Posts Tagged With: publishing

Why Grammar Nazis Need to Get a Grip

By Lauren Carr

The Internet has made it much easier for anyone yearning to voice their opinion about anything and everything to do so. Among those striving to be heard are readers anxious to release their inner book critics to heap praise or criticism upon the authors of those books they love or hate. Nowadays, any reader with a kindle simply has to hit a button at the end of the book to leave their ratings and thoughts—whatever they may be.

Thus, Grammar Nazis can now easily warn perspective readers of any book that does not meet their lofty standards by posting reviews citing the read as poorly written and badly edited.

This is not necessarily a good thing because nasty reviews from Grammar Nazis can potentially deter unwitting readers from purchasing and reading books that are actually very well written and finely edited.

What is a Grammar Nazi? According to the Internet, a Grammar Nazi is someone who believes it’s their duty to attempt to correct any grammar and/or spelling mistakes they observe—

  • usually found hanging around book reading chat rooms,
  • or posting one-star reviews declaring books poorly edited (or not edited at all) on Amazon, Goodreads, and every other book website they can find,
  • or sending emails with multi-paged lists of spelling and grammatical errors to authors of said books, and declaring their editors and proofreaders incompetent.

I am very familiar with Grammar Nazis. My mother is one. Luckily for authors, she is unplugged and has more important things to do that compose detailed lists of what she considers to be grammatical mistakes in books—unless it’s one of mine.

What type of books have fallen victim to one or more negative reviews from Grammar Nazis? Well, here’s a sampling of reviews that I have found on Amazon, the biggest book seller in the world.

One reader, who identifies him/herself as a literature teacher, begins a long-winded one-star review by stating that he/she only uses To Kill a Mockingbird in his/her class “when forced to” because it is so poorly written. This reader goes on to say, “The descriptive passages were rather crude, and at times the language became practically unintelligible.”

Another reader posted a one-star review for For Whom the Bell Tolls. Not even Ernest Hemingway is immune from Nazi attacks. This reader writes:

I will not presume to say that I am right & that millions who love this book are wrong, but I really do not understand why this book is considered a classic. The dialogue is so choppy & forced-formal that it seems like the characters are all talking past each other.

Another reader had trouble understanding how Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October became a best-seller:

Clancy could have edited 40% of the text out and had a much better story. This novel is bogged down with irrelevant character descriptions, military acronyms, tedious sub-plots, and background stories that have nothing to contribute to the novel’s overall focus. I found myself constantly frustrated with the monotonous length it took to cover simple plot points. Clancy obviously has a huge audience; however, he needs an effective editor. This novel is a very slow read.

As you can see, Grammar Nazis really don’t care who you are or how experienced your publisher or editor is. When they see a mistake, they’re going to let readers know. Like in this Nazi’s review for Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, published by Little, Brown Books for YA:

…the editing—or lack thereof—is appalling …; the grammar and syntax are unforgivably bad; the plot is onion-skin thin; and the characters are uniformly dull and uninspiring.

The purpose of this post is not to rip apart Grammar Nazis. After all, I am closely related to one. My mother even proofreads my books before they are released to catch errors missed by my team of editors and proofreaders. (More about that later.)

Nor is the purpose of this post to convince Grammar Nazis that they’re wrong. Believe me, there is no convincing a Grammar Nazi they are mistaken about errors they have noted. They got “A’s” in English in school. They have worked for a hundred years as an editor for a daily newspaper and never once during that whole century—publishing two editions seven days a week—not once was there so much as one typo in any of those newspapers—not a single one! Therefore, the prospect of them being wrong about whether you should be using a comma or a semi-colon within dialogue is inconceivable.

As an author and a publisher, I would like to put this issue into a proper perspective for both readers and those authors whose books fall victim to a reader or two who has too much time on his or her hands. As a rule, I do not engage or argue with the rare Grammar Nazi who posts a nasty review for any of my books on Amazon, Goodreads, or any other sites.

However, I do believe that the average reader who sees reviews posted by Grammar Nazis and new authors who will (not if) receive such reviews should be aware of a few things before they accept the Grammar Nazi’s claims of bad writing and poor editing as fact.

A couple of years ago, an author friend of mine independently published a book. During the publication process, her book went through two rounds of editing (by two different editors) and was proofread by another editor, plus a friend of hers, who happened to be school teacher who taught English. Thus, her book was looked at by four different pairs of eyes before publication.

Nine months after the book was released and received several glowing reviews, she received one poor review declaring that it was poorly edited and had numerous grammatical errors. So, she hired yet another editor to proofread the book again for grammatical mistakes and misspellings. This editor, who used a different style manual than the other editors, ripped that book apart with changes on every page.

Over a year later, a traditional publisher signed my friend to a multi-book deal. As part of the publication process, this same book was edited yet again! It went through two separate editors—one of whom contacted my friend to tell her that it was very well written and was pretty clean to begin with. Not only that, but after the book was formatted, it was proofread by yet another editor.

First review my friend received from a reader stated:

This is the first novel I’ve read by this author, and while it was a good read, with a good plot, interesting primary and secondary characters, and was very suspenseful, the sheer number of grammatical errors, misused words, and spelling errors certainly detracted from my enjoyment of this book. While I’d like to read the next novels in this series, I can only hope that they are better edited and proofread than this one.

Excuse me! This book was looked at by—count them!—seven different editors plus an English teacher. Not all of them were ill-educated, poorly trained, or incompetent!

The answer to how this happens lies in this one simple question:

Grammatical errors, misused words, and spelling mistakes according to whose rules?

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I have assembled a team of editors and proofreaders to work on my own books based on each one’s strengths. It is a given, where one editor has strengths, he or she has weaknesses in another area.

Let me explain. Last year, I sent one of my books to a new editor to be proofread before its release. Because she was unproven to me, I sent the same book to yet another editor as a backup. Neither proofreader knew the book was being worked on by someone else. Therefore, they thought it was completely up to them to catch every mistake.

When the book came back from these two proofreaders, they had both identified completely different errors. Only in one instance did they both identify the same error! They concentrated completely on different areas in proofreading the book. One proofreader was more concerned with the punctuation while the other focused on the spelling.

Also, each one of my editors/proofreaders works under a different set of rules.

One of my editors, who I have used for years, follows the new comma rules—whatever those are. From what I have seen, the comma is rarely used. I have read many books in recent years, whose editors seem to be following these rules. According to the new comma rules, the line from Gone with the Wind: “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn,” has no commas.

Another one of my editors loves the Oxford comma. Thus, the line would be written, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Based on what she learned when she was in school, my mother swears it is, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Who is right? Under interrogation, both of these editors and the Grammar Nazi could cite a source and reasoning to back up their argument of where the commas go and why.

Another area of disagreement is the ellipse. That is the “…”. One of my editors believes there should be no space before or after the ellipse. Another editor firmly believes there should be a space before and after the ellipse.

Even highly regarded style manuals used by editors disagree. Some argue that the ellipse should be treated like a word, which means it should have a space both before and after. Others (mostly journalistic style manuals) say it should be treated like an em-dash (—) so there should be no space. This is because the space before and after can create havoc with formatting.

Therefore, I quite literally split the difference. During formatting I use a half-space before and after the ellipse.

To better illustrate this issue, I love to tell writers, new editors, and readers about a book I edited for another author several years ago.

