Tom Fowler

Mystery and thriller writer

Category: Things I Wrote

Get a Free Mystery Novella

Free mystery novella - The ConfessionalNear a Baltimore church, a man is found murdered, stabbed a dozen times in the chest. A publicity-hungry blogger injects himself into the case. When the blogger gets arrested, he asks unconventional private investigator C.T. Ferguson to help him.

C.T. uncovers the victim’s history of abuse by priests—including the one stationed at the church where his body was discovered. He also learns of plans to build a new church . . . plans that could be threatened by a corpse turning up.

With the priest reluctant to talk about the past and enforcers hounding him, can C.T. sort through the priest’s and the victim’s histories and figure out what happened? Get this free mystery novella that readers say is “excellent” and “hard to put down” today!

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Sign up here to get my novella The Confessional now, plus other novellas as they're released. You'll also hear about new books and any other promos Tom might be running.

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When you sign up, you’ll receive  my free mystery novella The Confessional in your choice of ebook format. You’ll also continue to receive the C.T. Ferguson mystery novellas free as they’re released (look for the next one in January 2018!). I send 3-4 emails a month to my subscribers, and I promise not to spam you or misuse your information.

Instafreebie is Rocket Fuel

Following the advice of many indie authors, I recently signed up for Instafreebie. Like the headline suggests, it has been rocket fuel for my mailing list.

You can’t just sign up for Instafreebie, post a book, and wait for the new subscribers to roll in. Instafreebie is not “set it and forget it.” One of the great tools available for both authors and readers is the group giveaway.

As an author, you apply to join the giveaway. Most of them are genre-based, so there will be different promos for mystery writers, romance writers, etc. I applied using The Confessional, the novella I wrote specifically to give away to potential readers and drive interest. Let’s just say the promos have driven interest.

Confessional cover

My total mailing list subscribers went from about 60 to (as I write this late on the morning of September 23) over 570. I may have promised you no math, so I’ll do the calculations: that’s an increase of over 800%. All because my book is in three group giveaways (with at least one more coming).

Speaking of the group giveaways, here are the links:

Mystery/Suspense Cross-Promo

Thriller and Mystery Giveaway

The Sixth Crow – Stories of Death and Murder

These group giveaways benefit readers, too. You can download as many of the books as you want, and they’re all free. Many of them will require joining the author’s mailing list (full disclosure: mine does), but that’s part and parcel to getting a free book. You’ll probably see some overlap between books in these giveaways, but among all three, you probably have about forty books to choose from. And if mysteries aren’t your bag, you can find giveaways for any broad genre you prefer.

Whether you’re a writer or a reader, it’s worth being on Instafreebie. Writers can gain a lot of exposure and mailing list signups, and readers can fill their devices with free books. I hope you’ll check out the group giveaways linked above, and if you download my book, I hope you enjoy it.

Writing a Novella

Not every idea germinating in a writer’s mind is a novel. Some are short stories. One that gets trapped between those two is a novella.

Novellas don’t get a lot of love. Everyone wants to write novels. Readers want to read novels. Some writers will put out a collection of short stories (which I’ve done). Not many will write novellas. I think there’s some unexplored space here.

I think part of the reason we don’t get a lot of novellas is pricing. A lot of traditionally published paperbacks are $9.99. Where do you price a novella? Many are about half the length of full novels, but will the publisher and author make money on a $4.99 book? Probably not. What about $6.99? Would readers think that price is too high for half a novel? This is another advantage for independent authors, in my opinion. If a full novel is $3.99 or $4.99, it’s easy to price a novella at $2.99. The author still makes money, and readers don’t feel like they’re paying too much.

A few days ago, I finished a novella. My goal was 30,000 words, and it checks in just under that. What’s that? You’d like to see the cover? Sure thing!

Confessional novella cover

This novella began its life as a short story. In fact, it was the first short story I wrote featuring my private investigator protagonist C.T. Ferguson. I’ll be honest: the story wasn’t very good. What it did, however, was start me on the road to finding C.T.’s voice, both as a character and a narrator. This novella is a lot different than the original short story, and I think it’s a lot better.

