Thursday, June 29, 2017

Southern Writers' Magazine

How exciting! My article "When A Door Closes" is featured in this month's Southern Writer's Magazine.
I drew my inspiration from what could have been a catastrophic event in my career. My mystery publisher pulled the plug on their entire mystery line. As I networked with other authors in my house and unbelievably other publishers who'd also cut their cozy lines, I realized the reaction from the news devastated some and energized others. I was upset, don't get me wrong, but I was also determined not to let it beat me.

Here's the first little bit of that article:

I encourage everyone not to let roadblocks get them down. Opportunities are still out there, if you only know where to look!

[I don't have permission to post the entire article, but I can at least post something more legible of what's in the teaser they prepared. The snip follows.]

 When a Door Closes by Maggie Toussaint
Runners pace themselves. If they go out too fast, they won’t last to the finish line. They push through the burn and find their stride. Authors go through a similar pacing process throughout their careers.

We learn how to navigate the ups and downs of story crafting, submissions, rejections, contracts, edits, blog tours, booksignings, reviews, conferences, newsletters, and social media. When we hit our stride, we feel confident and think, “I’ve got this.”

Then something unexpected happens. For some, financial or health concerns take precedent over their creative journey. For others, their publisher drops their books or an entire product line.

One day everything was fine for them, and the next, it wasn’t. When my publishing world upended, I stumbled and couldn’t quite catch my breath. Here’s what happened.

In the fall of 2015, my publisher announced it was closing its entire mystery line. The books already acquired for 2016 would still be published, but that was it. On our author loop, shock and concern dominated our posts. Many said this was a career ender for them because no house would acquire an ongoing series.

Several authors quit. They couldn’t conceive of writing for another house. Others stalled in the complaining phase of this turn of events. The rest looked around and said, “What’s next?”

A few decided to change genres, a few started a new series to shop around. Some, like me, had a backlog of manuscripts in a current series. If we wanted to keep publishing, we needed a new house or the stamina to become indie-publishers.

Finding a new house with an ongoing series is difficult, but indie publishing is no cakewalk either. Another consideration crept into my decision making process. Many of the larger mystery conferences require that authors be with a Mystery Writers of America approved publisher to be eligible for panel consideration.

Concurrently with my publisher closing their mystery business, other big houses shut down their cozy lines. Suddenly the ground was thick with unemployed cozy mystery writers, which is my genre. I knew that I couldn’t delay making a decision.... more at Southern Writer's Magazine.

Dadgummit, my August 1 release from Camel Press is receiving exciting reviews. It's up for pre-order at all venues. Check out the early reviews at 

That's it for now. I hope you're having a great summer!

Maggie Toussaint

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Cover Reveal: Turtle Tribbles

I'm so very pleased to present the cover for the next novella in my Lindsey & Ike Romantic Mystery Series. Turtle Tribbles, the second installation in this three-novella set, is a cozy mystery featuring amateur sleuth Lindsey McKay.

For all of my Bailey the dog fans, Bailey is her irrepressible self: headstrong and curious and super friendly. She loves being Lindsey's assistant, but so does Sheriff Ike Harper. He just wishes Lindsey would focus on her newspaper and him, LOL! Lindsey & Ike's relationship encounters some rough water during the course of crime-solving...

Here's the blurb for the novella:

In Book 2 of the Lindsey & Ike Novella Series, newspaper editor Lindsey McKay must decide if she’s ready to take the next step with her boyfriend, Sheriff Ike Harper. He’s anxious for her to move in, but she worries something is missing. Meanwhile, the Turtle Girl, a college intern named Selma Crowley, begs Lindsey to cover her turtle story. Someone is stealing federally protected loggerhead turtle eggs off a Georgia barrier island, and it has to stop.

The earnest young woman convinces Lindsey of the story’s potential, and the next day Lindsey ferries to the island to see the nests and take photos. Selma promises she’ll have tangible evidence of the theft on Friday, but the revelation doesn’t occur. Worse, Selma’s missing, and no one’s seen her since Wednesday evening. Because she demanded proof from Selma for the newspaper story, Lindsey blames herself for the intern’s disappearance.

