Sherry Harris: Tagged for Death Sunday, Aug 24 2014 

Thanks so much for asking me to join you today to talk about how the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series came about. My path to publication is a bit different. An editor in NYC gets an idea for a series with a garage sale theme. He goes to an agent, who goes to a friend, who comes to me. It sounds easy, right? Oh, if it only were!

Tagged for Death mech.indd
I’ve been writing for a number of years and have three manuscripts in the drawer and a stack of rejection letters to go with them. Over those years I’ve attended a number of writing and fan conferences. One year at Malice I sat at a table with Julie Hennrikus (now one of my fellow Wicked Cozy Authors). Julie lived in Massachusetts. We’d just found out that my husband was being stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base near Bedford, Massachusetts that summer. She told me I should join the New England chapter of Sisters in Crime when we got there.

I did and I continued to work on the craft of writing. (Yes, I’m a slow learner!) Two years ago I pitched to agent John Talbot at Crime Bake. He wasn’t interested in the three books in the drawer either. A few weeks later I received an email from Barbara Ross. An editor in New York had an idea for a cozy mystery series with a garage sale theme. The editor contacted John Talbot. John then asked Barbara if she knew anyone she thought might be able to write the series. Barbara knew I loved garage sales and asked me.

A week later I’d written a proposal for the series. All the characters, the setting, and the plot flowed out of me. I turned it in to John. He tweaked a few things and sent it off. After much handwringing and pacing, I signed a three book deal. The books are set in the fictional town of Ellington, Massachusetts and on a fictional Air Force base I named Fitch Air Force Base. I guess all of those years of preparation paid off when an unexpected opportunity came to me.

In Tagged for Death Sarah has to make a decision whether to help clear her ex-husband’s name after he’s accused of murder. Why would help a lying, cheating ex? Because otherwise she might also be accused. Tagged for Death, the first in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series, will be available December 2, 2014.

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Sherry Harris started bargain hunting in second grade at her best friend’s yard sale. She honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry uses her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her time living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the series. Blog: Wickedcozyauthors.com Website: Sherryharrisauthor.com

James Callan: Forget the Labels Sunday, Aug 17 2014 

Please welcome James R Callan, mystery writer and author of a resource for writers: Character: The Heartbeat of a Novel.

cover-character Forget the Labels

We’ve all heard, “Clothes make the man.” Actually, I don’t believe that. But I do believe the writer can use clothes to show her readers a lot about a character – without actually telling those things.

I’m not talking about giving the reader the designer’s name for each piece of clothing the character is wearing. Personally, I tire of that quickly. I know other avid readers who feel the same way. It’s one of the instances when I’m taken out of the story by the thought that the writer is trying to impress me with her knowledge of all those designers.

I’m sure some readers and perhaps some publishers like that attention to detail. Frankly, that’s too easy to get much credit for detail. Once you’ve established this character likes designer labels, the rest is not so much detail as fluff.

If you’re trying to get across the idea that this character has a lot of money, or she shops at exclusive boutiques, or designer clothes are important to her, or she was raised to wear only designer clothes, then I believe you can do that in a better way.

What I want to explore today is what clothes tell us about the character, rather than who manufactured the clothes. Here’s an example from my book on character development, Character: The Heartbeat of the Novel.

The silky material clung to every curve and garnered the attention of every male, and many of the females, in the crowded room. Jane tugged at the skirt, trying to keep it from hugging her hips. Why did she get talked into wearing this? Her blue cotton skirt and white blouse would have been more comfortable.

Regardless of what label adorns the skirt, the reader gets a good feel for how Jane feels about clothes. Even more important, we have shown the reader a lot about Jane, how she feels about herself, how she sees herself. We accomplished this in a subtle way, but the reader will get it very clearly.

You can accomplish similar things by showing how a character feels about other aspects of personal care or appearance. Here are two examples from my character development book.

Jennifer fished a lipstick out of her purse and with two quick motions ran a hint of pink across her lips.

Ashley used a fine brush to outline her lips, opened another tube and brushed on a deep rose color to her lips. Finally, she applied a thin coat of gloss. She studied the effect. It was only a casual lunch. This would do.

Do you get a clear picture of how these two women deal with appearances? Does this show you something about them, without the author having to tell you?

Could I tell you Ashley is very concerned that she always looks her best, even at casual events? Certainly. But in this short paragraph, I have shown you much more clearly, and in a way you will likely remember. I could write several paragraphs explaining that Jennifer isn’t concerned with makeup. She uses lipstick mainly to keep her lips from drying out, plus a little color gives her face more definition. She is confident in her looks and doesn’t feel like she needs to enhance them. But one sentence gives the reader most of that and in a way that will be believed.

The universal admonition is: “show, don’t tell.” Use clothes, makeup, and hair not so much to tell the reader the outward appearance, but to show the reader who this character really is, how they feel about themselves, how they relate to others.

Cover-A Ton of Gold

After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing. He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years, and published four non-fiction books. He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mysteries, with his sixth book releasing in Spring, 2014.

Website: http://www.jamesrcallan.com
Blog: http://www.jamesrcallan.com/blog
Amazon Author page: http://amzn.to/1eeykvG
Twitter: @jamesrcallan

A Ton of Gold On Amazon at: http://amzn.to/UQrqsZ or Nook at: http://bit.ly/1kM7p1M

Character: The Heartbeat of the Novel, (Oak Tree Press, 2013)
On Amazon at: http://amzn.to/13ADvF3

Janet Simpson: Lost Cause Sunday, Aug 10 2014 

Auntie M welcomes author Janet Simpson, living in Australia, who will discuss the origin of her series.
A quick note to fans of Nicola Upson’s Josephine Tey series: THE DEATH OF LUCY KYTE is now available in paperback from Bourbon Street Books.

Let’s travel to Oz and meet Janet Simpson. Welcome Janet!

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Where in the world is Daisy Dunlop?

