Audiobook Series Blog Tour: Against The Tide by Stephen Puleston

 

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Against the Tide audio 2 (1)

 

 

 

About Audiobook #3

Author: Stephen Puleston

Narrator: Richard Elfyn

Length: 10 hours 1 minute

Publisher: Stephen Puleston⎮2019

Genre: Modern Detective

Series: Inspector Drake Mysteries, Book 3

Release date: May 29, 2019

 

Synopsis: A small village is shocked when a fisherman is impaled by his own fork. And when a young girl is killed, Inspector Drake has to find what connects them.

The small rural community of the villages of the island of Anglesey have a secret to protect. The dead man owns land connected to the development of a nuclear power station, so somebody wants him dead very badly.

Is the young girl’s death connected to the fisherman’s murder? 

Is it simply money at stake? Or are there more complex motives involved? And with the proposed nuclear power station causing massive controversy, the local community is reluctant to share its secrets. 

And how far will people go to protect their way of life and language?

Grab your copy of Against the Tide today because we all love a fast-paced mystery.

 

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The crimes that Inspector Drake has to solve in this series are utterly complex and leaves me scratching my head every time. Crime writer Stephen Puleston weaves a tight plot in every book for the reader’s journey. I was secretly hoping that Drake’s marriage would be salvaged at some point, but to no avail. I could feel the deep seated tension between the two. Good book.

 

 

 

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Author Stephen Puleston

 

 

About the Author: Stephen Puleston

I write crime fiction based in Wales and about Wales. The rural landscape of north Wales provides the backdrop to the Inspector Drake novels. And Cardiff, the capital of Wales, provides the setting for the Inspector Marco novels set in a modern urban environment.

I love the novels of Raymond Chandler, Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham, Henning Mankell, Val McDermid – the list could go on! And I enjoy watching detective series on the television the recent Hinterland series based near Aberystwyth in Wales was great. One of my favourites is the French series Spiral but The Bridge and Broadchurch and the Rebus series with Ken Stott and Kenneth Branagh in Wallander are great too.

I was born in Anglesey an island off the north Wales coast and after leaving school in Holyhead I went to University in London before training as a solicitor/lawyer. I practised in a small family business doing criminal work in the magistrates and crown courts, divorce and family work.

I still live on Anglesey, North Wales near the beach and the mountains of Snowdonia.

 

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Narrator Richard E

 

 

About the Narrator: Richard Elfyn

Richard Elfyn is a hugely experienced and talented actor with film credits including APOSTLE, MARIAH MUNDI AND THE MIDAS BOX, THE KILLER ELITE and THE DARK. TV credits include THE CROWN, KEEPING FAITH, HINTERLAND, EMMERDALE and STELLA and numerous leading regular roles for S4C including political drama BYW CELWYDD. Richard is regularly heard on BBC Radio 4 dramas and is a highly skilled voice over artist. He has re-voiced many Welsh language versions of popular animations including FIREMAN SAM, BEN 10 and SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS.

 

 

 

The Inspector Drake Mystery Blog Tour: Worse Than Dead by Stephen Puleston

 

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Worse than Dead Puleston audio

 

 

About Audiobook #2

Author: Stephen Puleston
Narrator: Richard Elfyn
Length: 10 hours 20 minutes
Publisher: Stephen Puleston⎮2019
Genre: Modern Detective
Series: Inspector Drake Mysteries, Book 2
Release date: Jan. 25, 2019

Synopsis: A ferry leaves Dublin….
The chief engineer lies dead on the car deck….
There’s a killer on board….

Inspector Drake is called from a seminar on cybercrime to meet the ferry docking at the
port of Holyhead. Frank Rosen, the chief engineer, lies on the car deck, a knife through his heart. For the first time, Drake knows where the killer is, but he doesn’t know who. When Rosen’s house is ransacked the night after he’s killed, Drake knows the killer was looking for something. The data stick Rosen’s wife finds may hold the clues. But the codes and numbers on it only complicate the investigation. And then Drake’s cousin makes contact and tells him he has information. But can Drake rely on him, or does he have another agenda? And when the team discover a direct link to drug dealing in North Wales and beyond, there are powerful forces at work.

Drake’s cousin drags Drake’s family into the middle of the case that piles the pressure on
Drake, who’s facing regular counseling for his OCD and the prospect of losing his father to cancer. When Drake’s superior demotes him and acts entirely against protocols, Drake
knows that something is wrong. Establishing the evidence takes him to Dublin and Cardiff and then on a last minute chase over North Wales to catch the killer.

 

Buy Links for Audiobook #2

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Inspector Drake returns in Worse than Dead in book two of the series. Stephen Puleston pens another complex crime mystery that’s worthy of television series. You could say Inspector Drake is like the British version of the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly. Both are excellent well rounded stories that’ll keep you head spinning until the very end.

 

 

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Author Stephen Puleston

 

 

About the Author: Stephen Puleston

I write crime fiction based in Wales and about Wales. The rural landscape of north Wales provides the backdrop to the Inspector Drake novels. And Cardiff, the capital of Wales, provides the setting for the Inspector Marco novels set in a modern urban environment.

I love the novels of Raymond Chandler, Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham, Henning Mankell, Val McDermid – the list could go on! And I enjoy watching detective series on the television the recent Hinterland series based near Aberystwyth in Wales was great. One of my favourites is the French series Spiral but The Bridge and Broadchurch and the Rebus series with Ken Stott and Kenneth Branagh in Wallander are great too.

I was born in Anglesey an island off the north Wales coast and after leaving school in Holyhead I went to University in London before training as a solicitor/lawyer. I practised in a small family business doing criminal work in the magistrates and crown courts, divorce and family work.

I still live on Anglesey, North Wales near the beach and the mountains of Snowdonia.

 

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Narrator Richard E

 

 

About the Narrator: Richard Elfyn

Richard Elfyn is a hugely experienced and talented actor with film credits including APOSTLE, MARIAH MUNDI AND THE MIDAS BOX, THE KILLER ELITE and THE DARK. TV credits include THE CROWN, KEEPING FAITH, HINTERLAND, EMMERDALE and STELLA and numerous leading regular roles for S4C including political drama BYW CELWYDD. Richard is regularly heard on BBC Radio 4 dramas and is a highly skilled voice over artist. He has re-voiced many Welsh language versions of popular animations including FIREMAN SAM, BEN 10 and SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audiobook Blog Tour Series: Brass In Pocket Inspector Drake #1 by Stephen Puleston

 

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Brass in Pocket Puleston audio

 

 

About Audiobook #1

Author: Stephen Puleston

Narrator: Richard Elfyn

Length: 10 hours 10 minutes

Publisher: Stephen Puleston⎮2018

Genre: Modern Detective

Series: Inspector Drake Mysteries, Book 1

Release date: Oct. 26, 2018

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: It is the middle of the night….

The road is deserted….

A killer is waiting….

