R.E. Donald

author of the Hunter Rayne Highway Mysteries series


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A Celebration of Ebooks at the Global Ebook Awards

I pulled into my driveway just six blocks north of the 49th parallel a little before midnight last night, my head still spinning from the 2012 Global Ebook Awards on Saturday night, along with the rest of my 48 hour visit to beautiful Santa Barbara, California.  I had a wonderful time with my sister from Palm Springs, enjoying the sights and shops of the town, and I brought back with me a small stack of other attendees’ business cards and website addresses to go through, the names of new books to download and read, and the good wishes of numerous new acquaintances to recall.

The striking cover for Ice on the Grapevine was designed by Hunter|Johnsen of La Quinta

My mystery novel, Ice on the Grapevine, may not have been announced as a winner, but I feel like a winner all the same, just to have been there as a finalist in Mystery Fiction for the 2012 Global Ebook Award.  You could feel the excitement in the rooms of the University Club of Santa Barbara (I say ‘rooms’, because the tables overflowed around corners to fit the enthusiastic crowd) both during and after the awards were announced.  From the time writers started to get to know one another at the outdoor reception under the sunny Santa Barbara skies until the end of the evening, it was an unreserved celebration of the success of ebooks and independent publishing.

The emcee Bill Frank announced a list of finalists who had travelled the farthest to attend, and I was delighted to be among them and receive a bottle of California wine.  (Unfortunately, due to airline carry-on baggage restrictions, I had to give it away, but I was grateful for the recognition all the same.)  There were several fellow Canadians representing different book categories in attendance, and we managed to connect at the airport on Sunday and to share experiences on the flight to San Francisco.

The list of winners is available on the website and Facebook page of the Global Ebook Awards.  I’m looking forward to seeing more reviews from the judges who selected Ice on the Grapevine as a finalist.  The judging rules asked that reviews not be posted until after the awards ceremony to prevent one judge’s review from influencing others.  The reviews, along with Dan Poynter’s coaching and the PR opportunities the Awards afforded, made entering a book for an Award a very worthwhile decision.  As Dan pointed out during his brief speech, each book submitted was screened before being accepted as a nominee so the standards were high.

Among the highlights of the evening for me were meeting the very personable Jim Cox of the highly respected Midwest Book Review and ebook guru Dan Poynter of Para Publishing.  Jim gave a very well-attended seminar on how to get ebooks reviewed prior to the awards, and Dan is the founder of the Global Ebook Awards and a larger-than-life figure in the world of digital publishing.  The Awards are in only their second year, and if their success this year is any indicator, will no doubt be bigger and better in 2013.

It was also a pleasure to hear the enthusiastic comments of Marilu Henner, who was signing print books at The Book Den prior to the event, and public relations professional Barbara Gaughen (pronounced “gone”), who both spoke at the ceremony.  They both had encouragement and worthwhile advice for the finalists and winners alike.

Getting a chance to meet some talented and creative people, listening to the enthusiasm and sharing in the positive energy of the organizers as well as the other attendees, I’ve got to say that I never for one moment felt like an “ALSO RAN”, but I did and still do feel like an “ALSO WON”.  Congratulations to the organizers, finalists and the winners!  Hope to see everyone again next year.

Ruth gets a chance to chat with Dan Poynter

Ruth enjoyed talking to Jim Cox of the Midwest Book Review

Ruth and her sister Chris enjoying Beluga martinis at The Wine Cask in Santa Barbara

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What about the Global Ebook Awards?

As I get ready for my weekend in Santa Barbara and my attendance at the 2012 Global Ebook Awards ceremony (any old excuse for a trip to Southern California and a fun weekend on the coast, right?), I can’t help but think about what has brought me to this point and what getting here means, not just to me, but to readers.  Where is “here”? you ask.

Ice on the Grapevine, the second novel in the Hunter Rayne highway mystery series, was  selected by judges as a finalist for the 2012 Global Ebook Award in Mystery Fiction.  It is one of five mystery novels shortlisted for the award from the original fifteen nominees that were accepted, out of I don’t know how many submissions.  The winners are being announced at the awards ceremony at the University Club in Santa Barbara, California on August 18th.  I’m delighted that my novel is a finalist, but what do readers think?

“Is it like an Edgar Award?”   Well known and respected, the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Awards have been around since 1946, the days of Anthony Boucher and radio dramas.   They are open to publishers on the MWA “approved” list only, which lets out most small independent publishers and all self-published authors like myself.  There’s no mention of a category for ebooks.

“Is it like an Agatha Award?”  The Agatha Award nominees are first nominated and then selected by registered attendees at the Malice Domestic Convention, and are for mysteries in the Agatha Christie tradition.  There are probably hundreds of mysteries nominated before the five approved nominees in each category are announced in February prior to the May convention.  The main requirement is that there be no explicit sex or gratuitous violence.  I’m not sure if ebooks qualify, and I don’t expect either of my books to make the list, not because they’re not good enough, but because they’re not well publicized or widely distributed.

There are many other awards for crime fiction, some regional (like the Arthur Ellis Awards in Canada) and others, like the Agathas, restricted to a certain category of crime fiction.  There’s a great site that lists most awards, Mystery Book Awards on the Omnimystery site (great place to visit if you’re a mystery fan!).

Unlike most of the awards listed, the Global Ebook Awards were just introduced in 2011, and are for books in digital format.  They cover both fiction and non-fiction books in a wide range of categories, and consider nominations from all publishers, including self-publishers.

