Search This Blog

Monday, 12 October 2015


Last Seen

by Jo A. Hiestand



One dark night, popular singer Kent Harrison goes missing after his performance at Tutbury Castle.  When his body's found in a forest, the police investigation focuses on Kent's ex-wife, a local herbalist, a covetous colleague, and even the curator of another castle who tried to lure Kent into performing there.  But his occasional singing partner, Dave Morley, seems to have the biggest motive.  He's dying to make his name, money, and the big time, especially at the medieval Minstrels Court reenactment, where Kent's appearance guarantees SRO.  Did Dave murder Kent to eliminate the competition...or had their partnership struck a wrong chord?  To entice him into investigating, ex-cop McLaren's girlfriend plays detective.  But Dena ends up in great danger.  Now McLaren must not only solve Kent's murder but also rescue her, a hard task when a blast of jealousy, anger, and lies mutes the truth.


His palm pushed against the ground to keep him upright, but he crumpled as a shoe kicked his side. He fell in a rush of pain and blackness. He shook his head desperate to remain conscious, aware of the footsteps that now ran to the road. The light bounced, marking his assailant’s journey. It cut off as it reached the car, and for an instant the headlights revealed jeans and the lower portion of a yellow tee-shirt. The door slammed, the engine revved, and tires screeched as they reclaimed the tarmac. The silence after the car’s retreat was nearly deafening.

4 out of 5 ( Very Good)

Independent Reviewer for Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

I received this book from Goddess Fish Promotions in return for a fair and honest review.

I’m a sucker for a good mystery and this book was pretty good.  It kept me guessing and left me puzzled quite a few times, others my guesses were right on.  I was left sitting on the edge of my seat quite a bit throughout the story. 

The author did an amazing job writing the characters in the story.  They were written just like they were actual people and could step outside the book and blend in with you and I.  This character development really allowed me to delve further into the book and let it capture me some more.

If you enjoy a good mystery then I would recommend this book. This author was new t0 me and left quite an impression. I will be looking for more stories by her in the future.

“10 Things I Wish I Knew About Being an Author I Didn’t Know Before”