Every author has their own methods for crafting a story. Some people turn a vivid dream into a creative reality. Others hear a snippet of conversation that sparks the imagination. A movie plot or a TV show might stir the creative juices. There are writers who plan every twist and turn, others have a brilliant idea and jump right in, riding it until they type, The End. Some books are plot heavy and character light. Some bounce along and weave their magic purely on the addictive charisma of the imaginary people who have been brought to life by the author. The possibilities when a person who chooses to craft stories for a living sits in front of a blank computer screen, fingers hovering over the keys, or turns their notebook to a crisp blank page with their favorite pen in hand, are endless.

When I start writing a new book it always begins with the characters. I am captivated by an idea of a person. If ignored they niggle at me, demanding that I listen to their voice and tell their unique story. Daisy Dunlop was the character who drove me to write Lost Cause. It is her mystery series, her adventures and her life. However, she didn’t come alone. She dragged her dark and mysterious and sometimes sullen sidekick, Solomon, along with her. The story of the unwilling Irish PI and the, would be, Heir Hunter was born.

The plot was all disaster prone Daisy’s, the point of view both Solomon’s and Daisy’s. The setting is not the country I have called home since I was in my mid twenties, but rather the south coast of England, where I grew up and wasted a great deal of my misspent youth. The towns where I met and fell in love with my husband, where I had my first son, and where I revisited and lived for 18 months when my boys were still children became the backdrop to Daisy’s adventure. This may seem a strange choice for an Aussie author, but as an English girl abroad I have learned one important thing about being English: our sense of humor is unique. Some people love it and some people hate it, but it is not found anywhere else in the world. When Daisy first popped into my head she arrived with a full blown English accent and a sense of humor that could exist in no other country on earth. So, where is Daisy Dunlop? Right now, as I close in on the end of writing book two in the series, Lost and Found, she is at a dog kennels, which is really odd, because dogs scare her to death. I can’t see this ending well.

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Diminutive English rose, JL Simpson, was stolen away by a giant nomad and replanted in a southern land filled with gum trees and kangaroos. She quickly grasped the meaning of G’day and mate whilst steadfastly refusing all attempts to convert her to Vegemite.
She loves sharing tales about unexpected twists of fate. Holding on to a steadfast belief every obstacle can be overcome, she spends her moments of solitude creating adventures where mystery and mayhem collide.

Links

Lost Cause – Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Cause-Daisy-Dunlop-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00LG83E4O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404617793&sr=8-1&keywords=Lost+cause

Lost Cause – Taliesin Publishing http://www.taliesinpublishing.com/lost-cause-p58.php

Lost Cause – Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lost-cause-jl-simpson/1119886279?ean=2940149757732

Website: http://jlsimpson.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/JL-Simpson/126748204182731?ref=hl

Twitter: @jlsimpsonauthor

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/JL-Simpson/e/B00LGB1T48/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22587545-lost-cause?from_search=true

Summer Standouts: Penny, Garrett, Casey, Cha and Adler Thursday, Aug 7 2014 

Auntie M has guests this summer to give authors you might not have heard of a chance to tell you about their books. But today she wants to share the best of what she’s been reading whilst others are blogging away. These are some of summer’s best reads for crime.

LongWayHome After last year’s profoundly moving How The Light Gets In, it is difficult to imagine how Louise Penny could conjure up a way to bring Armand Gamache out of his hard-won retirement. In The Long Way Home, it takes his friendship with artist Clara Morrow to do just that.

After a year’s separation due to her husband jealousy over Clara’s career upturn, Peter Morrow was supposed to return home for them to sort out their marriage and decide if it could continue. Yet that deadline has come and gone and Clara knows something has happened to keep Peter from getting in touch with her. Despite not knowing what his feelings are, she insists he would never not have tried to contact her.

Together with Jean-Guy Beauvoir, Gamache will assist Clara and her friend Myrna as they retrace Peter’s steps in an effort to locate him. Their journey will take them from the art school where Clara and Peter met, to some of his unusual and despised family, to a desolate place deep into Quebec where few have ventured and where few have returned from intact.

The usual characters for Three Pines make their appearance, but it come down to this group of four to unravel where Peter has gone to find his soul–and why. As they find themselves drawing closer and closer to Peter, the foursome will face some unanticipated scenarios and dark moments. Written with her usual style and an unerring sense of human nature, Penny’s newest will bring readers on a journey where things are turned upside down, just as the book jacket suggests, to final unexpected climax.

A. D. Garrett is the pen name for two authors collaborating in a way that brings forensics and mystery to the forefront in Everyone Lies. everyone-lies-usa-800px
Auntie M has read and enjoyed other mysteries by Margaret Murphy and here she teams up with forensic scientist Professor Dave Barcaly. Their main characters echo their expertise. DI Kate Simms was demoted in the past for her work on a case involving Prof Nick Fennimore, a one-time advisor to the National Crime Faculty, a man whose mind and forensic knowledge equal none other.

Despite their complicated past, Simms will reach out to Fennimore for his expertise when a string of drug addicts die and she suspects the drugs are laced with more than the usual cutting agents. Her investigation becomes high profile with the death of a celebrity in the mix and the media becomes involved. There will be whore houses to search and drugs to chase, and a convenient fall guy for what may turn out to be a hidden agenda of the deepest proportions Simms could imagine.

Seemingly thwarted by her superiors and her own past, Simms struggles to find out why these deaths are occurring, along with the identity of one of the girls, a prostitute who may or may not have been involved on her own. Her own family life suffers. The plot is complicated but satisfying, filled with all kinds of the best scientific analysis and facts for those of us who like those angles. With two unusual protagonists, readers can hope this duo will be brought back for a sequel, and soon.

Steph Cha’s sequel to Follow Her Home is the compelling Beware, Beware, featuring one of the most original protagonists to come along in a long time: Juniper Song, a Marlowe noir fan working as an apprentice to the PI firm she found herself involved with in Book One.

Song’s Hollywood location brings her right into the glitzy scene with her first case when New York artist Daphne Freamon asks the young investigator to follow her screenwriter boyfriend around. Jamie may be using drugs again, and Song quickly establishes this to be the case. Working for an aging movie star, Jamie is soon the prime suspect after a night of partying finds the star dead in his bathtub. Is it suicide or murder?