My process was similar to writing a full novel. I start with the story idea, usually know who did it, and know how I want the book to begin and end. Then I make a brief outline, setting out my expected number of chapter and how I think the story will progress over them. It never works out the way I outline it, but my system (if we can call it that) is flexible enough to add, remove, and shift events around. My full mystery novels check in somewhere in the 70,000-75,000 word range. The Confessional is around 29,000 words.

Here’s something that may surprise you: I’m not selling this book. It’s a giveaway, exclusively to readers who have signed up for my mailing list. I’m going to keep doing novellas this way. Each will be set between novels, so this one takes place between The Reluctant Detective and the still-unnamed second novel. Spoiler alert: C.T. survives the first novel, but because this is a series, you probably figured he would.

Now I’m on the hunt for ideas that are compelling but wouldn’t make a full novel. A writer’s work is never done, and we prefer it that way.

What do you think about novellas? Their pricing? Hit me up with questions or comments.

To get your free copy of The Confessional, in your ebook format of choice, sign up here.

-Tom

Pro Bono is Now on Amazon!

A couple weeks ago, I started circulating a set of three short stories to introduce prospective readers to C.T. Ferguson, my private investigator protagonist. Two days ago, I put it up on Amazon. It’s in Kindle Unlimited, so it’s free if you have that. Here’s the cover (it looks better in higher resolution, I promise):

Pro Bono cover

The Amazon US link is right here.

I had been giving away Pro Bono to anyone who signed up for my mailing list. Now, with the stories on Amazon, I’m giving something else away. Today, I started offering the first chapter of the upcoming novel The Reluctant Detective, plus bios of the major and minor characters. You can preview the book and learn about the characters before it goes for sale. If you’re interested in this, click the “Get Free Stuff” link near the top of the home page.

The Reluctant Detective is now in editing. I expect to release it to the electronic world around late June to early July. The inexact timeframe is due to a complicating factor: we expect to be moving. Pending good inspections and appraisals, we’ll settle on a new house in a month and move in over the next couple weeks. If my wife follows the pattern of our wedding, she will give me the hairy eyeball if I sit down and work on something other than The Task. So, in the interests of hairy eyeball avoidance, I can’t say exactly when the book will come out. But figure sometime in six to eight weeks.

In the coming weeks, I have some interesting blog posts coming, including looking at great first lines of mystery/thriller writers, and writeups on interesting detective characters from TV. And I might throw in a book review or two. If you have a favorite first line from a mystery or thriller novel, email it to me or tweet it at me.

Happy writing (and reading).

Free Short Stories!

Years ago, Guns n’ Roses said, “I put the pen to the paper ’cause it’s all a part of me.” We’ve moved on from pen and paper in the intervening years, but I did the 21st-Century equivalent and put electronic words onto a screen. I kept up the modernity and assembled those words into a short story set. It contains three short stories, designed to introduce you to the world of unconventional private investigator C.T. Ferguson.

Here’s a look at the cover:

Pro Bono cover

The cover looks a lot better in high-resolution. Shrinking it to make it not dominate this post reduced the quality a little. Anyway, the set of short stories is free, and is now available for download in .pdf, .mobi, and .epub formats. You can go HERE to find out how to snag your copy.

You may be thinking to yourself, “Self, what makes C.T. Ferguson an unconventional PI?” It’s a few things, really. First, as you may have deduced from the cover image, C.T. is more of a hacker than a detective. He thinks he can do most of his work in the pale glow of a computer screen. Most of his cases will prove him wrong (to varying degrees). Another thing that sets C.T. apart from his PI brethren is that he doesn’t charge his clients. How does he make his living? You can read the answers to those and other questions in the short stories, and in the upcoming novel The Reluctant Detective. Right now, it’s being professionally edited. Look for it sometime toward the end of June, on Amazon and other popular ebook sellers.

This story set will be available on Amazon soon. Right now, you can get it for free. Here’s the download link again: right here.

When it’s available, I hope you’ll go and leave a review. And I hope you enjoy C.T.’s cases.

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