Small Press–An Author’s Tale/Review of Burn Out

Apr 7, 2012 | 2012 Articles, Marilyn Meredith, Mysteryrat's Maze, Pets

by Victoria Heckman
& Marilyn Meredith

We had the pleasure of seeing mystery author Victoria Heckman at the latest Left Coast Crime conference last week. It is always a delight to chat with her. This week she is sharing with KRL a post on her experience publishing with a small press. After her post we have a review of one of her novels, Burn Out, and Victoria’s video interview with us from Left Coast.

When I first started writing, I dreamed of a big publisher. So I did all the things they tell you to do, and of course, I shopped for an agent. The internet had barely been invented back then, so all my correspondence was by mail. As the months and years went by, I realized a couple things. The agents rejecting my work did not read it, by and large. I’m not sure what they did read, but some of the responses were pretty funny. I also found I didn’t have any luck with direct submission to the big guys, slush piles and transoms being what they are. However, during this period, the internet became an amazing entity and I started rummaging for small publishers who might be interested in my niche of writing about Hawaii. “No one will ever want to read about Hawaii!” one agent told me. Hmmm. I guess Hawaii 5-0 and Magnum P.I. were just lucky shots in the dark.

Victoria Heckman

After a relatively short period (compared to MAILING!) of submitting, I received an unbelievable email. A publisher in Australia wanted my work. In fact, she LOVED it! She bought it on one chapter. She is a delightful, hardworking publisher who has come a long way and brought me with her. We still work together. I also have experience with other small publishers who are my friends and co-writers, and with whom I have continued relationships.

I LOVE small press. You get lots of attention, and I was able to have direct input for the cover and layout of my books. I think small presses care more about you, the author and the person. That may only be my perception, but it has been true for me. Small presses are also being acknowledged for awards and the money you earn is going up. I have friends at Oak Tree Press, Poisoned Pen and let’s not forget Mark Coker at Smashwords, and they are all delightful. So, if you thought small press was small potatoes, think again. Maybe it’s time to think smaller, so you can get bigger.

Victoria Heckman divides her time between California’s Central Coast and Hawaii, writing and catching up with friends and family. She is a member of SinC-Central Coast Chapter and caters to her three elderly cats and one spunky, spry new one. She has a police series set in modern Hawaii (the K.O.’d series), an ancient Hawaii series (first book–Kapu), and a (so far) stand alone Burn Out, starring animal communicator Elizabeth Murphy. She has short stories in many anthologies, the newest being the Central Coast Mystery Writers’ historical mysteries collection, Somewhere in Crime, available in paperback and as a download.

Check out KRL’s video interview with Victoria at the recent Left Coast Crime:

Check out our video interview with Lee Goldberg in this same issue with more interviews to come soon!

Review of Burn Out by Victoria Heckman
Reviewed by Marilyn Meredith

Burn Out is definitely a fascinating mystery with a most unusual heroine. Elizabeth Murphy can hear and talk to animals. Her husband, Tig, is a fire-fighter. When her hsuband’s best friend is injured in a fire, both Tig and Elizabeth are suspicious because of the circumstances–a hole in the floor where there shouldn’t be one. Elizabeth rescues a burned kitten, a survivor of he fire, who not only communicates his fears, but a few clues.

Elizabeth takes a short-term job of inputting data from the various local fire stations about previous fires, and as she works, she begins to note similarities in fires over the years. She suspects arson
targeting firefighters. When Tig is hurt in a training fire because of a weakened floor, both he and Elizabeth begin to gather evidence.

Elizabeth’s gift of communicating with animals begins to give her a clearer picture about the arson fires and who may be to blame. When she and Tig come closer to the truth, the suspect comes after them.

Author Heckman, has done a terrific job of describing how Elizabeth communicates with animals and other creatures, making it entirely believable. This is a story of a good marriage, a lot about firefighters and their dangerous job, and the horror of arson. Highly recommended to everyone who loves a good mystery with compelling characters and different twist.

Marilyn Meredith is a Springville, CA mystery author and an ongoing contributor to our Local Literary section. Be sure to visit her website;


  1. Burn Out sounds like an interesting book. Would llove to win.

  2. Sadly Victoria didn’t have any copies to give out but I’d be happy to find out where you could purchase it.
    Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed the video too
    Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher



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