Now Song’s job becomes proving Jamie’s innocence. With lies, blackmail and hidden secrets coming to light each time she turns around, Song will find things hitting too close to home for her comfort. And then things turn on a dime and she must decide how much her conscience can bear in the name of justice and revenge. Fast-paced and definitely with an different edge, Steph Cha has created an Asian American character whose culture adds a layer to the action.

LastToKnow2 Elizabeth Adler continues her Mallory Malone-Harry Jordan series by taking readers to western Massachusetts Evening Lake in Last to Know.

Smarting from Mallory’s departure to Paris after breaking up with him, the Boston detective is spending time at his lake house with his dog, Squeeze. The small close-knit community is about to be blown apart by two newcomers: Lacey Havnel and her daughter Bea. One family, the Osbournes, will become particularly involved. Husband Wally is a well-known writer of horror stories; wife Rose is the ultimate wife and earth mother. Four children in varying ages occupy their home near Harry’s. All will become involved with Be a Havnel when Lacey is killed when the duo’s house explodes.

Then it’s determined that Lacey was murdered before the explosion, and that the mother-daughter team are not who they claim to be. Harry must decide if he can keep his job if it means living without Mallory just as the murderers begin to pile up. One device Adler uses is to tell the story through varied points of view, so that readers are getting more information than Harry is privy to. A page-turner and great beach read.

Jane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan series returns with the fifth, The Kill.TheKill
With an intriguing plot and fast pacing, this is a smooth read that will translate well to television, and Auntie M won’t be surprised to see the series has been sold for that purpose very soon.

DC Maeve Kerrigan and DCI Josh Derwent are working alongside the rest of the MIT to unravel a series of police killings in metropolitan London. Someone is killing their police colleagues and everyone is on high alert to find the murderers. Are they killings all the work of one chief or is there more happening here than meets the eye?

Casey’s hallmark of the series is how she combines police procedural information alongside relationship development and subplots, especially as pertains to her superior officers, and most importantly, the misogynist DCI Derwent, as complex a character as there ever was to leap off the page. Kerrigan is tough, yet has human frailties, not the least of which is her worry about her handsome live-in boyfriend. When things turn upside down there, you will feel her ache as she’s unable to to comfort him when his colleague is murdered.

This is subtle, smart writing at its best. A great series if you haven’t found it.

NEW IN PAPERBACK: Jane Haddam’s Hearts of Sand, previously reviewed, is now in paperback for fans of retired FBI profiler Gregor Demarkian, who visits a Connecticut beach town to resurrect a decades-old disappearance and murder.

Lynn Chandler-Willis: The Rising Sunday, Aug 3 2014 

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Jesse to the Rescue

When I started writing The Rising, I had a very rough idea of where the story was going. I knew what I wanted to happen but had no idea how I was going to make it happen. Getting from Point A to Point Z was going to take some planning.

The main character, Detective Ellie Saunders, was a thirty year-old woman with a bad habit of looking for love in a one-night stand. One of those one-night stands turns out to be a co-worker, Jesse Alvarez, a former vice cop with a gorgeous smile. To Ellie’s horror, Jesse is assigned to help with her case.

But as often happens with fictional characters, they have a mind of their own. Jesse was not only pushing himself into Ellie’s case, he was pushing himself into my novel! Jesse Alvarez was intended to be a very secondary character. A character’s whose only purpose was to illustrate Ellie’s spiraling out of control personal life.

So I gave him a few lines of dialogue. And then a few more. And then a couple more. And before I knew it, Jesse was more than Ellie’s former one-night stand. He was her partner. And trust me, I never intended for Ellie to have a partner. This was her story. I wanted her to face certain fears on her own. I wanted her to come to terms with her life, on her terms. But what was I to do? Every time I tried holding him back, he pushed himself right back in the scene.

And then I found myself, and Ellie, in a situation I wasn’t comfortable being in. Not only was Jesse taking over Ellie’s personal life, he was taking over the case. He was becoming her rescuer. Every scene where Ellie faced even a small amount of danger, it was Jesse to the rescue.

I wanted Ellie to be strong from the start. I wanted her to be clear-headed and independent. But I also wanted her to be vulnerable. In the book, she has a very tender spot for the little boy dubbed Johnny Doe. Yet, she forms a strong maternal protectiveness over the child. A mamma grizzly at its worst. In another aspect, she has a very real fear of facing the media, stemming from a childhood trauma. Once the “Johnny Doe” case goes public, the media is stirred into a feeding frenzy, forcing Ellie to deal with those fears. I purposely held Jesse back in these instances, forcing Ellie to step-up-to-the-plate and face the issues on her own.

When the time came for the final showdown between Ellie and the suspect, again, I left Jesse at home. Although he played an important role, to the case and in Ellie’s personal life—I wanted it to be all Ellie in the end. I wanted Ellie to save herself and not rely on a handsome partner with a gorgeous smile.

Yes, Jesse’s around in the end—but he’s not Ellie’s rescuer. She did that all by herself.

Lynn Chandler-Willis has worked in the corporate world (hated it!), the television news business (fun job) and the newspaper industry (not a fan of the word “apparently” and phrase “according to”). She keeps coming back to fiction because she likes making stuff up and you just can’t do that in the newspaper or television news business.

She was born, raised, and continues to live in the heart of North Carolina within walking distance to her kids and their spouses and her nine grandchildren. She shares her home, and heart, with Sam the cocker spaniel.

She is the author of the best-selling true crime book, Unholy Covenant. Her debut novel, The Rising (Pelican Book Group, 2013) won the 2013 Grace Award for Excellence in Faith Based Fiction and was a finalist for an INSPY award. In October 2013, she was the first woman in a ten-year span to be named winner of the Minotaur Books/Private Eye Novel Writers of America Best First Private Eye Novel competition for her novel, Wink of an Eye. It will be released by Minotaur in Nov. 2014.