This book contained a character whose name ended in an “s.” Well, throughout the book, there were many instances in which his name was used in possessive.

Now, every editor has a thing or two or three or dozen, in which they will not trust their knowledge. To be safe, they will look it up in their style manual every single time. For me, the question of a proper name ending in “s” and used in possessive was one of those things. The Chicago Style Manual called for this possessive to be “s’” not “s’s.”

Well, the author said I was wrong and that it is supposed to be “s’s.”

So, I looked it up again, not just in the Chicago Style Manual, but several sites on the Internet. Not only did I discover that the answer varies in the Chicago Style Manual depending on which edition you use, but I also found a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States had gotten involved in this very argument while writing a decision on a case. Even the justices disagreed! Clarence Thomas (who should know since his name ends in an “s”) declared that it is “s.’”

I let the author have the last word. He requested that I change all of the possessive references for this character to “s’s.”

Then, upon proofing the book, the author brought in his daughter, a technical writer who goes by a totally different style manual. She stated that it should be “s’” without the extra “s.”

So I had to change it back.

Many people who are not in the business of writing, editing, or publishing fiction fail to realize that many of the grammar and punctuation rules that we were taught as being carved in stone really are not—especially when it comes to fiction.

Most fiction authors’ literary style and narrative voice don’t follow all of the rules taught in simple fourth grade grammar. Keeping in tune with the casual manner in which people communicate today, writers focus more on creating a conversational tone and flow to the narrative than using the correct pronoun.

When I sent my third book to the editor, I could practically hear her laughing between the lines in her notes when she rewrote a sentence in my narrative. “When was the last time you heard someone use the word ‘whom?’” she asked.

While my sentence was grammatically correct, she noted that it had such a formal stilted sound to it that it broke the easy going pace of my writing. As a result, the reader would be pulled out of the story. Yes, the sentence, rewritten by the editor, was grammatically incorrect. However, the narrative flowed much more naturally.

Grammar Nazis, particularly those who have spent the bulk of their education or professional lives in the world of non-fiction writing and editing (working in journalism or teaching grade school English), fail to realize this when reading fiction. Being a Nazi, they are incapable of becoming immersed in the plot and the story because they have spent their lives searching for mistakes. When they encounter what they perceive to be an error, they are so offended that all enjoyment of the other 99.9% of the book becomes an impossibility—all they can see and think about is that imperfection.

Feeling righteous about what they know is right, they feel compelled to note said error and to warn readers via bad reviews and/or notify the writer of what a sloppy job his editor did.

the first installment in Lauren Carr's upcoming series, Kill and Run is scheduled for release September 1.

The first installment in Lauren Carr’s new mystery series, Kill and Run was released September 4. It has been receiving rave reviews from reviewers and readers … except for a couple of Grammar Nazis

Less than two weeks ago, my fifteenth book, Kill and Run was released. Over the years, the publication of my books, which I publish independently, has been fine tuned. I use two different editors, plus I will do a round of editing myself. After the book is formatted, my books are proofread by a professional editor who has never laid eyes on the book beforehand. Plus, a copy will go to my Grammar Nazi mother.

Yet, in spite of the many steps I take to produce high quality books, shortly before Kill and Run’s release (but too late to make corrections before the release date) a total of twenty actual grammatical and spelling errors were discovered. (The corrected version is now available and being sold. Pre-order e-book customers can download from Amazon under “manage my kindle.”)

Two Grammar Nazis (my mother was not one) demanded to know how this could happen. “Your readers deserve better!”

Here’s how and why this happens–not just with my books, but most books published, both independently and traditionally:

Prolific writers (those who write more than one book a year—I release three or four) make mistakes. A prolific writer cares more about writing a thrilling book with fully developed characters and an intriguing plot than determining if every single word (Is it lay or lie?) is right and ensuring that every punctuation mark is correct (To use the comma or not to use the comma?).

Such minute details have the power to tie a Grammar Nazi’s panties in a knot.

One Grammar Nazi was upset because in The Murders at Astaire Castle, David O'Callaghan went into a donut shop to buy a box of donuts.

One Grammar Nazi was upset because in The Murders at Astaire Castle, David O’Callaghan went into a donut shop to buy a box of donuts.

A few years ago, I received an email from a woman informing me that I was a shoddy writer and how dare I consider myself worthy of editing other authors’ books. (I don’t edit other authors books anymore because I am too busy writing my own books.) Her complaint: In The Murders at Astaire Castle, which has been consistently in the top 100 of Ghost Mysteries on Amazon since its release in July 2013, contained this sentence:

“On the way into the police station, David stopped at the donut shop to buy a box of donuts.”

The Nazi wrote, “No, sh!t.” She used the actual word. My error was using “donut” twice. That is repetition, which is a no-no. This, she declared was sloppy and shoddy writing. She went on to post a one-star review on Amazon and Goodreads.

Think about it. The Murders at Astaire Castle has 66,000 words. This Nazi was having a hissy fit over one sentence, consisting of nineteen words, in the middle of a 286-page book. Frankly, I thought one bad sentence out of the thousands of sentences in that book was doing pretty good.

Since the Grammar Nazi revealed in her email that she was a writer, and obviously much better than I am since she would never have written that sentence, I looked up her profile in the social media sites and found that she has never published a book. To date, she still has yet to have a book published under her name. Based on her reaction to the news that David had stopped at a donut shop to buy donuts, I think she is probably too busy sweating over every page, paragraph, sentence, comma, period, and word to allow her book to be released to the public.

By virtue of being a Grammar Nazi, her book must be perfect. Anything less is unacceptable.

That’s pretty sad in my opinion.

Prolific writers know that there comes a time in every book’s life where we need to just let it go and move on to the next book. We accept the fact that there could very well—No, we know and accept the fact that there will be one, two, three, or twenty grammatical errors in the book that our team has not caught.

From a professional stand-point, it is not good business to hold up the release of a book to invest in yet another editor to scour a whole book in search of those few errors that will cause one or two Grammar Nazis to have hissy fits—even if they do use the power of the Internet to proclaim the book as poorly edited.

At what point can a book—not a five-hundred word article or a student’s ten-page research paper—but a 60,000 to 110,000 word book—be declared error free, especially if editors, proofreaders, and Grammar Nazis can’t agree on what the rules are?

Alas, there is yet another important reason Kill and Run was released with twenty actual mistakes that had been missed by my team of paid professional editors and proofreaders—and yes, I do consider them professional and am proud to have them working for me.

Unfortunately, not only are my editors and proofreaders professionals—but also, every single one is a human being. Therefore, they suffer from the condition that every human suffers—Yes, even the Grammar Nazis suffer from this dreaded incurable condition:

Human beings aren’t perfect. As intolerable as it may be, we all make mistakes.

I have worked with numerous editors in the thirty plus years that I have been writing and I have yet to meet an editor who is perfect, which is why I use more than one on every project.

With this in mind, I look at those twenty mistakes in Kill and Run this way:

  • Kill and Run has approximately 110,000 words. Twenty mistakes out of 110,000 words amounts to a .018% error rate.
  • That means my team of editors and proofreaders got 99.982% of the book right—based on the grammar and spelling rules as we know them.

I wouldn’t call that sloppy, shoddy, incompetent, or poor. Would you?

