Monday, August 15, 2016

Miscellaneous Monday





How are you? I hope this finds you doing well and enjoying summer (or winter, depending on where you live). It's Miscellaneous Monday, which means it's time to share some interesting links. Hoping you'll find them useful too. :)

Six Ways to Self Edit & Polish Your Prose by Kristen Lamb is a primer on how to make our words shine. She gives us the brutal truth about adverbs (they're not all bad), "stage direction", and other effective tips.

Is It Time to Re-evaluate Your Blogging Commitment? Jennifer Brown Banks gives us 6 reasons for a regular "blog checkup" to help stay on target and avoid frustration in this recent post.

Want to write a book readers will love? Best selling author Jerry Jenkins offers insight in 3 Powerful Storytelling Secrets. He encourages us to "engage the theater of the readers' minds". This, I'm thinking, is  good advice.

Hindsight is 20/20, right? C.S. Lakin agrees, and shares tips on making the journey easier in 3 Tips I Wish I'd Been Given When I Started My Writing Career on her blog, Live Write Thrive.

A quick reminder - the Coffeehouse for Writers' offerings include blogging, fiction, queries, journaling, writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul, Basic Boot Camp (taught by yours truly) and more. Instructors are friendly, classes begin monthly, and it's guaranteed to be a "Mind Brewing Experience." :)

Announcements

As of mid July, I've parted ways with my publisher. This was a tough but necessary decision. My two books, Write for Life and Homeschool Co-ops 101 are temporarily unavailable online. I have copies of HC 101 and Write for Life available, so if you/someone you know are interested in purchasing them, just let me know.

I'm taking a break until September 12. It's time to regroup, consider publishing options, and get ready for my autumn teen writing classes. When I return, we'll kick off fall with guest posts by Tyrean Martinson and Jeanette Levellie, and interviews with Laurel Garver and Amber Schamel.

Congratulations to Susan J. Reinhardt! She's the winner of Ann Gabhart's book, Murder Comes by Mail in last week's interview.
 
What projects are you working on this week?

Enjoy the rest of August. See you soon! :)

Happy writing,

Karen

Monday, August 8, 2016

A Visit From Ann Gabhart


Ann Gabhart is back! We're celebrating her latest release, Murder Comes by Mail. Ann is one of my favorite authors, and she's also one I've had the privilege of meeting in person. With over a dozen books to her credit, this talented writer is sweet and witty and knows how to keep her audiences entertained. 

Welcome back, Ann. Congratulations on your latest book, Murder Comes by Mail! This is Book 2 in The Hidden Springs Mysteries, correct? What sparked the idea for this story? 

Murder Comes by Mail is my second Hidden Springs mystery. Most of the characters from Murder at the Courthouse show up again in this story. It’s often hard to nail down exactly what sparks a story idea. Sometimes an idea might explode like a burst of fireworks in the sky. Other times it might be more like the flicker of lightning bugs at dusk. You think you have it and then it disappears to show up across the yard. The idea for this book came from thinking about what would happen if what seemed a good act turned out to have bad consequences. Then it shifted to how does a normal person respond when evil begins trailing after him. 

Sounds interesting. I’ve heard these books referred to as cozy mysteries. How do you define the difference between a cozy and a regular mystery? 

A cozy mystery is generally a more light-hearted story. That might sound strange since we are talking about murder and nothing about murder should be considered light-hearted. But in a cozy mystery, the violence of the crime nearly always takes place off the page. Bodies are found. Readers don’t “witness” firsthand the murder. Also, in most cozies, the victim of the crime is either someone the reader has not gotten to know in the story and so has no attachment to the person or the victim is someone the reader doesn’t like and isn’t particularly sorry he or she is a victim. In thrillers and other mysteries, the victims might be a more sympathetic character. The reader might be right there when the murder happens on the page. 

Also, many times a cozy will have a small town setting or an animal friend to add atmosphere and perhaps a little levity to the story. Usually the main character is a female amateur sleuth with no connection to any law enforcement agency. That’s not true with my Hidden Springs mysteries, but sometimes rules are made to be broken.

Actually, I didn’t know all these rules when I was writing my cozy mysteries. I just came up with a character and a setting. Then I let murders happen. I did throw in those cats. That plus my small town setting pushed my books into the cozy mystery genre even though Murder Comes by Mail has more suspense than most cozies. 

Cats and suspense, sounds like a good combination. I’ve also heard that there are a “bevy of quirky characters” in this book. Do you have a few favorites among this gang?  

Quirky characters always seem to show up on the streets of small towns. It’s good to sprinkle a few of them into any story set in one of those small towns like Hidden Springs. In Murder Comes by Mail we might not have as many as in the first Hidden Springs mystery, Murder at the Courthouse, but there’s still the newspaper editor Hank always on the hunt for a headline story to sell his weekly newspaper issues. We have Aunt Lindy, and while I don’t consider her exactly quirky, she definitely has a unique personality. We have Reece Sheridan, the lawyer who’d rather be fishing. In the sheriff’s office, we have Betty Jean who keeps everything under control while she dreams of finding Mr. Perfect and getting married. Lester Stucker is still around as a deputy too. He’s a little like Barney in Mayberry and takes his job as school crossing officer very seriously. 

It seems as though your characters have "character". Looking forward to reading about them. Was there any particular portion that was especially difficult to write? 

A scene in the final chapter was a little hard for me to orchestrate. There is a physical struggle between my hero and the villain. One of my editors wanted to make the movements in that struggle clearer. So I had to rewrite that a couple of times. Then a different editor asked me to somehow work more about a cat into the story. So Grimalkin, Aunt Lindy’s cat, got more play in the climactic scene. 