D. P. Lyle: Original Sin Sunday, Jul 27 2014 

What if?: The Crucial First Question OS 200X300-72

So you have a cool idea for a story. Big deal. Ideas are a dime a dozen. And ideas aren’t stories. To become a story, your idea must evolve into a premise, or what many call “The Central Story Question.” It’s what the story is really about.

To become a premise, the original idea must ultimately lead to the question: What if?

What if this happened? What if that person did this? What if that dude hanging out at your local coffee shop is actually a rogue undercover agent with a deadly agenda? Or a serial killer? Or is stalking one of the baristas?

It is from those two words–What if?—that stories arise.

The power of your story’s What If? can’t be overestimated. It is the single guidepost that will keep you on track as your churn out those 100,000 words. A good What if? states the main character, the situation, the stakes, and, most importantly, the central story question.

It is the answering of this question that is the story.

The What If? should be stated in about 25 words or so. Because the What If? is brief, it’s often called the elevator pitch or the agent pitch. It communicates your story in the most efficient terms. We’ve all heard writers respond when asked what their story is about by saying things like, “Well, there’s this guy who lives on an island. And he hates the water. And a big shark is killing people and this is threatening to shut down the town’s beaches on a holiday weekend. And then there’s this other guy who is a shark expert and he has a really cool boat. Oh, I forgot, the first guy is the chief of police.” Yawn.

What if a hydrophobic, island-community police chief must go out on the water to kill a predatory shark to save the town’s summer economy and to prove his own self worth?

What if an FBI trainee must exchange personal information with a sadistic serial killer in order to track another serial killer and save a Senator’s daughter?

What if the youngest son of a mafia family takes revenge on the men who shot his father and becomes the new godfather, losing his own soul in the process?

These are of course Jaws, Silence of the Lambs, and The Godfather, respectively. See how these What If?s reveal the protagonist and clearly state the story premise? Read these books or watch the movies and you will see that each scene moves toward answering the story’s What If? Each of your scenes should, too. If not, consider cutting, or at least reworking, those that don’t.

Here’s a tip: When your What If? is completed to your satisfaction, print it out and tape it to your computer or the front of your writing pad so you will see it every time you sit down to write. Before writing each scene, read your What If? and ask yourself, “Does this scene help answer the Central Story Question?” If you do this, you will never lose sight of what your story is about. Particularly in the dreaded middle, where so many stories get lost in the jumble of character and backstory and cool dialog and all the other stuff that goes into a manuscript. The What If? keeps you focused and on track.

What if a female cardiovascular surgeon must unravel why so many of her post-op patients succumb to bizarre homicidal rages and to do so must dig deeply into her family history?

That’s the What If? for ORIGINAL SIN, my latest Samantha Cody thriller.

ORIGINAL SIN:

Dr. Lucy Wagner was on top of her game. The only cardiac surgeon on staff, a new pediatric cardiac unit dedicated to her, and an impeccable reputation not only put her at the apex of the local medical pyramid but also garnered a few powerful enemies. Such is the nature of jealousy and greed. Turf wars can get ugly. Still all was good until the day old John Scully, the spiritual founder and leader of a local snake-handling church, died on her operating table. Fainting spells, nightmarish dreams, and patient after patient succumbing to some violent psychosis followed, putting her career, and her life, in jeopardy. Aided by long time friend and ex-boxer, ex-cop Samantha Cody, Lucy must reach deeply into her family’s past and into her own soul to find the strength to confront old and very powerful forces she never knew existed.

Read the First Chapter Here: http://www.dplylemd.com/DPLyleMD/Excerpt-OS.html

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D. P. Lyle is the Macavity and Benjamin Franklin Silver Award winning and Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, Scribe, and USA Best Book Award nominated author of many non-fiction books (MURDER & MAYHEM; FORENSICS FOR DUMMIES; FORENSICS & FICTION; MORE FORENSICS & FICTION; HOWDUNNIT: FORENSICS; and ABA FUNDAMENTALS: UNDERSTANDING FORENSIC SCIENCE) as well as numerous works of fiction, including the Samantha Cody thriller series (DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND, DOUBLE BLIND, and ORIGINAL SIN); the Dub Walker Thriller series (STRESS FRACTURE; HOT LIGHTS, COLD STEEL, and RUN TO GROUND); and the Royal Pains media tie-in novels (ROYAL PAINS: FIRST, DO NO HARM and ROYAL PAINS: SICK RICH). His essay on Jules Verne’s THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND appears in THRILLERS: 100 MUST READS and his short story “Even Steven” in ITW’s anthology THRILLER 3: LOVE IS MURDER.

Along with Jan Burke, he is the co-host of Crime and Science Radio. He has worked with many novelists and with the writers of popular television shows such as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Peacemakers, Cold Case, House, Medium, Women’s Murder Club, 1-800-Missing, The Glades, and Pretty Little Liars.

Website: http://www.dplylemd.com
Blog: http://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com
Crime and Science Radio:

http://www.dplylemd.com/DPLyleMD/Crime_%26_Science_Radio.html

Hot Summer Reads and Rory Flynn Interview Tuesday, Jul 22 2014 

Auntie M has a huge stack of crime fiction waiting to be read and she likes to take the middle of the summer, when guest blogs build up, to remind you of those books that are in print that you will enjoy. Seek out the ones that appeal to you for some fun summer readings.

First up is an interview with author Rory Flynn, whose first crime novel, THIRD RAIL: An Eddy Harkness Novel, is in print. Auntie M had the distinct pleasure of meeting Mr. Flynn when she was in Concord, MA, recently with her writing group visiting the literary sites. Not far from the homes of Emerson and Alcott, we talked about Mr. Flynn’s character Eddy, his hometown of Nagog, not unlike Concord, and Flynn’s writing process.

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Auntie M: When a former principal remarks that what happened to Eddy’s family is Shakespearian, Eddy answers:” And you don’t mean the comedies do you?” How much of that comes from your own history and from living in a small town? You have a line: “Cities churn, suburbs strive, but small towns stay the same.”