Most of the readers I’ve mentioned the Global Ebook Awards to are very excited for me, and don’t ask questions about how long the Awards have been in existence, or how did my novel qualify, or how the awards are regarded by the traditional publishing industry.  “An award’s an award,” a local woman said to me today as I started to explain that it wasn’t as big a deal as she might think.  “I think that’s awesome!”

And she’s right.  I am proud to be a finalist, and I’m going to be thrilled to shake hands with ebook guru Dan Poynter, and Midwest Book Review’s  Editor-in-Chief, Jim Cox, and to meet the other authors who have entered this brave new world of ebook publishing, self-published or not.  Whether or not books have been approved by literary agents and editors at traditional publishing companies, readers know what they like, and so far they’ve been liking my mysteries, at least well enough to get me on a plane to Santa Barbara.

Wish me luck!

***

The first two novels in the Hunter Rayne highway mystery series were released as ebooks by independent Canadian publisher Proud Horse Publishing  (established primarily to publish the Hunter Rayne mystery series) in the fall of 2011, and are now available in print editions direct from the publisher.  In the near future, print editions will be made available for wider distribution.  The series has been receiving very good reviews from readers on various ebook review sites over the past several months.

The series features a former homicide detective who reluctantly resigned from a successful career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and took to the highways as a long  haul truck driver in the hopes that the solitude of the road would help him heal from the pain of personal tragedy.  A strong supporting cast includes his irascible female dispatcher, Elspeth Watson, who is as tough a boss as they come but is always ready to volunteer Hunter’s help when a fellow trucker is in trouble.  The author’s many years of experience in the transportation industry help to keep the situations and characters engaging and realistic.

The novels are traditional ‘whodunits’ with complex plots, multiple suspects and – for most readers – a surprise ending.  They feature realistic subplots involving the recurring characters and have more than one fan impatiently waiting for the next novel in the series.

I am working on the third Hunter Rayne highway mystery, set primarily in the resort community of Whistler, BC, known around the world as the home of the 2010 Winter Olympics.


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Elvis Presley was a truck driver. Some truckers rock!

The new mystery series – the Hunter Rayne highway mysteries – features a long-haul truck driver as the ‘semi-professional’ detective.  Thanks to recent reader Steve for the following comment:

Never thought I would enjoy a truck driver based mystery, but I sure did.

I wasn’t surprised.  When I chose to write about a trucker, I knew that some readers would hesitate to pick up a book featuring a truck driver.  Why would that be?  Seems there’s a perception out there, especially among women, that a book with trucks in it must be a book for boys.  What!?

Hey!  Truckers are real people, too.  Truckers can be men or women, young or old, with interesting lives, interesting loves, strong emotions, and fascinating hobbies.  Truck drivers can be talented, attractive (wasn’t Elvis?), complicated people.  Some truck drivers of today are a lot like the cowboys of yesteryear – hard working, solitary individuals with interesting pasts and complex relationships, which can add up to a touch of romance.

Elvis Presley drove a truck before he became famous.  You might be interested to know that several other famous people were truck drivers at some point early in their careers.  Take for instance, Liam Neeson, the actor.  A hunk, or what?  And Chevy Chase, a very funny man.  For those of us who were around to appreciate their best  years, how about Charles Bronson and Sean Connery?  And Richard Pryor.  And Rock Hudson.  Who wouldn’t want to read about truck drivers like those guys?

But famous truck drivers weren’t all actors and singers.  How’s this for murder mystery fans?  Another man who drove a truck before he came famous was Peter Sutcliffe.  Who was he, you ask.  Peter Sutcliffe was – mwah-hah-hah – the Yorkshire Ripper.

Another reader recently commented:

 … the whole time I was reading this book I thought R.E. Donald was male. For a guy, he did an excellent job of getting the female characters right. The introspectives and actions of all characters give readers a full understanding of their motives. That was unexpected from a male author in a mystery involving truck drivers.  I’m sorry, Ruth E. Donald, for presuming you were a man. It’s a compliment to you that I read the book with such interest that I didn’t read “about the author” first.

Thank you, Goodreads readers Steve and Ginney, for the compliments.  They were reading my first Hunter Rayne highway mystery Slow Curve on the Coquihalla.  Another Goodreads reader, Pat, had this to say about the second novel Ice on the Grapevine (ahem!  a finalist for the 2012 Global Ebook Award for Mysteries) :

The plot and situations were intriguing, and kept me guessing to the end. I found the characters very believable, especially the women. There even were traces of humor and romance. I’m curious to see how Hunter and the other characters develop as the series progresses…. R.E. Donald is definitely an author to revisit.

Thank you, Pat.  Comments like yours keep me happily writing more.  It’s nice to know that more readers are discovering that a truck driver can make an intriguing hero.

So please keep in mind, mystery lovers, you can’t always judge a book by its cover.  Take a closer look at the person behind the wheel next time you pass a big rig on the highway.  He – or she – might just be famous one day.

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Note:  Both novels are currently featured as Giveaways on Goodreads.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Slow Curve on the Coquihalla by R.E. Donald

Slow Curve on the Coquihalla

by R.E. Donald

Giveaway ends August 31, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ice on the Grapevine by R.E. Donald

Ice on the Grapevine

by R.E. Donald

Giveaway ends September 15, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win