What a great topic.  I’ve never thought of this in one lump before, so I’ll have to actually think about this!  I can image this list could extend beyond ten “wish-I’d-knowns”, but I’ll see what I can do…
1.     Perhaps the first one that springs to mind is the amount of work required to put out a book.  Yes, I knew about the first draft, letting it sit and then cleaning it up in the second draft.  But I had no idea about the amount of research my books need.  I write The McLaren Mysteries – British mysteries featuring ex-police detective Michael McLaren, who quit his job over a great injustice.  He now repairs dry stone walls for a living and investigates cold cases on his own.  All well and good, and interesting, but I needed to know about police procedure (so he could break it when he wished), a bit about dry stone wall repairs (if I wanted a scene or two of him tackling a job), the English county of Derbyshire where he lives and works, facts about actual buildings or sites involved in his investigation, roads he’d take, pub business hours, sun and moon rising/setting (so he doesn’t do something outside in the moonlight when the moon’s not up yet for that time of year), seasonal temperatures, flora and fauna (he’s a lover and observer of nature so he has to spot the “correct” bird species soaring over the moors), history of a site in case I need to refer to some previous event, photos of places so I can describe them correctly (nothing like saying the manor house was built of grey stone and it was really brick in a herringbone pattern)…  You get the idea.  First drafts are a bear, incredibly time consuming and occasionally frustrating.  At times I’ll pause every other sentence or paragraph to look up something, like the location of a certain ward in a specific hospital. Anyway, this is all to illustrate the quantity of research I do.  I like research.  But it’s gone way beyond my pre-publishing assumption I’d just sit down and write.
2.   How long things take to accomplish.  I’m an author with The Wild Rose Press.  They’re fairly speedy with their book output.  From submitted manuscript to holding the finished book in my little hand, it usually runs four or five months.  Compare that to one of the mega publishing houses where from manuscript to book can take twelve to eighteen months.  I don’t do well with Waiting.  I’m used to doing something and getting it done.  Procrastination is not a word in my vocabulary.  So it’s difficult for me to wait the three to four weeks between completed galley submission until I receive the cover art work.  I’m anxious to see the cover and know when the book release date is!  As I said, I know my current publisher is speedy about producing books, but my first publisher introduced me to reality when they produced about a book a year.  I’ve had to learn patience.
3.   That all publishers are not created equal.  I was with two small presses before I signed with The Wild Rose Press.  The first publisher didn’t do a single thing about editing.  No spelling or grammar corrections.  Nothing.  My second publisher did spelling and grammar but no suggestions about changing something to make the story better.  Now that I’m with my current publisher I see the difference.  My manuscript has a book editor and a senior department editor; it goes through spelling and grammar edits; my book editor suggests character, scene or plot changes to make the book tighter and more interesting; there’s a production department and a staff of cover artists; there’s a marketing department.  I was astonished when I first realized the difference.  I think it’s made a huge difference in the quality of my books, too.  Of course, I didn’t know about the lack of or inclusion of all these steps.  But now I know I’m fortunate to be the recipient of all these experts.
4.     The good old days of publishing houses sending authors on book tours are practically gone.  Unless you’re a mega Name Author, a lot of PR is up to you.  Most authors will say it’s not their forte.  I know it isn’t mine.  Sure, there are some who can do it, but since authors tend to be introverted, this PR stuff is outside their comfort zones.  So we have to learn how to promote and market.  I might not have pursued writing if I’d known how much self-promo I’d have to do.  This is definitely not my cup of tea!
5.     How many books you have to sell to support yourself.  I waltzed into writing thinking my books would fly off the shelves.  Again, unless you’re one of the Name Authors, your books probably won’t. 2.57 billion books sold in all formats worldwide in 2011 – the most current statistics I can find.  Nearly 800 books are published each day in the U.S!  Self-published books jumped 16.5% in 2013, making a total of 458,564 titles. How do you climb out of all that mess and get noticed so folks buy your book? If your book sells for $16, for example, and if you get 15% royalty (which is a LOT, believe me), that equates to $2.40 profit you get for each book sold.  How many do you need to sell per month to just meet your monthly living expense?  If your monthly expense is $2000 (mortgage, groceries, utilities, gas for car, clothing, etc.) you need to sell 834 books each month just to make living expenses, which isn’t counting things like going to a movie, taking a vacation, saving for home repairs, etc.  That’s a lot of books to sell each month just to make your living expense.  Think about it.
6.     Even when you sell books, you won’t get paid immediately.  Book stores legally have twelve to eighteen months after the sale to send the money to your publisher.  Your publisher will eventually mail you your royalty check…after you’ve sold through your advance.  Can you count on making a mortgage payment for next month with the books you sold this month?
7.     And while we’re talking of selling books…how many books does the average ‘no name’ author sell at a typical two-hour book signing?  Ten books?  Fifteen books?  Thirty books?  The average author sells four books at a book signing.  So where’s the money you need for your monthly living expense???
8.     Each bookstore obviously has a limited amount of shelf space.  Competition for this space ranges from one hundred to one thousand titles.  Even if your book does get into a bookstore (a slight to nil chance for smaller presses), will it sell?
9.     Saturation level for many topics exists.  Consequently, getting attention for your book gets harder and harder.  You’re competing with hundreds of thousands of newly published books.  Add to that other media calling for the buyer’s money, and you can see what you’re up against for a sale.
10.   The book publishing industry is unique – introductions of new books seem to be never ending.  Think about the process required to product your book.  First the publisher obtains our manuscript.  Then it gets an ISBN assigned to it, goes through book and galley edits, finds its look through a page mock-up design, is given a title and an eye-catching cover, is printed, is stamped with a price, perhaps is packed and shipped to a bookstore, PR written for it and developed into a plan, comes to a bookstore where it’s unpacked and displayed on a table or shelf.  Those are a lot of steps.  Well, fine, you say.  I’ll still get royalties on the sales.  Sure, but that’s after you sell through your advance on the royalties.  And the money your publisher pours into your book generates, on the average, between $100,000 to $200,000.  How much profit does the publisher see when that money has to cover the afore-mentioned expenses?  You can understand why some publishing houses can’t sink a lot of money into book marketing.
11.   Which is also why an average book’s chance of being carried by a bookstore is only 1%.
I don’t mean to paint Doom and Gloom.  I’m really not a pessimist. On the other side of this, I didn’t know before I became an author how rewarding it would be to create a protagonist, think up mysteries for him to solve and ways for him to solve them.  I didn’t know the satisfaction that comes with a polished, edited book that shines through its gorgeous cover, the result of my months of sweat.  I didn’t know the friends I would make – fellow authors, librarians, bookshop owners, and readers (and, in my case, the musicians who recorded the songs for each McLaren book).  I didn’t know the passion some readers would have for my hero and the email nudges they send to “write faster.”  I didn’t know the joy of a book launch party and the warmth of well-wishers.  I didn’t know my characters (particularly McLaren) would live in my head and not let me sleep some nights because he’d say dialogue I needed to jot down.  I didn’t know the fun of book signings where I’d meet people and autograph books, or the pleasure of talking at libraries and conferences and perhaps encouraging someone in the audience to write.
Sure, items #5-#11 above are things to be aware of, and they might’ve made me pause to give them serious consideration before I began this journey – if I’d known about them.  But the preceding paragraph dilutes the other concerns.  I wouldn’t trade the warmth, fun and friends even if I had a 2% chance of getting into a bookstore.
Thanks for dropping by -- Jo