When Selma’s body is discovered, Lindsey vows to get justice for Selma and her turtles. Selma’s tribbles are over, but the tribbles are just beginning for Lindsey and her trusty sidekick, Labrador retriever Bailey.

Ready to get your copy?

Turtle Tribbles released last year bundled in the Happy Homicides 3 Anthology. This year it's going solo. I updated the story a smidge for this individual release. Right now, this author's edition version is on pre-order at Kindle. It releases on May 1, 2017. To reserve your copy today, click on this link: PRE-ORDER NOW.

If you haven't signed up for my quarterly newsletter, I hope you will fill out the form on the sidebar of this blogsite.

Free Cookbook

As a bonus, I'm a participant (under my pen name of Rigel Carson) in a cookbook project, so there's a free cookbook for you, if you'd like one! My Gingerbread Man recipe is a family favorite at my house and everywhere I've carried them. COOKBOOK LINK

Thanks for stopping in!
Maggie Toussaint

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Cover Reveal for Dadgummit

I'm very happy to present the cover for my upcoming Dreamwalker Mystery series novel, Dadgummit. We were looking for an image of a mountainside lake with a bit of atmosphere. I think we nailed it!

In this 4th book of the series, my sleuth Baxley Powell goes on vacation to the mountains with her family and friends. What could be better, right?

For starters, there's an armed guy running around the mountains claiming he's on patrol. His visit the first evening puts our sleuth on notice that there's no relaxing around here.

Secondly, the cops have an unusual case, a case wherein they can't see any obvious means of death on a very healthy appearing young man. During a sweep of the area, they come across Baxley and friends, run their names, and realize they have a bona fide psychic police consultant on hand, one with a 100% solve rate.

So, Baxley's vacation turns into a work-cation for her, but her encounters with the paranormal have never been anything like this! Soon she's hanging out with some "people" straight out of Cherokee mythology and trying to figure out who killed Haney, the young man by the lake. As if that's not enough something is running around stealing people's energy. Oh my my.

Dadgummit releases August 1, 2017 from Camel Press. The trade paperback is available for preordering at Amazon, and it will be available in both print and ebook format at multiple venues upon release.

To read an excerpt, visit my website at

Happy Reading!

Maggie Toussaint

ps Don't forget our monthly contest at Booklover's Bench! We have a $25 gift certificate to Amazon or B&N up for grabs! Contest runs through the 18th of the month.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Book Release!

Really, Truly Dead is out! This longer-length novella available exclusively on Kindle for the first 90 days, and also uploaded to other vendors after that.

Here's the Kindle buy link:

And for those who haven't seen it yet, here's the back cover blurb:

An amateur sleuth and her dog return home to a town of secrets … and an ugly murder

In this novella, science writer Lindsey McKay takes a leave of absence from her job and returns home with her dog to save the family newspaper. She left Danville ten years ago and she trusts she can wrap this up quickly. She promises her Atlanta boss she’ll return in two-weeks.

Sheriff Ike Harper is thrilled at Lindsey’s homecoming. She’s the gal who got away, and now he has a second chance at the woman he’s always admired.

Lindsey encourages her father to fight for the paper’s survival, but he won’t cooperate. Meanwhile, the murder of a local judge is a boon for the newspaper, but it’s too late. With her leave running out, neither the tragedy nor Lindsey’s hard work can save the failing business. Then the sheriff arrests her father for the murder, and she faces a new challenge.

Determined to clear her father’s name, Lindsey stirs up a hornet’s nest of trouble. Will saving her father’s life cost Lindsey hers?

Happy Reading, Everyone!

Maggie Toussaint

Friday, February 10, 2017

Really, Truly Dead Cover Reveal!

I'm so happy to present the wonderful cover for my novella, Really, Truly Dead. The creation is the work of Boulevard Photografica and it really and truly (sorry, I couldn't resist!) sets the tone for the romantic mystery. See for yourself!

The novella will release in the next few days on Kindle Select at Amazon. This is the first of three in a novella series. The collection will be issued in a print book later this year.

Here's the blurb for the story:

An amateur sleuth and her dog return home to a town of secrets … and an ugly murder

In this novella, science writer Lindsey McKay takes a leave of absence from her job and returns home with her dog to save the family newspaper. She left Danville ten years ago and she trusts she can wrap this up quickly. She promises her Atlanta boss she’ll return in two-weeks.