About the Author

Best-Selling Mystery Author Lauren Carr ... and Gnarly, too.

Best-Selling Mystery Author Lauren Carr … and Gnarly, too. click on photo to visit Lauren’s website.

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime Mysteries. Kill and Run the first installment of her new series, The Thorny Rose Mysteries was released to rave reviews from reviewers and readers on September 4, 2015. Lauren introduced the key detectives in the Thorny Rose Mysteries in Three Days to Forever, which was released in January 2015.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learnt in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:

E-Mail: writerlaurencarr@gmail.net

Website: http://acornbookservices.com/

http://mysterylady.net/

Blog: Literary Wealth: https://literarywealth.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lauren.carr.984991

Gnarly’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/GnarlyofMacFaradayMysteries

Lovers in Crime Facebook Page:

http://www.facebook.com/LoversInCrimeMysteries?ref=ts&fref=ts

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“It’s Not a Baby, It’s a Book”

If you are a new author working on your first book, then you need to read this blog post by Mercy Pilkington. It gives an excellent perspective on the business end of being an author!

“It’s Not a Baby, It’s a Book”.

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By the Cover They Will Judge

melchelledesigns_logo_2013

Guest Post by M.S. Fowle

I don’t need to say it. We all know how it goes. And though it pains most of us to realize it, it’s true. Quite honestly, one can’t simply look at a book cover and know if it’s worth reading. But we certainly try. So authors have no choice but to have a book cover that will grab and compel a reader to give their work a chance. To an author, their book is their heart and soul, no matter the genre. I know this because I’m an author myself. I know all too well of the work that goes into our stories and characters. So I know how important it is to have cover art that not only best reflects the tales we have told, but uses visual prowess to capture potential readers as well.

Some may think that because I’m an author, I must have an advantage in book cover making. It does, but it doesn’t. I do know what it’s like to be in their shoes—the excitement of finally finishing a novel, the anxiety of publishing. But I also know what it’s like to be a cover designer working with authors stuck on a rollercoaster of emotions. In this article, I’ll offer advice to both sides, as well as a few tips for those interested in creating their own book cover art.

Buying Cover Art

Taking the indie route offers up opportunities that you wouldn’t normally have being traditionally published. Signing with a publisher means, most likely, they’ll be providing the artwork for your book cover and promotional materials. The author has little to do with the process. As an indie author, you get to decide how your book will be represented. But there are a few things you need to know about the process.

Lauren Carr's Authors in Bathrobes is a custom design by M.S. Fowle.

Lauren Carr’s Authors in Bathrobes is a custom design by M.S. Fowle.

·         Plan Ahead

I can’t even count how many times an author has ordered one of my premade e-book covers and I respond to their query only to get a reply about how they don’t have the money yet. Or how many requests I’ve gotten for custom artwork with a ridiculous deadline, like I’m surgically planted in front of my computer with no life or any desire to sleep. Try to have book cover art lined up and ready to go weeks, if not months, ahead of when you plan to publish. Anything could happen. If you wait until the last minute, you could miss your release date and disappoint a lot of readers.

·         Keep an Open Mind

 Most authors develop a vision of what their book cover will look like. It is fun to dream. But you also need to realize that sometimes dreams are just dreams, and that’s okay. What you may have envisioned as perfect, may not be the best marketing strategy. Selling books is a business. Having the right artwork is part of that. Listen to your cover artist’s suggestions. They know what sells. Remember: your vision can always be commissioned for other promotional materials or even as a personal memento for your achievement.

·         People on Covers

You know your characters better than anyone. You can see what they look like, you’ve experienced all their mannerisms, and you know all their deepest secrets. But as much you love (or hate) them, putting characters on your book cover may not be the best idea. You can describe them as much as you want in your book, but the reader is still going to form their own vision. For them, that’s part of the pleasure of reading. Why deny them the satisfaction? However, if you’re insistent enough, I don’t recommend having more than ONE depiction of a character on your cover – two at the absolute most. But I still prefer to avoid it all together.

·         All Sales are Final

It feels a bit mean to say something like that, but it’s true. You’re not buying a physical product. Everything is digital and easily replicated. Therefore, returning it for a refund is impossible. Make sure you’re truly happy with what you’re paying for.

Creating Cover Art

If you have experience or you’re really tight on funds, creating your own cover art may be your only option. Quite honestly, I’ve seen some pretty decent book covers going for as low as $20, so buying cover art should be within anyone’s budget. But if you do have some experience, there are a few things you need to remember.

·         Research

Check out other books in your genre, preferably the bestsellers. See what sort of inspiration you can conjure up in browsing the cover art of your soon-to-be competition. Make note of what you like or don’t like. And pay close attention to the fonts and sizes of the title and author names, as some styles work better for certain genres. Also make note of the fact that your author name shouldn’t be twice as big as your title, unless you’ve already sold millions of copies of your last book… in which case, you wouldn’t be making your own book cover.

·         Know Your Copyrights

The easiest way to avoid copyright issues is to use your own resources to create your artwork. Take some photographs and do it up. But if you’re not handy with the camera or looking for something specific that’s out of your element, you’ll need to seek out stock images. There are plenty of websites that offer an expansive variety of stock, but you MUST read their Terms of Use. Most will include a policy for image use on book covers, both e-book and print. Others will attach a Creative Commons License, explaining what others are allowed to do with their work. (See here: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/) If you’re not sure about something, just contact the original artist directly to ask their permission.

·         Photo Editors

Not everyone has experience with Photoshop or any of the other editing software on the market. But there are plenty of online photo editing websites out there that are user friendly and most are free to use. Just try not to go overboard. Sometimes, less is more.

·         Avoid the Overload

You’re already dealing with editing and publishing and promotion, as well as life in general. Don’t feel overwhelmed. Experiment with a few different ideas, save each file with a different name and then, as I like to say, sit on ’em. Just walk away for a day or two and go back to have another look. Most of the time, all you need is a fresh perspective. Or find a brutally honest friend for a real-life opinion on how they look – you’re loved ones are biased.

Selling Cover Art

This next section is more for independent book cover artists, but it wouldn’t hurt the authors out there to give it a gander. It can never hurt to see things from another’s point of view.

·         The Meet & Greet

Designers provide a service, but we mustn’t forget about customer service. A quality product will get a business off the ground, but the quality of service will either make it or break it. Start off right with a friendly introduction and keep things a bit on the casual side, but not so much you come off as unprofessional. Even if they love the cover art you created, how you treat them as a person is what they’ll remember first and foremost.

·         Deposits

Pre-made cover art is usually an instant sale. But for custom artwork, I strongly advise you get half the full payment upfront. It’s a common practice and most authors should understand. There are a number of free websites that will allow you to create invoices in PDF format.

·         Have Patience

There will be times when you’re blessed with the perfect match of author and designer, where your worlds are so synched they love everything you send them. And there will also be times when you’ll make change after change and feel like it’s never going to end. Just be patient and, most of all, be nice. Politely set limits. Authors tend to get excited about their upcoming book. We’re only human, ya’ know.

I truly believe book cover art to be just as exciting as writing the book itself. Your book is your baby—you created it, you’ve nurtured it and you’re about to send it out into the world. You need it to look its best… because whether we like it or not, first impressions really are everything.