Rory Flynn: My real mother disappeared from my life over twenty years ago so that’s a part of it. I choose when to go in and out of focus on that kind of stuff and end up taking out more after the first draft. The idea of small town’s never gets lost, but people know where they are they are in small town living. It’s a microcosm of the whole world, and when Eddy turns over a stone it’s familiar to readers. The monument crash in the book and its subsequent controversy over fixing it or not actually occurred here, and like us, there are elements that convey a bigger story about behavior and life.

AM: We see the action unfold from Eddy’s shoulder which gives the book a tremendous sense of immediacy. Despite his fall from grace that paints him as a tragic figure, he handles it all gracefully.

RF: Eddy’s a walking-around kinda guy, especially when he’s collecting meter change. When he loses his gun, it’s a metaphor for him losing face on the job that got him demoted in the first place. I like to throw everything into a chapter and then take out what’s not needed but something’s always got to be happening. There’s darkness and there should be dimensions in each chapter where something happens. I have fun writing him.

AM: “Morning is about flaws.” These lines of realism smack the reader in the face with a universal truth. Do you create them out of the writing or have them in mind first?

RF: I liked lines that resonate and have that universal truth. It’s like a filter of Life. I fit them in with when I can work them into the lines around what’s happening; it can’t be forced. But sometimes that kind of line resonates.

AM: Some of your characters are way out there, eccentric to say the least. Where does that come from?

RF: I played in a grotty urban punk band and we’d do these gigs, often in college towns, I’d meet and see so many different kinds of people, always with a nightlife I was supporting. And I like being wild, throwing in characters who are out there.

AM: You write and work but you’re very community-mnded. You work with Gaining Ground, a community farm group.

RF: My wife and I both do. It’s a 100-acre farm run by volunteers who grow and give produce to the people who need it. There’s a real give and take with the surrounding community and it’s a program that’s spread to fifteen countries.

AM: Yet you find time to write, time to volunteer, time to work at a copyediting job, and time to run the Concord Free Press.

RF: I need that job to put two daughters through college! Very few writers, unless you’re Stephen King or JK Rowling, can make a living off their writing. I have other novels (under his real name, Stona Fitch) and one was made into a movie and another optioned by Harry Connick, Jr, but only a very small percentage of writers support their families just on their writing. The Press came about from an idea, again, of giving back to the community. Fitch-Give and takeBWCHoU3kL._AA160_
Generosity is infectious and I find the whole concept fascinating. It’s an odd publishing model, Concord Free Press, with underwriting from Kodak that covers printing costs. We reach out to people and the books choose us. We ask them to let us give 3,000 copies of a book away for free and then ask the recipient to make a donation to any charity of their liking and then pass the book on. Once you take money out of the equation all things are possible. To date we’ve raised over $400,000 dollars to various charities and given the author exposure. People are reading their books who might never have seen them and readers are making donations they wouldn’t have thought about. We’d like to expand next to books out of print.

AM: What’s on your nightstand waiting to be read and who do you like in crime? And more importantly, what’s up next for Eddy Harkness?

RF: In crime, Megan Abbott’s The Fever–she’s on CFP’s editorial board. I like Alan Guthrie and Robert Parker, too. I like Jess Walter, Stephen Zweig, Martin Walser; that night stand has Bohumil Hrabel’s I Served the King of Englandand Herman Koch’s The Dinner. Eddy? In Third Rail, the fictional drug loosens people and their problems up, until they have a monumental crash. I liked that and its effects. The sequel, Dark Horse, is a tale of personal responsibility on many levels.

AM: Thanks for your time, Mr. Flynn. Now for THIRD RAIL, the first Eddy Harness novel.ThirdRail_cover_277x419
Eddy Harkness is a young detective with a sixth sense for finding hidden things: cash, drugs, guns, bodies. But Eddy’s place in an elite narcotics unit is derailed by the death of a Red Sox fan in the chaos of a World Series win, a death some feel he could have prevented. The incident is not told in great detail; just enough to interest readers and explain Eddy’s fall from grace. Eddy finds himself exiled to his hometown just outside Boston, where he empties parking meters and struggles to redeem his disgraced family name with its own history.

After a night of crazed drinking with a wild new companion, Eddy’s police-issue Glock disappears. Unable to report the theft, Eddy starts a secret search for it, using a plastic model for cover, just as a string of fatal accidents lead him to uncover a new, dangerous smart drug, Third Rail. There is a cast of characters filled with eccentricities who rival Monty Python, too. With only that plastic gun to protect him, Eddy’s investigation leads him into the darkest corners of his hometown, where it soon becomes tough to tell the politicians from the criminals. There will be death and revealed secrets as Eddy turns over stones in the town he thought he knew. With a highly developed setting, a very human protagonist, and a story that takes off from page one and never lets up until its startling finale, Third Rail readers will be looking for the next Eddy Harkness novel.

On to other recommended reads.

grimes
Martha Grimes has been off writing other novels, so her return to a Richard Jury novel after four long years is anxiously awaited in Vertigo 42. Jury as a Superintendent has more flexibility, although he still has Carole-anne Palutski as his comely upstairs neighbor. The whole eccentric crew revolving around Melrose Plant is back for a few scenes, too, although their presence has more to do with comic relief and less do with Jury’s investigation when he’s asked by an old friend to look to the death of the friend’s wife seventeen years ago.

Tess Williiamson died in a fall down stone steps at her Devon home, several years after coming under suspicion for the death of a child, there for a day’s outing with a group of other children at the home, in a similar way. Her husband, Tom, can’t believe it was accidental, or that Tess committed suicide. Tom asks Jury to look into the case, and as it falls on the turf of his friend, Brian Macalvie, only too eager to establish the real cause of death. Jury soon finds himself at the house, called Laburnum.

The scene seems staged to Jury, but then so does the death near Ardy’s house in Sidbury of a young woman who has fallen from a high tower. The Hitchcock movie “Vertigo” comes into play here. Dressed impeccably in designer clothes and shoes, the woman’s death investigation runs parallel to Jury’s old one, until a man dead from gunshots is found in an alley and things really get complicated after that.