Two traffic officers are killed on an isolated mountain pass in North Wales. Inspector Drake is called to the scene and quickly discovers a message left by the killer – traffic cones in the shape of a number four. The killer starts sending the Wales Police Service lyrics from famous rock songs. Are they messages, or is there some hidden meaning in them? Does it all mean more killings are likely? 

When a politician is killed, Drake has his answer. And then the killer sends more song lyrics. Now Drake has to face the possibility of more deaths, but with numbers dominating the case, Drake has to face his own rituals and obsessions. Finally, when the killer threatens Drake and his family, he faces his greatest challenge in finding the killer before he strikes again.

 

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If you read a book by Stephen Puleston you’re going to get a solid story. Brass in Pocket is a traditional detective mystery, and excellent British crime thriller starring Inspector Ian Drake. I haven’t digested a British crime book in a while, so this was quite refreshing. The audiobook production, sound quality, narration by Richard Elfyn were nothing less than spectacular. Now I’m on to book #2! WORSE THAN DEAD.

 

 

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*What do you enjoy most about writing crime fiction?

As I write a series involving Inspector Drake I enjoy developing his character and family life alongside the hurdles he faces day to day with the challenging and changing world of fighting crime. Crime fiction also gives me the opportunity to develop current themes faced in society today.

 

 

*What were your inspirations for creating Detective Ian Drake?

I’ve read a lot of the years and there isn’t one thing that inspired me other than a love of crime/mystery fiction and a desire to write a good story. I have a background in the law so I draw a lot on my work in the criminal courts and doing divorce work for inspiration. My home country Wales also gives me great inspiration for the background and setting of the books. 

 

 

*Who are your favorite detectives?

I enjoy a wide ranging and varied writers. Philip Marlowe must rank as one of the great fictional creations as the classic hard-boiled detective. I am a great fan of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch too. In the UK I would have to say that John Rebus by Ian Rankin is one of my favourites – grumpy and irascible but determined too. And for great detective drama I think Spiral from France and Craith/Hidden from Wales are top class.

 

 

*What was the best feedback you’ve received from readers?

The feedback I most enjoyed was from a reader in the outback of Australia who lives in a remote location and loved being able to learn about Wales from reading my books.

 

 

*What was it like preparing for an audiobook production? 

Great fun! I enjoyed preparing the spreadsheet of characters with various accents for the narrator and coordinating all the arrangements for the production with the studio.

 

 

*What do you think about experiencing audiobooks as a different medium than paperbacks, or ebooks?

In many ways audiobooks complement ebooks – using Amazon’s whisper sync technology allows you to move from ebook to audiobook without loosing your place. And that should encourage reading, which can only be a good thing. And audio books are a performance in themselves which make them a different sort of experience altogether.

 

 

Author Stephen Puleston

 

 

 

About the Author: Stephen Puleston

I write crime fiction based in Wales and about Wales. The rural landscape of north Wales provides the backdrop to the Inspector Drake novels. And Cardiff, the capital of Wales, provides the setting for the Inspector Marco novels set in a modern urban environment.

I love the novels of Raymond Chandler, Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham, Henning Mankell, Val McDermid – the list could go on! And I enjoy watching detective series on the television the recent Hinterland series based near Aberystwyth in Wales was great. One of my favourites is the French series Spiral but The Bridge and Broadchurch and the Rebus series with Ken Stott and Kenneth Branagh in Wallander are great too.

I was born in Anglesey an island off the north Wales coast and after leaving school in Holyhead I went to University in London before training as a solicitor/lawyer. I practised in a small family business doing criminal work in the magistrates and crown courts, divorce and family work.

I still live on Anglesey, North Wales near the beach and the mountains of Snowdonia.

 

WebsiteTwitterFacebook

 

 

 

 

Narrator Richard E

 

 

About the Narrator: Richard Elfyn

Richard Elfyn is a hugely experienced and talented actor with film credits including APOSTLE, MARIAH MUNDI AND THE MIDAS BOX, THE KILLER ELITE and THE DARK. TV credits include THE CROWN, KEEPING FAITH, HINTERLAND, EMMERDALE and STELLA and numerous leading regular roles for S4C including political drama BYW CELWYDD. Richard is regularly heard on BBC Radio 4 dramas and is a highly skilled voice over artist. He has re-voiced many Welsh language versions of popular animations including FIREMAN SAM, BEN 10 and SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Robert McCaw Author of Off The Grid

 

Off the Grid Koa Kane

 

 

A scrap of cloth fluttering in the wind leads Hilo police Chief Detective Koa Kāne to the tortured remains of an unfortunate soul, left to burn in the path of an advancing lava flow. For Koa, it’s the second gruesome homicide of the day, and he soon discovers the murders are linked. These grisly crimes on Hawaiʻi’s Big Island could rewrite history―or cost Chief Detective Koa Kāne his career.

The dead, a reclusive couple living off the grid, turn out to be mysterious fugitives. The CIA, the Chinese government, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, attempt to thwart Koa’s investigation and obscure the victims’ true identities. Undeterred by mounting political pressure, Koa pursues the truth only to find himself drawn into a web of international intrigue.

While Koa investigates, the Big Island scrambles to prepare for the biggest and most explosive political rally in its history. Despite police resources stretched to the breaking point, Koa uncovers a government conspiracy so shocking its exposure topples senior officials far beyond Hawaii’s shores.

 

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Author Interview

 

How did the idea for Off the Grid begin?

Three disparate threads came together to inspire Off The Grid. First, my wife and I bought a painting from an artist who lived in a ramshackle house deep in the forest near the nearly off the grid village of Volcano, Hawaii. Visiting her home, stuffed with all manner of eclectic objects of dubious aesthetics, made me think I’d stumbled into a writer’s dream. That the artist’s husband had some kind of clandestine military background only further sparked my interest.

Second, one night my wife and I drove up to our favorite local restaurant in Hawi, a small town on the northwest coast of the Big Island, only to find it permanently closed because law enforcement authorities had arrested the proprietor as a fugitive from justice. My subsequent research established that he was far from the only wanted man to have been caught hiding out on the Big Island.

Lastly, I am an avid reader of the international press and had become fascinated by one of the most bizarre, unexplained misadventures in contemporary military history. No spoilers here. So voila! I had fugitives from a bizarre international incident living off the grid in rural Hawaii. All I had to do was find a unique way to imagine their deaths and unleash my chief detective on the case.

 

 

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What was your process for creating characters such as detective Koa Kāne?

Creating Koa Kāne involved an iterative process. Given my legal background and expertise, I wanted a character who would work with a prosecutor. Thus, Koa became a police detective. The story is set in Hawaii and draws on Hawaiian history, culture, and language. To effectively relate the culture and language, I wanted Koa to be Hawaiian. Like all good protagonists, he had to have a compelling backstory—one that drove his passion for justice. As a criminal lawyer, I have long been fascinated with the ways that people’s secret criminal acts shape their behavior. Regret, fear, guilt are powerful emotions that drive people to both good and bad ends. A cop with a deadly secret in his past provided lots of interesting hooks for a murder mystery. Thus, Koa became the killer turned cop with a potent passion to extract justice.

