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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Why Self-Publish? A Guest Post and Giveaway from J. Frank James

Author J. Frank James is joining us today to share a guest post on the benefits of self-publishing as well as an excerpt from his new book, Dead Money Run, the first book in the Lou Malloy Crime Series.  He is also offering a free Kindle copy of Dead Money Run to one lucky reader who loves a good hard-boiled thriller.  Check out the giveaway details at the end of this post to find out how to enter.  UPDATE:  Congratulations to Barbara Hawk for winning the free copy of Dead Money Run!

Why Self-Publish?

by  J. Frank James


This is a question that has no simple answer. After publishing my tenth book, the answer that best fits my situation is simply it lets me control my future as a writer. By that I mean, I am the master of my own fate. I am not sure everyone would agree with me and there are a lot of environments that do not accept a self-published manuscript from a promotion standpoint, but trust me, it is the future.

If writer is looking for instant cash, it is going to happen regardless of what you are going to do in the way of publishing. However, if you want to get the real experience of writing and see it in print, then by all means self-publish.

Is self-publishing for everyone? No. The publishing houses still have the edge in promoting a book, but that is not going to last long. Amazon is the five hundred pound gorilla and they will only get larger. Eventually, they will larger than all the other publishing vehicles combined. That said, you might as well get on board.

So what is the future of self-publishing? Quite simply, the sky is the limit. Today, you can produce your own cover, produce the written copy, market you product as writer and generally go direct to your reader. As a preparation, there are several things that I would recommend. One, get a good website for yourself. There are a lot of web providers who will provide formats to get this accomplished. One that I would recommend is a company called Powweb, www.powweb.com. Powweb has a product called Weebly. There you will have access to templates that will allow you to build your site and control the content without a whole lot of trouble. If I can do it, anyone can. Next, there is the marketing. Make sure you put your book on Amazon’s Kindle Select program as well as their Createspace unit. Kindle Select is Amazon’s ebook format and Creatspace is the paperback product. The good thing about these services is that they allow you to self-market your book as well as track sales and so forth. It is a no brainer.

After you have muscled your way through this process, we yourself a good proofreader. Make sure they have experience in the genre in which you write your book. A proofreader who proofs technical journals is not someone you want to proofread fiction. Trust me. I have been there and done that. Next get a publicist. Now here this election can get tricky. Don’t over pay for the service, but don’t get taken to the cleaners either. Expect to pay on average around $1,000 per month. Some will want more during the first three months of the exercise. They do this because to properly promote a book from the initial stage there are is a lot of upfront effort necessary to get things off the ground.
Well, you are now ready to put your first book out there for the world to see. What’s next? Why the next book, of course.