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About M.S. Fowle of Melchelle Designs

Melchelle Designs offer beautiful and unique artwork to help your ebook stand out in the crowd, causing a visual appeal that will entice readers to your hard work.

What to expect from Melchelle Designs:

  • Superior customer service – We work with our customers. We’re only satisfied when you are.
  • Affordable prices – We provide reasonable price points to cater to both traditional and indie authors.
  • Beautiful artwork – Great digital art starts with great photography and we work hard to create both.

For more information visit Melchelle Designs at their website.

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Ten QUICKIES for Writing Love Scenes

Are you ready for a quickie? How about ten quickies? Author Cindy McDonald is here today to tell us ten quick tips for writing loves scenes. So grab something to keep you cooled off and take notes!

Hey writing is a tough business! Whether you write mysteries, suspense, romance, or thrillers it is hard to stand out in the crowd, and you definitely want to stand out in the right way. I’ve talked to so many writers who tell me that they struggle with or perhaps even shy away from love scenes. Truth is most writers avoid it at all costs because they feel awkward or lack the confidence to write so intimately. So with the timid writer in mind, I’ve compiled a list of ten quick suggestions to help you throw your inhibitions aside and write a good love scene.

Cindy McDonald's new series: First Force is a romance-suspense. Into the Crossfire is coming Nov 1!

Cindy McDonald’s new series: First Force is a romance-suspense. Into the Crossfire is coming Nov 1!

1. Define your comfort zone: What are you comfortable reading/writing?
Not everyone (authors or readers) are comfortable with such strong scenes as those that E L James penned for Christian Grey’s “playroom”. Perhaps you are more at ease writing suggestive scenes: your characters touch, feel, explore, but you will only take the reader to the bedroom—not between the sheets, and that’s okay. When I began writing the Unbridled Series in 2005 suggestive scenes was where my comfort zone lived—I have since tossed some of my inhibitions aside to go farther with the First Force series, yet I’m still not as bold as some romance writers.
If you struggle with the idea of writing intimate scenes then you should take care to start slowly and build up. If you start out writing beyond your comfort level your scenes will reflect your unease, so it’s best not to force a scene that you are simply not prepared to illustrate.
2. Write for yourself, not your family, friends, or your pastor.
As I’ve said in past blogs, I have very conservative in-laws—my books are a taboo subject at family gatherings—they are simply uncomfortable with the subject matter of my books in general. That said I have discounted how they feel about the love scenes that I pen. Some writers are concerned that their minister or church members will frown upon sexual scenes in their books. Hmmmm, then why are they reading your books? I’ve noticed that if I don’t bring up my books at church neither does anyone else—although I do have fellow parishioners who will approach me to tell me how much they enjoy my books—they never mention the love scenes—for whatever reason. 🙂
3. Make sure the cover of your book matches the story inside.
The cover is so important to the marketing of your book. If your storyline is really smokin’ hot, then definitely put that erotic half-dressed couple immersed in a sensual kiss on your cover. If your storyline is more on the suggestive side—find something a little less provocative for your cover. You don’t want to promise something that you don’t deliver because then you could possibly upset two groups of readers: those who are expecting and looking forward to more than you are giving, or readers who are not comfortable at all with sexual scenes. The wrong cover can ultimately turn both sets of readers away from your books permanently. So make sure your cover sends the right message.
4. Heat it up! Sexual tension adds sooo much to the storyline.
Build the sexual tension between your characters from the very first moment they meet. The hero is bound and determined to win her heart, but the heroine isn’t exactly ready to give it—make him work to win her over and for that first kiss to be scorching hot. Sexual tension isn’t exclusive to those who write love scenes. You can use sexual tension even in the most innocent of books where an author doesn’t go any farther than that kiss.
5. Develop your characters well before tossing them into bed.
Your audience will find the story more believable and sensual if you have taken the time and effort to develop your characters before that hot love scene. Readers want to know that the love scene is right—that the hero and heroine are meant to be. Tossing them into bed before developing their relationship and personalities will leave the reader feeling cheated, and your carefully penned love scene could fall flat.
6. One POV please!
Only reveal one character’s POV during the love scene. Alternating thoughts, feelings, or sensual sensations from one character to the other during a love scene can confuse or frustrate the reader. Allow your reader to experience the sensual encounter through one character’s POV only.
7. Use subtext.
What’s subtext? Subtext is when a character says something without coming right out and saying it. Example: He leaned across the table, his hot gaze burning into hers. “You know I just love caramels.” He whispered, “I can’t help myself, I always end up eating the whole bag.”
8. Whoa! Watch those descriptions!
Most recently I began to read a book that actually started out with what the author considered a “hot” love scene. I put the book aside by page sixteen and haven’t picked it up since. Why? Because the author was using car parts to describe body parts. Can you guess what the gearshift was? Yep. Please, keep your automotive paraphernalia where it belongs—in the garage.
I had one author tell me that he liked to refer to the woman’s most intimate area as a… wait for it… “honey hole”. E-gads!! One must be careful as to how to describe intimate body parts or it completely destroys the experience for the reader.
9. Use the senses.
Absolutely! Touch, taste, and smell—candles burning, the shadows dancing about the room, the smell of his skin, the gentle caresses over smooth silky flesh, and the taste of the wine still lingering on their lips. These descriptions (if done correctly and compassionately) will deepen the readers experience by drawing them into the moment.
10. Make sure it fits!
The scene I mean. Don’t write a love/sex scene just to do it—make sure the scene moves the story forward. The characters should share something during the scene: a deeper sense of their relationship, a secret can be revealed, or information that you have not shared with the reader can come forth during or as a result of the scene, but make the scene count. Love/sex scenes that are thrown into the story for no apparent reason are annoying, and yes your readers will notice!
So there you have it…some simple ideas to help you write a love scene. Here’s one more: read love scenes. The more you read love scenes the more you will learn how to write them—it’s really that simple. What did like about the love scene that you just read? What didn’t you like? Learn from those who do it well.

About the Author

Author Cindy McDonald

Author Cindy McDonald

For twenty-six years Cindy’s life whirled around a song and a dance. She was a professional dancer/choreographer for most of her adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005. She often notes: Don’t ask me what happened, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things that I have experienced with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and happenings at the racetrack—greatly exaggerated upon of course—I’ve never been murdered. Viola! Cindy’s first book series, Unbridled, was born—there are four books to that series thus far.

Cindy is a huge fan of romantic suspense series’, and although she isn’t one to make New Year’s resolutions, on New Year’s Day 2013 she made a commitment to write one, Into the Crossfire is the first book for her new series, First Force.

People are always asking Cindy: Do you miss dance? With a bitter sweet smile on her lips she tells them: Sometimes I do. I miss my students. I miss choreographing musicals, but I love my books, and I love sharing them with you.

Cindy resides on her forty-five acre Thoroughbred farm with her husband near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

For more information, book trailers, and excerpts for all of Cindy’s books please visit her website: www.cindymcwriter.com

 

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Penguin Random House Merger Helps Author Solutions Exploit Writers

Indie Writers Beware. When a new writer is looking to publish independently, it is hard to know where to turn. there are so many sharks out there looking to make a meal out of writers still feeling their way. As this blog post explains, you need to do your homework, but sometimes that is even hard…

Penguin Random House Merger Helps Author Solutions Exploit Writers.