 

 

 

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If you were to describe him, what are some of his characteristics?

Koa is smart and tenacious, but driven by remorse and guilt for having killed a man. Having escaped punishment for his crime, he is highly suspicious and paranoid about being conned, the way he deceived the police who investigated his crime. He is Hawaiian to the core, with a deep knowledge and appreciation of Hawaiian history and culture, but also worldly because of his military service. Viewing most politicians as disingenuous, he avoids getting involved in politics wherever possible, although he doesn’t fear confrontation when politicians attempt to impede his work. As the oldest living Kāne male, he is devoted to his family, especially his mother and sister, but deeply troubled by the disturbed and criminal behavior of his youngest brother. A loyal friend, his relationships with people run deep as exemplified by his bond with his giant fisherman buddy Hook Hao. He inspires loyalty in others, particularly Zeke Brown, the Hawaii county prosecutor. Ever playful with his girlfriend Nālani, he is proud of her expertise and accomplishments as a biologist and national park ranger.

 

 

 

Was it difficult writing about a police procedural?

Writing a police procedural required much research, but involved much fun. There are many tools available to writers. In my professional life, I had considerable experience with the legal side of criminal procedure, including warrants, searches, interrogations, prosecutors, grand juries, indictments, trials, and incarceration. I have used forensic text books, police equipment catalogues, and interviews with police officers to learn the more nitty-gritty side of police work. In this respect the annual Writer’s Police Academy, where federal, state, and local law enforcement officers teach police procedures was invaluable. 

 

 

 

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What kind of political pressure does Koa Kane face when he begins to uncover the truth?

Although Hilo is a small town, it has a political elite that cherishes and nurtures power. Koa, on the other hand, grew up dirt poor and pulled himself up through tenacious hard work, and is driven by remorse and guilt to find justice for the victims of crime. He has little patience for politics and believes that the rich and famous commit just as many crimes as the poor and downtrodden. These differing perspectives create conflicts when Koa’s investigations touch on the political powerful or their wealthy constituents, especially because his police chief is close to, and protective of, the mayor.

 

 

 

What was your experience coming up with the plot for Off the Grid?

I knew from the outset how I wanted to begin Off The Grid and I also knew the general shape of the ending. I’ve heard other authors say that it’s the middle part of a novel where you find out if you really have an interesting story. So it was with Off The Grid. I also wanted to fashion a multi-layered mystery, and so Koa first follows a string of clues to the identity of the initially unidentified victims. As he solves that mystery, he must discover and pursue the killers, yet that too leads to yet another question—who is the mastermind behind it all. And why?

 

 

 

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Why did you pick Hawaii for the setting?

I first went to the Big Island of Hawaii in 1986 and fell in love with the mountains and incredibly varied landscapes and climates. When most people think of Hawaii, its beaches and palm trees come to mind, but the Big Island has much more—rain forests, cattle ranches, and alpine climates to name but a few of its charms. Mauna Kea reaches 14,000 feet above sea level and was once glaciated during the ice ages. It still collects several feet of snow most winters. The day atop the mountain arise before sunlight touches the rest of the island and the sun set on the land below before it fades from the mountain top. If the weather is right you can stand on the beach, looking up through the palm trees to see the snow-capped peak of Mauna Kea turn red at sunset.

I was lucky enough to meet real Hawaiians who shared their knowledge of this most special island. The land, its unique history, the culture of its people, and their language fascinated me. I quickly learned that there are two Hawaiis—the “tourist” Hawaii, largely manufactured by a sophisticated PR machine, and the real Hawaii, largely hidden from the tourists. In many ways, Hawaii itself, the real Hawaii, became one of the most important characters in Off The Grid.

 

 

 

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What are some interesting facts you discovered in your research?

The ancient Hawaiians were great environmentalist. They imposed taboos restricting certain kinds of fishing during certain times of the year. They also created substantial aquaculture projects, raising fish in salt water ponds connected to the ocean. Their dry land farming systems produced surplus crops.

Lacking a written language, the ancient Hawaiians became great story tellers, not unlike the great epic poets of Greek and Roman antiquity, capturing their genealogical history in long poems, memorizing navigational information in chants, and explaining natural phenomena through legendary gods and goddesses.

Western businessmen—mostly sugar, pineapple, and cattle barons—spent years undermining the Hawaiian monarchy, whose sovereignty was recognized by the United States and many other nations, before these ruthless entrepreneurs staged a coup d’état, resulting in the expropriation of the Hawaiian Islands by the United States. For almost a hundred years thereafter, Hawaiians were forbidden to speak their native language in schools or government.

 

 

 

What were some challenges you faced while writing this book?

The biggest challenge that I faced, and the biggest challenge for most emerging authors, was finding a publisher. In today’s post-Amazon, super competitive publishing world, that is a tremendous obstacle for most emerging authors. I was extraordinarily fortunate to find Mel Parker, of Mel Parker Books, LLC, who became my agent and found a great publisher, Oceanview Publishing, for my book. Connecting with Oceanview Publishing has offered a second huge benefit. They have contracted to publish my third book—Fire and Vengeance—in 2020.

 

 

 

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What’s the best thing about being a writer?

As a lawyer I was always more or less constrained by the provable facts. A novelist’s freedom to invent stories and modify facts gets the creative juices flowing. Good review are also nice! But perhaps the most rewarding aspect of being a writer is to encounter the individual reader who says “I really liked your story!”

 

 

What kind of advice would you give to a new writer?

First, write what you know and love. Never attempt to jump on a “trend.” By the time your book gets written, edited, and published, the “trend” you sought to emulate will have passed into the dustbin. Second, find a good editor, one who will look at the substance of your story as well as the grammar and spelling. The exchange of ideas with a skillful editor will improve your work a hundred fold.

 

 

 

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Do you have any favorite quotes?

I will share four of my favorites quotes about truth.

“Truth never damages a cause that is just.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

“In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth
sounds like a pistol shot.” ― Czesław Miłosz

“It takes two to speak the truth—one to speak, and another to hear.” Thoreau: A Week on the Concord and Marrimack Rivers

“History warns us that it is the customary fate of a new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions.” T. H. Huxley: The Coming of Age of “The Origins of Species”

 

 

 

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Robert B. McCaw, a seasoned attorney and veteran of many headline-grabbing cases, blends his decades-old passion for Hawaiian history with a life-long enthusiasm for crime fiction to create the compelling protagonist, Chief Detective Koa Kāne, in Death of a Messenger. A former US Army officer and judicial clerk at the US Supreme Court, McCaw’s firsthand military experience, legal expertise, and immersion in all things Hawaiian lend the characters in this richly layered thriller unparalleled authenticity. An avid photographer and part-time resident of the Big Island since the 1990s, he and his wife split their time between New York and Hawaii.

Death of a Messenger is the first novel of the Koa Kāne Hawaiian Mystery series.

