Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the three hundred and first, is of mystery author and interviewee Elaine Macko. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
Elaine Macko is the author of the Alex Harris mystery series. The books are set in Elaine’s native Connecticut, and each book has a bit of a European flair bringing together Elaine’s love of both places.
They say write what you know and Elaine’s career working as an office manager, executive assistant and a report editor gave her the impetus for centering the series around the Always Prepared temporary employment agency Alex owns along with her sister, Samantha.
Alex is a Winston Churchill-quoting, M&M’s-addicted woman with a mind of her own who discovers being an amateur sleuth is her true calling, much to the chagrin of a certain police detective.
In addition to Alex and Sam, the books include their parents, a couple of retirees who love playing board games; a bingo-playing, loan-sharking grandmother and her gang of goofy eighty-somethings; and Alex’s adorable nephew, Henry, who talks in percentages.
Elaine currently has four books in the series—Armed, Poisoned, Flossed, Mahjonged—and is working on the fifth, Smoked. She says she’s always on the outlook for a cool way to murder someone and welcomes fun suggestions at email@example.com.
And now from the author herself:
I guess it all started with a vacant house back in Milford, Connecticut, where I grew up. I was about ten years old at the time. It was a Saturday and I convinced a playmate that the owners of the house were still in there, dead, murdered by a killer who came in the night.
We tried to break in through a window but couldn’t quite figure it out except for breaking the glass, which neither one of us wanted to do for fear of, well, being murdered by our parents.
As it turned out, the people who had lived there moved out one day while I was at school. Nothing nefarious going on; just a family moving on.
But this illustrates my very fertile imagination. Even as a child I found mystery and intrigue in everyday situation. I loved Ouija boards and pretending to conjure up the spirits of dead relatives and if I was allowed to stay up late to watch TV, I always picked a detective show or Alfred Hitchcock Presents. So it would seem I was destined to write mysteries, but in fact it took many, many years to bring me to that point.
I was living in Europe at the time with my Belgian husband and I had just lost my job. A friend wrote to me and trying to cheer me up suggested I use this free time to do something I always wanted to do. Well, that was easy. I wanted to write.
Always a morning person, I got up one day and started to write thinking I would get as far as a few pages and run out of steam. But after three months I had the rough draft of my first book in the series, Armed. I moved on to the next book, Poisoned, and then my life as I knew it came to a screeching halt.
My relationship ended and I decided to return to the United States, a place I had not lived in for 12 years. I put writing on hold and after a couple of years of putting my life back together, moving into a new home and finding a job, I decided to take out those manuscripts and see what I could do with them.
I would like to say that overnight good things started to happen, but I would be lying. Initial test reviews were good, but there was something missing. So I gave my protagonist some quirky habits—quoting Winston Churchill and an addiction to M&M’s candies. Then I added a few goofy characters based on my nephew and my beloved grandmother. I also joined a couple of national writers groups and proceeded to hone my craft.
It took a few more years before a small press accepted my books and published the first two in the series. While I was thrilled with finally being a published author, I was dissatisfied with the pricing of the books and the lack of marketing assistance from the publisher. When my books first came out, self publishing was frowned upon but over the last couple of years it is finding its niche and gaining on the big boys in the publishing world. So I decided to self publish the next book in the series, Flossed. By doing so, I’ve been able to lower my price and be more competitive and to do more online marketing. I’m still not at the place where I would like to be, but the reviews for my series have been excellent with one person comparing me to a cross between Janet Evanovich and Mary Higgins Clark.
It is an ongoing process and things seem to change in the industry seemingly overnight. I am constantly on the lookout for creative ways to market my books and venues to meet face to face with readers. I hope you’ll give the series a try. It’s a fun, light read meant to entertain and from the comments I’ve heard so far, the series hits the mark. Happy reading!
You can find more about Elaine and her writing via…
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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.
I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.