Posts Tagged With: reviewers

Mystery Writing Is Murder

American Journalist and Biographer Gene Fowler once said, “Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
Yeah, right. Try writing murder mysteries. Not only will drops of blood be forming on your forehead, but it will be dripping out of your eyeballs as well.
I’m sure any author of any genre will claim that theirs is the most difficult to write.
Take romance, for example. Girl meets boy. Boy meets girl. They fight. They realize their hatred for each other is really sexual tension. They give into “the urge.” They fight again. They discover they can’t live without each other. They get married. The End.
For a twist, let’s do romantic-suspense. Girl meets Boy. Boy meets Girl. One of them is a secret agent or hit man working for the government or undercover cop—whatever—one of them is in a dangerous line of work that puts the other in the line of fire. They are running for their lives and both look really hot while bullets are whizzing over their heads. They find a moment of peace to do the deed. Bad guys get the jump on the couple. One of them is taken hostage. The other saves him/her. The bad guys are killed and the couple lives happily ever after. The End.
Admittedly, it is tough for writers of these genres because putting the twist to the general plotline to keep things fresh for their readers is a real challenge. How many ways can you kiss? How many ways can you describe a kiss?

Cancelled Vows

Lauren’s latest best-selling mystery, Cancelled Vows, will be released Thursday, January 28. Click on book cover to pre-order from Amazon.

As a mystery writer, I claim that writing murder is the tougher game, especially for writers, like me, who prefer to keep their books character driven and to have their protagonist solve the case with his brilliant intellect.
Some readers, and writers, have found that the reality of technology and the justice system has thrown a monkey wrench into the general murder mystery premise:
Someone gets killed. Detective surveys the scene. Questions all of the witnesses. Tracks down suspects. Cunning Killer lies. Detective is stumped. Cunning Killer slips up. Brilliant Hero detects the Killer’s mistake. Traps Killer. Killer confesses and goes off to prison.
Justice prevails.
Anyone fourth grader knows that such is not the case in real life.
Between technology: “Oh, you say you were never in that room? Well, we found your DNA from where you sneezed on the victim’s baloney sandwich right before you slit his throat with the butter knife.”
And justice system: “Is that all you got? A car filled with nuns saw your suspect running out of the house with a bloody knife in his hand at the time of the murder? His defense attorney is going to claim that they are conspiring to railroad him into jail because he’s Jewish. Come back with something more and I’ll get you a search warrant for the bloody knife.”
Some mystery writers see this as a killjoy. What fun is there in having a dull computer database spit out the name of the killer, especially when it’s someone who wasn’t even on the protagonist’s radar? Then, many readers, myself included, get frustrated when the mystery turns from a whodunit, but how-are-we-gonna-catch-‘em?
This is where the rubber hits the road. In reality, these hurdles add to the fun for the author. It doesn’t take away from the protagonist. Real detectives, true-life protagonists, deal with these real issues every day.
Sure, the computer database, devoid of personality, may spit out the pieces of the puzzle, just like the collection of witnesses may lay out their pieces of the puzzle. A clever defense lawyer may throw up legal hurdles to protect the killer—but hasn’t that always been the case?
Today’s real detectives come up against different types of hurdles than the investigators of fifty years ago, which were different from the hurdles fifty years before that.
While the murder investigation game may be different than it was in the days of Hercule Poirot and Perry Mason, it hasn’t become any less thrilling.
One thing that has not changed: Murder has been around since the days of Cain and Abel. As long as there are motives for murder, it will never go away. Also, protagonists will always have to be on their toes to anticipate and find their way over hurdles thrown up by their antagonists.
The game of writing murder mysteries is always changing—and never dull.

About the Author:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries. The eleventh installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series, Cancelled Vows is scheduled for release on January 28, 2016 and available for pre-order on Amazon.

Lauren and Gnarly

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

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) 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/

 

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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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?

everyone-is-a-grammar-nazi_o_2312553

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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BookReview: Real Murder (A Lovers in Crime Mystery) by Lauren Carr

In case you’ve missed it, this month the latest Lovers in Crime Mystery, Real Murder, was released and it is already a hit with both reviewers and readers. Still hesitant? Well check out ABookVacation’s review.

{ARC Review} Real Murder by Lauren Carr.

via {ARC Review} Real Murder by Lauren Carr.

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MYSTERY—SUSPENSE, SO WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE??