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We’ve Come a Long Way, Authors

Today’s post is via a guest blog appearance at Fay Moore’s I Want to be a Writer, a wonderful blog that has a ton of helpful advice for new writers about writing and book promotion. My guest blog article explains why I have found that I have enjoyed greater success in promoting my books after leaving my own back yard and going into CyberSpace!

via July 2013 Guest Blog from Lauren Carr.

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New Conference: From Writers to Published Authors

If you’re a writer and you live in the Harpers Ferry, West Virginia/Hagerstown, Maryland area, then do read this.

Writers2Published Authors Logo Cropped

Click on Logo to learn more about the From Writers to Published Authors Conference at Acorn Book Services website. Space is limited, so sign up today!

The first annual From Writers to Published Authors Conference is scheduled for Saturday, October 5 from 8:45 am to 5:00 pm. This writers conference will be held at Oakland Church, located on 70 Oakland Terrace in Charles Town, WV.

The From Writers to Published Authors Conference offers writers the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of writing and publishing directly from those who have gone before them. At this first annual event, authors and publishers will gather together to spend the day helping new writers to reach their goal of not only publishing their books, but doing it right.

Attendees have a choice of panel discussions to attend based on where they are in their journey toward authorship. The forty-five minute panel discussions cover a wide range of topics, including finishing your book, researching, age-appropriate writing for children, working with an illustrator, marketing with social media, designing your cover and more.

Currently Scheduled to Appear:
Lauren Carr (publisher and mystery author)

Austin Camancho (publisher and mystery/thriller author)
Beth Rowland (publisher)
Tim Rowland (columnist/author)
Cindy McDonald (author)
Ed Steers (historian and author)
Thomas L. Trumble (author/playwright)
Michael T. (children’s author)
Joe Santoro (illustrator)
Malcolm Ater (young adult/middle school author)
Penny Clover Petersen (author of children’s and adult books)
H.L. Grandin (author)
Mary-Ellen Low (author)
Victor Nieves (author)
Fay Moore (author)
Daniel Claggett (illustrator)
Debbie Brenneman (author)
George Johnson (author)
S.J. Brown (author/photographer)
Todd Aune (cover designer)
D.B. Corey (author)

This conference also includes two Super Panel discussions which are foremost on most writers and published authors’ minds: The Future of Books and Using Social Media for Book Promotion.

Three publishers are schedule to appear: Lauren Carr of Acorn Book Services, Austin Camacho of Intrigue Publishing, and Beth Rowland of Black Walnut Corner Book Production.

Intrigue Publishing will have a special presentation during lunch entitled Working With A Small Press—A Reality Check. This interactive presentation will answer many questions about the differences between a big press and small press, and how they differ from self-publishing.

The fee for attendees is $60. Lunch is included. Space is limited. Therefore, anyone wishing to attend the From Writers to Published Authors Conference is encouraged to register early either online and pay via PayPal through the Acorn Book Services website (http://www.acornbookservices.com/) or to download a registration form from the website and mail it in with a check. Brochures and registration forms will also be available at various libraries in the area.

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Click here to register for the From Writers to Published Authors Conference today!

The From Writers to Published Authors Conference is being sponsored by Acorn Book Services, owned by Lauren Carr, best-selling author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which take place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. She is also the author of the Lovers in Crimes Mysteries, which is set in the Ohio Valley.

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In her book, Authors in Bathrobes, best selling mystery author Lauren Carr tells how writers can successfully write and publish using today’s technology without leaving their home … even when sick in bed with a cold. Print version will be available later this year. Click on Book Cover to download from Amazon today.

A popular speaker, Lauren Carr is frequently asked for advice about how to succeed as an author while running a business, cooking dinner, feeding dogs, and doing laundry. “Ten years ago, it wouldn’t have been possible,” Lauren says. “Nowadays, with a good wi-fi connection, an author can reach readers on the other side of the world while sending their child off to school and having a bad hair day.” Lauren’s latest book, Authors in Bathrobes is a compilation of what she has written that answer that very question.  Authors in Bathrobes in available in ebook on Amazon for $2.99.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren Carr is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. Last year, six books written by independent authors were released through the management of Acorn Book Services. Lauren is scheduling for twelve books to be released through Acorn Book Services this year. Currently, they are open for submissions for publication.

Contact Lauren Carr at acornbookservices@gmail.com for more information about submissions to Acorn Book Services or about attending the From Writers to Published Authors Conference.

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Guest Post: Starting a New Novel

It is always a pleasure to discover new authors willing to share on Literary Wealth. So it is a treat to have Mark Rubinstein, author of Mad Dog House, an engrossing psychological thriller back to tell us about starting a new novel. Readers are fascinated with knowing where authors come up with their ideas for books. For today’s guest post, Mark is going to tell us about his inspiration for Mad Dog House.

Starting a New Novel

It’s always daunting to begin writing a new novel. I’m filled with questions: will I find the right voice? Will it come to me the way the others have? Will I run out of ideas? And a million other questions and doubts materialize. I must admit, a sense of dread pervades me, and I wonder if I’m half the writer I’ve been told I am. If I ponder these questions too long, paralytic inertia can take over.

Mad dog House

Click on Mad Dog House to view on Amazon.

Is it a crisis in confidence?
I don’t think so, at least not for me. It’s the usual apprehension—a sense of dread—before I begin the creative trek through the minefield of the writing process. For me, it seems the natural prelude to the hard work (and the pleasure) of writing, of creating. Yes, I have a skeletal outline of the novel’s basic trajectory (or part of it) but that can never ensure full-blooded characters and a rich plot with a compelling narrative drive. And it will never make for the backstory of an interesting character who needs fleshing out so the reader develops an idea why the character is the person he or she has become.

Once I barge past that feeling of immobilization, the writing assumes its own energy. Thoughts that were never there seem to emerge; ideas pour onto the page. Pictures, sounds, and smells–all coming from some deep mental recess–abound, as if by some strange magic of which I was unaware. But it’s not magic. It’s the writer’s marathon, the never-ending quest to capture in words the innermost thoughts and feelings of characters and their situations, replete with descriptions of the world in which the characters live.

Will there come a time when this dreadful apprehension ever leaves me as I begin a new novel?

I don’t think so. Is this what every writer experiences at the beginning of a new creation? I don’t know. I can only speak for myself.

I don’t believe there’s such a thing as “writer’s block.”

I think some people just can’t get past the fear and unwillingness to begin doing the hard work a novel demands–the brutal slog of writing.

About the Author

Mark Rubinstein was born in Brooklyn, New York, where he dreamed of playing baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers. His love of sports led him to read sports fiction, and soon he became a voracious reader, developing an enduring love for all kinds of novels.

He graduated from New York University with a degree in business administration. He then served in the army and ended up as a field medic tending to paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division. After his discharge, he re-entered NYU as a premed student.

As a medical student at the State University of New York’s Downstate Medical Center, he developed an interest in psychiatry, discovering in that specialty the same thing he realized in reading fiction: every patient has a compelling story to tell. He became a board-certified psychiatrist practicing in New York City.

In addition to running his private practice he developed an interest in forensic psychiatry because the drama and conflict of the cases and courtrooms tapped into his personality style. He also taught psychiatric residents, interns, psychologists, and social workers at New York Presbyterian Hospital and became a clinical assistant professor at Cornell University’s medical school.

