Guest Liz Milliron plus #Giveaway

Edith/Maddie here, always happy to host Liz Milliron as our guest on the Wickeds! Her new Laurel Highlands mystery, Broken Trust, releases on August 11 and, like many of us, she had to rejigger all kinds of plans for its release. Still, she stayed positive and is offering a giveaway here today (read down for details).

Here’s the blurb:

When Pennsylvania State Trooper Jim Duncan responds to a murder scene at a local mining company, the call hits close to home. The victim, Lonnie Butler, is a friend and neighbor who was just beginning to get back on his feet after a year of financial difficulties. Despite entertaining out-of-town family, Jim vows to stay involved in the case. Meanwhile, Fayette County assistant public defender Sally Castle faces an ethical dilemma. Her newest client, Ethan Haverton, may be deeply involved in Lonnie’s homicide. Technically, Sally could break privilege, but she chooses not to, a decision that put her at odds with Jim.

As the investigation continues, the rift in Jim and Sally’s friendship deepens. Can the battling couple patch the break and bring the killer to justice – or will their discord allow a friend’s killer to go free?

Looking for the Silver Lining

Thanks, Edith, for having me back at Wicked Authors.

Back in February of this year, right around the release of The Enemy We Don’t Know, the COVID-19 pandemic was a specter on the horizon. China was kind a mess, and Italy was a disaster, but we were pretty okay here in the United States. I actually had an in-person launch party at my favorite local independent bookstore, Mystery Lovers Bookshop. I had a full schedule of events at which I planned to promote the book.

And then the bottom fell out.

All of my winter events were canceled. But it was okay, because this wasn’t going to last long. A few weeks at most. I thought for sure my summer release of Broken Trust, the third Laurel Highlands Mystery, was safe. Wasn’t it?

A few weeks turned into a couple of months. One of my favorite conferences, Malice Domestic, was postponed and then canceled outright. Spring turned into summer. Stay-at-home orders were common. Anything non-essential was closed. Mask-wearing became a thing. Gathering sizes were limited. Even when things started opening up in June, nobody much felt like getting together for a big party.

Folks, it could have been bad. Well, it was bad, but it could have been worse. Except for one thing: the strength of the mystery community.

Brick-and-mortar stores did online ordering and curbside pickup. Platforms like Zoom, Crowdcast, and even Facebook Live offered a virtual gathering replacement for those in-person events. Sure, it wasn’t quite the same, but you could still see and interact with authors and yes, maybe even get a signed book (or at least a signed bookplate).

Authors stepped up to host virtual events and invited their friends to participate. We promoted our friends’ work on our platforms, shared their posts, attended their events. Writing a book is always a solitary activity in a lot of ways, but it seems like the social aspect of the profession got more, not less, so as we were all forced to look for new and creative ways to get our book-babies out into the world. After all, we were all in the same boat. Why not help each other paddle?

There have been some benefits. I’ve met readers from other areas who wouldn’t normally have been able to attend an in-person event. When Dana Kaye and Lori Rader-Day took Murder & Mayhem in Chicago online, attendance skyrocketed from 250 people to over 900 (including me). I met people I never would have because going to Chicago, even without a pandemic, wasn’t in my budget for the year.

I saw a lot of support in crime fiction. I mean, there always is (I firmly believe that even for all its warts, our community is the best out there), but everywhere I looked, special groups were established for 2020 debuts, who like 2020 graduates had their parties rained on in a pretty spectacular way. People with a little (or a lot) of history lent a hand to those who were most impacted. After all, Michael Connelly and James Patterson are going to sell a million copies of their next book because they are who they are. They don’t need huge amounts of promo and marketing. But a debut or a midlist? The loss of all those events could have been crushing.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be happy to see the backside of 2020 (my son is one of those 2020 graduates). This year isn’t something I want to do again. But as a friend of mine said, at least it happened when we had the technology to bring us together – sort of. I feel like I know a lot more people now.

Which means next year at Malice or Bouchercon, I’ll have more friends to hang out with at the bar.

Readers: What’s one good thing that’s happened to you during the pandemic that you wouldn’t normally have experienced? I’ll give a signed copy of Broken Trust to one commenter (US only, please).

Liz Milliron is the author of The Laurel Highlands Mysteries series, set in the scenic Laurel Highlands of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and The Home Front Mysteries, set in Buffalo, NY during the early years of World War II. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Pennwriters, and International Thriller Writers. Soon to be an empty-nester, Liz lives outside Pittsburgh with her husband, two children, and a retired-racer greyhound.

59 Thoughts

  1. I’m making a dent in the ARC mountain since I am not out and about with my usual activities.

    1. I think a lot of ARC and TBR piles are getting whittled down. Of course, that only means we need to build them back up again, right? 🙂

  2. “Laurel Highlands” caught my eye in your post today on The Wickeds. Such a beautiful area! I can see it as a setting for murder and mystery, and I can tell you write about “real” people. I want to read your series!

