mystery

WWRW: Catching Up

Don’t forget the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show Selfie Scavenger Hunt!  It’s not too late to post those pics

Let’s link up with What We’re Reading Wednesday over at Jessica’s Housewifespice Place.

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It’s been months since I read these.  Now I’ll finally get around to reviewing them!

Shadow in the Dark (The Chronicles of Xan Book 1) by Anthony Barone Kolenc

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Here’s what it’s about:

The Shadow passed through the midnight chill, dark and silent. Two small boys peered down at it in terror. “It’s back,” one of them cried in a faint whisper.

Bandits attack a medieval village. A young boy is injured and loses his memory. He wakes up at a Benedictine monastery and is given the name Xan—short for Alexander. But when the monastery is raided and a monk is accused of a violent crime, Xan must uncover the truth. Could the raid be related to the one that destroyed his village? And what about the shadowy figure Xan has seen lurking on the abbey grounds at night?

Mystery. Danger. Adventure. It’s all here. And true forgiveness and courage too.

“A well-done mediaeval mystery, laced with plenty of action and a bit of downright spookiness.”-Colleen Drippe, Hereditas literary magazine.

“A brisk-moving and suspenseful tale. Kolenc has penned a masterpiece.”-Dan Flaherty, The Scholar.

“This could be the future standard for sound adolescent literature!”- Leo Madigan, The Weka-Feather Cloak.

I had fun reading this, and so did First Shift, a pair of eleven year-old girls who “aren’t girly,” for those of you who don’t know.  This little gem offers and more than delivers mystery, adventure, a richly imagined other world (after all, isn’t the past another world?), and characters who live and breathe in all their dimensions.  The red herrings even threw me off, which is a high compliment for a YA mystery novel.  The faith-related piece is handled organically and breathes along with the characters, feeling more like a part of the setting than of the plot.  I can’t recommend Shadow in the Dark enough!

Next up, confession time: these days I just wait around for authors to send me review copies.  It’s a very economical way of keeping one’s reading list affordable.  Specter, however, by John Desjarlais, I was not willing to wait.

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I preordered the darn thing.  WITH REAL LIVE ACTUAL MONEY. You’re welcome, Professor Desjarlais.  Your question, though, Reader, surely is, “Was it worth it?”  HECK YES!!!!

Selena De La Cruz would like to leave the past behind as she plans her wedding … but the past no longer sleeps. In 1993, a Cardinal was murdered in Mexico at the Guadalajara Airport. Nearly twenty years later, the Vatican revisits the case … and finds that Selena’s family might have played a key role. Selena is forced to confront her family’s ghosts … in more ways than one…

This story deals with ghosts of all things–ghosts!–in a totally credible manner. One of the ways Desjarlais makes this leap believable is through the eyes of Selena’s skeptic fiance, Reed Stubblefield, whom we also first met in Bleeder (which you should also go read).  Selena’s family (both living and otherwise), personal history, and culture are depicted so naturally that I felt like I was sitting at the table in her godmother’s house, watching it all, remembering it all with them and wanting to protect my own heart, not only from the danger I could see coming but from the surprises lurking around the corner of every page.  The red herrings in this one got me, too, which I don’t mind one bit.  The pace was lightning-fast, the conflicts heart-racing and heart-rending, and the ending… well, you’ll just have to find out for yourself.  If Amazon offered a sixth star, I’d give it to Specter.

PS: Don’t forget the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show Selfie Scavenger Hunt!  It’s not too late to post those pics

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It’s Almost My Birthday!

It’s my birthday in 10 days!

Is money tight? Just can’t think of what to get the girl who has everything? I’ll give you a hint–nay, a wishlist. Don’t You Forget About Me has 58 reviews on Amazon as of today.

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Can you and one other person make that 60 by the Feast of St. Andrew/the First Sunday of Advent? Pretty please?  

7QT: An Interview with R. B. O’Gorman

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It’s 7QT Friday with Jennifer over at ConversionDiary.com!

I’m excited to share with you an interview with R. B. O’Gorman, nice Irish Catholic doctor that he is… sorry, ladies–he’s taken!

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His novel Fatal Rhythm just dropped, and it has so many good readers saying so many good things about it, I just scooted it up to the top of my dance card.  I met him at CMN/CWG back in August, so allow me to introduce you!