Excerpt from Dead Money Run


CHAPTER 1

The warden was a small man, but dressed neatly. Everything about him was neat-from his hair to his shoes. He was almost too neat.
“So what are your plans, Lou?”
When I walked into the room, the warden turned over a little hour-glass full of sand. We both watched it for a few seconds and then looked at each other. This was the first time I ever met the man. What did he care about me now? Since he never cared before, I figured the man was just looking for information. Perhaps he wanted to give me a warning. I didn’t say anything.
“Do you ever think about time, Lou?”
“After fifteen years, what do you think?” I said.
He smiled and said, “Most valuable thing we have and no one seems to mourn its passing until it’s too late.”
I had nothing to say to that. Conversations with a prison warden came with a lot of maybes. While in prison I trained myself to watch a man’s hands. If he rubbed his hands in a washing motion, he was lying. If he messed with his fingernails, he wasn’t interested in the conversation. The warden was rubbing his hands as if he had touched something distasteful.
“I haven’t given it a lot of thought, Warden Edwards.”
“Call me John, Lou. We’re friends now,” Edwards said while rubbing his hands in a determined kind of way.
So now we were friends. I wanted to tell him he was a liar, but my better judgment stopped me. Probably a good way to delay my release-things get lost, papers go unsigned. Things happen.
“Okay, John,” I said.
“You know, we never found the fifteen million,” he said.
“I didn’t know you were looking for it.”
I watched his eyes flicker briefly. I seemed to hit a sweet spot.
“No, Lou. You misunderstand,” he said as he caught himself. “There is a reward for the recovery of the money. Did you know that?”
Edwards said it more as a statement than a question. I said nothing and waited. Edwards shifted in his chair and started to rub his hands again.
“It would be in your best interest to tell them what you know.”
“Who’s the ‘them’ John?” I asked.
“They’re the people looking for the money.”
I thought about that for a few moments. The statement covered a lot of ground.
“Since I didn’t take the money in the first place, I don’t have anything to tell them. They need to ask the people that took it,” I said.
Edwards was smiling now and he stopped rubbing his hands.
“There are some people that think you do.”
“I can’t help what people think.”
“Ten percent,” he said.
“Ten percent of what,” I said.
“The money, Lou. Ten percent of fifteen million is a lot of money.”
“I hadn’t heard about that,” I said.
“Yeah, it seems the Indian casino had insurance. The insurance company that paid off on the claim put up a ten percent reward for the return of the money. A million five is a lot of money.”
“I hope they find it,” I said.
Edwards blinked his eyes signaling he was moving on to something else.
“Sorry to hear about your sister,” he said. “I understand they are doing all they can to find her killer.”
Edwards was a real card and running out of things to say. On any other day, in any other place, he would be dead or wishing he was.
“Thanks, John. Your words are real comforting,” I said and returned my gaze to the little hourglass and the sand as it accumulated on the bottom.
I had nothing else to say except make him happy. Make them all happy. Just one big happy group sitting around smiling at each other; happy, happy, now let’s just get the money and spread it all around and we can go on being happy. In the meantime my sister lies in a hole feeding worms. I had money on the worms being real happy. No word on how my sister felt.
Edwards looked disappointed when I didn’t add to our conversation.
“Lou, it might be a good idea for you to help them find the money. It could be a big windfall.”
Now we were getting somewhere. Just like all the rest of the treasure hunters, the miserable bastard was just in it for the money.
“Windfall for who, John? Me or you?”
As if tasting a lemon, Edwards twisted his face and, at the same time, waived his hands at an imaginary fly.
“I’m not sure what you mean, Lou. I’m just trying to give you a head start. If it was my decision, you would still be with us. Fifteen million dollars is a lot of money to lose.”
“It still is,” I said.
I sat and watched Edwards shift in his chair some more. We had nothing left to talk about. I could feel him working out in his mind how he was going to present his failure to get a lead out of me on the money.
“So, what are you going to do now?” Edwards said.
Finally, I had enough.
“Leave. Isn’t that what we all do?”
His smile vanished. He knew he was wasting his time on someone who had maxed out. He also knew he couldn’t hold me. There would be no parole violation with the threat to re-incarcerate me. No work release effort to rehabilitate me. Just a new suit made in the prison cut and sew area and a hundred bucks was the sum total of it. That probably hadn’t changed since the 30s. I wondered if Al Capone wore the suit they gave him when he got out.
We were both looking at the little hourglass of sand now. The sand had drained from the top of the glass to the bottom. Suddenly, as if being shot out of a cannon, we both stood up. Edwards stuck out his hand. I turned and left the room. I didn’t shake his hand. I didn’t want to touch him.

About the Lou Malloy Series

Lou Malloy learns of his sister's death right before he is released from prison, having served 15 years for the theft of $15 million from an Indian casino. He wants two things: to keep the $15 million, which no one has been able to find, and to track down and punish whoever killed his sister.   

Lou Malloy teams up with Hilary Kelly, a private investigator. In no time, Lou has found the hidden $15 million, recovered guns and ammunition hidden with the money, and murdered two low-level mobsters and fed them to the crocodiles.

As the body count rises, the story grows more complex and his sister's death becomes more mysterious.   