Now I'm really looking forward to reading this one - the action scenes in your other books are very good. And I don't recall a cat in any of them! :) What’s on the horizon for you? Will The Hidden Springs Mystery series continue? 

At least one more murder will take place in Hidden Springs for my Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane to solve. Murder Is No Accident has a release date of March 14, 2017. We have some new characters and some familiar characters from the other stories in this one. When I was searching around for inspiration for a new mystery, I remembered an old house in our town that has one of those tower rooms. As a kid, I always wanted to go up in that room. And so, I decided to make that house the central part of my new mystery with a young girl sneaking up into that tower room and being a witness to what might be an accident. Or is it murder? And of course, we have a new cat, a calico named Miss Marble. 

I’m not sure if Hidden Springs is going to be more peaceful after Michael solves this new mystery. Right now, no more mysteries are in the works as I’m going back to my historical novel roots for the story I’m currently working on. But you never know. I might head back to Hidden Springs and stir up a little more trouble. 

I did a special promotion giveaway in my newsletter and asked readers if they would like to live in a town like Hidden Springs. One reader responded that she didn’t think she would like living in Hidden Springs. The crime rate was way too high. That comment made me smile because she was absolutely right. 

Well, I never thought about it like that! Too funny. Thanks so much for joining us. Wishing you many blessings your journey! :)

Thanks for having me over on your blog, Karen. Always fun to see what your readers have to say. So let me ask them a question. Did you read mysteries like the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew when you were a kid the way I did?



Ann's Bio 
 
Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of many novels, including Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and Love Comes Home, the 2015 Selah Book of Year winner. She’s also known for her Shaker novels and Heart of Hollyhill books. Now, as A.H. Gabhart, she is writing the Hidden Springs Mysteries set in a small town much like the Kentucky town where she grew up. Ann and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren and still enjoy country life on a farm near that small town. To find out more about Ann’s books or to follow her blog, visit her website. You can also join the conversation on her Facebook page


A Preview of Murder Comes by Mail 


 

Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane doesn’t particularly enjoy being touted as the hero of Hidden Springs after pulling a suicidal man back from the edge of the Eagle River bridge in front of dozens of witnesses–a few of whom caught the breathtaking moments with their cameras. But the media hype doesn’t last long as a new story pushes its way into the public consciousness of Hidden Springs’ concerned citizens. 

Photos of a dead girl arrive in the mail, and Michael becomes convinced she was murdered by the man he saved. With a killer one step ahead, things in Hidden Springs begin to unravel. Now Michael must protect the people he loves–because the killer could be targeting one of them next.

Readers will love racing along with Deputy Sheriff Keane as the clock ticks in this page-turner. Available at Amazon and other retailers.





Giveaway Info

Ann is giving away a copy of Murder Comes by Mail to one of my followers in the United States. Kindly note the following:
 
1) Please comment below, and leave your email address so I can contact you.
 
2) I'd appreciate you following Write Now by Google Friend Connect or Facebook (see sidebar). 
3) Giveaway ends Thursday, August 11, 2016 at midnight Eastern Time. Winner will be notified by email and have 36 hours to respond or another name will be chosen.  


I'll leave you with Ann's question: 

Did you read mysteries like the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew when you were a kid the way I (Ann) did? 

Happy reading and writing,
Karen

Friday, August 5, 2016

Book Review - An Elegant Facade

by Kristi Ann Hunter 
Bethany House Publishers 

Lady Georgina Hawthorne is perfect. At least, she appears to be. For years, she’s carefully planned her debut season. It must be flawless, and above all things, yield a wealthy husband. Nothing will deter her, not even her sister’s apparent interest in the Duke of Marshington, the man Georgina wishes to marry.

Even though Colin McCrae, a close friend of the Duke, holds no official title, he’s respected for his business acumen. Hailing originally from Scotland, he has numerous ventures in London and elsewhere, and is sought after for his wise business counsel. It’s 1813, after all, and progress in farming and industry knows no bounds.


Colin’s path intersects with Georgina’s more often than she would like. Matter of fact, their exchanges at social gatherings impact her thinking to the point where her conscience and Colin’s voice are interchangeable in her head. It’s maddening, really, for she knows he disapproves of her plan to snag a secure future with a rich husband, and she stumbles over Colin at every turn.

Georgina does her best to continue her quest, despite a distressing flaw that only she and her lady’s maid know about. Unfortunately, Colin is dangerously close to discovering her well-hidden secret. In the meantime, Colin wrestles with issues due to a rift with his father. He’s also frustrated with his growing attraction to Georgina, the socialite who seems as shallow as a puddle from a London rainstorm.  

About the time Georgina and Colin seem to establish a truce, events and emotions ramp up, and misunderstandings flourish again. Will Georgina find the right husband and the security she’s looking for? Will Colin make peace with his father? I won’t give too much away, but I will say that this book has a happy ending. Matter of fact, I believe the end was my favorite part.

An Elegant Fa├žade offers a thought provoking and sweeping jaunt through the Regency period. The reader experiences everything from the elaborate estates of well-bred society to shady characters who use others for personal gain.  Ms. Hunter does an excellent job of creating an authentic story complete with an intricate plot and realistic characters. I must admit though, I didn’t like Georgina at first. She was spoiled with an agenda that only served her goals. It was interesting to watch her character grow through events and the perspective Colin offered her. Colin wasn’t perfect either, but much more likeable from the outset. The lessons they both experienced are timeless –self-deception, faith, life, love, and honor. It compelled me to look at my own life, whom I serve and what I deem as important. I’ll be watching for Book 3 in this series.

Please note: I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

If you happened to miss Monday's post, we discussed prewriting. I invite you to hop over and add your two cents! 

What are you reading this month?  

Happy weekend, 

Karen