Before turning to fiction, Rubinstein coauthored five medical self-help books: The First Encounter: The Beginnings in Psychotherapy (Jason Aronson); The Complete Book of Cosmetic Facial Surgery (Simon and Schuster); New Choices: the Latest Options in Treating Breast Cancer (Dodd Mead); Heartplan: A Complete Program for Total Fitness of Heart & Mind (McGraw-Hill), and The Growing Years: A Guide to Your Child’s Emotional Development from Birth to Adolescence (Atheneum).

Rubinstein lives in Connecticut with his wife and as many dogs as she will allow in the house. He still practices psychiatry and is busily writing more novels.

 

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Guest Post: Obscurity: Not An Option

Today, one of my favorite guest bloggers is back. Cindy McDonald is the author of the Unbridled Series. She is just now finishing up her second virtual book tour. In her blog post today, Cindy is going to address a delicate issue that is important to every author out there: marketing you and your book in today’s marketplace. Things have changed a whole lot since my first book was published back in 2004–before Facebook, Twitter, ect. It’s both easier and scarier–

You tell ’em, Cindy!

OBSCURITY: NOT AN OPTION

Cindy McDonald

Cindy McDonald is the author of the Unbridled Series. She is working on a new series, First Force. Using social media, Cindy has grown her fan base and sales steadily. Click on picture to visit Cindy’s website.

So you’ve written a manuscript. You had it professionally edited. You’ve got a great cover design. You’ve had it published in paperback and ebook forms, and it’s been uploaded to amazon. Great! Now what? Sit back, relax, perhaps twiddle your thumbs a bit, and wait for those royalties to come pouring in, right?

Mmmm, I’m afraid not.

The fact is that no one is going to come looking for your book, no matter how well written, how engaging, or how action-packed it is unless you, the author, makes it happen!

Hey, let’s face it obscurity is not an option when you’ve published a book. The competition is fierce—and the competition is using all the resources that perhaps you are not. There is no doubt that marketing is an indie’s biggest hurdle, but you can’t afford to be shy or stuck in the nineteenth century. I’m not saying that marketing one’s book is insurmountable, but it can be hard to get started. Bookstores are not usually very willing to arrange a signing for indie writers because they are relatively unknown—they’d rather have James Patterson, go figure. However some local libraries may be willing to host an event for you. That’s nice, but that doesn’t tend to spread the word to a large mass of people. And that’s exactly what you need.

So what’s an author to do?

Brace yourself, because I’m about to say the S word: Social Networking. Yikes! You may consider it a dirty word, but I’m afraid that it is truly the reality of our time. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pininterest, it’s enough to make an author’s head spin! After all it has been widely rumored that authors are quite a recluse lot. The trick is to not allow it to overwhelm or intimidate you—no matter what your age.  The bottom line is that it is your responsibility as an author to get the word out about your book—not your publisheryou.

So get a stiff upper lip, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and do what you need to do to make that book of yours a success. Because you can.

If you don’t have a website—get one. You need it! There are plenty of website options out there and some are free. List your books—with covers, a synopsis, provide an excerpt, and yes do a book trailer, to boot! Don’t forget to provide links to your book’s Amazon sales site.

Okay, now that you have a website, you need a…wait for it…Facebook page! It’s the God’s truth. I have two FB pages: one in my name where I talk about my life—nothing too personal—and one for my books. On both pages I will announce reviews and provide links to those reviews or my books. There are also FB pages that are provided for authors to promote their books. On all these FB pages I will also list blogs that I am featured at during virtual book tours—another excellent way to get the word out about your book.

Dangerous Deception

Click on Book cover to purchase Cindy’s latest, Dangerous Deception on Amazon.

Virtual book tours help you to promote not only your book but you—the author. You have control as to how long the tour is: two weeks, one month, or the max—three months. Approximately three times a week during the tour, you will visit a blog for an author spotlight, a review, interview, or a guest post on a variety of subjects. The guest post will spotlight how well you write beyond the pages of your book. That’s important. It also provides potential readers an insight as to who you are and what you think or believe. While this service is not free, you can decide how much you want to spend by the length of the tour.

Linkedin is a great place to post a blurb about your book on a daily basis. I usually write something like: George Smuts is a just fictional character, right? You should hope! And then I list the link to where my potential audience can purchase DEADLY.COM. I went from selling hardly any of this particular book to selling as many as one hundred per month with this simple daily task.

*Wince* and then there’s Twitter. I thought I would never get the hang of that nightmare social networking demon. I thought it was stupid. Then I thought: but there are sooo many authors using it. There’s got to be something to it.  So I started following people—mainly authors—they would retweet my book blurbs—I would retweet back—this would result in book sales. Hmmm. I followed more—retweeted more—additional book sales.  Who knew? I am now tweeting approximately six times per day. It only takes about ten minutes, and the payoff has been well worth it.

Pssst…I’ve even got my publishing manager tweeting more than she ever did before. To tell you the truth, she probably hates me for it, but she has realized how invaluable it is for her and her cozy mysteries. She too has experienced a sharp rise in sales. Go baby go!

It’s true, I spend a lot of time per day promoting my books on the social networks—it’s a commitment. But hey didn’t you make a commitment to the book when you wrote it? You love your characters. You love your stories, so help send them out to the masses.

Here’s the light at the end of the very long indie tunnel—it can and will work!

Since I’ve been using Twitter on a daily basis, following as many people with an interest in books, tweeting and retweeting other authors, using hashtags, and writing something about my books on a daily basis on my FB pages and Linkedin, my book sales have skyrocketed! I went from selling four books per month (yep, that’s what it says FOUR) to selling over two hundred books per month, and I know that it will go up from here.

C’mon, don’t be shy. Get out of that “I am NOT going anywhere near social networking sites” demeanor. You CAN do this. Only you have the power. You’ve worked hard. So step up to the plate and take a swing at making your book into everything you wanted it to be—a success!

Remember: Obscurity just plain isn’t an option.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

For twenty-six years my life whirled around a song and a dance: I was a professional dancer/choreographer for most of my adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005. Don’t ask me what happened, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things I have experienced (greatly exaggerated upon of course) with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and the happenings at the racetrack.

Surprised? Why didn’t I write about my experiences with dance? Eh, believe it or not life at the racetrack is more…racy. The drama is outrageous—not that dancers don’t know how to create drama, believe me, they do but race trackers just seem to get more down and dirty with it which makes great story telling—great fiction.

I didn’t start out writing books, The Unbridled Series started out as a TV drama, and the Hollywood readers loved the show. The problem was we just couldn’t sell it. So one of the readers said to me, “Cindy, don’t be stupid. Turn your scripts into a book series.” and so I did!

In May of 2011 I took the big leap and exchanged my dancin’ shoes for a lap top—I retired from dance. It was a scary proposition, I was terrified, but I had the full support of my husband, Saint Bill. It has been a huge change for me. I went from dancing hard five hours a night to sitting in front of a computer. I still work-out and I take my dog, Harvey, for a daily run. I have to or I’d be as big as a house. Do I miss dance? Sometimes I do. I miss my students. I miss choreographing musicals, but I love my books and I love sharing them with you.