Praise for Dead Money Run:

"Dead Money Run is a hard-boiled thriller. It is a book of short chapters and almost unrelenting excitement as Lou and Hillary Kelly avoid cops, kill mobsters, and try to unravel the mystery of who killed Lou's sister and why.” - Reviewed by Wally Wood at BookPleasures.com

“Fans of James Ellroy and Elmore Leonard are going to love James’ ingenious capers, devious characters and wry humor. The entire book goes down like a strong yet smooth shot of bourbon.” - Reviewed by BestThrillers.com

"DeadMoney Run by J. Frank James is a pure adrenalin rush from the very beginning. Yes, it is very violent with some strong language, but filled with excitement that keeps the reader wanting to know what comes next." - Reviewed by Paul Johnson for Readers' Favorite

“J. Frank James did a very nice job constructing a fast moving plot for Dead Money Run. It is intriguing and thrilling. However, the reader should be prepared for a bit of gruesome violence. Yet, the violence doesn’t override the mystery and suspense within the story. Hold on to whatever it is that you’re sitting on as you read this story, because James is about to take you on a wild ride.” – Reviewed by Red City Review

About the Author:

J. Frank James has a passion for writing, and he certainly has the knowledge and experience to write realistic crime thrillers, thanks to his extensive background in law. Jim attended law school, where he was a member of the law review. He even went on to pass the state bar and started his own law practice that specialized in complex litigation. Jim's experience in law helps lend credibility to his crime fiction books. He has also traveled extensively and gains inspiration for his crime thrillers from his travels. From observing other cultures and gaining new experiences, Jim is able to infuse new life into his books and develop believable characters that readers can identify with.

J. Frank James writes crime thriller novels that are gripping and suspenseful. He is the author of the Lou Malloy Crime Series and the Indigo Marsh Detective Series.

J. Frank James is also an artist and he creates all of his own book covers.

To learn more, go to http://www.jfrankjamesbooks.com/


Connect with J. Frank James on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.

Win a Kindle Copy of Dead Money Run

Please comment below to enter the giveaway!  Share this post on social media for a second entry; just comment and let us know you did so.  Please Note:  If you are commenting anonymously, please leave your full Facebook name or email address so that we may contact you if you are the winner.  Winners will be chosen via random number generator at noon EST on Tuesday, July 21st.  The contest is now closed!  Thanks for entering!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Interview with and Excerpt from Joe Cosentino, author of the Nicky and Noah series

Joe Cosentino kindly joins us today with a Q&A and excerpt from his recently released mystery/comedy/romance, Drama Queen, featuring sleuths Nicky and Noah.   In addition to being an author, Joe is a talented actor and theater professor.  Drama Queen takes advantage of his experience and gives us a funny and entertaining peek into the theater world. Thanks for stopping in, Joe!!


Hello, Joe. Thank you for interviewing with us today.

My pleasure.

When did you start writing?

I’ve always been a storyteller. As a kid I was the star of the plays in my friend’s garage. We forced our poor, unsuspecting parents to watch every one—including the lavish musicals! After college I became a professional actor, working in film, television, and theatre opposite stars like Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Bruce Willis, Charles Keating, Jason Robards, and Holland Taylor. Moving on to playwriting and ultimately writing novels seemed like an obvious next step.

How was it acting with all those celebrities?

In each case, I worked with them before they became famous, and in each case they were gracious, hard-working, kind, and very funny. I did an AT&T Industrial with Rose O’Donnell, A Midsummer Night’s Dream onstage with Bruce Willis, Roar of the Greasepaint onstage with Nathan Lane, a Commercial Credit Computer commercial with Jason Robards, NBC’s Another World with Charles Keating, and ABC’s My Mother Was Never a Kid with Holland Taylor.

Is Drama Queen your first novel?

I wrote a mystery/romance series about an ex-child star, the Jana Lane mysteries. Paper Doll is out now. Porcelain Doll and Satin Doll should follow soon. I also wrote the well-received An Infatuation, an MM romance novella published by Dreamspinner Press.

How did Lethe Press come to publish Drama Queen?

I noticed Lethe Press publishes many humorous, theatrically-styled gay books, and the company has been successful for fourteen years. After I submitted the manuscript, Steve Berman offered to publish it, saying he had great fun reading it. I think like all my writing, DramaQueen has amazing crossover appeal and will be enjoyed by gay and straight people alike. A good story is a good story. Funny is funny. A great mystery is a great mystery.