    1. Aww, thank you! I live not far from the Laurel Highlands and it is one of my favorite places to visit (another casualty of the pandemic – my spring and summer trips down there). Of course, I always spot great places to hide a body. I hope you enjoy the books!

  3. I love the virtual conferences and book launches that are online. I’ve attended several given by bookstores I’d never be able to visit otherwise.

    And, Liz, congrats on the new release! Everyone else, I’ve read it and it’s fabulous!

    1. Annette, likewise. I can’t get to an author’s event when it’s at Murder by the Book or The Poisoned Pen in person, but I can log on from my den.

      And thanks for all your help and the kind words.

  4. So happy you could join us today, Liz, and congratulations! I have also loved the online conferences, the Noir at the Bar (I was on a New England one), and we even have Quaker Meeting over Zoom. Odd, but better than nothing. I can’t wait to read Broken Trust.

    1. Edith, my pleasure. I’m hoping to virtually attend a conference overseas – now there’s something I definitely wouldn’t be able to do!

    2. I look forward to reading your books! Thank you for the giveaway!

  5. About the only really good thing that happened to me during the pandemic shut down was getting that extra money from unemployment. This allowed me to comfortably pay off the various bills that came in so I could have some breathing room financially for a change.

    Otherwise, it was pretty much business as usual for me other than being off from work for 2 1/2 months.

  6. It might have happened otherwise but since this pandemic happened, I made a new friend across the street from where I live. She helped me rescue two very small kittens who are doing very well so far.

  7. It might have happened without help from the pandemic but I made a new friend across the street from where I live. She helped me rescue two very small kittens who are doing very well so far. She has became family to us at this point and we are grateful to know her.

  8. Congratulations on the upcoming release of “Broken Trust”! Sounds like a marvelous read and on my TBR list.

    The one good thing about the stay at home for us has been having a garden. Hubby loves to play in the soil and he was able to do that this year for the first time in many years. Due to being full time caregivers to my Mom after cancer surgery and Alzheimer for 5 years, then downsizing and moving to our dream destinations, and with some freedom after retirement and doing a bit of traveling, this is the first time in about 8 or 9 years since we have been able to have a garden. If not for the stay a home, we would have been on a trip to Utah to see all the national parks there and a trip to Amish communities in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa this summer. It’s impossible to maintain and keep a garden alive in the south and be gone weeks at a time. We have been enjoying the delicious flavors of fresh veggies and knowing the joy of sharing the bounty of the garden with friends. There really is nothing better than a fresh tomato on a BLT or banana peppers stuffed with pimento cheese or some steaming hot fried squash as a side dish at supper.

    Thank you for the chance to win a copy of “Broken Trust”. Shared and hoping to be the very fortunate one selected.

    Be safe, stay healthy and have a little adventure along the way – even if through the pages of a good book.

    1. Kay, the garden sounds marvelous. We had one years ago, but even though we didn’t travel a lot (and yes, I can see where it would be difficult to both have a successful garden and travel in the South), we gave it up because it was so much work. Of course, now that I work at home I could probably do more with it, but we also have Koda and a garden would cut into his zoomie space. 🙂

  9. I have enjoyed seeing how
    Creative people are at staying connected. Glad easier to shop.

    1. Candy, there is definitely something attractive about being able to shop from your pajamas and have the package show up at the house, isn’t there?

  10. Hi, Liz. Congratulations on the book release! I’ve gotten Zoom proficient and I’m enjoying online events and Podcasts.

  11. We do Zumba and Yoga through our towns rec department. Usually the classes end in June but because so many things are shut down the classes are running all summer via Zoom.

    1. How fortunate that you can stay active. I keep meaning to do a trial yoga class via Zoom on Monday nights, but something seems to come up every week.

  12. Congratulations on the book release, Liz. I first met you at the Freethinkers Bookstore in New Hampshire last year and was intrigued with your historical mysteries. I didn’t realize you also do this police procedural series. Looks like a great read. I’ll have to catch up on the first two in the series.

  13. Congrats on your upcoming release, Liz! One good thing that has happened is I’ve gotten to know a couple neighbors better. One usually travels all the time, so I typically only saw her in passing. That slowed way down during the pandemic, and we managed to enjoy some nice, long chats this spring.

  14. That’s a really good question and a hard one. I think I’ve strengthened my bond with my brother in a way I wouldn’t have without the crisis. He’s been a rock for both my sister and I. He is great at “talking you off the ledge” when needed. I know he has his issues too, but he seems able to keep us all in check and I love him for it.

    1. That’s wonderful, Catherine. I know I’ve had more talks with my sister over the last four months – really long talks, not just “hey, how’s it going?”

  15. Welcome back, Liz! It is so great to have you here. I love the central tension in Broken Trust. What a dilemma. What a relationship challenge. As for the pandemic, how many times have we said, “I wish the world would slow down a little bit,” or “I wish I didn’t have to travel this month.” Now we know what it’s like! (And I honestly won’t be wishing for it any time in the near future.)

