J. Kent Holloway
A lot has happened at Charade Media over the few short months we've been in business, and I thought it was high time I gave everyone a bit of an update on all the happenings going on here at everyone's favorite (hey, a guy can dream, can't he?) mystery publisher.
First things first, I think it's important to discuss our decision to expand the definition of mysteries we'll be accepting in the future. To be honest, it was a bit of a surprise to me that we decided to do it, but I couldn't be more excited about it. You see, back in June, our publisher, Sean Smith, senior editor Britin Haller, and I attended SleuthFest, hosted by the Florida Chapter of the Mystery Writer's of America. While we were there, we not only had a fantastic time getting to know all the wonderful authors that were attending, we also realized we were doing them, and our readers, a bit of a disservice for being so myopic in our selections. Having grown to become fast friends with the likes of bestselling authors Heather Graham, Lisa Black, and Melinda Leigh, we realized an expansion of material would be good for everyone.
I'm not going to repeat everything we said on our Submissions Page, but here it is in a nutshell: We're now open to all types of mysteries. Whether it's cozy (regular or outside-the-box), procedural, traditional, paranormal, or anything in between...we're interested. With the following caveats: First, understand that while Charade Media isn't a 'Christian' publishing company per se, everyone on staff here identifies with being Christian. That means, we're not going to be as excited about books that go against (or worse, flagrantly vilify us) our beliefs. But since we don't publish Christian fiction in a technical sense, let me just say that we 1) want to be entertained first and foremost. Even if your mystery is on the darker side, at least thrill us. Don't bore us or preach to us. Don't try to change the world with your story. Just strive to entertain us, and we'll super excited to read on. 2) We're not looking for anything controversial, political, or polarizing. We want everyone to enjoy our books, which means if your story takes potshots at certain groups of people or tries to shame them in some way, chances are, we're not going to be that interested. Reading should be an escape from all that social garbledegook out there. So, refer back to Rule 1. Just strive to entertain and you'll do okay. 3) Surprise us! Whether the surprise comes from the reveal of the culprit at the end of the book or just with the way you turned the genre upside down, we love books that catch us off guard with something new and cool.
Already, this genre expansion has opened up so many possibilities for future books that we're itching to share with you...which is pretty much what this post is for. Charade has been off to a great start already with Nikki Knight's Wrong Poison, our first original book release. Released last month, the first book in the Grace 'The Hit Mom' Mysteries exceeded all expectations and the reception has been wonderful. While many people had difficulty imagining a traditional cozy mystery featuring an assassin/PTA mom as the amateur sleuth, readers out there seem to really connect with Grace's wry sense of humor and unusual vocation. It's just a super fun read and, if you haven't picked it up yet, we really hope you'll give it a chance.
Our next book will be released on October 3, 2023 and has an equally unusual premise for a cozy mystery. Dumpster Dying (A Hazardous Hoarding Mystery) features a sweet older lady named Birdie, who's got a problem...she's a bit of a hoarder. Well, "a bit" might be an understatement. She's a mega-hoarder! To make matters worse, she likes to spend a great deal of time heading to parking lots of her favorite hobby stores and searching through the dumpsters for personal treasures she might find. It's during one of these excursions she has a horrific discovery...the body of a young woman she had a bit of a soft spot for when she was alive. So, it's up to Birdie, her 'dead' husband (who's obviously got problems of his own), and a few other colorful characters to solve the case. Dumpster Dying is only the beginning though. Expect at least three books in this series by Michelle Bennington in the coming years!
So far, the two books I've talked about fit perfectly with our old preference for mysteries. You might be asking, "Well, Kent, where does the new stuff come in?" Well, I already shared the cover image of one a few paragraphs above with Clean Getaway, which is a sequel to one of my most popular books, a forensic crime thriller called Clean Exit, which features the nerdy criminal forensic cleaner with a heart of gold, Ajax Clean. Ajax might work for the mob, but he's got ethics and a strong moral compass (well, kinda). In essence, the Ajax Clean series allows me to use my own personal knowledge of forensics (from my day job as a forensic death investigator) to create super fun crime thrillers. Prior to the change in genres, I never imagined Clean being invited to Charade's library. He's not exactly cozy material. But with the inclusion of crime fiction in general, he's now part of the family and I couldn't be more excited.
But that's not all, also with the changes comes two books (and potential series) that we'll be re-publishing and re-packaging by two authors that are simply amazing in their storytelling skills. I'm talking, of course, about Rick Chesler and his Tara Shores Thrillers and David Sakmyster and his book (with potential never-seen-before series) Blindspots.
First, let's talk about Rick Chesler and his Tara Shores series. First of all, Rick has developed a brilliant writing career from thrillers about the ocean and the things in it. It all started with his book Wired Kingdom, which will soon be known as Deadly Depths.
Deadly Depths is about a murder that is caught on a webcam mounted to a tagged blue whale. The murderer is aware of this faux pas. So, thankfully, is the FBI, so they send one of their best agents, Tara Shores, to retrieve the footage before the bad guy does. The story features modern pirates, media moguls, gorgeous blue seas, and an awesome protagonist in Tara Shores. If you've not read this book, you're definitely going to want to add it to your list (and the two (maybe more!) others). Deadly Depths will be released early 2024.
As for David Sakmyster and his incredible book Blindspots...what can I say? I had the privilege of publishing it back in its original release with Seven Realms Publishing. The moment we expanded our genre, I reached out to David to ask him about this one. It's literally one of my favorite supernatural thrillers/mysteries I've ever read. But I wasn't satisfied with just one book. I asked him for more and he's agreed to expand the Blindspots universe with sequels.
Think I'm being overly dramatic about how good this book is? Well, here's what Suspense Magazine had to say about it when it was first released: "Beyond unusual, this is one book that is so original, readers will not want to skip even one word. Trust in this; after reading "Blindspots," vamps and werewolves will be about as scary as a Saturday morning cartoon! Bravo!" It sounds like a horror novel, and I won't lie...it kind of is. But it's first and foremost a supernatural mystery with an insidious killer who's targeted six strangers who each have a condition known as 'face blindness'. We'll tell you more about this book as time approaches. Needless to say, it's another you won't want to miss. Once again, Blindspots will be released the first quarter of 2024.
So, what else to I have to share with you? Well, for now, you'll have to wait. We've got a few more surprises that I want to hold off on for a little while. But needless to say, expect some really great reads from Charade Media in the immediate future. Like us on Facebook. Join our Facebook group. And most important, subscribe to this blog and have all the news and author interviews delivered directly to your inbox. You're not going to want to miss a single moment of what's going to happen next!