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.