 

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Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: A Death in Duck by Mindy Quigley

 

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A Death in Duck Lindsay Harding

 

 

About Audiobook #2

Author: Mindy Quigley

Narrator: Holly Adams

Length: 9 hours 13 minutes

Publisher: Mindy Quigley⎮2015

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Series: Lindsay Harding Mysteries, Book 2

Release date: Dec. 22, 2015

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: With the new year approaching, hospital chaplain Lindsay Harding heads for a much-needed break in the peaceful resort town of Duck on North Carolina’s outer banks. Her plan to attend the wedding of her friend, Anna, runs aground when a boatload of trouble washes ashore, and as the old year ticks down, the body count goes up. Thrust into the path of an increasingly desperate killer, Lindsay must uncover a sinister secret before she winds up swimming with the fishes.

 

Old family scandals, sunken World War II U-boats, obscene desserts, and a stolen Doberman all guarantee a far from restful break for the irreverent reverend, who makes her second appearance in this lively mystery.

 

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Author Mindy Quigley can tell a really good story. Between the first book and this one, A Death in Duck, is the stronger story in my opinion. More cohesive, strong motivations, multiple layers of conflict, subplots, tension, family drama and a good villain. Or, you could sum it all up in a few words—Good storytelling. Great, storytelling actually.

 

 

 

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Author Interview

 

How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters? 

In my second book, A Death in Duck, there are a few characters who speak with an Outer Banks (of North Carolina) accent. That accent is a trip! It sounds like an Irish accent and a Southern accent had a baby, and that baby was born with a mouth full of marbles. 🙂 Holly and I talked a lot about how to render it accurately, but still make it understandable for the purposes of the recording.

 

 

Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you? 

I know this is cliche, but OMG the Harry Potter audiobooks narrated by Jim Dale are THE BEST. I also quite liked Eddie Izzard’s reading of Great Expectations. I knew Izzard as a quirky comedian who often performed in drag, so I was extra impressed by his skill as a narrator.

For me, a good audiobook is all about the sharpness of the characterizations. With the Dale and Izzard readings, you can tell who’s speaking almost as if you were listening to dozens of actors rather than just one.

 

 

If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go? 

I’ve seen enough sci-fi movies and TV shows to know that time travel always ends badly. I’ll have to be content with time traveling through books and movies, because I sure as heck am not going to be the one responsible for setting off a catastrophic chain of events by accidentally stepping on a butterfly in 1722.

 

 

What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?

That question is best answered by punching those dumb-dumbs in the face. Seriously, though, whatever way someone chooses to inject narrative content into their brains is okay by me. Some people have long commutes, and audiobooks provide a great companion. Some people, like my grandmother, have vision impairments that prevent them from reading. Audiobooks are her lifeline. Personally, I love reading, listening to audiobooks, and watching movies and TV shows. I even like hearing storytellers at events and festivals. A great story is a great story, no matter how it gets from one person to another.

 

 

How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?

I never really feel like writing projects are finished, so I don’t celebrate. I mean, are you supposed to celebrate when you finish the draft? The corrections? Submit it to your agent? Return the page proofs? See it in print? Register your first sale? Get your first review? I’d be hungover for months, if not years!

I just finished a full draft of a middle-grade novel I’m working on, and I’ll tell you exactly how I celebrated. I went into the bathroom, where my husband was brushing his teeth and said, “Well, I think I’m done with that book I’ve been working on for three years.” We high-fived and then went to bed. 

 

 

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About the Author: Mindy Quigley

 

Mindy Quigley is the author of the Mount Moriah cozy mystery series, which is based in part on her time working with the chaplains at Duke University Medical Center. Her short stories have won awards including the 2013 Bloody Scotland Short Story Competition and the 2018 Artemis Journal/Lightbringer Prize. Her non-writing career has been stranger than fiction, taking her from the US to the UK, where she worked as the personal assistant to the scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep, and as project manager for a research clinic founded by the author J.K. Rowling.

She now lives in Blacksburg, Virginia, with her Civil War history professor husband, their children, and their idiosyncratic miniature Schnauzer. 

 

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About the Narrator: Holly Adams

An actress and physical theatre performer for many years before becoming a Voice Actor, Holly continues to divide her time between stage, screen, circus, and audiobook narration. 

Holly began her VO career doing radioplays and audiobook characters with the amazing Full Cast Audio company. Since then, Holly has voiced radio and web commercials, various e-learning projects, documentary shorts. . . and of course, audiobooks! She has been nominated for Best Fiction and Best Female Narrator.  Holly has conservatory training; her attention to tone, energy and rhythm make her work personal and dynamic. Holly’s performance projects abroad (Italy, Afghanistan, Haiti, Russia, the UK, France, and the Middle East!) support her training and skill with dialects and languages.

 Holly records for Audible, Deyan Audio, Christian Audiobooks, Tantor, and more. Holly loves telling stories!

When she’s not in the recording studio, she is on stage or screen; favorite projects include Richard II, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, the films “Here Alone”, “Gotham Blue” and “Your Loving, Virginia”, working with girls in Kabul for the Afghan Children’s Circus and with  performers in Balan, Haiti, as well as with her ‘home circus’ Circus Culture. Holly is a SAG-AFTRA performer, a graduate of the International Dell ‘Arte School, and holds a Master’s in Theatre, Education and Social Change. Https://shearwaterproductions.com/voice-actor and on IMDb as Holly Adams III.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour: A Murder in Mount Moriah by Mindy Quigley

 

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About Audiobook #1

 

Author: Mindy Quigley

Narrator: Holly Adams

Length: 9 hours 36 minutes

Publisher: Mindy Quigley⎮2015

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Series: Lindsay Harding Mysteries, Book 1

Release date: Apr. 15, 2015

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: From award-winning mystery writer Mindy Quigley comes a hilarious tale of small-town intrigue and big-time crime.

For hospital chaplain Lindsay Harding, facing death is part of the job. After all she spends her working days comforting sick and dying patients. But when the annual Civil War reenactment in her hometown of Mount Moriah, North Carolina, produces a real casualty, the Grim Reaper suddenly gets a little too close for comfort. With the clock ticking, the police struggle to unravel how and why a beloved local reenactor was shot in front of hundreds of onlookers. As fingers point and tempers flare, another victim ends up laid out on Lindsay’s front porch.

Lindsay’s life is in danger, but her efforts to expose the century-old sins that lie at the heart of the mystery are undermined by her disastrous love life, her no-good mother, and a ninja-like squirrel – not to mention the small matter of a dangerous killer who’ll stop at nothing to keep a sinister secret. Will courage, curiosity, and Lindsay’s irreverent brand of religion be enough to catch the killer before she becomes the next victim?

 

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There’s good books, great books, thrilling and exceptionally well written ones–but not all have what I call, the ENTERTAINMENT FACTOR. That’s why I love when I come across one. Insert Mindy Quigley’s Mount Moriah series starring ultra-adorable Lindsay Harding. What an adventurous romp! I just finished the first book in the series, A Murder in Mount Moriah and it was a hilariously entertaining mystery. This was the audiobook version narrated by Holly Adams. When you listen to her skillfully characterize each person with distinct southern accents, it adds stunning depth to an already amazing story. Don’t miss out on this series!