How many books have your written so far in this series?

Three: Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, and Drama Cruise. In Drama Queen, Nicky and Noah have to uncover why college theatre professors are dropping like stage curtains while Nicky directs the college play production—a murder mystery. In Drama Muscle, Nicky and Noah have to find out why musclemen are dropping like weights in the Physical Education department while Nicky directs the Student Bodybuilding Competition. In Drama Cruise, Nicky and Noah go on a cruise to Alaska, and discover why college theatre professors are going overboard like lifeboats while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship. In the fourth novel (not written yet), Drama Luau, Nicky and Noah will go to Hawaii to direct a luau show, where muscular hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts.

Why did you write a mystery/comedy/romance series?

Can’t we all use a good laugh, a challenging brain twister, and a bit of romance? Drama Queen is the kind of book I like reading. It is funny, theatrical, sexy, wild, and wacky with a solid mystery full of plot twists and turns at its center.

How do you think up all the clues, red herrings, and surprises in the novel?

I’ve read every Agatha Christie novel and play many times. She is a genius at outlining when and where to give the reader what information. I love the inversion in her books, where she uses sleight of hand to lay out all the information, but not in a straight forward manner. The reader becomes the sleuth to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. I tried to do the same in this series.

Since you are a college theatre professor, is the series based on you, your colleagues, and students?

Do you mean if anybody at my college ticks me off, I kill him/her in the series? Hah. To be honest, I like my colleagues and students too much to murder them in my books. Martin Anderson, Nicky and Noah’s department head, is based on me. He’s a loyal, hardworking department head and professor who fully supports his faculty colleagues, office assistant, and the students in his department. Like me, he is also a little bit, well quite a bit, of a gossip. My knowledge of theatre is also very evident in the series. The other characters and the location came from my head.

Who was your favorite character to write in Drama Queen?

Nicky has such amazing wit, perseverance in the face of adversity, and smarts. I love his sense of determination in not only nabbing the murderer, but also getting his man—Noah. Nicky knows that he wants and how to get it. He is genuinely concerned for others, and he wants to help them. He also has no problem taking on the role of hero. Finally, he is a one-man man, and Nicky is proud to admit that man is Noah Oliver.

Which character was the hardest to write?

Loptu Lee, the Playwriting professor is a scream. She has two different personalities, either of which come out at the most inopportune times and places.

What are the rules for writing a good mystery?

Here are my rules. Give the clues early. There’s nothing worse than reading a mystery and not getting any clues until the end. That’s cheating. Camouflage your clues and put in a number of red herrings. A mystery should have more than mystery. Like any novel, it should have interesting characters, a strong plot with lots of twists and turns, and a satisfying ending. In my case, it also needs a heavy dose of wacky humor.

Is Drama Queen available as an ebook and paperbook?

Yes, this gives the reader an option to read it on a Kindle, Nook, computer, or with book in hand on the beach or in bed. The audiobook should be out in about a month.

Do you see this as a TV series?

Yes! And I want to play Martin Anderson. Couldn’t you see Matt Bomer as Nicky and Neil Patrick Harris as Noah? This will give The Hardy Boys a run for their money.

How can your readers get their hands on Drama Queen, and how can they contact you?

The purchase links for Drama Queen are below, as are my contact links, including my web site. I love to hear from readers!!!

About Drama Queen
It could be curtains for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodies popping up all over campus, Nicky must use his drama skills to figure out who is playing the role of murderer before it is lights out for Nicky and his colleagues. Complicating matters is Nicky’s huge crush on Noah Oliver, a gorgeous assistant professor in his department, who may or may not be involved with a cocky graduate assistant...and is also the top suspect for the murders! You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat, delightfully entertaining novel. Curtain up!

Purchase the paperback from Lethe Press or Amazon 
Purchase the ebook from Smashwords
Purchase the Kindle edition from Amazon

Excerpt from Drama Queen

With the student actors and technicians sitting in the front of the theatre (obliviously texting on their phones), my student stage manager, SuCho, screamed for everyone’s attention, and for me to come to the front of the theatre house to give them my notes. This thankfully sent David off to his office in a huff.

