Thursday, March 04, 2010

My mystery author guest: Penny Warner

Penny Warner's most recent release is How to Host a Killer Party, the first in the Party Planning mystery series that will include party planning tips in each book. Mixing fun and fundraising for charities seemed like the perfect job for Presley Parker when she’s suddenly downsized from her position teaching abnormal psychological at the university. Pres is psyched about her first big gig—hosting a “surprise” wedding for the San Francisco Mayor at notorious Alcatraz prison.

But the party’s over when the bride bolts faster than an escaping prisoner, and is later found dead floating in the bay, a victim of poisoned chocolates. When Presley becomes prime suspect, she looks to her quirky Treasure Island co-workers for help, but it’s the attractive, mysterious crime scene cleaner Brad Matthews who helps tidy up her tarnished reputation. If she doesn’t solve this mystery, she’ll be exchanging her party dress for prison stripes.

Doesn't that sound like a fun read? Now, here's Penny's guest post:

I'm on a Killer Blog Tour

Thanks to Beth Groundwater, I’m on a blog tour. Two months ago I’d never heard of a blog tour, not until I read about Beth’s tour. Now I’m just wrapping up the last one and looking forward to more in the future.

Apparently blog tours are becoming standing operating procedure when you have a new book out. For past books, I used to cold call some bookstores, ask if I could come and talk about my book, and then try to find my way home from Sacramento, Fresno, or Palo Alto when my GPS died.

On a regular book tour, I have to wear clothes, bring bribes in the form of cookies and bookmarks, and sit at a table watching readers buy Stephanie Meyer’s books by the arm load. A regular book tour is expensive, too, what with the cost of gas, cookies, and clothes, not to mention time consuming—an hour plus drive, a two-hour “event,” and an additional two hours driving back after getting lost. I’m exhausted by the time I get home, my cheeks are cramped from all that smiling (and sitting, if you get my drift), and from hauling full cartons of books.

Now it’s perfectly clear to me why blog tours are the way to go. Making an appearance as a guest on popular blog sites related to my genre—like Beth’s—sounded perfect for me. No traveling, no hauling books, no cookies. I don’t even have to wear clothes if I don’t want to. After reading Beth’s helpful information about setting up a blog tour, I sent out a dozen queries to my favorite sites a few weeks before my book was to debut and asked if I might “stop by.” To my amazement, they all responded positively to my request, and I found myself with blog stops every other day for nearly a month!

Along with my queries, I sent a list of possible topics related to my new book, such as “How to Plan a Killer Party” and “How to Survive a Book Tour.” Some sites had specific topics for me to choose from, some chose from my list, while others just wanted Q & A interviews. The rest said I could write whatever I wanted. How cool was that.

While Beth recommended I stockpile articles ahead of time, I’m more of a deadline writer. I jotted the dozen or so dates on the calendar, then took it one day at a time, writing the articles and getting them into the sites a few days before they were scheduled to run.

Sure, it was a lot of work. But I wrote the articles while sitting on my couch listening to music. I never got lost while traveling the entire country. I got to eat all my own cookies. And I could wear my PJs (or not) all day long if I wanted to. When my articles were “up,” I dropped by the sites throughout the day to see if there were comments, and responded to each of them, feeling as if I’d made some new friends.

Best of all, going on a blog tour was lots of fun. It’s definitely the way to go. In fact, thanks to Beth, I may never leave home again…

Thanks, Penny! Okay, readers, fire away! What do you want to know about Penny? Do you have a party coming up that you could use some help planning? Now's your chance for free advice! :) Got anything else to say or ask?


Andrea said...

Thanks! Blessings, andrea

Anonymous said...

I'm in the middle of reading Penny's book right now, and I'm finding it wildly enjoyable. First book in a long while I haven't been able to put down. I like Presley's background as a downsized college in structor in abnormal psychology, and the way she tends to diagnose her acquaintances and suspects. Also like the fact that she has ADHD but has come to terms with it - something like my bipolar heroine in MOOD SWING: THE BIPOLAR MURDERS.

Penny, I hope you're still planning to visit as a guest on my blog even if your tour is officially over!