 

 

Author Interview

 

Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing? 

Not remotely. Audible was still a fairly young company when I started writing the first book, and it wasn’t really on my radar screen. For a while, Amazon had a program where they offered to cover the costs for authors to have their books made into audiobooks using professional actors and production staff. I was lucky enough to be selected for that program. 

Can I admit something terrible? As an author, you face so much rejection, so it was pretty great to have the tables turned. I got to audition narrators, negotiate terms, and make the ultimate decisions. It was an awesome experience to have the buck stop with me for a change!

 

 

How did you select your narrator?

I received dozens of audition tapes and had started to make a short list of possible narrators. When I heard Holly Adams’ audition, however, it went right to the top of the list. Her command of her voice–tone, accent, humor, diction–just blew away the competition.

 

 

Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing? 

The fact that my main characters are ministers and chaplains was drawn from real life. Two of my college roommates went on to become ministers, which was strange given that we didn’t go to a religious college and neither of them had particularly religious upbringings. My two roommates now provide wonderful, heartfelt pastoral care, all while taking irreverence to new and hilarious heights—traits I stole for Lindsay. 

Having been young women in our late teens and early twenties together helped me to see that ministers really are just humans, prone to all the same flaws and worries as anybody else. When you’ve seen someone eating dry pancake mix straight out of the box with a spoon, it really takes them off their pedestal. 

For the sake of my poor mother, I should take this opportunity to clarify that my main character’s mother, a no-good criminal sleazebag, is NOT based on her.

 

 

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About the Author: Mindy Quigley

 

Mindy Quigley is the author of the Mount Moriah cozy mystery series, which is based in part on her time working with the chaplains at Duke University Medical Center. Her short stories have won awards including the 2013 Bloody Scotland Short Story Competition and the 2018 Artemis Journal/Lightbringer Prize. Her non-writing career has been stranger than fiction, taking her from the US to the UK, where she worked as the personal assistant to the scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep, and as project manager for a research clinic founded by the author J.K. Rowling.

She now lives in Blacksburg, Virginia, with her Civil War history professor husband, their children, and their idiosyncratic miniature Schnauzer. 

 

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About the Narrator: Holly Adams

An actress and physical theatre performer for many years before becoming a Voice Actor, Holly continues to divide her time between stage, screen, circus, and audiobook narration. 

Holly began her VO career doing radioplays and audiobook characters with the amazing Full Cast Audio company. Since then, Holly has voiced radio and web commercials, various e-learning projects, documentary shorts. . . and of course, audiobooks! She has been nominated for Best Fiction and Best Female Narrator.  Holly has conservatory training; her attention to tone, energy and rhythm make her work personal and dynamic. Holly’s performance projects abroad (Italy, Afghanistan, Haiti, Russia, the UK, France, and the Middle East!) support her training and skill with dialects and languages.

 Holly records for Audible, Deyan Audio, Christian Audiobooks, Tantor, and more. Holly loves telling stories!

When she’s not in the recording studio, she is on stage or screen; favorite projects include Richard II, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, the films “Here Alone”, “Gotham Blue” and “Your Loving, Virginia”, working with girls in Kabul for the Afghan Children’s Circus and with  performers in Balan, Haiti, as well as with her ‘home circus’ Circus Culture. Holly is a SAG-AFTRA performer, a graduate of the International Dell ‘Arte School, and holds a Master’s in Theatre, Education and Social Change. Https://shearwaterproductions.com/voice-actor and on IMDb as Holly Adams III.

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Mysteries with Author L. A. Chandlar

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About L.A.  Chandlar

LA CHANDLAR is a 2019 Agatha nominated, National Best Selling author with Kensington Publishing. Her debut novel, The Silver Gun – Book One in the Art Deco Mystery Series debuted in 2017. The Gold Pawn (Best Historical Agatha Nominated) released 2019, and Book 3, The Pearl Dagger, releases August 2019. Laurie takes a fresh look at the innovative and artful side of 1930s New York City and features Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. Laurie lives in New York City with her family.

 

 

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Interview

 

What do you enjoy most about writing historical mysteries?

  •       I love bringing into play a larger picture of the culture or the era. I feel like we learn about history in pockets and it’s so fun to learn about what was going on at the same time. For instance, we all know about the famous crash of the Hindenburg, but most of us don’t know it was tooling around back and forth across the Atlantic frequently. So it was a part of the New York City skies quite a lot. It’s also why I love to bring in cameo appearances of famous people, often before they were household names.

 

 

How long did it take you to write your first book?

  •       The first one was hard to figure out timing. I got the idea for the series right after I moved to New York City and we decided to start having children. Needless to say, I had a hard time carving out the hours to write. But I could read, so for a long time, I immersed myself in 1930s history and biographies of Fiorello La Guardia. By the time I figured out how writing works for me personally, because we are all unique and there’s no formula, then it went fast because I’d developed so much. It took about six months to write the first draft of The Silver Gun (of course that was after about seven years of research! Lol).   

 

 

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Describe the historical background of New York during your story.

  •       What I love most about this series, is the fact that often the 1930s is overshadowed by the Depression, and I show a different side. People automatically think soup lines and shanty towns. But despite all that, the thirties was a vibrant time full of innovation, women’s rights, art, humor… In some ways I feel like the 1920s and 30s were more modern and more like today than the 1940s and 50s. I think we regressed in some ways. Women were rising to prominent positions in the workplace before World War II and the lively spirit of Mayor La Guardia is inspiring. And funny! The humor of the time and of the mayor specifically is what I really love. So my protagonist is the top aide of the mayor’s, and through the story and through her perspective, I try to exemplify those qualities that I think our time has forgotten. The art and architecture of the time was vibrant and engaging, the cocktails were numerous and freeing right after Prohibition ended, and the era was smack dab in the middle of the two world wars. Yet, the beauty even in the midst of adversity was staggering. I think that’s why most people know what Art Deco is. For those two short decades, the art was distinctive and memorable.

 

 

 

 

 

Why are they called the Art Deco mysteries?

  •       Well of course they take place during the Art Deco era, and those words “Art Deco Mysteries” evokes that exact time frame. But it was also suitable because I wanted to show the vibrancy of art in that era (and in general). I have a piece of art in the background of each story that comes alongside a character as they navigate the mystery. I love those deeper levels, and I choose things that are rather unknown, or seen in a unique way. In The Silver Gun, Lane Sanders, the protagonist, comes across an old artist’s journal. The artist is a household name today, but then was not. In The Gold Pawn, Lane and later a villain, come across a famous classic novel that everyone knows but surprisingly few have actually read. And in The Pearl Dagger is my absolute favorite! In 1936 Orson Welles as part of the Federal Works Project, creates the first all-black theater cast and they perform Macbeth. They set the eerie play with a jungle and skeleton-esque stage. It was called Voodoo Macbeth. It was wildly successful, sold out ten weeks in a row and toured the country. I would do anything to go back in time to see it first-hand.