After I had given my first few notes, I noticed Noah Oliver standing in the back of the theatre. Noah is tall and lean with curly blond hair, blue eyes, and the sweetest smile I have ever wanted to kiss in an Assistant Professor. While I teach Theatre History and Play Directing, Noah is our department’s specialist in Acting, and for good reason. Noah is a terrific actor, a creative and passionate teacher, and a wonderful colleague. More importantly, I have had a crush on him since the moment he made his entrance into our humble campus three years ago. Noah is single, gay, and seems to really like me. Why don’t I ask him out? Noah is twenty-eight years young. As a junior professor in my department in need of my vote for tenure this year, if I make a pass at him it could be considered attempted coercion on my part.

It was difficult for me to concentrate on giving my notes to the students since Scotty Bruno, my graduate assistant and Assistant Director of the play, was talking, laughing, and obviously flirting with Noah in the rear of the theatre. I had reason to be concerned. Scotty has bleached blond hair, contact lens turquoise eyes, ultra-white bonded teeth, and muscles as if sculpted by Michelangelo, housed in multi-colored, stuffed shorts and tank top (in winter) that were not unnoticed by Noah. Unless I was becoming nearsighted, I could have sworn that Scotty whispered something into Noah’s ear then handed Noah a box. What the heck is in it? Love letters? Condoms? My heart on a silver platter?

“Any notes for me, professor?” Paul Amour, my leading man, sat front row center and winked at me. Identifying as bisexual, Paul uses his charms with men and women alike to get their attention. Tall with shiny, wavy black hair climbing down his neck, chiseled features, and a body like a Greek god, getting attention wasn’t too difficult for Paul.

“You were like terrific tonight, Paul. I really believed you were like the murderer!” Ricky Gonzalez, Paul’s co-star and last onstage murder victim, sat next to Paul like an art dealer admiring the Mona Lisa. Ricky is shorter and darker than Paul with a smaller but equally cut physique. After he graduates from college and gets over his crush on Paul, Ricky will no doubt make some guy a wonderful husband.

“Thanks, Ricky.” Paul squeezed one of Ricky’s abdominal muscles.

Ricky beamed like a floodlight.

Kayla Calloway and Jan Annondale, who play murder victims one and two in the play, sat on the other side of Paul to reward their peripheral visions. Zaftig, giggly, and insecure, they hung on Paul’s every word, wishing they could hang on Paul.

“Your fight scenes were totally awesome tonight, Paul,” said Kayla.

Jan added, “And you really like aced your cool monologue at the end of the play.”

Before Paul could sign autographs, I said, “I have five more pages of notes tonight, people. Can I have everyone’s attention?” 


About the Author

Joe Cosentino is the author of Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), An Infatuation (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press novella), A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press holiday novella), and Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery.



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

New Mystery Releases 7/7/15

Today is another great day for new mystery releases, so let's get right to rounding them up. First Tuesdays are usually heavy on the cozy mystery releases, but that is even more true this month than usual!

Let us know if there are any that we missed!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Murder, Mayhem, and Integrity, a guest post by Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr joins us today with a guest post discussing the importance of maintaining integrity in the relationship between author and reader.  Here at MRM we are (im)patiently awaiting the release of the first book in Lauren's new Thorny Rose MysteriesKill and Run, available for pre-order on Amazon. Don't miss the trailer for Kill and Run at the end of this post!  If you can't wait for September, be sure to pick up the latest Mac Faraday mystery, Open Season for Murder.  Thanks for another great post, Lauren!

Murder, Mayhem, and Integrity
Guest Post by Lauren Carr

With the upcoming elections (yep, another one is coming up), the word integrity crops up. Usually it comes up because we see so little of it among those asking us to instill our trust in them. But that’s another post…

Believe it or not, readers look for integrity in their books. Maybe it’s because many readers dive into the pages of a book to escape the dishonesty and chaos of the real world. Their boss may mislead to them about an upcoming promotion. Their child may lie about taking out the garbage. Their husband may fib about how good that tuna casserole was.

