee? She didn’t last long and she sure didn’t outsell me.

The neat thing about being a writer is nothing is EVER wasted. Those pains I felt, that sense of being “less than,” I don’t call them up every day. But they came in handy when I wrote Cut, Crop & Die.

Care to read an excerpt? Go to


Jess Lourey said...

Congratulations, Joanna! We are all clamoring for more of your Agatha-nominated series. And I love that line, that we don't write what we know in terms of specifics but rather in terms of emotions. Well said.

Terri Thayer said...

#2 already? WooHoo. Your fans will be so happy. It's fun to have multiple books out. Enjoy.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Jess and Terri, I can only aspire to the sort of series that the two of you produce. Many thanks for the kind wishes.

G.M. Malliet said...

Big congratulations on your second "child" being born! Love the cover, too.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Congratulations, Joanna! I love the cover!

Alan Orloff said...



But it's not out of sheer whimsy that booksellers and others are clamoring for more.

You've got good product AND you've worked very hard to promote it (them?).

So all the "clamoring" is well-deserved!

Lisa Bork said...

Congratulations, Joanna! It's always good to be in demand. Love your book cover.

Cricket McRae said...

Congrats, Joanna! You're so right that emotion provides interest and versimilitude in addition to the plot. And obviously your fans agree!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Congratulations on your release, Joanna!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Thank you all!

Kevin Brown does a super, super job with my covers.

Oh, and this time the murder takes place in Chapter 1...inquiring minds might want to know!

Keith Raffel said...

275 pounds? That's a big body to have to get rid of.

G.M. Malliet said...

Joanna - In future, I'm thinking of having the murder take place on the cover. That will put me well ahead of current publishing trends. ;-)

Deborah Sharp said...

You are so frickin' good at this, my friend. Your book launches, you write a wonderful, personal blog post, you juggle a zillion different things and you make it all look like a breeze (and that's the hard part, I know!)
You da man, girl!