 

 

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Who is Lane Sanders and what is she struggling with during The Gold Pawn?

  •       Lane Sanders is the aide to the ninety-ninth mayor of New York City, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. In The Silver Gun, Lane realizes that her own history is full of questions and secrets. So in The Gold Pawn she has to face the ghosts of her past and wrestle with not only the dark parts of her family history, but the darkness within herself. An actual gold pawn is the death card of a famous crime network boss and the entire book is about that pawn as they unravel the mystery to discover not just what that pawn means, but who is the player and who is the pawn.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s her occupation and what was it like in the 1930’s?

  •       As aide to the mayor, she handles secretarial duties, press releases and is generally a sounding board to the mayor. Lane was raised by her aunt, an artist and philanthropist. So her upbringing makes her more worldly and ahead of her time, but like the artists were in the Belle Époque era and in the Village downtown in the twenties and thirties. So Lane is more progressive than many women then in some ways, but I portrayed her as someone whom Gertrude Stein or Dorothy Parker would have raised. She does face in the office some fanny pats and degrading things of that sort, that I remember my mother and her friends having to face. In fact there’s a scene where Lane takes one of the handsy guys to task, and the setting was from a story my mom told me, but Lane’s reaction is what many of us women are prepared to do in the subway now. Let’s just say she utilizes those high heels of hers very well. Lane also sees herself as a self-proclaimed investigative reporter. And everything she does on a day to day basis in the stories is often accurate from articles about the mayor’s office and the fact that none of the reporters could keep up with him. There are so many articles that proclaim the insufficient number of adjectives and storm superlatives to describe Fiorello.

 

 

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What’s a typical writing day like for you?

  •       Right now I do most of my writing in the mornings after my kids go to school. The first book was writing primarily at night after everyone else went to bed. I think writers need to continually flex with what works in different seasons. I had a harder year with the death of my father, and honestly, I was exhausted physically and emotionally. And yet, you still have to work, you still have to feed the kids, pay the bills… But my regular routines just didn’t work. I ended switching around the day and had an hour or so here or there to literally do nothing. I could watch TV or nap or whatever. Because if I didn’t do that, the rest of my time was fruitless.

 

 

What role does the setting play in the Art Deco mysteries?

  •       The setting is mainly New York City and Lane adores the city. It becomes another character. And the setting is what makes the story a world. I love it when I read a book and when I’m finished, I miss that world. A book can have an excellent plot, but if I don’t miss the world, I probably won’t read it again. So I hope that the city and its spontaneous capacity for beauty and excitement, along with Lane’s family life with her Aunt Evelyn, really make people enjoy diving into the books.

 

 

How’s the writing going for the Pearl Dagger?

  •       It’s great! It releases August 27th and I just finished up the last edits.

 

 

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What can you tell us about the plot and the crime syndicate?

  •       At the end of The Gold Pawn, it is revealed who is behind the major crime syndicate. But at the beginning of The Pearl Dagger, the main characters don’t know yet. So it created a very fun writing situation wherein the reader is more informed than the characters. And you have to take into consideration readers who have not read the prior books. You absolutely can read The Pearl Dagger on its own. But if you’re a series lover,  you’d probably enjoy the series more from starting at the beginning. In this book, a pinball gambling racket claims the life of friend and a new ring-leader of the syndicate rises to power. Spurred on by the possibility of the crime network spreading through Europe, Lane and Detective Finn Brodie head to London where not only do they hunt down the intentions of the new crime boss, but Finn has to face the ghosts of his own past that threaten to cripple not only the investigation, but his life and Lane’s.

 

 

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Art Deco Mysteries

The Silver Gun

The Gold Pawn

The Pearl Dagger

 

 

 

 

Talking Cozy Mysteries with Author Ritter Ames

 

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Interview 

 

Who is Laurel Beacham and what does she do as one of the world’s premier art recovery experts?

Laurel Beacham’s total job objective is to recover stolen art. If she can catch the baddies, too, that’s wonderful. However, if it comes down to having to choose, art recovery triumphs for her every time–and she’ll use any means to meet her objective. Even out-thief the thieves.

 

 

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Who is Kate McKenzie and what does it mean she’s an organization expert?

Kate McKenzie is a busy mother of two who finally able to plant some roots now that her formerly pro-hockey husband has retired from professional sports and become a hometown sports anchor at a radio station. But all those moves and all that chaos early in her married life has taught her more than a few ways to keep families and individuals on track and clutter free. Her girls (twins) are in elementary school, and she’s finally able to start her own business too, so with the help of her best friend and neighbor, Meg Berman, the pair are set to organize Hazelton, Vermont. And solve a few murders at the same time.

 

 

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Who is Melissa Eller and why is she called Frugal Lissa?

Melissa Eller goes by Lissa unless she’s in trouble, but she goes by Frugal Lissa because that’s the name of the blog she publishes regularly to help all her subscribers save money and help stretch their family budgets. Unfortunately, she finds herself in big trouble when she discovers the body of a man who recently started a very public argument with her. She’s set up her business to meet her stay-at-home needs, but now she’s the police’s prime suspect, and she’s worried she’ll be working in the Big House if she can’t figure out whodunit before they slap the cuffs on her.

 

 

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If Laurel, Kate, and Lissa were to meet would they get along?

Kate gets along well with Meg, even though their personalities are different–she connects with the way they are alike, and appreciates when Meg does (or says) things Kate can’t. So, I think she would have no problem doing the same with Laurel and Lissa. And Lissa is a lot like Meg, and uses her best friend, Abby, to keep her balanced, much like Kate does for Meg–so again, I think Lissa would work well with Kate. Laurel is used to Cassie trying to rein her in–though it seldom works, so she’s used to that personality, too, and makes me think all three women would like each other and get along as friends.

 

Could they work together to solve crimes?

Laurel is kind of a wild card, since she leaps first and looks later, and even Cassie in mom-mode can’t keep her in line. So, no, I think she would just drive Lissa and Kate crazy if they tried to work with her–and vice versa. I do, however, feel that Kate and Lissa could solve a crime successfully as a team, but I would expect Meg would make sure she played a role too.

 

 

 

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Specially priced during preorder! 
Melissa Eller looks for ways to save people money. She never wanted to find a dead body…

Especially since she and the victim argued in public the previous evening. And she kind of threatened him (all a big misunderstanding – really).

When would she learn to keep her big mouth shut?

Now, she’s suspect number one in the guy’s murder. Worse, the detective in charge of the case is someone Lissa made fun of in high school—because he made fun of her—and he holds more leverage than just the threat of getting her sent to detention. Her boys don’t need a mom in prison!

She should never have moved back home.

Who said small towns were safer?

Frugal Lissa Finds a Body is the first title in the new cozy Frugal Lissa Mysteries series from USA TODAY bestselling author Ritter Ames.

BONUS: Along with solving the crime, Lissa finds ways to save her blog subscribers money and shares those methods with readers. Also included are terrific family-friendly recipes.