But Agatha Christie lie? Never! And if she did? Well, let’s just say readers will forgive their husband, to whom they have vowed to love and honor, faster.

Sure, the killer and suspects are all liars. How can you have a murder without deception? Yet, there is one person in a murder mystery who the reader counts on being honest to them.

That person is the mystery writer.

Ironically, in mysteries where lack of integrity is often the root in the motive of a major crime, readers trust that the author laying it out will have a sense of fair play. We mystery authors set up the playing field and challenge the reader to a game of who done it. The goal is to catch the killer before the author reveals him or her. If the reader uncovers the murderer too easily, then the game wasn’t enough of a challenge and it is not as much fun.

But, if the solution is revealed to show that the author has not played fair, then the reader feels betrayed, not unlike a driver getting a traffic ticket for not noticing the speed limit sign tucked fifty feet off the road and hidden under a boulder.

A couple of years ago, I was on a panel where an author recalled reading a book in which she had assumed the two main characters, a couple, were a man and woman. At the end, it was revealed out of left field that they were a homosexual couple. Finding no hint of this throughout the book, she literally threw the book across the room. That reader felt betrayed. Never would she trust that author enough to set foot into her virtual world again.

As a mystery author, I am as tickled as the reader when they say, “Hey, I caught that clue about the computer whiz in your latest book.” The reader feels clever for having caught the clue.

That’s okay.

My readers and I are playing a game. The purpose of a game is for everyone who participates to have fun. No one enjoys a game when one of the players is a cheat.

Lack of honesty on the author’s part is an intrusion into the reader’s virtual sanctuary. Readers expect authors to play fair. Even when a mystery writer is laying out the pieces of a complex mystery, readers expect there to be enough clues scattered about that when the solution is revealed they can go, “Oh, yeah! But of course! I missed that!”

Gotcha!

Together, the reader and author have a mighty chuckle. The author pulled a good one over on the reader. But, having seen the pieces that had slipped by, the reader can respect the author for a job well done.

Through my work with authors, I have come to discover that writers and readers alike have an amazing sense of integrity. We offer it and we also expect it.

Maybe it is because when an author writes a book, they are putting more than words on the page—they are putting themselves out there as well. It is like they are cutting open their hearts and offering it to their readers. They make themselves vulnerable for all readers to see.  If what they are putting on the page proves to be false, then they themselves prove to be false.

The very act of picking up a book (whether it be an actual book or a download onto an ereader) and opening up the pages is a gesture of trust for the reader. They are taking a step into the author’s world, fictional or non-fictional. Will it prove to be real? Is the author holding anything back? Do they have clues hidden up their sleeves? Will this be a worthwhile journey? When I leave, will I want to come back?

Not if it proves to be a journey of deception.   Then, the reader, feeling cheated, will end up hurling the book across the room and won’t pick up another one.

It’s like catching your husband eating another woman’s tuna casserole and liking it. Never again will you open up a can of tuna for that man again! 


Likewise, never again will a cheated reader step into a dishonest author’s virtual world. 




Praise for Lauren Carr’s Best Selling Mysteries!

"The author's stories are entertaining with well-rounded, appealing characters readers will wish to revisit with each installment in the series. Carr weaves humor into her mysteries and gives her main characters plenty of tender moments as they continue to bond. And bond they do; so much so that fans seeking to immerse themselves into the next story will feel like they have returned home." - Edie Dykeman, Mystery Editor, Belleonline

“Lauren Carr does a good job of moving the quirky storyline along nicely with an abundance of witty dialogue.  And you have no idea who the good guys are and who the bad guys are until the end." - Reviewer: Every Free Chance Book Reviews.

Kill and Run - The Thorny Rose Mysteries

Five women with seemingly nothing in common are found brutally murdered in a townhome outside Washington, DC. Among the many questions surrounding the massacre is what had brought these apparent strangers together only to be killed.

