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  • Ellen Byron


My first mystery, Plantation Shudders: A Cajun Country Mystery, will soon be published, and it's thrilling for so many reasons. I get to share my fiction with readers. I gain entry into a wonderful community of writers. But perhaps most exciting of all - I get to spend money on stuff!!! Stuff that's more professionally known as "promotional materials." Like these:

You need to understand that I’m not someone who spends money willy nilly. That’s against my frugal Capricorn nature. But give me the hint of a reason, and I turn into... well, remember a

game show called “Supermarket Sweep?” Housewives with shopping carts vied to see who could fill theirs the fullest. As a kid, it was appointment viewing for me when I was home sick. I’ll never forget the crazed look in those women’s eyes as they raced down the aisles grabbing whatever they could get their hands on. That’s basically me these days.

But really, what better reason can a writer have to shop than a need for stuff that might help sell their book? That’s what I keep telling myself - and my husband, who agreed at first but is looking at me with increased skepticism as a flood of

boxes continues to land on our doorstep. Postcards and bookmarks are a must, of course; I mean, that’s Promo 101. Everyone says you need to hold contests, and what makes a better prize than a cute little pad with a sticker of my book cover on it? And hey, Vistaprint is having a 40% off sale! What a great time to buy a few totes! Now that would be a really cool giveaway!

Website sales teams must high-five each other when I log on. If they work on commission, I am their favorite customer. And having placed my series in Cajun Louisiana, I can tell you that it is a shopper’s dream setting. Oh, the stuff you can buy! Jambalaya mixes, pens, gift bags, alligator-shaped soaps, cookie cutters, and bottle openers, a ten-session card with a therapist. I’m kidding about the last one; I can’t afford it. I also can’t afford to repair the broken air conditioner on my car, but during L.A.’s recent 95-plus degree heat wave, I distracted myself from my Protégé’s Sahara-like interior by daydreaming about the case of Mardi Gras-themed throw beads I’d just ordered.

I’m cutting myself a bit of slack because this is my first book. I’m sure I won’t go as crazy with the second one, a manuscript currently titled Crawdeaddy. Wait – the website where I ordered the alligator paraphernalia also sells crawfish-shaped soaps, and cookie cutters, and bottle openers, and…

Uh oh!

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