Auntie M was happy to be with the familiar cast but the ending seemed to be almost anti-climatic, or perhaps the pace was off a tad. Whatever, it’s still a pleasure to be back with Richard Jury and his unlikely crew of friends.

Gold-Digger-Frances-Fyfield

Witness Impulse has brought out Frances Fyfield’s Gold Digger, in ebook and trade paperback, and its a tour de force from this talented writer who gets inside the psyche of her characters. Readers will also learn about the art world as that world is the pivot point of the entire plot. But it’s so much more, in the talented way Fyfield has of creating engaging and very real characters who leap off the page, all damaged by life.

Thomas Porteous sees something in the urchin Diana Quigley, who enters his house as a thief only to steal his heart and become his wife, despite a huge age difference.

Thomas is an art collector, with an eye that rivals Di’s own, and he sets about teaching her to see art and nature with new eyes. Theirs is a happy if brief marriage, and one of the highlights of the novel are Di’s descriptive cards of the paintings they share in the huge old house by the sea that was once a school.

Thomas’ first wife turned their two daughters against him in a most horrendous way, but that doesn’t stop either of the daughter’s from plotting to get their hands on what they feel is their wealth by right, instead of going to Di. Despite his best try at reconciliation before his death, his daughters abandon him until Thomas is gone. The only family member who adores him, along with Di, is one young grandson, Patrick.

Now the family has planned to rob Di and gain back what they feel is theirs, and she enlists a motley group of compatriots to help her foil their plan. Suspenseful and compelling.
DarkandTwisted
Sharon Bolton made a name for herself with engaging stand-alone suspense novels before launching her Lacey Flint series. The newest, A Dark and Twisted Tide
, shows once again why this unusual protagonist is the perfect foil for the gritty settings Bolton chooses and the unusual stories she tells.

Lacey is living on a houseboat on the Thames and starts to feel she’s becoming part of the river’s community until the shrouded body of a young woman is found in the river. She’s recently joined the marine police unit and is fast becoming used to the ins and outs of the river and its byways.

When she realizes this body has been deliberately left for her to find, Lacey knows she’s being watched. But by who and why? And with her fragile relationship with Joesbury on hold while he does undercover work, she’s feeling exposed and vulnerable.

Then someone starts leaving creepy gifts on the deck of Flint’s houseboat just as the bodies being to pile up of more young woman, garbed in the same kind of unusual shroud. That’s when her former boss Dana Tulloch gets involved and Lacey’s investigation takes on a new angle: are young women being kidnapped and kept prisoner after being lured her from places like Afghanistan? And what of the brother and sister team Lacey comes to know and befriend who live on a tributary? How are they involved? This is a first-rate mystery with all the twists and plot turns any reader could want,and a solid nail-biter ending. But it’s the characters that infuse A Dark and Twisted Tide with such heart and reality— not just the damaged Flint but her friends and colleagues as well. Highly recommended.

Jill Paton Walsh: The Late Scholar Sunday, Jul 20 2014 

Jill Paton Walsh has the daunting task of continuing the Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane mysteries in a fashion Dorothy L Sayers would have approved. After completing two unfinished Sayers’ manuscripts (Thrones, Dominations and A Presumption of Death, Paton Walsh followed with her original story The Attenbury Emeralds, and now follows it with the fourth, The Late Scholar.
PatonWalsh
Auntie M had the great good fortune to meet Paton Walsh, along with her husband, children’s literature author and world-known scholar, John Rowe Townsend, at St Hilda’s in Oxford last summer, where Paton Walsh was the keynote speaker. Townsend died this March and Paton Walsh has Auntie M’s sincerest condolences.

In her keynote speech, Paton Walsh described the joys and heartaches of publishing. A Booker-Prize nominated and Whitebread Prize-winning author of children’s books, mysteries and novels, she spoke with passion of her love for literature in all its forms, and displayed a comprehensive knowledge of its history.
the late scholar

So it is no surprise that Paton Walsh has embraced the Sayers canon and with each successive novel, drawn even closer to the originals. With this fourth incantation, The Late Scholar, she has created a love letter to Oxford in all its glory, while maintaining the personalities and charm of the original characters.

Now the Duke and Duchess of Denver, roles that do not rest easily on their shoulders, the Wimsey’s are adjusting to British life after WWII. Their son’s, Bredon and Paul, are both at prep schools and eyeing their futures in the new world order when Peter is approached by Oxford’s St Severin’s College. As Duke, he wears the title of their Visitor, the college’s royal patron, a mostly ceremonial position.

But in this instance, the college faculty and its warden have been unable to agree on whether to sell a rare manuscript in their possession to allow the purchase of land that may or may not raise enough funds to allow the college to pull out of financial hardship. According to St. Severin’s charter, the Visitor is the tie-breaker in these situations, requiring a visit to Oxford, land of both Wimsey’s alma maters. Accompanying them is Peter’s long-time butler and family friend, Bunter.

It’s a hornets nest that awaits them, as the Warden has suddenly disappeared without explanation, and faculty member starts to die by methods that echo those in Harriet’s detective novels. There are several accidents that may or may not be other attempts, and the Wimsey’s must call on old friends to get to the bottom of a very dodgy situation at the college.

It’s like coming home again for Peter and Harriet–Sayers’ fans will understand references to Gaudy Night–and they and the reader will revel in the time-honored traditions that both Wimsey’s understand only too well. The sights and feel of Oxford and its environs is captured perfectly, and anyone who has never been to Oxford should well take note: this volume will make you want to visit.

The story spins out along complicated lines, with discreet questioning and investigation on both of their parts, feeling out personalities at High Table dinners, consulting former Fellows and colleagues for gossip. Their personal lives jut in and out as well, with a surprise visit from their sons, as well as facing the aging of Peter’s mother, the beloved Dowager Duchess. The proximity of murder pushed death into their thoughts far too often, but is balanced by the romantic reminiscing of the couple.