Taking on his first official murder case, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, USN, believes that if he can uncover the thread connecting the victims, then he can find their murderer.

The case takes an unexpected turn when Murphy discovers that one of the victims has a connection to his stepmother, Homicide Detective Cameron Gates. One wintry night, over a dozen years before, her first husband, a Pennsylvania State trooper, had been run down while working a night shift on the turnpike.


In this first installment of the The Thorny Rose Mysteries, the Lovers in Crime join newlyweds Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday to shift through a web of lies and cover-ups. Together, can the detectives of the Thorny Rose uncover the truth without falling victim to a cunning killer?




Open Season for Murder
"Robin, it's me, Ashton."
Spring is in the air. In Deep Creek Lake, the burst of blossoms on the trees has the effect of a starting pistol in the race to get the resort area ready in time for the seasonal residents return to Spencer, Maryland.
In this latest Mac Faraday Mystery, Lauren Carr once again brings murder to the Spencer Inn, Mac Faraday's five-star resort located at the top of Spencer Mountain. "I have to confess," the author says, "personally I would wonder how the Spencer Inn hangs on to their five-star rating with all the murders that happen there."
Obviously, the high society guests in her book aren't worried about the Spencer Inn's mortality rate because they’re dying to attend the Diablo Ball, which is hosted by Mac Faraday's new bride, Archie Monday. An annual charitable event to benefit the Humane Society, the Diablo Ball used to be hosted by Robin Spencer, Mac's late mother, and would kick-off Deep Creek Lake's summer season.
"Naturally, in my book, the Diablo Ball truly is an event to die for," Lauren says. As readers have come to expect from every Lauren Carr mystery, Open Season for Murder delivers a punch even before the party invitations are put in the mail when uninvited guests begin RSVP'ing. 
Intrigued by a mysterious phone call, retired homicide detective Mac Faraday can't resist diving into the cold case of Ashton Piedmont, a young woman who had disappeared into the moonlit waters of Deep Creek Lake five years earlier. 
Mac quickly discovers that not only is the Diablo Ball drawing in A-listers from across the country, but someone is going to a lot of trouble to gather together suspects and witnesses connected to Ashton Piedmont and each one seems to have their own agenda for coming to Spencer.
When murder strikes, it is up to Mac Faraday and his friends to find the killer ... or is it killers? When it comes to murder in Deep Creek Lake, you never know. 
But readers do know this, if it's happening at the Spencer Inn, you know it's an event to die for!




About the Author
Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime Mysteries. Her upcoming new series, The Thorny Rose Mysteries will be released September 1, 2015.
The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.
She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mystery, History, and Credibility - a Guest Post and Raffle from Joyce Strand

Today on the blog, author Joyce Strand joins us to celebrate the release of her new historical mystery, The Judge's Story.  Joyce highlights some of the challenges associated with crafting a suspenseful yet believable mystery plot, particularly when you throw historical accuracy into the mix!  Don't forget to sign up for Joyce's AMAZING giveaway at the end of this post - you could win a Kindle Fire or Paperwhite, or free copies of The Judge's Story along with generous Amazon.com gift cards!  Thanks for joining us today, Joyce!

Mystery, History, and Credibility
by
Joyce T. Strand

Why shouldn't truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction after all, has to make sense,” Mark Twain, aka Samuel Clemens.

