Monday, April 17, 2006
Kanner Lake Marketing Project
Dear BGs (for you newcomers, that stands for bloggees, or blog readers):
As many of you know, my Kanner Lake suspense series launches in August with Violet Dawn. This series is a departure from my current Hidden Faces series, injecting elements of my Seatbelt Suspense into a small-town community with eclectic and colorful characters. Each of the three books will feature a different protagonist from within this group.
The Story Behind the Story
Kanner Lake is a fictional town, population 1700, around a fictional lake of the same name, in the panhandle of Idaho--a pristine area of mountains, lakes and forest. A friendly town, a great place for community. Tourists stay in the B&Bs around the lake, coming for snow sports in the winter and water sports in the summer. The first few blocks of Main Street host numerous shops, patronized by locals and tourists alike. The fave hangout is Java Joint, run by Bailey Truitt.
Some interesting folks hang out at Java Joint. There’s Ted Dawson, known as S-Man, aspiring science fiction writer who’s so buried in his world of Sauria that the café could practically burn down around him and he wouldn’t realize it. S-Man looks like Stephen King in his early thirties. Wilbur Hucks, seventy-seven-year-old town curmudgeon, is mighty proud of his lengthy scar from recent heart surgery—and insists on showing it off to everybody. Good ol’ boy Hank Detcher is pastor of New Community Church. Carla Radling, a savvy realtor in her late twenties, is forever arguing with Wilbur. Retired Jake Tremaine, buggy-eyed and big-eared, loves to gossip. Leslie Brymes, twenty-year-old newspaper reporter is gunning to go TV national—and ain’t nothin’ gonna stop her. And of course there’s mother hen Bailey, Java Joint owner in her fifties.
In June of 2006, young newcomer Paige Williams quietly slips into town, looking to build a new life.
Bailey’s wonderful husband is unable to work due to health reasons. And she desperately needs more business at Java Joint to pay the bills. In early July she hits on an idea to draw more tourists to her beloved Kanner Lake and thereby increase her business. She sets up a blog, Scenes and Beans: Life in Kanner Lake, Idaho, brought to you by Java Joint coffee shop on Main. Bailey enlists the help of her Java Joint regulars and other town denizens to write entertaining posts about their lives. The first post, written by Bailey, goes up Wednesday, July 5.
Then, on July 22, tragedy strikes.
Back cover copy to Violet Dawn:
Something sinuous brushed against Paige’s knee. She jerked her leg away.
What was that?
She rose to a sitting position, groped around with her left hand. Fine wisps wound themselves around her fingers.
She yanked backward, but the tendrils clung. Something solid bumped her wrist.
Paige gasped. With one frantic motion she shook her arm free, grabbed the side of the hot tub, and heaved herself out . . .
Paige Williams slips into her hot tub in the blackness of night—and finds herself face to face with death.
Alone, terrified, fleeing a dark past, Paige must make an unthinkable choice.
In Violent Dawn, hurtling events and richly drawn characters collide in a breathless story of murder, revenge and the need to belong. One woman’s secrets unleash an entire town’s pursuit, and the truth proves as elusive as the killer in their midst.
Suddenly Kanner Lake becomes national news, all right, but hardly in the way Bailey had hoped. People across the country, fascinated with the Kanner Lake trauma, become avid readers of Java Joint’s Scenes and Beans. Bailey is more than a little upset about the negative publicity. She doesn’t want the blog to become a lurid reporting place for insider news on the crime. She lays down the law to all her friends who write posts—they’re not allowed to comment on any of the crime events in Kanner Lake, other than obliquely. “Life in Kanner Lake goes on,” she tells them. “Write about your own experiences.”
And so they continue to write their posts, in real time according to events in the three books of the Kanner Lake series. These posts, while they may vaguely mention the triple traumas that eventually hit the town, major on the bloggers’ own escapades—whether recent or in childhood. In no way do they give away any of the plot points within Violet Dawn or the next two books in the series.
Of course, much of the above backstory does not appear in Violet Dawn. That story is far too busy with . . . other things. Some of it will become clear, however, through the Scenes and Beans blog.
Your Part and Perks
The Scenes and Beans posts will be written by readers of the Kanner Lake series (with final editing done by me). Posts will be fun, creative, highly entertaining. In the beginning, ten or eleven characters will trade off writing Monday through Friday, meaning each will post about twice a month. The blog will look completely real. It will have a link to the Kanner Lake Web site, which will feature information on the suspense series and blog.
To launch this real-time “play,” I’m looking for actors who are willing to commit to writing no more than two posts a month for a particular character from July to December of this year. After that time, the blog will open up to readers of Violet Dawn and subsequent books in the series, and any reader can submit a post for possible use on the site.
Zondervan is providing 50 galleys of Violet Dawn to be sent to those who’d like to audition for a character role by submitting a post. These galleys are now ready, which means those 50 who audition will get a three- to four-month-early read of Violet Dawn. Those who land a role will also receive:
1. a cobalt blue coffee mug with the Java Joint logo
2. two signed copies of Violet Dawn when it releases
3. credit for the role on the Kanner Lake Web site, with a link to their own Web site or blog
Auditioning posts will be judged on creativity and entertainment factors. It’s possible that a character role could be awarded to more than one auditioner, which would mean less posts for those actors to write. However, the perks mentioned above would remain the same.
Zondervan is highly committed to nationally publicizing the Kanner Lake series. They have hired an outside publicist for Violet Dawn. (One of the possibilities the publicist and I have discussed is a catered, invitation-only launch party in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in late August.) Much of the media attention for Violet Dawn will center around the “real-time” Scenes and Beans blog. The more that publicity drives people to read the blog, the more those “actors” involved will benefit by having their names and personal sites listed as participants on the linked Kanner Lake Web site. So--want your name and Web site/blog noticed by new people? Write some dynamite posts for Scenes and Beans that get folks talking.
The Scenes and Beans blog will continue through publication of all three books in the Kanner Lake series.
Scenes and Beans is now up with a temporary look until it goes live. (Once the Kanner Lake Web site is professionally designed and launched, Scenes and Beans will have a similar appearance.) You will see the Java Joint logo at the site now—that much will stay. If you’re interested in auditioning, please go to Scenes and Beans to see additional information and the steps involved. Step one, of course, is reading Violet Dawn to get a feel for the characters. I promised you BGs first chance at participation in this idea. That means you’ll be the first to request the 50 galleys for auditions. After a few days I will open up auditions to others if there are any remaining galleys.
Wanna step into the Kanner Lake experience? See you over at Scenes and Beans.