Today’s guest post is from Cindy McDonald, author of the Unbridled series, and also the First Force series. Cindy is a romance-suspense or suspense-romance author. Get that? She is not a mystery author. There is a difference. Read below to find out what that is:

I’ve had several readers and reviewers post that they love my mysteries. Ahhh, but most recently I had a reviewer complain that she was upset because there was no mystery involved in my latest book, Shady Deals, and there’s a darn good reason for that: I simply do not write mysteries! While some readers and reviewers put my Unbridled books in the mystery category, the simple fact is that I write murder suspense and romantic suspense novels.

Shady Deals is Cindy's latest installment in the Unbridled series, filled with romance & suspense. Click on book cover to visit on Amazon.

Shady Deals is Cindy’s latest installment in the Unbridled series, filled with romance & suspense. Click on book cover to visit on Amazon.

A mystery writer plays their cards close to their chest. Bit by bit the mystery writer will slowly feed you clues as to who killed the poor widow who lives in the Victorian mansion on the hill. During the course of the story they will throw suspicion in several directions and perhaps throw a few twists into the plot to keep the reader guessing all the way to the end as to whodunit. A very good mystery writer will surprise you.

A suspense writer holds nothing back. The suspense writer tells you straight up that the handsome, young man whose car broke down during the storm and showed up at the poor widow’s door asking to use her phone killed her. But now will her beautiful, recently divorced daughter be next?

A suspense writer will toy with your emotions and your apprehensions by leading you to believe that perhaps you—the reader—is mistaken. Perhaps the young man isn’t the murderer, and maybe someone else killed her. A suspense writer will send cold-hard fear crawling up your skin as the murderer charms the widow’s daughter. When is he going to kill her? How is he going to kill her? Will the police officer that lives down the street figure out what is going on and come to her rescue before it’s too late? If you can’t put the book down because you simply can’t wait to find out the answers, then the suspense writer has done their job well.

Cindy McDonald's new series: First Force is a romance-suspense. Into the Crossfire has been receiving rave reviews. Click on the sexy book cover to check it out!

Cindy McDonald’s new series: First Force is a romance-suspense. Into the Crossfire has been receiving rave reviews. Click on the sexy book cover to check it out!

In a mystery book there is always the telling moment when all the characters, which of course includes the protagonist detective and the suspects, all gather together to put all the clues together and reveal the murderer.

In a suspense book the action comes to a climax where people’s lives are hanging on the edge, requiring the protagonist to hatch a dodgy rescue, risking everything to save the widow’s daughter.

It all seems extremely basic, doesn’t it? So what’s all the confusion about?

Stick with me, because this is the important part:

When looking for my books on amazon, you may very well find them under the category of mystery. Why? Because when amazon categorizes books many are lumped together in one category. Mystery and suspense books are put together in a mystery/suspense/thriller category, and then the book will be broken down from there into sub-categories like: romance, police procedural, cozy mystery, romantic suspense, murder suspense etc. Yes! My books could possibly be listed in the same category as Stephen King’s thrillers regardless of the fact that they are not the same kind or genre as Mr. King’s books.

In other words my romantic suspense and murder suspense books can show up in several categories, including mystery, even though it is not a mystery at all.

Whew! Did I clear that all up for you? I suppose the point is, the next time you shop for a mystery on amazon, you may very well get suspense or suspense that teases your sense of deductive reasoning with a mystery.

Author Cindy McDonald. Click on pic to visit Cindy's website.

Author Cindy McDonald.
Click on pic to visit Cindy’s website.

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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Book Review: Dangerous Proposition by Jessica Lauryn

Are you ready for some romance? Okay, it’s not Valentine’s Day, but if you are looking for some romance, our resident reviewer, Cindy McDonald has a recommendation for you:

When Julia Dyson learns her father has been abducted, she believes his hidden profession may be to blame.  But when she discovers a man’s name in her Dad’s caller history, a man suspected of shady business activity and also her teenage crush, she decides to take matters into her own hands.  She confronts her father’s presumed abductor, resulting in an unforgettable kiss…

dangerousproposition_250

Click on Book Cover to purchase on Amazon.

In the course of one disastrous evening, diamond smuggling kingpin Colin Westwood learns that his best recruit is missing in action, and that the man has been keeping a secret for years—he has a twenty six year old daughter.   Determined to protect his identity, Colin vows to find the young woman, and keep her silent at any cost.  Intrigued to learn that she is actually the attractive woman he kissed, he makes Julia an offer.   Come to New York City with him to search for her missing father…as his mistress.