To read excerpts from future books, view book trailers, and keep up with everything that is Unbridled, please visit Cindy’s website at: www.cindymcwriter.com

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Fasten Your Seatbelts! The Blast from the Past Tour is Blasting Off!

Today marks the launch of–

Blast from the Past Tour

Click on Banner for the latest tour schedule on Lauren Carr’s Website.

When I announced that I was scheduling my latest book tour, a friend asked me a question that I viewed at the time as unusual: “What is a virtual book tour?”

“Oh,” I replied, “it is the only way for an author to do a book tour nowadays! It is all online. No gassing up the car. No driving around with your book in the trunk. No hotels. You just go from blog to blog and reviewer to reviewer in the comfort of your own home, with your feet up in your comfortable slippers, having a bad hair day–why you can even meet your readers completely naked if you feel like it and they’ll never know!”

I love touring this way. I guarantee that we’ll all have fun on the Blast from the Past Book Tour. The launch of Blast from the Past has already been an exciting venture. For the first three weeks after it’s release on January 10, Blast from the Past was ranked consistently in the top 100-books and ebooks on Amazon under mystery/thrillers, in the category of police procedurals and has been receiving rave reviews!

What’s that? You don’t know about Blast from the Past? Well, let me tell you about my latest mystery.

Blast from the Past is Lauren Carr's fourth book in the Mac Faraday Mysteries. Click on cover to download from Amazon.

Blast from the Past is Lauren Carr’s fourth book in the Mac Faraday Mysteries.
Click on cover to download from Amazon.

In Blast from the Past, Mac Faraday finds himself up to his eyeballs in mobsters and federal agents.

After an attempted hit ends badly with two of his men dead, mobster Tommy Cruze arrives in Spencer, Maryland, to personally supervise the execution of the witness responsible for putting him behind bars—Archie Monday!

Mac Faraday believes he has his work cut out for him in protecting his lady love from one of the most dangerous leaders in organized crime; but when bodies start dropping in his lakeshore resort town of Spencer, Maryland, things may be hotter than even he can handle.

In this fourth installment in the Mac Faraday Mysteries, readers learn more about Archie Monday’s past in a flash—as in a gun fight when the syndicate comes to town. Readers love to be surprised and in Blast from the Past they are going to be surprised to discover the secret of Archie Monday’s past, which threatens her and Mac’s future.

Blast from the Past also takes the Mac Faraday Mysteries to a new level as his relationship with Archie Monday moves onto a whole new level. Readers have been clamoring for Mac and Archie to get together for three books. In Blast from the Past, they’re relationship is cemented, if they live to make it happen.

What about Gnarly, Mac Faraday’s canine inheritance—the only German shepherd to be dishonorably discharged from the United States Army? Well, it’s not a Mac Faraday Mystery without Gnarly. Let’s just say Gnarly kicks things up a notch in his own way.

I’ll be stopping at twenty sites in six weeks. check out the schedule. We will have book giveaways, reviews, and guest posts galore–including one written from Gnarly’s point of view.

Still wondering about this Blast from the Past? How about a free sample then:

Blast from the Past – Excerpt

Spencer, Maryland – Deep Creek Lake – Present Day

“Gnarly, it’s time for to go to your appointment.”

Lovely in her soft grey Chanel suit, rose-colored blouse, and stylish pumps, Archie Monday, assistant to the late Robin Spencer, hurried up the stairs to the second floor of Spencer Manor and down the hallway to the master suite.  The rose leather clutch bag under her arm was a perfect match for the fedora she wore over her pixie-styled blonde hair.

“Gnarly, are you in here?” She threw open the double doors to find the German shepherd sitting in the suite’s bathroom doorway. “There you are. It’s time to go.” She gestured for the dog to come to her.

Instead of obeying his favorite human, Gnarly whined and turned his attention back to the happenings inside the other room.

“Go where?” Mac Faraday called out to her from the bathroom.

She crossed the width of the suite to peer in at him. The sight that greeted her wasn’t what she had expected from the son of Robin Spencer, whose roots were as blue-blood as they come.

The clichéd appearance of a wealthy man calls for him to be tall, dark, and handsome—maybe ruggedly handsome—and at the very least, well-groomed. A man of wealth is best able to achieve this requirement by hiring others—like plumbers—to do the dirty work.

Two years after his inheritance allowed him to retire from his career as a homicide detective, Mac Faraday had chosen to ignore that rule.

His middle-class upbringing had a different rule: If you can do it yourself—no matter how dirty the job—it’s a waste of money to hire someone else to do it for you.

Determination had drawn Mac’s handsome face into a scowl. His blue eyes were narrowed into slits focused on the toilet in which he was plunging away. Water splashed upwards to spill over the sides and drenched the lower half of his sweatpants down to his bare feet.

Even in this less than glamorous setting, Archie did find his arm and chest muscles, bulging from the workout, appealing. When Mac yanked the plunger up from out of the toilet, in the process splattering the water across his firm stomach and down the front of his pants, she reconsidered that assessment. Maybe not that appealing after all. She asked, “What are you doing?”

“What does it look like?”

“Why?”

“It’s stopped up.” He shook the dripping plunger in Gnarly’s direction. “And I have a feeling I know who did it.”

Uttering a whine, Gnarly moved to hide behind Archie’s legs.

She jumped to the shepherd’s defense. “Why are you blaming Gnarly? He doesn’t use the toilet. You’re the only one who uses this toilet.”

“You’ve used it.” Mac reminded her of her frequent nights spent with him in the master suite. “Maybe I should blame you.”

She folded her arms across her bosom. “I wouldn’t go there if I were you.”

“That’s why I’m blaming Gnarly.” He again pointed the plunger at the dog. “Look at him. Do you see that guilty expression on his face? He’s done something, and I suspect it has to do with this toilet.”

“Even if he did drop something into it, how did he flush it?” She giggled. “Mac, he’s a dog.”

The phone on the bed stand rang before Mac could come up with a response. “Answer that, will you?” He returned to his plunging.

“I need to take Gnarly to the groomer,” she called in to him while trotting to the king-sized bed that they had been sharing.

Mac Faraday had inherited the mansion from Robin Spencer, who, as an unwed teenager, had given him up at birth. However, his late mother had stipulated that her research assistant and editor, Archie Monday, was permitted to live in the stone guest cottage tucked away in the rose garden for as long as she wanted.

The beautiful green-eyed blonde had come with the house, and Mac Faraday was in no hurry for her to move out … nor was she in any hurry to leave.

Spencer’s police chief David O’Callaghan didn’t sound his usual jovial self when Archie answered the phone. After a quick hello, he asked for Mac.

“David, you sound terrible,” she observed.

“My weekend’s been shot,” he replied. “One of my cruisers was stolen last night.”

“Are you serious?”

Mac came into the bathroom doorway. “What’s wrong?”

She told him, “One of David’s police cruisers got stolen.”

David told her the reason for his call. “Tell Mac that I’m going to miss the game this afternoon. I need to fill out a ton of reports and find out how someone was able to break into our garage to steal a police cruiser.” He added, “Our guys are going to be the laughing stock of the state for this.”

In Archie’s other ear, Mac was asking, “Does he need any help finding the scum who stole it?”

“It was probably some bored teenagers pulling a prank,” she told them both.

“Committing a felony doesn’t make for a very good prank,” they told her in unison.

