Gilian Baker, author of Blogging is Murder, is on the Readsalot blog today talking about how she came up with the idea for her book. She also shares an excerpt of the new release with us!
The first book in the Jade Blackwell Mysteries series, Blogging is Murder, came about as a catharsis for my frustrations as a new blogger. The issues that arise in the book are ones that every blogger deals with, and cyber-theft is a blogger’s biggest nightmare.
The scene I want to share with you finds Jade, our protagonist, learning her friend and fellow blogger, Liz Collins, has been hacked. In fact, the hacker has taken over Liz’s blog and her social media profiles. The situation has quickly escalated, and Liz is scared. Jade meets her friend at the little tea shop in Aspen Falls, Wyoming, Tea & Sympathy, to offer comfort…and to satisfy her own curiosity.
“Well, last night we decided to bring the sheriff in because the hacker—Connie is her name, by the way—showed up on our doorstep.” Liz took a gigantic breath once she’d gotten the words out.
“Yeah, that’s why we’re so freaked out. But we didn’t want to make a scene in front of the kids, so we decided to go to the sheriff station today to see what he recommended.”
“So, what did he say?”
“First, we made an official complaint. I have to print out all the correspondence from my hosting and social media companies, so there’s proof in our file. Oh, my gosh, Jade. I have a file at the sheriff’s office.” She dropped her head into her hands as I grabbed for her tea cup before she tipped it over.
Reaching over the table, I patted her arm, making the usual comforting noises while she cried. Why would someone decide to invade her life like this? Why would someone go to the trouble of hacking to add to a blog and social media profiles? Were mine safe? I needed to take immediate action when I got home.
I stopped patting. “Wait a minute. This Connie woman showed up on your doorstep last night. How on earth did she find out where you lived?”
Liz’s red face looked up, her eyes peeking at me through her eyelashes. “My physical address is still on my accounts. You know that legally you have to have an address listed on the emails you send to your subscribers.”
I nodded, with a sinking feeling of what was coming next.
“I meant to get a P.O. Box, Jade, but it always got pushed back on the priority list. I mean, with all the other stuff you have to do as a blogger, it just didn’t seem that important, even though I’d read other peoples’ stories about similar situations. I guess in the back of my mind I just didn’t believe anyone would do it to me.”
She paused to blow her nose loud enough to make several patrons turn and look. “I’m not some huge celebrity, although the blog is gaining popularity.”
“Oh, Liz. Don’t blame yourself. I’ve been doing exactly the same thing. In fact, we’ve all heard those stories. But in every case, those savvy online entrepreneurs didn’t take action until someone came to their houses either.” I made a mental note to hit the post office PDQ to get the P.O. Box I’d been procrastinating.**
“Part of me knows that, but I keep thinking about the kids. I should have been protecting my family, Jade. But something else always seemed more urgent.”
“I know.” I patted her arm again. “What else did the sheriff suggest?”
“We started the process to get a restraining order against her so if she shows up again, they can do something. The cyber-crime stuff is less cut and dried.”
“Well, you know I’ll do whatever I can to help. Just give me a call.”
Liz blew her nose again, this time with barely a sound, and gave me a more genuine smile. “I know, Jade. I feel better just talking about it.” She looked at her watch and sniffed. “Oh, man. I’ve gotta get going. School lets out soon.” She looked up at me with wet, hazel eyes. “Thanks so much for dropping everything to meet me, Jade. I know you must have a hundred other things on your plate today.”
“Don’t be silly, Liz. Family and friends always come first.” As the words came out of my mouth, my mind went to my huge to-do list that had just gotten longer… now I needed to add “keep people from hacking my life” to it.
** The idea to add this part about the physical address vs. P.O. Box to the story occurred when I read about a blogging personality who had a fan show up at her house asking for advice one night.
Because of the pervasiveness of cyber-security scares, I decided it would be an interesting angle to use as part of the book plot. Everyone worries about their online security (or should) whether they are a blogger or not. The average person now uses the Internet to shop, bank and file their taxes. What must it be like to also have to worry about someone hacking into your blog—the way you make a living? How can bloggers protect the personal information of the fans who buy their products and services? How difficult is it to get into someone’s Facebook account and post as that person? These are the questions I wanted to utilize to add suspense and structure to the book.
Does the hacker go free? Is Liz able to save her livelihood? Who get murdered and why? The answer to these questions are answered in Blogging is Murder, now available for pre-order.
Though she was certainly born with all the traits of a world-class private detective, blogger Jade Blackwell believed she would do nothing more than solve the murders in her latest favorite cozy mystery book. Set in mountainous south-eastern Wyoming, Jade Blackwell lives in a log home in the quaint village of Aspen Falls with her husband, Christian and daughter Penelope (Ellie). She left her life as a tenured college English professor at the University of Wyoming four years ago, sick of the bureaucracy, mounds of essays to grade and apathetic students. She turns to blogging and ghostwriting as her new career.
Jade’s promising career as a blogger halts abruptly when she learns of a hacker who is controlling her friend and fellow blogger Liz Collin’s business remotely. When the hacker is found dead in her home, Liz is thrown in jail. Determined to help her friend regain her life and livelihood, Jade teams up with Liz’s reluctant lawyer, Gabriel Langdon, to get Liz off the hook and out of jail. What she learns will break the case wide open, while unraveling her faith in humanity and the safety she feels living in the Rocky Mountain hamlet she calls home. An exciting thrill ride from the first page, to the last. Read Gilian Baker’s Blogging is Murder, the first book in the Jade Blackwell cozy mystery series!
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About the Author
Gilian Baker is a former writing and literature professor who finally threw in the towel and decided to just show ‘em how it’s done. She has gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger & ghostwriter to her CV. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain cozy mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, knitting in front of the fire, snuggled up with her husband watching British mysteries or discussing literary theory with her daughter.
In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines.
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