About the Author:

At two years old, Jessica became a devoted fan of both listening to and reciting the books her parents would read to her at night. When she was a little older (about four), she sought a greater challenge in her life, and began making up stories of her own, acting them out with her dolls. “When the dolls got “boyfriends,” she says, “I knew I was getting too old for dolls!”

A life-long lover of romance, Jessica took several writing classes in college, and told her professors she was one-day going to write soap-operas. When graduation came, she joined a critique group, and on a whim, decided to “write a romance novel.” That first attempt will forever be staying under the mattress…

Then, on a train ride to her internship in the fashion industry, Jessica finally cracked open her first romance novel. That hot August morning, she fell head-over-heels for the genre, and has been writing it ever since.

Jessica Lauryn

Romance Author Jessica Lauryn
Click on Pic to visit her website.

Jessica is most intrigued by dark heroes, who have many demons to conquer…but little trouble enticing female companions into their beds! She feels that the best romances are those where the hero is already seducing the heroine from that first point of contact. “Isn’t it the hero’s job to seduce?” she says with a grin.

Jessica loves to see the sparks fly when a stubborn, domineering hero crosses paths with a bold, feisty heroine, and uses the combination frequently in her stories.

Book Review:

Julia Dyson has a problem: her father, Tucker Dyson, is missing and the man for whom she has carried a torch for quite some time may very well be his abductor! Tucker has kept his occupation a secret from his beautiful daughter, except she knows that it must be not only covert but dangerous as well, and when he goes missing Julia soon discovers that the handsome and filthy rich, Dr. Colin Westwood is definitely in deep.

Julia confronts Mr. Tall Dark and Doctor only to find herself on the receiving end of an indecent proposal: Be my mistress—with all the benefits, and I’ll let you in on the search for your father. Julia is taken aback but agrees to the terms only to renege when the time comes to pay up—no matter how hot he is or the fact that she wants him so badly that she could explode. Moreover, Colin has been holding his cards close to his chest and those cards contain some very dark demons.

Together Julia and Colin dive head-first into a rush of danger and suspense to save Tucker Dyson, but will they survive their passion, the ugly truths that will be revealed, or the risky mission itself?

I enjoyed DANGEROUS PROPOSITION by Jessica Lauryn very much. The young author has lovely talent and so very much to offer in the future. Her storyline had everything that I love to read: suspense, romance, and loads of conflict—oh yes, Ms. Lauryn has NO problem writing plenty of conflict for her readers. The sexual tension was written very well, but didn’t leave the reader flat when the love scenes arrived—very well penned, Ms. Lauryn! Sexy, hot, yet tasteful-thank you.

About the Reviewer:

For twenty-six years Cindy McDonald’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, which will be released November 1.

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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Spotlight: The Murders at Astaire Castle (Mac Faraday Mystery)

Released July 19, The Murders at Astaire Castle is the latest Mac Faraday Mystery. Fans of the Mac Faraday Mysteries beware! This one comes with a special Halloween twist!

The Murders at Astaire Castle Small

The Murders at Astaire Castle is the fifth Mac Faraday Mystery in the series.
Click on Book Cover to see on Amazon.

Note from the Author

Fans of the Mac Faraday Mysteries may notice a slight difference in The Murders at Astaire Castle. While this mystery does contain some supernatural elements, I would not classify it as a paranormal.
Halloween has always been a fun time. It is the time to break out and be someone else. As a child, I would pretend to be one of the Bobbsey Twins searching for clues to lead me to a secret treasure. If I was lucky, it was made up of chocolate. As a teenager, I was Nancy Drew. Always, when October rolled around, I craved mysteries with something extra added—something beyond the normal—something supernatural.
As an author, I couldn’t resist taking this one Mac Faraday Mystery on a scary Halloween adventure. I hope you enjoy this ride as much as I enjoyed writing it.
For you, my dear readers, The Murders at Astaire Castle is my Halloween trick or treat goodie to you! Enjoy!

Happy Reading!
Lauren Carr
Author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries

Never tell Mac Faraday not to do something.

Spencer’s police chief, David O’Callaghan, learns this lesson the hard way when he orders Mac Faraday to stay away from the south end of Spencer’s mountaintop—even though he owns the property. It doesn’t take long for Mac to find out what lies on the other side of the stone wall and locked gate, on which hangs a sign warning visitors to Keep Out!

Topping the list of the ten most haunted places in America, Astaire Castle is associated with two suicides, three mysterious disappearances, and four murders since it was built almost a century ago—and Mac Faraday owns it!