Jo A. Hiestand will be awarding a McLaren/"Last Seen" ceramic mug and a CD recording of the song featured in the book to several randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour (International Giveaway).

Follow the tour and comment; the more they comment, the better their chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Jo A. Hiestand knew in grade school that she wanted to be a mystery writer.  But life got in the way: singing in a semi-pro folk group, traveling to New Zealand, working as a camp counselor, co-inventing P.I.R.A.T.E.S. (a mystery-solving treasure-hunting game), becoming a tour agent for a Scottish folk singing group, attending a citizen police academy and riding along with police officers…  But she needed to immerse herself in All Things British for her books.   England beckoned and she responded.

She bee-lined to Derbyshire, feeling it was the ‘home’ of her books.  Derbyshire also bestowed the essential English police contacts and transformed the St. Louisan into an Anglophile. 

She’s returned nearly a dozen times to Derbyshire, researching and photographing for her McLaren cold case detective novels.

In 1999 Jo returned to Webster University to major in English.  She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors.

Her cat, Tennyson, shares her St. Louis home.

Follow Jo and McLaren on these websites:

Tour Organised By: 

Goddess Fish Promotions


  1. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

    1. Hi, Mai. Yes, I do remember. During my elementary school years. I read a lot of Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre-type books. I loved the mystery element and I loved the British countryside descriptions. All that combined and seeped into my head, I guess. I thought I'd like to try writing in similar settings and topics. It took me until after I finished college, but I finally tried it. I guess the passion stayed with me all that time. Are you a writer?

  2. Good morning, Everyone! Thanks for dropping by, and thank you to Archaeolibrarian for hosting me today. I hope you find my article interesting. I'm hovering around the computer today, so feel free to leave a comment and I'll reply. Just out of curiosity...has anyone other "wish I'd knowns" on this topic?

    1. Our pleasure - good luck with the rest of the tour!

      For me personally, I wish I'd known more about parenthood before embarking on that particular journey!!! lol

    2. LOL, too! I bet that topic would be good for a lot of subjects. Maybe a good book idea!

  3. Since it's 10 pm central daylight time and since I need my sleep, I'll sign off now. I thank Amy for the book review, and I thank Amy, Debbie and Melissa for hosting me today. Thanks to everyone who logged on and left comments and/or read the article. It's been great being here! Jo

  4. I liked the review, thank you.

    1. That's two of us, Rita! ha ha...Jo

  5. I've just returned from Bouchercon and, yes, there are many, many wonderful mystery books out there to read! Jo's McLaren stories are among them! I always look forward to the next one out. Thanks for the joy of reading, Jo!

    1. Thank you, Pam. I hope I continue writing books you like.