This is a NEW cozy mystery series: 
Book 1: Frugal Lissa Finds a Body
Book 2: Frugal Lissa Digs Up a Body (preorder soon)
Book 3: Frugal Lissa Hunts for a Body (coming soon)
And more to follow!

 

Preorder | Goodreads

 

 

 

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Ritter Ames is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Organized Mysteries series and the Bodies of Art Mysteries series. When she’s not writing or brainstorming new mysteries Ritter is usually trying to get her favorite yellow Lab to stay out of the pond, or keep her grouchy black cat from trying to give the dog away on Freecycle. Ritter would love to live on a boat and write from far flung locations around the globe, but the dog would constantly have to be fished from the water, and her husband and cat would just complain endlessly about the dog’s smell, so staying on land seems to be the only good option to keep her sanity and not get sidetracked from writing.

Ritter tries to blog regularly at RitterAmes.com and subscribe there to get the latest news about upcoming releases, and inside scoops on her characters and series. She uses her Pinterest boards at www.pinterest.com/ritterames to capture great places and ideas she wants to use in both series. Go to her website to subscribe to her newsletter and get the first alert about new books in her series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Honey Became a Character by LC Hayden

 

 

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How Honey Became a Character

By L.C. Hayden

 

 

In order to understand how Honey, the dog, came to be a character in my latest thriller When Memory Fails, one must first know a bit about the story’s basic plot.

Sandy Sechrest, her boyfriend Daniel, and retired Detective Harry Bronson head for Sechrest Falls, a ghost town in Colorado, which houses an alluring ledger that the three seek. The sole resident in this ghost town is a character simply known as The Hermit.

In order for this story to work, I knew that the Hermit needed to be a strong character, one that the readers would identify with. However, when I read the first draft of When Memory Fails, the Hermit was definitely not memorable. The story needed something that would give the Hermit a boost.  I considered adding another character. I quickly eliminated that idea as it would only detract from the story.

What then? I thought and thought. Then it hit me.

The Hermit would have a dog. Yes, the right type of dog would be ideal.

Once I had decided this, my next step was to create such a dog. That meant first finding the right kind of breed. I felt overwhelmed when I realized that a lot of types of breeds exist, not to mention the sub-breeds. Which one should I choose? And how could I narrow this list down?

As I’m brooding over this, my dog, a Basenji named Honey, nudged me.

I looked at her.

She nudged me again. Feed me.

“Later,” I told her. I wanted to finish my research.

She gently hit my hand with her nose. No, now.

I glared at her. She nudged me again. I sighed and stood up. “Okay, dog, you win.” I went to the kitchen and prepared her food. For any other dog, this would be the end of the task. But not for Honey. She insists on me being present when she eats. If I simply put her food down and walk away, she will follow me and not eat. She’d rather starve. Consequently, I crossed my arms and waited until she finished eating.

Once she did, I quickly headed for my computer to finish my work. Honey ran in front of me, blocking my way. I stopped and looked at her.

Aren’t you forgetting something? her eyes seemed to ask.

I gave myself a mental tap on my forehead. Oh, yeah. Her after-dinner treat: a dental chew stick we call Greenie. Thank God she is willing to eat this by herself without me being present. I gave it to her and made a mad dash for my computer.

Minutes later, she stood by me and yelped. Basenji’s don’t bark as their ancestors used to live with the Egyptian pharaohs in their castles. Therefore, the dogs were not allowed to bark. To guarantee that there would be no barking in the castle, the king ordered the dogs’ vocal chords removed. Through generations, this breed of dogs lost their ability to bark, but they are definitely not one-hundred percent quiet. They learned to yodel and make all kinds of other noises. Thus the reason Honey yelped instead of barked.

I knew what she wanted. “Let me finish this first, and then we’ll take you for your walk,” I told her.

She let out another high pitch yelp.

I ignored her.

She yelped again.

I did my darnest to ignore her.

She yelped.

I stood up. “Okay, okay, you win. I get it. You want your walk now.”

Rich, my husband, put her harness on and the three of us went for the walk. Half-an-hour later, as we headed home, I treasured the idea that Honey likes to take a nap after her walk. Good. Finally, I’ll find the time to continue editing my novel.

We reached our house, and Rich said that he was a bit tired and was also going to take a nap. Great! A picture of a quiet house danced in my head. I could finally focus on my research.

That lasted a whole five minutes.

Honey let out a loud whining, not once, but a constant sound that sent a chill running down my back. I bolted out of my chair, nearly knocking it down, and ran down the hallway and into our bedroom.

Thankfully, being hard of hearing, my husband remained sound asleep. Honey stood beside the bed by his head, looking up at him, whining.

“Honey, what’s wrong? You’re going to wake Daddy up. Hush.” I pulled her toward me.

She worked her way free and resumed her stance by Rich’s head. Once again, she whined. I grabbed her again and the entire incident repeated itself.

In spite of my efforts to keep the dog quiet, my husband woke up. He opened his eyes and looked at her. “What’s wrong, Honey? You ate, you got your treat, and your walk. What do you want?”

Honey whined.

Rich sat up on the bed.

“Honey?”

She continued to whine.

“Do you want to play? Is that it?”

Her answer came in the form of another whine.

“Okay, okay. We’ll play.” Rich got up and reached for his shoes.

Soon as he was out of bed, the dog jumped up and occupied the same spot Rich had just vacated. She curled up and went to sleep.

Rich and I stood looking at her. She wanted his spot, and she got the spot.

I shook my head. “What a dog,” I told my husband.

Rich agreed.

I went back to work on my computer.

Now, let’s see, where was I? Oh yeah, I was about to decide on what kind of a breed the dog in my story should be. I considered the qualifications I needed for my fictional dog to have.

First of all, the dog shouldn’t be too big or too small. It had to be just the right size. An image of Honey popped in my head. I nodded. Yeah, a dog about her size would be ideal.

Second, I needed basically a quiet dog, like a Basenji.

Same image popped up. Honey.

I needed a dog that had a cute personality.

Honey.

I needed a dog that had a strong personality that always found a way to communicate with the humans in the story.

Honey.

I shook off the images and began the research. I typed in on the Google bar dog breeds. I heard Honey gently snoring, happy that everything had gone according to her schedule.

Honey.

I closed the search bar. I didn’t need to do any research. I had everything I needed here at home.

And that’s how Honey became a character in my book—and will continue to be a character in future Bronson books.

Honey. What a dog.

Read Honey’s first adventure in When Memory Fails at www.tinyurl.com/LCHaydenMemory .

 

 

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What happens when you lose your memory and others are depending on you?

When Sandra Sechrest discovers the terrible secret about her family’s ancestors, she’s determined to right the wrongs. She seeks Bronson, a retired detective’s help. They along with Bronson’s nephew travel to a ghost town in Colorado to unearth the secrets buried there.

But Sandra’s family led by the evil Bobbi Lazzarone will do anything to guarantee that Sandra fails—anything, including murder.

Suddenly Sandra, Daniel, and Bronson are thrown into a world filled with deception and danger. Bronson swears to protect the young couple at all costs, but when the house he’s at explodes, Bronson is left for dead, and Daniel and Sandra are forced to fend for themselves.