In spite of David’s warning, Mac can’t resist unlocking the gate to see the castle that supposedly hasn’t seen a living soul since his late mother had ordered it closed up after the double homicide and disappearance of Damian Wagner, a world-famous master of horror novels.

What starts out as a quick tour of a dusty old castle turns into another Mac Faraday adventure when Astaire Castle becomes the scene of even more murders. Mac is going to need to put all of his investigative talents to work to sort out this case that involves the strangest characters he has run into yet—including a wolf man. No, we’re not talking about Gnarly.

About the Author

Lauren Carr is the best-selling mystery author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries and Lovers in Crime Mysteries. Based on book sales for her mysteries and anthologies, Amazon regularly lists her among their top one-hundred mystery authors in both ebook and print.

Lauren Carr, author & publisher

Lauren Carr
Author & Publisher 

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publisher. This year, thirteen titles written by independent authors (not counting Lauren’s own titles) will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services.

Released September 2012, Dead on Ice introduced 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, Real Murder, will be out in January, 2014.

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 three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:

Email:  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

Acorn Book Services Facebook Page:

a href=”https://www.facebook.com/AcornBookServices?ref=hl”>https://www.facebook.com/AcornBookServices?ref=hl

Twitter: @TheMysteryLadie

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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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Hot Coco Is Nothing Like Fifty Shades … Except

Today’s post is from Cindy McDonald, author of the Unbridled Series and First Force–Coming Soon! But, today, Cindy is going to tell us about something she shares with E.L. James, the author of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY.

Hot Coco

Hot Coco is the second installment in Cindy McDonald’s Unbridled Series. It is either hated or loved by readers. (Click on Book Cover to view on Amazon.)

HOT COCO IS NOTHING LIKE FIFTY SHADES… EXCEPT

 

That old adage is oh so true: You can’t please everyone. This is especially true if you’re an author. The fact is that readers are different on many levels. I’m not necessarily talking about genres. Everyone interprets what they have read differently. I find this truly amazing. You can give the same book to five different readers and come up with five different opinions/versions on the very same story.

I suppose a good example of what I’m trying to say is the book FIFTY SHADES OF GREY by E L James. Wow! The opinions and reviews for that book are truly diverse. Some readers/reviewers absolutely love the book, while others absolutely hate the story, and there are those who will not read it because of the reviews—good or bad. They simply don’t want to deal with the content—whatsoever.

The fact is that the reviews are pretty split with E L James’ best-selling novel. Well let me tell ya something folks…you don’t have to have a best-selling novel for readers/reviewers to be on different sides of the train track.

In June of 2012 I released the second book from my Unbridled Series, HOT COCO. The first book in the series, DEADLY.COM, was a murder/suspense book, but HOT COCO was a romantic comedy. It is the story of a woman, Coco Beardmore, who is beautiful, wealthy, and a total klutz. She wreaks havoc everywhere she goes. The thing is that Coco is aware that men see her for her beauty and wealth. Coco knows that she’s a train wreck, and she wants so very badly to change.  On the other side of the coin is another woman in the book, Margie O’Conner. She’s not beautiful. Margie is down-right homely, and she has been a victim of her father’s subjugation all her life—she is also illiterate.

The book is about two women’s journey to change:  Coco to become a respected, more in charge woman, and Margie to find the courage to stand up to her father and learn to read and write. Seems like a simple concept, doesn’t it?  Well, I’ve got a total split in my readership. Some of the readers love the book—they love Coco and all of her klutzy debacles—she endears herself to many of my readers—just as I hoped she would.

Uh, oh, but then there are the readers who absolutely hate the book, and Coco, and Coco’s debacles. I had one reader call the book rubbish—ouch!

The funny thing about the book is that most—almost none of the reviewers/readers really ever mention Margie in their reviews. It’s almost as if they totally missed this woman and the courage that she finally found and the change in her relationship with not only the people around her, but with her father as well.

Yes HOT COCO is a romantic comedy, but it is also a book that requires one to read a little more deeply or you will miss what I am trying to show you. You will miss the metamorphosis and the forgiveness that all of the characters are searching for.

When I check my books on Amazon or Goodreads and I see that HOT COCO has a new review I find myself taking a braced breath before I read it, because it’s a love/hate thing. The review will either be wonderful or perfectly awful. Do I regret publishing HOT COCO? Absolutely not!  Like it or hate it, people do read the book, and they are certainly entitled to their opinion. I just wish that some of them would read it more closely/carefully—they might find it surprisingly enlightening.