Absolutely a must for fans of Golden Age mysteries, where Harriet Vane holds her own in what is still largely a man’s world.

World Blog Hop: The Nora Tierney Mysteries and Me Tuesday, Jul 15 2014 

My thanks to Susan Whitfield(www.susanwhitfield.blogspot.com) for inviting me to take part in this blog hop. Susan’s wonderful, wacky books can be found at http://www.susanwhitfield.com, where you’ll be able to choose from her Logan Hunter mysteries and her women’s humor in Slightly Cracked, and even a cookbook, Killer Recipes. This multi-genre writer is hard at work on a historical mystery based on a relative!

My Nora Tierney Mysteries grew out of a desire to write what I most enjoyed reading. I’ve always been drawn to the puzzle of a great mystery and spent many years reading Nancy Drew and the Golden Age writers. Despite a 30 year career in nursing, I always wrote on the side (poetry, essays, nonfiction) and within my profession, writing feature articles for a nursing journal and editing another. During the transition from nursing to writing, I snagged a job as a medical consultant at a NY studio because I knew screenplay format. This was my last nursing job and my favorite: correcting medical scenes to working onset for anything filmed in Manhattan, mostly soap operas and a few series like Law and Order. And as I did that job, I started writing interview articles for Mystery Review magazine.

I’m no a full time writer, a member of Sisters in Crime, and run the Writers Read program in Belhaven, NC. I still write poetry and essays on occasion, but my focus is the mysteries and that’s where I’ve always wanted it to be.

By the time the first Nora Tierney Mystery was published in 2010, I had worked out a story arc spanning six mysteries involving American Nora, a writer from Connecticut, who finds herself living in England and writing children’s books after a stint at a magazine not unlike People.
The Blue Virgin_cover_frontonly
In THE BLUE VIRGIN,Nora’s been living in Oxford and become friends with Val Rogan, a textile artist. When Val’s partner, Bryn Wallace, is found dead, Val becomes the prime suspect and Nora swings into action to clear her best friend, despite being in the early stages of an unplanned pregnancy. She frustrates the detective inspector on the case, Declan Barnes,too.

The Green Remains_frontcover_dark
THE GREEN REMAINS follows Nora’s move to the Lake District to work with illustrator Simon Ramsey and involves her staying at Ramsey Lodge, the inn he runs with his sister Kate. When the body of the heir to the Clarendon Estate washed up on the shore of Windermere right outside the lodge, Simon is implicated and Nora noses into the investigation, this time with almost disastrous results to her and her unborn child.

With her baby six months old, Nora is excited to have a theatre troupe arrive at Ramsey Lodge to stage Noel Coward’s farce, “Blithe Spirit.” Declan Barnes will be the only non-cast member staying at the lodge when a series of accidents and pranks escalate to murder. This time Nora’s baby is on the premises and she finagles her way into the investigation in the newly-published THE SCARLET WENCH
scarletwench_cover_front

So what’s up next for Nora? In the months after the April events of The Scarlet Wench, Nora’s taken Declan home to meet her mother and stepfather in Connecticut. The next book in the series follows their deepening relationship as Nora must decide where to make her permanent home. The book I’m writing now is titled THE GOLDEN HOUR, where Nora will be in Bath at the real bookstore Mr. B’s Reading Emporium for a reading and signing of her two children’s books when mayhem and murder follow her once again.

The series are contemporary but written in traditional English mystery style, with less stress on the violence and gore and more on the psychology of the characters. They have chapter epigrams (think: Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse) and sometimes room layout; they always have a Cast of Characters. A mix of amateur sleuth and police procedural, I’m moving Nora around England so the series won’t suffer from the “Jessica Fletcher” syndrome–how many murders can reasonably happen in one small town? I feel setting is important, too, as it’s the stage you place your characters on and affects the action, so I always start with that, as well as the victim, who is the murderer, and the all-important: WHY.

I’m not writing about serial murderers or psychopaths, although I do read those all the time for my crime fiction review blog, Auntie M Writes (www.auntiemwrites.com). I’m interested instead in seemingly average people who for one reason or another, become convinced it’s reasonable to cross that fine line and commit murder. The stories grow out of the setting, that initial murder, and the why of it all. It’s a fascinating process and as a fiction writer I’m allowed to play the WHAT IF …? game every time I sit down at the computer.

You can find my books at Bridle Path Press (www.bridlepathpress.com) and request a signed copy or autographed to a particular person. They are also on Amazon.com as trade paperback and in ebook format.

Please support the authors who will continue this blog hop on July 21st:

Melissa Westemeier: (www.melissawestemeier.blogspot.com). Green Girl in Wisconsin delights readers with her humorous and heartwarming novels. In print now are Kicks Like a Girl, and Whipped, Not Beaten.. See her site for ordering information.

Linda Lovely: (www.lindalovely.com) Linda’s books are a mix of suspense, romance, mystery and laughter. She writes the Marley Clark Mysteries, Dear Killer and No Wake Zone, and her newest title is Dead Line, Book One in her “Smart Women-Dumb Luck” series.

Malcolm Torres (www.malcolmtorres.tumblr.com

Summer Kickoff: Hannah, Casey, Dahl, Mina, Russell, French, Eriksson Sunday, Jul 13 2014 

Summer beckons with new books ready for you to investigate. Here’s some of the newest summer crop to get you started with great reads:
tellingerror
Sophie Hannah’s The Telling Error is her newest entry in the Zailer/Waterhouse series, an unconventional procedural set in England, where the action centers on a participant in the murder.

Nicki Clements is the unlikely focus pulled in for questioning after the unusual murder in her neighborhood of a controversial columnist. Nicki is an easy liar, a woman who holds secrets of her own, but she’s not a murderer. How she’s gotten herself deeply into trouble, and the reasons behind her inability to tell the truth and to fabricate stories, all converge into this tale that has the feel of a nightmare too easily imagined by the average person.