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R. B. O’Gorman grew up in Texas where he developed a devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. He obtained a PhD in Biochemistry from Rice University and studied cardiovascular surgery under Dr. Michael E. DeBakey. His debut novel, FATAL RHYTHM, is a medical suspense/mystery based on his training experience. Currently, he lives in Mobile, Alabama, where he writes, teaches, and practices medicine. He and his wife stay busy with their six children and first three grandchildren.

And now for the questions!

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Tell us about your most recent work.  How did the idea come to you?  How long did it take you from start to publication?  

The annual celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe begins with Las Mananitas, and my experience at St. Anne’s Church in Houston touched my soul. I felt compelled to translate that experience into words. Some two decades later, Fatal Rhythm was published.

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Idea, research, editing, design…What was your favorite part of working on this project? What was your least favorite?

The favorite part was the initial writing. I even enjoyed the editing experience. My least favorite was negotiating the publication process.

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Tell us about how this work came to reach us:  did you go the self-publishing route or did you contract with a publisher?  What was that like?

I was listening to “The Son Rise Morning Show” on EWTN and heard about a new Catholic publisher who was sponsoring a contest. That prompted me to take down the novel from the proverbial shelf and submit. I was a finalist in that contest and was offered a contract. Ultimately, I did not publish with that entity, but the external confirmation of the book’s worthiness was invaluable.

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What other things in your life do you juggle in order to keep at your writing?  How’s that working out for you?

It is always a juggle. I work as a cardiovascular surgeon, I’m married, and we have six children and three grandchildren. It is hard to resist the temptation to “do it all,” and I’m blessed that my wife lets me slide on some of my jobs (the yard, the garage) when I’m particularly focused on a writing project.

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Setting, characters, plot, mood, tone… What would you describe as your greatest strength as a writer?

I think my greatest strength is in mood/tone. I hope I have a compelling plot and believable characters, but if my work doesn’t convey my chosen themes, it has no value.

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Conversely, if you could change one thing about your writing style, what would it be and why?

I wish I could write faster.

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Lastly, where can we find your work, a. k. a. give you our hard earned cash?

FATAL RHYTHM is available through Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com in both digital and trade paperback.

Thanks, Ron!  Readers, have you picked up Fatal Rhythm yet?  

#7QT: An Interview with Author Amy Bennett

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Join Jennifer and all the coolest Catholics for the 7 Quick Takes Friday Linkup.

Well, it’s another 7QT that I’ve gotten somebody else to write for me!  I’m thrilled to host author Amy Bennett, who brought us the hilarious and suspenseful mystery End of the Road, the first book (of many, I hope), in the Black Horse Campground Mysteries series.  Her second, No Lifeguard on Duty, is the second and latest.

Allow me to introduce you to Amy.

“I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, so that automatically makes me a native Texan… but then I’ve spent most of my life in New Mexico, so I can claim dual citizenship! End of the Road is the first book in the Black Horse Campground series.  The Black Horse and Bonney County exist in my imagination, for the most part, but visit the Ruidoso/Lincoln County region of New Mexico and you’ll see how I happened to find it!  As for Corrie Black and her friends, I hope you enjoy reading about their adventures as much as I enjoyed writing about them… and I hope there are many more to come!  When I’m not writing, I’m a cake decorator at Walmart in Ruidoso Downs, NM;  slinging vino at Noisy Water Winery in mid-town Ruidoso; and being a wife to Paul (since 1988) and mom to Paul Michael (since 1994) as well as enjoying life in general in Bent, NM.”

Now let’s hear from Amy about how she writes, why she writes, and so and so!

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Tell us about your most recent work.  How did the idea come to you?  How long did it take you from start to publication?

My most recent work is No Lifeguard on Duty, the second book in my Black Horse Campground mystery series.

 

 

I actually came up with the idea for the three main characters—Corrie, Rick, and J.D.—first and wanting to tell their stories, and their involvement in a murder mystery grew from my own love of mystery novels, in particular the romantic suspense of Mary Higgins Clark.  And reading novels, particularly mysteries, by other New Mexico authors like Aimee and David Thurlo, Steven F. Havill, Michael Orenduff, and Michael McGarrity, convinced me that my own “stomping grounds” (south central New Mexico) would be a perfect setting for my stories. I started the first draft of No Lifeguard on Duty when I got stuck trying to wrap up the first book in the series, End of the Road… I had no idea how to end it, so I decided to see what the next book was going to bring!