FIFTY SHADES has thousands of reviews—some are glowing and some are down-right nasty.  I doubt that E L James even bothers to check them—I don’t think she really cares, and why should she? I don’t exactly have the same luxury as E L James, but at least I know that I am in good company.

ABOUT THE CINDY McDONALD

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.

Even though she was a professional dancer, Cindy McDonald chose her husband's hobby of Thoroughbred racing for the backdrop of her UnBridled Series

Even though she was a professional dancer, Cindy McDonald chose her husband’s hobby of Thoroughbred racing for the backdrop of her UnBridled Series

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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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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Book Review: For Those in Peril on the Sea by Colin M. Drysdale

For Those in Peril on the Sea

by Colin M. Drysdale

Primarily set in the northern Bahamas, this book weaves its story of post-apocalyptic survival into the local sub-tropical seascape and the sailing culture that can be found there. With its evocative use of real locations haunted by zombie-like infected and atmospheric depictions of the trials of life at sea drawn from the author’s own experiences, For Those In Peril On The Sea provides a new and unusual take on the traditional post-apocalyptic genre.

For Those in Peril on the Sea: Click on Book Cover to Buy on Amazon

For Those in Peril on the Sea: Click on Book Cover to Buy on Amazon

After a six week voyage across the Atlantic, they couldn’t wait to get to shore. When they got there, they found the land would never be safe again…
There was nothing to suggest it would be anything more than a routine delivery. Four people thrown together by chance, sailing a newly-built catamaran from South Africa to Miami. But while they were away, something happened, something none of them could ever have imagined. When they get back to civilization, they find it no longer exists. The land is no longer safe. Their only option is to stay on the boat and try to survive.
Join Bill, Rob, Jon and CJ as they travel around their frightening new world. One where they must struggle against the infected that now rule the land, the elements and each other.

About the Author:

As a marine biologist, Colin M. Drysdale has spent plenty of time at sea with no land in sight but he is always glad when he finally gets back to shore. This novel is inspired by a thought that often plagues him during his voyages. What would he do if something happened while he was away and he could never go back?

Review:

Consider this: You’ve been hired to deliver a boat from South Africa to Miami. You begin your journey across the Atlantic with a small crew of four. All goes well until a horrific storm blows in and strips you of your communication systems. You are completely cut-off from the world for weeks.
It is a long tedious passage and you are anxious to enter the harbor of Miami, only when you arrive there is nothing left. Miami is burning to the ground and the people that you see on shore no longer resemble anything human, but rather gross imitations that growl and snarl at you. The decision is made to continue on to another harbor only to find the same.
The world as you knew it six weeks ago has been forced to its knees by a disease that has ravaged mankind turning them into mindless, flesh devouring beasts. This is the situation that Colin M. Drysdale has place his characters, Bill, Rob, Jon, and CJ in, and it seems that they will be exiled to the sea forever—otherwise they will fall victim to the man-eating monsters that prowl the shores. How will they survive? Is there anyone else out there?
For Those in Peril at Sea by Colin M. Drysdale was a gripping tale of loss, triumph, heartache victories, but mostly the will to survive in a new world with so many challenges. The book was intriguing, and sometimes terrifying enough that I had put it down so that I could absorb what I had read. Mr. Drysdale’s writing is smooth and wonderfully descriptive. He has an impressive knowledge of boats, sailing, and of faraway lands.
For Those in Peril at Sea is a terrific read, but be forewarned it is not necessarily for the vanilla reader. Mr. Drysdale’s accounts can be very graphic—which is a testament to his amazing writing skills, but some may find the scenes upsetting. I look forward to reading and reviewing more books by Colin M. Drysdale. 5 STARS!

Reviewed by Cindy McDonald

About the Reviewer:

Cindy McDonald is the author of the Unbridled series, featuring the West Family, who own a Thoroughbred horse farm in Pennsylvania. She was was born and raised in the Pittsburgh, Pa area. For 26 years she was a professional choreographer,she taught ballet, jazz, and tap. During that time she choreographed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards. Most recently she has retired to write her novels. She resides with her husband on their Thoroughbred farm know as Fly By Night Stables near Pittsburgh. Here latest UnBridled Book is Against the Ropes, scheduled for realise on June 1.  To learn more about her book series and to read excerpts from her upcoming books, please visit her website: www.cindymcwriter.com

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