Julie Lomoe's Musings Mysterioso

Beth Groundwater said...

Okay, here's a party planning question for Penny. The Rocky Mountain Chapter of MWA will be hosting dessert at the banquet at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference this spring, and we're decorating the tables in a mystery-oriented theme. In addition to a door prize of a member's book at each table, what decorations would you suggest we add that are inexpensive, low enough not to block sight lines, and can be integrated with the hotel's centerpiece?

Penny said...

Hey, Beth!
Thanks for letting me share space on your wonderful blog. Sounds like a fun party coming up. How about inexpensive magnifying glass, flashlights, and handcuffs (available at party supply stores), plus ribbons of Crime Scene tape draped across the tablecloths. I created some cool wine bottle candle holders (had to drink a lot of wine...) by making my own Killer Party wine labels on the computer, then filled the bottles with red-foiled chocolate roses. Hope this helps. Am I invited?

Penny said...

Hi Julie!
Great to see you here. Thanks SO much for the kind words. I'll have to get a copy of Mood Swing! And of course I'm coming to your blog site - wouldn't miss it and will let everyone know.

Sunny Frazier said...

I've been trying to get new authors hooked on the idea of blogging--and weighing in on blogs as well! Name recognition is step one of a career. I think the trick is finding ways to drive people to the blogs. All it took was seeing your name, Penny. Now I want all my friends to meet you as well!

Kathleen Ernst said...

The book sounds great, and I appreciate the tips for a successful blog tour!

Morgan Mandel said...

I'm happy to say on January 17Penny was my guest on her tour at my group blog, Make Mine Mystery. She gave some great fun advice about surviving a book signing when no one's heard of you. Here's the link, if you missed it.

By the way, I got to read her book, and it was also great fun.The heroine was very likeable.

Morgan Mandel

Beth Groundwater said...

I've got another question for Penny. What have been some of the most unique and different party themes that you've come across?

Penny said...

Hi Sunny,
I've really enjoyed blogging. WAsn't sure I had enough to say, but surprisingly, I keep coming up with topics. Hope to see you at Left Coast Crime - or in FResno...

Penny said...

Hi Kathleen,
Let me know when you go on your blog tour and I'll stop by!

Penny said...

Thanks for the kind comments!
You made my day!

Penny said...

Hi Beth,
We attended at Red Neck Trailer Park Party that was a blast. So many ways to decorate, with tire rims, toilet seats, and beer cans.
Also loved the party our friends hosted on their 30th wedding anniversary--all the guests got to vote whether they should stay together! Then they had a mock wedding that was hilarious!
Thanks for a great time on your blog, Beth.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips and best wishes for your tour success. I'm out lining about 15 blog subjects as I'm putting together a tour for later this spring. Have a great weekend.

Stephen Tremp

Penny said...

Hi Stephen,
Hope you have as much fun as I've had. Yes, it's a lot of work, but writing about my favorite subject is always a pleasure. Best of luck with yours!

WS Gager said...

Great ideas for a mystery theme. Will keep them in mind. Am planning a bash for my second book, A Case of the Accidental Intersection, coming out in June. Good luck on the tour. I am planning one of my own and would love to be a guest.

Terri P said...

Those parties sound funny Penny! Blogging is a lot of fun and I am glad you have enjoyed your tour. But I still liked meeting you at Malice a couple years ago so please do still come out of the house sometimes. LOL


Penny said...

Sounds like a fun book!
I'll look for your upcoming blog tour...

Penny said...

Hi Terri,
I'll see you at Malice this year!

jenny milchman said...

Thanks for all the organizational tips, Penny (and also including Beth's own for comparison). Definitely stuff to keep in mind as I hope for my own B&B (book and blog) tour one of these days...

I would invite all of you to stop by my blog,, where I feature authors in the Made It Moments forum. It's a little bit different and might make a nice stop on a tour...and I would certainly welcome you with cyber cookies and the like :)

Christina Rodriguez said...

I love that cover design! The mystery, while about murder, still seems light, effervescent and fun. Sounds right up my alley.