Here’s Nicki in her own words: “This is the thing about deception that some people forget: its practitioners don’t do it solely for their own sakes. Often they do it to make others happy. It’s embedded in the training programme we liars o through; we see that when we tell the truth, our instructors scowl, raise their voices, turn red in the face. Anyone who cares more about pleasing other people than about their own happiness–anyone who believes, deep down, that everyone else matters more than they do–learns fluent dishonesty at a young age.”

Award-winning Hannah has developed the art of telling a story that resonates with readers for her ability to decipher human emotions and actions. Her first Poirot novel will be published this fall.
stranger

In her fifth Maeve Kerrigan mystery, Jane Casey’s The Stranger You Know brings readers the newest case for the London detective. Three women have been brutally murdered and arranged in a ritualistic manner. Each has had her eyes cut out, their hair sheared off, and lie on a bed or flowers.

The killings echo a death from the past of Maeve’s partner, DCI Josh Derwent, the frustrating man she admires at the same time as he exasperates her with his unprofessional remarks and hot temper. Now she must decide if this man she works beside is wrongfully accused of murder–or if he’s being framed in a most horrendous manner.

A vibrant addition to the series, Kerrigan’s frailties in terms of her own relationships add to the mix.
invisible

Journalist Julia Dahl makes her crime fiction debut with the riveting Invisible City.
Using her experience in several areas, she bring to life an new protagonist readers will want to follow: Rebekah Roberts, born to a Hasidic Jewish mother from Brooklyn and the Christian preacher from Florida who raised her. Rebekah takes a job in New York to bring her closer to the mother who abandoned her as an infant, convinced her motives are to be in the center of the journalistic scene.

Working as a stringer she’s called to cover the story when the body of a Hasidic woman is found brutally murdered in a junk yard. Calling into question the NYPD’s relationship with the ultra-Orthodox community, she’s shocked to learn the woman will be buried without an autopsy, her husband never questioned by police. She’s determined to find the truth, and perhaps along the way, unravel a thread that may lead to her mother. Original and readable.

Denise Mina’s Alex Morrow series finds the mother of young twins investigating the death of a businessman, only to discover a complicated network of corruption and deceit that reaches back to the Glasgow to the night Princess Diana died, when a 14 yr old girl found herself sitting in a car with a dead body and the murder weapon in her hand.

How Morrow uncovers the real story, and finds a murderer, make for compelling reading in the unsentimental but very well-written series that never shirks at the realities in our world.
Stop Dead

Leigh Russell’s Geraldine Steel series has been reviewed here before. The newest addition, Stop Dead, finds Steel in her Met job in London, investigating the murder of a highly successful and unorthodox businessman. At first the victim’s business partner are prime suspects–until he, too, is killed in the same gruesome manner, and Morrow races to find the culprit with only one clue in hand: DNA that leads to two women, one dead and the other in prison.cold sacrifice

Russell brings back Steel’s former partner, DS Ian Peterson, in his own series in Cold Sacrifice. Still adjusting to marriage and thinking he may have made a mistake, Peterson’s newest case will take him away from his bride more than ever when three dead bodies pile up quickly. When the first victim, a middle-class housewife, is found stabbed in a nearby park, her husband comes under suspicions, but is soon cleared. That is, until the prostitute who gave him an alibi turns up dead, followed soon by the murder of another prostitute. Peterson will have his hands full trying to placate his wife at home while devoting his time to unearthing a killer.
Waiting

The husband and wife duo of Nicci French have a winner in the Frieda Klein series. Waiting for Wednesday finds a weakened Frieda recuperating from the events that ended Tuesday’s Gone and have left her with physical and emotional wounds. Then DCI Karlsson asked her insights when a health visitor and mother of three is found dead in her home, the victim of a horrific attack. When her niece befriends one of the teens left motherless, Frieda finds the answers may lie closer to home than she thinks. And she’s very aware of her own teeming emotions and fragility, which affects her impulsive actions on several fronts. Another satisfying entry in the series.
black-lies-red-blood

New to Auntie M but not new to Swedish fans everywhere, Kjell Eriksson’s Ann Lindell series brings the fifth entry, Black Lies, Red Blood. With an interesting protagonist, the female police inspector finds her newest case coming too close to home, when the journalist she’s been having an affair with is implicated in the murder of a homeless man. After his disappearance, Ann must decide if the man she’s fallen in love with could be a killer, while keeping the news of their relationship from her colleagues as she searches for another explanation. Filled with psychological and descriptive details.

Kill Call
Stephen Booth’s wonderful Fry and Cooper series returns with Kill Call,this time exploring the world of hunting and horses.

The case presents in a strange way, when on a rainy Derbyshire moor, hounds from the local foxhunt find the body of a well-dressed man whose head has been crushed. Yet an anonymous caller has reported the same body lying half a mile away.

DS Diane Fry and DC Ben Cooper investigate and find themselves embroiled in the violent world of hunting and the saboteurs against it, Throw in horse theft and a connection to the meat trade and you have a mystery. Fry tries to unwind the complex and shady business interests of the murder victim, while Cooper decided that the answer to the case just might lie deep in the past.

History is everywhere around him in the Peak District landscape — particularly in the ‘plague village’ of Eyam, where an outbreak of Black Death has been turned into a modern-day tourist attraction. Cooper can’t ignore the instinct that tells him this is at the heart of the case.

New in paperback and in ebook from Witness Impulse, one of the slower-paced books in the series but nonetheless with an interesting and arresting case to follow.

Also from Witness Impulse, the 10th Ben Cooper/Diane Fry Booth, Lost River; previously reviewed. This strong entry in the popular Peak District series revolves around a May Bank Holiday ruined by the tragic drowning of an eight-year-old girl in picturesque Dovedale. For DC Ben Cooper, a helpless witness to the tragedy, the incident is not only traumatic, but leads him to become involved in the tangled lives of the Neilds, the dead girl’s family.

Cooper begins to suspect that one of them is harbouring a secret – a secret that the whole family might be willing to cover up. DS Diane Fry finds herself drawn into an investigation of her own among the inner-city streets of Birmingham, and quickly Fry realises there is only one person she can rely on to provide the help she needs, and that’s Ben Cooper.

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