    1. Thanks, Barb! Yes, it was a challenge. Of course, then there was the challenge of writing it and many times I thought, “Why couldn’t you have picked something else?” LOL

      And yeah, I do think some of this falls in the “careful what you wish for” bucket. 🙂

  16. Congrats on the new release, Liz.

    Not being able to go to my regular AA meeting, I got invited to join a Zoom meeting of wonderful people in community about 60 miles away. Now I have a whole new group of friends.

  17. Congrats on the release! I’ve learned to sit back a bit and appreciate what I do have, just relax and not worry so much. Have also used TV time for nature and science shows which is really refreshing (and educational!). And best of all started regular video chats with my sister and nieces in Florida.

    1. Thanks, Sally! Yes, I’ve done a lot more Facetime calls with my sister and nephew (although at not-quite-two he doesn’t quite get the idea yet).

  18. Congrats on the book! It sounds excellent.
    Nothing much unusual has happened here. Still had to go in to work, my state was one that didn’t shut down, and living in a rural area my town really hasn’t been affected. But it’s nice hearing stories of people coming together to support one another.

  19. First, I want to congratulate you on your book!

    The one good thing I’ve learned during this pandemic is don’t sweat the small stuff. I’m between jobs or retirement? I’m really undecided at the moment. I realized that stress will not get you anywhere. My stress level has gone way down and I know things will get better. As you mentioned, technology (zoom, etc) certainly has helped with keeping in touch, so that helps lower the stress level, too. I have enjoyed the distressing; just going with the flow. I’m enjoying my flower gardens and learning a new hobby of woodworking. Take Care and thanks for the chance!

    1. Thanks, Nancy. Yeah, this whole situation has really hammered home the “don’t sweat the small stuff” mentality. As you said, stressing doesn’t make it any better.

  20. I’m with you. I enjoyed all those author events back when this was starting. Although I don’t seem to have seen quite as many of them recently. Or maybe I’m not paying close enough attention. (Sadly, the ones I am seeing take place on weekdays when I’m supposed to be working.)

    And I like my commute of a dozen steps more than my commute of driving 20 minutes across town.

    But I’m also ready to see the end of 2020.

    1. Thanks, Mark. I think a lot of the tapering has to do with publishing pushing a lot of release dates to the fall. Maybe there will be more in events coming up, although like you, I see more than a few that happen when I’m at work.

      And yes, the commute from my bedroom to the first floor can’t be beat!

  21. Super congratulations on the new book, Liz! One of the positive things that has happened in my life is that my husbans’s job has shifted from near constant travel to a work-from-home model. We had barely seen each other, except from his brief stops at home to do laundry, in just under three years so the change has been very welcome!

  22. Hi Liz, congrats on the new book! I also love the sound of your Home Front mysteries since I ADORE the WWII era, so I’ll be checking those out too. As a newbie mystery author (I’ve written several other books back in the day, but took a decade-long writing sabbatical) I’m brand-new to the mystery world and as such was excited to meet a lot of my fellow mystery authors and READERS at Bouchercon this year. I’m disappointed I won’t be able to meet you and so many others and to connect with readers 🙁 Crossing my fingers my cozy debut will find an audience during this crazy time. I’m so grateful to Edith and the rest of The Wickeds for hosting me yesterday and I also have more events coming up within this wonderful and welcoming mystery community. Whew! (Wipes forehead.) As far as one good thing that’s happened, I’ve had more time to simply bask in the beauty of our secluded back yard with all its gorgeous flowers–roses, hydrangeas, double begonias, impatiens, lavender… Whenever the fear or stress of COVID starts to get to me (my husband and I are both high risk, so stay as close to home as possible) I go out in the back yard, lay (lie?) back in my gravity chair with my sweet spaniel Mellie on my chest and drink in nature’s beauty as a breeze rustles the trees. Perfection. Our back yard has become my safe haven.

    1. Thanks, Laura – and congrats to you as well! You’ve gotten into a good community with cozies. I’m sure everyone will do as much for you as they can.

      I feel the same way about my sun room as you do about your yard. I can sit with my dog at my feet, and watch the wildlife wander through. I spotted and ultra-tiny hummingbird in my petunias last weekend. 🙂

  23. Comcast had 2 free previews of Grokker exercise videos. I love that they have so many for neck and shoulders and also slower paced so I subscribed. Since I’m not going out as much, I usually exercise most every day. Stay safe and well.

  24. Congratulations on your new release, Liz. One thing I realized during the Pandemic was that I’m happy staying home with a good book and my cats. I also realized that there are lots of places I don’t need to go unless it’s absolutely necessary.

  25. Thank you for sharing the blurb on your book, it sounds very intriguing and like a very good page turner! I love the book cover , it has a very Mysterious look to it. I have always enjoyed staying home, so I have been doing fine. Only thing I have not done since March is gone shopping at or local stores at all, my husband has been doing all the shopping at our local stores. One thing that I have known for a very long time and one we have to take to heart is to Never take anyone or anything for granted. Have a great weekend and stay safe.

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