Sheriff Ike Harper is thrilled at Lindsey’s homecoming. She’s the gal who got away, and now he has a second chance at the woman he’s always admired.

Lindsey encourages her father to fight for the paper’s survival, but he won’t cooperate. Meanwhile, the murder of a local judge is a boon for the newspaper, but it’s too late. With her leave running out, neither the tragedy nor Lindsey’s hard work can save the failing business. Then the sheriff arrests her father for the murder, and she faces a new challenge.

Determined to clear her father’s name, Lindsey stirs up a hornet’s nest of trouble. Will saving her father’s life cost Lindsey hers?

Stay tuned for release information in the next few days!

Maggie Toussaint

ps Over at Booklover's Bench we're giving away a tablet. The contest ends on Feb 18, 2017. To visit the page:

Sunday, February 5, 2017

How to: Online Critique Groups

So you’ve decided to join an online critique group? Good for you! When guidelines are established up front and followed, online critique can be enjoyable and boost your writing level.

An underappreciated aspect of critiquing other writers’ work is that you are less emotionally tied to every word and can discern where something stops working. It has been my experience that evaluating how a story is put together will cross over to your own work and help you to elevate your craft.

For critique to be constructive, praise the parts that are working as well as note where something doesn’t work. Articulate in a kind and helpful manner why it doesn’t work for you. Offering suggestions on possible different directions to take may be welcomed.

Who is a good match up for you?
(This may surprise you.) Any publication-minded writer who is familiar with story structure, who has a keen eye, and who has a kind way of phrasing their observations. I have had critique partners since the 1990s, so I know this to be true. The genre matchup between your work and your critique partner(s) need not be identical. Also, while it may be helpful if the other members of your critique group are at a similar place on their publication journey, it doesn’t matter as much as you might think.

Family members, best friends, or anyone who might rubberstamp your work to avoid hurting your feelings are rarely desirable for critique partners. Also, be on the lookout for toxic critiquers. These folks find fault with everything, and their input is rarely constructive. My advice? Bow out of that situation and try again.

What are your exchange parameters?
In general, the larger the group, the smaller the page count swapped (i.e., it would be arduous for a group of six people to swap 25-30 pages every week; 10 pages is a better amount for a larger group).For groups of two or three writers, 20-25 pages is a good ballpark number. Most groups use standard margins of one inch, double spacing, and a standard font such as Times New Roman size 12. Using Track Changes in Word gives you a way to add comments in the margin of the page. If your members aren’t familiar with Track Changes, another option is to use all caps or a different color of font for your remarks.

Clearly define what input you are seeking. For a piece that’s highly polished, a writer may want to know where you were tempted to put it down. For a first draft piece, a writer might want to know if the story flows, if the characters are believable, and so on. This may be author-specific or manuscript specific.

If you have more than two people in a group, decide if the critiques go back to the author or to the entire group. It can work either way, and it can also stimulate a discussion post-critique, if that’s what your group wants to do.

When will your group meet?
Keeping to a schedule is a good idea. That way, there are fewer surprises on submission dates. Decide upon frequency of submission and expected time of response. Some groups exchange weekly, some every other week, or some only at the beta reader stage. Whatever works for your group is the right answer.

Where will your group meet?
Most online critiquers opt for getting the exchanged files in their email Inboxes. Some may set up private social media groups for the exchange of files. Others may elect to connect via phone or a video chat service such as Skype.

How to critique
 Avoid stomping on someone’s dream. It takes a high degree of trust to put your work out there for peer review. The same people you are swapping with are also reviewing your work. Instead of offering negative feedback, provide constructive comments.

It is easy to make line edit suggestions, but grammar and punctuation are rarely the primary focus of an online critique group. Instead, critique partners often note story construction weaknesses, characterization inconsistencies, timeline issues, lack of setting in a scene, slow pacing, opening or closing hook needs strengthening, missing beats, untagged dialog, head hopping, and so on.

Showing vs telling is a common critique comment. If you notice an author “told” something instead of “showing” it, make a constructive comment to illustrate a showing in this situation. The goal is not to rewrite the work, but to offer a suggestion so that the author may own that revision.