When Bronson regains consciousness, he can’t remember who he is, where he’s at, and why he’s there. Will he regain his memory in time to save Daniel and Sandra? Or has he finally met his match When Memory Fails?

 

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About L.C. Hayden

 

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L. C. Hayden is known for her adventures and for her travels. When her fans ask her why she does this, she answers, “Take Aimee Brent, my character in the Aimee Brent Mystery Series. She learned how to scuba dive. Do you really think I’m going to let her have more fun than me? No way! She had to learn how to scuba dive, so I learned how to scuba dive.
“Harry Bronson, my character in the Harry Bronson Thriller Series, has a motor home and travels all over. Well, guess what? I have a motor home and I travel all over.”

Hayden considers herself very lucky. She has been touched many times by miracles and angels. That led her to write her series based on hers and others’ angel and miracle experiences. “These books are very well received, both nationally and internationally.”

One of Hayden’s greatest joy is being a grandmother. “That’s the reason I wrote the children’s picture books. Don’t be surprised if the age level for my children’s books increases as my grandkids grow up.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing, Rewriting, and Craft by Elena Hartwell

 

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Writing, Rewriting, and Craft

By Elena Hartwell

 

As a novelist and playwright, I’m often asked where I get my ideas. Almost every writer I know gets this question, and I think we all feel the same. Ideas are never the problem. That’s the easy part. Ideas are a dime a dozen. The hard part, the magic part, is turning the idea into a polished, final manuscript.

The writing process varies wildly from author to author. Some write extensive, detailed outlines. Others sit down with an idea and write scenes on the fly. A number of writers fall somewhere in between, while they may not outline, neither do they sit down and write completely organically. They might write a synopsis or outline a chapter in advance.

The various combinations of these methods all work, depending on the writer and the project. There is no “wrong” way to write a novel. The “how” a writer works isn’t why their manuscript sells or doesn’t sell. The primary reason an author’s work has not yet sold is a lack of craft.

People who lack craft skills rarely sit down to write a novel. Or if they do, they can start, but never finish. Or if they do finish, they don’t rewrite. Or if they do rewrite, they quit after a single pass. Or, if they do continue to rewrite, they aren’t aware enough of craft to recognize the flaws in their own work. You get the picture. The problem is the writer stops too soon.

As a writing coach—I do one-on-one manuscript critiques as well as teaching workshops—there are some fundamental issues I see repeated in early drafts, over and over. These same issues show up in my own work, and probably on some level, in the early drafts of every writer out there. So the first thing aspiring writers can do to increase their chances of writing a successful manuscript, is learn how to identify these problems.

 

 

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The first is a lack of clear objectives, obstacles, and stakes. It’s not enough to have a dead body to write a mystery. Someone has to investigate the murder. The person investigating the murder has to need to solve the crime. If they don’t need to solve the crime (objective) there’s no tension about the investigation. If the solution doesn’t matter to the investigator, it won’t matter to the reader.

The sleuth also can’t solve the crime easily, that’s not dramatic. Various impediments (obstacles) have to appear, one after the other, to prevent the protagonist from catching the killer. The more the investigator has to overcome, the more satisfying to the reader when they do.

Lastly, it has to matter (stakes). For example, the protagonist with an internal struggle, coinciding with their investigation, is far more interesting than someone who simply goes through the motions of solving a crime.

The more important solving the case is to the protagonist, the more dangerous or difficult the journey, and the greater the importance to find the guilty party, the more invested a reader will be. That’s what keeps a reader turning pages.

Complex protagonists will also have personal objectives, obstacles, and stakes to go along with their investigation. For example, a crumbling marriage, a child in danger, or overcoming an addiction are common tropes within the genre. When we know an investigator has to choose between catching a killer and saving their marriage, the stakes are high and we breathlessly turn each page waiting to see what the character chooses.

 

 

3D word structure against scaffolding in grey room

 

 

Another common error I find is a lack of structure. All stories have an underpinning structure. While there are variations to that structure, for the most part, especially in crime fiction, we start with the world as we know it, which is disrupted by a specific event, followed by rising action, where events pile one on top the other, each more important than the one that went before. This ends with a climactic scene, with the maximum danger to our hero or heroine, followed by a glimpse into the new world order for our characters.

If any of these parts are missing, the story can feel unfinished. For example, if we don’t have some sense of what the character’s life was before the intrusion, we don’t know what they are putting at risk. The “world before” can often be well hidden, it might not appear in the first chapter, but later in reflections the character makes as the story progresses, but usually a reader can identify it if they look for it.

The middle of a manuscript might falter if a lot of exciting things happen at the beginning, then nothing exciting follows. Rising action is important, because it builds dramatic tension, making it impossible to put the book down.

Lastly, an ending can feel unsatisfying if we have no sense of the outcome. Readers don’t need everything tied up in a bow, but they do want the primary threads to be resolved enough to know what the character’s lives will be like after they read “the end.”

 

 

Hello Speech Bubble Isolated On Yellow Background

 

 

Dialogue can also be difficult to master. One of the most common problems I see is when authors have their characters say exactly what they feel and exactly what they mean. That doesn’t ring true. People lie all the time. We lie because it’s expedient, it benefits us in some way, it keeps us from hurting others, or we don’t want to get in trouble. We rarely say what we mean, we obfuscate, we dither, we agree out loud when disagreeing feels like a mistake. Dialogue works best when each character speaks distinctly from the others, through word choice, sentence length, grammatical accuracy, and the use of slang.

If a writer can identify just these specific problem areas in their own writing, their next draft will be a much tighter, more polished manuscript. It can feel overwhelming to try to identify and fix all the issues I’ve outlined at one time. My recommendation for writers is to choose one aspect and rewrite just for that. Heighten the stakes in one rewrite. Focus solely on dialogue for the next. Breaking down the process into smaller chunks can make each rewrite a more successful venture. This will help the writer get through a series of rewrites rather than attempting one and feeling like the mountain is too high to climb. My final piece of advice. Don’t give up. That’s the only difference between a published author and an unpublished one.

 

 

Giveaway Colorful Stripes

 

 

One dead two to go imageTwo heads are deader than one imageThree strikes your dead

 

 

 I’d be happy to do a giveaway! Copies of my Eddie Shoes Mystery Series will be available to the first 3 people that sign up for my newsletter win! Send me a PM with your email! More info on the series here:  www.elenahartwell.com

 

 

 

Elena Hartwell author photo with horse

 

 

Elena Hartwell started out her storytelling career in the theater. She worked for several years as a playwright, director, designer, technician, and educator before becoming a novelist.

Elena has more than twenty years of teaching experience and now works one-on-one with writers as a manuscript consultant and writing coach.

She lives in North Bend, Washington, with her husband, two cats, and the greatest dog in the world. When she’s not writing, teaching writing, or talking about writing, she can be found at a nearby stables, playing with her horses.

For more information about Elena, please visit www.elenahartwell.com.