All in all, it probably takes me about a year to draft, write, and edit one of my books.

 

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Idea, research, editing, design…What was your favorite part of working on this project? What was your least favorite?

I love coming up with ideas, letting the characters loose in my mind and seeing what they do and say (really, I’m not that much in control!) and just putting it all together like a puzzle.  I know when I get stuck it’s because I missed something important or else I’m trying to force my characters to do and say things that are completely out of character.  The least favorite part was sometimes just sitting down and getting it on paper.  And let’s not even discuss promo work!

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Tell us about how this work came to reach us:  did you go the self-publishing route or did you contract with a publisher?  What was that like?

My first novel, End of the Road, won the 2012 Dark Oak Mystery contest, sponsored yearly by Oak Tree Press, a small independent publishing company.  First prize was publication and a contract.  Up to that time, I had resisted going the self-publishing route because I knew that I didn’t have a lot of contacts and that getting the word out would be even more difficult than it already was with my busy schedule. Plus, there is a little more credit given to books published with a traditional publishing house, even if it is a indie publisher, and I had hopes of seeing my books in bookstores, not just online.

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What other things in your life do you juggle in order to keep at your writing?  How’s that working out for you?

I’m fortunate to have a husband and son, family, and friends who understand how important it is for me to have time to write.  I try to keep writing materials handy at the other jobs for those times that inspiration strikes or I have a few minutes to jot down ideas.  And I’ve learned to take the writing seriously.  I’ll never forget the day I got to meet fellow mystery author Mike Orenduff in person.  He offered me a lot of encouragement and I mentioned something about finding time to write in the midst of “the real jobs” (full-time cake decorator at Walmart and part-time “vino slinger” at Noisy Water Winery.)  He stopped me right there, pointed his finger directly at me, and said, “The WRITING is the REAL job.”  It was the first time someone, besides my husband, had ever taken my writing with that degree of seriousness and I knew that, no matter how busy the other jobs kept me, the writing would always take priority—it would always be “the REAL job”.  So now I MAKE time to write instead of just trying to FIND time to write.

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That’s so true.  Our writing is only as real a job as we make it.  Now on to setting, characters, plot, mood, tone… What would you describe as your greatest strength as a writer? (I would say your ability to handle gut-busting humor and spine-tingling suspense all in the same paragraph, but that’s just me….).

Well, as I said before, my characters came before the story and most of the good reviews I’ve received have mentioned how much the reader likes my characters and really cares about them.  I find that if I take care of making my characters as interesting and real as possible, then the mystery can be anything from who killed the victim, to how is the love triangle going to work itself out, to a question of who ate the last piece of cake and the story will engage the reader.

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Conversely, if you could change one thing about your writing style, what would it be and why? 

I think I have a tendency to “script” everything my characters do, instead of just letting the story flow.  I’ve tried to learn to let go of controlling my characters’ every move and just let the story flow.  Does it really matter if one character says their line, then gets up and walks across the room, or whether they walk across the room, sit down, then deliver their line?  What really matters is what they’re saying!And I have to learn to not worry about filling in every crevice in the back story. Time and experience are teaching me that I don’t need a gigantic “info dump” at the beginning of the story… the reader will get it just fine as the story unfolds.  I’ve had to learn to trust my readers!

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Lastly, where can we find your work, a. k. a. give you our hard earned cash? 

I would really, really, REALLY appreciate people going to their local bookstores (indie or big box) and asking for End of the Road and No Lifeguard on Duty.  Bookstores will always have a special place in my heart and I really want to see them stay open!  But if your area is light on physical bookstores, there’s always my publisher’s website (www.oaktreebooks.com) and you can find both books on Amazon.

Thank you, Amy, for your work and for visiting us here at Will Write for Tomato Pie!  I’m looking forward to reading more from you!

 

The “One For A Friend” Giveaway

One of the greatest compliments I’ve received (and, thankfully, keep receiving) on Don’t You Forget About Me is that it isn’t “preachy.”