Give praise where praise is due. A particularly well-drawn character, hero or villain, is a treat to readers, and the author should be praised for getting this right. Perhaps the dialog sparkles, the pacing is spot-on, or the settings are three dimensional – make sure you tell the author you noticed.

Writing styles vary. You want your critique partners to respect your style, so respect theirs. Style and voice are individual, and your goal as a critique partner is to make sure the work you are reviewing reflects the author, not your personal style.

Be kind. Nuance, humor, and tone don’t come through well during a critique, so make remarks in a neutral way. If you don’t understand something, say that instead of saying “you did something wrong.” Asking for clarification will help the author figure out what areas of the work need strengthening.

In summary, offer constructive feedback on writing craft elements in a neutral manner. Respect voice and style. Provide an example, if needed, for clarification of your remark. Praise aspects of the sub which are well done. Remember to be courteous and professional in how you phrase your remarks.

Check out this giveaway for a new tablet! Contest is live February 1-18, 2017:

Monday, December 5, 2016


Some of us are lucky to have best friends. It’s rare to have multiple best friends simultaneously, but I’ve been blessed to have two best friends my entire life. They are sisters, and they were my next door neighbors forever.

We grew up sharing scraped knees, Barbies, favorite songs, and chicken pox. We listened to rain on a tin roof, caught blue crabs in tidal creeks, and confided our deepest darkest secrets to each other. We forged friendships that have spanned more than fifty years.

So, when I decided to create a character foil for my amateur sleuth Baxley Powell, I wanted her to have the same rich and enduring friendship I’ve had. Newspaper reporter Charlotte Ambrose appears in every book of the Dreamwalker cozy mysteries, but she was in Baxley’s life long before the series.

In firming up their backstory, I decided this pair had been inseparable since grade school. Charlotte struggles with her weight, with confidence, and with upward career mobility. As a fulltime employee at a weekly paper, she can get title promotions, but the job remains the same, no matter the label. Meanwhile, Baxley struggles with her unusual skill of communicating with the dead, her burning desire to be normal, and her decision to suppress her psychic abilities for most of her life.

As children, teens, and adults, Charlotte and Baxley needle each other when they need an extra push. They support each other when things go wrong and cheer for each other’s successes. They’re in and out of each other’s houses all the time. Charlotte is the sister Baxley never had, and Baxley’s parents are Charlotte’s second set of parents.

This closeness works out well for best friends in real life and for characters in stories. For instance, when everyday things that happen to us, we turn to our friends first. Our friends are our sounding boards and our barometers. They tell us when we’re messing up, and they rat us out to our folks when we need it. The same goes for Baxley and Charlotte.

In book one of the series, Gone and Done It, Charlotte helps Baxley through the decision to become the Dreamwalker. She helps Bax when the admission of power totally whitens Baxley’s forelock. On the flip side, Baxley clues her friend into the first murder the county has had in forever. That’s solid gold and pure adrenaline for an ambitious reporter like Charlotte.

In the second Dreamwalker mystery, Bubba Done It, Charlotte gets first dibs on reporting the banker’s death, but her astute observations shape the overall police investigation. There’s a lot of give and take in their relationship and a squabble or two for good measure. As always, Charlotte remains the brains of the pair and Baxley the pluck.

And now we’re to book three in the series, the subject of this book release blog tour, Doggone It. With several months of dreamwalking under her belt, Baxley enjoys a more formal relationship with the sheriff’s department. The increased work and pay make her life as a single mom easier, but the more cop work she does, the less she can confide in Charlotte in real time. With Charlotte being a member of the press and Baxley on the side of law and order, a rift in their friendship threatens.

In addition, Charlotte’s reporting of two previous murder cases shakes up the pecking order at the paper and gains her notice throughout the state. She’s sure her next murder story will springboard her to a bigtime career. While Charlotte pursues fame and fortune, Baxley keeps a low profile. The people she meets are either dead, criminals, family of the dead, or cops. Her dreamwalking clients drop by at all hours of the day and night, leaving her little time for her friend.

Adjustments must be made if Baxley and Charlotte are to remain close friends.

Read more about Baxley and Charlotte in Doggone It!
Buy link on Kindle and Hardcover

This post originally aired at Storeybook Reviews on October 20, 2016