Recently I read a true-crime book and was dissatisfied with all the loose ends, including the lack of solving the murder and convicting the criminal. Yet, this was a true story. How could it be? I decided then and there that I would never read another true-crime book. I prefer crime fiction, where we get to make up a mystery and solve it with everything tied up neatly.
Spinning a good mystery revolves around interesting characters who need to figure out who-done-it despite misleading clues and villains in their way.  But even though it’s made-up, I emphatically agree with one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes, “Fiction…has to make sense.”
Credibility and plausibility go beyond accuracy and are crucial to engross a mystery reader. They concern the likelihood of an occurrence. We might overlook an anachronism, such as placing a river in a real city where none exists for the sake of telling a story, but can we readers overlook the action of a five-foot, 100-pound girl managing to overcome a six-foot 200-pound strong man? Not that it couldn’t happen—but we better understand how, e.g., the man was drugged.
Or what about an amateur sleuth—say a winemaker—what gives him the ability to solve a mystery? Why would we believe any amateur could catch a murderer? There must be a reason—maybe he was an intelligence officer in the Navy, or a crime reporter before becoming a winemaker, or has a history of analyzing the source of production problems at a former job.
And if it’s challenging to tell a plausible modern-day mystery, writing an historical mystery complicates the obligation to produce credibility. In an historical mystery we must pay attention to the same issues as in a current-day tale, but they are compounded by the additional requirement of historical accuracy.
There is no doubt that by setting my story in 1939, I had great fun introducing a new element to tantalize the mystery reader dedicated to solving a puzzle. Historical setting offers interesting opportunities to enrich a mystery. The year 1939 offered a backdrop of the effects of the Great Depression, the looming WWII, and the advancement of movies, air travel, and automobiles without the benefits of cell phones, the internet, or Amazon.com.
For example, my protagonist gets trapped in a storm a dozen miles from assistance. In today’s world, he would simply whip out his cell phone and call for help. In 1939, not only did he not have a cell phone but the building in which he was trapped had no phone, electricity, or running water either. This added a different dimension to how he could be rescued and offered an opportunity to build suspense.
However, despite the contribution of an historical setting, it definitely complicated the issues of believability and credibility, essential to entice readers into the plot.
When I wrote The Judge’s Story, set in 1939, to assure credibility I had to check almost every sentence to assure it was accurate for the time period. The opening scene occurs in a courtroom on a hot day. Could I introduce electric fans? And how long did it take to drive from Ventura to Los Angeles? Could my juvenile criminal have driven to Los Angeles from Ventura and back in a day and still have had time to commit a crime? How fast could cars go in 1939? Did everyone have a telephone? Did refrigerators produce ice cubes?
In an historical mystery, anachronisms could cost credibility, which might lead to a reader’s lost interest. If I enabled my juvenile criminal to travel from Ventura to Los Angeles and commit a crime and return in the same day in 1939, a mystery reader at best would question the validity of the statement and at worst stop reading.
I truly enjoy reading and writing mysteries. I’ve written several current-day mysteries and now my first historical mystery. But whether our sleuth is an amateur, private eye, or lawman tracking down clues in 1939 or 2015, he/she must be credible. “Fiction after all, has to make sense.”



Autographed copies may be purchased at Unicorn Bookstore in Ramona, CA.

About The Judge’s Story

A Superior Court Judge with a passion for social justice as well as the law strives to discover the truth behind the mystery of a robbery-murder in a small California town in 1939.

When the Judge hears testimony against a 14-year-old teenager, he realizes that the boy participated in a robbery-murder. However, the accused did not actually pull the trigger. But unless the boy identifies his partner, the Judge must sentence him as a murderer, which would result in prolonged jail time. The Judge’s investigator, along with the precocious 16-year-old girl who identified the boy as one of the thieves, explore different approaches to uncover the murderer. In the backdrop of escalating war in Europe, the financial scarcities of the Great Depression, and the Judge’s caseload, their attempts to find justice for the accused boy and unmask the killer lure the Judge and his friends into sordid criminal activities.

About the Author

Mystery author Joyce T. Strand, much like her fictional character, Jillian Hillcrest, served as head of corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder. Rather, she focused on publicizing her companies and their products. She is the author of the Jillian Hillcrest mysteries ON MESSAGE, OPEN MEETINGS, and FAIR DISCLOSURE and the Brynn Bancroft mystery HILLTOP SUNSET. Strand received her Ph.D. from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and her B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA. She currently lives in Southern California with her two cats, a collection of cow statuary and art, and her muse, the roadrunner.





To find out more about Joyce, visit

Join the Raffle!

Sign up below to win one of three wonderful prizes:



1st Prize: Kindle Fire HD 7 or Kindle Paperwhite

2nd Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card and ebook or paperback copy of The Judge’s Story

3rd Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card and ebook or paperback copy of The Judge’s Story





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