Guest Authors · Reading and Reviewing

The Deadly Art of Love & Murder

Today I welcome a guest post by Author Linda Crowder. She gives us a sneak peak at her new book coming out this summer. I can hardly wait as I loved her first book in this series, The Deadly Art of Deception. Welcome, Linda.

Guest Post by Linda Crowder61ZvkdfHghL._UY200_

“If I’d known I was going to find a dead body, I would have stayed in bed.”

That’s how art gallery owner, Caribou King, starts off her second adventure, The Deadly Art of Love & Murder. Cara is mid-twenties and more comfortable in business than social situations. She leads with her heart even when it gets her into serious trouble. In the second Deadly Art novel, she’s trying to solve the maybe-murder, maybe-suicide of a kindly older woman while juggling the romantic advances of not just one, but two of Coho Bay’s eligible men. With the solution buried deeper than Alaskan permafrost, and somebody willing to kill to keep it hidden, winter isn’t the only thing that’s closing in on Cara.

Love and Murder will hit the bookstores this summer, but for now, here’s a snippet…

Arriving at the house feeling a bit like an icicle, I closed the door against the wind and stomped my feet in the entry, hoping to pound feeling back into them. It wasn’t much warmer inside and I grimaced to think how cold it must be under the house. I left my coat on and walked into the kitchen, expecting to find the keys on the counter and a note from Mrs. Nash. What I didn’t expect to find was Mrs. Nash herself, but there she was, in the living room, slumped sideways on the couch, half covered in snow. My mouth had already opened to say hello when my brain realized what I was seeing. Her skin was as white as the snow and her face was… missing. The window beside her was broken, effectively turning the room into a deep freeze.

I am not normally a screamer, but when the impact of what I was seeing hit me, I screamed. It was no damsel in distress little scream, either. Rooted to that floor in horror, I made a sound I didn’t know could come from a human being. My mother would have called it sound that would wake the dead, but it didn’t have any effect on Mrs. Nash, which was probably a blessing because I really did not need this to be the start of the zombie apocalypse. After my fit of primal screaming, I did what any self-respecting modern woman of the world would do. I got the heck out of there.

What happened next is blurry, but I might have screamed all the way from the Tilamu house to City Hall. I’m not sure but I do know I was screaming when I got there. When I burst through the door, Coho Bay’s part-time receptionist and full-time matchmaker, Tammy Atumwa, threw the stack of papers she’d been holding into the air and started howling along with me. It didn’t seem to matter that she had no idea why I was screaming. She’d never been one to let a technicality stop her. Dan running from his office, gun drawn, ready to handle whatever bomb was exploding in his lobby.

About the Author

Linda Crowder is best known for her Jake and Emma Mystery series available through 307 Publishing. Set in her adopted hometown of Casper, Wyoming, the series features a pair of accidental detectives who join forces with the local police to track down killers. Her books are a delightful blend of mystery, relationships, humor, and tears. Linda fell in love with Alaska on her first trip north in 2014. Her love of the Inside  Passage led her to place her Caribou King Mystery series, available through Cozy Cat Press, in the mythical cruise ship town of Coho Bay.

Follow Linda at www.lindajcrowder.com

Reading and Reviewing

A Book Review or A Personal Taste

Untitled DesignBook reviews are a complexity when trying to decipher if one wants to believe the reviews in researching whether to buy a book.

Recently I received a one-star review on one of my books that usually gets a four or five-star review on Amazon and Goodreads and Barnes and Noble. I read the choice review: This book must be written for 8-year-olds. They would likely get exhausted reading the same sentences over and over again. No real character development at all and Granny is boring.

I don’t have a hard time with a low star review if I feel a reviewer is fair.  I decided this review probably was fair because I chose to go further and research the person that left this little tidbit. The other books they reviewed were nothing like my cozy mystery. Most were a matter-of-fact or serious crime and mystery books. It was obvious to me that my writing style and choice of the genre were not something this reader would like. They titled the review “Don’t know why I finished this.” Frankly, I didn’t know why they did neither.

It differed from a recent five-star review: Granny is a senior citizen who still has a lot of life left in her, and she works undercover for the police, thwarting thieves. She’s a pure dee mess! How anyone could not like this book is beyond me, I’ve bought the series. I really like Granny!

If you look back through this reviewers books you will see that she enjoys the genre of cozy mysteries. So it would make sense she would like Granny.

If you are a reader or a consumer that reads the reviews so you can make a choice about a purchase then I would ask you to dig a little further. We as mystery writers are always looking for clues and you can join us in that pursuit when you read reviews.

Read more than one review and then check into the history of the reviewer. Are they leaving a review because the subject matter is just not their cup of tea and that is a reason they did or didn’t like it? Or are they leaving a review because they are fairly judging a product on its content and design or workability and not personal prejudice because of their taste?