Seeing the time on the alarm clock on the bed stand, she announced, “Gnarly and I are late.” She handed the phone to Mac.

“Where are you taking Gnarly?” he asked her.

“To the groomer,” she said. “It’s the first Saturday of the month.”

“What does that have to do with it?”

“Mac?” David called to him from the phone.

“Gnarly has a standing appointment for the first Saturday of the month,” she said with her hands on her hips. “Ten-thirty with Misty. He gets the works.”

“What’s ‘the works’?”

“Mac, are you there?” David asked him.

Archie ticked off each item on her fingers. “Shampoo, deep conditioner, teeth cleaning, toenails clipped, aromatherapy—they’re having a special today on strawberries and champagne—and—and this is Gnarly’s favorite—a deep body massage.”

Gnarly pawed at her hand.

“For a dog?” Mac’s voice went up in pitch.

“Dogs need pampering, too.”

“How much is all this going to cost?” Mac asked.

“Only two-hundred and twenty-five dollars.”

“Only two hundred and twenty-five dollars?” Mac objected. “I don’t spend that much a year on my own hair, and I’m a human.”

“And you look like it.” She kissed him. “I have to go. Misty is very popular. She will only hold Gnarly’s appointment for ten minutes. Once I was late, and she gave his appointment to a chow. Gnarly was in a snit the whole next week until Misty was able to fit him in.”

Gnarly uttered a whine mixed with a bark before charging down the stairs. Archie tucked her handbag under her arm and hurried after him.

With a shake of his head, Mac sat down onto the bed and brought the phone to his ear. “Dave …” All he heard from the other end of the line was a dial tone.

* * * * *

Gnarly loved riding in Archie’s royal blue Escalade. Mac would always order him to the back seat, which the German shepherd would ignore. Not so with Archie. When riding with his favorite lady, he was invited to ride shotgun in the front passenger seat and stick his head up through the sun roof when the feeling struck him to do so.

After climbing into the SUV, Archie noticed that the bangs of her shortly cropped blonde hair were curling funnily. That would not look good at the book club luncheon at the Spencer Inn, for which she was already running late. While the automatic garage door went up, she licked her fingertips and finger combed it.

Gnarly pawed at her arm to urge her to get moving.

“Sorry, Gnarl, I can fix them later at the Inn.” She put the car into gear and backed out of the garage, which housed Mac’s black SUV and red Dodge Viper. The last stall was still home to Robin Spencer’s yellow classic 1934 Bentley Park Ward convertible, which the late author had rarely driven. Mac had yet to drive it. He was afraid of wrecking it.

In the heart of Maryland, the cedar and stone home, known as Spencer Manor, rested at the end of the most expensive piece of real estate in the resort area of Deep Creek Lake. The peninsula housed a half-dozen lake houses that grew in size and grandeur along the stretch of Spencer Court. The road ended at the stone pillars marking the multi-million dollar estate that had been the birthplace and home of the late Robin Spencer, one of the world’s most famous authors.

Along the stretch of Spencer Point, Archie waved to the Schweitzers, who lived in the last house before crossing over the bridge, and then turned right onto Spencer Lane, which took her around the lakeshore. She noticed the Spencer police cruiser fall in behind her after she made the turn.

With her eye on the speedometer, she eased her foot on the gas to stay under forty-five miles per hour. With the other eye, she glanced at the black and gold SUV through the rearview mirror. She squinted in an effort to see who was driving.

It wasn’t Deputy Chief Art Bogart. He had his own cruiser. David was still at the station. Any of the dozen officers on the police force would have waved to her when she drove past.

I have a bad feeling about this… who’s that in the passenger seat?

The alarm inside her head kicked up the tempo a notch. The Spencer police department did not operate in teams. The force was too small. Each officer had his own cruiser and patrolled alone. If backup was needed in the small resort town, another officer would be only a few minutes away.

Something’s not right—not right at all.

The blue lights flashed on in the cruiser behind her.

“We have company, Gnarly.” She eased her SUV over to the side of the road. Through the trees on the right, she could see that the lake was tranquil. Most of the residents of Spencer were still waking up and starting their day. Across the road, the woods and trails led up the mountain on which rested the Spencer Inn, another part of Mac Faraday’s inheritance.

In her side and rearview mirror, Archie watched the two men with silver police shields pinned to their uniforms, dark glasses, and hats, get out of the cruiser. She could see by the fit of their shirts that they were wearing amour vests.

Gnarly looked over his shoulder and growled.

“Easy, Gnarly.”

While the driver approached Archie’s side, his partner came up along the rear passenger side. They were both wearing utility belts with guns, batons, and radios.

With her right hand, Archie reached into her clutch bag that she always kept tucked in between her seat and the hand break.

The driver reached around behind his back.

“Down, Gnarly.”

Gnarly lay down in the seat.

When she saw the butt of the gun come out from behind his back, Archie, her eyes on the target in her side rearview mirror, fired three shots from her pink handgun, engraved with The Pink Lady across the muzzle, over her left shoulder. The first shot took out the rear driver’s side window before ripping through the gun man’s neck. The other two went through his head before he hit the ground.

In one movement, Archie threw her right arm around to fire out the rear window at the partner who only managed to get one shot before she hit him in the lower neck. Her second shot went through his head.

The world seemed to stop.

Breathing hard, she clutched the gun and stared in the rearview mirror for any sign that they were still alive and would try again.

The next thing she was aware of was Gnarly clawing at her. When she didn’t respond, he licked her face. She had no idea of how long she had been sitting there.

“Oh, my!” She heard someone yell.

Archie opened up the car door and stepped out.

A car filled with tourists had driven up to the scene. Seeing the woman in a Chanel suit holding a pink handgun and standing over two dead police officers next to a cruiser that still had its blue lights on, they immediately became hysterical. The tires burned leather on the road when the car sped away.

After checking out the two men, Gnarly, assured that they were dead, came back to sit in front of Archie. His big brown eyes were questioning. What just happened here?

Archie knelt down and took the paw he offered her. “Well, Gnarly, it’s a long story.”

Now are you onboard for the tour? Then fasten your seatbelts! We’re blasting off! See you at the next stop at: Another Writer’s Life: http://ascamacho.blogspot.com/

About the Author:

Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award.

Lauren CarrAuthor, PublisherClick on pic to visit website

Lauren Carr
Author, Publisher
Click on pic to visit website

Lauren is also the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. It’s Murder, My Son, Old Loves Die Hard, and Shades of Murder, have all been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. Blast from the Past is the fourth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series. The next installment in the Mac Faraday series will be released in October of this year.

Released September 2012, Dead on Ice introduces a new series entitled Lovers in Crime, which features prosecutor Joshua Thornton with homicide detective Cameron Gates. The second installment in the Lovers in Crime series will be out in 2013.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and two dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:

E-Mail: writerlaurencarr@comcast.net

Website: http://acornbookservices.com/

http://mysterylady.net/

Blog: Literary Wealth: https://literarywealth.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lauren.carr.984991

Gnarly’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/GnarlyofMacFaradayMysteries

Lovers in Crime Facebook Page:

http://www.facebook.com/LoversInCrimeMysteries?ref=ts&fref=ts

Acorn Book Services Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/AcornBookServices?ref=hl

Twitter: @TheMysteryLadie

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