Elizabeth George: Just One Evil Act and The Edge of the Water Sunday, Aug 31 2014 

Don’t let the size of Elizabeth George’s newest Lynley-Havers novel put you off. Just One Evil Act finds her back in fine form with an engrossing read and a case that has unexpected turns and settings.JustOneEvilAct

Readers of the series know Sergeant Barbara Havers has grown fond of her neighbor, Taymullah Azhar, and his daughter, Hadiyyah. Never married to the child’s mother, Angelina had nevertheless reappeared in an previous book and charmed her way into the life of both Havers and Azhar before disappearing with the child. Havers can’t really help—Azhar had never married Angelina, and his name isn’t on Hadiyyah’s birth certificate so he has no legal claim. In desperation, Azhar and Barbara hire a private detective to find her without success.

Then Angelina reappears with shocking news: Hadiyyah is missing, kidnapped from an Italian marketplace. The Italian police are investigating, and the Yard won’t get involved–that is, until Havers takes matters into her own hands at the risk of her own career. And there’s no doubt her career is in jeopardy: Lynley’s brief affair with her superior now over, the woman seems out to end Haver’s career and a colleague gleefully assists her.

Havers travels to Italy to the town of Lucca, charmingly and faithfully described, and what she finds there will have Inspector Lynley joining her as they try to unravel what soon becomes a far more complex case than a typical kidnapping, revealing secrets that have far-reaching effects outside of the investigation. There will be disputes with the Italian police and a diabolical politician as both Havers and Lynley find themselves in unknown territory and with their authority in question. With both her job and the life of a little girl on the line, Barbara must decide what matters most, and how far she’s willing to go to protect it.

At times there seems to be no good ending for either Havers or Azhar and his daughter; and yet at the end of this book readers will feel that the resolution is the only one that could have happened.

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George has also tested the waters in the YA department with the publication of the first in a new series last year, The Edge of Nowhere, which introduced teen Becca, who has a sixth sense about people and who is on the run from her criminal stepfather. Its sequel The Edge of the Water,, finds Becca still living in secret on Whidbey Island, even hiding from her boyfriend, the Ugandan orphan Derric.

This is not as simple a book as you might expect if you’re an adult reading a novel intended for the YA audience, and there is a lot of exploration of the sex lives of teenagers. There is also a story line of a black seal named Nero who returns to the same place every year that gives a different kind of edge to the mystery which might frustrate adults reading it but Auntie M suspects it will delight YA readers.

Becca’s ability to hear people’s thoughts are there, along with a supernatural mystery and plenty of teen drama for the intended audience. The main characters’ arcs show development and the discoveries within the community are an added facet. There will be resolution to some of the issues at the end with enough open to lead YA readers to the next installment.

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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!

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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.