I am not a sports fan. I would not be a good person to leave a review for a sports book no matter how well written. If I were leaving a fair review I would have to state that I am not interested in the subject and that my view was skewered by that fact.  If I felt it was poorly written but a good subject I would state that but I would also have to ask myself when I am leaving that review if I was being fair. Perhaps I wasn’t understanding the genre or the language of sports. The kind thing for me to do would be to leave no review at all because I probably could not view it with an unbiased eye.

As authors reviews can make or break us. We know we can’t always receive brilliant reviews but we ask our readers to be fair and kind. Authors have feelings too and we do follow our reviews and take into consideration constructive criticism to make our writing better for our readers. We love our readers.

I will say this about both my series of books, the Fuchsia Series and The Brilliant Series. The review in the second paragraph states there any character development in the book Because I write with the series in mind my characters develop over the series of books.

If you are patient while visiting Fuchsia you will find why Granny is the cantankerous person she is. What happened in her life and what personal hurtful experiences shaped how she acts. You will meet her family and the things that were kept hidden.

The same with Jezabelle and the characters from Brilliant Minnesota. What happened in Jezabelle’s youth that she didn’t marry the love of her life? Why is Phoebe rich and ditzy. What about her past is she hiding? Or Mr. Warbler and his secret that no one knows. All this is revealed over the series.

They are both filled with humor when addressing those subjects because in life if we don’t laugh during some of our sorrow it would take us under. My characters use humor to traverse life and the mysteries of their communities.

__________________________________________________________________

When we talk about reviews, what we are really talking about is just a market report – it’s like reading about the new Lexus. You have to know what the guy writing the review cares about to understand his take. Does he like sports cars, or does he like Bentleys?

Mike Nichols
Read more quotes at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/mikenichol615423.html

 

Guest Authors · Reading and Reviewing

Guest Spot with Author Gilian Baker

I am happy to have Author Gilian Baker sharing a guest post on my Mysterious Musings Blog today. Welcome, Gillian.

 

Researching Murder is a Killer

 I can dream up all types of interesting ways to kill off a character. The tricky part is to ensure the murder method is believable. That’s when careful research comes in. But researching murder can be a killer!

While writing the debut book in the Jade Blackwell cozy mystery series, I decided early on that I wanted to spice things up by including juxtaposition between the theme and the murder method. The world in which Jade lives and works is a modern one. She’s a blogger, and the book centers on the theme of cyber-crime. So, I thought it would be fun to offset the modernity by killing off the victim with an old-fashioned, natural poison.

Deciding on the murder method is fun and fairly easy. But the question becomes whether or not the method you’ve dreamed up will meet all the criteria you’ll need for your plot to function correctly.

For example, with poison as the murder method, you need to know things like:

  • How long does it take the poison to act?
  • What symptoms does it cause?
  • How much of it is needed to kill a person?
  • Does it have a taste or smell that will make the victim suspicious?
  • How easy is it to get? Where can you get it?

With hemlock, my chosen poison for the victim in Blogging is Murder, I had to research:

  • Does it grow wild in Wyoming? (The setting of the series)
  • Where does it grow wild? How widely available it is?
  • Which parts of the plant are poisonous?
  • Do homeopathic herbalists still use it to treat illnesses? Which ones?
  • What symptoms does it present?
  • Is it still poisonous when dried?
  • What time of the year does it grow in Wyoming?
  • Is it frost-hardy?

Before I started writing the story, I researched some of the questions above. I needed to know right away if hemlock even grew in Wyoming. It didn’t matter what kind it was—there are lots of different varieties of the plant. I just needed it to be readily available in South-Eastern Wyoming.

As I got further into writing the book though, I came up with other ideas for the plot that were dependent on aspects of the poison. Back I went to research the plant further. Some of my ideas I got to keep. Others, sadly, I had to delete. If I wanted to keep hemlock as the murder method, I had to make its properties plausible in the story.

One of my ideas for the final chapters was to add in a freak snowstorm to build tension. I’d already started typing the scene when it dawned on me—I didn’t know how frost-hardy hemlock was. Even though I knew that Wyoming often gets snow during the spring, would all the wild hemlock be killed in such a storm? Could the killer use dried hemlock instead? And where in the heck would they get such a thing?

These questions led me to another realization. I’d written a couple of chapters that included light frosts overnight. Jade’s spring bulbs had already come up so she’d been diligently checking them to make sure they’d survived. But wait! If hemlock isn’t frost-hardy, it wouldn’t even survive the light freeze I’d already written into the story.

See how researching murder can be a killer? Sometimes it takes an author back to the drawing board. The research process never really ends. In this case, I had to go back and change the entire setting to a later time in spring to avoid overnight frosts. That meant rewriting those scenes where Jade worries about her spring bulbs.

Even though researching murder can be frustrating and can kill off great ideas, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Cozy mysteries are all about giving the reader a puzzle to figure out. Murder methods give cozy mystery writers puzzles too.

 

 

Gilian Baker is a former English professor who’s gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger, ghostwriter and author to her C.V. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain murder mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder for her Jade Blackwell cozy mystery series, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, knitting in front of the fire, snuggling with her husband watching British TV or discussing literary theory with her daughter.