“While I’m a fan of Catholic fiction, I’m not always impressed by the writing. Don’t You Forget About Me is a well-written, entertaining book that actually has some substance to it. ” -Review by Jay Calvin Nelson on Amazon

“Without being preachy or in-your-face about it, Cupp compares the difficulties and heartaches of being a fallen-away Catholic with the peace and joy that comes when one humbly and trustingly puts his life in God’s loving hands.”  –Review by Laura Pearl on Amazon

“Fans of Christian fiction will particularly enjoy the elements of faith that add to the richness of the story without hampering the plot.” –Review by Therese Heckenkamp on Amazon

“I found the religious elements well integrated into the story.”–Review by “ruthjoec” on Amazon

As I told Kate over at So Much To Say, So Little Time, I’m not a message writer.  I just want to tell you a story.  On the other hand, as I told Catholic Fiction, since I don’t go into a book with message in mind, I tend to discount the possibility that story can be used by God to share a message.  So here I am, embracing message even while I embrace the people who might not want to read it otherwise.

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Introducing the “One For A Friend” Don’t You Forget About Me Giveaway.  Here’s how it works.  

  1. Post a new review of Don’t You Forget About Me to Amazon between now and June 17, 2014.
  2. Comment below with a link to the review.  In your comment, include some (vague) info about a friend or family member (no names, please) who, like Cate Whelihan, is anything but a practicing Catholic–but who just might enjoy reading Cate’s story.  Example:  “I know someone who thinks I’m crazy that I joined RCIA, but she loves mysteries.” “I have this friend who thinks I’m crazy for not using contraception, but she’s a sucker for romantic suspense.”  Etc.
  3. On Wednesday, June 18, 2014, I’ll draw a commenter’s name from a hat.  I’ll send that commenter one paperback copy of DYFAM, inscribed to the friend you described in your initial comment.  (We’ll work out the details over email.)

Clear as mud?  I’m just putting my money where my New Evangelization mouth is.  Let me know below if you have any questions.

My Writing Process Blog Tour

First, I must thank Leslie Lynch for inviting me to participate in the My Writing Process Blog Tour.   She’s a delightful colleague and a skilled writer, and I’m glad to be getting to count her among my “writing friends!”

Here’s the part where I actually talk about my, you know, writing process.

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Here I am with La Virgen Morena Papel at CMN 2013.

1)     What am I working on?  Spinning plates, that’s what I’m working on.  In between homeschooling, marketing Don’t You Forget About Me, and trying to figure out how to eat with hypoglycemia, I’m working on First Disciples, a series of books that will teach girls 8-15 the daily life skills that young Mary would have used as a girl living in Herodian Israel.  I’m also, slowly and painfully, drafting Never Let Me Down Again, the sequel to the aforementioned Don’t You Forget About Me.

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2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre? I’m not even sure I have a genre.  Theology of the Body murder-mystery isn’t exactly a category on Amazon.

3)     Why do I write what I do?  Because it hurts when I don’t.

4)     How does your writing process work?  I’m a planner but not in the traditional outline-y way.  Writing Jane_E, Friendless Orphan:  A Memoir got me into a writing habit that works rather well for me.  Since Jane_E needed to follow the same essential plot structure of Jane EyreI made a “To Do” list of narrative tasks that each chapter had to accomplish.  I’ve been using that technique ever since, putting the list at the bottom of each chapter and deleting each task as I write out its narrative.  It’s very satisfying to watch each list dwindle as I write.

I’m also supposed to give you my Facebook page, web page (which you already have if you’re reading this), and the link to buy my books. There ya go.

And now I tag the following writers:

Ellen Gable is a Catholic mom, writer, editor, blogger, Catholic Writers Guild president, and all around great lady.

Barb S. is a Catholic  mom, cook, blogger, technowizard, and busy feeding a child with Type I Diabetes.

Laura is another Catholic mom, blogger, and proponent of faithful environmental stewardship.

Enjoy, tomato pie fans!

DYFAM free on Kindle through 21Nov13!

Yes, friends, Don’t You Forget About Me is free on Kindle through Thursday.

Um… I really don’t know how to elaborate on that.

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Okay, here’s some elaboration.  The most frequent compliment regarding my writing that I get from people who know me in real life is, “I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing.”  That means, “I expected it to suck and it didn’t!”  If that doesn’t convince you to go get a free book, then I don’t know what will.