Gilian lives in Columbus, Ohio with her family and their three pampered felines. In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder.

Get the first chapter of Blogging is Murder for free! http://gilianbaker.com/blogging-murder-first-chapter/

 

You can find Gillian at:

Thank you for joining us Gilian. Please visit her other media sites and learn more about this author.
Guest Authors · Reading and Reviewing

Meet Author Mary Koppel

I would like to welcome Author Mary Koppel to my Mysterious Musings Blog. Mary is new with Cozy Cat Press with her new book Volunteer To Die. Let’s welcome Mary and find out some interesting facts about her. Welcome, Mary.

Please share a little insight as to who Mary Koppel is?

Mary E. Koppel is an Episcopal priest, mommy, and a lover of travel, reading, and adventure. I really enjoy meeting people and listening to their stories. I also love to make people laugh because I love laughing.

What was the first thing you ever wrote that made you think perhaps you would like to be a writer?

When I was in high school, in my senior year, I wrote an essay for a poetry project in Dr. Hood’s English class. I had worked really hard on the project, but I felt pretty good about what I had written. Dr. Hood actually read it to the class. I think that was the turning point for me. I realized that if I put the effort in, I could write. It would take a few more years for me to put into practice what I learned and start writing regularly and then put myself out there.

What tweaks your creativity?

My creativity is tweaked by sunny days and flowers. When I read a really good book or watch a great movie, I am inspired to create.

Tell us about your latest book.

In my latest mystery, Denise Reed is an unemployed youth minister with too much time on her hands and driving her mother crazy in New Orleans. Her confidence is shot and she needs a push to get out of this unemployment funk. Through a chance encounter at Riverview, a luxury retirement home, she stumbles across the mysterious death of an aide at Riverview and a rash of small thefts there.

With a little help from a new friend, she takes a job at Riverview, embarks on her investigation and slowly regains her confidence.

What is the favorite thing about your main character?

I love Denise. My favorite thing about her is that sees so much humor around her. She is smart and kind. She wishes she was a Victoria Secret model, but who wants to eat that much celery?

What is your characters most serious flaw?

Denise doubts her skills, and yet she has so much to offer. I foresee her building up her confidence as the series continues.

What makes you smile?

My daughter makes me smile. She is at a glorious age, filled with really cute observations and cuddles.

What makes you mad/sad?

I feel mad/sad when I witness people being mistreated. I wonder why it is difficult for humans to be decent with each other.

Writers get discouraged at times. Have you ever been discouraged and what do you do about it?

I have been discouraged about my writing. In fact, for many years I was discouraged and did not write much more than in my journal. I learned the best thing one can do to work through discouragement with writing is to continue writing. Not every bit of writing is good, but writing builds upon writing.

What advice would you give to new authors or those dreaming of becoming an author?

I think that those dreaming of becoming an author and new authors should read, read, read and write, write, write. I wrote regularly in my journal. I also wrote for about 4 years on a blog with a friend before I had the confidence to write a book.

What are you working on now?

I have just started the second Denise Reed Mystery and I am also writing a novel of romantic suspense. This summer should be a lot of fun.

Did I forget to ask anything you would like us to know?

Gosh, I feel like you have asked me such wonderful questions. Thank you!

I like to end my interviews with an author’s favorite quote. What is yours?

My favorite author’s quotation is from Maya Angelou’s “Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now.” The quotation is: “Living well is an art that can be developed: a love of life and ability to take great pleasure from small offerings and assurance that the world owes you nothing and that every gift is exactly that, a gift.”

Volunteer to Die: A Denise Reed Mystery

51eNplfo5BL

Denise Reed is over-educated, unemployed, and about to drive her mother crazy. Denise (and her daughter Emily) has been hiding out at her mother’s home in New Orleans, pretending to job hunt while feeling sorry for herself. One Tuesday she volunteers with her mother at the exclusive independent living facility, Riverview. At Riverview, Denise meets Louise Butler and learns about the mysterious death of an aide, Tina Moore and a rash of small thefts.

Only a few weeks before, the young aide reported a theft at Riverview and within 24 hours she was dead. Was it an accident? Or something more? Is someone really stealing at Riverview? With encouragement from Louise, Denise takes a job at Riverview and begins to investigate the thefts and Tina’s accident. Before she knows it, Denise is Tai Chi-ing her way out of her unemployment funk, crushing on a Jason Statham look-alike named Jason, and avoiding a pimple-faced thug. Will she be able to sort out who she can trust? Or will she end up like Tina Moore?

My Review

This is a great start for a new author. What better place to find mystery than in a nursing home? The main character is likable and believable. Didn’t we all drive our mother’s crazy at one time or another? When Denise teams up with one of the residents to solve the crime, look for anything to happen. I look forward to his author’s next book.

You can find Mary at:

Her blog

Twitter

Make sure you take the time to comment and I will give away an e-copy of her book later this week.

Thank you Mary for visiting us.